Introduction The war on drugs, declared by Richard Nixon in 1971, has cost the US more than just a trillion dollars. The war on drugs was the US government’s attempt to solve the drug epidemic raging in America, yet it caused more problems than it solved. A supply side war on illegal drugs has generated a large array of problems that no US politician is willing to acknowledge. Yet most of these problems such as more dangerous drugs, an increase in organized crime, and wasted government spending, could be eradicated if the US government legalized all drugs and adopted the four pillar drug strategy.
The war on drugs has done the exact opposite of its intentions and as a result, drugs are much more potent and dangerous to the user. Description of Problem The war on drugs was designed to eliminate the supply of illegal drugs. If there were no drugs, then there would not be an issue with drug abuse. What the war on drugs did however was open a variety of ways for drugs to get into the United States. While the war on drugs did shut down many ways to produce illegal drugs in the United States, it failed to stop the supply of drugs coming in from other countries. It actually created the market for outsourced drugs.
This allows more professionally made drugs to come into the country and as a result, the illegal narcotics were more potent and harmful to the user. While smuggling drugs into other countries, “to minimize the risk of detection per amount of narcotic supplied, suppliers make drugs as small and light as possible. This means higher potency. ” Another reason that the drugs are more potent is due to the fact that there is no cost difference between smuggling highly potent drugs and non potent drugs into countries. This means there is no cost difference for the user and the demand for highly potent drugs goes up.
One more reason that the war on drugs has created dangerous drugs is because without legalization of the drugs, there can be no brand name attached to the drug. “Thus, when a dealer sells a bad dose, he does not damage the reputation of a supply chain nearly as much as when, say, Tylenol sells a bad dose. ” This means that nobody is held reliable for producing poor quality drugs and there is no consequences for doing so which, in effect, means that drug quality is highly variable. While the danger of now highly potent drugs is a concern, another issue is the intensity of organized crime.
Organized crime and drug potency go hand in hand with one another. As the amount of organized drug crime goes up, so does competition for users. Meaning the drugs will be more potent and dangerous. The window for outsourced organized crime opened when the US government started shutting down small distributors inside of its own borders. Much like the prohibition era in the early 1900’s, the war on drugs has generated an unmanageable amount of organized crime. The market for illegal drugs is massive and it is estimated that,” illicit activities are worth $650bn worldwide, of which $320bn is due to drugs alone.
This means that the drug market makes up nearly half of all profitable illegal activities. This leaves the question, how is the drug market so big if governments are going directly after the suppliers/producers? The reason that the supply of drugs stays the same is fairly simple. As soon as a supplier gets locked up, a new group will quickly fill the role to earn the quick and easy cash. Another reason that the war on drugs has lead to an increase in organized crime is because all the money generated from organized crime is being filtered through legitimate businesses which leads to more corrupt societies.
The corruption does not stop at businesses but can even impact law firms and nobody seems to bat an eye. In fact, “we have seen solicitors jailed for their participation in the trade and much of the investment of drugs profits in “legitimate business” passes through the hands of ‘respectable’ bodies. ” All of this are direct impacts from the unwinnable war, yet politicians refuse to admit that they are wrong about the issue and as a result, the government has wasted billions, if not trillions of dollars. The government spends roughly $51 billion each year towards the war on drugs.
Yet if nothing good comes from the war on drugs, it is wasted spending. This money comes primarily from tax dollars and, “Taxes restrict individual liberty by taking away people’s freedom to spend their money on goods and services. ” So not only does the US government wastefully spend $51 billion each year, but they also confines a person’s individual freedom. However the US government is not the only nation involved in the war on drugs, in fact many first world countries and even desperate third world countries are spending their own billions of dollars.
This money is spent in a variety of ways in an attempt to reduce drug supply. One of such ways is trying to rid farms of the plants used to make certain drugs by sending armies, having planes spray poisonous chemicals etc. Money is spent on stopping the mobilization of these drugs by sending police forces, air forces, and armed forces. One unintended consequence is that many officers and soldiers are killed trying to stop the drugs. A third way that some of this money can be spent is on satellite technology and radars. The only problem with all of this is that even with all the spending, the drugs still make it through.
Description of Causes Even though it had the only the best intention, all of these problems are caused by the unintended consequences of the war on drugs. Richard Nixon started his anti-drug campaign in 1971 and its main focus was on stopping the supply of illegal drugs in our country. Soon after the US started this war, many countries followed. The war is known as a “supply side” war, because they focus on the supply of the drug instead of the demand. This is how the problems were created. People were too focused on the supply of the drug, and not focused enough on the demand.
When the supply goes down but the demand stays the same one good thing does happen, it raises the price of drugs. But the drug market is an inelastic market, meaning it is not price sensitive and the drug users will do whatever is necessary to fuel their addiction. This is why there is so many problems, because no matter what happens to the supply at a particular point, the demand stays the same and the drugs will keep coming. Proposed Solution Throughout the world many cities and countries have adopted a new approach to their own drug problems and the results are quite remarkable.
Many places such as Geneva, Zurich, Frankfurt, Sydney and Switzerland have being using an approach known as the four pillar drug strategy. The four pillar drug strategy has seen several great results. One being that there is now a remarkably lower number of people consuming street drugs. Another positive result would be the fewer number of drug overdoses in areas where the four pillar strategy is in place. Thirdly, with something known as an Sis, the spread of HIV and hepatitis has gone down drastically. The four pillar drug plan is broken up into, obviously, four parts.
Prevention, treatment, harm reduction and toleration are the four pillars. Prevention is the first key into a healthier, cleaner society. Prevention is the first pillar. “The prevention pillar includes strategies and interventions that help prevent harmful use of alcohol, tobacco, and both illegal and prescription drugs. ” The main goals of the prevention pillar is to educate as many people as possible about the danger of illegal drugs and delay peoples first time using drugs. The other goals of the prevention pillar are to lower incarceration rates and make the public more healthy and safe.
This pillar requires the most amount of input from as many people as possible. If people still end up hooked on drugs, they can resort to the second pillar, treatment. The treatment pillar does as its name entails. Its core purpose is to healthfully remove people from their addiction habits. This includes creating a wide variety of support programs, where people can find help that caters to their specific circumstances. A huge part of this pillar is getting people to seek early treatment. Treatment plans may include at home detox, common services at local clinics and helping people manage their withdrawals.
Helping manage withdrawals actually ties into the third pillar, harm reduction. Harm reduction is structured around causing the least amount of damage to users, affected family members, and communities as a whole. It takes a pragmatic approach towards drug issues and acknowledges that abstinence is not an easy solution for many users. For this reason Vancouver, and many other cities have created supervised injection sites, also known as SIS. They also have made needle exchange programs, where users are given access to new and clean needles.
This prevents the transfer of many blood related illnesses because users do not have to share dirty needles. Harm reduction is the core pillar for this strategy as it focuses on helping the user rather than charging them as criminals, however the police force and law do play a role, which leads us to the fourth pillar, enforcement. The enforcement pillar revolves mostly around police. Police understand that peace is needed and therefore, in Vancouver, the VPD has accepted the four pillar drug strategy as a part of their principles.
They want to provide a safe community without fear of crime and the best way to do this is to approach situations peacefully. The four pillar drug strategy is proven to be a solid solution to drug abuse issues in many areas. With the four pillar drug strategy the war on drugs will not be necessary anymore and the focus will shift from a supply side war, to decreasing the demand. The answer to all of the issues created by the war on drugs is to help users get clean rather than trying to slow the production of drugs. Conclusion From the beginning of the war there has been many unintentional consequences with little positive results.
Nations have seen more dangerous drugs than ever before, an increase in organized crime and have wasted billions and billions of tax dollars that could have gone to a better cause. The reason all of the problems exist is due to the fact that the war on drugs focuses on the supply of drugs and has completely ignored trying to reduce the demand for drugs. Reducing the demand has proven to be more effective in many places across the world. The demand was reduced by implementing the four pillar drug strategy. This strategy allows for a peaceful end to many issues and would be a much more beneficial answer to any drug epidemic.