The Associated Press reports on the 40th anniversary of the "War on Drugs", first declared by Nixon in 1970.
Nixon's initial WoD budget was $100 million; today's is $15.1 billion -- in inflation-adjusted terms, 31 times Nixon's amount. Over those 40 years, we've spent over $570 billion -- that $570,000,000,000, or over $1,800 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. -- just to arrest and imprison over 37 million nonviolent drug offenders. We've also spent billions on foreign interdiction, border enforcement, and anti-drug propaganda.
And according to Justice Department estimate, the consequences of our failed drug policy -- "an overburdened justice system, a strained health care system, lost productivity, and environmental destruction" -- cost us $215 billion each and every year. Says Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron, "Current policy is not having an effect of reducing drug use, but it's costing the public a fortune."
The global trade in illegal drugs is $320 billion annually -- 1 percent of the global economy. Ten percent of Mexico's economy is built on drug proceeds, which ought to explain why the country is in, and will remain in, utter chaos.
Think Obama -- who has admitted to cannabis and cocaine use, and who at one point said he favored eliminating criminal penalties for cannabis use or possession -- will change things? Nope. He is requesting a record $15.5 billion for the drug war for 2011, and according to Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance, "President Obama's newly released drug war budget is essentially the same as Bush's, with roughly twice as much money going to the criminal justice system as to treatment and prevention...despite Obama's statements on the campaign trail that drug use should be treated as a health issue, not a criminal justice issue."
Drug prohibition is an utter and complete failure, and its end cannot come swiftly enough.