Thursday, February 10, 2005

Issues and Answers: The War On Drugs

When you mention government operations or programs that can be labeled as inefficient and/or wasteful, the War on Drugs must be considered. The billions that have been spent over the years have not yielded anywhere near the intended results that were promised at its inception. But that's not the half of it. Right now, the government is losing the War on Drugs because the way to combat drug addiction is not on the supply side. The only way to stop drugs from getting into this country is to slow the demand.

For every shipment that gets stopped, five or more get through. The drugs that make it in are then sold down the supply line padding pockets all along the way. There aren't enough DEA agents and/or law enforcement officers to even make a dent in the trade, so what is the use of spending the massive amounts of money to make token busts that won't even cause the slightest amount of a reduction in availability. With that in mind, it seems ludicrous to continue the old school approach of locking them up and throwing away the key.

By putting a halt to this waste and inefficiency, there are several positive outcomes that can be expected:

1. Taking the DEA agents and reassigning them to patrol the border would be a better use of manpower. Resources could be better spent by preventing terrorists from entering the country.

2. By legalizing or at very least, decriminalizing some drugs, more room can be made for the violent criminals that seem to get released when jails and prisons get overcrowded.

3. If legalized, taxes could be imposed to give grants to private programs that treat substance abuse, thus helping to lower the demand.

4. Law enforcement would then be free to investigate other more serious crimes.

But make no mistake, if certain drugs were legalized, the same penalties for DUI and other crimes that take place while under the influence should remain firmly planted on the books. And laws that prohibit minors from consuming should be kept, as well. Any attempt at legalization should be done with a good plan for regulation, just like alcohol and tobacco.


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