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Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes

Updated Apr 9, 2013 - 1:35 pm

The war on drugs is a massive failure

In this May 28, 2011 file photo, federal police stand over an injured man, allegedly belonging to the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel, after a gun battle one day earlier in Jilotlan, Mexico. Five years after President Felipe Calderon launched his assault on organized crime, about 45,000 troops have been deployed, plus several thousand more from the Navy infantry, or marines. More than 45,000 people have been killed by several counts, though the government stopped giving figures on drug war dead when they hit nearly 35,000 a year ago. Still, the flow of drugs continues unabated into the United States while arms and money flow into Mexico. (AP Photo/Raul Aguilar, File)

Someone PLEASE wave the white flag.

I'm not sure exactly when we lost the "War On Drugs", but I feel confident that after 40 years and nearly $1 Trillion spent on it, the results do not justify the cost. At all. And President Obama just asked for another $25.6 billion to continue this "War" in his 2013 budget proposal. At this point, we might have a greater impact if we piled the money up on the White House lawn and set it ablaze.

I mean seriously, spending that much time and money on a problem should have led to some measurable victories, some changes in society that we can all point to as justification for this war and the toll it's taken on our Country. Instead, the numbers show the exact opposite of what sane people would call "winning".

Take drug addiction rates. Common sense would say that after 40 years of constant "War" that fewer people would be addicted to drugs today than say… 1973. Except they aren't. In fact, over the entire span of the "War On Drugs" drug addiction rates have remained fairly consistent with all the different programs, plans and methods having no measureable effect.

Ok, but the price of drugs must have skyrocketed, right? From our battles to eradicate coca leaves in Columbia to the stop and frisk tactics of the NYPD, these surely must have made it harder to manufacture, import or sell drugs, leading to a sharp increase in price, correct? Wrong. Basic supply and demand and its impact on price blows a hole in that theory as almost every category of drug is cheaper today than it was in the 70's, even adjusted for inflation! (I want to point out this is NOT from first-hand knowledge. )

So much for that. Hey, I'm trying here…

About the only area you can say the "War On Drugs" has had a measurable impact is on the nation's prison population, and I'd argue that's nothing to be proud of. Our prison population has grown by 700% during the last 40 years, to 2.2 million people. And most analyst agree that roughly 50% of Federal and State prisons are filled with people incarcerated for drug crimes, many of them non-violent or usage crimes. Add to that, the disproportionate amount of minorities jailed (even when drug usage is higher amongst the white population) and you can see that unless you are in the prison business, or connected to a line of work that helps fill them, the "War On Drugs" is a failure.

I dare you to name another initiative that has cost us so much, over so long that has yielded so few results. Good luck.

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About the Author


I may not be a native, but I've been in Arizona long enough to forget what it's like back East. I moved to Tucson in the 5th grade where I graduated high school and attended the UofA. The radio bug hit me early and I was a DJ at the age of 17 in Tucson. Besides being on-air at times, my main career focus has been the behind-the-scenes programming of radio stations. I have an extensive background in music radio, in addition to working at and/or running some of the biggest and most influential radio stations in America. My radio career took me to Los Angeles, San Diego and then back to Phoenix. The chance to be back on-air, and to do it at 92.3 KTAR, was too good to pass up… so here we are! Weekends are usually reserved for racing as I own and drive my own dirt track Sprint Car all over the country. I am unmarried (never have been), childless (that I'm aware of) and don't even have any pets at this point. I do own 1 plant but the fact it has survived this long without watering leads me to believe it may be plastic. I love what I do and enjoy hosting a talk radio show for people who don't like "talk radio".

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