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Oct 13, 2012

The cost of the drug war Vs no benefit

Reason has posted a chart of drug addiction over the last forty years along with the cost of enforcement.  This was challenged when someone realized that the total of $1.5 trillion, did not match up with the yearly cost.  It turns out that the yearly costs are for federal enforcement, while the $1.5 T is the sum of the total costs of all enforcement.

It also turns out that it is an underestimate:
But the massive federal drug control budget--for fiscal year 2013, it'll be $3.7 billion for interdiction, $9.4 billion for law enforcement, and $9.2 billion for early intervention--is actually a pretty small slice of the pie. States and municipalities have their own drug war expenses--investigating, trying, and locking up drug offenders--and those expenses actually dwarf what the federal government spends. 
According to The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society, last published by the Department of Justice in 2011, enforcing illegal drug laws imposes an annual cost on the American criminal justice system of $56 billion; while incarceration of drug offenders poses an annual cost of $48 billion. 
That's $104 billion spent annually by states and cities on two aspects of the drug war (and doesn't include treatment, public assistance, and a slew of other costs), compared to roughly $21 billion spent by the federal government. … 
… (though minus the "$1.5 trillion" in the middle of the image, the chart does accurately represent the growth of the federal drug control budget and the relatively flat rate of addiction to illicit substances). But even if the chart were designed to reflect "all costs associated with drug prohibition" over the last 40 years, with the right Y axis reflecting the growth of state and federal drug control spending, it would still be wrong, because $1.5 trillion doesn't nearly cover it.
Supporters of the ‘War on Drugs’ will probably claim that the expenditure has caused the addiction rate to remain stable rather than increase.  It is probably wise to remember that the 60s and 70s were the time of the drug revolution, where everyone claimed to be on something other than when talking to a cop.  It is therefore surprising that the start of the drug war had no downward tick.
Perhaps us old hippies did more talking than taking.

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