Thursday, 30 July 2009

The cost of the drug war

Further to my previous post, the ASI has a fantastic tidbit here:

The authors go on to compare this with a regulated legalization model under which heroin and cocaine would be freely available to buy from licensed pharmacies, with 10 percent of users (those with the most serious addiction problems) receiving diamorphine and cocaine by medical prescription. Depending on whether you assume that opiate and crack cocaine use would (a) go down by 50 percent, (b) stay the same, (c) go up by 50 percent, or (d) go up by 100 percent, the net cost of legalized heroin and cocaine under this model would be £3.2bn, £6bn, £8.8bn, or £11.6bn.

To put it another way, if opiate and crack use fell by 50 percent, we would save £14bn. If it didn't change, we would save £11bn. If it rose by 50 percent, we would save £8bn. And even if opiate and crack use doubled, we would still save £5bn, according to the authors' calculations. It is worth noting that this does not include any potential tax revenue that would be generated by drug legalization – something the authors believe would be small anyway, since drugs would be so much cheaper if the 'illegality premium' were removed.

In Portugal, when they decriminalised drugs, I believe use fell slightly, albeit not significantly.

So let's say we decriminalise drugs and provide it free on prescription to anyone who can't afford to buy it, then: we save £10billion a year; petty crime falls because druggies aren't stealing or mugging to feed their habit; police resources are freed up to combat other crime; the tax take goes up very slightly; we engage in free trade with the Afghans and cut the Taleban off at the knees and finally we get ready access to a scarce natural resource.

So ... why are we still fighting the drug war?


SaltedSlug said...

Fucked if I know.
Could give you my standard explanation of all life's irritations: People are fucking idiots.

Fidel Cuntstruck said...


Sue said...

God forbid that this government actually gave anyone freedom of choice!

We are on the verge of having our chocolate consumption reduced, we can't smoke in pubs, we are constantly lectured on alcohol and obesity and the most ridiculous one of all, prostitution is illegal (need I continue)...

There has to be some deep rooted economic reason why it is illegal.

The cannabis hemp plant was seen as a serious obstacle to the huge profits which could he made from the synthetic alternatives to cannabis products - chemical drugs, fossil fuels, and chemicals for cotton and wood pulp.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Ah, Sue, do I detect that you might be open to a different perspective on this after all?

That's a good thing! ;o)

Edgar said...

Can only repeat. Governments need 'evil' things to justify their control over citizens.

If it wasn't drugs, it would be something else: it will be something else, too, soon enough of course, so maybe you have a point after all.

Chalcedon said...

Exactamundo. I have been on in similar vein for ages. The drug war as it is, is lost. Just legalise the lot. Hand responsibility back to the pharma industry and away from organised crime.

Sue said...

I do indeed Obo :)

As far as I am concerned, addicts are quite welcome to kill themselves. I do however, resent the fact that drugs cause so much crime!

The situation in Afghanistan (I believe), is more complex than that of just opium, it does fund terrorists (of one type or another), but is also complicit in that same crime on our streets.

A quick and simple answer would be to destroy it..

Perhaps the profits in arms dealing and trafficking are too lucrative for certain countries to give up?

I don't think it's possible to come up with any answers until we know the truth!

Angry Exile said...

So ... why are we still fighting the drug war?

About half a dozen reasons, mostly beginning with the words "The Daily".

Obnoxio The Clown said...

@Sue: it's not quick and simple to destroy the crops, they've been trying for decades.

Some people want drugs, it's that simple. Prohibition has failed to stop the consequent crime and it's failed to stop the trade. It's a faux boogeyman that cannot be killed.

It's time to be more sensible about this.

paul said...

Where do you think the intelligence agencies (and all other "off book" government projects) get their funding from?

Therefore no matter how facepalmingly obviously beneficial decriminalisation is or even if 100% of the public support it, it wont happen (except in smaller countries with no intelligence agency of note ie Portugal).

Anonymous said...

I live in northern Thailand not far from the Golden Triangle and we all know what thats famous for. People around these parts same as people in South America where they used to chew coaca leaves before they were told to stop by some fucker with a couple of lines of charlie on their desk have been smoking opium for what seems like ever and if your wondering yup I have had a toke long ago and I inhaled. The UN and fuck knows who else have had a crackdown on this so what happens? They started injecting heroin as needle exchanges are a bit thin on the ground in these parts they share needles then surprise, surprise the A.I.D.S. cases have rocketed smart fucking move not to say the increase in the prison population. Many years ago a chap by the name of Khun Sa a Burmese Shan warlord was wanted by the DEA CIA and probably Mike Parkinson for an interview I knew where he lived in Thailand he had everyone in his pocket and was to say the least wadded well you would be with 30,000 armed men in your private army. Heroin by the way is the trade name given by Bayer of diacetylmorphine. At the turn of the last century when they marketed it as a cure all they came up with the trade name of heroin as in hero. They were forced to withdraw this product owing to the amount of "Heros" addicted to it. This trade will never be stopped for one reason its far too profitable and it seems to me that people forget people take drugs booze, nicotine and all the illegal ones because they enjoy the feeling it gives them, the poor sods banged up are if you like the foot soldiers you can always get more of them to do the dirty work. The latest drug of choice here is "ya ba" crazy medecine speed or methamphetamine. Brought in from Burma and then throughout Thailand its not unusual to reasd about people caught with a million pills of course you don't read a bout the people with a million pills who don't get caught. There are two types of people in this world who don't want it legalising the ones who flog it and the ones who try to catch them.

Ross said...

"we save £10billion a year"


"petty crime falls because druggies aren't stealing or mugging to feed their habit"


" police resources are freed up to combat other crime"

Oh fuck no, that means they can focus ever more of their time on drivers. Viva la Drug War!

JuliaM said...

"So ... why are we still fighting the drug war?"

Because it suits very many vested interests?