When the preliminary results of this study came out a while back, it was mentioned here, but now it’s out, it’s official, and it’s an AP story and in the Washington Post:
A systematic review published Tuesday of more than 300 international studies dating back 20 years found that when police crack down on drug users and dealers, the result is almost always an increase in violence, say researchers at the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, a nonprofit group based in Britain and Canada.
When communities get tough on drug crime, that drives up the black market profits, prompting fierce battles to control the lucrative trade, their study says. And when powerful and successful drug bosses are taken out, it’s all too common for more brutal and less sophisticated criminals to step in.
“Law enforcement is the biggest single expenditure on drugs, yet has rarely been evaluated. This work indicates an urgent need to shift resources from counterproductive law enforcement to a health-based public health approach,” said Gerry Stimson
Now there is a clear, plain, easy to read and understand, factual imperative for us to re-think using law enforcement in drug policy.
I hope this gets spread in a major way by the AP, because it’s likely to start up some interesting conversations.
Our current drug czar followed his usual pathetic script:
U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, asked about the findings, said the U.S. government is shifting its emphasis toward prevention and treatment of drug abuse, but he said the prohibition on drugs must remain and enforcement must continue.
By that, of course, he means that the budget shows a 6.5% increase in treatment, but also an increase in enforcement, and by the time Congress is done with it, the ratio will be no different than before, and we’ll still have 2/3 of the budget on supply side.
“I don’t know of any reason that legalizing something that essentially is bad for you would make it better, from a fiscal standpoint or a public health standpoint or a public safety standpoint,” he said.
Really? Are you deaf? Are you blind? Have you read nothing that drug policy reformers have written? Boy, you really just go around and tell people all the time that you’re stupid. (“not in my vocabulary,” “don’t know of any reasons,” …)
Here are a few for you (and, of course, everything from Twinkies to jogging is essentially bad for you if abused):
- Fiscal: Reduction of billions of dollars in enforcement costs that could be spent elsewhere
- Fiscal: Tax revenues from a legal market
- Public Health: Fewer overdoses with regulated product.
- Public Health: Regulated product also means fewer tainted products and standardized dosage for appropriate drugs, which will save lives and reduce health costs.
- Public Safety: Fewer shoot-outs in the streets
- Public Safety: Fewer people being processed into the criminal system
Former Drug Czar Walters also stepped in.
The former drug czar, John Walters, said the researchers gravely misinterpret drug violence. He said spikes of attacks and killings after law enforcement crackdowns are almost entirely between criminals, and therefore may, in a horrible, paradoxical way, reflect success.
“They’re shooting each other, and the reason they’re doing that is because they’re getting weaker,” he said.
“Yes, I know your daughter was shot to death by a stray bullet in a drug war shootout, but that’s a good thing. It means the bad guys are getting weaker. With any luck, your entire family will be next, and then we’ll know we really have them on the ropes.”