A century-long attempt by the American government to suppress the recreational use of narcotics, based for the bulk of its history upon racial prejudice. The first major piece of federal legislation (the Harrison Act) was passed in 1914, chiefly justified by a fear of east-asian opium. In the subsequent years, marijuana became the primary focus of drug warriors as its use was increasingly associated with Mexican immigrants and the (black-dominated) jazz scene. Correlating drug use with inner-city crime, Richard Nixon (and later Ronald Reagan) explicitly declared war on drug use in the US, and allocated massive spending increases to the associated federal bureaus. While the rhetoric used by George Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush was less harsh, no effort has been made in the past twenty years to rein in federal spending on the drug war; over that span the media spotlight was shifted from inner-city crack abuse to inner-city heroin abuse to youth ecstasy use to rural methamphetamine use in the hopes of maintaining hysteria.

The war on drugs has focused primarily upon two weakly-related goals: the reduction of domestic demand for drugs based upon punitive measures (that is, jail time) and the reduction of foreign supply through crop eradication and the interception of drug shipments (the end goal being to raise US prices by lowering supply). As is borne out by the US government's own data, both strategies are crippled by deep logical flaws.

The first flaw concerns the economics of black markets: rendering a product illegal does little to raise the cost of its production, but does much to raise its price. Profits soar, creating a massive incentive for new players to enter the business at all levels. Because drugs are cheap and easy to produce, farmers in poor areas can make better money and grow larger crops than they can with fruits and vegetables. Because drugs are cheap and easy to sell, dealers in poor areas can make more than they can working a minimum wage job. The profitability of the drug trade poses another problem as well: any time a major figure is arrested or killed, another person, or worse, several persons, are available to replace them, doing nothing to stem the trade but increasing its violence.

The second flaw is inherent to the logic of the drug warriors' attempts to restrict supply: In an ordinary market, prices vary consistently with supply, but the illegality of drugs creates a price floor: At high levels of supply prices are artificially held high by the mere fact that drugs are illegal. Until a certain threshold of drug interception is reached (roughly 70-80% of incoming shipments) prices will be more or less constant. The US currently estimates it finds 10% of the drugs entering the country.

The drug war does nothing to prevent addiction or lower prices: the National Survey on Drug Use and Health has shown an increase in addiction rates over the past thirty years, and a sharp drop in prices. The only success, such as it is, has been a drop in the casual (infrequent and non-dangerous) use of marijuana.

There are of course many disastrous social consequences to the War on Drugs, but they are too many and too depressing to discuss here.
"We do know this, that more people die every year as a result of the war against drugs than die from what we call, generically, overdosing."
- William F. Buckley, Jr.
by Blah #5 June 11, 2005
"There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others."
-Harry Anslinger, America's first drug czar, in 1937
The War on Drugs: It's all about race!
by nightbabies April 08, 2009
A pointless war, currently taking place in the united states. Specifically made by the government to make big bucks thru harsh punishment of illicit drug use by citezens. The irony of this is that the people in office commanding this war use drugs too, so they're just a bunch of stupid hipocrits. Throw shoes at em.
Deep inside the command center of the war on drugs

Government official: Sir, I have just recieved a fax from the US department of justice, showing this years total amount of arrests of non-violent drug offenders

President: Why thank you sir, I'l take a quick glance at it as soon as im done snorting this line

Government official: Well hey, do you think i could get a lil' bump?

President: Most Definitly, lets have a cocaine party!
by NORML4President August 04, 2011

Free Daily Email

Type your email address below to get our free Urban Word of the Day every morning!

Emails are sent from daily@urbandictionary.com. We'll never spam you.

×