It is widely assumed that the so called ‘war on drugs’ has been a terrible failure, and faced with the mounting evidence and criticism, one would presume that governments would want to change. This evidence is based largely upon an analysis of the failure of drug prohibition to reduce the demand and supply of banned substances, and a consideration of the associated harms caused in the process of prohibition.
However, with a different agenda and focus, it might be that this ‘evidence’ in terms of the failure to dent supply and demand, has over time, become secondary to other government and business interests.
Seen from the perspective of government and the for-profit prison and drug industries, the War on Drugs has been a major success, providing many opportunities and benefits as listed below:
- It protects the market share of the privileged and promoted legal drugs such as alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, sugar and pharmaceuticals.
- It provides the police with easy powers to stop, search, arrest and interrogate without a search warrant.
- It provides funding for police from the government, providing continued armed services and security services in a perpetual funnel of funds.
- It provides additional resources for the police and state through the seizure of assets.
- It provides excellent business opportunity for the for-profit penal industrial complex.
- It provides considerable opportunities for new technology development and sales, in the invasive and expanding drug testing industry.
- It provides the drug rehabilitation business with an endless supply of illicit users, who must always abstain cold turkey, and forever be in recovery.
- It allows the state to blame, monitor, control and punish the poor, indigenous people, Black and minority ethnic groups and people of color.
- It provides politicians with a societal scapegoat, and the chance to rally for support and votes by getting ‘tough’ on this constructed enemy within – the ‘addict’.
- It provides the news media with easy, cheap dirty stories and graphic pictures of the apparent horrors associated with illicit drug use, which sell ‘news’.
- It provides a much needed distraction from the serious problems caused by the more harmful culturally embedded legal drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, sugar and pharmaceuticals.
- It rallies otherwise disparate nations together for a profiteering agenda by finding common ground to fight a shared war against a global enemy – ‘drugs’.
- It provides the banks with massive investments from money laundering.
- It allows governments to detract attention away from the real drivers behind most addiction (inequality, stigma, exclusion, poverty and blocked opportunities) and instead misleadingly shift attention on the ‘demonising power’ of the illicit drug.
- It provides employment for drug policy and drug enforcement entrepreneurs (particularly centred around the UN), and it spawns numerous meetings, events, conferences, working parties, inquiries, reviews, committees allowing opportunities to travel, conference, dine and socialise, all costing the taxpayers billions of dollars annually.
These are some of the key factors that sustain the war between drugs, which put the country in a state of economic chaos, with government seeking not to focus on the disparities of minorities, or the real threats to our health, which are FDA approved and legalized drugs such as tobacco and alcohol and pharmaceuticals, but rather have an agenda towards making the for-profit prison industry, drug cartel, banks, police unions, and pharmaceutical drug pushers that much richer, which keep the War on Drugs thriving and benefiting only the elite and those in a position of power and control.
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