Friday, September 17, 2010
Investigations: Drug Prohibition Leads to More Violence, Crime... and Drugs
Does the war on drugs work? Does it actually reduce drug-related social problems? Not so according to a comprehensive study from the Vancouver-based International Centre for Science in Drug Policy. In fact, police crackdowns lead to more drug-related violence, drug offences and homicides, according to this study that the centre released in April.
The centre reviewed all available English-language research on drug and alcohol prohibition, including data going back to the Prohibition era. It found that prohibition efforts increased the profitability of illicit substances and thus fueled violence between crime gangs vying to control illegal markets and other forms of crime and corruption. One striking chart in the study shows a close relationship between the amount of money spent on prohibition enforcement and the U.S. homicide rate since 1900.
Despite the money spent, the supply of drugs hasn't been reduced by enforcement efforts, the study also said. Heroin, for example, is now 80 percent cheaper than it was in 1980, at the beginning of Ronald Reagan's war on drugs.
"Violence may be a natural consequence of drug prohibition when groups compete for massive profits without recourse to formal, non-violent negotiation and dispute resolution mechanisms," the study said.