Saturday, September 27, 2008

Up to $12 billion says prohibition has failed

Faced with the reality that recent massive hauls of ecstasy have not made any visible difference to the availability of the drug, the Australian Crime Commission has dramatically increased its estimate of the size of the illicit drugs market.

They say between $4 billion and probably nearer $12 billion dollars annually are flowing out of Australia into the hands of international drug dealers, reports The Age today.

While not concluding that the War on Drugs has failed, the ACC is going to brief the government on 'revised strategies'.

This recognition of the real situation makes a mockery of prohibition groups who call for a 'tougher on drugs' approach, because the financial cost of eliminating a drug economy of that size would be astronomical, not to mention the social cost of the ugly militarised society we would have to create and the economic cost of convicting and punishing a very large percentage of the population. 

Taxpayers would very quickly tire of paying through the nose while being stopped at gunpoint and forcibly drug-tested wherever they went, because that is what it would take.  They would quickly realise locking up pot smokers is not as important as providing good health services or transport infrastructure because the former does not affect them but the latter does.  The solution would be far worse than the 'problem'.

The soaring debt levels of the US government alone makes effective prohibition unaffordable, and indeed there are reports they are already cutting back their Drug War spending.  

On the other hand, legal controlled availability would earn money for governments and greatly reduce crimes committed to fund the purchase of illegal drugs, particularly burglaries and muggings. The small minority who do experience problems with drugs could be better off if treated and educated. It would be a much nicer world for all of us.

PS: (29 September 08) A follow-up story in today's Age provides support for this analysis:

"Criminologist John Walker... believes the ACC's figures should spark alarm about the failure of traditional policing to fight the drugs trade. 'Law enforcement cannot solve an economic problem. It never solved prostitution or prohibition. In fact, what police do makes it worse because it drives up the price.'"


Anonymous said...


The Editor said...

Our anonymous friend posts an "Amazing" link to yet another AAP story that simply regurgitates more propaganda from NCPIC (where I hear the staff are already getting mightily pissed off with its highly paid Director Jan Copeland's prohibitionist agenda at the expense of balance or truth).

Typically, 'anonymous' does not attempt to answer any of the points in the original post.

The whole AAP story is a transparent beat-up of the kind exposed elsewhere on this blog so I won't analyse the whole thing.

But simply take the lie in the last paragraph where it claims that cannabis smoking "leads to brain shrinkage", referring to a recent junk study also discredited on this blog (See ABC joins uncritical panic over cannabis -- June 4 2008).

Then look at the sample who mention cannabis to doctors -- totally atypical minorities, just like the 'brain shrinkage bullshit and the 'cannabis causes violence' bullshit spouted by NCIPC. None of the above established that cannabis caused the other problems and yet that's how it is reported. Totally dishonest.

It's just like the junk studies that showed that 90% or so of cocaine users had smoked cannabis and concluded that pot led to coke use. But a simple reversal of the stats demonstrated that only a small minority of regular pot smokers used coke, refuting the first conclusion. Be careful what you believe, my friend, it's all smoke and mirrors (to use an apt analogy!)

Then there is the moronic comment from the AMA's Dr Rod Pearce who essentially argues that cannabis causes harms under prohibition therefore we need more prohibition. THINK about it!

Anonymous said...

"Studies show most people do not experience major problems with occasional use but heavy use can lead to depression, memory loss, lung damage, low sex drive and even brain shrinkage."

Heavy use of anything including milk and wheat can have an equally dramatic negative effect on our health. Marijuana is probably pretty low down on the scale compared to some other everyday items we regularly consume.