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The War on Drugs

By ManUtd4 Aug 13, 2013 812 Words
Criminology 101 – The war on drugs.

Enforcing drug laws
* drug dealers richer
* increased drug related violence
* corrupted law enforcement
* dissuaded drug abusers from seeking medical help.


“ to legalize illicit drugs, stop arresting drug users and focus entirely on treatment”. * unrealistic

thus Goode argues “ the optimal strategy is a program focused largely on…reducing the damage that both drug abuse and the war on drugs illicit on users and society at large”.

Legalization (wide spectrum)

1. Legalize possession of drugs but regulate how they are sold.

Radical proposal
* no state control whatsoever.

Most agree that law enforcement should not and cannot solve the problem of drug abuse.

Legalization – Harm reduction

Harm reductionists are more pragmatic
Concerned with the health of the community than individual rights. Cost and benefit wise.
Pessimistic about legalization and should be a policy on drug by drug basis

Argue that this would decrease death, disease, predatory crime and other costs.


* America referred to as a dope fiend’s paradise. (Edward Brecher), (1800s)

During the early first half of the century, kids were allowed to drink, military and politicians were allowed to distribute alcohol.

Per-capita alcohol consumption more than three times what it is today.

The 1900’s, under a more laissez-faire policy, not many narcotics and not much crime offender related to drug use.

Now, drug offenders rate hike up.

Prohibitionists argue Reagan’s war on drug is a success.

Because use among adolescents and young adults declined dramatically during 1980s.


1.beginning of early 1990s’ rates of recreational drug use increased among young people.

2. Today’s high school students more than twice likely to use marijuana and more than four times likely to use other illicit drugs.

3. During his presidency, the purity of Coke and Heroine increased while price decreased.

Lessons learned from Banning alcohol.

* prohibition can work partially at least for a while to discourage use. * But costly mistake : enriched and empowered organized crime, increased murders, generated disrespect for the law, encouraged corruption among government officials and drove people to drink toxic bootleg substitutes. = prohibiting illicit substances may result in unanticipated results.

* behavior that is in the mainstream of the American culture probably cannot be successfully prohibited. But behavior that runs through against the grain may be an altogether different matter.

Lessons learned from decriminalizing marijuana.
* Decriminalization (small fine over jail time) = removing criminal penalties did not result in opening of floodgate of marijuana use. Thus saves money at relatively little risk to public health. * Decriminalization does not necessarily lead to increase in consumption.

Drug in economic sense.

* Elasticity between price and drug influence the demand. * Different drugs different results, Heroin = only drops 0.2 to 0.3 percent for every 1 percent increase in price. Marijuana = more larger, 1 percent for every 1 percent increase in price. Cigarettes (0.4 decrease) , alcohol ( 0.7 percent decrease) fall.

* prohibitionists = would directly increase the price of drugs and decrease the rates of usage.

* Legalization = would lower costs but less property crime rate.

* Prohibitionists predict legalization lead to tens of millions of people using marijuana. But it will increase in heavy users not ordinary non-users.

* plus, when drugs are legalized, the government can use the tax to lower the price and discourage use. (Current state and federal taxes on legal drugs- alcohol and tobacco-are far too low at less than 50cents per drink on 1 dollar pack of cigarettes to significantly deter drinking and smoking).

* Increase tax in alcohol and cigarettes can save millions of lives.

* Whether through probation or taxes, policies that raise the price are a powerful way to depress demand.

* Criminalization = other costs like extra time and effort to acquire drugs and the risk of incarceration. (absolute deterrence= locking up users and dealers and scaring off would be violators).

* But is unrealistic, 강간이나 살인을 불법화해서 강하게 받아친다해도 그런 범죄는 계속 일어날것.

Absolute deterrence vs Relative deterrence

Harm reduction.

불법화 , 상용화 사이에 있는 중간 관점.

* experimental, pragmatic (실용적인) and empirical (경험에 의거한, 실증적인).

US currently spends three times more money on law enforcements than on treatment and prevention. Harm reduction advocates suggest we reverse it.

* eliminate programs for drug eradication and crop substitution in some countries. (RAND corporation, these programs do not work). Also financially and politically costly. More effective to use tax on combatting addiction such as treatment programs.

Another good way is to use needle exchange program.
-appear to lower HIV transmission. Federal gov oppose it saying it will encourage drug use but others claim control deadly epidemics.

Drug users who spent time on treatment center actually got better.

Eg. Methadone maintenance.

Treatment program reduce the total volume of illicit drug use and criminal behavior by roughly one third to one half. Drug treatment – successful than smoking treatment.



1. legalistic approach good and bad
2. let it run good and bad
3. harm reduction good and bad


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