Making Economic Sense
The drug war is responsible for hundreds of billions of wasted tax dollars and misallocated government spending, as well as devastating human costs that far outweigh the damage caused by drugs alone. The United States’ unrivaled incarceration rate is a constant financial drain, causing an immeasurable loss in workforce productivity, and puts a strain on scant legal and law enforcement resources. While the federal government spends billions trying to reduce the demand for illegal drugs through prohibition, treatment consistently proves to be a more effective, cheaper and more humane way to lower the demand for illegal drugs. The war on drugs has also driven the drug trade underground, creating a violent illicit market that is responsible for far too many lost lives and broken communities. Organized crime, gangs and drug cartels have the most to gain financially from prohibition, and these profits can easily be funneled into arms smuggling, violence and corruption. The devastation wrought by Mexican cartels in particular has made it far too costly to continue with a failed prohibition strategy.
Prohibition is also to blame for an enormous opportunity cost. Despite the tax revenue and economic opportunities that a regulated marijuana market could generate, our laws still prevent the legal sale of the nation’s largest cash crop. Combined with the savings from ending prohibition enforcement, marijuana taxation could generate revenue for federal and state governments. DPA is working to end wasteful government spending on the drug war by leading the national dialogue about ending prohibition and refocusing resources on evidence-based health approaches to drug use.