Supply and Demand
The drug war essentially provides a monopoly and price supports for organized crime. Forcibly limiting the supply of drugs while demand remains relatively constant only increases the profitability of drug trafficking. Even as countless street-level dealers and the occasional drug kingpin are busted and incarcerated, the long-term impact on drug availability is negligible. The consistent profits to be made trafficking and selling illegal drugs guarantee replacement dealers.
Despite a steady decline in violent crime throughout the 1990s, the U.S. now has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with drug law violations accounting for the majority of the federal prison population. Yet the enormous cost associated with maintaining the world’s largest prison system is often cited by drug war bureaucrats as reason to devote more money to the same harmful policies.
Instead of throwing more and more money at supply-side interventions that are proven failures, the Drug Policy Alliance advocates addressing the high demand for drugs in the United States by funding a diverse array of treatment models and promoting effective drug education programs. More broadly, we are leading the national discussion about ending prohibition and treating drug use as a health issue, not a criminal justice issue. As a nation, we must learn to live with the reality of drugs and drug use and find solutions based on common sense and sound economic principles.