Friday, December 17, 2004

The Successes and Failures of George Bush's War on Drugs

The Successes and Failures of George Bush's War on Drugs - Offers an in-depth look at Bush's plan to fight illegal drugs and the results of the actions he took, from a pro-legalization organization.

From the site:

United States President George Bush officially began his "war on drugs" on September 5, 1989, when he gave the first prime time address of his presidency, in which he outlined the federal government's strategy for eradicating drug use. The plan called for $7.9 billion from Congress, a $2.2 billion increase from the previous budget. Of the $7.9 billion that Bush asked for, 70% would go to law enforcement, which included $1.6 billion for jails. However, only 30% went to prevention, education, and treatment. The Bush administration sought to wage its war by primarily focusing on demand in the United States, which, to Bush, meant attacking and arresting the drug user, rather than focusing on prevention, education and treatment, or interdiction (Trying to reduce the supply of drugs). Since the federal government has very limited police power, it would have to wage this war through the coercion of states. States that did not comply with the Bush plan would be penalized with a reduction in funding from the federal government.History

Every president since Eisenhower had created new measures to decrease drug use in the United States, but, until 1979, none had actually succeeded. In 1989, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released a report stating that there was a 37% drop in casual (non addicted) use from 1979 to 1989.3

Despite this trend, drug abuse and addiction had become a serious and dangerous problem in the 1980's, due to a rise in the popularity of casual cocaine use among the middle and upper class, and the invention of crack cocaine, a smokable, more potent form of cocaine, used primarily by poorer, drug addicted people. Before long, cocaine became the main export of Colombia, and a major product of Bolivia and Peru. Crack became so prevalent that by 1990 it cost only 35 cents to import and manufacture a vial (a common quantity) of it. Moreover, despite the interdiction efforts of President Ronald Reagan, the wholesale price of cocaine dropped from $60,000 per kilo in 1980 to $10,000 per kilo in 1988. All of this drug use amounted to immense profits; drug lords were getting $80 billion in tax free profits every year.

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