The key to the problems lie in the very name – “War on Drugs”. War is a dangerous and costly business, it is best avoided and only considered as a last resort. But for drugs it seems no price is too high to pay to fight this war that governments have been losing for decades now. I will go on to the financial costs later, but first let’s consider the scientific costs.
LSD research was big business in the 1960’s, unfortunately LSD was hijacked as a recreational drug and taken in doses far too high to be safe by it’s users. But with micro-doses, with amounts too small to cause hallucinations, it had a profound effect on helping mathematicians, scientists, musicians, artists and pretty much everyone with their work. Micro-doses of LSD helped people make different connections in their brain that helped solve all sorts of problems. But because of the drug war, these possibilities were never fully explored and research was reduced to a few clandestine scientists working in their basements. Imagine if LSD in tiny doses was shown to be safe and beneficial? Science might be many years ahead of where it is now. In the dark ages, religious hysteria held back scientific research to such an extent that we refer to that period as the dark ages. In this time it could be political hysteria holding us back. Most people that have taken LSD, and typically taken far too high a dose, still often report a positive and even life-changing experience. Of course there is still the risk that users go completely insane at a high dose or jump off a building. I’m not going to pretend these drugs are safe or harmless, they’re just not as dangerous as war. For more information on micro-dosing, here is a long and interesting article about one clandestine LSD researcher –http://www.themorningnews.org/article/the-heretic
Now let’s consider the cost to the non-drug user majority among us. While many of us may have tried an illicit substance or two, most people in the world are not regular users, although a significant minority are. Drug prices are higher than they need to be because they are illegal. Drug users often struggle to get regular work because of their addiction, in the US many employers even test for drug use and will fire users. That means they can only turn to begging and crime to finance their habits. So we suffer more theft and dangerous situations. Police cannot really help us prevent these crimes because their resources are spread too thin and they need to focus a lot of attention on illegal drugs. Potential tax revenues are lost because no-one has to pay sales tax/VAT on a drug purchase, and many dealers don’t report full income. Drug users have a number of health problems, just like smokers, but no tax revenue is raised to help with drug users medical costs, much of which comes from public funding. We pay higher tax bills to fight this war on drugs, and our police are less reliable and easier to corrupt thanks to the huge amounts of money involved in the drug trade.
Like most wars this one is paid for by the people under the pretense of protection, but in reality is just a way to help a select few opportunists earn massive sums of money, without protecting us at all – in fact making our world more dangerous. People talk about the devastation the illegal drug industry creates, but they’re wrong. War devastates, drug dealers, users, and the rest of us, are the victims.
We’re lucky though since we can bear these costs. Can you imagine if we lived in a world where the global economy was struggling, resources were dwindling and we needed our scientists at their best to create efficient and clean sources of energy and potable water? And yet we continued paying a fortune to lose this war? What a depressing thought that would be.