In 2011 the US will spend approximately $44 billion on the War on Drugs – Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Drug Control Strategy, 2009 Budget
The consequences of the War on Drugs are Global and are Staggering
1. Facts – HIV / AIDS
HIV and other blood borne infections continue to be spread by injection drug use because many countries prohibit access to prevention and harm reduction programs as part of their War on Drugs efforts. Up to 6.6 million people world-wide have been affected by HIV because of these prohibitions. More than half of these people are women and children. (Statistics from International Aids Society)
2. Facts – Homicides
The War on Drugs has caused the creation and growth of organized criminal gangs at international and local levels that produce, import and retail illegal drugs and inflict violence and corruption on the communities where they operate.
For example, more than 30,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon took office four years ago, the Mexican government says. Attorney General Arturo Chavez states that 12,456 people have been registered killed in drug-related violence so far this year, compared to 9,600 in 2009, bringing the total to 30,196 since President Calderon took office in December 2006. (BBC News Latin American and Caribbean, Dec. 16, 2010)
3. Facts – Prison Statistics
Crimes are committed by addicted individuals who need money to buy illegal drugs and people who use drugs continue to be criminalized and stigmatized.
Over a half million people are presently incarcerated in the U.S. as a result of anti drug laws. Many more are there as a result of property and other low level crimes committed in the course of using or obtaining drugs. According to FBI reports, 83 percent of drug arrests are for possession of illegal drugs alone. Regardless of crime in a particular jurisdiction, police often target the same neighborhoods to make drug arrests, which can increase the disproportionate incarceration of people of color.”Justice Policy Institute, “Substance Abuse Treatment and Public Safety,” (Washington, DC: January 2008), p. 1. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08_01_REP_DrugTx_AC-PS.pdf
4. Facts – Children of Incarcerated Parents
Having an incarcerated parent is the single greatest determinant of whether or not a child will be incarcerated in his or her lifetime.
According to a study issued by the Sentencing Project, 1,706,600 minor children in the U.S. had an incarcerated parent in 2007, and half of these children were under ten years old. One out of every 15 African American children had an incarcerated parent, one in 111 white children. Since 1977, the rate of female imprisonment has increased by nearly 800% and is still rising — much of it attributable to the war on drugs. (Jasmine Tyler, Drug Policy Alliance, April 5, 2010, “The Drug War: A War on Women and Their Families”)
5. Facts – Incarceration of the Mentally Ill and Addicted
Mentally ill people are particularly vulnerable to drug addiction due to lack of social supports and are jailed at a much higher rate than the general population for drug related offences.
Currently, there are over 2 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons or jails. About 16 percent have serious mental illnesses – this is four times higher for men and eight times higher for women than rates found in the general population. About three-quarters of jail prisoners who have mental illness also have addiction health issues. Most of these prisoners were convicted of drug related offences. (Mental Health Consensus Project, U.S.)
6. Facts – Global Resources
Scarce public resources continue to flow into an unsustainable war that drains money away from public health and social programs that help individuals and communities.
In 2011 the United States will spend approximately $44 billion on the War on Drugs in Law enforcement, incarceration and court and other justice system costs. (Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Drug Control Strategy, 2009 Budget; National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University: “Shoveling Up: The Impact of Substance Abuse on State Budgets,” January, 2001; Jeffrey A. Miron, Department of Economics, Harvard University: “The Budgetary Implications of Drug Prohibition,” December 2008)
7. Facts – Global Profits
Huge profits from illegal drug sales are diverted into the underground economy with no benefit to society of taxation.
The size of the global illegal market has been estimated to be as large as one trillion dollars. This is money that could appear in legitimate economies through regulated drug sales, taxation and other legal means. The corrupting ability of this illegal money affects all citizens. (Liana Sun Wyler, June 23, 2008, “International Drug Control Policy”, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress)
8. Facts – Human Rights and Security
Human rights and human security are undermined by the criminalization of otherwise law-abiding citizens by:
- the use of the death penalty against individuals for possession, use or selling illegal drugs
- the use of forced confinement and separation of families in labour camps in the name of “drug treatment”
- the practice of chaining people in their rooms at “drug treatment” centres
- the extra-judicial killings that are common place in countries targeting individuals who use and sell drugs.
9. Facts – Benefits of Decriminalization of Drug Use
When countries move away from the drug war they experience benefit.
Portugal decriminalized all drug use in 2001 and the result has been a reduction in health and social problems and drug use has gone down. In the Netherlands where cannabis is legal to purchase the use rate is half that of the USA where cannabis is criminalized. (Glenn Greenwald, 2001 “Drug Decriminalization in Portugal”, the Cato Institute)