How to Solve the Illegal Drug Problem

Use of illegal drugs is a big problem that has a very simple solution. It is a simple matter of eliminating the profit motive. The only reason people are involved in drugs is because of the profit potential. If there were no profit in producing, smuggling, and selling illegal drugs there would be no problem. The simple, and only, solution is to remove the profit!

For a very long time governments have been trying to solve the problem by arresting drug producers, smugglers, sellers, and users. This approach has not worked and will never work as long as the profit motive is so great that people will risk arrest to make big money. Trying to prevent drug production, smuggling, and selling is a hopeless approach that only increases the number of people in jail. It does not decrease the drug problem!

The U.S. government is always complaining that countries like Columbia and Afghanistan are not doing enough to prevent the growing of drug related crops. The government also complains that countries don’t do enough prevent the smuggling of drugs into the United States. Trying to stop the growing and smuggling of drugs will never work. As long as the profit rewards are great people will figure out a way to produce and smuggle drugs. This also applies to the production and selling of lab produced drugs. All the efforts of the government for many years have proven that you can not solve the problem by trying to prohibit the problem. Probation was not successful for alcohol and it will not be successful for drugs.

It is not that the bureaucrats, politicians, and experts don’t know that probation will not work, they know but it is in their best interest to promote a bad approach. Politicians campaign for more drug enforcement and harsher punishment for offenders because that is what the majority of the voters believe is the right approach. The majority of the voters believe it is the right approach because that is what politicians and law enforcement people keep promoting.

Drug enforcement is big business and those involved don’t want their empires to be decreased in size or eliminated. This is a different side of the profit motivation. There are tens of thousands of federal, state, and local government employees that owe their good paying jobs to the fight against drugs. Our prison system is a big benefactor. A large percentage of prisoners are in prison because of drugs. In addition to the prison employees, the contractors that built prisons and the many companies that contract with prisons would not be happy to see the drug problem solved.

When someone talks about decriminalizing drugs most people visualize rampant use of drugs and Amsterdam style drug cafes on every corner. It would be foolhardy to decriminalize drugs without a plan. It would also be foolhardy to think that the use of drugs could be completely eliminated. Drugs are little different that alcohol. Both are addictive mind altering chemicals and their abuse is a problem. I would prefer that there would be zero consumption of both drugs and alcohol but that is not realistic. Therefore, we need to figure out how to create a situation that makes their use acceptable.

Elimination of the profit motive by decriminalizing drugs needs to be the first step. Determining how drugs would be distributed needs to be part of this step. Exactly how this is done is not as important as the fact that it is done. The most obvious would be to distribute them with the same controls currently used for alcohol. We have got to get over the attitude that drugs should not be used because they are bad. Alcohol and tobacco products should not be used because they are bad but we have accepted that their use can not be prohibited so we have a system for controlling their distribution. Drugs are not good but they are no worse than alcohol and tobacco so the same approach could be used to control drugs.

Drug abuse counseling and treatment must be the second step. Just like alcoholics, most drug abusers would rather not have an abuse problem. Because the drug issue has been approached wrong for so many years there is a huge drug abuse problem. If only a fraction of what is being spent today on the drug problem would be spent on drug abuse counseling and treatment a huge improvement would be realized.

Many fear that the decriminalization of drugs would make them more easily available and increase their use by children. Anyone that watches the news on TV or reads the newspaper should know that drugs are very easy to get by both adults and children. Now drug pushers give drugs to kids so they will get hooked and then buy the drugs from the pusher. We don’t have alcohol pushers that give alcohol to kids to get them hooked because there is no profit motive. Remove the profit motive for drugs and the drug pushers will go away.

The June 2011 Global Commission on Drug Policy report states that the “global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.” The first sentence of their recommendation reads, “End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others.”