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Saturday, June 04, 2011

The global war on drugs has failed

The high level statement that the global war on drugs has failed has been widely reported, including here:

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2011/06/the-global-commission-on-drug-policy.html

A few thoughts:

1. With governments in revenue shortfall worldwide, a conversion from a net outflow (cost of enforcement of drug laws) to a net inflow (sin taxes) is bound to look attractive. It’s no accident that it was FDR in the depths of the Great Depression who ended Prohibition.

2. Would this stabilize Mexico, and work to end the drug wars there? I would think it would be a big help, but will have to defer to others. Stabilizing Mexico is clearly in the best interests of the U.S.

3. At the end of Prohibition, there were people who had become rich and who will eventually attain conventional political power.  The Kennedys are one possible example. In fact, if it’s true that the Kennedy clan made their initial money this way, it’s a good indicator that legalization doesn’t take away the wealth, but that the focus of successive generations can change away from the original family business if other motivations become more salient (public service motivations, or a desire for fame – take your pick).