A group of police and judges who have been campaigning to legalize and regulate drugs pointed to the figures showing more than 1.6 million drug arrests in 2010 as evidence that the “war on drugs” is a failure that can never be won.
“Since the declaration of the ‘war on drugs’ 40 years ago we’ve arrested tens of millions of people in an effort to reduce drug use. The fact that cops had to spend time arresting another 1.6 million of our fellow citizens last year shows that it simply hasn’t worked. In the current economy we simply cannot afford to keep arresting three people every minute in the failed ‘war on drugs,’” said Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop who now heads the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “If we legalized and taxed drugs, we could not only create new revenue in addition to the money we’d save from ending the cruel policy of arresting users, but we’d make society safer by bankrupting the cartels and gangs who control the currently illegal marketplace.”
They note that the report finds that 81.9 percent of all drug arrests in 2010 were for possession only, and 45.8 percent of all drug arrests were for possession of marijuana.
LEAP notes a separate Department of Justice report showing a rise in Mexican drug cartels operating in U.S. cities, from 230 to 1,000, over the past two year and a Health and Human Services report finding nearly one in 10 Americans regularly using illegal drugs.
I’m thinking the latter is this report, which was the starting point for a series of posts from Andrew Sullivan on the collapse of meth and the rise of pot:
The number of current methamphetamine users decreased by roughly half from 2006 to 2010 — from 731,000 people age 12 and older (0.3-percent) to 353,000 (0.1-percent). Cocaine use has also declined, from 2.4 million current users in 2006 to 1.5 million in 2010. In addition, among 12 – 17 year olds there were decreases between 2009 and 2010 in current drinking rates (from 14.7-percent down to 13.6-percent) and current tobacco use rates (from 11.6-percent to 10.7-percent)….
In 2010, 17.4 million Americans were current users of marijuana – compared to 14.4 million in 2007. This represents an increase in the rate of current marijuana use in the population 12 and older from 5.8-percent in 2007 to 6.9-percent in 2010. Another disturbing trend is the continuing rise in the rate of current illicit drug use among young adults aged 18 to 25 — from 19.6-percent in 2008 to 21.2-percent in 2009 and 21.5-percent in 2010. This increase was also driven in large part by a rise in the rate of current marijuana use among this population.
What Andrew finds disturbing is the government’s marijuana obsession. Notes he:
Maybe, just maybe, people know what they’re doing. Moving off drugs that kill you toward soft drugs that you cannot overdose on and don’t make you violent is a good thing. If the feds stopped demonizing marijuana they’d be cheering a more rational drug-using population in America.
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