Key Concepts of Drug/Crime Epidemic

The following definitions introduce key concepts underlying creation of the Pacific Drug Policy Institute.

The drug use epidemic(familiar to health practitioners as the somewhat simplistic "disease model") is only one of several contributory processes of the Drug/Crime Epidemic.

The drug/crime syndromeis the set of social pathologies incident to ongoing drug use in our society. The phrase "in our society" includes the condition of illegality which has pertained for the last three quarters of a century, but with increasing severity of public policy responses. The principal social pathologies of the drug/crime syndrome today are:

  • A vigorous black market in drugs, featuring ready availability of extremely hazardous drugs in highly concentrated forms and including highly toxic adulterants.
  • Extremely high drug prices and enormous cash flows from drug sales going to the crime syndicates.
  • Flourishing gangsterism and gang violence in the conduct of drug commerce.
  • High levels of drug related crime, such as drug pushing, prostitution, theft, and burglary.
  • Widespread use of drugs to control prostitutes.
  • Blood-borne diseases at epidemic rates.
  • Extensive police corruption by drug dealers.
  • Extensive police involvement in crimes such as extortion and protection of drug criminals and the sale of confiscated drugs and other seized property.
  • The criminalization of large numbers of youth by drug use, drug trafficking, and other drug-related crime.
  • Chaotic and violent school environments, large numbers of unmanageable and uneducable children, and educational failure.
  • Rapid growth of the prison population.
  • High rates of family failure, fatherlessness, husbandlessness, economic incompetence and dependency.
  • Seduction of new drug users at or above the drug cure rate.
  • Public resort to increasingly totalitarian police state measures for control of drug use and commerce in drugs.
  • High levels of public distrust and skepticism over drug policy, law enforcement, political leadership, the media, and democratic society.

Many of the pathologies of the drug/crime syndrome are causally and complexly inter-linked. In some instances, these causal linkages are sequential, forming chains of social pathology. Many causal chains form positive feedback loops--arrays of causally related events in which each event causes or stimulates its successor and in which the last event in the series causes or stimulates the first. Causal chains with positive feedback loops abound in the drug/crime syndrome...

The drug/crime epidemicis the sum of the social pathologies of the drug/crime syndrome plus their causal interconnections and feedback loops plus the energies that drive the epidemic...

The principal energic input of the drug/crime epidemic is the drug/crime subsidy--the difference between the ordinary and necessary cost of producing and distributing illegal drugs (given the state of the relevant technologies) and the sum of proceeds of black market retail sales. The value of the drug/crime subsidy, for the year 1993, is estimated as follows:

The Sum of Retail Sales Receipts:
Less the Ordinary and Necessary Costs of production:
The Drug/Crime Subsidy:

The drug/crime subsidy is the reward that our society bestows upon criminal entrepreneurs (through the instrumentality of drug prohibition) for bringing illegal drugs to market, for promoting drug use, and for the seduction of new drug users.

If 80% of drug consumption is by addicts (as some estimates have it), then 80% of the drug crime subsidy (that is $38,640,000,000 per year) could be eliminated by taking care of the drug-related needs of addicts. The remaining 20% could be eliminated by treating recreational drug use as a mistake of judgment, rather than a crime, and taking care of the drug-related needs of drug users. We do some of that now with many tobacco addicts and alcoholics, and it works. Jailing drug users does not work: It only fills jails.

Market interposition provides eight strategic tools which, in combination, are capable of arresting the cash flow to the crime syndicates from the sale of drugs to addicts and recreational drug users. By destroying the profit incentive to drug commerce, these strategic tools also destroy the incentives to promote drug use and addiction and to seduce new drug users. Lower levels of drug use will result.