The Failure of Drug Control Policy

The failure of contemporary drug control policy can be measured first and foremost in its failure, despite vast public expenditures, to control drug use. The easiest proof of this failure is that the United States today has approximately the same fraction of its population addicted to drugs as it had at the beginning of the 20th century, before contemporary drug control measures were even conceived.

Of course the apologists for this failure assert that drug use and addiction would be at even higher rates, were it not for our efforts to control drugs. There is no proof for this apology, and there is considerable evidence to the contrary. For one thing, the United States has become a world leader in both the extremity of its drug control efforts, and in the severity of its drug use epidemic. Thus, the evidence is that the billions of dollars spent in drug control measures are in fact counter-productive, that is, that present drug control measures are actually causing drug use and exacerbating a host of other social pathologies in the process. Now our prisons are overflowing with young, mostly nonviolent drug convicts. Prison construction has become our principal growth industry. We are approaching an unparalleled social catastrophe when, in the first decade of the 21st century, today's population bulge of sub-teenagers will arrive at the age of vulnerability to seduction to drug use, drug pushing, and related criminality.

Present-day measures of drug control produce drug/crime epidemic. The socioeconomic mechanisms of drug/crime epidemic are the subject of Part I of the book Market Interposition: a Comprehensive Public Health Strategy for Control of the Drug/Crime Epidemic. You can read this book online, and download or copy it at any point in your visit to the PDPI web site, subject to the copyright permit provided at the "Literature" page.

Unfortunately, the failure of drug control measures has given rise to a formidable movement for the legalization of drug use and commerce - "with controls." The trouble with that "solution" is that it does not work either. The proponents of legalized drug commerce have yet to offer anything like a workable plan for drug control under the condition of legality. If the alcohol and tobacco industries have taught us anything, it is that the legal status of their products - for adult use - makes it very difficult to prevent the industries' promotion of smoke and booze to juveniles. With the combined deaths from smoke and booze already in the six hundred thousands, we do not need to legalize the pushing of heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, LSD, etc.

A central purpose of this web-site is to show: first, that we can reduce the levels of drug use and harm from drug use; second, that we can eliminate the violence and gangsterism associated with the illegal drug commerce; and third, that we can have the benefits of these effects inexpensively and without legalizing private enterprise in drugs. Part II of the book Market Interposition: a Comprehensive Public Health Strategy for Control of the Drug/Crime Epidemic tells how.