The War on Drugs: A ‘Duh’ Update
This isn’t really a full post in my drug policy series, but I had to post this as a perfect example of the principles that I’ve described in my previous posts. From McClatchy:
Mexican drug gangs now control the US ‘meth’ market
A U.S. crackdown on domestic methamphetamine labs has created opportunities for Mexican drug cartels and their “superlabs” to fill the void.
Law enforcement agencies now consider “meth” produced in Mexico to be the greatest drug menace in the Western United States and a growing concern across the southeast and mid-Atlantic states, according to a Department of Justice report released this year.
Mexican drug gangs now produce 80 percent of the methamphetamine consumed in the United States, and Mexican officials say the Mexican manufacturers have become adept at meeting the shifting demands of U.S. addicts. (Read the full story here.)
Surprise, surprise. Interdiction practices have resulted in… (check your notes, class)… that’s correct! REPLACEMENT. Meth is an insidious, destructive drug. However, that fact is irrelevant in developing policies and practices for dealing with the meth problem or any other illicit market. Supply side eradication has only short-term results and product and distribution are quickly replaced. Not only does the flow of drugs remain steady and their sale profitable, but collateral harm increases. Home meth labs are certainly dangerous to individuals, families, and communities. Yet the activities of the Mexican drug gangs result in a far greater level – spread throughout both the US and Mexico – of collateral harm. Do you think this story might be related?
Addiction is a social problem and a health issue that cannot be solved through criminal justice or enforcement methods. The creation of illicit markets has done nothing to reduce introduction or recidivism rates of drug abuse. I don’t think that legalizing all drugs is the answer, but adopting more rational policies and practices, such as those of the Netherlands, might be more successful in helping addicts and reducing harm.