Wednesday 12 May 2010

Balko on the War on Drugs

It's heartening that nearly a million people have now seen the Columbia video. But it needs some context. The officers in that video aren't rogue cops. They're no different than other SWAT teams across the country. The raid itself is no different from the tens of thousands of drug raids carried out each year in the U.S. If the video is going to effect any change, the Internet anger directed at the Columbia Police Department needs to be redirected to America's drug policy in general. Calling for the heads of the Columbia SWAT team isn't going to stop these raids. Calling for the heads of the politicians who defend these tactics and promote a "war on drugs" that's become all too literal—that just might.
Radley Balko on the aftermath of the rather nasty, but all too typical, video of a militarized SWAT team raid on a family home where they shot up a corgi and terrified the children in pursuit of a joint.


  1. "War on Drugs" never gonna win, as long as drugs are illegal the demand will go up, it`s human nature!.

    Legalize the lot, criminal gangs will not be involved any longer as the demand will diminish overnight, the addicts will soon be sorted with clinics where the drugs are free, and will become known to authorities "controlled".

    Alcohol is legal yet it is a drug and more destructive than most class B drugs,,,,hmmmmm?? governments make money from breweries.

  2. @Anon: Agree on legalization as best response, but your last paragraph is odd: if drugs were legal, government could tax and earn money from them too.

  3. @Eric To be fair, Anon's whole post was a little odd. I do agree that the legalisation with regulation model is probably the best option for dealing with drugs. However there are several things I don't buy in his (assumption here) argument. I don't think it is human nature to want to use drugs because they are illegal, although it may be an incentive for some people to try them the first time. I think the incentive to keep using is because the user gets a pleasurable experience from it. I also doubt that drugs in clinics would be free under a legal/regulated model, unless subsidised my MoH or a similar agency, and I can see some public aggravation if this were the case.
    I would expect a reduction of income for gangs however, and this is potentially a very strong incentive for legalisation. However the reason for this wouldn't be reduced demand for drugs, but rather wider availability, as gangs would no longer be the primary supplier. I would also expect price to drop considerably for some drugs, especially cannabis as many would simply grow a few plants in their back yard (unless legislation was specifically passed to attempt to control or licence growers.) There would continue to be a strong market for substances which require more expertise to create/manufacture, but I'd imagine market forces and competition would still see a price drop unless govt taxation was sufficient to offset this. That, in my opinion, would be unwise, as it would mean that the black market would still be viable.
    Of course this is all pie in the sky stuff, because common sense sadly does not prevail around this issue.