With the squeeze of the sequester increas­ingly pal­pable across the country and the battle over next year’s budget unfolding on Capitol Hill, there is no better time for a sober, bipar­tisan and data-​​driven con­ver­sa­tion about our spending pri­or­i­ties. One area where dismal return on invest­ment dic­tates fun­da­mental change is the “war on drugs.” By slashing anti-​​drug pro­grams we know are not working, we can save hun­dreds of bil­lions, while also reducing the col­lat­eral human costs of these pro­grams at home and abroad.

Based loosely on market theory, U.S. drug policy has two pil­lars: supply reduc­tion and demand reduc­tion. The thinking goes that we can reduce drug abuse by attacking supply chains, thus making it harder and more expen­sive to pro­cure illegal drugs, while also reducing demand by edu­cating Amer­i­cans about the risks and treating addic­tion. Supply reduc­tion has always received the lion’s share of resources.

In the 1980s, as part of our bur­geoning effort to cur­tail the inflow of drugs, the U.S. began aggres­sively attacking coca and opium traf­fickers in the Andes. Based on the Gov­ern­ment Account­ability Office’s assess­ment, the invest­ment of bil­lions of U.S. tax­payer dol­lars and sig­nif­i­cant human resources helped inca­pac­i­tate sev­eral drug king­pins. But, as supply chains organ­i­cally shifted, our efforts failed to sus­tain­ably reduce the flow or increase street prices of Andean cocaine or heroin.

Read the article at Huffington Post →