An even question might be, have we actually lost the very expensive war on drugs which started way back in 1971 when Nixon was still President. Two states, Washington and Colorado, have made it legal to use recreational marijuana. Not all of the supporters of these laws were stoners and dealers, actually even some in law enforcement were behind it. Why? Because they are spending too many resources and time on the lowly joint smoker while the cartels in Mexico and South America get richer and richer. They actually seem to be the ones winning at this war because every time the DEA or joint operations block an entry another one opens up and guess what they have more money than the states do to fight this.
The New York Times recently reported that the total current spending of US taxpayer money is over $40 billion a year. This does not include the cost of incarceration and other problems this war has created. Yes, there should be concern over the drug problem in this country and others, the addiction is ruining lives and costing money. Interestingly, though “the paradox of the war on drugs is that the harder governments push the fight, the higher drug prices become to compensate” reported the New York Times, this gives the major suppliers higher profit. The NY Times also reported that the country of Portugal has decriminalized all drug USE while they have maintained the illegality of drug trafficking. This type of law would greatly reduce the prison population in the US if applied here. An interesting aspect of all this is that people with alcoholism or who are addicted to nicotine have had success breaking their habits. They can openly work on their problems and pharmaceutical companies have developed things that help such as the nicotine patch or even Antabuse. Drug users that want to stop have concerns about labeling and law enforcement interference when they seek help.
No pharmaceutical company who needs to make a profit can afford to research products to combat a problem that must be kept in the shadows. In Portugal, a study of the result of their law shows that visits to addiction clinics has increased.The interesting thing about the recent decriminalization for recreational use of marijuana is that those states have now set up a taxing schedule on the product. Rather than losing money, the state can actually have some revenue to fight the harder drug problems. However, while these states have passed their own statute, these drugs are still illegal according to federal law and soon enough using the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution, the US Government can put a stop to it, or at least try. This is when this new war on drugs will go to the Supreme Court.