The War on Drugs Has Cost Taxpayers Over 1 Trillion Dollars

December 8, 2015   |   admintam

Despite increasing recognition of its usefulness as a medicine and increasingly state-level legalization, someone in the U.S. is arrested for marijuana possession about once every minute.

Kit O’Connell
December 8, 2015

(MINTPRESSWashington, D.C. The “war on drugs” costs Americans a staggering amount of money every year that it persists. Despite the billions they receive, federal, state and local law enforcement have a proven inability to stem the flow of drugs on the nation’s streets.

Since Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs in June 1971, the cost of that “war” had soared to over $1 trillion by 2010. Over $51 billion is spent annually to fight the drug war in the United States, according to Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting more humane drug policies.

It’s also taken a massive toll on human lives. In 2013, at least 2.2 million people were incarcerated in the U.S., with some estimates reaching 2.4 million, making the U.S. home to the world’s largest prison population. A vast number of those prisoners are victims of the war on drugs, reported Alejandro Crawford in U.S. News and World Report in March:

“Still, we should take comfort in the fact that these are mostly violent criminals and hardened drug kingpins, right? Not so. About half the inmates in the federal prison system are there for nonviolent drug crime – up from 16 percent in 1970 – and the leading drug involved is marijuana. Of course, none of this seems to have made marijuana remotely difficult to procure for those who want it.”

Although four states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana, and 23 states allow at least limited use of medical marijuana or cannabidiol (CBD) oil, someone is arrested about once every minute for marijuana possession in the U.S., according to the Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham:

“In 2014, at least 620,000 people were arrested for simple pot possession — that’s 1,700 people per day, or more than 1 per minute. And that number is an undercount, because a handful of states either don’t report arrest numbers to the FBI, or do so only on a limited basis.”


Ingraham noted that even as some marijuana laws grew less restrictive and some states legalized recreational use, arrests crept up slightly in 2014 as other jurisdictions stepped up enforcement, reflecting an overall trend toward increased focus on cannabis:

“Nationwide, more than 1 in 20 arrests were for simple marijuana possession. Twenty years ago, near the dawn of the drug war, fewer than 2 percent of arrests were for pot possession.”

Drug prohibition is extremely profitable for police and the prison-industrial complex. Yet Crawford pointed out that while policies of prohibition have already failed society twice in the U.S., legalization offers some proven benefits, including reducing power and profits for organized crime:

“While states across our land continue to imprison nonviolent users and low-level growers and dealers, such cartels depend for a non-trivial portion of their revenues on the false premium supplied by prohibition. Since prohibition has been repealed in key states, the prison population appears finally to have begun to decline, and cartels face falling prices for marijuana.”

This article (The War on Drugs Has Cost US Taxpayers Over 1 Trillion Dollars) originally appeared on and was used with permission. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email

Author: admintam

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  4. drug takin has increased 1000's of per cent since prohibition it costs us money doesn't work and hands insane profits to people willing to break the law. just legalise then you have at least some controll people will always want to get wrecked its genetic monkey get wrecked an in the same proportion to humans even less intelegent mammals like to get smashed, even wasps and bees for fucks sake

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  5. Everyone, in or out of prison, should have the right to ruin their lives with drugs if they want to. Once people know the truth about drugs and are shown a better way, most will not do them. Those that still want to should be allowed to legally, as long as they are prevented from hurting others. Trying to stop drugs is not possible, and it causes too many problems.

    If we are going to outlaw drugs, we have to outlaw alcohol and cigarettes also. If people are not going to be allowed to hurt themselves, we have to do it across the board. Making conflicting rules is one of the reasons people do not have respect for the law. If a law is not consistent, it must be abolished.

    We live in a country where torture is legal and marijuana is illegal.
    Bill Maher


    Black markets: When people wake up, drugs will be legalized. They will be taxed just like cigarettes and alcohol. Some of this new tax money will be spent on education, rehabilitation clinics, and the prison system. Why not let the problem pay to stop the problem? Outlawing drugs has just created a black market and violent gangs. It puts billions of dollars into the pockets of a criminal underworld. It supports many people that hurt many people.

    Black markets feed the beast and make it much stronger.

    The same thing happened when alcohol was outlawed in the twenties. It created a black market and gangsters, and we had to legalize it just to stop all the gang violence. We need to legalize street drugs for the same reasons. The gang problem is much worse now than it was in the time of Al Capone, and a lot more people are being killed. We are just wasting billions of dollars and wasting peoples lives. Making drugs illegal is a good idea that just does not work.

    Drugs do not cause violence. Getting illegal, expensive drugs causes it.

    Drugs do not cause violence. Alcohol makes people more violent than any illegal drug. Alcohol kills more people than guns, but it is legal. When a law is causing more problems than what it is outlawing, intelligent beings change it before it causes more damage. Good intentions do not always work; this must be seen.

    We could be putting a huge amount of money to better use. The money now spent to convict and jail people for drug offenses could be spent on education and rehabilitation for people that get addicted to drugs.

    Forbidden fruit: When you try to deny people something, you activate a very bad part of human nature. Some people, especially teenagers, always want what they are denied; it just makes them want it more. Many people are tempted and will always want the proverbial forbidden fruit. This part of our human nature is shown in the first book of the Bible. It tells us that forbidden fruit caused the downfall of mankind, and it is doing it in reality. It shows how great the problem is, and the only way to solve it is to remove all forbidden fruit that does not hurt other people.

    We are saying that drugs make life better: When we outlaw drugs, we are indirectly saying that drugs are better than normal life. We are saying that everyone would do them if not for the laws. It gives the opposite message than what people think it is giving, but no one sees this truth. If doing drugs was really better, no one would be going to expensive rehab centers to get off them, would they? This fact proves drugs really do not make life better, and this needs to be pointed out to kids before they get addicted to them.

    The best cure for drug addiction is education and giving people something that feels better than drugs can make them feel. The only thing that will do it is the ultimate truth and the complete fulfillment that follows. The truth will stop drugs. We just have to ask kids: why don’t most doctors and policemen do drugs? If drugs were really a good thing, most doctors and cops would be using them, because they can get them easily. The reason they do not is that they know that drugs really are not a good thing. Doctors and cops see how drugs lead to tragedy; all we have to do is show everyone what doctors and cops see.

    If you give people everything they want, along with the truth, they will always do the right thing. The opposite of what people think will happen, will happen. If kids were shown the truth about drugs in elementary school, not just BS, no one would get into drugs, because the truth is, drugs ruin your life. No one will do anything that will hurt them once they are sure it will. We feed kids so much BS that kids think that when we say drugs are bad for you, that it is also BS.

    Choice: The truth is, we should legalize everything that does not hurt other people, and let people make up their own minds about how they want to live. The law should only be to protect people from other people, not to protect them from themselves, because the truth is, nothing can do that.
    What the world needs now is less laws and more truth.

    People should be free to choose what they want to do with their own lives. People are not stupid, and they do not need other people to decide what is good for them. Those kinds of laws are wrong, impossible to enforce, and they create a dangerous and costly black market. The only way to stop people from doing one behavior is to give them something better to replace it with. If we give people the truth and the life, it will stop drugs, crime, and all self-destructive behavior.

    The bottom line: Everything should be legalized that does not hurt others, but all advertising and other things that promote them should be banned also. Instead, commercials will show people the truth and educate people on the dangers of certain products. People are smart and will respond to the truth and always do the right thing, but only when they know for certain what the right thing is.

    The people that are for keeping drugs illegal appear to be the good, moral people, the good guys, and it gets them elected, but the opposite is true. They are actually the most responsible for all the drug related murders and violence that stem from illegal drugs.

    Making drugs illegal seems like a good idea and that it would help society, but in reality, nothing is hurting society more. What is worse: thousands of kids murdered, millions of lives ruined, wasting billions of dollars, or legal drugs? Wake up people.

    Being for legalizing drugs does not mean you are for people using drugs. You will be against the use of drugs and support education about them.

    The cost of blindness to the truth: It is just like the current war in the Middle East. It looked like a good idea to try to stop terrorism, so it was a good political move, and most politicians promoted it for that reason. The truth is that it has made the threat of terrorism worse and has cost thousands of our best young people their lives and the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, including women and children, in the Middle East. It has also wasted over six trillion dollars, and continues to cost us four-hundred million dollars a day. The worst cost is the damage to America’s image in the rest of the world.

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