The Drug War Doesn’t Add Up, Say Nobel Economists

The pursuit of a militarized and enforcement-led global war on drugs strategy has produced enormous negative outcomes and collateral damage.

The numbers don’t lie: It’s time to end the harmful and ineffective “war on drugs.” Take it from five Nobel Prize–winning economists.

A new report from the London School of Economics, Ending the Drug Wars: Report of the LSE Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy, includes an appeal from five Nobel laureates and other leading experts to experiment with alternative policies. 

“It is time to end the ‘war on drugs’ and massively redirect resources towards effective evidence-based policies underpinned by rigorous economic analysis,” the report states. “The pursuit of a militarized and enforcement-led global war on drugs strategy has produced enormous negative outcomes and collateral damage.”

The report, supported by the Open Society Foundations, quantifies the links between failed drug policies and violence, displacement, mass incarceration, and public health epidemics. It concludes that governments must rethink harmful punitive policies and develop an increased focus on security, economic development, and human rights.

As governments around the world are increasingly experimenting with fully taxed and regulated cannabis markets, the report suggests policymakers rigorously monitor these experiments to see what can be learned or adopted. 

Ending the War on Drugs was presented by the London School of Economics to the Interior Minister of Guatemala, which has been among those governments demanding a UN review of the drug control system, due to take place at a special session in 2016.

“The United Nations has for too long tried to enforce a repressive, ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach,” write the Nobelists. “It must now take the lead in advocating a new cooperative international framework based on the fundamental acceptance that different policies will work for different countries and regions.”

The Nobel laureates who endorsed the report are Kenneth Arrow, Christopher Pissarides, Thomas Schelling, Vernon Smith, and Oliver Williamson. Other signatories include renowned economists, political scientists, and human rights experts from around the world.

Download the full report on the London School of Economics website.

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Rick Wershe, better known to the public as "White Boy Rick", is currently serving a life prison sentence in the Michigan Department of Corrections for a single drug possession conviction from January 1988. When he was arrested he was only 17 years old. Newly uncovered evidence proves he was led into the life of being a teenage drug dealer by the federal government. Rick was recruited by a narcotics task force made up by the FBI, DEA, and several Detroit Police Department detectives in 1984 as a 14 year old juvenile, encouraged to drop out of high school and eventually put to work as a paid undercover operative in some of the state's most dangerous criminal organizations for the next three years.
Following his conviction, he was sentenced under Michigan's ultra-tough "650-Lifer Law", a law erased from the books in 1998, allowing him to be eligible for parole.In the three times before the parole board in the last decade, he's been rejected every time. As of 2012, he was the only minor sentenced under that law in the whole Michigan prison system that remains behind bars. He is also the only person in the country convicted as a minor for a non violent crime facing the prospect of serving a life sentence.
In the 25 years Rick has been incarcerated, he has cooperated with law enforcement extensively. Prosecutors have said that without his help, the largest police corruption case in Detroit's history would not have been possible. Some of the people ending up being convicted included members of Coleman Young's family.
Rick's situation doesn't feel right in many ways. This site will hopefully educate people who are unfamiliar with his situation , however isn't intended for "fans" to glamorize or endorse his behavior.
Once a boy who made a mistake, Rick is now simply a man in his mid-40's in search of a second chance.

This is a letter to the Michigan Parole Board from a former FBI agent who worked directly with Rick Wershe when he was working undercover for them and the Detroit Police Department. He is someone who knows the truth and is not afraid to speak up. ->

The drug war is a useless and worse yet a counter productive policy that in reality is causing more problems than it solves and we must ask after decades of the drug war if it solves anything at all since those people that want drugs can get them and they can get them easy. Rather than almost religiously stay on our pro or contra drug war views we should ask the most important question ''How do we keep mairjuana,cocaine,heroin,alcohol,cigarettes etc. out of a 15 year olds hands?'',15 year olds cannot go to costco,carrefour,tesco,migros,pricesmart etc. and buy alcohol, but they can go to any street dealer and get heroin etc., in a legal and regulated drug industry the people selling it would be known by name, tel, address, bank account numer etc., these people would go through rigorous background checks, they would have to abide by age restrictions, restrictions on where it can be sold(e.g. not close to schools etc.) and other restrictions, there could also be unannounced inspecions and audits, someone who opens a business spends many thousands sometimes even hundreds of thousands on this project, they would have to be nuts to risk their investment and risk getting a huge fine and possibly jail time just so they can sell some kid some weed etc., so this alone will prevent most underage people from getting drugs much more than in todays illegal drug market where dealers dont really care about the age of who they are selling to, another thing that should be taken into account is who is selling it, today if Society is lucky the guy selling it is some dude who is just trying to make some extra money, hes cool, hes not violent and not part of some gang, mafia etc., but very often society is not lucky because its a criminal organisation selling it, and then we see what happens, the violence the shootings etc., if drug consumers were given the choice between a legal and safe market vs going on the block to some dubious person then they would surely go to the legal and safe market to get their drugs, this would lock the criminal element out of large sums of money, money that they would usually use to buy guns, to put hits on people, bribe cops, and do other bad things that damage individuals and society, the drug war is comparable to the prohibition of alcohol, if alcohol was made illegal today within 6 months there would be shootouts on borders, there would be smuggling and illegal distilleries in basements etc., people would die from poison alcohol just lik eit happened during the original prohibition of alcohol, todays drug war is literally history repeating itself, but this drug war is bigger, and the profits, the amount of criminals involved and the amount of violence as well, we must be allowed to change the drug war policy from prohibition to legalisation and regulation, it cannot be that Governments and leaders and the military industrial circles just close their eyes to reality and no matter what happens expect countries to just continue this failed policy just because they are afraid of losing influence and profits.

3 guys are sitting on 3 different benches in the forest, guy #1 is smoking a big fat cuban cigar, guy #2 is drinking from a big bottle of Vodka and guy #3 is smoking a marijuana joint, the police shows up, they walk past 1's smoke plumes NO PROBLEM, they walk past 2 who is already pretty drunk but hes not bothering anybody so NO PROBLEM then they see number 3 sitting there,relaxing and pulling from his joint and they brutalize and arrest him like some scumbag criminal, any sensible person would say that this is wrong, and it certainly looks discriminatory and then comes the question of necessity, do we really feel safer when the police locks up the marijuana smoker, has anything been achieved for society, or has this actually damaged socitey, in many nations a marijuana arrest gives you a criminal record and prevents you from getting certain jobs, I argue that such arrests are unecessary and they actually cause harm to the individual thats being arrested and to society as well because obviously its not just one person thats locked up but hundreds, thousands and world wide even millions, and this continues year after year like some factory operation, now picture this alternative:- the cops see #3, they approach him say good day and keep walking, no violence, and no problem atleast none for which the police needs to be called. And a added plus in a legal setting would be that if #3 ever had addiction problems he would be much less afraid to out himself as a user because the stigmatisation & criminalization of today would no longer be a hindrance to his want to get treatment.

The drug war means murdered people, it means countries having to fight a crime wave, and thats where the united states comes in, they say to country X, let us have a military base so we can fight drugs, they say they want shiprider agreements which give them free access to a nations waters and territory any time they want, then they want to send their dea and fbi etc., the drug warrior nations also need to spend huge sums of money on guns,ammunition,training,police cars,helicopters,ships,boats,spy equipment etc. and the biggest profiteers are companies in the usa and europe, and the joke is even after they spend all this money they still have a crime problem because there are always more poor people willing to take the risk for the big money they can earn by replacing the inprisoned drug pushers and there always are plenty corrupt cops and military that give information, support and weapons to the criminal element which enables it to exist,persist and continue causing problems, which in turn makes these countries want even more help from america,uk etc. and more weapons, its like a never ending cycle of drug warrior madness, no one wants to see the fact that sometimes you have to step out of a cycle to start something new, a legal and regulated drugs market is one where for once in this drug war the governments would actually have real control, look at how governments have control over alcohol and who can produce it, sell it, age restrictions etc., in a legal drugs market the governments could have this same control over marijuana, cocaine etc., something that they certainly dont have today, control is not a press conference where you show the hundred kilos you seized and claim success while you fully well know & hide the fact that there are ten times or even a thousand times that amount on the street, control is being able to enforce a law that prevents children from getting it, control is saying you cant sell close to schools and it actually being respected, control is telling a convicted gang member, cartel member etc. that he cannot get a liscence to sell marijuana etc. because he is A CRIMINAL and criminals dont get to sell this, THAT IS REAL CONTROL, todays drug war is the illusion of control, if you want real control then legalize & regulate all drugs and end the drug war violence now.

Her is the quote from Frederic's post, above: " many nations a marijuana arrest gives you a criminal record and prevents you from getting certain jobs, I argue that such arrests are unecessary and they actually cause harm to the individual thats being arrested and to society as well because obviously its not just one person thats locked up but hundreds, thousands and world wide even millions, and this continues year after year like some factory operation..."

Frederic, thank you for your above posts! I would like to add: how about DELETE ALL those convictions' records from governments' databases to allow those "hundreds, thousands...even millions" individuals, some of whom were simply in a wrong place at at wrong time picked up by some ignorant DEA officers with full salaries and pensions for life guaranteed, to be aquitted and finally allowed to live FREE, without stigma, persecution, subjugation, exploitation and abuse at their jobs, relationships, immigration detention centers, etc., etc. It is time for reversal of barbarian policies of war on drugs!

In KILL THE DRUG TRADE, Ending the War on Drugs in a System of Toleration, Counseling and Control, we can see a way to eliminate virtually all of the harms of drug prohibition, while eradicating the small time dealers so accessible to kids, and bring adult addicts into the fold where they can be allowed to find sobriety at a pace commensurate with their individual abilities and circumstances. Thanks for this wonderful news.

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