The War on Drugs has been called a failure a multitude of times since its inception both by the United Nations and several other countries – namely the United States. Meant to stop the production and distribution of illegal narcotics, the fight to do so has done almost everything but with the Global Commission on Drug Policy famously declaring in 2011 that:
“The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.”
Drug cartels have proliferated since the beginning of the War on Drugs, much like how bootleggers in the United States rose to power during the Prohibition of the 1920s. The rise of both groups isn’t dissimilar, with both providing a product that was outlawed that led to a vast accumulation of wealth that in turn fed gang activity and violence. Prohibition of course, was repealed in the 1930s, and put bootleggers out of business – an example that many countries have decided could be the better way to win the so called War on Drugs.
Of course, there is staunch support against the legalisation of drugs despite a push in the past decade to legalize the use of safer narcotics such as marijuana. The argument goes that legalizing different forms of drugs and having the government control dispersion of controlled substances as a medical or recreational asset would divert the cash flow going into drug cartels and gangs to the local community and government coffers. The state of Colorado in the United States boasts a huge drug revenue after becoming the first US state to legalize marijuana, and has put the money towards improving its infrastructure and improving the quality of life of its’ constituents.
The Netherlands, which also advocates the use of controlled substances has also benefitted massively from having a say in the sale of narcotics – both on a social and economic level. This has pushed several countries, such as Canada and Australia to begin debating the legalization of drugs such as marijuana, and increasing funding and research into the potential medical effects of psychoactive drugs like MDMA and ecstasy in an effort to commercialize it in acceptable doses in the future.
Whilst there is still a hard-line opposition against the legalization of drugs despite the many benefits it would entail, there is no denying that the War on Drugs has been a massive failure that has served only to prop up and encourage the development of drug cartels.