Drug Czar John Walters recently sat down with the editorial board of The Cincinnati Enquirer, "repeatedly referred to drug abuse as a 'disease,'" said the key to winning the drug war was to cut demand, and mused
"I believe there will come a day when we'll wonder what took us so long to do drug testing in schools."
Walters also trotted out the canard that "half of the world's terrorist groups bankroll operations with profits from the illegal drug trade" without questioning how black markets affect not only profits but the sorts of folks who go into criminal activity. More, including the Enquirer's fawning characterization of Walters and a call to be even more proactive in pushing kids into treatment programs, etc. here.
On the very day that the House of Representatives is voting on one of the most invasive, hysteria-driven bills in recent memory–legislation that would allow school officials to conduct random and warrantless searches of students on the flimsiest of pretexts–I think the question we'll all be asking in the future is how we let the drug war become a central, structuring event in everyday American life akin to the Cold War, when every international chess match or hockey game was an apocalyptic proxy war. Think about it (at least if you're a man who uses urinals in restaurants, public places, and the like): You literally can't take a piss in this country without being reminded, courtesy of the sanitary cake holder in the pisspot, to "Say No to Drugs."
The standard figure for the direct costs of the drug war is around $40 or $50 billion at the local, state, and federal levels, but when you factor in the massive social disruption (record-setting arrests for marijuana possession, anyone? or raids on legal medical marijuana dispensaries), utter waste of time (e.g. DARE programs), and widescale institutional corruption (e.g. testilying) bred by the effort to keep people mostly from growing, buying, and selling weed (by far the most popular illegal drug), it's anyone's guess how much everything really costs.
This much is certain–as even conservatives at The American Enterprise Institute will tell you–the drug war fails the most basic cost-benefit analysis.