Drug War

Forty Years of Drug War Failure Represented in a Single Chart


According to The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society, last published by the Department of Justice in 2011, enforcing illegal drug laws imposes an annual cost on the American criminal justice system of $56 billion; while incarceration of drug offenders imposes an annual cost of $48 billion.

That's $104 billion spent annually by states and cities on two aspects of the drug war (and doesn't include treatment, public assistance, and a slew of other costs), compared to roughly $21 billion spent by the federal government. For $1.5 trillion to reflect just federal spending, the federal drug control budget would need to have been $37.5 billion a year, every year, for the last four decades. It's only slightly more than half that this year.

So, yes: There is a huge problem with the chart, in that 40 years of federal drug control spending does not add up to $1.5 trillion (though minus the "$1.5 trillion" in the middle of the image, the chart does accurately represent the growth of the federal drug control budget and the relatively flat rate of addiction to illicit substances). But even if the chart were designed to reflect "all costs associated with drug prohibition" over the last 40 years, with the right Y axis reflecting the growth of state and federal drug control spending, it would still be wrong, because $1.5 trillion doesn't nearly cover it.

Via Drugsnotthugs.com and Reason's own Cynthia Bell.

Update: A reader points out that the dollar amounts on the right Y axis don't add up to $1.5 trillion. The creator of the chart, documentary filmmaker Matt Groff, Tweeted the following in response to a question about where the $1.5 trillion figure comes from: "Short answer: chart shows only fed drug control, $1.5T refers to all costs assoc. w/ drug prohibition, blog on it shortly."

First off, I take the blame for not seeing the discrepancy. Shame on me.

But here's the funny thing: While the $1.5 trillion figure doesn't correspond to the numbers at right, it's actually low. In 2010, the AP put the 40-year tab of federal drug control spending at $1 trillion. But the massive federal drug control budget--for fiscal year 2013, it'll be $3.7 billion for interdiction, $9.4 billion for law enforcement, and $9.2 billion for early intervention--is actually a pretty small slice of the pie. States and municipalities have their own drug war expenses--investigating, trying, and locking up drug offenders--and those expenses actually dwarf what the federal government spends.

Update 2: Over at his blog, Matt Groff responds to concerns about his chart:

This graphic was initially not meant to stand on its own but rather illustrate an interviewee's assertions about the costs and efficacy of drug prohibition. In a tight production schedule, I utilized a data set that I thought most accurately illustrated the nature and growth of the costs of the War on Drugs and that data is US federal drug control spending. But the $1.5 trillion figure, as mentioned by Jack Cole in his interview, accounts for many more costs, including state level costs, prison costs, lost productivity costs due to incarceration and others.

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  1. Riggs, I think you just showed forty years of image posting fail instead.

    1. I can see it on my screen. Is it showing up now?

      1. Yeah, we can see it now.

      2. Yes. Drinking this early again, Mike? It's not good for you.

          1. Not so drunk as we were lead to believe!


          2. Not so wounded as we were led to beleive!

              1. So much the better.

      3. At first, I thought it was a kind of existential joke. 40 years of drug war gets you bupkis!

  2. The data's only showing up from '70-'71.

    And I'd love to see the same chart cross referenced for inflation adjusted spending and/or the incarceration rate.

    1. There it is!

    2. I'd love it even more if we didn't call it the "addiction rate" unless we actually know it's that.

  3. I've got an idea. Let's just throw more money at it.

      1. Roads!!!


  4. Yeah, well, obviously we need to spend more money on law enforcement.

    1. And teachers!Throw in some firefighters too, just to complete the trifecta of good policy.

      1. What, are you anti-teacher? THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!

        1. I am. That's why I'm anti-teacher.

  5. That chart and the similar one showing test scores and the expenditures of the department of education should be grounds for eiliminating both.

  6. Huh? I only see two data points?

    Or is that the point - after 1971, the whole WOSD budget was spent on jackboots and jails, and nothing was left to collect data indicating what a colossal failure the War on Some Drugs has been?

  7. I suppose the drug warriors look at that chart and say, "See? We've managed to keep the addiction rate down! All that spending is really working!"

    1. "Addicts created or saved by the WOSD..."

      1. Just imagine what the rate would be if we hadn't spent all of that money.

        And one of these days you will have kids and think differently.

        1. Why? Do people stop thinking when they have kids?

  8. If you look closely at the chart, it will really make you want to take the entire MSM and line them up an shoot them. Spending really exploded in the late 1980s. Meanwhile, drug use actually went down slightly from 86 to 92. So why the explosion in spending? The explosion of crack cocaine use that the media told us was going to end civilization.

    1. Spending exploded in the late 1980s and early 1990s...and John wants to line up and murder the media.

      Hmmm...what Presidents were in power doing the actual enforcement of the drug laws...

      1. I was there for the Reagan/Reagan/Meese war on drugs. The turn to crack was driven not by old whitey, but by the democrats and the civil rights coalition. Crack was racist, and they demanded that the racist government do something to stop crack.

        They regularly and loudly charged that Reagan was racist because he wasn't doing enough to stop crack from destroying our inner cities. So no, you can't lay the crack scare at the feet of the Reagan administration. Even though they were diligent and courageous drug warriors, they weren't cool enough to know about the dangers of crack.

        For those who weren't alive at the time, a 30 second google search turned up this article about the democrat's plan to combat crack cocain, which includes demands that crack be treated as a schedule 1 drug similar to heroin - with possession of 5 grams getting you 20 years. This was just the opening salvo. A bidding war ensued to prove who was a better friend to the inner city black man.* At the rate they were going I'm surprised they didn't institute the death penalty for having ever been in the same room with a vial of crack.

        *yes, irony intended.

    2. "So why the explosion in spending?"

      Obama blames Paul Ryan.

  9. Imagine what addiction rates would be without all that money spent!

    1. These people just don't have kids yet so they just don't understand.

      1. If the government doesn't teach our children the difference between right and wrong, then who will?

  10. All that money spent, and yet we still only managed to keep addiction at a roughly steady rate! And remember, it still would have been worth it, if only one life had been saved! And just imagine what would have happened if we'd done nothing!


    1. * note to self: refresh is your friend.

    2. If only we had lined up and shot the media!


    3. All of the thousands of murders committed because of the drug war are worth it if it saves just one life.

  11. If that $1.5 trillion saved even one single soccer mom from having to deal with her soccer son taking the drugs, it's worth it.

    1. That is right. And remember, it is always the dealer's fault when he overdoses or robs the house to sell the contents for drug money. He has a disease. He was taken advantage of.

  12. On a positive note it looks like money wasted on enforcement is leveling off.

    1. That clearly explains why we haven't solved the problem.

    2. Don't worry. It will be wasted somewhere else.

    3. On a positive note it looks like money wasted on enforcement is leveling off.

      It's 'cause we're out.

  13. Shouldn't the green stuff add up to 1.5 trillion? Even if the entire chart was green it would only add up to 800 billion. I'm not disputing the numbers but the chart doesn't depict what it says.

    1. Good catch. And I doubt there was another $700 billion anti-drug spending in all the years prior to 1970.

      1. I'd put drug control spending in the period of 1900-1970 at under $1 billion--even adjusted for inflation--but that's just a guess.

        1. Unless they included the alcohol Prohibition era.

          1. To expand upon this, the total inflation-adjusted cost in federal appropriations for the enforcement of liquor prohibition for the period 1920-1930 was about...wait for it...$1.3 billion dollars. (see Merz: The Dry Decade) Narcotic enforcement expenditures tracked along similar upward trends but they didn't die off with repeal of the 18th amendment.

            Another interesting graph is one that shows drug arrests (and expenditures) skyrocketing through the 80's and 90's without the promised corresponding decrease in violent and property crime--it stayed about the same.

  14. I believe (I haven't done the math) the 1.5 Trillion isn't per annum, it's the total dollars spent over 40 years.

    Ie: $1.5b + $2b + $4b + $6b + $10b + $16b and so on.

    1. response to medicnalcolorado

      1. medicinalcolorado is right. $20B * 40 = $800B. My back of the envelope calculation is the the area below the chart is roughly $400B.

        1. Ack. I mean the area below the green spending line (and above the X axis) adds up to roughly $400B.

          1. My trick to make you do the math worked.

    2. Sounds like a perfect stimulus.

    3. $20 billion x 40 years = $800 billion.

      The $1.5 trillion label on the chart is not supported by the data in the chart.

      1. I'm guessing it includes the interest?

        1. The $1.5 trillion may be inflation-adjusted, but the graph isn't.

          (I don't know, but short of some basic math error that's all I can think of for this discrepancy)

          1. I hope it's inflation adjusted. Otherwise it could just be a chart of inflation.

          2. Not simply inflation-adjusted, but rather present-valued, as RC suggests. That seems sensible to me -- they had to borrow to fund the war. But I'd like to see the assumptions spelled out.

      2. Aren't annual WOD numbers commonly quoted as being in the 40B/y range?

        1. There's something screwy with the graph in general. The data line comes and goes...

          1. How good a graph can you make, when you're baked out of your gourd?

            1. Hey, some of us are awesome at Excel at any sobriety level that supports conciousness.

              1. That awesomeness is attributable entirely to Excel. It is adapting to your incoherent state. Even the menus, they can tell what you want to use.

                (yeah, I still haven't moved past 2003)

                1. Hence, thinking Excel is still awesome...

                2. 2007/10 is an improvement. Don't believe the FUD.

                  1. I don't doubt that, but I use it so rarely, the cost/benefit is not there.

  15. awesome. maybe this will help some of the "visual learners" amongst the drug warrior camp to finally GET IT.

    this war on drugs has been largely a war on people who use, and most specifically deal drugs. as for drugs - they are as available as ever, and many of them are much cheaper (especially inflation adjusted) than when i was in college 25 yrs ago. clearly, it's a market fail if the market can still provide cocaine etc. and MORE cheaply than they could decades ago. these decades of the WOD have brought us what exactly? what positives?

    1. these decades of the WOD have brought us what exactly? what positives?

      I'm sure that there are plenty of prosecutors, defense attorneys, prison guards, policemen, substance abuse counselors, drug testers, and others who owe their entire career to the drug war.

      That's a powerful lobby who will do their damnedest to keep drugs illegal.

      1. i agree.

        we see the same thing in the WO DV with the entire domestic violence victimization industry.

        there are powerful forces behind the WOD, not to mention the general public let's remember is still SOLIDLY behind the WOD when it comes to "hard drugs". we are making inroads vis a vis MJ, but 'hard drugs'? that's a long ways away, if EVER.

        1. I'm glad that me and my wife are best friends, so I don't have to deal with the DV nonsense.
          And even if we did fight, she knows better than to call the cops.

          1. calling the cops can often be a good thing. i've helped many a person/couple caught up in a cycle of violence and/or at their rope's end get help, resources etc. so as to make things better. the vast majority of Domestic incidents we deal with, we deal with noncriminally.

            that being said, the way the laws are currently written, there is often very little leeway for discretion, and we are sometimes forced to make arrests when the facts are extremely sketchy andor it simply should not be dealt with that way.

            it's a reaction to the fact that for decades cops largely ignored legitimate violence (the real deal) by blowing it off as a family problem. that was wrong, but the overreaction to the other side is often very injurious to both parties and disrespetive of rights to free association.

            assuming your wife is truthful, you have little to worry aobut (assuming you are not prone to smacking her around). the thing is, given high emotions, people WILL and DO lie to try to get the toher side in trouble and often with disastrous consequences.

            1. i had a case a little ways back where if we hadn't done some extra 'investigatin' etc. it would have been a criminal case but we were able to crack it open and show the guy fabricated the assault. but when the law is written such that you have 100% good faith immunity when making an arrest (the only law in WA that has that clause), that you are ENCOURAGED to make an arrest "when the facts are not entirely clear" (ditto), and where you can be sued otoh for NOT making an arrest.. well,. guess what happens

    2. DARE jobs for cops near retirement age? Fancy guns and armor for suburban police forces?

      1. im all about stats fwiw, and i have yet to see any stats that show DARE to be a success whatsoever. we would probably agree. it's a failure. in general, i think inserting cops into the school environment, with limited exceptions , is bad policy, but DARE has "normalized" it.

  16. I've seen that chart before. Only it was labelled as education funding and student test scores.

    1. I believe they both qualify as a cargo cult.

    2. Yes, it's the same situation in both cases. Namely, the line that was supposed to go up has remained flat because we haven't thrown enough money at the problem.

  17. Math is hard.


    1. Perfect - instead of cutting a division from Army, we can just transfer them to the DoJ!

      2nd Counter-Drug Division, attack!

  19. I'd like to post this to FB etc., but I'd prefer it to have a source cited.

    1. Agree, this is a bad one. You know the gist is correct, but the details are suspect.

      It's not a graph...it's a cookbook!

  20. we see the same thing in the WO DV with the entire domestic violence victimization industry.

    You seem to have a special interest in this.

    That restraining order really got under your skin, didn't it?

    1. lol, no


      just like i support mj legalization but yet have no desire to smoke it and think it's lame as fuck

      see, this is how PRINCIPLED people act. we can support things and reject others, not because of how it personally affects us, but because it is or isn't the right thing.

      granted, i recognize you may be entirely snarky and kidding here, but i'm just pontificatin'

      principles matter way more than personal preferences.

      i fucking LOATHE domestic violence and i have seen some sick, sadistic fucksticks in my career that i was very happy to help bring to justice. however, the whole DV industry and especially the (often exceptionally ) ideological "DV Advocates" are imo often an impediment to justice with a guilty until proven innocent attitude and a lot of gender politics disguised as legitimate law enforcement concerns.

      1. If you were a PRINCIPLED person you wouldn't make a career out of enforcing unjust laws.

        1. yawn...

          1. You brought up the PRINCIPLED word, not me.

      2. see, this is how PRINCIPLED people act.

        I really don't think you ever get to claim that about yourself. You can try, but history and your own words will fuck you.

        For example, you have admitted that you will not arrest another officer if you witness him committing a crime.

        1. you have admitted that you will not arrest another officer if you witness him committing a crime.

          I don't believe that there is a single police officer in this country who would do that.

          Not one.

          It's a wink wink nod nod thing. You look the other way because sooner or later the shoe will be on the other foot.

          1. Agreed, I was discussing this with my wife last night, it came up immediately after she said "there may be a few good ones" about cops.

            1. Once, and I repeat once, I had an encounter with a cop who helped me out and then drove away without demanding ID, running me for warrants, patting me down, sticking his fingers into my pockets and such.


              So I believe the mythical "good cop" may actually be out there.

              1. sarcasmic, there is nothing wrong with running people for warrants. we catch bad guys this way. i am sorry if it leaves you all butthurt with a bad taste in your mouth, but that's life.

                part of justice is bringing offenders TO justice and people who run and get warrants - we need to catch them.

                if and when a cop CAN demand ID lawfully, i see no problem with him doing so. sorry, if it leaves you all sad but that's how we catch bad guys. it's no imposition on your rights to have your name checked for warrants ASSUMING the cop has lawful cause to ID you.

                1. "but that's how we catch bad guys."

                  Yes, we are all aware that lazy people prefer low hanging fruit. What you don't realize it that people hate it and you're an asshole for doing it, specifically when PC can be something as stupid as being in an area after dark.

                  "it's no imposition on your rights to have your name checked for warrants ASSUMING the cop has lawful cause to ID you."

                  Another failure.

                  The SC has said you're totally wrong, and that it IS an IMPOSITION on your rights, just that it's MINOR and non-injurious. Not "NO" imposition, as you claim.

                  It's YOUR JOB guy, you should know this shit.

                2. There is definitely something wrong with demanding people's ID when they are not doing something that requires it, such as driving or buying beer or voting in some states.

        2. oh jeez. this rubbish again. always about the arrest and the punitive with the anti-cop ignorati.


          1. "always about the arrest and the punitive"

            Well, that IS your fucking job, and you DID claim to have principles...


            I accept your admission of defeat.


            1. no it's a small part of my job and we've had this discussion before. if i saw an officer beating somebody etc. i would stop them from doing so. and i would report what i saw to IIU. it's up to them to make the arrest, if warranted

              what my responsibility is , is to protect people. and if and when i saw an officer abusing a person, i would stop them

              the sole example i have seen was a cop who slapped a kid across the face who spit on the groundat the cops feet and talked a bunch of shit ... basically he was being a dick, but that can't justify the slap.

              i told IIU what i saw, and the cop was suspended for 3 days.

              justice done

              and before you talk about double standard... i've been a cop for 20 yrs, and i've never seen ANY prosecution for a slap that was not a domestic violence case. it's a classic de minimus thang

              in 20 yrs of law enforcement, that's the only obvious example of unlawful force i've seen. i've seen some questionable, and when it's questionable, *i* am not the decider. IIU, and the prosecutor are.

              1. "no it's a small part of my job and we've had this discussion before. if i saw an officer beating somebody etc. i would stop them from doing so. and i would report what i saw to IIU. it's up to them to make the arrest, if warranted"

                It's like he thinks ADMITTING what I SAID HE IS is some kind of DEFENSE against being WHAT i said HE is.

              2. "no it's a small part of my job and we've had this discussion before. if i saw an officer beating somebody etc. i would stop them from doing so. and i would report what i saw to IIU. it's up to them to make the arrest, if warranted"

                It's like he thinks ADMITTING what I SAID HE IS is some kind of DEFENSE against being WHAT i said HE is.

              3. "no it's a small part of my job and we've had this discussion before. if i saw an officer beating somebody etc. i would stop them from doing so. and i would report what i saw to IIU. it's up to them to make the arrest, if warranted"

                It's like he THINKS that ADMITTING everything I said about him is true is some kind of defense.

                We're not cops, that explanation doesn't hold any water to us.

            2. Cops don't arrest each other!

              Come on!
              Remember that the are able to stop people from doing bad things because no one stops them from doing bad things.
              Not even each other.

    2. I think it's because of the lives he has knowingly ruined over his career as a police officer.

      Not that it's really his fault.

      He was just following orders.

      1. not really. i have zero doubt that my service as a police officer has overwhelmingly benefited society as a whole, and countless individuals.

        and yes, i have brought some drug dealers in that served some serious time,btw. file under: rule of law. i don't like it, but the laws are constitutional and with many of them i don't get discretion any more than i get discretion to ignore miranda or a particular case law involving search and seizure because i happen to think it's bad law.

        guess what? that's what living in a rule of law society means.

        feel free to establish your own fiefdom where you are king and where rule of law doesn't matter, it's "rule of sarcasmic".

        after all, it's good to be king.

        but the fact that you are so butthurt over your legitimate prosecution for DUI makes you irrational in this area.

        1. but the fact that you are so butthurt over your legitimate prosecution for DUI makes you irrational in this area.

          You see, that's the part where people who have been watching you for a while see you to be the lying sack of shit that you are.

          You don't gain points with comments like that. You lose them.

          1. im not interested in points.

            im interesteed in truth.

            the truth is you are so obviously deluded and obsessed and it clearly stems from you having this childish inability to simply GET OVER IT

            you got fucking arrested and prosecuted for a crime you committed. justice was done

            and to this day, you hold a grudge, like a petulant little child

            that's the truth. and i care way more about truth, than making points with some childish deluded bigot who to this day paints a broad brush about cops because of a perceived injustice that is anything but.

            this is how many racists start, too. it's the same delusion and syndrome. a perceived injustice by a member of the group and then from that moment forward that GROUP is a bunch of (insert racial slur here)

            get fucking over it, man. you did a crime, you got caught. you got treated fairly.

            life goes on.

            well, for us adults it does.

            1. No, dick. I was pissed about having to fix the car that hit me after running a red light. I was not pissed about the DUI prosecution. I was guilty. My bad. It was the adding insult to injury (literally, my shoulder was never the same) of having to fix the car thanks to the cop not putting the whole story into the report.
              At the scene the kid who hit me was saying "It's my fault. I ran that light. I'm so sorry. My dad will pay for everything.", then the cop comes and dad comes. There are witnesses pointing at the kid and telling the cop that he ran a light. The cop shooed them away. Cop and dad go into a huddle.
              The kid and his parents leave, and I get blamed for everything.

              Yeah. That's a good start down the road to hating cops.

              1. By the way. Anyone who reads this.

                Be sure that at some point in the future Dunphy will say I'm pissed about the prosecution, and completely ignore this comment.

                Just watch.

                He does not argue in good faith.

                Not that you should expect him to. He is a cop after all.

                1. it's a stupid excuse and yes i am aware oh noes... the damage the damage.

                  the huddle. the conspiracy, bla bla

                  if it's the cop's fault, then sue the cop. the reality is it appears that the damage was YOURS TO PAY. that may not be cosmically fair, but as far as i know (and i've seen no statute to the contrary), it may be how the statute worked in your state.

                  again, who fucking cares? even if it was a grand conspiracy to fuck you over, which i don't buy, but assuming arguendo?

                  again, so fucking what?

                  get over it. most cops do a damn fine job, our nation is the better for it, and no amount of your petulant bigoted whining is going to change that. you can continue to make your petty little snipes towards me, as a representative of EvIL LAW ENfORCEMENT vs. just getting a life and discussing issues like adults (to include me) were before you shit all over the thread and turned a discussion of concepts into one of boring personal attacks.

                  is your life really that sad and unsatisfying? seriously. get over it.

                  case adjudicated, you lost. deal

                  1. ""most cops do a damn fine job"

                    Unless you consider allowing other cops carte blanche to be an immediate disqualifier to doing a "damn fine job".

                    And since everyone but cops thinks that...

                    "case adjudicated, you lost. deal"

                    Not arresting other cops makes you a corrupt scumbag. Case adjudicated in the court of opinion, you lost, deal.

                  2. ""most cops do a damn fine job"

                    Unless you consider allowing other cops carte blanche to be an immediate disqualifier to doing a "damn fine job".

                    And since everyone but cops thinks that...

                    "case adjudicated, you lost. deal"

                    Not arresting other cops makes you a corrupt scumbag. Case adjudicated in the court of opinion, you lost, deal.

        2. Rule of law is great and all, but there has to be some line beyond which "doing my job" is no excuse. Some might draw that line at rounding up all the Jews, some might draw it at locking people up for selling a willing buyer a product that they want to buy.

          So I don't think it is so far fetched or unreasonable that some people see law enforcement as an immoral profession.
          Now, someone is going to do it, and I'd rather it be people like Dunphy than some of the asshole cops I've known. But there is a discussion to be had here. Where do you draw the line of what is a morally acceptable part of doing your job as a policeman?

  21. Isn't there a graph of federal education spending vs. results that looks exactly the same at this?

  22. fact is in 1985-1990 when i was in undergrad, cocaine ran about $100/gm

    fact is that now, decades later after tons of WOD shenanigans... it's CHEAPER.

    that's a... market success. the drug market is working. the WOD market intervention.. isn't. true conservatives should look at the #'s. no matter how evil they think drugs are, how is the WOD as practiced working to "fix the evil?". we have roughly consistent usage rates decade over decade. there's no evidence the WOD is keeping people from using.

    getting past that emotional "drugs are evil" thing is the problem. it's ingrained. i think market arguments, like riggs makes, are best. it's simply bad policy to spend insane amounts of money when that spending doesn't produce results.

  23. That spending line resembles a dynagraph of a Honda S2000 with a centrifugal supercharger....an equally useless endeavor btw

    1. A supercharger in a Honda? lol why?

      1. Well hence the last sentence. Although a vortech supercharger + S2000 = 12.5 sec quarter mile. But then you have to drive around at 4000 rpm all day

  24. The chart is a little messed up. If you are going to bother with dual scales, make them both relevant. Don't make a Y that goes from 0 to 10% for a value that's never more than 2%.

  25. Found creator of chart on twitter. Says 1.5 number is all costs associated with drug war.

  26. Unless the spending is in constant (i.e., uninflated) dollars, it is misleading.
    Also, perhaps the spending stopped the addition rate from trending upward, in which case it might have been worth the cost.
    Statistics should be used only by the rigorously honest.

  27. I don't see why you compare drug addiction rates with govt spending. Although the comparison is useful somehow, that isn't the key point. In fact, I think that by using such a chart you're playing into the bait-and-switch scam that Congress is playing on us. That is, when drug laws were passed by Congress, the reason was not to lower addiction rates, etc etc. Even if they had known what it was, which I doubt, it wouldn't have been important to them. This was because Congress saw, or was made to see, a solution to a social problem, ie, the mayhem that was said to be generated by indiscriminate drug use. So let's compare the "mayhem" rates before the criminalization of drugs with today's. That's a chart I'd love to see. My intuition is that today's mayhem rates would have been unimaginable back in the 1930s. Mayhem has increased, drug use has stayed about the same (according to your chart); therefore the criminalization of drugs is a failure as a so-called social engineering experiment. Congress can't be faulted for trying this experiment in the first place?after all, it's their job to bring the mayhem rates down. But they can be faulted for the extra mayhem that has resulted from their failed experiment at stopping the mayhem with drug laws by simply repealing those drug laws, which are the cause of today's increased mayhem-

  28. Seriously - nobody remembers Year 10 maths?

    here is NO REQUIREMENT WHATSOEVER for the 1.5T number to relate to the Y axis if $1.5T is the total expenditure for the period under consideration: 1.5T would be the INTEGRAL of the chart (for a bar chart - a 'discrete' function - it would be the SUM of the bars). It is not possible to get a decent estimate of that integral given that the chart is smoothed. Also, the two numbers are not directly comparable if the RHS amounts are nominal and the $1.5T is the integral expressed in constant-dollars.

    That the originator of the chart felt obliged to resort to verbal jiggery-pokery ("Oh, such-and-so a thing is not included") indicates that HE didn't understand what he was talking about either.

    If anything, the $1.5T number is a WAY low-ball (or is the real value using a base year before 1990): I generated a chart that was broadly similar (i.e., same shape, same number of observations), then I expressed everything in constant dollars using the BLS's make-believe price indices, and the integral is closer to $5T in 2000/01 dollars (as you move toward the initial years as base year, the inflation-adjusted integral falls as more recent years are further discounted).

    I don't think I'm being particularly harsh in saying that people who don't understand maths properly should refrain from opening their yappers about anything involving numbers.

  29. Oh, and Prohibition is retarded - it just transfers risk premium to anybody prepared to fulfil the still-extant consumer demand. That's how the Kennedy family made all their money - bringing whiskey down from Canada.

    Legislating that people must not satisfy a demand that harms nobody except the consumer, is like trying to legislate "pi=3", or "the earth is flat" - as Thomas More is made to say (in "A Man for All Seasons")... "Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it?"

    inb4 some tard says "Oh, drugs harm the users' families, and society." And locking them up and ruining their entire future DOESN'T? Forcing them into a criminal subculture DOESN'T?

    To paraphrase Dick: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the World-Improvers". (Dick is the character, dummies - from Henry VI Part II).

  30. ""Oh, drugs harm the users' families, and society." And locking them up and ruining their entire future DOESN'T? Forcing them into a criminal subculture DOESN'T?" That's what I'm saying. If there ever was any legitimate social-problem reason to criminalize drugs, that was it: drugs harm society, etc etc. Today it's obvious that more harm is done to society by the drug war than ever could have happened with drugs being legal. That's why the chart above is bullshit. It track the wrong things if we want to understand the situation. Money spent on drug control and addiction rates have nothing to do with the reasons Congress criminalized drugs in the first place. That reason was damage to society.

  31. The numbers on here are slightly out of date, but it offers a detailed breakdown of the costs of the phoney war on drugs.

    $200bn p.a. across state and Federal budgets

    I thought these were brilliant articles on the drugs trade and the phoney war on drugs.

  32. you addiction numbers are suspect

    In 2010 there was an estimated 22.6 million Americans over the age of 12 that were current or former illicit drug users within the last month of when the survey was given; This equates to about 8.9 percent of the population aged 12 or older.

    The drug marijuana was the most commonly used illegal substance. There was about 17.4 million individuals who used it in the past month from when the survey was taken. From 2007 and 2010, those numbers increased to 6.9 percent, up from 5.8 or 14.4 million to 17.4 million users.

    Individuals 50 to 59 years of age, their rate of past drug use went up from 2.7 percent to 5.8 percent from 2002 to 2010

    Over six million children in America live with at least one parent who has a drug addiction.

    Since 1980, the number of deaths related to drug overdoses has risen over 540 percent.

    The most commonly abused drug (other than alcohol) in the United States by individuals over the age of 12 is Marijuana, followed by prescription painkillers, cocaine and hallucinogens.

    Each year, drug abuse and drug addiction cost employers over 122 billion dollar in lost productivity time and another 15 billion dollars in health insurance costs.

    Since 1990, the number of individuals who take prescription drugs illegally is believed to have risen by over 500 percent.

    culled from 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

  33. seems the chart is under-reporting by a factor of 700%

    Revised December 2011
    According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA's) National Survey on Drug Use and Health,1 23.5 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009 (9.3 percent of persons aged 12 or older).

  34. I suggest you remove the $1.5 trillion label as it is not really relevant to the point here which is - as spending has increased addition has not.

    What would add more illumination is to show the trend in drug use - if it has increased over time with spending it would lend even more credence to the argument that more people are not getting addicted.

  35. Where are the drug addiction rates coming from?

  36. No wonder the country is broke.

  37. interesting read, I really enjoy video games and have started to play with airsoft guns http://www.airsplat.com/airsoft-video-games.htm because of the games that i play and its a lot of fun. but i wouldnt go to a hospital for that, i have learned to manage my time better.

  38. Hello, well the chart represents much, and to think that after Forty Years of Drug War Failure, this is what we have! Why fail to fight against it, only to legalize it after the forty years?

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