Last week it was revealed that, in addition to the 60,000 people known to have been killed in Mexico’s ‘war on drugs’, another 25,000 are missing. Now the Economist has produced some startling statistics concerning drugs globally.
Since 1998, when the United Nations held an event entitled ‘A drug-free world – we can do it’, consumption of cannabis and cocaine has risen by about 50%, while used of opiates has more than trebled. The illegal drugs industry now has an income of about $300 billion a year. That is equivalent to about one eighth of Britain’s gross domestic product – everything the country makes.
The UN reckons that 230 million people worldwide use illegal drugs. Back in 1919, a well-meaning American government banned alcohol, and created a huge criminal industry. For the last half-century, well-meaning governments across the world have done the same thing for the drugs business.
A famous British politician, Denis Healey, once said – ‘when you’re in a hole, stop digging’. It was good advice.