Monday, 4 March 2013

'War on drugs' - holes and digging

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.


  1. It is also worth considering that illegal producers of street drugs are turning out something like 50 compounds a year onto the streets. These are found by street chemists from the literature from the 1950's-60s and are synthesized and then freely sold on the internet as 'plant growth hormones' or 'bath salts'. These drugs are often amphetamine like and untested on humans but end up in clubbers! The legalisative process can't keep up. These I am sure kill too.

  2. The crucial thing with any policy, surely is to assess - will it make things better, or worse.