Whew! I was worried about all of the deviants lighting up their marijuana cigarettes!The United States spends over 45 billion dollars every year combating the import, sale, and use of illegal drugs. This money also goes to incarcerate and rehabilitate drug users, although the rehabilitation part takes a distant backseat to just throwing addicts and drug dealers into prison.
The War on Drugs has been fought, officially, since 1969, when the Nixon administration pushed through strict penalties and controls for a wide variety of substances. Since then punishment for all types of drug crimes have become steadily more severe, which translates to longer prison sentences and more expense to the taxpayers.
Considering the incredible monetary expense of waging this war against drugs the payoff is millions of American citizens spending huge chunks of their lives behind bars because of mandatory sentencing laws and three-strikes rules. Drug crime in the United States is treated as seriously as violent crime and addicts often receive lengthy prison sentences in place of helpful rehabilitation.
Police departments around the United States will interdict drug shipments and proudly pose next to stacks of marijuana or bricks of heroin and cocaine. I know whenever I open the newspaper and see a bunch of sheriffs standing next to 500 pounds of pot I think to myself, "Thank God that's off the street!" Imagine the sort of crimewave that might sweep the nation if we weren't spending tens of billions preventing people from lighting up their fiendish marijuana cigarettes or taking deadly ecstasy tablets.
The most depressing part of the waste associated with the Drug War is that, much like the War on Terror, the War on Drugs pits finite resources and tax dollars against essentially unlimited resources. People in other countries will never stop making drugs. Hell, most drugs will just grow naturally if you leave them alone.
So for 45 billion a year, tireless effort, and millions of drug convictions, we get another series of battles in a war that cannot be won.
Total Waste: $45 billion (annually)
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