Why The War on Drugs Is a Huge Failure

Why The War on Drugs Is a Huge Failure


Over 40 years ago,
US President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse
public enemy number one, starting an unprecedented global campaign,
the War on Drugs. Today, the numbers are in. The War on Drugs is a huge failure,
with devastating unintended consequences. It led to mass incarceration in the US; to corruption, political destabilization,
and violence in Latin America, Asia, and Africa; to systemic human rights
abuses across the world. It negatively affected the
lives of millions of people. All of this while we waste
billions of dollars every year only to create and fuel
powerful drug cartels while the goal of the War on Drugs
seems less achievable than ever: a world without drugs. How could this happen? The core strategy of the War on Drugs is
“no drugs, no problems”. So almost all of the efforts
in the last few decades have been focused on eradicating
the supply of drugs and incarcerating drug traffickers. But this ignores the most
fundamental of market forces, supply and demand. If you reduce the supply of anything
without reducing the demand first, its price goes up. This might lower sales for many products,
but not for drugs. The drugs market is not price-sensitive. Drugs will be consumed
no matter what they cost. So the effect is to encourage
production of more drugs and recruitment of more traffickers,
which increases availability. This is also known as the balloon effect:
even if drug production or a major supply route is destroyed, the
supply for the end user is not reduced. A perfect example of this is crystal meth. The US Government tried
to stop its production by strictly regulating the sale of
chemicals used to manufacture the drug. This forced big meth producers
out of business, but the unintended consequences were that
thousands of small-scale operations started all over the country, mostly
in small towns and rural communities, using chemicals that weren’t regulated. In response to this, some US states wanted
to reduce the supply of home-grown meth by regulating even more chemicals, which reduced small-scale
meth production drastically. But the supply of
meth still stayed the same. Mexican drug cartels immediately took over
and opened big production operations. Their meth was even better
than it was before, and they had lots of
experience in smuggling. So all these efforts made meth
production more professional, the drug more potent, while
supply wasn’t reduced at all. You can’t win this war on the supply side. Not only are drugs widely available,
demand unbroken, and some drugs purer than in the past,
with a budget of around $30 billion, the US Drug Enforcement Agency has
an efficiency rate of less than 1% when it comes to stopping
the flow of drugs into the US and inside the US. For many minors around the world, it’s
as easy to get illegal drugs as alcohol. But it doesn’t stop here. Prohibition may prevent a certain
amount of people from taking drugs, but in the process it causes huge
damage to society as a whole. Many of the problems we
associate with drug use are actually caused by
the war against them. For example, prohibition
makes drugs stronger. The more potent drugs you can store
in as little space as possible, the more profit you’ll make. It was the same during
alcohol prohibition, which led to an increased consumption
of strong liquor over beer. The prohibition of drugs also led to more
violence and murders around the world. Gangs and cartels have no access to
the legal system to settle disputes, so they use violence. This led to an ever-increasing
spiral of brutality. According to some estimates,
the homicide rate in the US is 25–75% higher because of
the War on Drugs. And in Mexico, the country
on the frontline, an estimated 164,000 have been
murdered between 2007 and 2014, more people than in the war zones
of Afghanistan and Iraq in the same period, combined. But where the War on Drugs might do
the most damage to society is the incarceration of
non-violent drug offenders. For example, the United States, one of the driving forces
of the War on Drugs, has 5% of the world’s total population,
but 25% of the world’s prison population, largely due to the harsh
punishments and mandatory minimums. Minorities suffer
because of this especially. African Americans make up
40% of all US prison inmates. And while white kids are
more likely to abuse drugs, black kids are 10 times more likely
to get arrested for drug offenses. OK, but is there actually
something different we could do? Is there a way out of this mess? In the 1980s, Switzerland experienced a public health crisis
related to heroin use. HIV rates skyrocketed and
street crime became a problem. Swiss authorities tried a new strategy:
harm reduction. They opened free
heroin maintenance centers, where addicts would
be treated and stabilized. Here, people would be given
free heroin of high quality, they would get clean needles
and have access to safe injection rooms, showers, beds, and medical supervision. Social workers help them find housing and
deal with other problems in their lives. The results were a sharp drop in
drug-related crime and two thirds of the people in the
centers got regular jobs, because now they could
focus on getting better insetad of financing their addiction. Today, over 70% of all heroin addicts
in Switzerland receive treatment. HIV infections have dropped drastically. Deaths from heroin overdoses
have dropped by 50%. And drug-related street sex work and crime
has been reduced enormously. So there are methods that are
not only way cheaper, but also actually work, instead of
creating more problems. Drug prohibition led to a system
that bulldozes human rights, costs vasts sums of money, and
creates a lot of human misery, all in pursuit of an unobtainable goal. After 40 years of fighting, it’s time
to finally end the War on Drugs and move on to something better. This video was supported by
the Open Society Foundations and by viewer donations on Patreon. If you want to learn more about
how you can influence drug policy, check out the Stop the Harm campaign. We finally have some merchandise! If you want your own
Kurzgesagt poster, T-shirt, mug, or stickers of little monsters, you can get them now at the DFTBA store! Subtitles by the Amara.org community

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100 Replies to “Why The War on Drugs Is a Huge Failure”

  1. Like the video said, drugs will be used for the rest of humanity's existence. If that is true, then why even try to fight it? Why not just make it safe and easy to use?

  2. This is ridiculous, the war on drugs was absolutely needed. Murder skyrocketed from the 70's-2k generations. There absolutely should have been better rehabilitation to reduce the revolving door effect. However violent crime across America plummeted due to the war on drugs. Albeit we most definitely still have a violence issue in the states. Snapple fact: 75% of it is in some way still related to drugs. Even still all the murders of the 80's and 90's didnt kill as many people annually as alcohol annually.

  3. I've given some thought on this problem for a while. Since the draconian war on drugs is futile and counterproductive, why not use a very effective measure, albeit unfair, that is used in trade whenever someone wants to take the competition out of business: dumping? The difference is that, in this case, is a Government-sponsored dumping. In a way, what Switzerland is doing is, in essence, a dumping operation. By supplying the drug for free to the addicted person in a sanitized and controlled environment, you are denying the drug trafficker the captive market he needs to thrive.

  4. I laugh at the fact USA is considered a 1st world country. Looks like the UK is going down a similar path, I'm moving to Germany 😂

  5. So here is my question.
    why are black people more likely to be arrested for it?
    And no, im not going to take "racism" as an answer. That presupposes a massive slew of baseless accusations and conspiracies.
    I would like to know specifically, why they get caught and arrested more often.

  6. Sure, make drugs legal. I won’t pay for your fucked up life and I’ll take your kids if you can’t support them.

  7. Yea reduce the harm and make more people do drugs because now they think drugs are safe and then they die even more

  8. Sighs

    The problem is that conservatives in America are never, ever going to go for harm reduction, and no amount of evidence that it works better and will lead to a healthier society and /less drugs/ will truly matter.

    The important part to them is that all those involved with drugs – the addicts, the dealers, from the largest to the smallest – are punished. These are weak people making bad choices, why should we help them with those bad choices? We’ll just be making drug use more appealing. We have to make sure that being involved with drugs ruins your entire life, how else are we meant to make sure nobody makes that choice?

    I don’t agree with this, obviously, but in the end the war on drugs was never meant to be effective, at least not at reducing harm. for the everyday conservatives supporting it, it’s a moral crusade.

  9. Kurzgesagt makes me always think about something…
    They have the ideas, they have actual proof, they know the people who can help, with all collaborations and stuff.
    If all humanity followed what they teach for 1 year only, we would live in a far more better world in half that time.

  10. I'm a poly addict. It's so hard. I really want off them but I need help. The problem is where? There needs to be much better treatment for addicts.

  11. The war on drugs is a joke. As long as there is a market someone will come up with a supply. If you eliminate a domestic supplier then a foreign one will take his place and that creates a even larger world issue. If you eliminate one drug another is waiting to fill in. The reduction method looks like it handles the problem in a better way as long as people can get over the stigma that goes along with addiction. Society will never get rid of drugs and addiction totally. It is built into human DNA and Genome. With the increase of world population and the world market place it increases proportionally.

  12. weed is a beautiful part of nature. was used back in history to like B.C era and shit. along with mushrooms. the vikings used mushrooms. fuck those political demons

  13. Yes, this video is correct we need to educate them not to harm them, just like other people with sickness, addiction should be treated as sickness needed to be cured. If we educate the masses, even if you are surrounded by drugs you wont even take it. That's why its really hard to live here in the PH because of the abuse of power and the failure of war on drugs.

  14. You are 100% wrong…about 1 thing, its easier for a minor to get drugs vs alchohol by a factor of 10.
    I didn't smoke weed until 18 but I easily obtained it for anyone who asked from several people who I could also get anything from heroin to acid, xtc, and everything else for what could be considered extremely reasonable price. Alchohol on the other hand and to a lesser extent tobacco was taxed by everyone involved so you would pay an additional 5/10$ in gas for that person or their time when drugs just had a standard markup for a non bulk buy like weed (mid) was always 5$ a gram if buying a G and anything more is unreasonable the same with xtc anything over 8$ was an instant no. Also In school for some reason quality is almost guaranteed, I guess because of your personal reputation being at stake, but I never had an issue until I was an adult with quality. Needless to say I don't do drugs now as I myself had become a junkie hardcore for a time and I am what I would have called old then (28) but things haven't changed in my town

  15. How I wish the Philippine government will watch this. Also, most (if not many) of the Filipinos are ignorant and blinded by their fanaticism of President Duterte.

  16. Surprised to see how some coments can be ignorant and misinterpret Kurzgesagt. They didn't brought up Switzerland as a proof, but as an example it can be done.

  17. War on drug??? In 1840, when China refused British selling drug (Opium) to China and burned all Opium, British send her fleet and bombard
    Chinese harbors. That was the First Opium War. The only thing obstruct the War on Drug is profit.

  18. option 3: Rather then putting all the 'drugs' in 1 bag, we educate our kids on whats the good and bad, short and long term effect of using drugs and educate them about the differences between drugs (chemically modified) and psychedelics. Education is the key of my 'option 3', educate and let an adult take their decision.

  19. The question is: Why did the war on drugs started? Anyone?
    Why did U.S. president declare war on drugs? It sure wasn’t because the government cared about people 🤷🏻‍♂️

  20. Drugs prolongs life span; medicine is technically drugs. Removing everything isn't the correct answer, in the long run, it actually worsens, even if it sounds great. Simple may be the way to go but simple and complex make pro's and con's reasonable.

  21. I don't think Switzerland is a very good comparison with the US. The population is much smaller and the nation doesn't share a border with a drug-cartel owned nation. It sounds great for smaller nations, but when healthcare in the US is difficult enough already, setting up such clinics would be vastly too expensive, really mess with insurance costs, and spread doctors more thin then they already are

  22. Wasnt comprehensive enough, more druggies should have been jailed. If every pothead received lengthy prison sentences no would would be around trying to glorify drug use.

  23. hey! all medicine is classified as drugs so you just said we are creating a world were life expectancy goes back down as there will be no treatments.

  24. Can you tell me the story of a Japanese-Italian Blondie that became a mafia boss that ended drugs in Italy? Also he's Italian Jesus.

  25. Mass incarceration, corruption, political destabilization, systemic human rights abuses are NOT unintended consequences, they are most certainly intentional. These side effects lead to the true end goal; to benefit the ruling class and corporations, and keep the populous in a state of subservience and compliant terror.

  26. Every country that liberated drugs increased the number of addicts…but i doubt you would put that on a video funded by GEORGE SOROS the guy that literally wants to destroy america.

  27. HEY… don't talk shit about marijuana ban tobacco not marijuana, sad truth about why tobacco is legal the only reason it's legal is because the government benefits from the profits despite knowing tobacco kills millions a year

  28. Drug is bad for your health and people who use it know is bad for your health, if they want to harm themselves with it, then let it be. As long as they are properly educated of the effect, god knows it’s out of our hands. Can’t force/control people on everything, people are adults not children.

  29. War on drugs, no health care, militarism, extremely expensive college, fierce individualism, prudish attitudes, death penalty, off the roof incarceration rate, very high regard for themselves while ignorant about the rest, sense of exceptionalims, of God's people… Very American things. But I understand the American mindset. One might think the core of their culture should resemble that of England, since they are her former colony, predominantly English speaking to this day and generally considered an Anglosaxon culture. However they lack many of the traits of the English, such as their pragmatism, adaptability and irony. America was to some extent founded by religious fundamentalist escaping from Europe. They had no irony, took themselves very seriously and were not interested in reality at all, but instead, they wanted to craft their own in a supposedly virgin land, and that attitude has pervaded the American mindset to this day. This sort of idealistic puritanism makes them think "this is right, that is wrong, you deserve this or you don't deserve that, this has to work that way because those are my beliefs". They won't compromise to reality, instead, they want reality to adjust to their expectations and values. Many of them will be willing to destroy themselves in the process before acknowledging this, as most dogmatics tend to do, because reality will never run out of stamina, reality will never give up and it doesn't give a fuck about your values of right and wrong.

  30. Rehabilation of criminals
    is letting the criminals dictate the law,
    we can't let those in need of rehab
    get away with breaking the law.
    the respect for law is is more important than
    their rehabilation.

  31. The greatest example of why outlawing and restricting guns in the United States will not resolve school shootings and homicides.

  32. One of the main reasons people will keep taking drugs is that when their life looks horrible it is an escape. But it only lasts as long as they are on drugs. As someone currently working in the industry of addiction recovery we have seen very positive results from models like the one shown in this video where they are given overseen access to drugs in a safe environment and that we have a large variety of services from medical care to housing, to counseling to treat the whole person. We see them through a long recovery process and celebrate each victory of a person who has recovered from addiction and has a job and home of their own.

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