Scoop Column: Hypocrisy In The War On Drugs
The United States is now a major drug-producing nation on a par with Burma, Peru, Bolivia and Columbia according to Barry McCaffrey, head of President Clinton's US Office of National Anti-Drug Policy. John Howard reports.
Retired general, Barry McCaffrey, gave evidence at Congressional hearing late last year that American youth are being drugged by domestically produced dope - both speed and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
But New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson, says the drug trade in America is worth about $400 billion and is larger than the car industry so the war on drugs has been lost.
"The $50 billion spent on the war on drugs could be better spent on new education laws to keep kids away from the lure of drugs," he said.
It has been suggested by both the IMF and the New York Stock Exchange president Richard Grasso, that revenues from drugs should be included in the Gross Domestic Product statistics of drug producing countries.
For example, telling Columbia to destroy opium and coca crops would be like telling Japan to bomb the production facilities of Toyota or Sony.
In 1976 President Jimmy Carter became the first US President to give an endorsement to marijuana decriminalisation after it became widely known that many people were using it as a medical treatment.
In the US, 75% of the people using drugs are employed which is in conflict with the general public perception that only dead-beats and lay-abouts use drugs.
It seems a gross hypocrisy when politicians strongly promote the free market and free trade mantra, yet are so adamantly opposed to the legalisation or decriminalisation of a global tradeable commodity which poorer nations have come to rely upon for their income.
Surely, it would be far better to get the entire drug economy above the line and into the official economy where proper education and rehabilitation programmes could be funded.
Failing that, let's see the politicians enact laws which goes after the banks and financial institutions who launder the drug money. There can be no war on drugs, no matter how much military hardware is thrown at it, until the financial targets are defined and effectively squashed. But don't hold your breath for that to happen. And no, I don't use the stuff.