drugs - How to Improve the National Drug Control Strategy...

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How to Improve the National Drug Control Strategy to Win the War on Drugs Anonymous Student STS.062J: Drugs, Politics and Culture Hugh Gusterson May 18, 2006
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The three major components of the United States’ national drug control strategy are Stopping Drug Use Before It Starts , Healing America’s Drug Users , and Disrupting Drug Markets . 1 By educating American citizens about the consequences of drug use, by implementing drug testing in the workplace, and by providing treatment options for drug users, the Stopping Drug Use Before It Starts and the Healing America’s Drug Users policies have resulted in a decreased rate of illicit substance use in the United States during the past twenty years. However, the current methods used by the US government to disrupt the drug market have resulted in increased quantities of illicit substances available on American streets. Only when the government changes its focus, from eradicating international drug trafficking to securing the nation’s borders and implementing more treatment facilities, will the United States win the war on drugs. One of the major problems with the current drug market disruption strategy is that it does not prevent newcomers from becoming drug traffickers. Bertram et al. describe this problem as two flaws of the drug control policy: the profit paradox and the hydra effect. 2 Every time the United States intercepts illegal substances at home or abroad, the black market price of that drug increases. While the government believes that interdiction decreases the number of drug users by raising the price of the desired substances, drug interception also causes more people to become traffickers due to the higher profit margin. 3 This profit paradox explains one of the reasons why drug interdiction does not disrupt the drug industry: it results in “a guaranteed market, with profits kept artificially high by the US government.” 4 The drug market also succeeds because it has the ability to spread like water. Bertram et al. describe this hydra effect as the drug trade’s 1 National Drug Control Strategy. The White House. Feb 2006. Pp 3. 2 Betram, E.; Blachman, M.; Sharpe, K.; Andreas, P. Three Fatal Flaws in the War on Drugs . Drug War Politics . UC Press. Pp 13. 3 Ibid. Pp 12. 4 Ibid. Pp 15. 2
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ability to self-reproduce: every time a government attempts to eliminate drug production or smuggling, the traffickers will “tap alternative sources of supply.” 5 Therefore, even when the US government is successful against one cartel, new smuggling routes will open up and a different group of traffickers will gain more of the market share. 6 While the profit paradox and the hydra effect severely hinder the US drug control policy, the United States must also overcome the economic necessity of the drug trade to many foreign nations as it attempts to disrupt the market for illegal substances. Another significant problem with the US drug market disruption strategy is that
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This note was uploaded on 11/09/2011 for the course ARCH 4.401 taught by Professor Utemetabauer during the Fall '06 term at MIT.

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drugs - How to Improve the National Drug Control Strategy...

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