Friday, August 06, 2004
Danny Kushlick of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation explains the hidden costs of drug prohibition:
Transform estimates that drug prohibition has cost between £100bn and £200bn over the past 20 years. The government estimates that it currently costs £20bn a year.
. . .
There are 8 million heavy drinkers in the UK of whom 2 million are very heavy drinkers. The crime costs associated with the misuse of alcohol are £7.3bn a year - most of it violent crime. There is little property crime associated with alcohol use and none committed by the UK's 12 million tobacco users. Our million prescription tranquilliser addicts are not begging on street corners or breaking into houses. A far smaller population of heroin and crack users commit far more crimes, purely because their daily habit is prohibitively expensive.
. . .
Prohibition is a major cause of theft, is responsible for violent turf wars, contributes to urban degeneration and makes criminals of millions of otherwise law-abiding people.
. . . Prohibition also contributes significantly to the destabilisation of most of Latin America, Afghanistan and the Caribbean.
Problematic use is clearly linked to social deprivation and only tackling its root causes will significantly reduce the numbers of new problem users. It is no coincidence that Britain has some of the highest levels of problematic use in Europe and one of the widest gaps between rich and poor.