Saturday, 29 March 2008

War on Drugs: A Statistic

I was watching a TV debate from Canada on whether drugs should be decimalised. The two guests were on opposite sides of the argument with a police officer pushing for decriminalisation and a politician opposing it. No surprises there. Apart from one or two 'nays' from a random questionnaire to people on the street, the debate was strictly a win for the 'yah'. The politician repeated the same old arguments using 'children's futures' and 'getting tougher' with no evidence and dragging out the same tired old line that 'it's getting better' and 'we can't give up' etc. The police officer had facts and figures to back his argument along with years of experience to give real insight into what it is actually like at a personal level. Something the politician sadly lacked. What prompted me to write this was that the police officer raised some statistics and pointed to the US as how much the current policies have failed. Fact after fact and the debate kept drifting back to the US and the dismal failure of the "War on Drugs". To everyone's surprise, the politician refuted the statistics and claimed things were turning around in the US because of the harsher penalties. He said that as more money is spent to create a tougher police force and more prisons are built to keep dealers & users off the street, the more that they stop drug usage. He also claimed that young people are not taking up drugs as much as before. It must be pointed out that he also claimed that drug use went up in The Netherlands after they adopted a softer drug policy. This was instantly debunked when it was explained to him that world usage went up also and in fact The Netherlands usage was less than most countries. The police officer again just used facts to disprove the politician's claim. It is easy to rattle off statistics but a visual guide puts it into perspective. Below is a stunning chart that shows the futility of the "War on Drugs":

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