Quantifying the enormous harms of the ‘war on drugs’ is an extremely difficult task. How to begin calculating the health epidemics, the violence associated with illicit markets and the tragedy of mass incarceration internationally? An LSE expert group attempted to begin counting the costs of the war on drugs in a new report, Ending the Drug Wars: Report of the LSE Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy. The report includes a call from some of the world’s leading economists, including five Nobel Prize winners, to end the ‘war on drugs’ and experiment with alternative policies.
The key message of the report is that it is time to end the ‘war on drugs’ and massively redirect resources toward effective evidence-‐based policies underpinned by rigorous economic analysis. The report also emphasises that the current militarised and enforcement-‐ led global drugs strategy has produced enormous negative outcomes and collateral damage. These include mass incarceration in the United States, highly repressive policies in Asia, vast corruption and political destabilisation in Afghanistan and West Africa, immense violence in Latin America, an HIV epidemic in Russia, an acute global shortage of pain medication and the propagation of systematic human rights abuses around the world.
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