Russia’s war on drugs is hurting America
But what does Russia get out of slowing down efforts to end the war on drugs? How does Russia make its influence felt in ways that matter for the rest of us? The Russians have used their role at the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime and on the U.N. Security Council to block reform. One of the main goals for the General Assembly special session was to have language supporting harm reduction, decriminalization and an acknowledgment of the failure of the drug war included in the U.N. protocols. Russia succeeded in blocking these efforts.
The drug war is not solving the problems of either addiction or crime. It is, however, tearing our social fabric, and that weakens us as a country, including within the geopolitical order … Russia is helping to sustain the war on drugs. In fact, Russia has become the world’s most aggressive defender of maintaining the war on drugs, outdoing even countries such as Iran. Iran, for instance, supports things such as needle exchanges for heroin users; Russia does not. And Russia’s hard-line stance on the drug war is bad for us. The contrast with a country like Iran means that Russia’s social conservatism is an insufficient explanation for its stance. To understand its motives, we need to look elsewhere. One reason for Russia’s aggressive position on the war on drugs may be that members of the Russian oligarchy appear to be profiting from the illegal drug economy. A second reason must surely be that Russia can see clearly that modern prohibition is weakening the United States, its historical geopolitical competitor … Every year Americans of all races collectively spend $100 billion to buy illegal drugs. As a country, we then bear costs of roughly $100 billion a year from fighting the crime related to illegal drugs and from the loss to productivity* caused by incarceration. Our national defense budget, by way of contrast, is $600 billion a year [in 2016]. If you want a competitor to be thrown off focus by a distraction, a project that drains its resources at this scale annually would seem welcome.
*US’ lost productivity’ categories is about $94.5 billion. The components of these unrealized potential earnings are: $16.6 billion for premature death (ie. if a person might have earned $40,000 a year for the next thirty years, but died of a drug overdose, that’s considered a $1.2 million ‘loss’); $23.1 billion from illness (not working for any reason from being hung over to dying of AIDS); $24.6 billion for “crime careers” (‘lost’ earnings because addicts were pursuing illegal trades instead of flipping burgers); and $30.1 billion lost potential earnings from incarceration (people who would have been out working for a living, but are unable to do so because they’re in prison on drug charges.)
Original Article (Washington Post & thedea.org Statistics):
Russia’s war on drugs is hurting America & Short history of prohibition
Artwork Fair Use: Viktorija Rozman