Prohibition's Second Failure: The Quest for a Rational and Humane Drug Policy

By Theodore R. Vallance | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
How Effective and How
Good a Bargain Is Current
Policy?

We have a national drug problem generating costs that can be estimated in dollar terms exceeding $60 billion each year. A cost to the nation of this size demands an accounting of the benefits received in return. To begin this task, let us examine the relationship between what I will call the drug-use cost and the drug-law-enforcement cost. Once this relationship is understood, it becomes easier to deal with the chapter's topical question.

Referring to the 1985 costs calculated by Dorothy Rice and her associates at the University of California-San Francisco and summarized in Table 2.2, the "core costs" of treatment, research, and lost productivity traceable to sickness and early death come to $10.824 billion; these costs arise from drug use. The total of these compares with Rice's category of "other related costs" of $32.461 billion, which derive from the criminal justice system (mainly police, prosecution, private defense, and prisons) and lost productivity of crime victims and the pursuers of criminal careers. Neither of these totals includes federal funds appropriated for efforts to prevent drug use and abuse.

Extrapolation of cost trends and applications of new budget information since 1985 produced 1988 estimates by Rice and her colleagues of $12.896 billion and $42.202 billion for drug-use "core costs" and "other related costs" respectively, for a total of $55.098 billion. These "other related costs" were due almost exclusively to the fact that most drug use is illegal, as represented in Table 2.2. These costs comprise 80 percent of the anti-drug effort as Rice calculated it. 'Me percentage is actually somewhat higher because Rice's figures do not include several hundreds of millions

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Prohibition's Second Failure: The Quest for a Rational and Humane Drug Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter 1 Defining Today's Drug Problem in the United States 1
  • Conclusion 25
  • Chapter 2 Documenting the Costs of the Drug Problem 27
  • Summary 46
  • Chapter 3 How Effective and How Good a Bargain is Current Policy? 47
  • Summary 62
  • Chapter 4 Policy Options Within the Criminalization Context 63
  • Summary 77
  • Chapter 5 What Choices Do We Have? 81
  • Summary and Conclusion 99
  • Chapter 6 Toward a New Policy 101
  • Chapter 7 Getting There from Here 123
  • Appendix A Federal Drug Laws 135
  • Appendix B Reform-Oriented Organizations 141
  • Appendix C Studies by Special Committees, Councils, and Commissions 144
  • Notes 153
  • Sources 159
  • Index 169
  • About the Author 175
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