An Associated Press analysis of America’s 40-year war on drugs concludes that the country’s costly effort has met virtually none of its goals. In 1970, when President Richard Nixon signed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, he declared drug abuse “public enemy No. 1 in the United States” and promised to wage an “all-out offensive.” His first drug-fighting budget was $100 million. Now it’s $15.1 billion, 31 times Nixon’s amount even when adjusted for inflation.
The AP tracked where that money went and found that the United States repeatedly increased budgets for programs that did little to stop the flow of drugs. In 40 years, taxpayers spent: $20 billion to fight the drug gangs in their home countries, including $6 billion in Colombia; $33 billion in marketing “Just Say No”-style messages to America’s youth and other prevention programs; $49 billion for law enforcement along America’s borders to cut off the flow of illegal drugs; $121 billion to arrest more than 37 million nonviolent drug offenders, and $450 billion to lock those people up in federal prisons alone.