This chart created by documentary filmmaker Matt Groff shows the failings of the U.S’ 40-year, $1.5trillion war on drugs.
The chart shows the addiction level remaining almost constant, whilst the cost of the drug war rapidly increases. You may notice that the dollar amounts on the right Y axis do not total $1.5trillion, but Groff explained that the chart shows federal drug control, whereas the $1.5 trillion is the figure of the total cost of the drug war, including the money spent by individual states on prohibition.
Reason.com blogger Mike Riggs believes that this might even be a low estimate, citing that in 2010 the AP calculated the cost of the 40-year war on drugs to be at $1trillion. But, says Riggs, “the massive federal drug control budget–for fiscal year 2013, it’ll be $3.7 billion for interdiction, $9.4 billion for law enforcement, and $9.2 billion for early intervention–is actually a pretty small slice of the pie.”
Riggs claims that the money spent by municipalities and states on drug prohibition actually dwarfs that which is spent by the federal government.
Riggs then cites figures from The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society which was last published by the Department of Justice in 2011. This report claimed that enforcing drug laws cost the U.S criminal justice system $56 billion and the incarceration of drug offenders costs an estimated $48 million – each year!! Those figures don’t even include the money spent on treatment, public assistance and the many other costs that are involved which leads Riggs to believe that the total cost is actually much than 1.5trillion.
Groff claims though that the chart was not meant to be a standalone graphic but more so to present interviewee Jack Cole’s “assertions about the costs and efficacy of drug prohibition” compiled with the data that Groff believed most accurately displayed the growth in spending on the drugs war.