It took 40 years, more than one trillion (1000000000000) US dollar, and hundreds of thousands of lives. The result? An increase in violence and more widespread problems.
U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske admits the failure of the drug war: "In the grand scheme, it has not been successful. Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified."
The Associated Press used the Freedom of Information Act to track where the money went that was spent in the War on Drugs. In 40 years, tax money was spent on a dozen of projects that turned out to yield little to no effect.
- $20 billion to fight the drug gangs in their home countries. In Colombia, for example, the United States spent more than $6 billion, while coca cultivation increased and trafficking moved to Mexico - and the violence along with it.
- $33 billion in marketing "Just Say No"-style messages to America's youth and other prevention programs. High school students report the same rates of illegal drug use as they did in 1970, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug overdoses have "risen steadily" since the early 1970s to more than 20,000 last year.
- $49 billion for law enforcement along America's borders to cut off the flow of illegal drugs. This year, 25 million Americans will snort, swallow, inject and smoke illicit drugs, about 10 million more than in 1970, with the bulk of those drugs imported from Mexico.
- $121 billion to arrest more than 37 million nonviolent drug offenders, about 10 million of them for possession of marijuana. Studies show that jail time tends to increase drug abuse.
- $450 billion to lock those people up in federal prisons alone. Last year, half of all federal prisoners in the U.S. were serving sentences for drug offenses.
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