What benefits does the US get from drugs being illegal?

Insurgent Consciousness

Drug money funds much of the operations of the main antagonists to American foreign policy including the FARC, the Mexican cartels, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban. Drug profits are so high for the simple fact that the US and other countries have decided to make them illegal and disrupt their production. The more the US works to stifle production, the more money successful traffickers make. Not to mention that even the most well-funded counter-narcotics efforts, such as Plan Colombia, usually have minimal, if any effect on production or consumption levels. Why does the U.S. continue to adopt a drug policy that indirectly funds its enemies and does very little to prevent its citizens from accessing drugs? What benefits does the U.S. accrue from its war on drugs?

They ask readers to reply in the comments. Here’s a revised version of what I said.

Wells Fargo, BofA, and other major banks were implicated recently in laundering hundreds of millions for the cartels. Western Union paid a large fine a few months back for doing the same thing. That no one went to prison over this speaks volumes about our compromised justice system.

More prisons get built, contractors and suppliers make money off that. Law enforcement gets more funding. Politicians howl about getting tough on crime.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said in Dec. 2009 during the worst of the financial crisis that billions of dollars in drug money kept the system afloat.

So, we have corrupt politicians, cops, banks, hedge funds, etc. Lots of folks here in the US benefit mightily from drugs being illegal.


  1. Exactly. The *US citizen* doesn’t benefit at all, but the various thieves and murderers who *run* the US benefit a great deal.

  2. Having an enemy also allows those in power to restrict our rights. Search and seizure, and even the right to be innocent until proven guilty have been rolled back under the War on Drugs. A wartime economy means not only more money for those in charge, but more power and control. But to have a wartime economy, you’ve got to have a war.

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