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How the War on Drugs Impacts the Economy

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The Unintended Consequences on the War on Drugs

The war on drugs has been a subject for 50 years, but no prevention measures have been found to aid in the prevention of the supply and use of the drugs. It is in the course of trying to prevent the use of drugs that unintended economic consequences crop in. The economic consequences are as a result of the punitive enforcement-led approach and not he drug use itself. The war on drugs has undermined development and security, fuelled conflict in poor and fragile nations; thus, leading to unintended economic consequences in the countries involved (Newman).

The war on drugs has, for a long time, involved the prohibiting of commodities whose demand is high in the market. The high demand inevitably leads to an increase in profits for the criminal entrepreneurs who smuggle the drugs illegally in many countries. The lucrative criminal business pushes production, supply, and consumption of the drugs into an illegal parallel economy.

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Ethnic minorities, children and women are often affected by the hard economic times that arise because of the activities revolving around the sale and prohibition of drugs. Initially, the corrosive consequences were a common phenomenon in the drug producing regions such as Mexico. However, the same harsh consequences have spread to drug transit regions as the traffickers have invented various means of transiting drugs through the Caribbean, West Africa, Central Asia, and Central America (Newman).

In the developing world, the unintended economic consequences overlap with each other because of already existing problems that are worsened and governance in the nations undermined. The war on drugs in underdeveloped countries has fueled war and violence that comes from putting the criminal entrepreneurs in charge of the lucrative illegal market. The ruthless criminal entrepreneurs have always used violence as their default regulatory tool as they have the intentions of securing their business. In some cases, the cartels have equipped private armies and militia groups to try and outgun the state enforcement. The conflict and violence, as witnessed in some developing countries, has affected legal businesses as the environment is not attractive for investors in the country; thus, fuelling slow growth of the economy (Newman).

It has been noted in research articles that drug traffickers are more confident when they invest in cheap drug crops such as coca leaf and cannabis. The confidence level rises when the state is kept at bay and farmers exploring alternative drug production methods. The result of the activities is the transit of the products in areas with little economic infrastructure and in areas with poor governance. Targeting geographically remote regions with already failed states is a means that drug traffickers often use to protect and expand their interests, even as they fuel violence, intimidation of traders and corruption. Corruption has been noted as the number one enemy to economic growth across the globe as people carry out unfair trade activities for their interest and not for economic growth (Fedotov 1).

It is clear that corruption and violence, when combined with intimidation, promotes the culture of violence against politicians, the system of governance, and the armed forces; thus, promoting the culture of violence among the young people. Young people are the future investors in the society and the most energetic members of the society who ought to invest their energy in economic growth and development. In areas where the war on drug has persisted, there is deterred investment, restriction of the activities of NGOs, and the government agencies (Fedotov 2).

A case study of Mexico is given to illustrate the extent of violence due to the prohibition of certain drugs. The country is used by criminals to transit cocaine from Andean area to Northern America. The country is also known to be a source of cannabis to the American market. Drug cartels have fueled violence in Mexico for a long time in history until 2006 when the government opted to use the military and police to stop the menace. There were incidences of the cartels fighting back against the government to have control over certain areas. The drug war in the country led to thousands of deaths, a factor that had an impact on the country’s economic progress (The War On Drugs: Undermining International Development And Security, Increasing Conflict 3).

During the drug wars, as in Mexico and Columbia, there were communities that were displaced by the activities, leading to an urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The funds that were used by the government agencies and NGOs could have been used to initiate alternative programs that could have boosted the economy of the countries. In addition to the violence and corruption cases, the war on drugs has led to extra constitutional costs to governments that are trying to initiate more policies that would boost the war on drugs (Reuter 11).

Nations have wasted billion of dollars as they try to make their territories dug free. For example, in the United States, the federal and state governments spend approximately $50 billion annually to clean the country from drugs. The billions used in the drug control programs could have been used to boost the economy and further aid underdeveloped countries with their economic development programs.


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