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The Online Drug War: Why It Will Never End Any Time Soon

By J.Austine Oct. 18, 2021, 10:47 a.m.
The Online Drug War: Why It Will Never End Any Time Soon

According to campaigners, the online drug war is a failure. They claim it is useless in the face of the dark web marketplace.

Activists claim that Britain’s war on narcotics is failing. The dark marketplace for narcotics is expanding. The authorities confiscate 1000 cannabis plants per day.
The think tank Rand Europe researchers investigated the issue. Accordingly, they realized that the UK has the largest darknet drug trades in Europe. In fact, it is the second-largest in the world after the US.
Britain’s black market drug trades are enormous. Moreover, the boomingg drug market prompted activists to call for the legalization of drugs.

Comparing The US And UK Dark Web Drug Markets

The US has the largest dark web market. The markets process 28883 transactions each month. The transactions are worth £3.8 million.
Still, the UK beats the US when we account for the population. The US has 90 monthly drug deals per million individuals. On the other hand, the UK has 321 black markets transactions per million people.

The Futile Online Drug War :The Face of The Darknet

The research also realized the ineffectiveness of the war on drugs. They discovered that the shutdown of the Silk Road marketplace had little impact. The Silk Road accounted for a significant portion of the online narcotics trade. However, its downfall in 2013 didn’t stop dark market drug trades.
Even though the FBI was successful in its mission, it had minimal effect. By January 2016, the monthly darknet drug trade tripled.
The worldwide revenues from narcotics transactions are £10.7 million per month. The figure doubles the £5.35 million from Silk Road before its shutdown.
Steve Rolles, the senior privacy analyst at Transform Drug Policy Foundation, commented on the issue. He said, “the report highlights the utter futility of the war against drugs. Each time they shut one down, another site pops up. The idea that they can achieve a drug-free society through enforcement is clearly ridiculous.”
Meanwhile, official data shows the increasing number of cannabis in the UK. Authorities in Wales and England seized 366,841 cannabis plants in 2014/15. This implies that they recovered at least 1000 plans a day.

The Call for New Drug Policies to Fight Online Drug War

Indeed, current drug policies are dysfunctional. After 5 decades of war on drugs, the trade and use of narcotics increases. Moreover, large illegal markets rose from it. The markets encourage violence, conflict, and corruption.
Governments have poorly designed drug policies in place. These policies criminalized drug users and farmers. Also, the policies come with harsh enforcement practices. These practices encourage mass incarcerations and social marginalization. Furthermore, they result in health crises.

The Failures of The Punitive Drug Policies

The current drug policies are failing. These policies cause more problems in the community. These include:

Drug-related violence

The former Mexican president promised to eliminate the drug trade. Felipe Calderon vowed to eradicate drug trafficking organizations. He planned to do this through the militarization of public security. But it didn’t work.
The attempt caused several drug-related violence. Forty thousand individuals have disappeared. Additionally, 330000 persons got displaced while escaping drug-related hostility. Furthermore, more than 29000 people got killed due to drug wars. Still, the numbers continue to rise.

Health Crises

The CDC reported 70000 deaths due to drug overdose in 2019. Hence, overdose is the highest cause of injury-related death in the US. Since 1999, the US has recorded more than 850000 drug overdose deaths.
Additionally, every 1 in 10 individuals injecting drugs is HIV positive. This is from an estimated sample of 12 million individuals worldwide. Ten million of the same individuals have chronic hepatitis C virus infection.
The treatments for these diseases are available. However, the drug policies prevent access to such life-saving services. The individuals could also access needles and opioid substitution therapy. But the policies outlaw drug users in need of help and treatment.

Mass imprisonment

In 1980, 40900 Americans got incarcerated for drug offenses. By 2019, the numbers skyrocketed to 430926. The number of drug offense convicts has increased ten times since 1980.
In the US, 1.5 million drug-related convictions took place in 2019. In Senegal, 31% of convicts got incarcerated for drug offenses. Every 1 in 5 prisoner incarcerations globally results from drug crimes. Most of the cases are drug possession charges.

Waste of funds fighting online drug war

The annual cost of interdiction and policing of illegal drugs worldwide is more than $100 billion. These funds can improve other economic sectors. They can use the money to in improving public health responses. Furthermore, they can use it to expand diversion programs and increase social service availability.

What If the War on Drugs Came to An End?

Countries that introduced alternative drug policies experience significant benefits. Some legalized drug use while others imposed drug use regulations. For starters, the countries experienced no increase in addiction and crime.
In 2001, Portugal legalized the use and possession of all drugs. Ever since, the country’s drug use has stayed below the EU average. Moreover, the country experienced a decrease in drug-related HIV transmissions. Portugal also saw an increase in the number of individuals seeking health services. Furthermore, the government had a 44 percent decrease in drug-related incarcerations.
Evidently, the punitive drug policies don’t make people safer. These policies encourage violence and instability. We can see this in the 2006 Mexican government militarization of the war on drugs. Drug-related violence led to the death of more than 250,000 people.

So, what kind of policies should governments enact?

The futility of the war on drugs resulted in new ideas and alternative strategies. These include:
Legalization of drugs
Currently, most governments proclaim drugs to be illegal. Drug use in several countries is prohibited. Violations of these policies are administrative crimes. Such legislations push users who need healthcare services away from hospitals. As a result of the policies, there is violence, health crises, and waste of funds.
Legalizing drugs will eliminate drug-related violence, health crisis, and waste of resources. More people will seek medical services. Furthermore, they will seek help openly.
Drug regulation
Alternatively, governments can regulate the drug market. They can allow the trade of drugs under certain circumstances. The regulation can be in the form of medical subscriptions or licensing.

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