Fighting the war on drugs: US Policy

Beyond the screen of narco television shows is a whole world of politics and policy.

Questions policy makers deal with range from how to bring drug lords to justice to the most effective way to fight the drug trade.

The latter was at the forefront of Reagan’s mind in the early 80s. Cocaine was making its way to the streets of America, and it was unlike anything the country had seen before.

Because of the eruption of violence and drug money possibly making its way to legitimate business, Reagan decided to change the focus on drug policy from demand to supply.

What did this entail?

Demand-oriented policy focused on:

  • Treatment of those who suffered from addiction
  • An increased cracked down on those who dealt drugs or were involved

Supply-oriented policy focused on:

  • Eradication: Reduce production of illegal substances
  • Interdiction: Reducing the flow of drugs into the United States by patrolling borders

Reagan was able to accomplish the latter policy focus by cutting support for drug treatment by 60 percent 1980-1986.

In 1986 his administration implemented the desertification program, which was a way to push supplying countries to cooperate with US policy–specifically eradication–thus making them eligible to receive funding for the war on drugs.

But has it actually been effective? Read next week to learn about the balloon effect. Doesn’t that sound interesting?


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