George Soros: War on Drugs Is a '$1 Trillion Failure'

Tuesday, 06 May 2014 09:16 PM

By Ronald Kessler

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Billionaire investor George Soros calls the war on drugs a "$1 trillion failure" in an op-ed for the Financial Times.

Pointing to a study recently concluded by the London School of Economics, or LSE, Soros said the global war on drugs “has done more harm than good.”

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“For more than four decades, governments around the world have pumped huge sums of money into ineffective and repressive anti-drug efforts,” he wrote. “These have come at the expense of programs that actually work such as needle exchanges and substitution therapy. This is not just a waste of money, it is counterproductive.”

Soros claims the war on drugs has created a black market that has proven to be "highly adaptive."

"Repress the business in one country and it springs up elsewhere," he said, citing the example of how the drug trade shifted from Columbia to Mexico after drug interdiction efforts were successful in cracking down on Columbia’s cocaine trade. He also pointed to increasing murder rates in Mexico and Columbia in the past 20 years, saying those statistics have a negative impact on those countries’ economies.

Pointing to the U.S.’s high per capita incarceration rate for drug offenders, Soros believes resources would be better used if put toward prevention efforts.

“Most are drug and other nonviolent offenders for whom drug treatment and other alternatives to incarceration would probably prove cheaper and more effective in reducing recidivism and protecting society,” he said in his Financial Times op-ed. “Despite the epic scale of human wreckage, services that could save lives and cut down on the costs to society go underfunded, or not funded at all.”

Soros said he supports the LSE recommendations that public health policies be adopted to fight the global war on drugs, adding that governments around the world need to see how and if their current policies are working and "be willing to redirect resources towards programs that work."

“This will save lives — and save money along the way,” he said. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix a broken global framework for coping with the drug crisis. The costs of doing nothing are too great to bear.”

Soros, 83, is the 27th richest person with a net worth of $23 billion, according to Forbes’ billionaires list. He founded the Soros Fund Management, a hedge fund, and graduated from the London School of Economics.

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