Drug War: Getting Our Priorities Straight

Americans live in the last days of a hundred-year-long international drug war. Fifty-two percent of the country has come to the view that marijuana criminalization is outright wrong, and 67 percent believe that punitive criminalization is not the best way to address harder addictions.

But what is lost in this argument over criminalization is a sense of priorities. Even if one believes that drug laws should exist and be enforced, there is no rational course of action but to divert the vast majority of anti-drug funding to the enforcement of worse crimes, like human trafficking.

Human-trafficking statistics are notorious for varying widely, but according the Department of State, as many as 17,500 people may be trafficked into the U.S. annually. Including those trafficked within the country, the number is likely in the hundreds of thousands.

In fiscal year 2011, according to an analysis of State Department data from the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, the U.S spent $77 million on programs to combat human trafficking domestically and internationally. Human-trafficking prevention also has been the victim of significant cuts over the budget battles during the Obama administration. By contrast, in 2010, the U.S. spent $15 billion on drug-trafficking enforcement programs.

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