Economics of Drug Policy and the Drug War

31. Growth in US Criminal Justice Spending 1982-2003

"In 2003 the United States spent a record $185 billion for police protection, corrections, and judicial and legal activities. Expenditures for operating the Nation's justice system increased from almost $36 billion in 1982 to over $185 billion in 2003, an increase of 418%"

Hughes, Kristen A., "Justice Expenditure and Employment in the United States, 2003" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 2006), NCJ212260, p. 2.

32. Cost for Wiretaps

"The expenditures noted reflect the cost of installing intercept devices and monitoring communications for the 2,034 authorizations for which reports included cost data. The average cost of intercept devices in 2011 was $49,629, down 1 percent from the average cost in 2010. For federal wiretaps for which expenses were reported in 2011, the average cost was $71,748, a 13 percent increase from 2010. The cost of a state wiretap ranged from a low of $200 in Hudson County, New Jersey, to a high of $2,885,712 for a narcotics investigation conducted by the New York Organized Crime Task Force."

Administrative Office of the United States Courts, 2011 Wiretap Report (Washington, DC: USGPO, June 2012), p. 9.

33. Drug-Related Public Expenditures in the EU


"Economic analysis can be an important tool for policy evaluation, although the limited information available on drug-related public expenditure in Europe represents a major obstacle and makes comparison between countries difficult. For the 16 countries that have produced estimates since 2002, drug-related public expenditure ranges from 0.01% to 0.5% of their gross domestic product (GDP). From the information available, it appears that the largest share of drug-related public expenditure is allocated to drug supply reduction activities (Figure 4.4).
"Public expenditure on supply reduction includes, among other things, expenditure on drug-law offenders in prisons. The EMCDDA calculated a range of estimates, where the low estimate considers only those prisoners who have been sentenced for a drug-law offence and the high estimate also includes pre-trial prisoners who may be sentenced for a drug-law offence. Applying these criteria, European countries spent an estimated 0.03% of GDP, or EUR 3.7 billion, on drug-law offenders in prison in 2010. Including pre-trial prisoners, the estimate rises to 0.05% of GDP or EUR 5.9 billion."

European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction, "European Drug Report 2014: Trends and Developments" (Lisbon, Portugal: EMCDDA, 2014), p. 70.

34. Estimated Savings from Legalizing Drugs in the US

"The report estimates that legalizing drugs would save roughly $48.7 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. $33.1 billion of this savings would accrue to state and local governments, while $15.6 billion would accrue to the federal government. Approximately $13.7 billion of the savings would results from legalization of marijuana, $22.3 billion from legalization of cocaine and heroin, and $12.8 from legalization of other drugs."

Miron, Jeffey A., PhD, "The Budgetary Implications of Drug Prohibition," (February, 2010), p. 1.

35. Drug Control Expenditures Through the 1990s

"The most recent figures available from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) indicate that, in 1999, federal expenditures on control of illegal drugs surpassed $17 billion; combined expenditures by federal, state, and local governments exceeded $30 billion. What is more, the nation's so-called 'drug war' is a protracted one. The country has spent roughly this amount annually throughout the 1990s."

National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, "Informing America's Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don't Know Keeps Hurting Us" (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001), p. 1.