Drug War Deaths, Ctd

by Patrick Appel

Pete Guither is none too pleased with Mark Kleiman's take on this Esquire article:

[In] the case of the Esquire article, it’s interesting and useful to start having more of a discussion of what prohibition actually costs us in numbers of lives (as opposed to the merely anecdotally horrific). That doesn’t mean that I believe the full numbers in the Esquire article stand up to scientific rigor for accuracy (nor do I believe the author claimed it to be more than an attempt at rough number crunching).

For years, we have heard prohibitionists and their apologists toss out numbers that include things like prison and some pretty made-up “lost productivity” numbers as part of the costs to society of drug use, and few (other than legalizers) have stepped up to correct that (See James Roberts just last week at CATO: “Numerous studies have totaled up some of the costs to taxpayers and consumers from the current problems with drug addiction. These burdens on society estimated at more than $180 billion a year affect everyone.”). So a bit of hyperbole on the other side to make a point, while not my preference, seems reasonable.