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© 1996

Illicit Drugs and Crime

by Bruce L. Benson, David W. Rasmussen

Support for a “war on drugs” has been part of the campaign rhetoric of most politicians and political parties in recent years. But does such a “war” have adverse effects for society greater than the problem of drug use itself? In this study, Professors Benson and Rasmussen argue that the “war on drugs” has diverted scarce police, court, and prison resources away from fighting other crimes (such as robbery and assault) and, as a consequence, has put the lives and property of citizens at greater risk. They further demonstrate that the most frequent rationale for cracking down on drug use—that drug use causes other crimes—is not supported by the evidence. To the contrary, Professors Benson and Rasmussen cite data showing most criminals who use drugs began using drugs after they committed their first non-drug crime. This is an important contribution to debate over the proper response to drug use in America