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A new report highlights the cost of the ongoing global war on weed.
While the United States and much of the rest of the world are waging the longest and costliest wars on drugs in history, at an estimated $100 billion a year, the costs are borne largely by non-government sources, a report released by the Washington D.C.-based Drug Policy Alliance shows.
That’s a lot of money for something that appears to be winning the war but is far from winning it.
At least that’s in the short term. The DPA’s study notes that only about 40 percent of the total cost attributable to the war on drugs “has been funded through taxation.”
The report includes a number of charts that look at the impact that marijuana prohibition has had on the countries where the drug is currently legal.
The results are grim, as we’ve seen in dozens of countries, and could lead to the end of marijuana legalization entirely. While it’s easy to dismiss the report’s methodology as flawed, especially given its location in a country where marijuana is often available in high quantities on a daily basis (Germany), there are certainly real issues related to the report’s conclusions.
Let’s begin with the report’s source, the RAND Corporation, a think tank that “combines private sector, government, and nonprofit researchers into a global information network” that is “particularly skilled in analysis, data collection and production of highly detailed information and analysis.”
Although research done by RAND is not a substitute for the best scientific advice, it does provide important context. It was originally created in 1954, when the United States was making a dramatic push for a drug war to combat growing addiction and poverty in the 1960s. The group was formed by two military officials who had been appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower to lead a RAND Corporation study into how to end the drug wars that had been a central part of the American war on communism during World War II. When the Vietnam War broke out in 1970 (and then the war on drugs), the report was merged into another, more mainstream research institute that focused on drug policy and drug abuse.
In the early 1990s, the DPA was formed following the fall of the Soviet Union, which left the U.S. without the expertise needed to research and implement policies related to drug policy. To fill the void left