CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Benson & Meehan on Predatory Public Finance and the War on Drugs

Bruce L. Benson and Brian Meehan (Florida State University - Department of Economics and Berry College - Campbell School of Business) have posted Predatory Public Finance and the Evolution of the War on Drugs (Excerpt from Adam J. Hoffer and Todd Nesbit, eds., For Your Own Good: Taxes, Paternalism, and Fiscal Discrimination in the Twenty-First Century. Arlington, VA: Mercatus Center at George Mason University, 2018)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
US drug policy has a long history of providing revenue for federal, state, and local governments. Before the War on Drugs, opium and cocaine were legal and medical professionals who prescribed these substances had to pay extra taxes to do so. This chapter explains how, as the federal government began enforcing outright bans on drugs, law enforcement agencies took advantage of their newly acquired authority to profit. Today, civil asset forfeiture related to drug crimes provides officers with incentives to use and abuse their authority and increase their revenue by making more drug arrests. Key takeaways: (1) Drug policy has a long history of providing law enforcement with increased revenues and authority over time. (2) Law enforcement agencies may be targeting the crimes that present the opportunity to raise revenue for their departments rather than the most serious public safety threats.

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