Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



As the "war against drugs" meanders through the century,' policy-makers continue to search for effective strategies for combating the illegal drug industry. For seventy-five years the dominant federal strategy has been to curtail supplies of prohibited substances.' In its many permutations, this supply-side approach has included attempts to eradicate crops, to intercept drugs at the Nation's borders, and to arrest, prosecute, and punish commercial participants at every level of the production and distribution system.

By any rational measure, the supply-side "war against drugs" has failed. Only ten to fifteen percent of the illicit drugs entering the country are intercepted and the most popular illegal substances, like cocaine, remain readily available to the American public. The failure of the supply-side strategy prompted Congress to turn its attention to the demand side of the illegal drug markets. Lawmakers have acknowledged that as long as consumer demand persists, the illegal drug industry will continue to supply the domestic markets from which traffickers collect annual revenues of 100 billion dollars or more.'