University of the District of Columbia Law Review


Mark Osler


Law enforcement actions should be judged by a simple measure: are they solving a problem? After all, we Americans loathe the loss of freedom and the spending of tax dollars, and we should never take away citizens' freedom and money unless there actually is a problem being solved. Illegal narcotics are a problem, but we aren't solving it. Narcotics trafficking and use lead to violence, undermine productivity,' and rip apart the social fabric of families and communities. Despite much attention to these issues, drug use in this country continues at high levels, even among children.2 We have failed, and it is time to try something new, radical, and rooted in two conservative ideals: a belief in the power of markets, and the desire for a smaller and less intrusive federal government. This article argues that the failure of law enforcement to solve the problem of narcotics trafficking is rooted in a failure to discern the basic nature of drug trafficking. Drug trafficking is a business. 3

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