Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2011

Publication Citation

18 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 901 (2011)


Forty years ago, the world declared war on drugs. Today, after decades of failing to adequately control drug consumption, an even graver problem has emerged: violent drug traffickers have taken the industry hostage and will stop at nothing to preserve their power. Governments have instituted dozens of programs to dismantle the illicit drug industry, but they have seen only marginal success. One strategy, however, has yet to be fully tested: universal legalization. Universal legalization of all drugs would attack the illicit drug market head-on, destroying the profit incentive for drug traffickers and placing control of the industry in the hands of national governments. This Note first surveys the history of the illegal drug industry, focusing on the particular problem of violent drug traffickers. Second, this Note examines past attempts to control the drug industry and assesses their strengths and weaknesses. Third, this Note proposes a new scheme to end the violence associated with global drug trafficking-universal legalization-and assesses its potential efficacy and feasibility. Last, this Note posits a regulatory framework through which national governments can control their own domestic drug problems if drugs became legal, focusing particularly on the United States.