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12 Crim. Just. Pol'y Rev. 3 (2001)

handle is hein.journals/cjpr12 and id is 1 raw text is: 












Small-Denomination Paper

Currency as the Focus of

Supply-Reduction Drug Policy


Thomas J. Bernard
Pennsylvania State University
Eric Hains
Pennsylvania State University


   Efforts to impede the supply of illegal drugs and the laundering of illegal drug money
   have been expensive and largely ineffective. The authors propose that supply-reduction
   drug policy concentrate on impeding the reintroduction into the banking system of the
   large volumes of small-denomination paper currency (primarily $1, $5, $10, and $20
   bills) generated in street-level drug sales. Such highly focused policy might better
   achieve the supply-reduction goals of the war on drugs advocates and the harm-
   reduction goals of drug legalization advocates.


Government policies that respond to illegal drugs are often described either
as supply reduction or demand reduction (Moore, 1983). Demand-reduction
policies-prevention and treatment-are less controversial but also less
important as measured by the proportion of governmental resources they
consume. Supply-reduction policies dominate the government's efforts
against illegal drugs, and those same policies generate considerable contro-
versy. Critics argue that the supply-reduction policies of the current war on
drugs generate more harm than the illegal drugs themselves and that these
policies should be replaced by harm-reduction policies that include the
legalization of at least some drugs. Other critics take less extreme positions,
suggesting a range of alternatives such as targeted supply-reduction efforts
(e.g., crack cocaine as opposed to marijuana) or de facto or partial legaliza-
tion (e.g., marijuana as opposed to crack cocaine). Still others favor shifting
resources from enforcement to treatment, arguing that treatment is less
expensive and more effective (e.g., A Better Approach to Drug Offenders,
2000; Nieves, 2000). Despite this spectrum of alternatives, there is still


Criminal Justice Policy Review, Volume 12, Number 1, March 2001 3-25
© 2001 Sage Publications, Inc.

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