Sunday, February 22, 2009

Failure of the Drug War

Mexico is not a failing state, as it has become fashionable to say. What has failed is our "war on drugs." That failure and the drug-related violence wracking Mexico suggest it is time to open a national discussion on legalizing drugs.

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It is clear that our current drug polices are failing to reduce demand, availability, quality, and crime. In fact, many of these policies increase criminality by forcing addicts to commit crime in order to sustain their habits. We have managed to fill up our prisons and jails, expend billions of dollars with nothing to show in return, and destroy numerous lives at home and abroad.

It is time to revisit our drug policies. But I am doubtful that legislators and criminal justice officials have the fortitude to do so. Neither of these groups like to admit they have pursued the wrong policies. Elected officials are afraid of being criticized as being soft on crime and enjoy the benefits from the criminal justice-industrial complex. The criminal justice system, and in particular the police, need the drug war to continue - they are dependent on the money and assets seized, especially when budgets are declining and it sustains their mission at a time with both property and violent crime rates continue to decline.

End the drug war - probably not a chance.

Update - letter to the Wall Street Journal from former presidents of countries damaged by our current drug policies.

1 comment:

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