After 40 years, the United States' war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.
Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn't worked.
Here is the key question to this issue:
So why persist with costly programs that don't work?
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, sitting down with the AP at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, paused for a moment at the question.
"Look," she says, starting slowly. "This is something that is worth fighting for because drug addiction is about fighting for somebody's life, a young child's life, a teenager's life, their ability to be a successful and productive adult.
"If you think about it in those terms, that they are fighting for lives - and in Mexico they are literally fighting for lives as well from the violence standpoint - you realize the stakes are too high to let go."
Either Secretary Napolitano is incapable of truly understanding the failures of prohibition polices or she is being dishonest. The war on drugs has not only failed to stem the availability of illegal drugs, but our policies have created violence in Mexico and several South American countries and have contributed significantly to prison crowding. Illegal drug policies have also contributed distortions and disruptions in the criminal justice system that may be irreparable. Finally, these policies have created new categories of crime and criminals. Drugs don't cause crime, drug policies do.