We've Lost the War on Drugs

It's time for a new approach: Kristof
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 14, 2009 7:14 AM CDT
Soldiers secure the crime scene where a woman was killed in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in April. Drug cartel wars in Mexico have cost more than 10,650 lives since December 2006.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
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(Newser) – The war on drugs has been waged for 40 years, but despite spending $44 billion annually, “the drugs have won,” writes Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times. A former police chief notes that “drugs are more readily available, at lower prices and higher levels of potency—the drug war is a dismal failure." It’s time to rethink our approach. “We need to be less ideological and more empirical,” Kristof urges.

During the drug war, the US prison population has soared, and cartels have enjoyed an earnings boost as tougher drug laws drive up prices, notes Kristof. A good first step toward improving the situation could be to offer legalized marijuana at certain licensed pharmacies in some states, writes Kristof. President Obama’s drug czar wants to push treatment rather than prison. Whatever form it takes, one thing is clear: we need to "grope toward a more effective strategy," Kristof concludes.