Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Time to Re-Think the Drug Battle

As a follow-up to my previous post regarding the legalization of marijuana, Johann Hari at the Huffington Post makes the best case I have ever read since my advocation for the legalization of drugs back in 1988; Face the Facts--And End the War on Drugs.
He points out that the drug war hands one of our biggest industries to armed criminal gangs; that under prohibition, drug use becomes more hardcore, and that the drug war doesn't reduce drug use.
His bottom line:
"So the drug war doesn’t achieve its goal of reducing addiction. All it does achieve is horrific gang violence – and in some cases the cartels gut whole countries like Mexico and Afghanistan. It does unwittingly press people into using harder and more dangerous drugs. And it does waste tens of billions of dollars that could really reduce drug addiction, by spending it on treatment for addicts.

The prohibitionists are therefore left a contradiction between their message and the facts. They can either change their message, or try to suppress the facts. Last week, the British government made its choice. But how long will this be tenable for them or the wider world? The prohibitionists are – from the best intentions and the highest motives – unleashing a catastrophe. Human beings have been finding ways to get stoned or high since we lived in caves. In our attempt to end this natural impulse, we have created a problem worse than drug use itself.
There is another way. Imagine a country with no drug dealers killing to protect their patch or terrorizing whole estates. Imagine a country where burglary fell by 60 percent. Imagine an America where we spent all these billions treating addicts as ill people who need our help, not hunting them down as criminals who need punishment. We can be that country. We just have to come down from chasing the dragon of a drug-free world – and start looking soberly at the facts."
Strongly recommended reading for anyone interested in the subject.

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