A Real Debate About Drug Policy

It is sad that so much money was wasted on a program that did not work. So many lives have been affected by drugs. The problem seems to be getting worse. Every year there is a new drug on the street that is causing people to loose everything they hold near to their hearts. The sad part is all of those people that went to prison for a crime that was committed because of their addiction to drugs. Yet, they never got help for the addiction.

"The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world."

That is the opening sentence of a report issued last week by the Global Commission on Drug Policy. Both of us have signed on to this report. Why?

We believe that drug addiction is harmful to individuals, impairs health and has adverse societal effects. So we want an effective program to deal with this problem.

The question is: What is the best way to go about it? For 40 years now, our nation's approach has been to criminalize the entire process of producing, transporting, selling and using drugs, with the exception of tobacco and alcohol. Our judgment, shared by other members of the commission, is that this approach has not worked, just as our national experiment with the prohibition of alcohol failed. Drugs are still readily available, and crime rates remain high. But drug use in the U.S. is no lower than, and sometimes surpasses, drug use in countries with very different approaches to the problem.

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