The ‘War’ On Drugs: Expensive, Ineffective And Harmful To Our Youth

The venerable Jimmy Carter has done the hard work of detailing the history, the utter ineffectiveness and the sheer monetary expense of yet another “war on a noun” (as the late great Molly Ivins called the “war” on terrorism). The drug “war” is 40 years old this week. Monetary and social cost aside, how well is it working? Read what Carter has to say. His conclusion, in brief: end it… now.

The report describes the total failure of the present global antidrug effort, and in particular America’s “war on drugs,” which was declared 40 years ago today. It notes that the global consumption of opiates has increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent and cannabis 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2008. Its primary recommendations are to substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to concentrate more coordinated international effort on combating violent criminal organizations rather than nonviolent, low-level offenders.

Drug policy in the Carter administration was trending in the recommended direction. What happened? Ask yourself: what happened to most good things in our society at the end of Carter’s presidency, and you come to a conclusion that can be expressed in one name: Ronald Reagan… with his cohort and his Republican successors. May they all rot in hell.

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