Pubdate: Tue, 15 Jul 2008
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2008 Appeal-Democrat


Let's say you lay traps in your house to catch mice. After a year of 
this practice you have failed to catch any mice. Would you continue 
laying traps? Probably not.

After nearly 40 years of fighting the drug war in the United States 
(the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration celebrated its 35th 
birthday this month) we have failed to have any significant impact on 
drug use in America. A recent report by the World Health Organization 
puts America at the highest rate of illegal drug use among several 
First World nations.

Jacob Sullum, senior editor of libertarian Reason Magazine, analyzed 
the information and found further that increases and decreases in 
drug use in America seem to bear no relationship with government or 
law enforcement efforts: "Although marijuana arrests have increased 
by more than 150 percent since 1990, marijuana use seems to be just 
as common today as it was then, if not more so."

Even more striking, Sullum noticed that drug use in America was 
significantly higher than in those European nations with looser drug 
enforcement policies. Twice as many Americans have used marijuana as 
the Dutch and eight times as many have used cocaine.

If drug policies have such little effect on drug use, why are we 
continuing to fight this war? Don't blame it on the violent gangs. 
The gangs exist because of the black market caused by laws against 
drug use, not because of the drugs themselves. Don't blame it on 
Mexico or Colombia. Only four percent of Mexico's and Colombia's 
residents have used cocaine. All the violence and drug lords in Latin 
America exist to serve our citizens' demands.

So many people have died fighting this war, based on an unwinnable 
attack on the fundamentals of economics - law enforcement officers, 
bystanders, even children. What will be the tipping point to bring 
this country around to rethinking this entire strategy?

Is it because of the massive bureaucracy? How many thousands of 
government employees rely on the drug war continuing for their 
livelihoods? To them, we would ask if the risks and losses are worth 
it - to know that periodically, one of them would end up dead in a 
fight that can never be won the way we're fighting it.

For that matter, just think about what else we could be doing with 
these people in this innovative nation if they weren't stuck 
enforcing harsh drug policies that do not and will not work.

It's disturbing to think that the entire point of the drug war is to 
give people jobs, but what we're doing is the equivalent to paying 
for somebody to keep putting out mouse traps that aren't catching mice. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake