Pubdate: Thu, 19 Feb 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Matthew Lennig


This year marks the 100th anniversary of the drug war, which started
in 1909 with the prohibition of opium processed for smoking. Over the
course of the past 100 years, more substances have been banned and
enforcement has become more brutal. Despite these measures, the
percentage of Americans addicted to drugs has increased.

A senior U.S. official is quoted in the article "Latin American Panel
Calls U.S. Drug War a Failure" (World News, Feb. 12) as saying that
"if the drug effort were failing there would be no violence."

He is using the wrong success metric. If the drug war were
succeeding, drugs would be harder to get, fewer people would be
addicted, there would be fewer overdoses and fewer cases of HIV
transmitted by infected needles. Increased violence by itself is no
proof the drug war is achieving its goals.

Matthew Lennig

Palo Alto, Calif.
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