Drugs have not "won the war." With a comprehensive anti-drug strategy
in place, involving foreign policy, enforcement, education, treatment,
prevention and media, America's overall drug use has declined almost
by half in the past three decades -- from 14.1 percent of the
population in 1979 to 8.3 percent now who used drugs in the past
month. In addition, cocaine use, including crack -- the source of much
of the former record-high violent crime numbers -- is down 70 percent.
Want to go back?
Nicholas D. Kristof has it exactly right. When alcohol prohibition
ended, the violent bootleggers had the financial rug pulled out from
under them. We need to do the same to the Mexican cartels and the
Nicholas D. Kristof makes clear the price paid for the wrongheaded
"war on drugs." He notes Norm Stamper's experience as a young police
officer in San Diego in 1967 thinking that he could be "doing real
police work" rather than breaking down the doors of marijuana users.
I would argue that the failed war on drugs is worse than useless; it
has undermined the rule of law. In 1967 I was a young college student
encountering the drug culture on an East Coast campus. I had the
experience of having my friends arrested and getting midnight calls to
bail them out. At that time it was even illegal, where I lived, merely
to be in the presence of someone smoking pot.
Thanks to Nicholas D. Kristof for saying again what so many have said
for years about the war on drugs. Given the evidence that the war on
drugs is a futile, tragic disaster, one can only paraphrase what
Winston Churchill said about democracy: Decriminalization of drugs is
the worst idea, except for all the others.