Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reality intrudes on the drug war

Following up on yesterday's post, here's more on the Latin American Commission Report on the failure of our War On Some Drugs in the ChiTownTrib:

In the story of the emperor with no clothes, it took someone whose observations are rarely heeded—a child—to point out the obvious fact that no one else could acknowledge. In the case of drug policy, it takes people who are usually ignored by Washington policymakers—Latin Americans—to perform the same invaluable service.

Last week, a commission made up of 17 members, from Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa to Sonia Picado, the Costa Rican who heads the Inter-American Institute on Human Rights, did nothing but admit the truth: The war on drugs is a failure.

The U.S. government has sent a lot of money south to eradicate fields of cannabis and coca. But this amounts to plowing the sea. Where there is demand, there will be supply.

The Latin American commission suggests using education and treatment to reduce the demand for illegal pleasure in consuming countries. But between the lines lurks a more important and radical idea, namely to treat recreational drug use (like drinking or smoking cigarettes) as a vice, not a crime.

"The enormous capacity of the narcotics trade for violence and corruption can only be effectively countered if its sources of income are substantially weakened," it argues. Unsaid is that the only way to drastically reduce the profitability of drug production and trafficking is to make them legal—as we did with liquor after Prohibition.

Most people, here or in Latin America, may not be ready for that remedy. But facing the truth about the drug war is a step toward salvation. If you want to change reality, it helps to abandon your fantasies.

The people in charge of the Drug War and the Prison Industry have no interest in reality, and to admit that their goals are pure fantasy would be admitting a mistake, which, like Bush, they simply are incapable of doing. They may even admit to themselves that what they are doing is totally wrong, but as long as the money keeps pouring in, they will keep on keepin' on and the hell with the harm they are doing.

Much more at the link.

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