Friday, December 14, 2007

A different approach to the W.o.D. needed

Last weekend I read one of the best articles I've seen in many years about US efforts in the "War on Drugs" in Rolling Stone. Obviously Rolling Stone comes at the issue from the left and with a unique "historical perspective" on the topic of drugs. But this article takes the subject seriously. The writing in engaging and the analysis is clear-eyed. The conclusion that the US has lost the war is all but inescapable from the facts and statistics presented. $500B spent on law enforcement/militarization, ~450,000 of Americans incarcerated (most for minor offenses), but illegal drug use has barely budged (in % terms) and various drugs (including new ones like crystal meth) remain as cheap and plentiful as ever.

And yet no matter how dismal the results of the current approach, for ideological reasons-apparently, there is no desire by policy makers at the national level to try alternative approaches. And the author describes several approaches that have proven to reduce violence at the local level, and shows how simple measures that could have prevented the meth epidemic of the past decade were obstructed by pharmaceutical lobbyists. Moreover the efforts that have proven effective (like anti-drug marketing campaigns) are no longer supported by the federal government. The author details a bunch of options available to reduce drug use and violence and supports the options with what evidence is available.

Perhaps a new administration can look at the issue and try a more sensible approach (or at least try something different from what has obviously failed in the past).


Post a Comment

<< Home