Home | About | Donate

US Should Seek Bold New Approach on Drugs


US Should Seek Bold New Approach on Drugs

Kenneth Roth, Ethan Nadelmann

The “War on Drugs” has been lost. Not only has it failed to reduce problematic drug use, it has cost more than a trillion dollars over the past few decades, and produced horrific unintended consequences. It has left in its wake a trail of violence, human rights abuse, and infectious disease.


The drug war, like all wars, is a for profit enterprise, from prisons to cartels and endless military operations at home and abroad. And as for those unfortunate to become addicted, well, as has been remarked: if you're rich, you go to rehab; if you're poor you go to prison.


Really good points. I have thought, since the first days of the "War on Drugs," that it was stupid - a second Prohibition (because that worked so well) - and obscenely, tragically wasteful. And those "unintended consequences" - horrible.

Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow looks into it in considerable depth, and her analysis makes it clear just how wrong the path broken by this ill-conceived war really is: nothing less than the next phase of the U.S.'s shameful history of racial (and class) suppression.


The last sentence: "The Obama administration has made significant progress these past two years in reforming drug policies at home. It should do the same internationally as well."

What about Afghanistan? Recent deaths of young people in Dubuque due to heroin overdoses are tragic. Sad also are the indictments on federal charges of four of the local dealers, pictured on the front page of Saturday's local newspaper. Four young men with lengthy prison sentences to serve in federal prisons.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but as far as I know heroin comes from poppies, and poppies come from Afghanistan, and US troops protect the Afghan poppy growers. Yes? No?


Clearly, whatever approach the US seeks, it will be on drugs. Was that intended?


Why don't Columbia, Mexico and other WOD suffering countries unilaterally legalize all drugs?


You're right, BiD, heroin does come from poppies and about 80 per cent of the world's supply comes from Afghanistan. It's my impression that that heroin gets distributed in Europe and Asia, including Russia. The other 20 per cent, including that consumed in the United States, is produced in Mexico, Columbia and Guatemala, the countries that have been most ravaged by warring drug cartels and they are the ones that, in desperation, have turned to the United Nations for help. As we engage in this conversation, that meeting is occurring, so we may as well see what comes of it.

My feeling is that the United States is in no position to lead a world crusade against drugs. First of all, we are a military empire mired in never ending war in the Middle East. Second, Our country is devastated by Nixon's "War on Drugs". The best thing that we could do is come up with a medical model that has some possibility of working. That will be very difficult because we have a "Criminal Industrial Complex", upon which many people and institutions are dependent

I would put what Obama has done in the context of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said in the 1930s; namely, "The States are the laboratories of democracy." Thus, sweeping changes in society, such as publicly funded health care--like every other industrial nation has had, some for about a century-- must be shown to work at the state level, first.

Since Afghanistan's heroin goes elsewhere and since they have no oil, why then are we mired down there?