THE BLOG

Time for Exit Strategy for Unwinnable Drug War

05/25/2011 12:00 pm ET
  • Tony Newman Director of Media Relations, Drug Policy Alliance

The death and suffering from the failed war in Iraq helped sweep the Democrats to power and helped show Rumsfeld the door. The "New Direction" Democrats promised to help find a way out of this quagmire.

There is another unwinnable war raging that also costs billions of dollars, and ruins millions of lives right here at home: The 30-plus year "war on drugs." The war at home costs $40 billion a year, is responsible for incarcerating almost 500,000 people, and leads to an unregulated black market while having no impact on the availability of drugs. It is easier for a teenager to get marijuana than beer.

Nolan Finley of the Detroit News wrote an excellent column pointing out the similarities of the two failed wars and the need for an exit strategy.

It is time to encourage treatment providers, public health officials, law enforcement, drug users, educators, elected officials and others to come together and help us find ways to reduce the harms of both drug abuse and drug prohibition. We need to heal from this war on our fellow citizens.

In the meantime, there are concrete steps that the "New Direction" Democrats can implement that will save lives and money.