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40 Yr, Trillion Dollar
'War On Drugs' Worst Failure Yet

By Jim Kirwan
After 40 years, the United States war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread. Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn't worked. In the grand scheme, it has not been successful, Kerlikowske told The Associated Press. Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified.
U.S. President Richard Milhouse "I am not a crook" Nixon
Embattled President Richard M. Nixon seized on a new war he thought he could win. This nation faces a major crisis in terms of the increasing use of drugs, particularly among our young people,Nixon said as he signed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. The following year, he said: Public enemy No. 1 in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive. His first drug-fighting budget was $100 million. Now it's $15.1 billion, 31 times Nixon's amount even when adjusted for inflation.
From the beginning, lawmakers debated fiercely whether law enforcement no matter how well funded and well trained could ever defeat the drug problem. Then-Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, who had his doubts, has since watched his worst fears come to pass. Look what happened. It's an ongoing tragedy that has cost us a trillion dollars. It has loaded our jails and it has destabilized countries like Mexico and Colombia, he said.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy says about 330 tons of cocaine, 20 tons of heroin and 110 tons of methamphetamine are sold in the United States every year, almost all of it brought in across the borders. Even more marijuana is sold, but it's hard to know how much of that is grown domestically, including vast fields run by Mexican drug cartels in U.S. national parks. The dealers who are caught have overwhelmed justice systems in the United States and elsewhere. U.S. prosecutors declined to file charges in 7,482 drug cases last year, most because they simply didn't have the time and the arrestees decline to "cop a plea," wherein they plead guilty in return for a more "lenient" sentence.
Less money spent on treatment, prevention - Mexican President Felipe Calderon says if America wants to fix the drug problem, it needs to do something about Americans' unquenching thirst for illegal drugs. Kerlikowske agrees,  and Obama has committed to doing just that. And yet both countries continue to spend the bulk of their drug budgets on law enforcement rather than treatment and prevention. President Obama's newly released drug war budget is essentially the same as Bush's, with roughly twice as much money going to the criminal justice system as to treatment and prevention,said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance.
Nixon said in a special 1971 message to Congress. It comes quietly into homes and destroys children, it moves into neighborhoods and breaks the fiber of community which makes neighbors. We must try to better understand the confusion and disillusion and despair that bring people, particularly young people, to the use of narcotics and dangerous drugs. Just a few years later, a young Barack Obama was one of those young users, a teenager smoking pot and trying a little blow when you could afford it, as he wrote in Dreams From My Father. When asked during his campaign if he had inhaled the pot, he replied: That was the point. Why continue a an extraordinarily expensive policy which has proven NOT to work?
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