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The War on Drugs: Time for Change!

            President Richard Nixon declared a "war on drugs" in 1971. The expectation then was that drug trafficking in the United States could be greatly reduced in a short time through federal policing and yet the war on drugs continues to this day (Kleiman WSJ). It has become a liability for the government which seems to have no answer in dealing with the issue. Indeed, the problem is so complex that it has produced not just one clear, simple, wrong solution but two: the "drug war" (prohibition plus massive law enforcement) and proposals for wholesale drug legalization. Fortunately, these two bad ideas are not our only choices. We could instead take advantage of proven new approaches that can make us safer while greatly reducing the number of Americans behind bars for drug offenses (Caulkin,WSJ ). Remember the quote by George Bernard Shaw "Those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything. Can we overcome our stubborn attitude, and chose a different path to achieve our goal?".
             Understand how and when of the War on Drugs began, and the insurmountable cost that followed, will paint a clearer picture of what we have been confronted with for more than four decades. In 1967, believing that the government had failed to protect the common citizen against an increasingly high number of crimes that spread throughout the nation, an article was written in Readers Digest: "Our opinion leaders have gone too far in promoting the doctrine that when a law is broken, society, not the criminal, is to blame, it argued. The country should stop looking for the root causes of the crime and put money instead into increasing the number of police. America approach to crime must be swift and sure retribution. Immediate and decisive force must be the first response."(Baum, p.6-7). The author of the article was Richard Nixon, a Republican who got elected President of the United States the next year.

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