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Beginning to see the light

July 03, 2010|James P. Gray

News flash! On June 22, the Chicago Sun-Times published an editorial recommending a radical change in our nation's drug policy. The editorial began by saying: "When will we accept that America's war on drugs is over – we lost – and it's time to get real about our drug laws?" Then the editorial continued: "Medical marijuana should be legalized. Pot more generally should be decriminalized. And the carnage in our streets and in Mexico begs that we rethink our nation's approach to the sale and use of more serious drugs as well."

People around the world and institutions like the Sun-Times are beginning to see the light, because the evidence of the failure of our policy of drug prohibition is all around us. Another of those institutions is the NAACP, whose president announced on this past June 29 that: "We are joining a growing number of medical professionals, labor organizations, law enforcement authorities, local municipalities, and approximately 56% of the public in saying that it is time to decriminalize the use of marijuana."

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Why is all of this happening? Well, among other things more people are beginning to understand that many of the problems with youth gangs, such as shootings, drug sales, and even the recruitment of young people to that dead-end lifestyle, are directly traced to drug prohibition. Police can disrupt the drug trafficking of gangs only to a limited degree, but, they like Al Capone and other such thugs in the alcohol distribution business before them, can only really be put out of that lucrative business by a pronounced change in policy.

Prison overcrowding? We have filled our prisons with young men and women who have committed drug-related crimes – which the Sun-Times rightfully calls "a shameful waste of human potential and the taxpayers' money" – but, just like holding a bucket under a waterfall fills up lots of buckets with water, that act can do nothing to shut off the flow.

Foreign policy? In Mexico, where President Calderon has been waging his own war on drugs, the killing and corruption still continue to increase. The Sun-Times addresses those realities and cites the concern of many that Mexico is in danger of becoming a failed state because of them. Only the repeal of drug prohibition has the chance of saving our neighbor to the south from that fate.

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