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| 2/24/2009 12:00:00 AM

Drugs are bad. Fighting them is worse

Feb 24 -- The war on drugs has been a failure for both the US and Latin America. The biggest aid recipients have been Colombia and Mexico. It's instructive to see what militarising this social problem has done to these two countries. Barack Obama's new drug tsar should end it

The appointment of Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske as the next US drug tsar signals that President Barack Obama may opt for common sense when it comes to this nation's drug laws and its destructive war on drugs.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer says drug reform advocates are "cautiously optimistic" about Kerlikowske's appointment. Seattle, for one, has some of the more progressive drug policies in the nation, such as drug courts and needle exchanges. Kerlikowske also recently approved a pilot programme in the drug-infested section of Belltown, where police officers take drug users to rehabilitation programmes or job centres rather than prison.

Federal policies like these would be a welcome change, but it's far too little too late. The US and the nations it deals with in this "other war" do not need incremental change, but a radical break from past policies. They need to decriminalise drug use and treat it as the healthcare problem it is.
 
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