The drug war is like Vietnam: We can’t admit that we’ve lost.

This week the Global Commission on Drug Policy issued its report calling for a policy shift towards legalization in the worldwide war on drugs. This panel of worthies, including former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, former Secretary of State George Shultz, and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, documented the increasing levels of worldwide drug production and consumption that correlate with the increasing drug war expenditures.

The commission concludes the war on drugs has failed, and it’s time for new strategies aimed at taking the profit out of illicit drugs by making them available legally to users who do not commit other crimes. The more we spend trying to suppress drugs, the more profitable we make the production and sale of drugs, and the more we enrich and strengthen the most violent forces of organized crime. Drug addiction is a public health issue, and should be addressed and treated as such.

I’m disappointed that this report didn’t receive more attention and publicity. Instead the health care focus this week seemed to be on the 30th anniversary of the war on AIDS, which is making progress, instead of the 40th anniversary of the war on drugs, the failure of which is manifest in increasing levels of addiction and violence around the world.

I’m not optimistic about the chances for this report changing opinion and policy regarding illegal drugs. There are too many vested interests profiting from the vast expenditures being spent without noticeable effect on the drug war. All that taxpayer money is going somewhere.

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