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May 2007
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Drugs and Guns

In today’s Independent on Sunday (UK), Hugh O’Shaughnessy reports:

America has spent billions battling the drug industry in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. And the result? Production as high as ever, street prices at a low, and the governments of the region in open revolt.
The immensely costly “war on drugs” in Latin America is slowly collapsing like a Zeppelin with a puncture. The long-forecast failure for strategies which involve police and military in forcibly suppressing narcotics – first decreed by President Richard Nixon decades ago – is now pitifully evident in Bolivia, one of the poorest countries of the Western hemisphere.
The estimated $25bn ( UKP13bn ) that Washington has spent trying to control narcotics over the past 15 years in Latin America seems to have been wasted. […]
Last month, an inquiry for the UK Drug Policy Commission said: “The research suggests that the greatest reductions in drug-related harm have come from investment in treatment and harm reduction. However, the bulk of expenditure on drug policy in the UK is still devoted to the enforcement of drug laws”.
In Britain, as in Latin America, drugs clearly can’t be controlled by armies and police forces.

The editorial staff of the Independent agrees and chimes in:

You Can’t Fight Drugs With Guns
The worldwide “war on drugs” that relies on armies and police to destroy crops and arrest traffickers has failed. […]
As Hugh O’Shaughnessy argues today, the world is finally beginning to realise that you can’t beat narcotics with machine guns and policemen’s truncheons.

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