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March 2009
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The drug war is not a failure

People often talk about the drug war being a failure, and, in fact, three quarters of the voting public believe the drug war is a failure.
I’ve said it myself.
But it’s really not a good description, and calling it a failure doesn’t do what we need to motivate the public to care enough about reform.
You see, the word “failure” conjures up images of merely not succeeding. We often think of it like grades in school. A failure is someone who didn’t apply himself, or failed to do the necessary things to “pass.” It implies that there could be a path that would result in “success” if only more effort was given, or a different approach.
By calling the drug war a failure, we’re treating it like some kid getting an “F” in chemistry because he slept through too many classes, when in fact it’s more like the kid blew up the chemistry building and released toxic chemicals into the drinking water.
That’s not a failure to accomplish something. That is accomplishing something very, very bad.
We need to remind people that, yes, the drug war has failed to accomplish any of its stated goals, but the drug war is not a failure.
It is the problem.

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