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It's Time to End the War on Drugs | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

It's Time to End the War on Drugs

Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

With his final election behind him, and the final attack ads safely off the air, President Obama now returns to his regularly scheduled programming—governing. Yet, the chatter about his second term agenda, from deficit reduction to immigration reform, ignores one critical issue: ending our nation’s inhumane, irrational—and ineffective—war on drugs.

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Since its launch in 1971, when President Nixon successfully branded drug addicts as criminals, the war on drugs has resulted in 45 million arrests and destroyed countless families. The result of this trillion-dollar crusade? Americans aren’t drug-free—we’re just the world’s most incarcerated population. We make China look like Woodstock. We’re also, according to the old definition, insane; despite overwhelming evidence of its failure, our elected officials steadfastly refuse to change course.

But on November 6, citizens in Colorado and Washington became the first to approve ballot initiatives legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. Their success illustrates growing tolerance and, indeed, support for a smarter approach that could change, and even save, countless lives.

Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

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