Clearly a failure

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Regarding your June 14 editorial "Dubious War: Blacks Suffer a Disparity in Marijuana Arrest Rates," the drug war has been waged in a racist manner since its inception. The Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 was preceded by a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment. Opium was identified with Chinese laborers, marijuana with Mexicans and cocaine with African-Americans. Racial profiling continues to be the norm, despite similar rates of drug use for minorities and whites. The drug war is a cultural inquisition, not a public health campaign.

Criminal records are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents. The failure of the drug war should be abundantly clear by now. After 100 years of drug war, marijuana is now mainstream. While the punitive approach has failed, there is a better and cheaper way. Thanks to public education, legal tobacco use has declined, without any need to criminalize tobacco smokers or farmers. Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse.

ROBERT SHARPE
Policy Analyst
Common Sense for Drug Policy
Washington, D.C.


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