Redirect resources from the failed drug war to efforts that will work

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Dr. Sanjay Gupta's (CNN) comments and newfound revelation that he was wrong about the medicinal benefits of medical marijuana are welcome and long overdue. But it is time to declare the "war on drugs" as a complete blunder and a waste of human life and public treasury in the billions.

It is not only a failed mission; most folks and even law enforcement will admit it's a mission impossible. We need to end the war on drugs, which has turned out to be a war on the American people with no discernible benefit. This war is fundamentally racist, classist, costly and counterproductive.

Just look at the facts. More than $51 billion has been expended by federal, state and local governments with no discernible reduction of usage. More than 1.5 million people were arrested in 2011 in the United States on nonviolent drug charges. More than 633,000 friends and co-workers were charged with marijuana law violations for simple possession. Two-thirds of the folks incarcerated in state prisons are black or Hispanic, even though these groups use and sell drugs at the same rate as whites. As many as 200,000 young people have lost the eligibility for student aid because of a drug conviction.

One-third of all AIDS cases in the United States have been caused by syringe sharing, amounting to over 350,000 people, yet the federal government enacted a ban on federal dollars to support prevention efforts.

Let's restore sanity and common sense and redirect our financial resources and collective efforts by enacting individual and community-based programs for prevention, treatment and reconstructing lost lives.

SEN. JIM FERLO
Highland Park

The writer, a Democrat, represents the 38th District.


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