New Yorker: No Presidential Contender Criticizes War On Drugs


This month, the New York Times ran a story headlined, “Old Friends Say Drugs Played Bit Part in Obama’s Young Life.” What was the point of the story, asks The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg: “That he was marginally less of a pothead than he has made himself out to be?” Hertzberg notes that “nearly a hundred million of us [] have smoked (and, therefore, possessed) marijuana at some point, thereby committing an offense that, with a bit of bad luck, could have resulted in humiliation, the loss of benefits such as college loans and scholarships, or worse.”

The percentage of high-school seniors who have used pot has remained steady, between forty and fifty per cent. The prices of illicit drugs–which would rise sharply if the drug war were having any success–have not changed appreciably. The government's “National Drug Threat Assessment” for 2008 says that increases in domestic pot production, combined with the continued flow from abroad, point to a future of “market saturation” that “could reduce the price of the drug significantly.” Potency has “reached its highest recorded level.” Hertzberg says that of our country's ongoing wars–poverty, cancer, Iraq, Afghanistan–”none is a more comprehensive disaster than the war on drugs.” None of the major presidential candidates “has given any indication of a willingness to rescue us from the larger disgrace of the drug war–the billions wasted, the millions harmed, the utter futility of it,” he says.


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