The U.S. war on drugs will continue to fail as long as it emphasizes law enforcement and neglects the consumption problem, the Brookings Institution says in a report co-chaired by former Mexican president Ernest Zedillo, the Los Angeles Times reports. Zedillo called for a major rethinking of U.S. policy, which he said has been “asymmetrical” in demanding that countries like Mexico stanch the flow of drugs northward, without successful efforts to stop the flow of guns south. In addition to disrupting drug-smuggling routes, eradicating crops, and prosecuting dealers, the U.S. must confront the health issue that large-scale consumption poses, he said.
Contrary to U.S. claims, the use of heroin and cocaine in the U.S. has not declined significantly, the report says, and the use of methamphetamine is spreading. Falling street prices suggest that the supply of narcotics has not declined noticeably, and U.S. prevention and treatment programs are woefully underfunded, the study says. “Current U.S. counter- narcotics policies are failing by most objective standards,” the report says. “The only long-run solution to the problem of illegal narcotics is to reduce the demand for drugs in the major consuming countries, including the United States.” The report urges the U.S. to take responsibility for stemming the transport of 2,000 guns a day across the border; to expand drug prevention programs in schools and redirect anti-drug messages to younger people by emphasizing cosmetic damage as well as health risks; and to enhance drug courts, which incorporate treatment into prosecution.