"THE DRUG WAR" DEFINED
"The drug war" does NOT include education, prevention or treatment. It makes these important tools less effective.
The drug war is the modern term for "prohibition." This is a societal decision to replace persuasion with force.
It is the decision to try to protect citizens from themselves through a massive increase in the use of the police power of the state.
Like alcohol Prohibition, the drug war used only one basic tactic, the effort to stop supply.
Since that didn't work, the drug war added a second tactic that was not used during alcohol Prohibition, the threat of prison for simple possession in an attempt to reduce demand by deterring use.
(That doesn't work either. See: Drug War Failure)
That's it - there's nothing more.
Education, prevention and treatment existed before prohibition. They are the centerpiece of alternate policies. Force was an addition that drained resources from these more effective tactics; we were more successful without it.
By attempting to include education, prevention and treatment in the drug war, proponents are able to argue that the drug war is working if some gain from non-coercive tactics occurs. It is a buffer against criticism of the use of force.
Note: The drug war is also the choice to only prohibit some drugs, dividing drugs into legal and illegal based primarily on popularity, with little regard for the actual danger that individual drugs present and without recognition that as soon as a dangerous drug is prohibited, it immediately becomes much more dangerous.
A Third Tactic ? Messages ?
Some maintain that there is a third tactic, that making a drug illegal "sends a message." Messages are defined by the actions of the receiver, not by the senders' intentions.
In any case, we send messages about the Seven Deadly Sins without making them illegal.
Presumably, for an intended message to have value it would be reflected primarily in the reduced willingness of the young to ever use an illegal drug when they might otherwise have done so. By that standard, the intended
message has been almost totally ignored.
See: 62% use
Some argue that the intended message has had the reverse result, prompting drug use by the young as a symbol of rebellion and independence.
Others maintain that there are multiple messages sent and that they have had a very negative impact on society for the most part. One is that policing considerations should be more important than the health care of the entire
population; this has had dire consequences that are real rather than theoretical.
See: Drug War Damage
Some might argue that two messages are that our political leaders are ineffectual and hypocritical; the actions of our young might support that interpretation.
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