In the Chronicle Review, Brian DeLay has a thoughtful discussion of the war on drugs, placing it in light of border wars in the Southwest 160 years ago. At one point, DeLay has a clear summation of the war, one that recognizes that it isn't an answer to the problems of drug abuse, but a compounding of them.
"The drug war is born of law. According to estimates by the United Nations, roughly one in 20 adults worldwide uses illegal drugs—and nowhere more than in the United States, where the vast market for illicit drugs remains immensely profitable. Prohibition has failed. What it has done is deny drug producers, distributors, and consumers access to the protections and conveniences of the legal marketplace."
A week ago, The New York Times sponsored a forum in response to an article in The New York Times Magazine about marijuana addiction. It had five leading voices, each one an expert in drug addiction and treatment. They were Roger Roffman, professor of social work at University of Washington; Wayne Hall, professor of public-health policy at University of Queensland in Australia; Mark Kleiman, professor of public policy at UCLA; Peter Reuter, professor of public policy and chair of the department of criminology at University of Maryland; and Norm Stamper, former chief of police of Seattle.
Each one of them recognizes the dangers of marijuana usage. Yet, each one also recognizes, at the very least, benefits from decriminalization.