The American Interest
Policy, Politics & Culture
Dopey, Boozy, Smoky—and Stupid

The American "war on drugs" is more than 35 years old, and we're losing it. Some proposals to turn the tide.

Published on January 1, 2007
Thirty-five years into the “war on drugs”, the United States still has a huge drug abuse problem, with several million problem users of illicit drugs and about 15 million problem users of alcohol. Illicit drug-dealing industries take in about $50 billion per year. Much of the retail drug trade is flagrant, involving either open-air activity or identified, dedicated drug houses. Flagrant dealing creates violence and disorder, wrecking both the neighborhoods where it goes on and the lives of the dealers. Chronic heavy users of expensive illicit drugs steal and deal to finance their habits. Drug injection spreads HIV and...