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The war on drugs needs a timeout

Before Washington ramps up yet another losing war on drugs, why not let a commission construct a better policy?

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On Monday, President Obama restated his support for Mexican President Felipe Calderón's aggressive tactics in the fight against drug trafficking. He also reiterated his support for a drug security plan with Mexico that is similar to the failed drug plans of past administrations.

Before Washington ramps up yet another losing war on drugs, it should take a clear-eyed look at how its current strategies are affecting the supply and demand of drugs. Congressman Eliot Engel (D) of New York has introduced a bill to do just that.

Washington would be wise to back Congressman Engel's initiative because there has not been a thorough, frank evaluation of the fight against drugs in decades. The drug czar office's annual report is not enough. Recommendations by an independent commission, however, could generate the consensus and strategy we sorely need.

The cornerstone of US drug policy at home and abroad is to reduce the drug supply (from crop eradication to border seizures) in order to increase the domestic price of drugs. The idea is to deter both potential consumers and producers from entering the drug market.

It hasn't.

Since May 1971, when President Richard Nixon proclaimed a "war on drugs," Washington and the Western Hemisphere have been unable to win it. Every claimed victory has turned out to be, in the end, a fiasco.

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