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The Drug War at 40: A Colossal Failure

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DEA Agents simulate a raid at the DEA Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia
DEA Agents simulate a raid at the DEA Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty

Tomorrow marks 40 years since Richard Nixon declared war on drugs. So ... Happy Birthday, Drug War! You've come a long way: a trillion dollars spent, millions of tokers and small-time pushers busted, countless jails built and crammed full (and then crammed full some more). And drugs? More plentiful than ever! Everybody wins! Or, to put it another way – the way a gold-plated panel of former world leaders recently put it – "the global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world." Right, then.

Read about the politics of pot in America

Today in Washington DC, our friends at the The Drug Policy Alliance are hosting a press conference with elected officials, celebrities (including Sonja Sohn, actress from TV's The Wire!) and assorted big shots to call attention to the failures of the drug war and to propose new solutions.

Not everyone present will agree on the right solutions (from decriminalization to selective legalization to sentencing reform, the options are many); but no one can seriously argue that the status quo can stand – the current position, astonishingly, of the Obama administration – or that the war on drugs has been anything but a colossal failure.

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