Why Obama Must Join The Drug War Debate in Colombia
All wars end. Eventually. Even the war on drugs – resilient for so long – is starting to show signs of exhaustion. It is 42 years since President Nixon introduced the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. The act set out to reduce or eliminate the production, supply and consumption of illegal drugs. A year later, after a report revealed a heroin epidemic among US servicemen in Vietnam, the Nixon administration coined the phrase "war on drugs".
Nixon is cited as the architect of this war. That is misleading. The 1970 act was little more than a continuation of the drug policies first enacted by Woodrow Wilson's Narcotics Tax in 1914. Nixon lent the battle verve and rhetoric, but it was the Reagan administration in the 80s that left a lasting legacy. A year after taking office in 1981, President Reagan declared: "We're taking down the surrender flag that has flown over so many drug efforts; we're running up a battle flag."