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IQ: Losing the Drug War 

A full-on 83 percent of Colorado voters believe the government's "war on drugs" has done absolutely nothing to reduce drug availability, drug use or drug-related crime, according to a poll conducted by Ridder/Braden, Inc. on behalf of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. In fact, most people (85%) believe the "war" attacks the symptoms of drug abuse, but not its underlying cause. State Sen. Ken Gordon, who oversees a legislative committee studying lowering the penalties for drug possession and allocating those prison costs to fund effective treatment, got a thumbs-up for the idea from 73 percent of those polled in the RMPJC survey.

click to enlarge Carey Harrington
  • Carey Harrington

Carey Harrington
Teacher/UCCS Hood: North End

What is the war on drugs? Essentially, it's the movement backed by the government to prop up the image that we don't tolerate drug use in this society. It hasn't been successful. I doubt it's really meant to be.

Is this war winnable? That's an interesting question. It raises the price of drugs, which makes selling them all that more lucrative. In the end, the war on drugs probably perpetuates the drug trade.

Could the money spent on waging this war be better used? If we spent it on rehabilitation, at least we'd see some tangible results.

Is drinking drug use? That's really another way of asking if marijuana should be legalized, right? Alcohol is addictive, and it causes enormous social destruction, yet you can't go more than two or three blocks without passing an establishment that sells it. Marijuana, on the other hand, isn't addictive, but it's a crime to possess it. Either alcohol and marijuana should both be illegal, or they should both be legal. There's no way to argue your way around that.

click to enlarge Nadine Salmons
  • Nadine Salmons

Nadine Salmons
Librarian Hood: Rural El Paso County

Define the war on drugs. Keeping the kids off drugs.

Who, then, is the adversary in this war? Whoever sells drugs.

Is it a winnable war? It's not winnable in the sense that we're never going to eliminate drugs or drug use.

Is it advisable to keep pouring money into this war? It's a total waste. If people want to abuse their bodies, that's their problem and that's their right.

Is alcohol a drug? Sure it is. It's addictive, and you take it for the same recreational reasons you take drugs.

click to enlarge Danielle Kessinger
  • Danielle Kessinger

Danielle Kessinger
Colorado College student Hood: Downtown

What is the drug war? Mostly, it's political rhetoric.

If this is a war, who is the adversary? A lifestyle and mindset that mainstream authority doesn't like.

Should we be spending more or less on this war? We're pouring water into a leaky bucket. The "war" is making the problem worse, not better. It would be a lot smarter to legalize.

How could drug war money be better spent? On grass roots groups who do outstanding work in rehabilitation.

Articulate the difference between alcohol and marijuana. Terminology. One is "legal," one is "illegal." Otherwise, there's no difference. Both have beneficial uses. Both have possibility for abuse.

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