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America's War on Drugs39:11

This article is more than 17 years old.

Before the war on terrorism, there was and still is the war on drugs. As the U.S. fights Taliban frontlines in Afghanistan, few may know that Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium poppy and the provider of 72 percent of the world's illicit opium supply. Another country, Colombia, accounts for the production and distribution of more cocaine than any other country in the world, and it is also an important supplier of heroin. At present, America's war on drugs costs almost $20 billion a year at the federal level alone. The close connection between terrorism and drugs suggests that the war on drugs continues to play a major and crucial role along America's new war against global terrorism.

Last week, a conference on America's war on drugs was held at Boston University. In this week's show, we presented two talks given at this conference. Professor Michael Shifter, Vice President of "Policy at Inter-American Dialogue," evaluated the last decade of U.S. policy aimed at reducing the production, importation, and use of illegal drugs. Mark Kleiman, Professor of Policy Studies and director of the Drug Policy Analysis Program at UCLA, reviewed the arguments in favor of continuing present U.S. drug policies, particularly in regards to Columbia, and argued for an alternative policy, which would be more cost-and-results-effective.

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