Last updated: August 25. 2013 2:20AM - 44 Views

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ROBERT SHARPE, Washington, D.C.The drug war has been waged in a racist manner since its inception. The Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 was preceded by a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment. Opium was identified with Chinese laborers, marijuana with Mexicans and cocaine with African-Americans. Racial profiling continues to be the norm, despite similar rates of drug use for minorities and whites. Support for the drug war would end overnight if whites were incarcerated for drugs at the same rate as minorities. The drug war is a cultural inquisition, not a public health campaign. Prison cells are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents. Itís time to declare peace in the failed drug war and begin treating all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public health problem it is. Thanks to public education efforts, tobacco use has declined considerably in recent years. Mandatory minimum prison sentences, civil asset forfeiture, random drug testing and racial profiling are not the most cost-effective means of discouraging unhealthy choices. Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse. Robert Sharpe is a policy analyst with Common Sense for Drug Policy, in Washington, D.C.

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