Chelsey Dyer: War on people, not drugs

February 11, 2014 

The Feb. 4 Eugene Robinson column “We’re losing the drug war” discussed the need to use alternative tactics in the United States’ “war on drugs.”

A recent trip to Colombia has shown me that this particular war is a war of demands. Demands of the people.

Users demand a reprieve from the social, psychological and economic ills they face. This demand is met by drugs. Coca crop growers demand a crop that provides a living wage. This demand is met by drugs.

To counter these demands, policies must focus on the people, not the product. We must demand sustainable food crops that pay a living wage, security from armed actors, social justice and socioeconomic stability.

This is no “war on drugs.” It is a war on people, impoverished growers, desperate traffickers and ill users. By codifying this problem as a “war on drugs,” we as a society have masked the human reality of this battle. We must combine interdiction efforts with strategies that eliminate the structural inequalities that foster the socioeconomic conditions for drugs. We must put people back into the equation. We aren’t fighting drugs. We are fighting the people who control them.

Chelsey Dyer


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