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Any close examination of the war on drugs metaphor leads inescapably to the conclusion that one weapon could bring us to the brink of victory--legalization But most who discuss this option consider it surrender How have we confused surrender with victory Lets start by looking at the war on drugs metaphor closely and define some war terms First who or what is the enemy Second what defines victory in this war Is the enemy in this war the drug addict No reasonable person believes that Addicts are in many ways the victims of a war policy that drives up the price of their craved substances to the point where criminal activity is their only alternative to cold turkey Alcoholism is often described as a sickness Drug addicts merit the same consideration alcohol addicts receive Is the enemy in this war the drug dealers and cartels If we accept this premise the argument becomes too easy If they are the only enemy then legalization wipes them out with one blow The huge profits from the inflated black market prices would be gone That money is their only source of power Without the vast wealth accumulated from the black market their now-powerful organizations would crumble degenerating into the common thugs they really are But the drug dealer is not the real enemy that would be too simple When President Nixon originally initiated the war on drugs rhetoric he referred to drug abuse as the problem So the most effective way to analyze this metaphor is to identify drug abuse as the enemy we are fighting Now that we have identified the enemy what would constitute victory over that enemy Would victory be the total eradication of drugs from our society If drugs and not drug abuse were the enemy maybe this would describe victory As a practical matter this would probably be impossible The attempt would necessitate a society so repressive that the price of this victory
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