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An end to a misguided war

Gil Kerlikowske's proposal to banish the term, "war on drugs," is likely going to earn him criticism in some circles as soft on crime, but it's a sign that drug policy in this country is about to become more reality-based - and potentially effective.

As President Obama's drug czar, Mr. Kerlikowske is expected to set the agenda for drug policy in this country. And if his interview with the Wall Street Journal is any indication of his thinking, the former Seattle police chief is interested in a more public health-oriented and less law enforcement-dominated approach.

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That's overdue. Over the past decade, drug use in this country is little changed. And as long as demand for drugs is high, police seizures and other enforcement actions are unlikely to have much effect.

(Photo: Bloomberg News)

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What the nation needs is less incarceration and more treatment. That will be costly but surely no more expensive than the financial consequences of drug dependency and drug-related crime - as Baltimoreans know all too well.

Mr. Kerlikowske doesn't support legalizing drugs. But, as the told the Journal, he knows a war on drugs was widely perceived as a war on people. Getting more users into treatment is not only more humane, it's more likely to get at the problem.

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