November 25th, 2014
06:33 PM ET

Zedillo: Why the war on drugs is failing

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Fareed speaks with Ernesto Zedillo, an economist who served as president of Mexico and is now the director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, and Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, about the war on drugs.

So explain, Ernesto, why you think the drug war has failed.

Zedillo: Well, by any objective indicator – let's look at what has happened with consumption, let's see what has happened with production of drugs, let's see how many people that are in jail. I mean, when these wars started in the U.S., you had 300,000 people in U.S. jails. Now you have 2.3 million people. And a lot of those people are in jail because of minor offenses, drug-related minor offenses.

But if you see south of the border, what we'll have to talk about thousands of people who have died in my country, you will have to speak about all these resources that flow north to south, and not only serve to buy weapons and to kill people in Mexico, but believe me, drug policies in your country, in Europe, in Latin America – everywhere – are making our job so much harder and so much more painful.

Watch the video for the full discussion.

Post by:
Topics: Drugs

soundoff (399 Responses)
  1. chri§§y

    @ Blue Saffron...for the most part mental health facilities were like physician offices. Nothing like hospitals or holding bins!!!!

    November 25, 2014 at 9:43 pm | Reply
  2. Blue Saffron☼

    Our youth are most susceptible to drugs. Police have been unable to control the bad guys. They throw the users in jail instead. Mostly minorities. And young.

    Drugs are being sold in high schools like brownies.

    Are police complicit? Are they part of the problem?

    November 26, 2014 at 1:35 am | Reply
  3. Blue Saffron☼

    The corridors of our justice system have become waiting areas for our teenagers. Big business that thrives on drug trade and multiplier effects. Lawyers, marshalls, judges, therapists, labs, hospitals etc.

    No incentive to stop use of drugs.

    November 26, 2014 at 1:39 am | Reply
  4. chri§§y

    Two very good points @ Blue Saffron!

    November 26, 2014 at 2:02 am | Reply
  5. Blue Saffron☼

    Drugs need to be decriminalized and users provided mental health treatment. Not just outpatient. But residential. Not in an environment that smacks of a flop house but that of a 5 star resort.

    We need a new speak.

    November 26, 2014 at 2:04 am | Reply
  6. Philip

    Americans spend over 500 billion per year on mental health treatment drugs. There is no shortage of mental health treatment. In fact, new drug stores dispensing mental health treatment drugs are popping up on street corners everywhere.
    The problem us too many drugs.

    November 26, 2014 at 2:24 am | Reply
  7. chri§§y

    Mental health must be treated by those trained to do so, and those trained do NOT always use drugs to treat! And reliable sources need to address the issue, not those that are biased because of their own mental health issues that have gone untreated and have grown to alarming mental problems! And probably past the point of being able to obtain life changing help!!!!

    November 26, 2014 at 2:47 am | Reply
    • Celeste

      It is a licensed profession in America.

      November 26, 2014 at 9:28 am | Reply
  8. Blue Saffron☼

    War on drugs is failing because it is big business and we don't want it off the streets. Capitalism at work.

    November 26, 2014 at 3:50 am | Reply
    • rupert

      Ok blue. What did u do with hannah and Cristobal?

      November 26, 2014 at 10:11 am | Reply
  9. Blue Saffron☼

    You don't put out fires by using inflammables.

    Similarly, you don't treat mental health issues by medicating the patients. In fact you detox them first.

    We must change the canvas we paint on in this matter.

    November 26, 2014 at 3:53 am | Reply
  10. Thomas

    Sen. Rand Paul is blaming politicians for the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, arguing that the criminal justice system fuels racial tension by disproportionately targeting African-Americans.
    Rand Paul blames the war on drugs .

    Rand Paul's party is the party of the status quo , party of no change and do nothing .
    l's party is the party of the status quo , party of no chance and do nothing .

    Rand Paul is no different them Rick Perry or Ted Cruz .

    November 26, 2014 at 7:02 am | Reply
  11. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

    Two issues must be separated: drugs and addiction.
    An addict will get drugs. That's like the film JURASSIC PARK: life finds a way.
    An addict's life declines until he hits his personal bottom, and then he either dies or recovers.
    Society's prevention of the addict's experiencing that bottom will only prevent his recovery.
    The war on addiction can occur only within an addict himself.
    Some of the "War on Drugs' is Puritanical nonsense, and Big Business in itself.

    November 26, 2014 at 7:06 am | Reply
  12. Blue Saffron☼

    Although Mexico and Columbia maybe the source of drug supply to USA, what Fareed does not conveniently mention is that hopefully the US Forces planes coming in from Afghanistan are being checked for oola la.

    November 26, 2014 at 8:35 am | Reply
  13. Blue Saffron☼

    Wonder why the war in Afghanistan has been the longest in US history? Plentiful of drugs there.

    November 26, 2014 at 8:37 am | Reply
  14. rupert

    Ernesto forgot to mention that what really makes their job hard in the drug war are their weak laws, as well as corrupt politicians and police. Take for instance DEA agent Kiki. One of his murderers was set free last year. No valid reason given. The list of government corruption is endless. Yet that d-bag POS Ernesto has the nerve to blame the U.S. and Europe. It's their failure not ours.

    November 26, 2014 at 9:05 am | Reply
  15. George patton

    Good post rupert,thank you.

    November 26, 2014 at 9:06 am | Reply
  16. banasy@

    I'll tell you what gets my goat, George. You've got all these pepper bellies dressed as mexican policemen all the while helping the drug dealers. Everyone knows this. The audacity of Ernesto to point the finger elsewhere other than the Mexican government is appalling.

    November 26, 2014 at 9:12 am | Reply
    • banasy©

      Unoriginal; needs work.

      November 26, 2014 at 9:25 am | Reply
  17. chrissy

    Lol. Look in the news. Big fuss over the Wilson/teenage thug incident in Ferguson. One American thug killed.
    Yet three American kids from Progreso, Texas were murdered by a Matamoros Mexican army near Matamoros, Mexico.
    Oh real tough guys called Hercules army installed by the mayor there, Leticia something or other.
    No outrage. Nothing. Yet these three young kids were not thugs like the Ferguson kid.
    Who cares about these three Americans?
    Nobody gives a GO.D. D.AM!

    November 26, 2014 at 9:20 am | Reply
    • banasy©


      November 26, 2014 at 9:27 am | Reply
    • Celeste

      You are missing the big picture re: Ferguson kid. We don't get to stop someone charging at us on the street by pumping 15 bullets in him\her and call it self defense. All for a box of cheap cigars.

      As a cop, when you see a six four person on foot to be taken down call for reinforcements. Don't shoot to kill to do so by yourself.

      November 26, 2014 at 9:35 am | Reply
      • stuart

        @celeste. Lol. That is not the version that I believe happened. First I heard this one.
        Either way, wilson should NOT have shot 12 times. One shot to the leg would have stopped him.
        Don't be st.upid. ci gars had nothing to do with it.
        Oh but wait, three Americans were killed by military in mexico this summer!
        Oops, sorry. They were the wrong color so nobody cares.
        Sorry again celeste. I forgot,buddy.

        November 26, 2014 at 9:48 am |
  18. Celeste

    @rupert, george banasy great insights! Thank you for your thoughtfulness. @Blue Saffron .. Hmmm... No wonder our GIs like to bare their chests and pump lead into the mountains of Afghanistan fighting ghosts.

    November 26, 2014 at 9:27 am | Reply
  19. Blue Saffron☼

    The perils of marijuana. Per CNN reports Michael Brown of Ferguson was under the influence as is typical of a lot of kids his age. This lead to the theft of cigarillos. Scuffle with police and his death. Like the cop who shot him, Michael probably also needed mental health assistance which could have saved his life.

    Recreational Drugs are bad. Period. But you shouldn't be gunning people down for it. Need to revisit police training and mental health issues.

    November 26, 2014 at 9:46 am | Reply
  20. stuart

    Blue Saffron are u blog tarded or just plain stu pid?
    U seem to talk to yourself. I feel sorry for u,dweeb.

    November 26, 2014 at 9:51 am | Reply
  21. stuart

    Blue Saffron is on drugs. Appropriate considering the topic in this thread.

    November 26, 2014 at 9:55 am | Reply
  22. stuart

    Mental health issues? Yea. U WOULD know about that wouldn't u?

    November 26, 2014 at 9:56 am | Reply
  23. stuart

    Hmmmm interesting post blue.
    I'm not surprised Michael was on drugs considering he was a freaking TEENAGER.
    I CAN'T STAND MOST teenagers.
    Loud music, sassy, lack of respect, lazy like philip.

    November 26, 2014 at 10:00 am | Reply
  24. rupert

    Good bye blue. Next time bring hannah and the rest of your blue trolls.
    They don't talk to themselves like u

    November 26, 2014 at 10:06 am | Reply
  25. chri§§y

    @ the my troll STOP posting your ignorance under my name! Youre ad-libing just as Wilson is now and it doesnt fly! If ANY of that bs he is NOW comming up with, were true it woulda been splashed over every media site on DAY 1! They are simply backpeddeling now counting on YOU to be so stupid to not question any of it! That cop shot and killed Michael Brown just for his own agenda and it had nothing to do with him breaking the law!!!

    November 26, 2014 at 10:14 am | Reply
    • stuart

      Be quiet chrissy. I can use any name I want.
      I DO NOT SUPPORT rioters burning buildings just for the death of one teenage thug.
      im not either. Wilson is a liar. Feared for his life? Ha!
      Both are at fault.

      November 26, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Reply
      • rupert


        November 26, 2014 at 12:07 pm |
  26. palintwit

    "Sarah Palin announces her candidacy for president of the United States" This is the headline we all wish for in 2016. Palin has the potential to eclipse the golden age of political comedy provided to comedians by George W. Bush. Her gaffes and missteps have secured her a place in the Dan Quayle political comedy museum !

    November 26, 2014 at 10:28 am | Reply
  27. chri§§y

    #1. If Wilson had been attacked in his squad car by Michael Brown THAT woulda been on EYERY media site immediately! Along with the announcement that wilson had the bruises! Lies! Lies! Lies! And
    #2. If Michael Brown had been hopped up on drugs...THAT ALSO wouldve been on every News Site on day 1.
    Theyve had since august to try to come up with some plausable reason why this idio shouldve played Matt Dillon and sorry this just doesnt work!!!

    November 26, 2014 at 10:30 am | Reply
  28. Blue Saffron☼

    Drug abuse has created amongst us racial divides. White v Black v Blue

    November 26, 2014 at 10:31 am | Reply
  29. Blue Saffron☼

    Substance abuse and mental health are two pods of the same pea. We must tackle both with new vigor. Laws must be revisited.

    November 26, 2014 at 10:42 am | Reply
  30. Blue Saffron☼

    #1 #2 are indeed the case. Every network reported as such. Doesn't mean M Brown should die for it.

    Police across the board are out of control.

    November 26, 2014 at 10:55 am | Reply
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