Teen's pot-bust death shows need to end drug war

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In June, Jaquaz Walker, 17, was shot and killed by Charlotte police in the parking lot of Hidden Valley Elementary School after a failed drug bust.

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At the time, Walker was with Davion Drayton, also 17. According to police investigators, the pair met an undercover officer and an informant to conduct a pot sale; things went south, police investigators say, and one or both of the teenagers fired at the officer, who returned fire and killed Walker. Drayton was not injured. Now, at Walker's family's request, the SBI will investigate the shooting; the results of the SBI probe will be given to the DA's office, which will decide whether to take the case further.

This has to be said: the death of anyone - on either side of the law - resulting from the sale of marijuana is simply insane. Sadly, it's part of this country's national insanity, panic, delusions or whatever you want to call it, about drug use.

We have become so used to hearing stories like this one, stories in which young men die during failed drug deals or arrests, it's sometimes hard to remember that things don't have to be this way. Or realize that the tragic absurdity of the "war on drugs" doesn't have to go on forever. It's past time for Americans to come to grips with the fact that the war on drugs is a complete failure. It obviously does not stop drug use, which was the original intent, if anyone can remember back that far; it created a massive bureaucracy that wastes billions a year; it brought an epidemic of violence among drug profiteers to America's city streets; and it produced "drug lords" - a title that wouldn't even be possible without the war on drugs.

Maybe at some point, our governmental system will work again and actual laws, based on how life is lived in America today rather than on fantasies of the mythical "golden age" of the 1950s, will be passed to end the stupid policies that, over and over, culminate in the deaths of young men like Jaquaz Walker. Yes, it sounds unlikely, but there is always hope. The war on drugs seems like a permanent, immutable part of American life. But at one time, so did Jim Crow laws and blatant racial discrimination, even during the civil rights struggle, the days when Dylan sang lyrics that could have been written to fit today's realities: "How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?"

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