Brazil must legalise drugs – its existing policy just destroys lives | Luís Roberto Barroso

For decades, guns and imprisonment have been the hallmarks of Brazil’s war against the drug trafficking. But the only way to beat the gangs is to stop creating criminals, says a top Brazilian judge

The war raging in Rocinha, Latin America’s largest favela, has already been lost. Rooted in a dispute between gangs for control of drug trafficking, it has disrupted the daily life of the community in Rio de Janeiro since mid-September. With the sound of shots coming from all sides, schools and shops are constantly forced to close. Recently, a stray bullet killed a Spanish tourist. The war is not the only thing being lost.

For decades, Brazil has had the same drug policy approach. Police, weapons and numerous arrests. It does not take an expert to conclude the obvious: the strategy has failed. Drug trafficking and consumption have only increased. Einstein is credited with a saying – though apparently it is not his – that applies well to the case: insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

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