This chapter examines drug-war politics. While many politicians have benefited from supporting the drug war, growing numbers of influential persons express opposition. While private firms may benefit handsomely from provisioning the war, state governments have become more cautious, sensitive to budgetary pressures. Among supporters for drug-law reform, nearly all endorse a policy known as harm reduction; many call for decriminalization, and growing numbers advocate legalization. Indeed, pressures for drug-law and prison-regime reforms have increased and spread since the turn of the twenty-first century. Numerous state referenda, legislative moves, and court rulings have liberalized marijuana restrictions, allowing medical prescriptions and in some cases recreational use. Legislatures have also reduced penalties for use of many drugs and have lessened some of the racial bias. Nevertheless, the drug war remains a major and damaging element of urban policy, with key supporters.
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