Below is an excerpt from the 2008 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report:

“St. Kitts and Nevis. St. Kitts and Nevis is a transshipment point for cocaine from South America to the United States and the United Kingdom as well as to regional markets.

Trafficking organizations operating in St. Kitts are linked directly to South American traffickers, some of whom reportedly are residing in St. Kitts, and to other organized criminal organizations. Marijuana is grown for local consumption.

“The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis (GOSKN) is party to the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. St. Kitts and Nevis is a party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption and the Inter-American Firearms Convention, but has not signed the Inter-American Convention on Extradition or the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. St. Kitts and Nevis is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols.

“St. Kitts’ Police Drug Unit has been largely ineffective. Insufficient political will and the lack of complete independence for the police to operate are contributing factors. The GOSKN Defence Force augments police counternarcotics efforts, particularly in marijuana eradication operations. GOSKN officials reported seizing 29 grams of cocaine, and approximately 7.5 kg of marijuana from January through October 2007. There were no reports of production, transit or consumption of methamphetamines in St. Kitts or Nevis.”

In a story in today’s Observer, the Honourable Dwyer Astaphan, Minister of Security, offers his views on the report. Mr. Astaphan makes it clear that he does not agree with all of the report’s findings, but that he is glad that the United States takes the time and effort to produce the document.

That is well and good. We have no problem with the minister’s remarks.

What is not being said, though, is that whatever failings the Federation – or any other country – might have in its efforts to wage the war on drugs, this conflict will only be resolved when the U.S. wakes up to the simple fact that narcotics abuse should not be treated as a legal issue but as a health issue.

As long as Americans want illegal drugs and will pay premium prices for them, then someone, either in or out of the country, will supply those drugs.

For 38 long, fruitless years, the United States has attacked the drug trade from the wrong end, going after it as a problem of supply rather than one of demand. In so doing, it has created a false economy and a public investment in this effort which now employs thousands of law enforcement operatives, bureaucrats and legal professionals while expending billions of dollars every year.

If this effort and money had been spent on anti-drug education and treatment, America and the rest of the world would be better off. Instead, America keeps rolling down the same unproductive road and drags the rest of the world along with it.

Don’t misread this editorial: We believe that drug abuse, like alcohol abuse or any other addiction that destroys an individual, is a lamentable curse. We just think it’s time for new thinking about a problem that won’t go away as long as we keep attacking it in the same manner.