The War on Drugs; Decriminalization?

Let us have dialogue, not demagogue.

  This is not an easy topic, nor one taken on lightly.  We need to begin taking a hard look at the repeal and replacement of most of the laws related to the failed War on Drugs.  Just as the Prohibition of Alcohol led to increases in urban violence and a massive increase in an underground, illegal economy, our futile attempts, now exceeding four score years, to stem the growth and use of the broader variety of mood altering substances has broad deleterious effects across the nation.  Far from stemming the flow of narcotics and other harmful substances, the war on drugs has tended to achieve the same results as that seen during Prohibition: increased murders and senseless violence by the subculture controlling the trafficing in the illicit material while affecting no reduction in use by the public.
   I wonder if pockets of legality, or areas of controlled use, would be preferable to gang turf wars, drive-by shootings, and the lives of fear and subjugation of the non-using public.  Is it possible to have clinics where the amount and quantity of the desired substances can be controlled, and where people are free to explore self-destruction without unduly placing the lives of non-users at risk?  Our current drug laws have led to a mass of incarcerations, an increase in armed criminal action (leaving some to argue for stricter interpretations of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms), and a spread of illegality to neighboring countries that seek to profit from our uncontrolled conduct.
   Rather than having the legal system control an area where self-will is of little use to those who seek the effect of the drink or the drug, why not see if we can arrange a partnership with former users, medical, psychological and sociological providers, together with law enforcement personnel (their expertise in dealing with the inebriates and the addicts may provide insights we desperately need) and local citizens that attempts to address the issue individually and in groups so that we have a chance of reducing the number of people ensnared by these destructive substances?
   It is without doubt best if people not even try drugs or alcohol as many of us prove powerless over the strange allure of the alteration of consciousness and risk a lifetime of struggles with control of our usage.  Certainly there are those who can drink and drug without dire consequences to themselves and those about them, particularly if we ignore operation of motor vehicles while under the influence.  There are a tremendous number of people who are employed in lawful occupations directly and indirectly tied to the consumption of alcohol; is a similar system tenable should we lessen illegality and look to control usage of currently illicit drugs?
   Some studies show that illegality increases usage, but my experience as a child of the seventies is that escapism and irresponsibility are the major drivers in abuse of these dangerous substances.  Perhaps there are societies where mood altering substances are not the bane they are to our society, but literature and history lead me to an opposite conclusion (c.f., the Lotus Eaters in The Oddyssey).  How do we balance people's "need" to use and abuse with public safety?
   Our best experts may well be police officers who deal with users more frequently than they might otherwise choose.  I would start there.
   I also wonder if we might be able to get people to not use drugs in the first place if we had jobs for non-users at the "safe houses" where the users could go with impunity.  As young people see how cray cray users are, young people have a chance of learning at the foot of the drugging masters.  We seem to be digging the same hole year after year without end.  People in prison, in graves and crematories, and in lives of sordid desolation with little hope for redemption.  Proscription has not worked; might controlled permission be worth a try?