Admitting that it may be "political suicide" former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo said its time to consider legalizing drugs.
He spoke Wednesday to the Lincoln Club of Colorado, a Republican group that's been active in the state for 90 years. It's the first time Tancredo has spoken on the drug issue. He ran for president in 2008 on an anti-illegal immigration platform that has brought him passionate support and criticism.
Tancredo noted that he has never used drugs, but said the war has failed.
"I am convinced that what we are doing is not working," he said.
Tancredo told the group that the country has spent billions of dollars capturing, prosecuting and jailing drug dealers and users, but has little to show for it.
"It is now easier for a kid to get drugs at most schools in America that it is booze," he said.
He said the violent drug battles in Mexico are moving north. A recent ABC News report profiled how easy it has become for violent drug cartels to smuggle cocaine into the United States. Drug enforcement officials told ABC that Denver is a hub city for distribution.
Some members of the group praised Tancredo for his honesty; others said he couldn't be more wrong.
Richard Poole said Tancredo's approach sends the wrong message.
"Kids will look at that and say,'Well, it must be all right because it's legal now,'" Poole said.
Tancredo hasn't decided if he will run for statewide office.
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