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May Wilkerson May Wilkerson

Video: Animation Depicts Drug War as a Fairytale About a Dragon

"War on Drugo" tells the story of a beloved dragon who is banned from an ancient kingdom. Chaos ensues. Will people get the message?

8 Substance

“Once upon a time there was a king, who ruled a very powerful kingdom. There, lived a dragon named ‘Drugo.’”

So begins War on Drugo: a “fairytale” about a dragon who has such an intoxicating effect on those who play with him, that he is banned from the kingdom. But the King’s attempts to outlaw the dragon are futile. Armed groups form and charge the citizens to visit the highly-coveted creature. Soon, Drugo becomes “Public Enemy No. 1″ and those who continue to spend time with him are thrown in jail. Crime and corruption ensue, and soon “the dungeons were overcrowded with nonviolent offenders, who were treated mercilessly.”

Sound familiar? Find out for yourself whether the story has a happy ending (below).

War on Drugo is part of an ongoing effort by the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP)—members include seven former presidents, entrepreneur Richard Branson and UN secretary-general Kofi Annan—to call for more humane, evidence-based drug policies. The video is “a tool that will allow us to outreach to the majority of the people who are not engaged in the debate at a technical level, to show them that we need to open our eyes and realize that we can’t solve this problem in a simplistic way,” says Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil and chair of the GCDP.

The final three-minute video took 41,000 working hours in total to create, but it could well be worth it, considering the staggering economic and human costs of the war on drugs. “We need to change the narrative to break the taboo around the issue,” says art director Marcello Serpa. “If Drugo helps to create a public discussion on the consequences of the War on Drugs, and thus create conditions for positive political change, this movie will have fulfilled its role.”