New Drug Policy Needs a Few Fixes
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New Drug Policy Needs a Few Fixes
Posted by CN Staff on May 19, 2010 at 04:59:58 PT
Source: Philadelphia Daily News
USA -- The war on drugs is over, but we keep fighting it. And we may keep losing it . . . even with the fall of one of its key warriors, Indiana congressman Mark Souder - the evangelical who is known for abstinence-only sermonizing and who resigned yesterday over an affair with an aide. When Souder served as the chairman of the Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, with oversight over anti-drug efforts, he was the author of the Drug-Free Student Loan amendment. 
That policy prohibits college students convicted of drug-related offenses, however minor, from getting federal financial aid. That policy was illustrative of the ill-conceived and ultimately ineffective direction the nation has charted to combat drugs. The Obama administration announced last week "a new direction in drug policy," one that supposedly focuses less on enforcement and punishment and more on reducing the demand for drugs through prevention and treatment. But the budget that goes with the National Drug Control Strategy continues to allocate twice as much money for enforcement as for treatment, just as it did when George W. Bush was president. President Obama's new approach comes almost exactly 40 years after President Nixon launched the "War on Drugs." According to a report by the Associated Press, the nation has spent $1 trillion, and the situation is worse than it was in 1970. The AP used documents it acquired through the Freedom of Information Act to determine that the United States has spent: _$33 billion to market "Just Say No"-style messages and prevention programs to young people, but the rates of illegal drug use are the same as they were when their grandparents were smoking dope and dropping acid. _ $49 billion for policing the border with Mexico to stop drugs from coming in, but 25 million Americans will use illegal drugs this year, most of it from Mexico. That's 10 million more American users than in 1970. _ $121 billion to arrest more than 37 million nonviolent drug offenders, about 10 million of them for marijuana possession, and $450 billion to hold the ones locked up in federal prison alone. In the past year, Obama and his drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, have changed the goals and the language: For example, the government has stopped calling its strategy the War on Drugs. Instead of concentrating on casual use, the new strategy focuses more on evidence-based policy and on increasing the availability of drug treatment, in particular, in extending it beyond "drug-treatment centers" to general medical care. It also increases the focus on prescription drugs, which are abused more than heroin or cocaine. What's most important is the deliberate decision to turn down the drug-war propaganda and turn up the volume on the message that drugs are a public-health issue. Still, the new program follows many of the ineffective plans as before. While Obama has asked for a record $15.1 billion to pursue the new drug strategy, only $5.6 billion will go to prevention and treatment. "That's not a lot of money compared with what we could really do, given the state of the science," said Thomas McLellan, deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The bulk of the money will go to police and border control as they continue to chase drug suppliers, and we've seen how that doesn't work. Americans represent 5 percent of the world's population, but they use two-thirds of the world's illegal drugs. The best way to reduce demand is to prevent addiction. The new drug policy should reflect that priority.*Source: Philadelphia Daily News (PA)Published: May 19, 2010Copyright: 2010 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.Website: Justice Archives
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Comment #5 posted by rchandar on May 21, 2010 at 12:20:32 PT:
Do You Remember Willie?
I think the date was January 26, 1993. Clinton was sworn in as President, and the Grateful Dead played at one of the enormous parties. Bobby Weir intoned, "first, a thanks to Bill and Al."But Willie did not heed our praise. At the DNC of 1996, he flamed in front of the audience about how he "didn't like drugs," and the crowd roared in approval.The number of arrests shot up from 200,000 to about 700,000.We do not live in very tolerant times. It is unlikely that the current culture will be very good at showing how legalization can improve society. We have been indoctrinated from every angle about how WoD and crime are necessary parts of the equation. It will never be easy to convince ourselves that our intentions are noble, just, peaceful. We waited far too long. I think it's unfair to blame Barack Obama because inevitably, he will think about his presidency and message and contribution to human life--legalizing drugs will never be a groundswelling issue without which America can exist, even in its current maligned debt-riddled shape. We can do it, folks. But with the sense that we are establishing rights and community, not with violence or by making fun of the establishment. Obama has a purpose, whether with us or without. Then there's the GOP: it's an irresistible issue when votes are at stake. I doubt he'll come in front of us and say, "so let's legalize pot!" But that's alright. Willie had Jerry and Bobby with him. Obama has no such dishonesty in what he's saying.--rchandar
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on May 19, 2010 at 11:21:08 PT
You're very welcome.
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Comment #3 posted by b4daylight on May 19, 2010 at 10:43:59 PT
Nice article FOM thanks. 
That reporter rocks. I loved when he showed all the coke user where and how their stuff was made. Yuck. $4 a pound wow. 
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on May 19, 2010 at 07:22:43 PT
nice editorial
but they still don't get it. 40% of every dollar the Feds spend is borrowed!! think about it! we should be cutting EVERY program. The only reason we're not passing "austerity measures" is because, unlike Greece, our corrupt "leaders" just print more money whenever they want.The over-arching theme of every article like should be stressing complete elimination of as many govt. programs as possible. Unlike things like health care and education, this program does absolutely nothing at all - zero return on investment. I say the govt. should spend only on detox beds. Double spending on detox beds and eliminate everything else. that should be good for about 95% reduction in's only 1984 propaganda that sustains this stuff. I'd say the average working person has far better morals and values than government leaders. It's preposterous to think that somehow these Congressmen can spend enough money to teach us how to have better morals.  Doublethink is necessary to even hold that thought in your mindYes, Arlen Spector and Mark Souder say you're living in sin! Better shape up! dumb is smart!
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on May 19, 2010 at 06:52:09 PT
Marijuana Plantations Feeding Europe's Habit
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