Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mother Jones, "This Is Your War On Drugs"

I used to subscribe to Mother Jones, but let my subscription lapse because I found myself reliably despairing after reading each issue (so much bad stuff in the world, but not really good suggestions on what to do with the information).

I still value the magazine as a source of investigative and passionate journalism, so I visit the website occasionally to check out the articles. This month's issue is focused on the deteriorating American "War on Drugs."

Maybe it's because I'm from Nevada, which has legalized prostitution in parts of the state. Maybe it's because I've adapted a "let's just try to fix it if it's broken" perspective based on my job. Regardless, my opinion is that the current "War on Drugs" is failing, and it's failing hard. Everyone's heart is in the right place (trying to reduce usage), but the method (harsh sentencing laws; equal punishments despite varying severity of different drugs - there's no way that marijuana should be on the same level as heroin; limited policies to prevent drug addiction in the first place; and the dizzying increase in violence across the U.S.-Mexican border) has got to be re-thought.

Mother Jones' editors, Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, wrote a short article about what a sensible drug policy approach might look like. Here's an excerpt:
What would a fact-based drug policy look like? It would put considerably more money into treatment, the method proven to best reduce use. It would likely leave in place the prohibition on "hard" drugs, but make enforcement fair (no more traffickers rolling on hapless girlfriends to cut a deal. No more Tulias). And it would likely decriminalize but tightly regulate marijuana, which study after study shows is less dangerous or addictive than cigarettes or alcohol, has undeniable medicinal properties, and isn't a gateway drug to anything harder than Doritos.

Maybe this would work. Maybe it wouldn't. But all I know is, whatever we've been doing for the last 40 years needs to change. Hopefully, with our new drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, will be brave enough and have the support needed to do this.

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