Monday, November 08, 2010

Drug Policy Goal? "Managing" the problem.

With the the bloodletting of the drug prohibition business and cartel-government wars in Mexico, Newsweek looked back on the "never-ending drug war" on October 29, 2010. It noted the futility from the "balloon effect" of drug supply enforcement against as a means to control drug availability in the U.S.

After reciting the latest facts that document the well known problems of the continuing production of drugs in Latin America and the Carribean, however, they noted what may be the signs of a realistic policy:

Over the past 18 months there has been an unprecedented shift among U.S. policymakers away from focusing on mostly drugs in one country or another to a comprehensive, regionwide strategy to strengthen law enforcement, the judiciary, and prison systems. “You’ll always have drug smuggling in this world,” a senior State Department official told NEWSWEEK. “The question is how do you make that manageable so it doesn’t threaten the state?”
Make the problem manageable. Yes! At last we may becoming clearer about establishing the rule of law as a goal independent of simply "warring" on drugs.

On September 30, 1989, Law Enforcement News published my op-ed, "Harm management, not drug- free nation, should become USA's anti-drug objective." This was not an appeal for "harm reduction" public health policies, but to re-conceptualize what we were doing about all aspects of drugs to shrink organized crime, reduce user-related street crime, and protect kids in a half dozen ways. "We need to approach this issue as managers, not moralists," I wrote.

On April 13, 1991, I addressed the Board of Governors of the Colorado Bar Association. My remarks were titled, "What Should We Do About Drugs? Manage the Problem Through Legalization." They were reprinted in Vital Speeches of the Day on August 1, 1991. I called my program "comprehensive intoxication management," and set forth Ten Principles Of Intoxication Management.

This paper was expanded for the May 15, 1995, Atlanta conference, "Cities Against Drugs." [Aside: That conference was sponsored and hosted by Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, then posturing as an anti-drug zealot. In October 2008, Campbell was released from Federal prison after serving 26 months for felony tax evasion.]

The concepts were further developed in the concluding section of my paper "The Sentencing Boomerang: Drug Prohibition Politics and Reform" (40 Villanova Law Review 383-427 (1995)), for the Villanova Law Review Symposium in 1995, "The Sentencing Controversy: Punishment and Policy in the War Against Drugs." The section, beginning on p. 415 was called "The Foundations of a Realistic Drug Strategy: Twelve Principles for Managing the Drug Problem."

It is very pleasing that after so many years of trying to establish a new framework for a drug policy, senior officials in the State Department are telling Newsweek (anonymously) that they recognize that management of the drug problem seems to be the way to go.

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1 comment:

life for pot said...

Thanks, the devastating fall out from the War on Drugs is a tragedy for families and rips the fabric of society in so many ways.

It is the number one civil liberties issue in the US and one that is being largely ignored by elected officials.