Despite President Obama’s recent flippant remark dismissing legalization of marijuana for economic gain, I think the best direction to take regarding the drug war is to “keep on keepin’ on” with Obama, his drug policy czar, the US Justice Department and state and local officials. And we should do it along these lines: Obama has stated that public policy is to be guided by SCIENCE, not ideology. How about that for intelligent strategy! That’s change we all can believe in!
And if you take that wisdom and apply it to the drug war look what happens. We have:
* The science of medical marijuana and how people suffering from various disorders benefit from using it
* The science of drug abuse treatment and prevention which leads to effective means of reducing the abuse of legal and illegal substances
* The science of public health with concepts like harm reduction through needle exchange and drug substitution or replacement
* The science of hemp and its many uses as alternative energy, in products that replace plastics and in personal products including food
* The science of the physiological effects of drug USE and drug ABUSE; and
* The several social sciences that reveal the tremendous costs to our society of incarcerating people (currently 1 in 100 Americans) then attempting to reinstate them to live productive lives.
The drug war economically, socially and physically does greatest harm to the middle class, to young people and to people of color. And the harm that war does is far beyond the harm of drug abuse. We have the history of alcohol prohibition from which we should surely have learned that repeal of a prohibition can reduce the violence associated with illegality. And economics explains how decriminalization coupled with taxation and regulation and hemp production could be of great benefit to our country.
Taken together, the multiple branches of science clearly point in a different direction on drug policy. If we just follow where science leads it will result in rethinking the drug war. It will reveal the rationality of decriminalization, regulation and taxation. And it will lead to opening up the market for hemp.
So we need to simply take Obama at his word and demand that drug policy, as other policies, be guided by science. We need to remind him that we are not drug users or abusers, we are very rational people (many with experience in health care and law enforcement) who agree with him that science should guide public policy. He set forth a direction here; we need to hold him to his word.