DrugSense Weekly March 31, 2000 # 143

DrugSense Weekly March 31, 2000 # 143
Posted by FoM on March 31, 2000 at 12:09:34 PT
Addicted to Failure - Lindesmith Center
Source: DrugSense
In the wake of yesterday's report on UK drug laws, Ethan Nadelmann explains why successive British governments have been wrong to look to the US for a solution to drug misuse and why we should now turn our attention to Europe instead.
A piece of advice for British leaders in search of better drug policies: look east, look south, but don't look west. Where once the Dutch represented a lone voice for reform, now growing parts of Europe are embracing pragmatic harm reduction strategies based upon common sense, science, public health and human rights. I'm not sure why British officials keep turning to the US for lessons in how to deal with drugs. My country, after all, is the one that incarcerates almost as many people for breaking the drug laws as Europe incarcerates for everything else. My country is the one that has allowed 200,000 of its citizens to become infected with the HIV virus rather than make sterile syringes more readily available. My country is the one so committed to "just say no" rhetoric and policies, that it provides no realistic drug education or any real fallback strategy for the majority of teenagers who say yes to drugs.It's not easy trying to end the drug war in the US. Punitive drug prohibition and a temperance ideology almost as old as the nation itself are deeply embedded in American laws, institutions and culture. It's our chronic national hysteria, rejuvenated each time a "new" drug emerges, ripe for political posturing and media mania.From abroad, the drug war in the US must appear monolithic, broken only by the occasional personality calling for legalisation and the odd prominence of the medical marijuana issue. Viewed from close up, a more nuanced analysis emerges.Our drug tsar, retired general Barry McCaffrey, is a case in point. He's almost certainly the best drug tsar to date, even if that's not saying much, given his competition. Unlike the first drug tsar, William Bennett, McCaffrey prefers to leave the rhetoric of war and zero tolerance behind, speaking instead of the drug problem as a cancer in need of treatment. He has attacked the relentless incarceration of petty drug offenders, spoken out against New York's Draconian Rockefeller drug laws, and even called our prison system "America's internal gulag". McCaffrey has defended methadone maintenance treatment, and he once tried to reduce the billions of dollars wasted on futile air and sea efforts to prevent drugs from entering the country. Of course, this is the same drug tsar who has mangled and mocked the truth on issues like needle exchange, marijuana and harm reduction policies inside and outside the US. McCaffrey has played a pivotal role in ensuring that the US government remains alone among advanced, industrialised nations in the west in providing not a penny for needle exchange programmes to reduce the spread of HIV/Aids. His efforts to challenge the scientific consensus bring to mind the cigarette companies' last, desperate claims to have found a new study demonstrating that smoking does not cause cancer.His position on medical marijuana has been shameful first mocking patients and doctors, then threatening them with prosecution and loss of licence, and now blocking the efforts of state and local authorities to establish responsible, regulated systems of distribution. The Lindesmith Center Wednesday March 29, 2000 The Guardian, LondonDrugSense Weekly March 31, 2000 # 143 Heath - DrugSense Volunteer of the Month Steve has been a member of the MAP news editing/posting team for over a year, and is very involved in other MAP efforts. Volunteer of The Month Web Site: Battle Lines for The Drug War MapInc. Archives: Weekly March 24, 2000 #142
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Comment #1 posted by fivepounder on March 31, 2000 at 14:44:39 PT
The Csar
General McCaffrey is a true PIG is everyway that word was used to refer to the police in the '60's. What A dispicable human being.
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