The Nation: Dare to End the War on Drugs

In the Dec. 27th issue of the Nation, the cover story is "Dare to End the War on Drugs." It's about the need to rebalance our drug policy. Almost the entire issue is devoted to the topic. If you care about our failed war on drugs, this issue seems like a winner.

Nearly forty years after President Nixon declared a "war on drugs," it is painfully clear that the nation's approach to drug policy is counterproductive and cruel. Shifting our priorities toward a more sensible approach—one that offers treatment rather than punishment for addicts, and that recognizes the deep injustice of mass incarceration—seems like a daunting task. But as the writers in this forum suggest, we have all the answers and resources we need. If ever there was a time to say enough is enough, it's now.

Participants include: [More...]

  • Ethan Nadelmann, "Breaking the Taboo"
  • Marc Mauer, "Beyond the Fair Sentencing Act"
  • Bruce Western, "Decriminalizing Poverty"
  • Tracy Velázquez, "The Verdict on Drug Courts"
  • David Cole, "Restoring Lost Liberties"
  • Laura Carlsen, "A New Model for Mexico"

There's also Obama's Drug War by Michelle Alexander.

One article asks:

Could this be the beginning of the end of the drug war, a war that has reportedly cost more than $1 trillion in the past few decades, with little to show for it beyond millions who have been branded criminals and felons, ushered behind bars and then released into a permanent second-class status? More than 30 million people have been arrested since 1982, when President Reagan turned Nixon's rhetorical "war against drugs" into a literal war against poor people of color.

If you are not a Nation subscriber, this is one issue you should get at the newstand.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Cannabis prohibition (none / 0) (#1)
    by kindGSL on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 08:30:47 AM EST
    I hope they cover the incarceration of Reverend Roger Christie of the THC Ministry in Hawaii. It is a HUGE civil rights issue, it really bothers me that it is not getting much coverage in the press. You would think with all the interest in religion and civil rights, his case would make the news.

    Thanks J... (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 08:34:07 AM EST
    for the heads up, I'll be picking up a copy...and tacking that sweet cover to my wall collage.

    I'm reminded of this quip from Fran Leibowitz..."The problem with being ahead of your time is when everyone catches up you're bored".  I am so bored with this debate, catch up already America!

    My (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by lentinel on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 10:28:29 AM EST
    take is that people who are considered to be ahead of their time are actually the ones who are in their time.
    Everyone else is living in the past.

    I'm in favor of drug legalization or (none / 0) (#3)
    by observed on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 09:15:01 AM EST
    decriminalization for the most part, but what about protecting the public from dangerous substances (by which I do NOT mean pot)?
    There are restrictions on pharmaceuticals in general, based on public health issues. Should meth use and distribution be completely legal? If not, what is the appropriate way to restrict use?

    My (none / 0) (#5)
    by lentinel on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 10:25:43 AM EST
    brother-in-law had surgery recently.

    What they gave him for pain was pathetic.
    Yeah - some morphine - but nothing that he could feel in his head to make him not care about the pain. No good pot.
    I would even favor some heroin.

    God forbid that people should be able to do things that give them pleasure and relief from pain.


    Thank the DEA for that (none / 0) (#8)
    by SeeEmDee on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 10:57:20 AM EST
    Since they can't do anything about illegal drug cartels, they have chosen to target sitting ducks such as doctors. The Siobhan Reynolds case is a perfect example.

    The result is that doctors and nurses have been increasingly under-medicating their patients in order to avoid the DEA goon squads.

    Think of it: some barely educated GS-9 jerk is telling someone who had to go through years of highly specialized medical schooling what medicines the latter are allowed to prescribe.

    Your tax dollars at work.


    Decriminalization. (none / 0) (#13)
    by Realleft on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 02:25:27 PM EST
    Just make the response (a) focus on actually addressing the problem, and (b) be proportional to the problem.  Legalization is neither a practical goal or a solution to the problems.  Decriminalization can be both.

    Why (none / 0) (#4)
    by lentinel on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 10:21:49 AM EST
    would anyone think that there is a "beginning to the end of the drug war" afoot?

    The last time Obama ridiculed people who smoke pot - as opposed to those who imbibe the once forbidden wine, beer, whisky and martinis.

    And AG Holder - hardly a beacon of light.

    I see no beginning and no end.
    My supposition is that the mob who in currently in control of the government is making a lot of money as things are.

    As authoritarian as ever (none / 0) (#9)
    by waldenpond on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 11:35:38 AM EST
    I don't see how a connection is made between Obama and an end either.

    I expect conservatives to start demanding a privatization of prisons.  I don't expect Obama to stop it.


    a slow beginning to the end... (none / 0) (#11)
    by Realleft on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 02:20:32 PM EST
    or no, actually, that's terribly unlikely.  But maybe a slow beginning to the fade of the drug war.  O has not been bold on this for sure, but scientific panels are back to being stocked with scientists, the rhetoric is toning down, the aggressiveness of pursuit of drug law violations is relaxing.  It's not all for sure, but it's not none either.  

    So, how much longer can we afford it? (none / 0) (#7)
    by SeeEmDee on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 10:46:59 AM EST
    How many more families must face homelessness and hunger because we have to defund social safety nets and continue to fund the War on (Some) Drugs in order to (superhero echo-chamber voice) "Saaaaaave the childrennnnnnnnnn!" ? Especially when those kids needs saving from that very same homelessness and malnutrition?

    Pretty soon, it's going to get awful hard for pols to keep 'crying wolf' when the real thing is not only at the front door, but is chewing through it.

    I take issue with the line: (none / 0) (#10)
    by Chuck0 on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 12:42:12 PM EST
    '"war against drugs" into a literal war against poor people of color.'

    I beg differ. The war on drugs has been a war on the American people as a whole. I know plenty of middle class whites that have been arrested, incarcerated and denied employment thanks to the "war on drugs."

    Pretty much all of the pot smokers I know (and there are MANY) are 40- and 50 - somethings whites.

    I read somewhere recently that the anti-drug warriors are still calling pot a "gateway" drug. If that's true, how come I don't know any 40- or 50- something heroin addicts?

    All are targets, some are targeted more than other (none / 0) (#12)
    by Realleft on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 02:22:53 PM EST
    others.  The proportions of arrests, convictions and sentence lengths by race are not anywhere close to either the overall population proportions or the proportions within populations who use outlawed substances.  

    The drug war sucks (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdm251 on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 02:43:26 PM EST
    The problem with ending the drug war is what to do with all the DEA agents, prison guards, police officers and social workers.