Alcohol prohibition was a social experiment that failed.
The reasons should have been considered before the drug war was inflicted
President John F. Kennedy recognized that drug abuse was a problem. He
handled it rationally, appointing a commission to study the issue. Their
recommendation was not tougher law enforcement, but to move the problem
to the department of Health, Education and Welfare and for continued study.
The conclusions of the commission were endorsed by the President, and announced
in September 1963 ~ two months before the assassination.
After his death, and against the advice of many who had studied the subject,
war was declared. Rhetoric changed drastically regarding drug use. Tolerance
of even casual use of drugs gradually diminished. People who used them moderately
became secretive. Drug use came to be considered unpatriotic and immoral.
Drug-related crime and ill health grew worse as law enforcement became more
The war on drugs has succeeded in sucking positive energy out of America,
exaggerating economic polarization, harming race relations, public health,
our justice system, and our cities. It is a colossal waste of resources.
That paradigm has had almost a century to succeed, and it has not come close.
Present drug education programs readily and knowingly distort the truth.
They believe the lies are justified to keep children from trying drugs,
but fail to see how this tactic backfires.
The truth has been known for many years by many of us. It will prevail,
of this we are certain. We have to take advantage of this window of opportunity
to enhance open public debate.
We must not tolerate a government that refuses to show compassion for
sick people because of an alleged fear of some ambiguous message to children.
We have to recognize the differences between different drugs. We have
to separate drug use from drug abuse and separate both from crime. We have
the power to do that!
It is going to happen! The war is coming to an end! After that, we have
to remember these and other lessons of history and never let these distorted
notions prevail again.
Prohibition is expensive, ineffective,
and counter-productive. Let us work towards a more tolerant and reasonable
approach to the problems of drug use and abuse.