A Journey from
Prohibition to Courageous Action
– an editorial from Efficacy
The Policy Shift
All evolving technology has a leading edge, even for social technology. For humankind's drug struggle, the "War on Drugs" is no longer that edge. It is now drug legalization and related policies. A call is building for all drug sales to come under government control to eliminate the market for drug dealers and to end the vast culture of criminality surrounding illegal drugs. Even Walter Cronkite is in the fray, saying in 2006, "...nothing will change until someone has the courage to stand up and say ... the war on drugs has failed." Efficacy and other like-minded organizations are at the beginning of that new courage, a courage to create a dramatic shift on how we take responsibility for illicit drugs.
There is much in this site that reveals how drug prohibition, A.K.A "War on drugs," is not effective and even destructive of our society. It damages race relations. It packs our prisons. It breeds police corruption and abuse. It drains funds best used for urban renewal and educational programs. Please read the Efficacy material at this site or explore the many links we provide. You may find yourself deeply impacted. For the founders, staff and supporters of Efficacy, our initial exposure to the dark side of our society has,
moved us to see the alarming extent to which criminality feeds off our current drug policy
moved us to help our nation get beyond our anxieties and fears
moved us to appreciate the drug problem as a natural struggle for a civilized world.
The New Journey
In the voice of one sheriff,
Controlling the drug supply is like holding water in a fist, it just leaks out and goes on to something else... Eventually, we will realize a fist won't work against what is fundamentally a spiritual problem.
- Bill Masters, San Miguel County Sheriff, Colorado
In Humanity's quest to conquer drugs, the journey is not from drug war to peace, but from prohibition to courageous-action; from eradication policy to public-health policy. The need for a new direction in how we take responsibility for illicit drugs has already gained recognition in law enforcement (see related video) and the clergy (see related video). It's Efficacy's mission to expand such recognition with the goal of reducing the societal damage caused by drug-war policies, without worsening—at the very least—the actual abuse of drugs. It is a new approach — one no longer based on blind faith in the power of law but a new journey based on spiritual faith in the strength of a civilized society.
The so-called 'War on Drugs', is a prohibition that began with the Harrison Narcotics Act passed by Congress in 1914. It was President Nixon, in 1969, who first called it the "War on Drugs" — a seemingly apt term on the heels of President Johnson's "War on Poverty." But Nixon's slogan was more than political fashion. It called forth a genuine and vigorous intention to solve a problem that vexes the human soul. An intention ringing with bellicose rhetoric and stark metaphor — leadership at its best one would think. Yet, we now know, it was leadership without a workable plan.
Appropriately, those calling for an end to drug prohibition are primarily non-users of illicit drugs. We are parents and grandparents — serious citizens who want to see the street dealers shut down for good. We see the drug war as mean-spirited. We believe that risky drugs should be licensed and sellers regulated, just as is currently done with alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceuticals.
A time of courage is before us — courage for trusting what spiritual institutions, social agencies and ordinary folk can accomplish regarding problem drug use. This country has had almost a century of drug prohibition and four decades of the war on drugs, yet there are more drugs on our streets—at cheaper prices and higher potency—than ever before. We have nothing but meaningless victories to celebrate for this "war." Drug use should be handled as a public health issue. It is the journey forward.
Amazingly, society is shifting. The Wall Street Journal noted on May 14, 2009:
The Obama administration's new drug czar [Gil Kerlikowske] says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting "a war on drugs," a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use.
Moving forward is what humanity does best.
View Thornton interview: Transcript or YouTube video.
Clifford Thornton is interviewed on the Pinky Show, an educational TV show hosted by Pinky, the cartoon cat — a show described as "weirdly irresistible and intellectually compelling." With "deadpan humor," the show delivers an unusually comprehensive interview of Mr. Thornton on drug policy reform.
A video response — see one person's video & musical statement on the Drug War, using parts of the Thronton interview.