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 and research chemicals. 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.
CASE STUDY: Buying from an online pharmacy
In recent years, I have been inundated with request to investigate the online pharmacy landscape. There seems to be a deep seeded underground network of online pharmacies offering everything from erectile dysfunction medicine to opiate painkillers and hair loss treatment. The situation is so bad that it's almost as if these pharmacies have been accepted as part of the internet's darker sides.
After a few days of research, it seems that once again, the war on drugs has failed us, and government agencies fall short when attempting to combat offshore pharmacy websites. Although, heavily publicized Interpol efforts (operation Pangea) to curb online sales have claimed past success, the real situation is less well known to the public.
A simple google search for prescription drugs such as Viagra, Tramadol and Provigil - gives thousands of results for well-reviewed pharmacies offering amazing discounts, cheap generic brands and risk-free shipping. At first, it looks like these websites are out to scam you, but it's clear to see they are simply responding to demand. Many of these sites have hundreds of customer reviews, on third party websites - so it seems that the websites will offer products that will get to your door... or your money back!
So after doing some research I decided to tackle the question of fake meds. The main worry from customers is that fake medications may be offered by these pharmacies, as they operate outside of the law. At a glance, although this concern seems well generated, it's clear that major, fully legal Indian and Easter European pharmacies are more than happy to sell their legitimate generic pills to offshore pharmacies.
So now for the case study. Since I was able to acquire some genuine - doctor prescribed - Modafinil from a friend, I thought it would be interesting to buy modafinil online and see if the pills were real. After some brief searching, I settled on a store called ModaPharma, who promised "cheap generic Modafinil" with "buyer protection". I placed my order for 20 Modalert tablets (200mg Modafinil per pill, Generic). Payment was easy enough, and once complete I received a friendly email with my tracking number. Only five days later, a small package, containing my pills, arrived in the mail. It was clear from the envelope that the pills were sent from India, and the customs declaration was discreet. Being well versed in the effects of Modafinil - I took one pill and waited. Long story short, the pills were genuine, the effects were identical.
Final thought - If the war on drugs is failing at street level and failing at doctors surgeries (prescription medication addiction is growing), then what can be done about online offshore pharmacies and India drug shippers? Is this just another casualty of incompetent regulators and a scope which is just too big to control?
Searching for rational solutions to drug issues
The need for a fresh and unbiased approach to decades-old questions surrounding substance abuse is more than evident and voices for reform are getting louder every year. Efficacy was founded in order to support and facilitate efforts aimed towards worldwide drug liberalization, with an eye on society with reduced crime rate and better health protection for vulnerable groups.
Instead of spending astronomical sums of money on ineffective law enforcement techniques, governments must be expected to take full responsibility and start directly controlling trafficking of psychoactive substances through legally sanctioned channels. That way it becomes possible to eliminate lucrative opportunities for international drug syndicates, as well as to ensure that drug users will be protected from counterfeit drugs. By reducing the amount of moralizing noise and focusing on practical issues that can be improved, we can make a conscious choice to move the frontline to entirely new area and attempt a rational strategy based on realistic facts.
We are aware that a broad coalition of forces will be needed in order to trigger fundamental change. To this end, we are actively cooperating with a number of organizations sharing our ideas and methods, including public forums such as EUchemicals where open debate about sensitive issues can happen in real time. Together we have the power to learn from past mistakes and start a process of reform that will lead to a permanent, sustainable solution that takes into account different perspectives on production, regulation and consumption of drugs.
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.