Is the 'War on Drugs' Ending?

A few short months ago, Hillary Clinton declared an end to the “war on terror.” Now, it appears as though the “war on drugs” is ending as well, or is it?

In an excellent column in today’s Washington Post, Courtland Milloy explores the use of the war metaphor, and how it can be better used, if need be.

In an effort to recast substance abuse as more of a public health problem than a crime, the nation’s newly appointed drug czar has called for an end to talk of a “war on drugs.”

“Regardless of how you try to explain to people it’s a ‘war on drugs’ or a ‘war on a product,’ people see a war as a war on them,” Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, told the Wall Street Journal last week.

Wow. War scares me too. But is it really over? Will we stop jailing non-violent offenders? Can we now focus on treatment?

Via the Huffington Post, Jack Cole, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP,) doesn’t think the war is over:

A rose by any other name. This is not a war on drugs, it is a war on people; a war on our children, our parents, ourselves. Rebranding won’t change things. A new policy is needed to change things; ending drug prohibition.

Rebranding, a classic marketing trick. Sometimes a new name is all it takes to turn an unsuccessful product into a superstar. Somehow, I do not think this gambit will work here. And, whatever we call it, resources are still being disproportionately devoted to this “war.” According to Milloy, the Obama administration is spending more than double the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) annual research budget to “enhance Mexican law enforcement and judicial capacity.”

So the war is not really over. But, we can focus more of our resources on treatment, and attack the problem where it really lies, the brain.

Milloy concludes:

But a battle rages nonetheless. And he’ll [Kerlikowske] need to rally the troops. For the foe is cunning, capturing the brain. In a war, that would be the strategic high ground, and it must be retaken if we are to win.

Related posts:

  1. Drug Decriminalization: Portugal's Experience
  2. Notes from TED
  3. Should We Hold the Bush Administration Accountable?
  4. Two Sociology Books You Should Read
  5. Physics.Cancer.GOV

blog comments powered by Disqus