It appears that we may have finally reached a consensus on the simple proposition that the War On Drugs is bad policy. Well, kind of.
I know what you’re thinking, are there really people out there who believe that the drug war is good policy? Unfortunately, yes, especially if they happen to be employed by the federal government.
I digress. The point is that 20 years ago only a handful of people believed that the drug war would amount to a war on civil liberties, to a war on taxpayers, to a war on families, minorities, and the poor. And because there was a consensus that the drug war was working, the justice system saw few positive policy changes implemented.
Oh, but the times are a changing. This summer the Global Commission On Drug Policy issued a report with a straightforward conclusion: “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.”
You might say that of course international people realize the folly of the drug war in the same way they understand that the death penalty is applied arbitrarily but that doesn’t mean hearts and minds are being won in the country. You’re right. That is a reasonable claim to be sure.
But what if I told you that two candidates for President of the United States want to eliminate the drug war. Would you then think that some progress has occurred? And what if I told you that the Presidential candidates opposing the drug war were REPUBLICANS! Would that be convincing?
And what if I told you that a sitting Supreme Court Justice recently testified before Congress and said that “it was a great mistake to put routine drug offenses into the federal courts.” You’d probably say well of course Justice Breyer would say something like that. He’s probably has a stack of zig zag rolling papers in his chambers.
But what if I told you that the statement came from NINO. That’s right, Mr. Law and Order. Mr. Let’s Have A Strong Executive Branch. Mr. Originalism. Justice Scalia.
I’d say that that is a significant development. You see everyone is starting to wake up to the realization that the drug war isn’t working now and it won’t work in the future. Not only is it a failure in that it hasn’t prevented people from doing drugs, but it is also costly both in terms of dollars and injustice. That it is the single greatest policy failure of the U.S. Government in the last 30 years.
I’d say that if a few more conservatives reach this point we will be close to gaining a consensus. Then maybe, just possibly, one day in the not so distant future we can end this “great mistake.”
Update: No politician has disappointed me more in the past two years then our current President. I just read this piece from the Associated Press stating that the Obama Administration has ordered all California medical marijuana dispensaries to close down or they will be prosecuted under federal drug laws.