White House Pushes ‘Drug Policy Reform,’ a.k.a. Prohibition
Today the Obama administration hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Drug Policy Reform. But don’t be confused: Although “drug policy reform” usually means moving away from the use of violence to stop people from consuming arbitrarily proscribed psychoactive substances, that is not what President Obama has in mind.
“Drug policy reform should be rooted in neuroscience, not political science,” says Obama’s drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, in the email message announcing the conference. “It should be a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue. That’s what a 21st-century approach to drug policy looks like.”
In truth, this 21st-century approach to drug policy looks a lot like the 20th-century approach to drug policy. Kerlikowske, who is still upset that he does not get credit for ending the war on drugs when he took office in 2009, thinks enlightenment in this area means forcing drug users into “treatment” by threatening them with jail rather than sending them directly to jail. He needs the heavy hand of the state not only to impose treatment on recalcitrant drug users but to imprison people who supply them with the drugs they want. That is why Kerlikowske says drug policy is “not just a criminal justice issue”—because he cannot imagine a drug policy that does not entail locking people in cages for actions that violate no one’s rights, whether those actions involve using politically disfavored intoxicants or helping people do so. Read more
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