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July 01, 2006


Drug War Revisionism When I belatedly discovered the war on drugs as a political cause in 1995, it had already compiled a long and complicated history. Although the selection any such date is always arbitrary, the most obvious starting place for any history of federal drug policy had always seemed the Harrison Narcotic Act (HNA) of December 1914. In most considerations of Harrison, the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act (PFDA) had often been held up as an example of its opposite: a ‘wise’ regulatory measure that had actually done some ‘good' by reducing inadvertent opium addiction among the nation’s housewives by requiring patent medicine labels to list ingredients.

Thus, it was with some mild surprise that I recently (and belatedly) discovered a movement afoot to consider the PFDA as the historical origin of current US 'drug control’ policy; however the more I think about it, the less that should have surprised me. The ‘other side’ in this uneven propaganda contest has enormous advantages of money and time; however, they must also be aware of their policy’s vulnerabiity: most Americans consider the drug war  a hopeless failure. With that in mind, a campaign to parley the FDA’s Centennial and the public’s generally  higher regard for it to brighten the the drug war's image is, at least, logical. What is staggereing, however, is the absolute contempt for truth with which the campaign is being orchestrated.

Such a campaign would also explain the FDA’s ridiculous 4/20 ‘statement’  explaining why “Medical Marijuana” will never be approved (it has to be smoked!). Even more blatant was a gathering of ex-drug czars held on June 17  to commemorate the ‘appointment’ of psychiatrist Jerome Jaffe to be the first such functionary (although he was called a Presidential  ‘Advisor at the time and Dan Baum's 1996 'Smoke and Mirrors' succinctly explained the panic behind his appointment).

A just-published report by John Burnham, its quasi-official ‘historian’ on the gathering, with much emphasis on its significance (a celebration the drug war's ‘victory') just appeared in yesterday's Columbus Dispatch. It  makes for fascinating reading but, so far, has provoked little notice from reformers. Are they out to lunch? Whatever the explanation, their failure to note- and respond- to such blatant revisionism, cannot be regarded as a sign of political strength.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at July 1, 2006 09:46 PM