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January 04, 2007

The Curse of Half Measures

Fred Gardner used the hoopla over the departure of Gerald Ford and some recently released transcripts of secret Oval Office tapes to call attention to  a maundering monologue by the very man who appointed Ford President and was later pardoned by him. Whether history will continue to see Ford, whose own appointment legacy includes not only Cheney and Rumsfeld, but also drug advisor Robert DuPont (later appointed NIDA's first director), as the quiet hero and 'healer' being gushed over during this past week is another matter, but one thing becomes painfully clear from Gardner's analysis: a series of politically correct compromises made by its leaders while the fledgling drug policy reform movement was still in its infancy has kept it mired in an unequal struggle for nearly four decades.

During that same interval, a cruelly inhumane and intellectually improbable drug war has become so powerfully intrenched  that its repudiation as policy any time soon seems very unlikely to most observers. Sadly, and ironically, many of the same reform leaders are still around and their preferred tactic of politically correct compromise with the concept of prohibition continues to dominate the movement they founded.

So successful was Nixon at burying the  March,1972, report of the Shafer Commission that few modern reformers even know who Ray Shafer was, let alone the consequences of the crippling compromises made to soft-pedal his Commissions's report before its release; however the transcript of the conversation between a (probably drunken) Nixon and a very quiet Art Linkletter really amounts to a monologue in which Nixon dramatically reveals his own prejudices against Jews, psychiatrists, homosexuals, and Catholics,  as well as a deep distrust of anyone whose drug of choice is not alcohol. It's also important to realize that this monologue was delivered long before Watergate and the '72 Presidential campaign. Although Nixon was still consolidating power and only being discomfited by young ant-war demonstraters, his paranoia is starkly revealed.

The key to the significance of Gardner's piece is his succinct statement, "decriminalization' is a one-word lie;." That's because so long as power remains in the hands of police and prosecutors; they get to decide how much, and how rapidly to allow any softening of a repressive policy. Thus 215 only gave California in 1996 what the Shafer Commission had recommended for the entire nation in 1972; even then, the modern pro-pot lobby has failed to either understand or take advantage of the opportunities offered by the irregular development of a huge 'gray market' within the state in response to the initiative.

Thanks to their lack of response, those gray market outlets are now being shut down and distribution increasingly forced back to the street where market perticipants will be more vulnerable to arrest. The next step will almost certainly be to make the required physician's endorsement more expensive and less valuable by adding onerous administrative requirements to the highly imperfect SB 420.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at January 4, 2007 08:37 PM