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October 23, 2010

Credibility: the Central Mystery of the Drug War

The aspect of American drug policy that always intrigued me, even before I knew much of its details, was its ability to retain credibility in the face of two glaring handicaps; both of which have also become progressively more obvious since I began studying it seriously in 1995. One is the clinical absurdity of its uninformed doctrine on addiction (I soon learned US addiction dogma is rooted in the assumptions underpinning a cluster of narrow pre-1920 Supreme Court decisions). The other handicap has been the perennial failure of our (and the world's) drug prohibition bureaucracy to come close to policy goals throughout their lifespans. That those failures were qualitatively identical to those of American alcohol Prohibition between 1920 and 1933 is just as obvious as our federal bureaucracy's treatment of them with far greater denial than curiosity. Ditto the grotesque failures of our stubborn attempts to apply the techniques of alcohol Prohibition to "drugs" between 1920 and 2010.

An inescapable conclusion, ironically facilitated by the scope of the failures themselves, is that denial, hypocrisy, and self-deception are far more deeply embedded in "human nature" than we have heretofore wanted to admit. In fact, our species' biggest single problem may be its own dishonesty

Worse, that characteristic appears finally to have exposed us to real dangers, some of which had always existed, but couldn't have been recognized until we'd discovered empirical Science. Ominously, some others: rapid climate change and the threat of human overpopulation for two, are also largely dependent on human activity, but still denied by a majority of living humans.

Worse, they (and their dangers) are compounded by the extreme disagreement extant at the level of human political leadership, clearly more responsive to emotions than to logic.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at October 23, 2010 08:47 PM