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April 04, 2011

The Drug War’s Only Victory

American drug policy is an important metaphor for "Democracy" because it represents a significant failure on the part of all three branches of our federal government; yet its witless concepts regarding "addiction" are embraced by every UN signatory nation as manifested by the fact that travelers found in possession of even small amounts of cannabis ("marijuana") are subject to arrest and criminal prosecution in virtually every international port of entry.

American drug policy has evolved on the basis three cardinal pieces of federal legislation: the Harrison Narcotic Act (1914), the Marijuana Tax Act, (1937), and the Controlled Substances Act (1970). Each was initially upheld by the Supreme Court. Although both Harrison and the MTA were eventually struck down by unanimous decisions, there was no significant effect on enforcement practices. Indeed, the repudiation of the MTA in 1969 was unrelated to its most egregious flaws and, ironically, provided the impetus for the policy's Draconian consolidation into a more difficult target for legal attack.

As a practical matter, the Court's bias and scientific ignorance have both been critical to the policy's acceptance because they firmly established the dominance of legal definitions over scientific standards in matters relating to "drugs."

As domestic US policy, our legally dominated approach to drugs has also been an inhumane failure, yet it still seems to retain public approval (itself a questionable assumption because the closest to a national referendum on drug policy have been several state votes on "medical marijuana"). In any event, the continuing dominance of a cruel, obviously failing global drug war should raise serious questions about our species' ability to cope with the enormous cultural stresses engendered by the Scientific Revolution a mere five centuries ago.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at April 4, 2011 09:41 PM