Dreaming of a day when my voice in our democracy would never again be held hostage to callous drug war demagoguery, I became a student of criminal justice and political science, and eventually, a proud soldier in the growing movement for drug policy reform. That, in short, is the path that brought me here today. And it is with that in mind that I read these words from Bob Barr, published yesterday:
…when government attempts to solve our societal problems, it tends to create even more of them, often increasing the size and depth of the original problem. A perfect example of this is the federal War on Drugs.
For years, I served as a federal prosecutor and member of the House of Representatives defending the federal pursuit of the drug prohibition.
Today, I can reflect on my efforts and see no progress in stopping the widespread use of drugs. I'll even argue that America's drug problem is larger today than it was when Richard Nixon first coined the phrase, "War on Drugs," in 1972. [Huffington Post]
Barr's mea culpa is no masterpiece of drug policy reform advocacy. It breaks no new ground. It even rambles tragically about the virtues of employment drug screening, only to end suddenly and disappointingly. But I'll take it.
Once our loudest opponent, Barr is now the presidential nominee of the pro-drug reform Libertarian Party. He has partnered with the Marijuana Policy Project to lobby for medical marijuana and now bravely admits "I was wrong about the war on drugs," publicly and for all to see.
Obviously, the drug war isn't going to end tomorrow just because Bob Barr doesn’t like it anymore. But that's not the point. What all of this serves to illustrate is that no one is immune to the truth. There is no heart so hard, no skull so swollen as to be rendered impermeable to the principles of peace, justice, and compassion. Our opponents don't have invisible forcefields around their brains. They are vulnerable to the truth every moment of every day that they walk the earth.
With that in mind, we would be wise to welcome and embrace those who break free, for whatever reason, from the icy death grip of prohibitionist political posturing. We must set a precedent of acceptance so that others might soon follow Mr. Barr across the threshold.
(This blog post was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)