On September 2, a group of academics, elected officials, drug treatment professionals and scientists held a press conference to declare that in the debate between "legalizers" and Drug Warriors, science and rationality has been largely ignored. The group, headed by Charles R. Schuster, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse under Presidents Reagan and Bush, was organized by the Drug Policy Project of the Federation of American Scientists.
The group presented a list of 14 "Principles for Practical Drug Policies" which outlined their views on what drug policy should seek to accomplish in the absence of political posturing. "Polarization and strong emotions give rise to misrepresentations of facts and motives, oversimplification of complex issues, and denial of uncertainty," says the report.
While the group went out of its way to distance itself from what it termed "legalization," and "ending prohibition," even without defining these terms, it also made clear that a punitive, "zero tolerance" drug war was itself causing many unnecessary harms. The fourteen points called for strategies based upon science and results, rather than political posturing; an end to disproportionate punishments as a means of expressing social norms; policies tailored to individual substances based upon risks and use patterns; more stringent regulation of tobacco products; "taxation, regulation and public information" with regard to alcohol; prevention messages which accurately reflect what is known about the substances they discuss; and civility in debate, among others.
Other signatories to the document included William J. Bratton, former New York City police chief, William A. Donohue, President, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Robert MacCoun, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley, Dennis E. Nowicki, Chief of Police, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, North Carolina, and Sally L. Satel, Lecturer, Yale Medical School.
The report and list of signatories can be found at http://www.fas.org/drugs/Principles.