1998 has just begun and already it is becoming apparent that this will be the year when the Drug War loses its sacrosanct status as a policy above question in respectable circles. In the past two weeks, both Ann Landers, the scion of sensible heartland values, and Anthony Lewis, nationally syndicated columnist, have taken the opportunity to lambaste America's repressive and counter-productive drug policy.
Ms. Landers' criticisms were leveled in, of all places, her annual Christmas column, in which she said, in part:
"The 'war on drugs' has turned out to be a colossal failure. The number of homicides is staggering. Guns and knives are standard equipment among teenagers.... While alcohol is still the most abused drug of all, marijuana and stronger substances like crack cocaine and heroin are common-place in junior and senior high schools. The dropout rate is appalling. Why should a kid stay in school when he can get rich dealing drugs? This is the message that too many young people are getting."
Ms. Landers' brave stance presents an enormous opportunity to educate millions of people, both in the US and abroad, who are concerned about "drugs" but who have not given a thought to the wisdom of Prohibition. It is imperative that she hear from us, and that we make it clear that drug policy reform is vital to both the health of nations and the well-being of children. Contact information (including e-mail) for Ms. Landers is included below.
Anthony Lewis, in his column of Monday, January 5, highlighted Ethan Nadelmann's recent piece in Foreign Affairs magazine. Lewis' piece ran in papers across the country, including The New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the International Herald-Tribune.
Lewis' column is titled "The Noble Experiment" (a reference to America's failed alcohol prohibition) and it closes with the following paragraph: "A good many Americans, including police chiefs and doctors, believe that it is time for a change in our failed drug policy. It is our political leaders who are afraid to change. It will take someone with the courage to say that the emperor has no clothes � someone like Senator John McCain � to end our second, disastrous noble experiment."
We at DRCNet urge all of you to take a moment to send a note to Ms. Landers, papers which carried the Lewis column, and to Senator McCain (to urge that he take Mr. Lewis' advice and stand up on the issue.)
CONTACT INFO: You can send letters to Ann Landers, c/o Chicago Tribune, 435 North Michigan Avenue, P.O. Box 11562, Chicago, IL 60611.
Reaction to the Anthony Lewis piece can be sent to your local paper, if it was carried, or else e-mail to [email protected].
Senator John McCain can be contacted at 241 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510, [email protected].
You can read Ethan Nadelmann's article from Foreign Affairs at http://www.lindesmith.org/library/foreigna.html.