Editorial: Positioning the Nation for Progress -- Not 3/17/00

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David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected]

At a conference today (3/17) at the New York Academy of Medicine, a representative of the Office of National Drug Control Policy is expected to give the audience -- much of which will consist of reformers -- a preview of the soon to be released year 2000 National Drug Control Strategy -- to be titled, we are told, "Positioning the Nation for Progress."

The obvious question is why, after 86 years of drug prohibition, three decades under the current "war on drugs" and nearly twenty years since the coining of the term "drug czar," is the nation only now being "positioned for progress"?

The next most obvious question is why, given that differences between the "new" strategy and previous strategies are likely to be rhetorical at most, rather than substantive, should we expect progress to be made this year when the previous decades have failed to demonstrate such progress?

Could it be that after decades of promising that "this year" will be the year of glory after all the preceding years of failure, the government has decided it can no longer make that claim with a straight face? And hence decided to make a more indirect promise -- that this year will be the year, not when we see progress, but when we successfully prepare for progress to be made in some other future year? Maybe a future after the current drug czar has left office and the spotlight and doesn't have to answer if the same policies fail once again?

Expect a few new "buzz words," but don't expect any truly original policy proposals, and don't expect an honest or meaningful discussion of drug policy, not from the federal government. And don't expect progress or even being "positioned for progress," in the absence of fundamental reform.

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