David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 11/29/02
DRCNet has moved! Our new office address -- to be used only for packages, urgent items or visits -- is 1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20009. Please use our post office box for donations and all routine correspondence -- P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Our phone and fax numbers are unchanged, (202) 293-8340 and (202) 283-8344 respectively.
There are two things that you are probably wondering right now: First, why is this information contained in the editorial? And second, why is it in an editorial titled "Going Out of Business," when moving to a new office and signing a new lease tends to be associated with staying in business?
Many drug policy reformers remember Washington, DC, attorney Rufus King, an "elder statesman" of our movement who worked to end drug prohibition for about 40 years. Rufus debated prohibition's first "drug czar," Harry Anslinger, seemingly costing Anslinger his job eventually, when the tape of the radio broadcast made it to the desk of newly-inaugurated president John F. Kennedy.
Despite his decades of work on the issue -- or perhaps because of it -- Rufus was impatient. He sat on the board of the Drug Policy Foundation, and was upset when they moved into their (now former) Connecticut Avenue offices. The reason? Unlike DPF's former quarters, the new office had carpeting. That was just too comfortable for drug reformers, Rufus felt. The movement should not become institutionalized; we need to solve the problem now and put our organizations out of business. It's about freeing hundreds of thousands of people from prison, stopping crime, saving the Constitution, all the urgent needs that we talk about in our work every day -- and which ruin thousands of lives every day. It's not about having a nice office, nor any office, nor for that matter any job.
Unfortunately, drug prohibition is still raging strong. Hence, DRCNet (which at one time shared DPF's office, making us equally innocent or guilty) still needs space in which to work. And conventional wisdom is that ending prohibition will take still more decades, that it's not going to go away in five or ten years. And perhaps it won't.
But that doesn't give us the right to assume so. Perhaps there is a hidden Berlin Wall, ready to crumble, if only we apply pressure to the right points at the right times. Perhaps educational efforts to raise awareness of the consequences of prohibition in the minds of the public will reach a critical mass, flowing from which that understanding will spread like fire all on its own. Perhaps a true leader will win the reins of power in Washington and launch an open, democratic debate on the drug war, prohibition, legalization, all that we've expounded in our movement for so long. If that happens, we had better be ready, because that leader won't be able to make it happen all alone.
So the best outcome would be one in which DRCNet's new five-year lease is the last one that we have to sign. Let us strive, like Rufus King, to end prohibition sooner rather than later. That would be a going out of business day to celebrate.