Editorial: Twenty Years? 10/22/04

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David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected]

David Borden
It's important sometimes in any issue to push the boundaries of the debate. This week the group Transform, a UK-based outfit, did just that. Transform outlines, in a new report, models for how a post-prohibition, regulatory system of drug control could be constructed. Then, they confidently predict that Britain will have something like that in place within twenty years.

Twenty years till legalization? Here in the US that must seem unrealistic, even surreal, to the average observer. In Washington, DC, for example, the nation's capital and my home, I was not allowed to cast a vote for a medical marijuana ballot initiative for which I petitioned. My city's government is forbidden from using our local tax funds to support needle exchange programs. In the Congress that resides a few miles away, legislators dream up new mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. The situation is an extreme one, making an end to drug prohibition a little hard to imagine.

But if the currents of politics and culture are against us, one must not lose sight of the undercurrents, and those are flowing our direction. The degree of support for ending prohibition, the amount of discussion of it by high level political and opinion leaders, while small is markedly less small than before. In 1998, no governors of US states were willing to speak seriously about legalization. By 1999, there were two, Gary Johnson of New Mexico, a Republican, and Minnesota's Jesse Ventura.

As Gov. Johnson once expressed it, support for the drug war is a mile wide but an inch deep. Our arguments are compelling, especially those having to do with the violence, both domestic and global, that is fueled by illicit drug profits that would not exist under a system of regulation. Most people have never heard the real case in all its glory, and I can't feel pessimistic until they have. In my observation, this is an effective time to be working for the purpose of being heard making that case.

So, could Transform be right? Could it actually happen, even in America, the drug war's ideological, diplomatic center? I think that twenty years could quite possibly be long enough. In fact, twenty years is too long -- too many lives will be needlessly ruined or lost during that time. But that is all the more reason for positive thinking. Yes -- prohibition's days are numbered.

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Issue #359, 10/22/04 Editorial: Twenty Years? | California Initiative to Rein-In Three-Strikes Law Appears Headed for Victory | English Drug Reformers Map Route to Post-Prohibition Drug Policy | In California Senate Race, Judge Jim Gray Gets No Respect from Media, Polls, or Debates, Despite Strong Showing | DRCNet Book Review: "15 To Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom," by Tony Papa with Jennifer Wynn Feral House Press, $22.95 HB) | A Message from the Executive Director on What DRCNet is Planning After Election Day and Why We Need Your Help | Newsbrief: Kerry Says Feds Should Butt Out of Oregon Laws | Newsbrief: Alaska Marijuana Initiative Backers Sue Lieutenant Governor Over Election Pamphlet | Newsbrief: Bush, Kerry, Nader Respond to HEA Query | Newsbrief: African-American Professional Groups Form Coalition to Change Drug Policies | Newsbrief: Federal Judge Rules Cops Can Lie on the Stand | Newsbrief: End of Opium Cultivation Spells Looming Disaster for Burmese Peasants | Newsbrief: Three Dead in Peru Coca Confrontation -- Cocaleros Occupy Buildings in Provincial City | Newsbrief: Dutch Medical Marijuana Program Runs Up Against Law of the Market | Newsbrief: Actress's Marijuana Bust Challenge Causing Waves in South Korea | Newsbrief: Canadian Government to Reintroduce Marijuana Reform Bill, But Adds Driver Drug Testing, Too | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | This Week in History | The DARE Generation Returns to DC: Students for Sensible Drug Policy 2004 National Conference Next Month | Apply Now to Intern at DRCNet! | Administrative Assistant: Part-Time Job Opportunity at DRCNet | The Reformer's Calendar
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