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Even if We Succeed, The Drug Warriors Will Take All the Credit

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Via Transform, UN Drug Czar Antonio-Maria Costa appears to be coming to grips with the inevitable consequences of the international drug war:

"The first unintended consequence is a huge criminal black market that thrives in order to get prohibited substances from producers to consumers, whether driven by a 'supply push’ or a 'demand pull', the financial incentives to enter this market are enormous. There is no shortage of criminals competing to claw out a share of a market in which hundred fold increases in price from production to retail are not uncommon." (p.10)

"The second unintended consequence is what one night call policy displacement. Public health, which is clearly the first principle of drug control…was displaced into the background." (p.10)

"The third unintended consequence is geographical displacement. lt is often called the balloon effect because squeezing (by tighter controls) one place produces a swelling (namely an increase)in another place…" (p.10)

"A system appears to have been created in which those who fall into the web of addiction find themselves excluded and marginalized from the social mainstream, tainted with a moral stigma, and often unable to find treatment even when they may be motivated to want it." (p.11)

"The concept of harm reduction is often made into an unnecessarily controversial issue as if there were a contradiction between (i) prevention and treatment on one hand and (ii) reducing the adverse health and social consequences of drug use on the other hand. This is a false dichotomy. These policies are complementary." (p.18)

"It stands to reason, then, that drug control, and the implementation of the drug Conventions, must proceed with due regard to health and human rights." (p.19)

Obviously, there are many good things to be said about all of this. One could never expect such candor from American drug warriors, thus Costa has taken a bold step towards a more honest and accountable drug policy discussion. Yet it was this same man who recently disparaged the attendees of the 2007 International Drug Policy Reform Conference as "lunatics" who were "obviously on drugs."

How then can one reconcile the above quotes from Costa with his vicious mischaracterization of the very people who've been saying those things for decades? He's literally mumbling our talking points out of one side of his mouth while hurling reckless insults at us from the other. He says things like "There is indeed a spirit of reform in the air," only to then bash the majority of reformers as crazy, drug-charged ideologues with nothing to contribute.

So, as the self-evident truth of our beliefs becomes increasingly impossible to ignore, don't expect the drug war leaders to thank us for our tireless efforts to bring such matters to light. We will always be elbowed to the side, even as our words and ideas work their way into the minds and out of the mouths of those we've lobbied for so long. On that glorious day when the wall comes crashing down, they will just pat one another on the back and behave as though this had been the plan from day one.

That is the future of drug policy reform. There will be no glory for the brave men and women that dedicated their minds and bodies to this, but it doesn't matter because that's never what it was about. The reward we seek is a healthier nation, a better world, the warm embrace of the freedom and justice we've been promised but have yet to behold. One needn't be insane or on drugs to dream of such things.

United States
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Jimi Devine's picture


Well apparently he likes to plagiarize from the Crazy folks.

Action Plan?

Mr. Costa appears to know how to talk the talk. Now let’s see him walk the walk.

Nephew of Fresno police

Nephew of Fresno police chief arrested on drug charges
The Associated Press
FRESNO, Calif.—The Fresno police chief's nephew and the son of Fresno police officer Diane Dyer has been arrested on suspicion of selling cocaine and OxyContin in nearby Clovis, police said Tuesday.

Damon Dyer, 27, was taken into custody on March 26 at a traffic stop in Fresno following a month-and-a-half-long investigation into his role in local drug sales, said Clovis police spokeswoman Janet Stoll-Lee.

Dyer is the nephew of chief Jerry Dyer and the son of Fresno police officer Diane Dyer.

Clovis officers later served a search warrant on Diane Dyer's home and found illegal drugs in her son's bedroom.

Damon Dyer pleaded not guilty Tuesday to eight felony drug charges, including narcotics sales, possession of prescription medication and steroids possession.

He was being held in the Fresno County Jail in lieu of $211,000 bail.

Re: Even if We Succeed, The Drug Warriors Will Take All ....

The best way to get people to adopt your policy is to make them think it was their idea all along. Sorry, but after attending a conference labeled by ONDCP as being biased towards "defenders of drug use," Mr. Costa had to distance himself from that if he wanted to avoid being marginalized himself.

They should take all the credit

They should take all the credit because they and us will be the same thing. If drugs are made legal by those in power, then those in power will no longer be drug warriors, they'll be drug reformers.

Mr Costa seems to understand our message, except he just doesn't want to make the leap to thinking (or at least publicly admitting), "maybe we should just legalize drugs". In the position he's in, he can't be expected to consider that possibility. It probably contradicts his job description. Hopefully, though, he'll shift his policies to focus on prevention and treatment and not on criminal prosecution. That by itself would be a dramatic change, and a huge step forward for our cause.

Costa is subverting rhetoric

IF Costa is indeed using these terms and concepts it is not to adopt the underlying strategy of reform and harm reduction. No. It is a typical right-wing Orwellian effort to co-opt the words and distort their meaning into what the drug warriors want in order to neutralize and subvert reform rhetoric. Give the drug warriors a year and the phrase 'Harm Reduction' will become a metaphor for giving police better body armor. Or worse, will come to represent crop spraying as a way to reduce harm for soldiers in Afghanistan.

As is happening now here in Pennsylvania, rehab will become an alternative way of saying prison. Where last month state legislators were talking about the need to reduce state prison populations and relieve state prison over-population, today, just a month later, the same legislation now will shunt more people from county prisons to state prison. But they are still talking about it as if it will reduce prison populations.

Other legislation here will give judges the power to lock up drug users indefinitely and without criminal charges if a family member complains of the drug use. "Commitment of Drug Dependent Persons" they call it.

Anything that a prohibitionist ever says that sounds rational becomes its opposite in reality.

Wow, this is really

Wow, this is really intriguing.

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