Drug Policy Reform Wasn't Built in a Day...

Radley Balko posts about his talk at the Students for Sensible Drug Policy conference this weekend, and reiterates his objections to the “Dutch Model” of drug policy: treating drug use as a medical problem, rather than as a matter of individual liberty.

Alex Coolman responds to Radley’s post and ideas by advocating a “Make Drugs Boring” model, that he believes will deglamorize drug use, and perhaps then decrease it.

One part of Coolman’s post on which they would both agree:

If the government is going to be getting in anybody's business, it's a hell of a lot better for that intervention to be in the form of doctors and nurses, counselors and other more or less benign types than for it to be in the form of cops, corrections officers, SWAT teams and so forth. If I could pick my poison, it would be the guy in the white coat, not the guy in the flack jacket.

This type of debate amongst serious reformers is a necessary part of any eventual drug policy reform in our country. But I fear sometimes that the debate about exactly what system we move towards (other than long term incarceration) overshadows the desperate need we have to change now.

Here in Austin, where the defendants I represent face serious jail and prison time for marijuana and other drug charges, anything but our current “lock em up” policy would be a welcome change. If we have to “accept” incremental change in the form of “reduced criminalization” in order to move towards an eventual perfect policy (whatever that might be), let’s do it.

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Pat - November 21, 2006 11:24 PM

Talk about timing. Just today I had a go around with some Libertarians on the Hit & Run site about addiction and choice. I totally disagree with the Libertarian position on addiction. Their position is not based on physical science. It is based on conformity to their Libertarian political philosophy.

I firmly believe that, for some addicts, genetics makes it impossible to stop an addiction that is ingrained through long term use experience and underpinned with generations of high intoxicant usage in a family. Using police to mitigate and prohibit this genetic disease is like sending the army to Iraq to fight the alQaida in Afghanistan.

In support of Alex Coolman's contentions about making addiction boring: "In Switzerland, the medicalisation of heroin use has helped change the image of users: from rebels to losers," Nordt said. "In the eyes of the young, they're mostly just sick people, forced to get medical help." September 4, 2006, Swiss heroin model reporting benefits


All in all I agree with your concern, Jamie, that arguing the minutia and details of potential reform diverts from the thrust of the fight. What i often will say in debate is that the individual manner of regulation would be up to the states. I have my ideas but it would be up to the states so arguing it is a waste of time now. More important is developing hard hitting arguments for ending prohibition TODAY. This is, in part, why I have tried to create the terrorism funding argument. The fear of terrorism trumps the fear, in America's collective mind, of addiction, fear of drug crime, fear of minorities and other real and imagined fears that the prohibs have wrapped up in their sordid minds to rationalize prohibition.

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