Saturday, February 07, 2009

Obama's Drug Policy

Obama's Drug Policy

President Obama made statements during the campaign about states with legal medical marijuana provisions. He said these states should be allowed to pursue their medical policy unimpeded by federal interference. So far his DEA has continued to raid legal clinics, particularly in California. Maybe his dope cops have not gotten the message yet, but that remains to be seen, especially since he has already broken so many of his campaign promises in the first few weeks of his nascent presidency. But beyond merely leaving decision making to others, maybe "The Won" should reexamine feseral drug policy in general.

Back to basics - a zero base examination of the drug situation in the U.S.A.

There needs to be a dichotomy in the way we perceive and deal with the issue of drug use. We need to discern between the two effects of drug laws, the first being the consequences of drug use upon individuals, and the other being the consequences of public policy toward substance distribution and use. Tobacco, alcohol, heroin, cannabis, and other substances have both good and bad effects on people, and create social and health sequelae on users and their associates. Harm reduction efforts should be undertaken where appropriate.

But laws have consequences as well as the substances themselves, mostly in the areas of driving up the price and the need for incarceration. Is there any doubt that criminal gangs garner their income directly from the prohibition of the substances? Where taxed, a substance provides money to government. Where prohibited, a substance provides profit to black market providers and exact costs on government. The fact of prohibition itself creates the price so high, the profit margins and therefore the excesses of the drug cartels so massive, that their murderous carnage becomes so much a part of the way they do business.

Maybe this is one place where our new cigarette smoking, coke sniffing, Wagyu Steak eating, pot smoking president can actually be effective. The first thing he can do is live up to his promise to stop federal law enforcement from overruling state law about medical marijuana. After that, if the lost "war" on drugs can be shifted towards a harm reduction paradigm from the current prohibition paradigm, the nation can shift untold resources toward real crime and away from the self perpetuating policies of the past.