Pubdate: Thu, 01 Jun 2000
Source: Liberty Magazine (US)
Copyright: 2000 Liberty Foundation
Contact:  Box 1118, Port Townsend, WA  98368
Author: Dale Gieringer, CREDIT FOR CAMPBELL

Rep. Tom Campbell deserves credit, not the blame cast upon him by Gene 
Healy, for his courageous, anti-prohibitionist stance on drug policy 
(Reflections, April).

In Congress, Campbell has distinguished himself as a leading opponent of 
the drug war, voting against costly and draconian sentences, opposing 
meddlesome anti-drug mandates, sponsoring legislation to legalize medical 
marijuana, supporting reform of the forfeiture laws, and opposing military 
anti-drug aid to Latin America.

By contrast, his opponent, Sen. Feinstein, has been one of the Senate's 
foremost drug warriors, voting for tougher penalties against both users and 
traffickers, opposing California's medical marijuana law, calling for 
anti-drug trade sanctions against Mexico, supporting confiscatory civil 
forfeiture laws, and sponsoring censorship of drug information on the Internet.

Disregarding this dramatic contrast, Healy complains that Campbell has 
proposed government distribution of drugs to addicts. To be sure, this is 
not a libertarian policy, but it is far less costly than prohibition. In 
particular, what Campbell has in mind is Switzerland's experimental program 
of heroin distribution to addicts, the impressive results of which make it 
an apt model for public debate. As for the alternative of free market 
legalization, this, alas, is still beyond the political pale, being in 
conflict with current international treaties that forbid commercial trade 
in narcotics.

Given this limitation, what Campbell is proposing is that local governments 
be permitted to establish narcotics distribution programs on their own. 
That is, Campbell is advocating reduced federal restrictions and increased 
local control. Perhaps this is not a 100% libertarian solution, but it is 
certainly in line with constitutionalist principles of limited government, 
and light-years ahead of present U.S. government policy.

Dale Gieringer, Berkeley, Calif.
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