Pubdate: Mon, 22 Nov 1999
Date: 11/22/1999
Source: Nation, The (US)
Author: Kevin Zeese
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Progressives should not follow Michael Massing's advice to use Nixon's
drug policy approach. While Nixon had a better budget balance between
law enforcement and treatment, his drug policy contained the roots of
many of today's problems. Nixon coined the term "drug war," he
militarized the Mexican border, legitimized no-knock entries,
developed herbicide spraying (G. Gordon Liddy's idea) and knew that
the drug war would be another way to lock up African-Americans and
other "undesirables." He ignored the findings of his own commission on
drugs when it recommended decriminalization of possession and small
sales of marijuana.

A consensus on a sensible, progressive drug policy is developing. More
than fifty organizations, including the ACLU, NAACP, NOW, Volunteers
of America, YWCA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the
United Methodist Church, have joined the leading reform organizations
in writing a letter to Congress declaring the drug war a failure and
urging a new policy. We recommend:

-- investing in youth programs to keep adolescents interested and
involved in life;

-- making treatment on request a reality within three

-- preventing drug-related disease by funding, among other things,
needle exchange programs;

-- providing no additional domestic or international law enforcement
resources until research shows that it's effective;

-- ending racial bias in drug enforcement;

-- undertaking an examination of drug policy and all alternatives to

We need to develop a system of legal controls that undermines the
illegal market while sensibly controlling drugs. Taking the profit out
of the drug market is the only way to rid communities of the criminal
drug trade. Such a regulatory system can be developed if we face up to
the challenge, but if we just say it is not a political possibility
then the harms of prohibition will grow. While developing an effective
regulatory policy for prohibited drugs, we can also develop a better
regulatory policy for legal drugs and bring some consistency to the
way our nation deals with all drugs. The left is making progress in
developing an alternative to the drug war. More voices are needed for
this dialogue to be effective.

Kevin Zeese Common Sense for Drug Policy Falls Church, Va.