As the caffeine began to nudge my neurons into relectant action this morning (wake up, you lazy bastards!), I started the day as I do most Sundays, and slowly focused on the New York Times Sunday Week in Review section, which is where the editorials are published on the weekend, and my attention was drew to Nicholas D. Kristof’s colum “Drugs Won the War.”
It was a reasonably phrased piece recapping stuff I already knew: that Ronald Reagan’s “War on Drugs” never worked, drugs were easier to obtain and cheaper than ever, and drug profits were fueling terrorism and corruption in Afghanistan, Mexico, Colombia, and other countries (including the United States), and that the only way to really get a handle on the issue was decriminalization or some form of drug legalization. Over the years, I’ve researched the issue fairly extensively, partly because I wrote a play on the subject called “Altered States of America” (which put forth the modest proposal that drugs should be made available through state-run outlets to adults who passed a drug education program and could purchase reasonable, non-addictive amounts of drugs through a ration card; note producers: the play went on to be nominated for an Oregon Book Award).
Plus I’ve been hearing whisperings on the subject of late, and Obama’s choice of “drug czar,” the former police chief of Seattle (whose name I can’t spell and I’m too lazy to look up right now) has suggested a “harm reduction” model where drug treatment is favored over arrest. So it didn’t seem like a big deal. I thought, oh, that’s interesting, and went on to read Frank Rich’s column, which more or less echoed my Frankenstein piece on Right-wing nutjobs.
But then the appropriate synapse finally flickered, and I went: wait a second. I just read a pro-legalization/decriminalization piece in the largest paper in the U.S. by a staff editorial writer, not some outside writer hired for the piece. Did I really? What?
Yes, I did. You can read it at:
But the most remarkable part seemed to be that the whole thing seemed entirely prosaic, and maybe a little boring. Kind of a “duh” moment. It’ll be interesting to see reactions to Kristof’s piece, whether it comes and goes as so many of these articles do or opens a dialogue, but it does seem like a vague ray of light. If anything happens, it probably wouldn’t be until Obama’s second term, but…you never know. If the guy actally pulls off revamping the health care system, anything is possible.
Anyway, it makes for good reading, especially if you’re not well-versed in the twisted history of America and drugs.