We have two drug problems: illegal drugs and legal drugs. What this country needs is a comprehensive policy of drug control that allows adults the freedom to choose, but with restrictions and controls that apply to all drugs (including alcohol and tobacco), designed to address the problems resulting from drug use.
Most of the problems associated with illegal drugs are not caused by using them, but by the "war" against them. One of the worst aspects of drugs is the crime and violence that are tearing our cities apart. The vast majority of drug crime is a direct result of the black market created by the drug war. It would virtually disappear overnight if drugs were legal. The gangs and cartels and dealers and smugglers who perpetrate these crimes would be out of business with no turf to fight over. But we don't have to choose between prohibition and freely available drugs. There is a sensible position in the middle that is supported by a growing number of thinking Americans, including politicians, educators, law-enforcement officials, doctors, lawyers, judges and citizens from all walks of life. They have all come to realize that we can achieve better results controlling drug problems if all drugs are legal and regulated.
The role of government should be to encourage education, prevention, research and treatment and to discourage the promotion of drugs.
Education is the long-term solution, but we must start immediately by providing facts and sensible advice instead of the hysterical propaganda that's been foisted on us for the past 80 years. Scare tactics don't work, but many prevention programs have had impressive results.
Although treatment doesn't have a great record, it has never had the funding or support to explore the potential fully. Education, prevention and treatment now get less than one-third of the drug war budget. But no matter how much we spend on these areas, we'll only be treading water if we're going to be bombarded with messages telling us how glamorous and cool and sexy it is to use them. …