Magazine article The Progressive

Still on Drugs

Magazine article The Progressive

Still on Drugs

Article excerpt

The war on drugs may be the longest-running conflict since the Hundred Years' War. Every politician declares it; every Administration wages it; and it fails time and time again.

Now, in the fall of 1996, we're hearing the drumbeat roll and the trumpets blare for another enlistment, another engagement. Bob Dole and Bill Clinton alike are sounding the call. But the last thing we need is a more militarized society, courtesy of our drug policy. Already, our rights to privacy have been drawn and quartered as a result of the war on drugs.

More wiretapping and more unrestrained searches and seizures will not eradicate the drug problem. But they will eradicate our constitutional rights.

Nor will stationing troops from San Diego to Texas stop the influx of drugs into this country, though it will drain our treasury in the process.

Nor will destroying coca plants throughout South America solve the drug problem, though it will ruin the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of indigenous farmers.

The problem with drugs is not a supply problem, but a demand problem. And the demand is homegrown, right here in the United States. As long as that demand is as strong as it is today, the supply will rise to meet it: Other countries will take up the slack; other ports of entry will open.

If we were serious about ending drug abuse, we would look at the reasons people use drugs.

In part, it's because our culture bombards us with a single message: Consume, consume, consume. Madison Avenue tells us that a new beer, a new hairstyle, a new toothpaste, or a new car will bring instant sex appeal and satisfaction, and drugs are just one more quick fix to happiness, American-style.

And in part, drugs are an escape from devastation: from the loss of jobs, the loss of promise, the loss of hope that afflicts much of our nation. …

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