Prohibition's Second Failure: The Quest for a Rational and Humane Drug Policy

By Theodore R. Vallance | Go to book overview
that checks should not be made for the effects of drug use on job performance, especially in jobs whose performance affects public health and safety--bus drivers, airline pilots, surgeons, for example. But such checks are not the same as urine or saliva tests, which show whether or not someone has ingested a drug sometime in the past. Performance is what we should be interested in, not whether someone has chosen to drink alcohol or smoke a marijuana cigarette a day or two ago.
Several foreign governments would be relieved of the de-stabilizing forces generated by U.S. insistence on cooperation in our war on drugs. To recur to a single example, DEA officers in Turkey assured me that their intelligence data shows clearly that the disruptive activities of the Workers Party of Kurdistan, or PKK, which is a terrorist organization based in Lebanon, are significantly financed by proceeds from the international drug trade. There is a fairly extensive literature on the extent to which various insurgencies-- whether of the political right or left--have been financed through the trade in illegal drugs. 17

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

There may be light at the end of the long tunnel through the drug problem, and our task is to select the most effective way to get to it. We have reviewed a number of possibilities in this chapter, in preparation for a plan that, in my opinion, has a reasonable chance for success.

We can continue the drug war in its present form. Despite some apparent successes in reducing actual drug use and in making the public less interested in using drugs, the war seems to be costing more in many ways than we are getting from it. It is time to try something different.

Relaxing controls on pain-relieving drugs would provide a modest start by making relief from intractable pain more readily available and by offering the possibility of demonstrating that some good can come from change.

Similarly humane treatment and useful knowledge could derive from extending cannabis use in areas where it has proven to have therapeutic value.

We can experiment further with non-enforcement of marijuana laws, emulating and building on the Dutch experience, and taking advantage of the record accumulated thus far in the several American states that have decriminalized marijuana.

A broader view of drug use as a public health issue rather than a crime problem is surely worth examining closely.

What is clear from all this is that there is no neat or simple way to do away with the war-on-drugs metaphor. Drug law reform can only come

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Prohibition's Second Failure: The Quest for a Rational and Humane Drug Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter 1 Defining Today's Drug Problem in the United States 1
  • Conclusion 25
  • Chapter 2 Documenting the Costs of the Drug Problem 27
  • Summary 46
  • Chapter 3 How Effective and How Good a Bargain is Current Policy? 47
  • Summary 62
  • Chapter 4 Policy Options Within the Criminalization Context 63
  • Summary 77
  • Chapter 5 What Choices Do We Have? 81
  • Summary and Conclusion 99
  • Chapter 6 Toward a New Policy 101
  • Chapter 7 Getting There from Here 123
  • Appendix A Federal Drug Laws 135
  • Appendix B Reform-Oriented Organizations 141
  • Appendix C Studies by Special Committees, Councils, and Commissions 144
  • Notes 153
  • Sources 159
  • Index 169
  • About the Author 175
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