For John, BLUF: To keep illegal drugs under control we need to spend money and we need to have rehab programs. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Kad Barma asserts at this comment that legalization of drugs is inevitable. Like a good commenter, he provides links.
I want to put forward an additional view, based on an EMail exchange I read last evening, which involved, amongst others, two people who have been paying attention to the drug issue. The second person, former Army War College Professor Robert Killebrew, has traveled across the Western Hemisphere learning about this issue. So, recently, in an EMail, a thoughtful Professor down in Rhode Island asked:
Is legalization really a "strategy"? I guess I haven't thought of it that way. I have considered it a policy - political leadership could decide that some or all of existing drug laws are unwise (and I assume this position would probably be limited to marijuana and related products, about which there appears to some rationale for modifying laws).The Professor makes a distinction between policy and strategy, with the understanding that policy guides strategy. He is correct, but the response copied below went to the issue of where should we go.
An equally thoughtful Robert Killebrew, responded:
No, it's not. But many bring it up as if it were. I was at a conference a few weeks ago opposite a very well-respected elder statesman of our wonkish world -- we have all read his books -- and he got quite vocal that the US has brought all this on ourselves, we were forcing the rest of the world to go along, if we'd just make it all legal our problems would be over and so forth.There you have the views of someone who has been looking at this issue.
IMHO, most states will probably, eventually, legalize some form of marijuana use, simply because it's such a drag on all other kinds of law enforcement. Of course there will have to be legal age restrictions and so forth. I'm not for it -- I've seen what it can do to bright young people -- but it may happen. Again in my opinion, decriminalizing minor use and hammering the big distributors works in those areas that have tried it, and we ought to try that before we totally decriminalize.
Cocaine, Heroin and Meth, though, are different things entirely. They destroy -- people, families, societies. There's no chance of them ever becoming legal in this country, nor should they be. Further, even if some corner were lifted to some kind of partial legality, they are so toxic on a society that they would have to be hedged around with by laws to protect the most vulnerable, especially kids. So we would still have the problem.
The "strategy," to get back to my resources-methods-objective kick, should be something like "To reduce hard drug abuse X amount in the US, it will take a balanced approach of suppression, interdiction, enforcement and treatment, with Y laws and Z amount of money."
It's hard to visit the guys charged with the tactical-level fight without being impressed at how good they are and how much more they could do if they were supported.
We have actually had effective treatment in this country nation-wide for about two years; it was an initiative under Nixon, was beginning to be successful, and then was killed by Congress when he resigned. Reducing hard drug use in this country is very possible, and doing it as part of a campaign to undercut the cartels and force them to the surface makes a great deal of sense. It's just not going to happen in an election year, or without more resources (thank you, Grover [Norquist]).
Regards — Cliff