Pubdate: Sun, 24 May 2009
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2009 Athens Newspapers Inc


The Obama administration is saying all the right things about the
jumble of ineffective and vindictive laws, policies and practices that
have made up this nation's so-called war on drugs. Shortly after he
was confirmed, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that he
would halt Drug Enforcement Administration raids on medical marijuana

Then the Justice Department urged Congress to eliminate the 100-to-1
sentencing disparity in convictions for dealing crack and powder
cocaine, which imposed long prison terms on predominantly black defendants.

The most recent reassurance comes from the new drug czar, R. Gil
Kerlikowske. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal ...,
Kerlikowske said it's time to retire the phrase "war on drugs." Good.
It's as misguided as the policies it frames. "Regardless of how you
try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' ... people see a war as
a war on them," he said. "We're not at war with people in this
country." These sensible pronouncements inspire hope that the
administration is moving toward a more rational approach to drugs.
There is much to do.

By thinking of drug users as combatants in a war, the nation
militarized a health problem. The phrase itself shaped flawed thinking
and yielded disastrous policies. When he campaigned for the
presidency, Obama promised bold change on drugs. The old paradigm
should follow the now-discarded phrase into history.

- - Los Angeles Times
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