Pubdate: Sat, 05 Jun 2010
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2010 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Gloria Abitol


First published in print: Saturday, June 5, 2010 I sympathize with
Rhonda Swan's sentiments lamenting the Obama administration's failure
to extensively change the prevailing policies that drive the drug war
("Obama prolongs failed war," commentary, June 1). I, too, have been
disappointed with the Obama administration's failure to match its
promising rhetoric with reality.

Click here to find out more! However, is it realistic to expect that a
40-year-old war can be completely dismantled by a president 16 months
into his term? The war on drugs supports bloated law enforcement
agencies, the $68-billion-a-year prison industry, the arms industry
and a thriving drug-testing industry -- not to mention drug lords worldwide.

While we are far from the days when politicians went out of their way
to impress the public with "tough on drugs" rhetoric, policymakers
remain far too reluctant to implement sensible, compassionate drug
policies that address drug use as a health issue rather than as a
criminal justice problem. Let's remember how long it took to reform
New York's Rockefeller Drug Laws, and implementing these reforms
presents a challenge unto itself.

President Obama did take a significant step forward in the historic
health care legislation, by requiring coverage for substance abuse
treatment through Medicare/Medicaid and private insurance, thereby
expanding access to drug treatment in the mainstream public health
system. Although we are still marching in the war on drugs, it is
encouraging that seeds of change are being sown.

Gloria Abitol

Drug Policy Alliance

New York City
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