Pubdate: Sun, 18 Mar 2012
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Times-Standard
Author: Dave Stancliff
Note: Dave Stancliff is a retired newspaper editor and publisher who 
writes this column for The Times-Standard.


The War on Drugs was lost a long time ago. The fact that most people 
don't see the relationship between the war on drugs and alcohol 
prohibition is one of the greatest marketing feats of the 20th century.

Prohibition doesn't work. Millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted 
every year arresting and imprisoning drug users.

One of the results is this shameful statistic: The United States has 
less than 5 percent of the world's population, but it has almost a 
quarter of the world's prisoners, according the New York Times.

Like some grim "Groundhog Day," people are ignore the unpopular law 
(like the first prohibition) and become criminals.

Jail follows.

Soon the jails are overcrowded. Now, there's a growing worldwide 
reform movement challenging current drug laws. Several countries are 
looking at drug legalization as an alternative to their failed drug 
policies, despite threats from the U.S. to retaliate.

The reason is no secret.

America has been imposing its failed Drug War laws on the rest of the 
world through economic intimidation. Things are changing, however.

Now, world leaders are speaking up to support legal control of all 
drugs. Despite U.S. reprisals, some countries have been meeting more 
frequently, even looking at regional coalitions to strengthen their 
growing reform movement.

Latin American and Caribbean leaders met last December and discussed 
a regional coalition for drug legalization in what is known as the 
Tuxtla System for

Last week, representatives from law enforcement agencies around the 
world met in Vienna at the 55th United Nations Commission on Narcotic 
Drugs. The International Drug Policy Consortium, a global network 
promoting objective and open debates on drug policy has a Web page 
( with information about last week's events. Law 
Enforcement Against Prohibition -- an American organization comprised 
of active and retired police officers, judges, prosecutors and other 
criminal justice professionals -- sent representatives Maria Lucia 
Karam, Jim Gierach, Annie Machon, and Richard Van Wickler, a 
currently-serving jail superintendent.

In an exclusive interview with Van Wickler, I asked him a few 
questions about the meetings he attended and his impressions of what 
happened, or didn't happen: As It Stands: Can you tell me what 
significant recommendations came out of the March 11th meeting where 
a drug control framework was discussed?

Van Wickler: Our sense is that every member state of the U.N. is 
calling for a continuation of the current path of drug-prohibition 
policy, evidenced by their bland and uninspired discussions of the 
U.S-introduced draft resolution that would reaffirm the three UN 
prohibition drug treaties and commemorate the centenary of the Hague 
Opium Convention. People will little note nor long remember what has 
been said in Vienna this week, because the thought and content of the 
conversation avoided the heart of the world's drug policy problem -- 
prohibition. Seeing the United Nations and the Member States 
delegates in action for the first time, it is stunning to see the 
complete avoidance of the central issue of drug policy. Were any 
changes made to the IDPC Drug Policy Guide that you found to be 
particularly noteworthy? Van Wickler: Because these guides are so 
comprehensive I wanted to ask the question of Mike Trace who is the 
chair of the IDPC responsible for this annual report.

Mike is also the former drug czar of the UK. The 2010 report raised a 
lot of questions regarding the need for reform. Since the publication 
of that report, things are moving fast with respect to changes in the 
prohibition debate. The 2012 report contains a lot of changes, most 
notably that it provides for specific and radical proposals and 
"steps to take" for member states to consider in the drug policy 
reform movement. On a personal note, how much has your advocacy for 
drug legalization affected your career? Van Wickler: Since I have 
been a member of LEAP (Dec. 2007), my advocacy for drug legalization 
and drug policy reform has enhanced my career. Unlike most LEAP 
members, I am not retired, but still on the job. My superiors are 
very supportive of my position with the need for drug policy reform. 
To read the entire text of this interview, go to Surprisingly, it's not just liberals 
calling for an end to this losing war on drugs.

Pat Robertson, a provocative voice of the right wing, recently said, 
"I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol.

This war on drugs just hasn't succeeded."

As It Stands, the global war on drug prohibition is underway, but 
U.S. activists for legalization need to continue to lead the way by 
educating the public, and the rest of the world.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom