Pubdate: Mon, 22 Nov 1999 Date: 11/22/1999 Source: Nation, The (US) Author: Kevin Zeese Related: All the special issue articles are linked at: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v99/n963/a03.html Progressives should not follow Michael Massing's advice to use Nixon's drug policy approach. While Nixon had a better budget balance between law enforcement and treatment, his drug policy contained the roots of many of today's problems. Nixon coined the term "drug war," he militarized the Mexican border, legitimized no-knock entries, developed herbicide spraying (G. Gordon Liddy's idea) and knew that the drug war would be another way to lock up African-Americans and other "undesirables." He ignored the findings of his own commission on drugs when it recommended decriminalization of possession and small sales of marijuana. A consensus on a sensible, progressive drug policy is developing. More than fifty organizations, including the ACLU, NAACP, NOW, Volunteers of America, YWCA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the United Methodist Church, have joined the leading reform organizations in writing a letter to Congress declaring the drug war a failure and urging a new policy. We recommend: -- investing in youth programs to keep adolescents interested and involved in life; -- making treatment on request a reality within three years; -- preventing drug-related disease by funding, among other things, needle exchange programs; -- providing no additional domestic or international law enforcement resources until research shows that it's effective; -- ending racial bias in drug enforcement; -- undertaking an examination of drug policy and all alternatives to it. We need to develop a system of legal controls that undermines the illegal market while sensibly controlling drugs. Taking the profit out of the drug market is the only way to rid communities of the criminal drug trade. Such a regulatory system can be developed if we face up to the challenge, but if we just say it is not a political possibility then the harms of prohibition will grow. While developing an effective regulatory policy for prohibited drugs, we can also develop a better regulatory policy for legal drugs and bring some consistency to the way our nation deals with all drugs. The left is making progress in developing an alternative to the drug war. More voices are needed for this dialogue to be effective. Kevin Zeese Common Sense for Drug Policy Falls Church, Va.