This Is Your Country On Drugs
By by Charles Rappleye & Judith Lewis
The guns are muffled by
distance and the casualties kept from view, but there’s a war going on,
declared by President Reagan in 1982 and unabated since. We may be inured,
but the war continues. We’ve armed our cops and our allies, we’ve
filled our prisons and then built new ones, and still the contraband
flows. Prices for cocaine are at an all-time low, suggesting that
quantities have reached an all-time high.
What are we to make of this?
What are the moral implications of a society that outlaws drug use while
indulging in it? What is the imperative to punish inebriation? And why are
we so committed to creating a black market where the smugglers flourish?
We don’t claim to have the
answers, but we do come at these questions from a unique perspective.
While we don’t advocate drug use per se, we don’t reject it either, as
inherently evil, or even wrong. We look at the issues in human terms, in
light of what people need and want and do, and we weigh the questions of
policy and punishment, of judgment and morality, in that light.
Herewith, some inquiry, and
some responses. We take a close look at the hard line of “zero
tolerance,” the all-or-nothing maxim for so much public policy. We tour
the battlefront we’ve opened in Colombia; here in California, we examine
the effort to forge a new alternative to criminalization, a project that
begins statewide this week.
Nothing here is automatic.
There are no easy answers. But we want to examine this crisis in our
midst, so easily overlooked, unfolding in slow motion, often behind the
scenes. Perhaps this week, as we continue to celebrate our War of
Independence, you will join us in taking a moment to reflect on the war
America is fighting today.