It is time to end the war on drugs. It is time to dismantle the Drug Enforcement Administration and departments of other agencies that deal with drug enforcement and put in place sensible policies that regulate drugs in order to protect public health and safety.
Drug use is a public health issue and does not belong in the justice system. Drug use is better handled by health professionals than it is by police, prosecutors and prisons. Drug issues should be handled by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration not the Department of Justice.
Research should be encouraged to better understand the negative and positive effects of drugs themselves as well as for methods of humanely assisting people addicted to drugs. Based on this research we would recommend new, evidence-based approaches to classification of drugs and reasonable regulations for legal markets.
Educational systems would be developed to teach the scientific truth about all drugs without propaganda. Exaggerated scare propaganda is ineffective, education based on research that is credible needs to be the focus of teaching people about drug use.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (Drug Czar, a White House function) should be immediately dismantled as its primary purpose is as a source of rhetoric in support of the failed war on drugs.
Routine testing of urine, blood, saliva and sweat for drugs is invasive and wasteful, almost always provides information that is irrelevant. Resources should be spent to research testing for intoxication or impairment, not for history of drug use as driving under the influence should remain illegal but testing must be prove impairment.
Present drug policy permeates every aspect of our society. The transition period to overhaul the system will be extremely complex and cannot be accomplished quickly but we will immediately move to stop the use of criminal law as the primary tool of drug control. This will be revolutionary change. We will retrain drug war employees into peaceful jobs whenever feasible.
Justice for people currently imprisoned for drug offenses is another daunting task requiring immediate action. We will develop a strategy for ending the incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders and transitioning them to normal and productive lives. People have suffered in prison for lengthy terms for drug crimes at great expense to the taxpayers. We need to end the mass incarceration for drug offenses and assist people with restarting their lives.
As Administrator of the Green Shadow Cabinet Drug Policy Agency, I understand that the state of street violence that has brought horror to our nation is directly related to the war on drugs. When I was a young man living in an inner city, there were drug dealers. They absolutely did not carry guns. If one did have a gun he was suspected of being a cop. With the lethal combination of high levels of unemployment, school deterioration, middle-class flight, the high profits of crack cocaine, automatic weapons, normalization of prison, and prohibition, there was a perfect storm to create a killing field. Drug prohibition-related violence has undermined the safety and security of entire cities. I watched as city streets turned into battle zones. Music and video games did not cause the violence, but reflect the culture and glorify it. The government began the violence and now must commit to great change by investing in urban areas to revitalize the economies and communities of cities. This includes reversing the police tactics such as racial profiling and stop and frisk that has developed in recent decades.
The Green Shadow Cabinet Drug Policy Agency will work with others in the Green Shadow Cabinet to develop a more detailed policy that will end the drug war and replace it with a policy of regulation to protect public health and safety. One immediate task that we will work on is a policy for how the federal government can work with the states of Colorado and Washington to enact the democratic mandate of those states to regulate marijuana rather than prohibit it. The people are leading on this important issue and in a democracy it is important for the government to make their desires a reality.
~ Clifford Thornton is Administrator of the Drug Policy Agency in the Green Shadow Cabinet.