I've been arguing for a while that what we need is a serious, thoughtful, thorough discussion of our national policy of criminalizing drug use and drug distribution. I'm not even promising that after the full dialogue I'm going to come out pro-legalization or even pro-decriminalization on everything. All I want is a national discussion in which our leaders grow a spine and dare to question the largely unquestioned strategy of prohibition, and smart people on both sides of the issue argue it out. I don't think it's going to happen — no one of any political prominence is showing any signs of even a vestigial spine, and JAIL ALL CRIMINALS remains the political default.
Now, there is some dialogue about drugs going on amongst nationally recognized and prominent figures. But it's not a dialogue that questions the status quo. At least, not in the direction you might expect. From a recent meeting of the minds: Bill O'Reilly and Newt Gingritch discuss how using Singapore as a model, instituting mandatory testing, and compelling treatment might get the job done:
O'Reilly: I don't know whether you know this, but I did one of my papers at Harvard on this — on how to reduce demand for drugs.**** But the United States has never figured it out. You can't lock up drug users, I mean, that doesn't work. And you can't force them into rehab, you have to want rehab, and even if you want it, it's very hard to get off hard drugs and alcohol. Very hard.
What you can do, though, is sanction people along the way. And this is what they do in Singapore. If you're caught possessing drugs — and that means drugs in your bloodstream, they have a little hair thing, and they put it in there — then you have to go to mandatory rehab. And they have centers where you go.
Now, they have no drug problem in Singapore at all, number one, because they hang drug dealers — they execute them. And number two, the market is very thin, because when they catch you using, you go away with a mandatory rehab. You go to some rehab center, which they have, which the government has built.
The United States does not have the stomach for that. We don't have the stomach for that, Mr. Speaker.
Gingrich: Well, I think it's time we get the stomach for that, Bill. And I think we need a program — I would dramatically expand testing. I think we have — and I agree with you. I would try to use rehabilitation, I'd make it mandatory. And I think we have every right as a country to demand of our citizens that they quit doing illegal things which are funding, both in Afghanistan and in Mexico and in Colombia, people who are destroying civilization.
*** The true mark of a Harvard man — even in the midst of advocating totalitarian sociopathy, he cannot resist dropping the H-bomb.
Yeah, Singapore's approach is just a model of rationality:
The statute's penal provisions are draconian by most nations' standards, providing for long terms of imprisonment, caning, and capital punishment. The law creates a presumption of trafficking for certain threshold amounts, e.g. 30 grams of cannabis. It also creates a presumption that a person possesses drugs if he possesses the keys to a premises containing the drugs, and that "Any person found in or escaping from any place or premises which is proved or presumed to be used for the purpose of smoking or administering a controlled drug shall, until the contrary is proved, be presumed to have been smoking or administering a controlled drug in that place or premises." Thus, one runs the risk of arrest for drug use by simply being in the company of drug users. The law also allows officers to search premises and individuals, without a search warrant, if he "reasonably suspects that there is to be found a controlled drug or article liable to seizure". Moreover, Section 31 allows officers to demand urinalysis of suspected drug offenders.
And yet this is what passes for a Drug War dialogue in this country.
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