POLICY: Disappointing Presidential silence about illicit drugs reveals bankrupt policy ideas

Not that anyone can be in the least surprised, but it’s clear from the tapes secretly recorded by one of his henchmen that in 1999 Bush privately admitted to both taking marijuana and cocaine in his period of "youthful indiscretion". There’s been a surprising lack of comment about this other than this one article in the Chicago Tribune called the Disappointing presidential silence about illicit drugs. The incredible hypocrisy in which Bush feels that his drug use was a "wild, youthful indiscretion" but that any current drug use by a young person is a seriously punishable offense leads to two terrible consequences for society.

First, Bush has presided over an Administration which has dramatically gone after anyone who remotely disagrees with it on the drug issue, including medical marijuana advocates and pain doctors, with the full force of draconian drug laws. It has also left more than 33,000 young people unable to attend college because of the heinous HEA amendment than bans anyone with a drug offense of any kind getting a Federal loan.  Let’s not forget that has this law been in place in the 1970s that number ought to have included Bush and former Eli Lilly exec, and current Indiana governor Mitch Daniels who was convicted of low level drug dealing at Princeton. The hypocrisy and lack of contrition from those holding this position is unspeakable.

Second and much more seriously, the ridiculous head-in-the-sand antics of the government (and this includes both Republican and Democratic Administrations and Congresses over the last 30 years — although the Republicans are clearly worse) on drugs means that the appalling social and health impacts of drug abuse are essentially allowed to go unchecked, leaving the taxpayer and the health system to deal with them. There are some very interesting models in harm reduction, and drug maintenance programs that have enabled addicts in Switzerland, the UK, Germany and now Canada to live relatively normal lives at little cost to the taxpayer and with minimal impact on society — as opposed to the huge amount of crime and personal cost seen in the unregulated activities of addicts here. But no one in the US will even discuss these models.  Instead
we allow the war on drugs to continue to fill the coffers of law enforcement departments and criminals and dictators across the world, and force taxpayers and health care workers to keep paying for it.  That no fuss is made about the fact that the current President essentially admitted to drug use in his twenties, shows how we’ve accepted this appalling situation as being only too normal.

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