STANDING COMMITTEE ON CODES
Joseph R. Lentol: Chairman
The Rockefeller Drug Laws
Statement of Douglas A. Willinger 1993
I. HOW EFFECTIVE HAVE THE ROCKEFELLER TYPE DRUG LAWS BEEN IN COMBATING THE DRUG PROBLEM FROM THE SUPPLY AND DEMAND SIDES?
II. SHOULD THE CURRENT DRUG LAWS BE CHANGED AND IF SO HOW?
1. INTRODUCTION: THE NEED FOR A BROADER PERSPECTIVE ON THE ENTIRE ISSUE OF PROHIBITION BEFORE ASSESSING THE "MICRO" EFFECTIVENESS OF THE ROCKEFELLER LAWS.A common argument against the drug prohibition laws is that they are ineffective. Critics say these laws have not reduced crime, drug abuse, or any of the other undesirable things now associated with the trade and use in illegal psychoactive drugs. Its defenders nonetheless contend that these laws are effective, noting that in the absence of law enforcement, more illegal drugs would be used. Before answering whether these laws are effective at dealing with the supply and demand sides of the drug issue, let us ask: effective at exactly what?
Prohibitionists see these laws as an effective method for reducing the supply of illicit drugs. If something is illegal there is less of it. Thus, if we want to reduce (or eliminate) something, make it illegal.
Whether or not one agrees with the prohibitionist view, there is no argument that more, not less, trade and use of illicit drugs has occurred with these laws' intensification since the latter 1970s. Indeed, drug abuse rose dramatically through the 1980s, particularly with the phenomenon of ultra-concentrated stimulants, such as crack. Further episodes of increased abuse with various amphetamine derivatives such as "ice" are almost promised.
Whether prohibition intensifies the problems or holds it back though remains a point of debate. While abuse unquestionably rose through the latter 1970s and 1980s, prohibitionists typically retort that this problem would have been even greater in these efforts' absence.
Properly answering this requires the adaptation of a broader perspective. While prohibition can seen as something that intensifies or reduces drug trade/abuse related problems, correctly perceiving these policies' effects are difficult when one is only viewing slightly different variants of the same policy, such as differing allocations of law enforcement and medical treatments, or differing jail sentences for the various prohibition related offense. Accurately perceiving the laws and their effects requires a wider view giving us something different to compare existing policy with. Since we are talking about drug prohibition, the proper contrast would be with a time when the now illegal drugs were not illegal. That requires us to pull ourselves back to view a longer period of time, back before the turn of the century when these substances were legal.
2. OUTLAWED DRUGS OF CONCERN
While the list of controlled substances is lengthy, popular attention focus upon the most popular ones: Cannabis, the Opiates (primarily heroin), and cocaine. Unlike other controlled substances, these are primarily natural plant substances, or alkaloids contained within the natural plant (Cocaine, for example, is an alkaloid of the same pharmacological family as the alkaloids caffeine and nicotine, both of which occur naturally in minute amounts in Coffee beans, Tobacco and tea leaves). As such, these substances have long histories of use to varying degrees medicinally, ritually or regularly with varying implications predating prohibition.
Cannabis, also known as Hemp, and since the 1920s/1930s as "Marijuana", was widely used medicinally, i.e. for menstrual pains. Various social groups and religious sects have used it for its psychoactive properties, in ways similar to that of wine and other alcoholic beverages its intoxicating properties traditionally seen as delightful (does anyone remember Hashish Candy?) For reasons founded in politics and the press, this perception changed by 1937 when Cannabis was effectively criminalized as the result of press campaign against it christening it with its purported Mexican slang name Marijuana as a play upon anti-foreigner prejudice. More recently though, "Marijuana" has been found useful for glaucoma patients (for reducing eye-pressure) and for chemotherapy sufferers and AIDS patients (for combating nausea and increasing the appetite). While removed from the U.S. Pharmacopeia under pressure from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Commissioner Harvey Anslinger in 1940, the Drug Enforcement Agency's (DEA) own Administrative judge, after an exhaustive review of all the scientific research, ruled (in a 1989 case over whether its use in medicine should be legal) that Cannabis is "one of the safest therapeutic substances known to man." [Its continued persecution testifies to the number of unethical if not mentally defective persons who acquiesce if not make money from its demonification through such criminal activities as law enforcement and drug "treatment"].
Opiates, also known as narcotics, have been used in medicine since the time when Greece was a major power. Originally, this meant Opium sap, applied topically or taken internally was used as an effective pain-killer. The 1800s brought the isolation of its alkaloids, such as codeine and morphine, and also the development of more direct modes of administration as with the invention of the hypodermic syringe. This amplified morphine's pain-killing properties, its pleasant effect, and its tendency to reduce the body's internal endorphin production (thus amplifying its physical addictiveness), and its possible potential for abuse. In response, the 1900s brought the development of synthetic opiates, ostensibly in the hope of developing one that was non-physically addictive. While this goal continues to elude medical science, opiates remain valuable medicines, with each one, from opium, to heroin, to the synthetics, best suited for each particular application.Cocaine, a natural alkaloid found in the leaves of Erythroxylum Coca plant, has a dualistic effect, serving as a central nervous stimulant and local anesthetic. First isolated around 1860, and made available in pure form in 1884, cocaine was used for a wide variety of purposes in a wide variety of ways with a wide variety of results from beneficial to disastrous: (the latter being the case with cocaine injections, and to a lesser extent, with cocaine sniffing powders). Today, the concentrated drug the only basic form of the drug available under prohibition is used by doctors as a local anesthetic. At times it has been used for other purposes, such as treating pain or arthritis, as was the case respectfully with Dr. Milton Reder of New York City, and a California clinic where slowly absorbed cocaine restored joint movement to a woman suffering a severe case of arthritis which conventional medical treatments were to no avail.
Siegel, Ronald; Intoxication, 1989: 308-311
Less known today to most people is the cornucopia of medicinal benefits afforded by the use of the non toxic natural substance: Coca Leaf. An herb containing 14 alkaloids, numerous vitamins (including, in different varieties, A and C) and essential oils, Coca leaves have been used in Andean cultures for several thousand years. Chewed in leaf-form, or drank as a tea, Coca is used to treat high altitude sickness, nausea, general debility and numerous ailments, including those of the gastro-intestinal tract. More recently since 1988 Coca has been available in the form of a number of products for its therapeutic effects.
As a stimulant that has been taken in ways that directly paralleling that of licit substances, cocaine provides the clearest text-book example of how our drug laws affect drug abuse through the supply and demand sides of the equation. Most ironically, it is also the illegal drug that has evoked the most concern over the past decade and a half.
COCAINE PROHIBITION: FIGHTING OR FOSTERING DRUG ABUSE?
Two decades after the enactment of the Rockefeller laws, and eight decades after the enactment of the Harrison Act, our perspective must cover the past century back to the enactment of New York's first cocaine related law. This history clearly shows that any perspective must be broad not only in years, but in the many ways this stimulant has been used. In sharp contrast to today, consumers in those days prior to prohibition had a choice between all forms of the drug, from sniffing powders and injections, to drinking beverages like the original Coca-Cola. Indeed, if our concern is drug abuse [rather then criminal mercantilism], any discussion of cocaine must start with defining its different forms. Hearing the term "cocaine," makes cocaine hydrochloride (HCI), the white powder, the highly concentrated form of the alkaloid commonly snorted, come to mind. Cocaine sulfate, another form of concentrated cocaine that is smoked, is what we call crack. There is no doubt that these forms of cocaine are generally undesirable. While they have been used by many in a controlled and relatively responsible manner, there abuse liability is undeniable. Though not physically addictive, they can be nonetheless intensely habit forming and/or toxic. This is especially so with smoking concentrated cocaine (i.e. crack), due to the pharmacological factors of rapid intake and metabolism that gives a quick, intense, but fleeting "rush."
To invert the paradigms for a moment, what about non-concentrated cocaine© that is, cocaine used like caffeine? From what the press repeated through the mid-1980s, this appeared irrelevant: was not it pounded and pounded again into the public consciousness that cocaine was simply bad no ifs ands or buts. Indeed, this was a major theme of Mark S. Gold's 1983 book 800 COCAINE.
The reader will discover that certain ideas are repeated throughout this book. This is deliberate. It is done to emphasize what I consider the key issues concerning cocaine: That it should not be regarded as a benign recreational drug. That it should not be regarded as a benign recreational drug. That its use can exact a terrible toll. That it can cause addiction. That there is no "cure" for cocaine addiction except permanent and total abstinence from its use. That i is better to say a firm "NO" to the drug than to have to deal with its destructiveness once it takes hold.Given this presense as a universal truth, Gold's conceptualization of cocaine was grossly over simplistic for being oblivious to the pharmacological factors of cocaine's various forms. Non-concentrated cocaine is clearly not concentrated cocaine. While this stimulant can be intensely habit-forming and toxic in more directly administered doses, due to the intense, brief effect, dilute cocaine has a milder yet longer lasting effect without the "crash" and subsequent abuse potential. The two are no more alike then drinking Coffee and snorting pulverized NoDoz.
As the rashness of the 1980s slips behind us though, the differences between dilute and concentrated cocaine is finally being acknowledged by a variety of sources, including Dr. Mark S. Gold, author of the 1983 book 800 COCAINE, and founder of the Fair Oaks, New Jersey based hot-line of the same name. Five years later, Gold writes:
... it [regular Coca leaf chewing] is much safer than pure cocaine administered by more efficient routes. It is clear that the obsessive self-destructive addiction liability of cocaine increases with the purity of cocaine and the efficiency of its administration [intranasal cocaine HCI, and to a far greater degree, freebase and crack smoking]... the behavior effects of cocaine are [clearly] dose dependent. Verebey, K., Gold, M.S.; "From Coca Leaves to Crack: The Effects of Dose and Routes of Administration in Abuse Liability; Psychiatric Annals, September 1988, Volume 18, Number 9: 514-515This re-awakening of our consciousness about dilute oral cocaine is not limited to those in the field of what is now called drug treatment. According to Mark A.R. Kleiman of Harvard, drug advisor to President Clinton Daedalus, Summer 1992):
If all cocaine taking involved low-dosage oral forms of the drug, cocaine might be no more controversial than its chemical relative, caffeine. It is the administration of the purified chemical, either as a powdery hydrochloride salt, which can be snorted or injected, or as an anhydrous base (freebase or crack) which can be vaporized and inhaled, that has twice given cocaine an evil reputation.To bring the paradigm fully around, what about the parent substance: Coca? It is known that South Americans have consumed Coca leaves for thousands of years, with none of the harms of concentrated cocaine's abuse, and with a great deal of benefits. Indeed, as Dr. Ronald Siegel notes in his 1989 book Intoxication, Siegel, ibid: 300
Coca leaf stands out amongst the stimulants, licit and illicit, as the easiest to control and the one least likely to produce toxicity and dependency.Indeed, history prior to prohibition strongly buttresses Dr. Siegel's view, particularly that of Vin Mariani. Vin Mariani was a wine of Coca, sold in one pint bottles, each containing an extract of Coca representing two ounces of the leaves.
Those concerned about drug abuse would be interested in noting that the half-century of Coca use in Europe and North America is consistent with the finds of researchers as Siegel, Gold, or Kleiman. While criticism of cocaine came within months of the isolated drug's mid-1880s debut, Coca, particularly Coca wine received continual praise throughout its half century of widespread use, even from strong temperance advocates. According French Army Surgeon in Chief Dr. Libermann:
I have also employed it [Vin Mariani] in cases, happily rare in our army, of chronic alcoholism resulting from the abuse of brandy, absinthe or strong liquors. Vin Mariani produces all the excitement sought by drinkers, but had at the same time a sedative influence on their nervous systems. I have frequently seen hardened drinkers renounce their fatal habit and return to a healthy condition.Praise of Vin Mariani and Coca went all the way to the top in 1898 when Pope Leo XIII gave Angelo Francois Mariani Vin Mariani's creator and entrepreneur a gold Papal medal citing Mariani as a Benefactor of Humanity for rendering Coca to the world. [Pope Pius X did likewise with Mariani in January 1904 (just months before the anti-Coca campaign erupted in the US through the AMA/APha and USDA through Knights of Columbus Harvey Wiley, in concert with Knights of Malta William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper empire).
Mariani, Angelo; Coca and Its Therapeutic Applications,1892: 54-55
In short, while concentrated cocaine should be discouraged, diffuse cocaine whether taken through chewing Coca leaves, drinking Coca tea (e.g. Peruvian Mate de Coca), Coca wine (described by a leading researcher of cocaine and cocaine/alcohol toxicology in the February 26, 1992 Journal of the American Medical Association as a "benign indulgence"), or the original Coca-Cola is not such a concern particularly for a society that allows Coffee and Tobacco.
Today's controversy is not whether cocaine use can be as safe as caffeine if used as caffeine. Rather, the question is what are prohibition's effects? More specifically, what has prohibition done to supply? What has it done to demand? Answering these questions naturally requires us to look at the supply and demand sides of the market at every major step of policy change. This history reveals 5 major steps:
Poison Control Laws.
These required clear labeling of concentrated cocaine as poison, sometimes with symbols as skull and crossbones.
Prescription requirements for isolated cocaine.
These banned possessing cocaine in its pure forms. Cocaine HCI could only be possessed upon a doctor's prescription. The first of these laws were passed in Oregon in 1887.
Prescription requirements for cocaine period.
These laws extended the early bans on the popular sale and possession of cocaine to include anything containing any amount of cocaine (with no regard to questions of toxicity or abuse potential), without a doctor's prescription (which itself was often not allowed to be refilled under these laws). The first of this sort of laws were passed in Arizona in 1899. These were the laws that outlawed Coca.
Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906.
Although not a prohibition act, this Act did more than require the proper labeling of cocaine-containing products; it gave the U.S.D.A. (through its Bureau of Chemistry) the virtual power to move against the sale of certain substances without setting any objective criteria. For this reason amongst others, the Pure Food and Drug Act was the U.S.D.A.'s carte blanch to move against Coca leaf (upon confirming the impracticality of its commercial production in the U.S. in 1904), while promoting Tobacco.The Harrison Act of December 17, 1914. On the surface a "tax" law, this Act essentially Federalized the State laws prohibiting Coca by requiring non-refillable prescriptions© which in turn were only allowable at the whims of what the Treasury Department (the agency charged with enforcing Harrison) and the AMA/APha (the guilds given a degree of influence over the government's definition of legitimate medical practice) deemed fit.
As only Coca, not the isolated drug was available prior to 1884, our analysis must start here. Prior to that time of course, cocaine use broadly speaking was exclusively indirect, being taken through Coca products, such as Vin Mariani. While the mid 1880s brought a great deal of attention to the hydrochloride, and with it, accounts of abuse and cries for its control, dilute cocaine use, primarily through the Coca beverages remained the overwhelming choice of consumers, continuing to grow in popularity through the latter 1880s, the 1890s, and even into the early 1900s. Although a time of growing medical interest in refined white powder drugs, where medical journals displayed more and more accounts of the use of refined drugs, consumer interest overwhelmingly remained with the natural product, as it generally does with any natural stimulant. Numerous new products were introduced, including Coca-Cola. Such products were used for a wider range of medical uses; more people began choosing it as a regular stimulant; indeed, William Martindale, President (1899-1900) of The Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, and author of ten editions of The Extra Pharmacopoeia, predicted that Coca would ultimately replace Coffee and Tea! Andrews, George; Solomon, David; The Coca Leaf and Cocaine Papers; 1975: 43
Of particular popularity was the use of Coca products sold as Tobacco substitutes. French Army Surgeon in Chief Dr. Libermann reported that he had:
... used Vin Mariani to save smokers of exaggerated habits, from nicotinism.
A few glasses of Vin Mariani taken in small doses, either pure or mixed with water, acted as a substitute for pipes and cigars, because the smokers found in it the cerebral excitement which they sought in tobacco, wholly preserving their intellectual faculties.Indeed, Coca as a Tobacco substitute was a widely promoted idea through the waning years of the 19th century: an idea promoted into the 20th century© though not very far, given the U.S.D.A. campaign to end Coca's "indiscriminate sale and use." It must be pointed out that this did not take place in the absence of laws directed at cocaine.
Mariani, ibid: 557__
Poison control laws
Äs enacted during the latter 1800s ensured that people possessing white powder drugs knew the hydrochloride's toxicity. Restrictions upon the hydrochloride (such as Oregon's 1887 law), more intrusive, were of little consequence because of the traditional consumer preference for natural substances. Indeed, as Daniel K. Benjamin, former U.S. Labor Chief of Staff and Professor of Economics at Clemson University, and Roger LeRoy Miller, Research Professor of Economics at Clemson, and Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Miami wrote in 1991:
Prior to 1914, cocaine was legal in this country and used openly as a mild stimulant, much as people use caffeine today. Cocaine was even an ingredient in the original formulation of Coca-Cola. This "extensive" type of usage small, regular doses spaced over long intervals© becomes more expensive when a substance is made illegal. Such usage is more likely to be detected by the authorities than is "intensive" usage (a large dose consumed at once), because the drug is possessed longer and must be accessed more frequently. Thus, when a substance is made illegal there is an incentive for customers to switch toward usage that is more intensive. In the case of cocaine, rather than ingesting it orally in a highly diluted liquid solution, as was done before 1914, people switched to snorting or even injecting it after the passage of the Harrison Act [emphasis added]. Benjamin, D.K.; Miller, R.L.; Undoing Drugs; Beyond Legalization: How We the People, Can Retake America From the Drug Dealers, Drug Addicts, and Drug Enforcement Agents; 1991Just the same, the change in the proportion of dilute cocaine users versus concentrated cocaine users between the very early 1900s and 1915 (when the Harrison Act took effect) did not take place in a vacuum. Whereas as Coca leaf shipments grew right up until 1906, one can not disregard the influence of changing policies upon changing supplies. Such changes in policy were of course the enactment of the new State anti-cocaine laws aimed against Coca products, as well the U.S.D.A. campaign to outlaw Coca's interstate commerce through various proposed P.F.D.A. amendments against "habit-forming" substances (which of course were not applied to Tobacco). While earlier poison control laws and cocaine hydrochloride (HCI) restrictions did not affect Coca supply, such newer laws against cocaine per se certainly did.
First passed in Arizona in 1899, such laws were passed in a flurry of State legislative activity through the early 1900s up until 1913, when every State but Texas and Vermont banned oral preparations containing any amount of cocaine without a prescription (a requirement itself that often precluded re-fillable prescriptions). Connecticut for example, banned Coca wine in 1905; New York, apparently in 1907 with what was known as the Smith Act, passed on June 5, 1907.
Such laws virtually wiped out the Coca market: one could no longer purchased Coca teas, wines or colas. Most importantly, these more restrictive laws were immediately followed by a rapid growth in the market and use of cocaine HCI, which was found easy to smuggle into States with such laws. From about 1905 onwards, accounts of the popular use of cocaine HCI soared, as did the number of crimes committed (the murder rate for instance tripled after 1907). One new phenomenon was the smuggling of cocaine HCI through all sorts of media including hollowed out books into those States that had outlawed the stimulant in all forms. In such a legal climate this made sense, for smuggling small envelops of white, crystalline powder was infinitely easier then bringing in bulky bottles of Coca wine. All of this should have been taken as proof that evidence that these laws were disastrous.
As the States moved against the supply of Coca beverages, a new market emerged to circumvent this: the market in cocaine HCI. Whereas one previously went to the soda fountain, this was replaced by the "peddler" of powders: the new supply and demand for cocaine users. Clearly the emerging policies of repression were fueling the very problem used as their justification.
Nevertheless, this was presented a reason -- excuse -- to Federalize these policies, even though the 1912 Hague Opium Conferences, then erroneously cited by State Department official Hamilton Wright as obliging the U.S. to ban Coca, clearly exempted substances containing no more then 0.1% cocaine. Chapter III, Article 14 of that conference specifically exempted dilute cocaine:
"the contracting powers pledge themselves to apply their laws and regulations governing the manufacture, importation, sale, and exportation of... preparations... containing... more then 0.1% cocaine."By the time World War I started, the U.S. was well on its way of starting its longest war ever. The House of Representatives would pass the Harrison Act sponsored by Upper East Side New York Representative Francis Burton Harrison in 1913; the Senate passed it in 1914, with Woodrow Wilson signing it into law that December 17.
Existing laws clearly convolute the market and convolute use in ways leading to greater and greater abuse. What had happened was the market shift. Consumers, finding their supplies of Coca cut off with (Step 3) the enactment of State laws banning cocaine in all forms, and (Step 4) the U.S.D.A.'s campaign, lets be frank: to make the world safe for Tobacco began switching to cocaine HCI (or cigarettes). I invite anyone to check out the long term growth in Tobacco cigarette sales, shown in a graph on page 230 in Edward Breecher's classic 1972 book Licit and Illicit Drugs.
New consumers, who by every indication would have been satisfied with Coca, were instead introduced to the concentrated drug, its black market and of course its abuse potential. Cutting of the supplies of Coca not only created the lucrative illicit market in cocaine (and heroin) HCI, prohibition glamorized the very types of potentially dangerous drug use that would have never occurred to virtually anyone: how many people snort, smoke or inject purified caffeine, nicotine or alcohol? Nonetheless, we as a nation have chosen to ignore this, by creating overly simplistic myths that confuse the issue and prevent us from seeing how prohibition encourages drug abuse. It is commonly written that prior to being found dangerous, cocaine was seen as a wonder drug, a prior belief thus dismissed as delusion. In fact the delusion was that the different forms of the drug are unimportant indeed irrelevant to the real issue of drug abuse, as if there were no differences between using natural plants and their highly refined derivatives (or synthetic “equivalents”). No one thinking about this is not going to believe that snorting NoDoz is the same thing as drinking caffeinated Coca-Cola. No one here would care, if asked, to knowingly adopt policies that promote drug abuse. Nevertheless this is exactly what we have done with our laws against cocaine. Through banning this stimulant in any form regardless of the pharmacological issues of health and drug abuse we have unquestionably inverted supply and perverted demand.
This is also applicable to the story of opiates. Previously people smoked opium; they did not inject heroin. To broaden our perspective more recently outside the U.S., this story has been repeated all over South-East Asia in the wake of numerous bowing to U.S. pressure. While reasonable people can debate policy about substances with true potential for abuse, even for adults, such as cocaine HCI and the sulfate (crack), refined heroin, or (in an altogether different sense), PCP, the mercantilistic policies of banning Coca and subsidizing Tobacco (while deluding ourselves with the false notion that policy is mainly concerned with health) will certainly leave an indelible blot on our nation's history. While debate centers around prohibition's effectiveness at thwarting the illicit drug trade, prohibitionists in fact have unwittingly created and perpetuated the problem. Asides from increasing crime and drug abuse, prohibition's other main effectiveness is destroying the supply of those substances that are not a worry, and creating the market and profits in those that are. Prohibitionists will one day have to answer to history for their addiction to false concepts and their narrow perspective that makes this© and themselves momentarily look good. So will those that refuse break free of the misconceptions underlying existing policy and see and think the issue through for themselves.
4. WHAT MUST BE DONE.
Many of the following suggestions must also occur at the federal level. Nevertheless, New York has a golden opportunity to lead the way in meaningful drug-abuse reduction policy innovation by courageously eschewing our "Rockefeller" type of laws by doing the following: Repeal the prohibitions on natural plant forms. Allow their sale, possession and use where appropriate, such as preparations that present the natural substance in a way mimicking the effects of the natural plant's use. History shows that prohibition unequivocally causes a shifting away from natural plant forms to concentrated forms which are easily abused by precipitating the emergence of the dominant market in white powders. Given the costs of drug abuse, why would we want to do this?
Cannabis as medicine/ Cannabis as an social relaxant for adults.
Allow development of oral forms, and safer forms of smoking. Repeal the prohibition on water pipes and other accessories that reduce the risk of smoking: why make something more harmful than it need be? There is evidence that Cannabis serves as an alcohol substitute; anyone personally acquainted with both these substances can not justify the prohibition of the one with zero deaths and the legal status of the one with 110,000 lives annually. Because of the possible hazards of smoking, particularly with large amounts of low quality produce, the development of Cannabis products must not be stymied. Just the same, outlawing Cannabis product advertisements is equally as senseless particularly when advertising for alcoholic beverages is allowed. This hardly means the government would not have any involvement, but let it be limited and honest. Age restrictions for the purchase and possession of Cannabis for instance are reasonable. Confusing the dangers of alcohol with those for Cannabis such as blaming "Marijuana" for accidents when a train engineer smokes a joint while drinking enough beer to give them an alcohol blood content way over the legal limit, on the other hand, is not only dishonest, it is utterly irresponsible.
Allow doctors the full range of choices, permit medical professionals to prescribe as they see fit the right painkiller for the particular situation; repeal the prohibition upon medical heroin. Allow the OTC sale of Opium with reasonable age restrictions. Let the natural repulsion against needles come into play and discourage the sale of syringes and white powder drugs outside of hospital/pharmacy settings (Who here knows of needle freaks who looked forward to getting shots as children?)
Coca for humanity.
There is no legitimate excuse for outlawing Coca leaf. Allow its general sale like Coffee, tea, etc, with possible age restrictions for the more potent preparations, such as some Coca wines. In contrast to white powder drugs (and arguably alcohol and Tobacco), there is no argument whatsoever for prohibiting advertising for Coca leaf products. As a society of stimulant users, and as a government which claims to act in the public interest, we would possess no logic by prohibiting the advertising the most benign natural stimulant while allowing that for others© especially when advertising is crucial to alert the public to healthier alternatives. Since we need to reverse the current use of concentrated cocaine, why stymie the best way of bringing this about?
Use existing resources more efficiently; target them against the real threats. If the idea of drug prohibition is to be salvaged at all, keep only the more harmful substances illegal, and establish some sort of objective standard to be applied against these substances, whether they be cocaine, caffeine, nicotine, heroin, THC, or Coca, Coffee, Tobacco, Opium, Cannabis, or anything else, including pharmaceutical (these for instance take anywhere from 14,000 to 27,000 lives annually, whereas alcohol abuse takes over 150,000, Tobacco addiction over 400,000, and all illicit drug abuse takes 3,800 to 5,200© of which zero are attributed to Cannabis. Direct resources against their sale and unauthorized manufacture© in particular, to minors, if such prohibitions are to remain.
Education, not indoctrination.
Educate to show the differences between different drugs, different forms, and of course use and abuse. Ensure the highest quality of health care research ensure that medical research does not become politicized. Abuse is enough of a problem; our limited resources are best directed against abuse. Would anyone suggest that we chastise social drinkers in order to fight alcoholism? Drug abuse is enough of a problem: it does not need to be exacerbated by myths, half-truths and lies, nor should we allow political opportunism to subvert a legitimate fight against drug abuse. It should go without saying that research on drugs, their use and abuse must be objective; the public interest demands nothing less. Politicizing it has no place on the honest drug-abuse fighter's agenda. What after all is more important, health or dogma? Truth or nonsense?