Tony Newman Director of Media Relations, Drug Policy Alliance
But what about the other drugs? My colleagues and I at the Drug Policy Alliance are committed to ensuring the decriminalization of all drug use becomes a political priority.
Criminalization is not only failing to effectively control drug use, it's a barrier to protecting individual and public health. As long as drug use is a crime, people are going to be afraid to get help.
Decriminalization means nobody goes to jail and nobody gets punished simply for possessing a small amount of a drug. This is a model that has proven successful, resulting in decreases in diseases and addiction, without increasing drug use. It also preserves scarce law enforcement resources that could be used to stop violent and predatory crime. And perhaps most significantly, it would reduce the arrest and incarceration of millions of people, most of whom are poor or people of color.
This is basically what Portugal has been doing since 2001, with overwhelming success. Drug use has not increased, while addiction, overdose, HIV transmission, and incarceration have declined dramatically. (For more information about Portugal and other approaches to decriminalization, see DPA's fact sheet, "Approaches to Decriminalizing Drug Use and Possession")
What this does is protects markets.
It keeps the status quo of PROHIBITION with a lessening of the penalties (and thus costs of prohibition's administration) - a status quo of HARD drugs rather than the infinitely safer and more useful PLANT drugs, such as Opium and Coca.
Illicit 'decrim' markets, meaning that dealers still get incarcerated as the drugs are still illegal and CONCENTRATED.
Why no mention of how prohibition PROMOTES drug abuse?
Why no mention of neither Coca nor Opium in this entire article and 30 minute Huffington Post drug policy experts video interview?
Part of the problem was the choice of the 'experts' how I have known from attending DPF/DPA conferences since the late 1980s.
One of which I've heard DENY the market potential of the PLANT drugs. Words like 'Oh Coca will never be a major commodity' - as if Coffee and Tobacco were not.
And another who has expressed an unhealthy emotional disdain for cocaine "I've seen it wreck people's lives" clouding the actual maters of pharmacokinetics. This is about perpetuating the status quo with incremental changes designed to sustain the 300 year time frame that DPA's Ira Glasser tells to a incredibly cheering audience at the 2011 DPA conference.
This just shows the entrenchment of MERCANTILISM.
It is this focus on crack and meth and needles to have us forget the PLANT drugs as Opium and Coca, that makes me suspicious about the involvement of things as the Covington & Burling pro bono program. This program may or may not be innocent, but which appears to be not, given the lack of candor so far, from anyone involved with this pro bono relationship.
Covington & Burling, for the good work they have done for Medical Marijuana, after all is the law firm best connected with the cigarette and pharmaceutical industries, that gave us Eric Holder and which was founded by a major legislative and judicial player who helped give us prohibition in the first place.