Saturday, April 30, 2005

A sea change

As some of you may know the drug war is one of the societal conditions that gets a lot of my attention.

Addiction or Self Medication?
Heroin
Genetic Discrimination
Cannabinoids - the Key to many Pains?
Big Mac - heroin attack

What I have noted lately is a sea change in some attitudes. When I started writing two or three years ago the idea that long term PTSD was in part genetic was not well accepted. If you read my latest post on the subject -
A test for PTSD - you will see if you follow the links that the genetic component of PTSD is now an established fact without caveats. This is progress.

As time goes on the connection to drug use will become equally obvious.

Bush as part of his plan to slim government is defunding some of the drug war programs that do not appear to work.

Walters has initiated policy changes and management reforms that have rankled his staff and an array of interested stakeholders. The president's budget proposal for next year, which significantly reduces funding for drug assistance to state and local governments, has produced howls of protest from the officials who run these programs -- and from the members of Congress who represent them.

The Rand think tank has issued a report suggesting that the nation's drug policies are badly misdirected. And a small group of current and former ONDCP employees complain that Walters has run off the office's most experienced senior staff. The agency reported to Congress last year that most of the 17 senior career employees of the Office of Demand Reduction had resigned, retired, or been transferred since 2001, including three employees, with more than 20 years of combined experience in the drug czar's office, who retired on one day in August 2003.

The focal point for recent criticism of the drug czar's office has been the president's proposal to cut the budget for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program by more than half and move the program to the Justice Department.
I wonder if the boys at the top of the drug war have gotten the word about the direction of brain research re: drug use.

This could be the beginning of the demise of our whole drug control apparatus.

About time.

6 comments:

Gothamimage said...

Thanks for posting on Gothamimage.

Drug use is often bad, and often tragic, but it is clear that the stated goals of the drug war are not being met- there are those minor fluxes in usuage, that guys like Walters cites to feed the beast, but he is deceptive.

He was on Brian Lamb a while back and he clever noted the true fact that more people are in rehab over pot than alcohol- But he didn't mention that is because people, who have no problem, go into rehab, so as to avoid jail -While there are exceptions, unlike other drugs and booze, it's not usually to clean up.
But, the war is working for him- because it's part of his ideology - to consider it less about health or crime, than a KulturKampf of sorts. The "image" of the hippie, more than the prosaic reality, is what he is fighting.

M. Simon said...

Gotham,

Thanks for the reply.

I do not consider taking drugs for pain relief bad or tragic. I consider it a blessing.

On the KulturKampf bit I agree.

Everybody needs a devil. Fortunately this is America and should we lose one devil we can invent others.

Global warming? global cooling? change? stasis? We have problems tailored to your needs.

I'm with Rodney King "Can't we all get along?".

The obvious answer is:

No.

*

Anonymous said...

M. Simon wrote:

This could be the beginning of the demise of our whole drug control apparatus.

I doubt that, except in the trivial sense that "today is the first day of the rest of your life".

Prohibitionism -- and I use the "ism" to indicate an ideology -- rose to its zenith of political power over roughly a 50 year period after the Civil War to the early 20th century.

Just as other pernicious political ideologies, say communism and Wahabbism with which its rise is approximately contemporaneous, it has created a beneficiary class of profiteers and other rent seeking ideologues.

These highly self-interested supporters, wormed into government infrastructure, can hang on for a long time.

Ideologies can die suddenly like slavery in the USA or communism in the nations formerly known as the USSR, or slowly like communism in China.

In the former case we hang a few of the worst ideologues. In the latter we tend to cut them pension checks.

In either case, there is a protracted period during which the evils increase, either to the sudden breaking point, or to some inflection point where slow reform eventually causes the ideology to slink off into the political night.

In relatively free democracies like the "western world", the likelihood of a civil war or revolutionary sort of end is less, simply because as our Declaration of Independence noted, "all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

I'm your age, and I've been fighting against prohibitionism most of my life. I've come to expect our grandchildren's generation will likely be fighting remnants of our current prohibitionist policies.

This is not an entirely pessimistic view, but one I've come to accept over the years. The great battles for liberty often span many generations, even when the final battle is decisive, and discretely distinguishable.

I just don't think we're in that distinct and discrete final battle yet, and we may never be. My expectation is more that someday the last retired drug warrior will cash his last pension check and be buried.

That said, it is always encouraging to see some bricks torn out of the wall.

In either case, we must slog on, and hope our grandchildren can be free.

Gothamimage said...

I was unclear when I made my comment- you mentioned taking drugs is a blessing in some cases. Agreed- what I meant was the there are times when people do develop drug problems recreationally - while those problems are not as bad as the the forces unleashed by the drug war, thet are used as the necessary provocation for more drug war. In short, they will use the legit image of a man in heroin addiction to pass laws that allow the police to pull you over to for just about everything.
The growth of what I call "the incarceration community," is the result. It ain't good.
I will post on this more.

Gothamimage said...

America needing a devil seems true. It does not matter what you think about global warming,- even if it's all as stated, it is still the left wing version of wmd's- a rally point to accomplish x, while arguing y.

M. Simon said...

Whispers,

I do not believe in addiction.

I believe chronic use is caused by chronic pain. End the pain and the use goes away.

I do believe in habituation, where the body is chemically changed to make drug taking a necessity. However, we know how to deal with habituation.

===================
Anonymous,

I am more optimistic than you.

I think science will end the drug war when it proves you do not get "addicted" to drugs by taking them. The DEA Pain FAQ alludes to this. (see my side bar for a url)