Who invited these people?

Jul 10, 2008

drug war, drug warriors

Ever find yourself at a party filled with smart, interesting folks, except the loudest, most boorish person there keeps dominating conversation? When it comes to shaping international drug policy, the U.S. is that guy.

Check out this account of the United Nation's Forum on International Drug Control Policy – a gathering of drug policy experts from nongovernmental organizations around the world – by the ACLU's Graham Boyd:

In all but one region of the world, the NGOs found an appalling over-reliance on arrest and incarceration — appalling both because it proves ineffective in addressing drug addiction and because it destroys so many lives at such great cost. In all but one region, the NGOs called for applying human rights norms to their nations’ drug policies. In all but one region, the NGOs described their work in reducing the harms of drugs by providing sterile syringes to drug users to stop the spread of AIDS.

All, that is, but the U.S. delegation, which is stacked with mean-spirited fear mongers like Drug Free America Foundation's Calvina Fay, who defended imprisoning drug users – including medical marijuana patients – as a great way to get abusers into treatment.

The reality, according to the latest drug treatment admission statistics from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is that our treatment facilities are increasingly clogged with low-level marijuana users whose only real problem is getting arrested. According to the stats, 58% of those seeking treatment for marijuana in 2006 were court ordered, far more than for any other drug, and more than half of those had used marijuana three times or fewer the month before entering treatment.

With great ideas like that, why would the crew representing the country with the most abysmal marijuana and cocaine use rates in the world want to listen to anybody else talk about drug policy? Only a cynic would suggest that Fay's organization parrots the U.S. government line because of its nearly $1.5 million in government grants.