Families in Action
A Guide to the Drug-Legalization Movement
Ethan Nadelmann, Ph.D.
The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation
and Policy Reform Center
founded The Lindesmith Center in 1994 with the philanthropic support of
George Soros. He now serves as executive director of The Lindesmith Center-Drug
Policy Foundation. The two organizations merged July 2000.
you're saying is, you want to legalize drugs, right?' That's the first
question I'm typically asked when I start talking about drug policy reform.
My short answer is, ‘No, that's not what I'm saying. Legalize marijuana?
Yes, I think we need to head in that direction. But no, I'm not suggesting
we make heroin and cocaine available the way we do alcohol and cigarettes.'"
"The best answer
is to move slowly but firmly to dismantle the edifice of enforcement.
Start with the possession and sale of cannabis and amphetamines, and experiment
with different strategies. . .Move on to hard drugs, sold through licensed
outlets. These might be pharmacies or, suggests Ethan Nadelmann, director
of the Lindesmith Centre, mail-order distributors. That, after all, is
how a growing number of people in America acquire prescription drugs,
including some that are not licensed for use in their country. Individual
states could decide whether to continue to prohibit public sale. Removing
the ban on possession would make it easier to regulate drug quality, to
treat the health effects of overuse, and to punish drug-users only if
they commit crimes against people or property."
"On the legal
front, Mr. Nadelmann advocates legalizing marijuana. He is evasive about
cocaine and heroin. ‘We don't have a position on that,' he said. ‘There
are huge fears associated with this possibility,' he added, acknowledging
that selling crack in corner drugstores might not go down well with most
The war on
drugs is really a war on people - on anyone who uses or grows or makes
or sells a forbidden drug. It essentially consists of two elements: the
predominant role of criminalization of all things having to do with marijuana,
cocaine, heroin, Ecstasy and other prohibited drugs and the presumption
that abstinence - coerced if necessary - is the only permissible relationship
with these drugs. It's that combination that ultimately makes this war
is the compassion cover for legalization. Ethan Nadelmann, a spokesman
for George Soros (a billionaire backer of the California initiative),
has stated: ‘Ultimately our drug policy should be based upon one very
simple notion, that people should not be discriminated against based upon
the substance they consume.'"
"‘Let's stop pretending we want a drug-free society!' Mr. Nadelmann declared, waving his arms for emphasis. ‘Drugs are here to stay. Instead of waging a lost war and brandishing prohibition as the solution, we need to focus on a harm-reduction approach and helping drug users and addicts getting their lives together.'
"By harm reduction, he means treatment. Two-thirds of the government's $19.2 billion annual drug budget is spent for interdiction and enforcement. Estimates are that nearly one-half of addicts needing treatment can't get it for lack of funds.
"He also wants
job training, literacy courses and housing assistance for addicts, whether
or not they discontinue drug use."
one quoted exponent of the movement, Ethan Nadelmann, acknowledges: ‘There
never has been a drug-free society. We must learn how to live with drugs
so they cause the least possible harm and the best possible good.'"
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