Sunday, July 09, 2017

Drug Prohibition/War is the Dry Rot Within the American Body Politic


The corruption, dishonesty, social and ethical cannibalism within the sphere of forbidden substance users and those who prey on forbidden substance users -  has done more than any other single factor to bring on the climate of political malaise in this country.  Its still largely third rail status as a subject for national political consideration is a crucial indication of its importance. If Prohibition/War isn't the most important factor, it's certainly the most important unmentioned factor in the increasing antipathy of Americans to both traditional political parties.


For most of my lifetime, it's been out of bounds to broach the notion of drug law reform in a large public forum.   That decades-long evasion of honest debate on the relevant issues has enabled the Drug War- with its combination of unchallenged rationale and array of actual consequences - to exert a profoundly destructive effect on both official and unofficial institutions of this society. We're dealing with a corrosive situation that's been allowed to grow and fester for at least 40 years. Not drug use - but the illegal drug markets and the consequences to society of those markets. The society nurtured by that underground economy, which advantages hardened criminals over those who aren't as willing and able to resort to deceit and violence, has routinely exported the psychotic and antisocial values from jails into our communities.



We don't give nearly enough consideration to the negative consequences engendered by mass incarceration and what that has brought back to our communities from the bedlam(s) of the prison industrial complex. It is the criminal marketplace rather than the effect of forbidden substances which has acquired a hegemonic influence over our communities and popular culture. Who among us is factoring in the current state of most of our jails and prisons and what these contagiously export into our communities?  Who is factoring in the personal and public health problems and socially corrosive mentalities bubbling up out of prisons - which factors are incontestably worse than the worst impacts even of forbidden substance addiction, per se.


Race obsessives think that the main problem in America is drawn along racial lines. I disagree. The big problem in America is the long-term result of nearly a half-century of a profoundly and deceptively metastasizing Drug War. This dry rot has spread throughout our society corrupting banks, schools, police, courts, jails, politicians, professions, rents, housing, social welfare programs, the public health system, big pharma. 


The problems of forbidden substance misuse and abuse are dwarfed by the problems of Greed, Punitive Morality, Stigmatization, and Deception on both sides of the crooked line irrationally drawn by the forbidden substance criminal statutes.  The country would see a noticeable improvement within two years of effective drug law reform that worked to minimize the economic demand in the criminal marketplace: cannabis legalization, opioid addiction maintenance, a liberalized prescription and/or registry regime for some of the other substances, all while retaining laws against illegal sales operations.

In less than ten years, we might even get many of our worst schools and neighborhoods back on the path to recovery from that long-standing condition of beleaguered competition with the burdens imposed by the illicit economy.