This is some huge news!
I’ve spent a good portion of the day on conference calls with leaders of drug policy reform organizations around the world. There may have been one or two that didn’t participate, but enough did join in to form a clear consensus on a major (maybe even shocking to the press) new direction for drug policy reform.
Here’s the big news (a press release will be forthcoming): as of this date, all major drug policy reform groups worldwide will no longer demand that all drugs be legalized without restriction.
I know that this could be a blow to some supporters, but we need to break the impasse that existed between the extremes of prohibitionists and unrestricted legalizationists. It was the right move.
Not only are we dropping demands for unrestricted legalization, but we are, as a group, making an unprecedented move all the way to the clear centrist position of accepting and even supporting drug-appropriate regulations on the production, marketing, distribution, possession, and use of all drugs.
Policy-makers will no longer need to worry about extreme fringe legalizers when attempting to create appropriate fact- and science-based drug policy. Those fringe unrestricted-legalization supporters are gone — replaced with centrist regulated-legalization supporters.
The only fringe extremists remaining are the prohibitionists. It’s time for them to abandon their failures, and compromise to meet us in the middle.
Of course, there were no such conference calls today. No big move to the center. Drug policy reform groups have always been there, at the center. None of the major ones have ever called for completely unregulated legalization. That’s a mythical position that has been invented by prohibitionists as a way to paint their opposition as extreme.
It is, actually, quite silly that we sometimes find ourselves having to explain that legalization doesn’t mean selling shrink-wrapped pre-filled syringes of heroin to 14-year-olds in 7-11 stores, nor that we must allow cocaine distributors to be named advertising sponsors of sports events.
What got me thinking about this was my rather amused reaction to a passage written by Otto Pérez Molina in the Guardian this weekend:
Moving beyond prohibition can lead us into tricky territory. To suggest liberalisation – allowing consumption, production and trafficking of drugs without any restriction whatsoever – would be, in my opinion, profoundly irresponsible. Even more, it is an absurd proposition. If we accept regulations for alcohol and tobacco, why should we allow drugs to be consumed and produced without any restrictions?
Our proposal, as the government, is to abandon any ideological position (whether prohibition or liberalisation) and to foster a global intergovernmental dialogue based on a realistic approach – drug regulation. Drug consumption, production and trafficking should be subject to global regulations, which means that consumption and production should be legalised but within certain limits and conditions. And legalisation therefore does not mean liberalisation without controls.
What a notion.
Hey, I think it’s great! If the President of Guatemala, or anyone else, wants to “invent” the idea of regulated legalization, we’re happy to let them take credit.
We’ll come and meet you at our home in the center.
If you’re interested in Molina’s statement, you might also want to check out this take: Finally, a politician talks sense on drug legalization by Tim Worstall.