Jacob Sullum notes in Where Have All the Drug Warriors Gone? (at Hit and Run) an oddity about the drug war segment at CPAC in February.
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, just sent me a link to the tape of his “debate” with journalist Richard Poe at last February’s CPAC conference. It’s only eight minutes long and is worth a listen because otherwise you might not believe me when I say there was no controversy whatsoever about the war on drugs, the ostensible topic of the exchange.
The audience was confused.
Given my own difficulties in finding people willing to debate me on the drug issue, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that no one wanted to go up against Nadelmann except a guy who agreed with him. Still, it’s remarkable that the organizers of a major conservative conference apparently could not find a single person who was willing to publicly defend the war on drugs.
Drug warriors can’t handle a debate. They’ll lose. The only way they can operate is through lies, incomplete information, and unsupported correlations. That doesn’t mean that somebody like Walters isn’t facile with words — he can talk a good game and impress reporters who aren’t informed. But in a decent match-up (with someone knowledgeable), he’ll lose big time. And he’s probably the best they’ve got.
When a state representative challenged Andrea Barthwell to debate medical marijuana, she replied, “I have no need to engage in street theater.”
When a Chicago TV station was trying to develop a new debate-style TV show, the producer told me they were having a real hard time finding people on the prohibition side willing to do it.
In September, 2003, John Walters called for a national debate about marijuana policy.
“The real issue is should we legalize marijuana,” Walters said. “Let’s have a debate about that.”
Rob Kampia immediately offered to oblige him — as did I.
We’re still waiting.