Director Walters said, “Thanks to the work of parents, communities, and law enforcement, we are seeing a dramatic decline in the threat that Ecstasy poses to our nation. Conventional wisdom from the late nineties convinced many Americans that there was nothing we could do to stop the spread of Ecstasy abuse among young people. Once again, we have proved that balanced strategies against our drug threats make the drug problem smaller.”
It’s called a fad, John. You had nothing to do with it.
Many drugs go through fad stages. Researchers are just now dealing with how much crack was a fad (and how little laws and law enforcement affected its decline). Years from now, we’ll have the same discussion about meth, and states that built specialized “meth prisons” will be trying to find some other use for them.
Ecstasy, though it had been around for a while, had the freshness of a “new” drug in the late 90’s and got a spike of popularity (fueled in part by media frenzy). After a few years of peak popularity, the newness wore off, casual users went back to other favorite drugs, and the burnouts of the minority who used ecstasy to excess turned off many who otherwise might have tried it. Ecstasy use will level off and stabilize, until some future spike in popularity.
The drug czar has a tough job. He has to justify all the taxpayer money he’s spending, despite the fact that the drug war doesn’t work in the long run. So he has a staff that sifts through stacks of numbers and picks ones he can use. The good thing for John is that he can often use both kinds. If a number shows an increase in use? Well, then, we need to re-double our efforts with an increase in budget. A decrease in use? See, we’re winning the drug war. (Note that they don’t even track changes in levels of abuse since they consider all illegal drug use to be equal to abuse.)
The information contained in the government’s numbers is interesting. The spin is worn-out and tired.