A new British drug classification report

A British government report with recommendations about drug classifications was released last week. Here are a couple of articles on the report (here and here.)

I’m sympathetic to arguments that drug classifications have been based on panic, racism, demagoguery, and false dichotomies. However, drug policy advocates who insist on characterizing the masses as unenlightened, guilty of “moral panic” and just persistently stupid are every bit as maddening as the drug war proponents. There are important ways in which they are right, but they fail to recognize the ways in which their “opponents” are right, or at least legitimately concerned. The argument that some people use heroin, have a steady relationship, are employed and have children is not very persuasive. It may be true, but it’s misleading. (Transparently misleading, at that.)

I suspect that most people would be open to the arguments of many of these policy advocates if they weren’t so absolutist and narrowly focused. I think most people are willing to go for drug reclassification, alternatives to incarceration and many harm reduction strategies. They’re just not willing to go for those ideas alone. They also want to be sure that their children are safe and they want to make sure we treat people suffering from addiction. I’m not a fan of his, but look at this segment from Lou Dobbs (about 2/3 down the page). He looks like he may be open to reconsidering his advocacy for widespread adolescent drug testing, he’s supportive of some harm reduction strategies and doesn’t want to see people simply sent off to prison/jail. BUT, he also wants interdiction, treatment and, I assume, some form of criminalization. (Probably without knee-jerk incarceration.) The point is that most people are not willfully ignorant–listening is as important as advocacy.