Advice for the new Drug Czar

Here’s an abridged list of suggestions from Mark Kleiman. (Please take the time to read the whole thing here.)

1. Talk to Americans as if we are thinking adults.

2. You’ll be told that we have a national strategy resting on three legs: enforcement, prevention, and treatment. Don’t believe it. There is no coherent strategy.

3. “Drug czar” is a silly title. We’re not fighting a war, you don’t have czar-like powers, and the last actual czar who fought an actual war got clobbered. You’re stuck with the title. But don’t get sucked in to the rhetoric of “‘enemies”‘ and “‘victory.”‘ The drug problem isn’t like that.

4.There are some real “‘drug wars”‘ raging: in Afghanistan, in Colombia, and in northern Mexico.

5. We can help by shrinking our domestic markets. Offenders under criminal justice supervision account for half of all hard-drug consumption.

6. Treatment needs to be more accessible and more accountable.

7. Engage family doctors, internists, emergency room personnel, and mental health counselors to identify and address their patients’ drug problems.

8. Flagrant retail drug markets still devastate too many American neighborhoods, especially poor urban areas where African-Americans and Latinos live. Imprisoning half the young men in those neighborhoods is neither useful nor just…

9.One practical alternative to routine drug law enforcement is to break up markets with as few arrests as possible.

10. Prescription pain-killers and stimulants are now traded hand-to-hand among middle school and high school students. So far, no one has a convincing idea about how to deal with the problem. Get someone thinking about it.

11. All these measures bring one common injunction: Take public management seriously.

12. Our data collection systems are pathetically ill-matched to the actual drug problem.