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Let's suppose that there are good arguments for a change in the drug policy. (I also did an essay on this on my web site a year or so ago.) The problem is that there are some powerful forces who like things the way they are.

So, the argument is not about the merits of change, but one of "follow the money". This is one of my continual themes: even if you have a clear goal you need to have a transition plan and that must include a way to get past entrenched interests.

Here are just a few of those who like the status quo:

The drug enforcement industry - cops, lawyers, judges, jailers, social workers.

The moralists - once Carry Nation got her way she ceased to be a political force. The present moralists don't want to make that mistake.

The drug providers - this includes growers, processors, smugglers and dealers. There are billions flowing in the underground economy because of this trade. These people would all be out of work if Philip Morris sold crack. Even if some moved into the legit trade the profits wouldn't be nearly as high.

Insurgent forces and their opponents - there are many stories of the US using drug money to pay for clandestine military operations or to pay for support of various political factions in other countries. The situation on the other side is much more well documented. The civil war in Columbia wouldn't be dragging on for decades if the FARC didn't get its funding from drugs. The same dynamic is happening in Afghanistan. There are many other cases which we don't even have a clue about. Why should those engaged in power politics give up a tool which can't be traced?

The reason that arguments on the merits of a new drug policy never get anywhere is because those profiting from the status quo see no reason to debate the issues, so they just throw up whatever counter arguments will keep the issue from being addressed in a meaningful way.

If you want to move the debate forward then focus on overcoming the resistance of those profiting from the status quo and leave the intellectual arguments aside, they are just a distraction.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 04:40:15 PM EST

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