The end of the year brings with it the end of perhaps one of the most ideologically driven regimes in America’s history. The two-term presidency of George W Bush won’t go down in history as a period of great enlightenment and social justice – or frankly for much else to be proud of either and that includes drugs policy.

The end of this particular regime also brings with it the end of the reign of US drugs Tsar – or “Director of national drugs control strategy” to give John Walters his full title. So it’s probably no surprise that we’ve seen a flurry of press releases and statements from the home of global prohibition trumpeting the “achievements” of American drugs policy. Indeed, John Walters himself went to press on December 5th in the Wall Street Journal with a typically upbeat – if somewhat dishonestly titled article:

Our Drug Policy Is a Success

Now this would seem to be a whole new definition of the word “success” few of us were previously aware of  (to slightly misquote Douglas Adams of the Hitch Hikers Guide fame), but he seems to believe it despite all the evidence to the contrary.

This was followed by other outpourings from the (roll on January 20th) soon to be ex-president himself who stated

There will be more work done after I’m out of here, but we have laid the foundation for a successful effort against drug use, drug supply, and helping those who have been addicted.

Again, this unusual use of the word “success”. Delusion in high office is scary to witness.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America also got in on the act, commenting on the  2008 Monitoring the Future Study Result, noting

The long-term decline in methamphetamine use, especially among 12th graders, carries particular importance.

Wow, a decline in the use of methamp amongst school kids, sure that’s good as far as it goes, but it shows how dire the “successful” American drug war has really been.

America is still a country where people can speak out though, and many are doing just that.  The incoming president Barack Obama launched a website asking Americans to list the issues they hold dear, the result will not impress the likes of John Walters or the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. The number one question supported by most of the respondents was

“Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?”

Not only that, but some 16 out of the top 50 issues raised by people on this website concerned drugs policy. Now no-one expects President Obama to scrap the war on drugs on January 21st 2009, but it’s to be hoped he is aware that it’s an issue the American people are aware of and want addressed. After all this time, after so many millions of non-violent people being thrown in jail, after countless millions of tax dollars thrown at crop eradication, interdiction and law enforcement drugs are cheaper and more plentiful than ever before and the American people know that.

John Walters article contained the statement which is perhaps at the heart of the American drug war:

Some people believe drugs such as cocaine and heroin should be legal, sold by the government and regulated like alcohol. Our experience with alcohol (some 127 million regular drinkers as compared to fewer than 20 million drug users) suggests this would be a huge mistake. It is hard to imagine an aspect of American life that would be enriched by millions of new cocaine, heroin or marijuana users.

First, it assumes a legalised regime would increase use, something for which there is no evidence, but it’s worth pondering for another reason. Is the world really worse off because millions of people use alcohol socially? Certainly in this country beer drinking is still a highly regarded recreational pastime, loads of people appreciate a fine Scotch or a glass of wine. Sure, there are problems and there are issues to address but would the world really be better off if we didn’t have beer, whiskey or wine? Somehow, I doubt it . Likewise social use of at least some other drugs – especially cannabis – wouldn’t be such a bad thing. That might be a difficult thing for people driven by such simplistic dogma as the drug war is based on to accept, but it’s an issue many people already feel strongly about.

So anyway Christmas is upon us and UKCIAnewsblog takes a break for the festive season – unless anything really newsworthy happens of course.  We’ll be back in January when we can look forward to cannabis users no longer being considered third class criminals.

Christmas plant

Merry Christmas and a Happy New year