Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 or Bill Piper at (202)669-6430
Today in Portland, Oregon, Drug Czar John Walters will unveil his latest drug control strategy. The Drug Policy Alliance is challenging the Drug Czar to overhaul the failed war on drugs and implement polices based on reason, compassion and justice.
“Every year the drug czar tries to put a good spin on the failure of the war on drugs,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “But Americans should ask themselves, ‘Are drugs as available as ever?’ Yes. ‘Do our communities continue to be devastated by astronomical incarceration rates and death and disease related to drug abuse and drug prohibition?’ Again, yes.”
Despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars and incarcerating millions of Americans, experts acknowledge that illicit drugs remain cheap, potent and widely available in every community. Meanwhile, the harms associated with drug abuse–addiction, overdose and the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis–continue to mount. Add to this record of failure the collateral damage of drug prohibition and the drug war–broken families, racial inequities, wasted tax dollars, and the erosion of civil liberties. The evidence is in and critics assert that it is foolish and irresponsible to claim success.
“What matters most is not whether drug use rates go up or down but whether the death, disease, crime and suffering associated with both illegal drugs and drug prohibition goes up or down,” said Piper. “The current approach, with its drug-free rhetoric and over reliance on punitive, criminal justice policies costs taxpayers billions more each year, yet delivers less and less. It’s time for a new bottom line in drug policy, one that focuses on reducing the harms associated with both drug abuse and the war on drugs.”