But more money won't buy more success. The war on drugs —is fruitless, in both senses of the word. It has not borne fruit; that is, it has not made the United States even close to drug free.
When we have failed, we should have the courage and the stamina to think anew, to change, and in this instance to abolish the prohibition. It is time to recognize the truth and to end the lie that we have a successful policy.
—Robert W. Sweet
The burden of proof that anti-drug laws discourage use clearly rests with those who are pushing the drug war. So far, no convincing evidence has been forthcoming.
—Richard E. Dennis
The Growing Army of Dissenters
During a national television confrontation recently, Congressman Charles Rangel observed that the supporters of the Drug Policy Foundation "could fit into a telephone booth." The response from a Foundation official was that it would have to be a pretty big telephone booth.
Is it engaging in hyperbole, however, to call the loyal opposition to the war on drugs, whether or not they are actually members of the Foundation, a growing army, as we do in the title to this chapter? We think not. Based upon a series of public opinion polls, including one released by the Drug Policy Foundation, there is seemingly good evidence that the percentage of popular support for radical change in American drug policy has risen from single digits in the early 1980s to as high as 36 percent today. This could amount to as many as 64 million Americans. That is an army.
Of course, it is a minority army and a divided force. Most citizens of America (and other countries, we believe) support the existing martial approach to controlling drugs. The loyal opposition is split among those who, like many libertarians, favor outright legalization of all drugs, those who favor legalization of only a few drugs such as marijuana, and those who would keep all drugs illegal but who would ease up on drug-war extremism.
What cannot be denied is that those who have openly come out for drastic change now include some of the most prominent people in the society of America and other countries, such as former Secretary of the Treasury and former Secretary of State George P. Shultz. Much of the credit for the current interest in fundamental reform, though, started in April 1988, with the clarion call for a national dialogue on new ways of dealing with drugs from the mayor of Baltimore, Kurt L. Schmoke.