Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Case for Legalization

It is understandable why politicians have convinced themselves that drugs are a third rail of public policy and that they therefore don't have to seriously address legalization. The media—the very institution charged by the First Amendment with facilitating intelligent discourse—colludes with the government's drug war rather than challenging politicians to engage a real debate. The Washington Post and The New York Times both require drug-tests from college students seeking summer internships. And both have given the federal government free advertising space to promote First Amendment-infringing drug policy, when the president's Office of Drug Control Policy acquires space for drug war propaganda. Would the Times and the Post ever alcohol-test an aging copy editor, or offer the Department of Defense free space to promote an elective war in the Middle East in return for a full-page ad touting "Mission Accomplished?"

In this time of national economic crisis, we keep looking in our collective rear view mirror for lessons from the 1930s for what we should do, and what we should avoid, in order to restore confidence in ourselves and create hope for our future.

While fiscal and monetary actions taken in that era offer mixed and muddled messages for today's policymakers, another action by a transformational leader in that far-off decade sends a clarion call to us at the beginning of the 21st Century.

Franklin Roosevelt supported the 21st Amendment to end the madness of the 18th, and in so doing halted the devastating social, economic, and cultural costs of Prohibition. That's a lesson Barack Obama needs to heed.