U.S. drug wars — all from the “left”?

Those familiar with discussion of drug use policy in a U.S. context will be aware of this cliche:  The War on Drugs’ illicit drug front (including everything from punishing users to opposition to rational and human harm reduction approaches) is driven by those on the political “right”, motivated by punishing or preventing what they consider to be sin, while the War’s tobacco front is driven by the “left” who want to improve public health, whether the public likes it or not.

The New York Times’ Charles M. Blow recently argued that contrary to perception, the entire War on Drugs has been a project of the Democrats (the ostensible left) for more than a decade.   He starts with a recent Drug Policy Alliance report about the association of race and punishment for drug offenses, but takes it in a rather surprising direction, documenting the Democratic fingerprints on the arguably racist anti-drug policies.

Those of us working on THR know that the second half of the cliche gives the Democrats a bit too much credit because they are not actually on the side of public health, and so are either clearly pursuing an agenda of attacking sin as they define it or have been duped by the anti-tobacco extremists.  Blow’s argument suggests that the first half of the cliche perhaps also gives Democrats too little blame.

So to my American readers, enjoy voting for either the party whose primary platforms are to give money to the rich and not reform health care financing, or to the party of not standing up strong for any of the most pressing issues and being happy to continue all the wars, shooting, tobacco, and drug.  As for me, I cannot accept even the lesser of these evils and have voluntarily disenfranchised myself this year.


– Carl V. Phillips

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  • Max Mueckl  On November 12, 2010 at 2:08 am

    I am so glad I have found this website! I hate smoking, but I recently became curious about “dipping” tobacco, and I like doing so very much. I do NOT think it harmful, unless done in excess (which is the case with just about anything). In fact, I had kept hearing from former smokers that their allergies or asthma had not been so bad UNTIL they gave up smoking. I always was curious about “dipping,” so when I had to drive long distances and was bored, I tried it. I found there was a “learning curve” to using it. BUT I found, alas, that the tobacco (I use Copenhagen Long Cut) opens up my sinuses and my lungs and has far reduced my incidence of allergies, nasal discomfort, and asthma. I find it does not “stimulate” me as much as “relax” me, and I kept asking myself, “Well, what REALLY is so bad about nicotine itself, and if the dangers and irritation of smoke are absent, what in the world is so wrong about dipping? As I studied websites, all I could find was ANTI-tobacco advocacy (or should I say “propaganda”). I believe you ARE ON TO SOMETHING in studying the topic OBJECTIVELY. If I really thought dipping would give me cancer or adversely affect my health, I would stop quickly. But I DON’T find any of this. I only have found positive effects — and I am not young. Tobacco is just a leaf that grows out of the ground, and I cannot understand how/why people would be just “out” to ban it and attack it. I DO think that smoking irritated many or most people, as it did ME, because the smoke irritated my nose and eyes, and frankly, it stinks. So I was glad when smoking was banned from public places. I was sick of having someone sit down next to me in a restaurant or even a bar and ruining my air-space. — But as for tobacco itself or nicotine itself being “cancer-causing” or dangerous, I just DON’T BELIEVE IT ANYMORE. I THINK IT IS ONLY SO IF OVER-USED (some dumb people I correspond with on “Dip Nation” are virtual kids, who over-stuff their mouths and are just caught up in seeing how “bad” they can be. If someone stuff his mouth all day every day or doesn’t place the tobacco in his mouth so as to avoid sores and does this long enough, sure he will have gum disease or even some sort of cancer in the mouth. It’s all about moderation and being sensible, I think.


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