Providing straightforward information pertaining to drugs, drug use & drug policy. The Grey Pages promotes drug-related literacy and advocates a system of viable and tolerant drug policies. This is my personal collection of commentaries, essays, tid-bits, and other such writings on everything ranging from drug use, drug policy and drug-myths, to drug-science, addiction, human behavior, and the workings of the human brain. I started this blog with a particular focus on opioids, and over the past year have found my interest gravitate toward the intriguing, ever-changing world of designer intoxicants (i.e. "research chemicals" or "designer drugs").

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Drug Policy Propaganda, Obama Style

Source: whitehouse.gov
Amidst growing international pressure to explore alternatives to the current US led "War On Drugs", President Obama addressed a summit of South American, Central American, and Mexican colleagues at the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia over the weekend. 

A full transcript of the dialogue can be found here. However, there are a couple statements in particular (printed in italics) which I'd like to further analyze:

"I personally, and my administration's position is, that legalization is not the answer, that in fact if you think about how it would end up operating, the capacity of a large-scale drug trade to dominate certain countries, if they were allowed to operate legally without any constraint could be just as corrupting, if not more corrupting than the status quo,"

A "large scale trade to dominate certain countries"? How, may I ask, would a legalized drug industry act any differently than a legalized alcohol or tobacco industry? And apparently, according to Mr. Obama, we must choose between the current criminalization of drugs and drug use, and, an unrestrained, unregulated industry...

"Unfortunately, the drug trade is integrated, and we can't look at the issue of supply in Latin America without also looking at the issue of demand in the United States,"

"So this is part of the reason why we've invested... about $30 billion in prevention programs, drug treatment programs looking at the drug issue not just from a law enforcement and interdiction issue, but also from a public health perspective. This is why we've worked in unprecedented fashion in cooperation with countries like Mexico on not just drugs coming north, but also guns and cash going south."

And think about that - Apparently, we must choose between incarcerating drug users or "treating" them.

In these specific statements, President Obama presented us with a false dilemna, or false dichotomy - the exclusive presentation of only two extremes in a continuum of possibilities. In what is commonly known as the "either or", "excluded middle", or "black and white" fallacy, the propagandist speaker presents two possible options (A or Z), while in reality, the range of possible options is not so simple. Our possible courses of action may in this case include A, Z, X, Y, or anything else in between. 

As Obama would have us believe, our two only options in approaching the "drug issue" are a) address drugs and drug use through a draconian criminal approach, or b) prosecute suppliers while addressing the act of drug use through "medical treatment" (note - for those caught taking illicit drugs, this "treatment" would most likely be through coercion I assume).

The nonsensical underlying assumptions in either case being that a) the very desire for drugs which is the seed of this demand is somehow sick & wrong, something that must be eliminated or reduced (rather than fed); and b) that the use of certain mind altering substances which have been, arbitrarily, deemed unacceptable, is an "illness" which merits isolation or medical treatment.

Whether we decide to approach drug use by incarcerating drug users, or by forcing them to undergo getting them "medical treatment" - we are being moralistic. We are making a judgement regarding the personal behavior of others, deeming it to be either sick & pathological, or just plain wrong. Whether we concede that drug users should be arrested or whether we concede that drug users should be "given treatment", we are implying that one person has the right to tell another individual how to live. 

Further Reading:


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