Recent writings in the Review and the recent attempted eviction of Matt Holford suggest that Oberlin's drug policy is in a state of flux. We have a strong history of progressivism and in which direction drug policy changes are made will be either beneficial or detrimental to continuing this tradition. It is therefore essential that vigorous, informed debate take place in our community in order to help design a policy that is most beneficial to our school and to maintaining our ideals. However, we believe that in order for us to intelligently discuss drug policy in Oberlin, it is necessary that Oberlin students, faculty and administrators understand the nature of current American drug policy by actively educating ourselves about the issues.
Too often authority figures answer scientific and historical arguments against "the war on (some) drugs" with hysterical anecdotal evidence. This is indicative of the trend of fear and misinformation driving our ideas about drugs and creation of drug policy. The academic population at Oberlin should quickly realize the absurdity of basing policy on anything other than scientific methodology, pragmatism and compassion. Any person who does not have a thorough understanding of the facts involved has no business making decisions regarding drug policy.
Unfortunately, people are stigmatized for even wanting to discuss other options. This is unfortunate because important changes in social policy could be made, but the debate remains in a state of quagmire. All the while, we are in a country with the world's largest per capita prison population, violent criminals released to make room for marijuana offenders, gangs killing for valuable black-market drug turf created by prohibition, a dearth of drug treatment and a frightening deterioration of our civil liberties.
The number of people who advocate alternatives to our current drug policy is growing. The following have supported some form of drug decriminalization: The Economist, The National Review, statesman George Shultz, professors at Princeton, Yale and Harvard, W.F. Buckley, Jr., former San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara, Mayor of Baltimore Kurt Schmoke, The Cato Institute, The Libertarian Party, The Consumer's Union, the ACLU and many others.
We feel that debate of this issue based on anything but the facts must be eradicated. Although not everyone will come to the same conclusions as to what is best for our county and Oberlin College, we trust that we can start to regard this issue in a much more enlightened manner. To help you out, we have some suggestions. First, the February 12, 1996 issue of The National Review is a must read. In addition, search under "war on drugs" on the web and one will encounter a plethora of sites on this issue. Some good starting points include "A Guided Tour of the War on Drugs" at drcnet.org/, and "Introduction to the War on Drugs" at calyx.com/shaffer/introdw.html and the Norml home pate at norml.org/. Some excellent books include America's Longest War by Steven Duke of Yale Law School and Albert Gross, the out of print but excellent Licit and Illicit Drugs by Edward Breecher and the Editors of Consumer Reports, and for those drinkers out there who think their drug of choice is "safer" than illicit drugs, From Chocolate to Morphine by Andrew Weil, M.D. and Winifred Rosen gives straight talk on the dangers and responsible use of many different drugs. We have all been exposed to the rhetoric of DARE, Partnership of a Drug-Free America and countless school teachers; it is time to hear the other side. Drug Peace!
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 18; March 15, 1996
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