Two different staffers at the Drug Czar’s office have both used the same word recently to describe Obama’s approach to drug policy. That word, if you can believe it, is reform. It’s a term I use an awful lot myself, and I must admit I’m more than a little intrigued to find Obama’s top anti-drug officials co-opting the catchphrases of their critics.
Here’s Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for the Drug Czar, making the case here in the Huffington Post that Obama’s approach to drug policy is something new and dramatically different than what we’ve seen in the past:
The complexity and scale of our drug problem requires a nationwide effort to support smart drug policies that reduce drug use and its consequences. Since day one, the Obama Administration has been engaged in an unprecedented government-wide effort to reform our nation’s drug policies and restore balance to the way we deal with the drug problem. We have pursued a variety of alternatives that abandon an unproductive enforcement-only “War on Drugs” approach to drug control and acknowledge we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem and, further, that drug addiction is a disease of the brain, not some “moral failing.”
It sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it? If you’d never followed the issue until now, you might come away with the impression that fundamental changes are taking place. But many of us in the drug policy reform movement have been following this issue for a long time, and memory serves us quite a bit more faithfully than you might infer based on our constant insistence that the law not prohibit us from consuming certain substances.