Former Polish President "Evolves" on Drug Policy, Doesn't Apologize For His Awful Drug Law

Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski became the latest in a long line of former heads of state to call for decriminalization or liberalization of drug laws. Kwasniewski’s New York Times op-ed was rather tepid, though it did call for “a halt to incarcerating people for possessing small amounts of drugs for personal use.”

In 2000, Kwasniweski signed into law some of the most repressive drug laws in Europe, or, as the ex-president characterizes it, “one of Europe’s most conservative laws on drug possession.” Though in 2005 Poland had lower crime victimization rates than England, Sweden or the Netherlands, there were more than 80,000 people in prison in Poland in 2005, up from just under 55,000 in 1998. The growth in prison population surpassed general population growth considerably. Kwasniewski himself notes cases of drug possession rose from 2,815 in 2000 to 30,548 in 2008.

Much like President Obama, Kwasniewski invoked the paradigm of “drug use as public health,” lumping in pot users with heroin addicts. Accordingly, the former Polish president blames his law for “propelling the spread of H.I.V. among people who inject [drugs].” Interestingly, a 2002 report on the then-new drug law in Poland via the Drug Policy Alliance noted:

Under the new legislation, police are now authorized to arrest and prosecute those found possessing any quantity of illicit drugs. However, in reality the police are very hesitant to enforce this law for fear that the drug user is infected with HIV or AIDS.

Poland decriminalized the possession of small amounts of some narcotics last year, sort of, and Kwasniewski was joined by Poland’s first democratically elected president, Lech Wałęsa, and 62 other public figures and former heads of state in signing an open letter calling for a new approach to drug policy worldwide.

Meanwhile here at home, despite campaign and post-campaign promises to the contrary, President Obama continues his crackdown on medical marijuana while for Mitt Romney it is not an “issue of significance,” leaving the issue of non-medical marijuana and other narcotics in the war on drugs completely off the table for the major two parties.

Maybe Barack Obama will eventually “evolve” on his stance on the war on drugs, but we’ll probably have to wait until 2013 or 2017; the fashion seems to be for former heads of state to support drug policy reforms, not current ones.

Read Reason's Lucy Steigerwald on the brouhaha over drug reform at last month's Latin American regional summit. 

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  • Hugh Akston||

    IOW another washed-up politician who finds it rather cold outside the spotlight.

  • deified||

    It's pretty hard to be overly cynical about politicians, but you did it.

    Look, he could take any out-of-fashion position and he'd be able to get extra attention. Legalize prostitution! Mandatory daily calisthenics for all citizens! Citizens have to eat dinner together in collective dining halls in order to promote civic friendship! Send child molesters on a one way trip into space! Automatic Polish citizenship for every Chicagoan!

    Dude, just because progress is proceeding at a too-slow pace doesn't mean it's not there.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    So a person's evolution is put on hold while he holds office, and only revives once he leaves?

  • tarran||

    The latest thing in my son's battle with the DARE officer:

    This morning my son asked me why drugs were outlawed in the first place.

    I wordlessly called up a web-page page of Anslinger's quotes. As I would expect, the line about darkies thinking they were as good as white men left him stunned. "You mean it's because of racism!?!" he gasped.

    I told him that it's not only about racism, that it's also used to keep poor people in line.

    I also pointed out to him that the cop is not allowed to ever admit my son is right... that he would be fired and face some form of punishment if he gave in, and that my son was in a futile quest.

    My son said he didn't care... Ah to be young and reckless again. :)

  • fried wylie||

    Maybe Barack Obama will eventually "evolve" on his stance on the war on drugs

    *somthing about man evolving from apes*

  • Malcolm Kyle||

    Some simple facts:

    * Prohibition has been a slow but relentless degradation (death by a zillion cuts) of all our cherished national institutions, that will leave us crippled for numerous generations.

    * The USA federal government is now the most dangerous and corrupt corporation on the planet.

    * Just as it was impossible to prevent alcohol from being produced and used in the U.S. in the 1920s, so too, it is equally impossible to prevent any of the aforementioned drugs from being produced, distributed and widely used by those who desire to do so.

    * The United States jails a larger percentage of it's own citizens than any other country in the world, including those run by the worst totalitarian regimes, yet it has far higher use/addiction rates than most other countries.

    * As with torture, prohibition is a grievous crime against humanity. If you support it, or even simply tolerate it by looking the other way while others commit it, you are an accessory to a very serious moral transgression against humanity.

    * The United States re-legalized certain drug use in 1933. The drug was alcohol, and the 21st amendment re-legalized its production, distribution and sale. Both alcohol consumption and violent crime dropped immediately as a result, and very soon after, the American economy climbed out of that same prohibition engendered abyss into which it had foolishly fallen.

  • cody||

    "Stupid" man made drug abuse SHOULD BE iLLEGALL. not the stuff god made in its normal form how hard is that to figure out.

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