Drug Policy

Dianne Feinstein: 'Just Say No' Is the Solution to Prohibition-Related Violence

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Writing in The Hill, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) declares that "we must pull back the curtains on the false debate between legalizing drugs and current drug policy," because "the real answer lies in our ability to aggressively reduce the U.S. demand for illegal drugs." Why is that the real answer? Because "illegal drug use" is "fueling violence in drug-producing and transit countries in Latin America and the Caribbean." In Mexico, for instance, "more than 50,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence over the past five years." According to Feinstein (who should know, since she chairs the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control), "Latin-American leaders are rightly outraged that their citizens continue to suffer because of America's drug habits."

Actually, Latin American leaders increasingly are complaining about the U.S, government's disastrous crusade to suppress America's drug habits, which is the real source of so-called drug-related violence. Black markets are violent, and prohibitionists like Feinstein are determined to keep them black. "Legalization will not solve this problem," Feinstein insists, because "more drug addiction is not the answer." Neither are non sequiturs. If prohibition-related violence is the problem, repealing prohibition will solve it, although legalization may have other effects that worry Feinstein.

To be honest, though, the senator does not seem all that concerned about the real-world impact of public policies. Here are her top two recommendations to "aggressively reduce the U.S. demand for illegal drugs":

First, we should once again make anti-drug campaigns a priority. In the early 1980s, former first lady Nancy Reagan coined the now-famous slogan "Just say no" as part of her national anti-drug campaign. 

Although her strategy was criticized, she was able to use the White House as a national platform to address these issues. 

Next, Congress should refund the Office of National Drug Control Policy's youth media campaign — the only national media campaign dedicated to reducing youth drug use. Funding for this program was eliminated last year in spite of the fact that 85 percent of teens are aware of the advertising campaign. 

This campaign should be provided with the funding it deserves and expanded to make the connection between U.S. drug use and violence in Mexico. 

Yeah, why hasn't the government ever sponsored propaganda accusing drug users of complicity in violence? Although there is no evidence that either of these policies accomplished their stated goals, Nancy Reagan's mindless mantra is "famous," and so are the federal government's moronic, demonstrably ineffective anti-drug ads. As a dedicated drug warrior, Feinstein has to believe in the power of good intentions.

Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske also sees "Just Say No" as a model, and his office agrees with Feinstein that Congress should spend more of our money to hector us about our drug habits.

[Thanks to Richard Cowan for the tip.]