[May 14, 2015] There are few people across the world that don’t recognize the slogan, “Just say no to drugs.” It was a simple message that encouraged children and young adults to avoid dangerous illegal drugs that could cause them serious problems, especially in adulthood. Today, the “just say no to drugs” campaign is essentially over. Furthermore, many say that the current U.S. policy on illegal drug use is overly political and a failure.
When the “just say no to drugs” campaign was created under U.S. President Ronald Reagan there was fierce criticism of his anti-illegal drug policies. Most critics claimed those policies did more harm than good and were too narrow in focus. They said the high incarceration rates caused by the drug policies and simplification of the “just say no to drugs” campaign destroyed lives and cost too much money. Most of those same critics call for legalization of drugs as their main solution. They also put a smaller effort on treatment programs.
U.S. policy put emphasis on the originating countries of illegal drugs; both their production and transportation. This is a costly program requiring the use of the U.S. military, close relations with Central and South American governments, and a very dangerous foe that will stop at nothing to distribute those drugs.1 This policy has changed little since President Reagan.
Changed is the U.S. illegal-drug domestic policy. Many today are calling the emphasis on illegal drug distribution to be racist because Blacks are convicted at much higher rates than other races. Those who are incarcerated for distribution are punished beyond their prison sentences; revocation of voting privileges, less access to education, etc. Such post-prison punishment is considered a serious problem that should never have occurred, they claim.
Today’s U.S. drug policy is focused on the concept that “drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated.”2 The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy has largely adopted the long-held opposition to drugs and that liberalizing some illegal drugs like marijuana can be beneficial.
Unfortunately, it signals to the public are mixed, few know what our policies are anymore, and there is no consistent or clear message from the White House.
When leaders are not clear, when they are not consistent, and don’t repeat their message for clarity, then they can be failed leaders. That is what our current illegal drug use policy is today … a classic failure in the sense that few even know what it’s about.
[Don’t forget to “Like” the Leader Maker at our Facebook Page.]