July 11, 2014

JACOB SULLUM: Obama’s ‘Third Way’ Looks a Lot Like the War on Drugs.

We know President Obama is committed to “drug policy reform” because he keeps telling us he is. Since April 2012, when the phrase first appeared on the White House website, it has been mentioned there 65 times. But what does it mean? According to the latest National Drug Control Strategy, which was released today by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), “we must seek to avoid over-simplified debates between the idea of a ‘war on drugs’ and the notion of legalization as a panacea.” Fans of Obamaspeak will appreciate the way that sentence poses a false choice while renouncing false choices. After all, legalization need not be a “panacea,” or anything resembling one, to be better than the disastrous war on drugs, which Obama himself once called “an utter failure.”

What is the president offering in its place? “Drug use and its consequences are complex phenomena requiring an array of evidence-based policy responses,” the ONDCP says. Understanding this reality, “the Administration remains committed to charting this ‘third way’ toward a healthier, safer, and more prosperous America.” But in practice, Obama’s “third way” looks an awful lot like the first way, because he refuses to renounce the use of violence to stop people from consuming politically incorrect drugs.

So, pretty typical, then.