Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Is Recognising Science in the US Helping to Win the War on Drugs?
Yesterday, US president, Barrack Obama reversed one of most ludicrous Bush policies implemented in the last 8 years. With his signature, the ban on stem cell research using human embryos was lifted in the US as the science community cheered on. Stem cell research has the potential to change medical science as we know it and is considered one of the most important emerging sciences of this century. The use of embryos though is considered by pro-lifers as murder in the same way they argue against abortion. They claim that progressing science for the good of mankind is breaching the sanctity of life and a group of tiny microscopic cells has the right to live. It may sound like a bad sci-fi movie plot but for the religious folk, their beliefs are more important than actually doing something good for their fellow humans. Sounds remarkably like the "War on Drugs". Other pro science changes from the Obama administration include the support for needle exchanges, the end to federal raids on state sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries, reversing the last minute ruling by Bush that allowed medical workers to refuse duties that may upset their 'conscience' and more. It also happens that the once unthinkable proposal for cannabis legalisation is gaining momentum. Sparked by the election of a pragmatic president and the ongoing economic crisis, the call for legalisation has been heard all over the US. Joining the legalisation push over the last few weeks, has been the sudden surge of articles in major media outlets all over the world damning the "War on Drugs" and a call to rethink drug policies. The US media has especially been vocal on introducing regulated cannabis sales in a bid to tap the huge black market that evades any form of taxation. Last week, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced a bill in California proposing the legalisation and taxing of marijuana to citizens over 21 years of age saying that over $1.3 billion dollars could be raised in government revenue. Others are estimating it is worth upward of $7 billion dollars for California alone. On a country wide scale that would put newly raised taxes up to about $50 billion dollars a year. Not to be sneezed at. 1960'S Anti Drugs Propaganda The more immediate actions though involve medical marijuana. Under the Bush Administration, the DEA would often raid dispensaries in the 13 states that allowed medical marijuana, although they had a legal licence under state laws. That has now stopped since U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that federal authorities will abide by Obama’s election promise and honour existing medical marijuana laws approved by individual states. With science finally being recognised by the White House as essential to our future and states allowed to implement medically approved treatment with marijuana, the logic of cannabis legalisation might actually become a reality. It’s a pity it’s taken an economic disaster to open up debate but going against the embedded US anti-drug rhetoric was going to be tough without it. With the UN meeting in Vienna this week to set international drug policy for the next decade, there has been a huge increase in media articles slamming the "War on Drugs" and prohibition. All these factors are unique in that, the public are finally being exposed to a barrage of science, facts and evidence to counter the steady stream of propaganda and anti-drug lies that has infested our lives for the last 39 years.