Dear Reader: This “BEST of Common Sense” comment originally aired on January 7, 2002. There are tough problems in the real world. Many of them cannot be solved by “public policy” or faceless bureaucracies, but only by people who care about and for each other. Realizing the limits of government doesn’t solve every problem, but it does prevent some problems from getting even worse. —PJ
Recently I joined the growing chorus calling the war on drugs a failure. My comments were provoked by a DEA raid against the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center, a place where cancer patients in pain can obtain marijuana that is legal under state law, but illegal under federal law.
Well, I got a flurry of responses. Some said we need to get tougher. A woman wrote: “Paul, the way to stop drugs is to instantly execute people who push it — no trial.”
On the other hand, a gentleman wrote: “Until we start seeing addiction as a medical rather than criminal problem, we’re never going to get out of the bunker in this failing war.”
But one listener summed up what many folks were trying to say. He wrote: “Okay Paul, I agree with you. But what is your proposed solution?”
There are many solutions. The war on drugs hasn’t prevented the damage done by addiction or alleviated the pain felt by loved ones. We’d all love to pass some law that would miraculously solve the problem, but there is no magic wand.
The problem of addiction has to do with individual people and their individual circumstances. And that’s how it must be addressed: Individually, by people who care, not by distant bureaucracies who may do more harm than good.
Ultimately, love is the answer, because love does conquer all. But government isn’t love.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.