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Response

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%0D%0A%3Cp%3E%0D%0AI%27m%20encouraged%20to%20see%20how%20much%20common%20ground%20there%20is%20between%20my%20colleagues%20and%20me.%20But%20some%20key%20differences%20remain.%3C%2Fp%3E%0D%0A%3Cp%3E%0D%0APeter%20Kornbluh%20contends%20that%20the%20distorting%20effect%20of%20all%20those%20CIA%20expos%26eacute%3Bs%20is%20temporary%2C%20that%20in%20the%20long%20run%20they%20reinforce%20popular%20cynicism%20about%20government%20policy%2C%20but%20this%20seems%20na%26iuml%3Bve.%20John%20Kerry%27s%20investigation%20into%20US%20drug%20policy%20in%20Central%20America%20may%20have%20helped%20dramatize%20the%20hypocrisy%20of%20the%20drug%20war%2C%20but%20it%20also%20built%20support%20for%20the%20invasion%20of%20Panama.%20Gary%20Webb%27s%20work%20may%20have%20convinced%20the%20Institute%20for%20Policy%20Studies%20to%20create%20a%20citizens%27%20fact-finding%20commission%20on%20US%20drug%20policy%2C%20but%20it%20also%20gave%20rise%20to%20meetings%20like%20the%20one%20in%20Compton%20that%20Kornbluh%20describes.%20That%20the%20audience%20felt%20driven%20to%20cheer%20a%20major%20crack%20dealer%20like%20Ricky%20Ross%20vividly%20illustrates%20my%20point%20about%20the%20warping%20effect%20these%20expos%26eacute%3Bs%20have%20had.%3C%2Fp%3E%0D%0A%3Cp%3E%0D%0AAs%20Kornbluh%20candidly%20notes%2C%20most%20of%20the%20authors%20of%20these%20expos%26eacute%3Bs%20don%27t%20really%20care%20about%20the%20drug%20issue.%20They%27re%20interested%20in%20it%20only%20to%20the%20extent%20that%20it%20can%20contribute%20to%20their%20efforts%20to%20expose%20US%20covert%20activities%20abroad.%20This%20seems%20cynical%20in%20its%20own%20right.%20That%20said%2C%20I%20welcome%20Kornbluh%27s%20assurance%20that%20the%20investigators%20of%20CIA%20drug-running%20endorse%20an%20enlightened%20package%20of%20drug%20policy%20reform.%3C%2Fp%3E%0D%0A%3Cp%3E%0D%0AMike%20Gray%20makes%20several%20assertions%20that--taken%20as%20gospel%20by%20legalizers--are%20nonetheless%20highly%20dubious.%20One%20is%20his%20farfetched%20contention%20that%20prohibition%20created%20the%20drug%20problem%20in%20the%20first%20place.%20The%20entrenched%20poverty%20in%20our%20inner%20cities%20seems%20a%20far%20more%20important%20cause.%20I%20also%20question%20his%20assertion%20that%20it%27s%20easier%20for%20teenagers%20to%20get%20marijuana%20than%20beer.%20Anyone%20who%20visits%20a%20bar%20near%20a%20college%20campus%20can%20attest%20to%20how%20readily%20available%20alcohol%20is%20to%20minors.%20The%20notoriously%20lax%20state%20regulation%20of%20alcohol%20sales%20to%20minors%20seems%20a%20poor%20model%20for%20drug%20distribution.%20As%20for%20adults%2C%20most%20cannot%20find%20heroin%20or%20crack%20within%20hours%2C%20much%20less%20minutes%3B%20to%20assert%20that%20such%20drugs%20have%20a%20market%20penetration%20rivaling%20Coca-Cola%20is%20preposterous.%20Even%20those%20who%20do%20know%20where%20to%20find%20hard%20drugs%20are%20often%20deterred%20by%20the%20fear%20of%20arrest.%20And%20without%20such%20a%20deterrent%2C%20it%20seems%20reasonable%20to%20assume%20that%20more%20Americans%20would%20use%2C%20and%20abuse%2C%20these%20drugs.%3C%2Fp%3E%20%0D%0A%3Cp%3E%0D%0AAs%20for%20the%20Dutch%2C%20they%20have%20not%20legalized%20heroin%3B%20they%20have%20fought%20it%20with%20the%20types%20of%20treatment%20and%20prevention%20programs%20I%20advocate%20in%20my%20essay.%20I%20agree%20with%20Gray%20that%20the%20Swiss%20heroin-maintenance%20experiment%20is%20promising%20and%20should%20probably%20be%20tested%20here.%20To%20qualify%20for%20the%20Swiss%20program%2C%20though%2C%20one%20must%20be%20a%20chronic%20addict.%20That%20leaves%20the%20question%20of%20how%20to%20deal%20with%20people%20addicted%20to%20other%20drugs%2C%20like%20cocaine%2C%20as%20well%20as%20with%20those%20not%20addicted%20at%20all.%20How%20should%20drugs%20be%20made%20available%20to%20these%20users%3F%20Gray--like%20so%20many%20advocates%20of%20legalization--offers%20few%20specifics.%3C%2Fp%3E%0D%0A%3Cp%3E%0D%0AI%20agree%20with%20most%20of%20what%20Elliott%20Currie%20has%20to%20say.%20In%20my%20book%20%3Ci%3EThe%20Fix%3C%2Fi%3E%2C%20I%20discuss%20at%20length%20the%20need%20to%20provide%20not%20only%20more%20treatment%20but%20better%20treatment.%20I%20wholeheartedly%20agree%20that%20treatment%20programs%20work%20best%20when%20joined%20to%20broader%20efforts%20to%20improve%20addicts%27%20lives%20through%20the%20provision%20of%20steady%20jobs%2C%20affordable%20housing%20and%20the%20like.%20Currie%20loses%20me%2C%20however%2C%20when%20he%20engages%20in%20rhetorical%20flights%20about%20the%20need%20to%20fight%20misery%20and%20hopelessness%20and%20to%20raise%20living%20standards%20for%20the%20dispossessed--not%20because%20I%20oppose%20such%20goals%2C%20but%20because%20casting%20the%20issue%20so%20grandly%20makes%20real%20reform%20all%20the%20more%20difficult.%20Imagine%20being%20asked%20to%20testify%20before%20a%20state%20or%20Congressional%20panel%20about%20drug%20reform.%20How%20far%20is%20one%20likely%20to%20get%20talking%20about%20the%20need%20for%20paid%20family%20leave%2C%20quality%20childcare%20and%20national%20health%20insurance%3F%20I%20think%20it%20would%20be%20far%20more%20effective%20to%20discuss%20the%20need%20to%20ease%20drug%20penalties%2C%20reduce%20the%20number%20of%20drug%20arrests%2C%20make%20treatment%20more%20available%20and%20improve%20the%20quality%20of%20treatment.%3C%2Fp%3E%0D%0A%3Cp%3E%0D%0AWith%20each%20passing%20month%2C%20more%20and%20more%20Americans%20become%20disillusioned%20with%20the%20drug%20war%20and%20open%20to%20a%20new%20approach.%20To%20gain%20favor%2C%20though%2C%20that%20approach%20must%20%281%29%20be%20tough%20on%20drug%20abuse%2C%20%282%29%20be%20narrowly%20focused%20on%20the%20drug%20issue%20and%20%283%29%20have%20a%20real%20chance%20of%20working.%20I%20believe%20that%20the%20public-health%20strategy%20I%20have%20described--away%20from%20punishment%20and%20toward%20rehabilitation%20%28in%20the%20broad%20sense%20Elliott%20Currie%20advocates%29--offers%20our%20best%20chance%20of%20success.%3C%2Fp%3E

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About the Author

Michael Massing
Michael Massing, a New York writer, is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and Columbia Journalism...

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