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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Twentieth Annual Report of the Research Advisory Panel - State of California



Action must occur now. It is unnecessary to belabor the magnitude and importance of the problems of drug abuse as they are currently perceived by at least a fraction of the American public and by their elected representatives. The reaction is in part rational and justifiable, but is also colored by emotion and misunderstanding. The traditional activities by enforcement and regulatory agencies, however expanded by the long standing wars on drugs, whether directed at the individual drug user or small or large purveyor, have not been able to alter the course of the problems, of the extent of use, of individual damage or of the associated criminal activity. Even in the judgment of the enforcement agencies this traditional approach has accomplished little except possibly to increase price and encourage experimentation with alternate drugs. In spite of the sanctions imposed upon drug users, we have over the past 22-years seen massive epidemics involving high-dose intravenous methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, hallucinogens, sniffed cocaine, synthetic narcotics, PCP, and now smoking free-base or crack-cocaine. It appears incontrovertible that whatever policies we have been following over the past generations must not be continued unexamined and unmodified since our actions to date have favored the development of massive individual and societal problems.

Action must be innovative. Not only should the leaders of this State act now, but they must act differently. They must adopt actions unlike those we have tested and found wanting over past generations. The responsibility for initiating change appears to us to be passing at this moment from the intellectual and scholarly community to the Legislature. There is more than an undercurrent of published discussion favoring radical change and questioning the efficacy of what, for convenience, we will call the "prohibition policy." Technical journals cited below and leading intellectual periodicals across the political spectrum have published carefully reasoned discussions establishing that our present policies are worse than useless. "Legalization" (not our term) has even been supported by conservative leaders such as William F. Buckley and Milton Freedman.

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