Friday, April 18, 2008

Religious Conservatives Adopt A Rational Drug Policy

Hallelujah. The conservative, authoritarian, religion-obsessed government has seen the light on drug policy.

It's making cheap condoms and syringes available to addicts, and it's even trying "to change its approach to drug addicts by treating users as 'people who need help' rather than throwing them into already overcrowded jails."

Don't believe it? Smart you. The country in question is not, in fact, our very own America the Addicted and Incarcerated. Will Saletan has the ironic facts:

This morning's news brings a face-slapping AFP story from the land of the mullahs: Iran is setting up vending machines to sell condoms and syringes. The country's drug czar tells its state news service that the machines will be in shelters for addicts: "Condoms, syringes, bandages and plasters will be easily accessible just by inserting a coin. This protects addicts from acquiring AIDS and hepatitis." Cost per item: about 5 cents.

Yes, you read that right: The country that brought you fundamentalist theocracy, Middle East proxy wars, presidential Holocaust denial, an implacable nuclear weapons program, and hundreds of days of Americans held hostage is practically throwing needles and rubbers at junkies.

Why? First, because living under a fundamentalist theocracy evidently doesn't make you any less likely to get hooked on drugs. Iran estimates that some two million of its 71 million people are regular users. We're talking pot, heroin, morphine, and opium. The country consumes some 700 tons of drugs from Afghanistan alone.

Second, because even a fundamentalist theocracy has to deal with reality.

How do you like that? On drugs and HIV, the United States has been out-liberalized and out-pragmatized by the right wing of the Axis of Evil.

No moral equivalence intended, but ... speaking of holocaust denial ...

It's common knowledge - or should be - that most of the two million people incarcerated in the U.S. today are behind bars for non-violent drug offenses.

Here in Kentucky, the budget-slashed Department of Corrections is drawing up plans to release hundreds of such non-violent drug offenders it can no longer afford to feed and house. If only there were a program of rehabilitation, job training and community support waiting for them, instead of a state full of itchy-fingered sheriff's deputies.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.