President Nixon's declaration that drug abuse is "public enemy number one in the United States" in 1971 launched a "war on drugs" that has raged since the war in Vietnam.
Like the war in Vietnam then and in Iraq today, this war has proven to be much more complex than a simple "red versus blue" campaign. The soldiers are sworn law enforcement officers and organized crime members playing a dangerous game of "cops and robbers." The victims are varied, some helpless, destitute, or hardened criminals themselves, but all are civilians.
Like Iraq, there is another faction who would like to do away with the whole affair - drug policy "insurgents."
Leading the insurgency are advocacy groups such as the Drug Policy Alliance, the Marijuana Policy Project and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, who challenge the Federal Government on judicial, legislative and executive fronts. This past year has beared mixed results for advocates, in part because of uncooperative executive and judicial branches at the federal and state levels but also at the advocacy level.
Since President Nixon ignored the findings of his own commission urging federal decriminalization of marijuana in 1971, twelve states have enacted medical marijuana laws, and many more localities have put the enforcement of marijuana prohibition as the lowest law enforcement priority. In April, Gov. Bill Richardson made medical marijuana into New Mexico law.
Last week, Rhode Island's legislature rejected Gov. Donald Carcieri's veto of MPP's medical marijuana bill, solidifying the number of states in the union with medical marijuana laws. New York is waiting on its state senate and governor to take final action on a bill that passed the assembly by a 93-52 vote.