John P. Walters and the Bush Administration Fail the Drug War!


WSJ Photo Illustration/ Sergio Capursi;

John P. Walters’s recent piece in the WSJ is the kind of attitude and beliefs that keep people sick. The article focused on why we shouldn’t legalize drugs. Mr. Walters argues that legalization would “emasculate” prevention and law enforcement.  That would be horrible to make both of those systems ineffectual.  Prevention, enforcement, treatment, and all of it is effective to the degree that we can be honest about it. The honesty is that regulating chemicals would put huge funding into treatment and prevention, which would in turn support law enforcement and empower them to enforce laws that make sense and are realistic

            Walters goes on to argue that America would have twice as many users and addicts. Wrong again! First of all what does he mean “addict”? Does he mean people who meet DSMIV criteria? Does he mean people who break the law? If what he means is people who break the law, then legalizing would reduce the numbers of addicts dramatically. Just by decriminalizing Marijuana we could reduce the number of illegal drug users by half.  If he means that more people would meet DSMIV criteria because they could buy their weed at 7-11 there is no research to support that position

            Walters is misinformed, arrogant, and goes on to cite that he was a drug policy maker for the Bush administration. Impressive Mr. Walters, except that the DEA themselves admit that there has been no meaningful or measureable change in the availability of drugs on the streets. The Bush administration supported plan Columbia, a paramilitary venture attempting to control the available cocaine on America’s streets, the result? As much Cocaine on the street as ever. Addiction correlates to many things. Availability of intoxicants is not one of them.  My favorite part of the article is when Walters looks to ancient China to demonstrate his point. Ancient China! If we are looking at history why ancient China? Why not, hmmm? Ummm? I don’t know? Prohibition? There’s a historical lesson. People like to get high, legal, illegal, decriminalized, whatever the policy.  Alcohol as damaging as it is (certainly is far worse than all street drugs combined) would be worse if it were not regulated. The same is true of other intoxicants. Nice try Mr. Walters but you, and the Bush administration were as effective at fighting drugs as you were at fighting terror. Fighting a War on a health issue makes as much sense as fighting a war on an abstract concept like terror. Did the Bush administration think the terrorists would emerge from wherever they are with white flags? Does Walters think addicts will do the same?



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