NAACP Resolution on the Drug War

Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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16 Responses

  1. Will Truman says:

    I appreciate the sentiment behind this, and largely agree with it, but I am undecided as to whether or not this is actually helpful to the cause. On the one hand, they’re not an unimportant group. They can draw attention to it. On the other hand, they’re a group that a good portion of “middle America” doesn’t hold in very high regard.Report

  2. Mike Schilling says:

    What do people think

    evidenced-based practices that address the root causes of drug use and abuse in America.

    means? It sheds little light for me.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Well, the flip side of “evidence-based” would be “faith-based”, if I’m not mistaken…

      I mean, I know that *I* would say that Prohibition is a faith-based initiative but I’d be surprised to hear normal people say such a thing.

      I don’t know what they’d mean if they don’t mean that, though.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      It means that evidence, rather than bullshit or inertia or myths or old political scores or politics or any number of other things, ought to drive or influence policy. What’s so hard to understand about that?Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Stillwater says:

        So we should live in the real world and do sensible things. Cool. What are they?Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          I think it’s a yet to be determined situation, Mike. Those policies emerge only after comparing the onstensible goals of the war on drug against current data and historical trends wrt how effective policy is in achieving them, Insofar as the data doesn’t align with the ostensible goals, the evidence would suggest rejecting current policy in favor of policies that achieve those goals.

          My guess is that the NAACP has a particular set of data they will deem particularly relevant here.

          Maybe I’m not understanding the question.Report

  3. tom van dyke says:

    I’m not finding much on what was said by whom during the crack epidemic, which defined the current state of affairs. It does appear that the 1986 law was pushed through by Tip O’Neill and Ted Kennedy after the Celtics lost their star forward Len Bias to a cocaine-related heart attack.

    [Reagan of course gets the blame.]

    [It was never known what kind of cocaine Bias was consuming. It was assumed by all involved it was crack; he was black afterall.]

    [The bill passed the Dem senate and GOP House with few votes against either way.]

    [I do remember the crack epidemic up close & personal. Very bad.]Report

  4. [It was never known what kind of cocaine Bias was consuming. It was assumed by all involved it was crack; he was black afterall.]

    [It was assumed by me that it was powder cocaine.]Report

  5. North says:

    I’d say this is a potentially huge development. Within the Democratic party the African American community is one important constituency that has reflexively been in favor of the War on Drugs. I’m not sure what middle America may think of the NAACP but it should have nontrivial effects on the attitudes of African Americans and hopefully represents a loosening of one of the realpolitic ties that keeps the Democratic party from opposing the WoD actively.Report

  6. BSK says:

    In my understanding, the black community has supported the WoD (or probably more accurately, simply been anti-drug) because many of their communities have felt the hardest hit by the drug culture, from the rates of use/abuse/dependency to the numbers of folks who end up in the prison system as a result of their involvement. As I’ve heard it articulated, a commonly held belief in the black community (particularly those in poor, urban environments) is, “I’ve seen firsthand how damaging this stuff is. It needs to be stopped.” When I’ve probed further, most are more focused on ridding their communities of the drugs than they are of punishing folks, particularly users (which is why I made the distinction in my opening sentence). I think this is a potentially huge step by the NAACP, not only because of their influence in the black community, but because of what I anticipate being a perception of a unique stand that they take.

    Accurate or not, many assume those who oppose the WoD are druggies themselves who think drugs are harmless and want everyone to do drugs. I anticipate the NAACP, as evidenced by the cited statement above about “evidence-based practices”, will take a stand that drug use should still be resisted and prevention sought, but through means outside the criminal justice system. Obviously, they will not be the first or only group to take this stand. But they might draw new and more attention to this line of thinking because the NAACP specifically and black community in generally have and will continue to be anti-drug but now also anti-WoD.

    Perhaps I am being overly optimistic, but we need that every once in a while, no?Report

  7. tom van dyke says:

    I think I agree w/you, BSK. Hard to tell lately.

    As I’ve heard it articulated, a commonly held belief in the black community (particularly those in poor, urban environments) is, “I’ve seen firsthand how damaging this stuff is. It needs to be stopped.”

    Passive voice? As opposed to “We need to stop it.”

    drug use should still be resisted and prevention sought

    Massive passive voice. Honestly, it would never occur to me to, or how to, compose such a sentence.

    The crack epidemic sucked bigtime, circa 1985-92. White folk were at worst marginally inconvenienced.

    but through means outside the criminal justice system

    Uh huh. I will say out of fairness, thinking on it, that mebbe crack has found a level of social unacceptability in the black community—-and we are talking about the black community, NAACP and all—crack babies, crack whores, crackheads as an object of derision.

    [Shows you what a little social pressure can do.]

    Mebbe we could, but I have no idea what would or will happen if we legalize or even just decriminalize crack. I did some reading today because I actually give a shit, poking back through the memory hole—Before the Crack Epidemic, powder cocaine sold for $60 a gram and you mostly had to buy a gram. By contrast, one rock of crack sold for $2 or so, so your next hit was a shoplift away.

    I’m sorry, I’m getting into details and shit. But I saw some of this go down Ground Zero LA, the mission district, and the people who had to live with it saw it max.

    Caught Robin Williams in a comedy club back in the day and he said cocaine is God’s way of telling you that you have too much money. True fact, white boy. But crack says you will never ever have enough.

    White boys of a certain almost-adult age can smoke crack, I guess, if they have family to leach off. The black community, not so much. That’s what I saw in the mission district. And if a white 20-ish yr old got busted, he had a support system to fall back on. The guys I saw lining the mission district, well, clearly no.

    I’m not dense about this, nor do I have the answers.

    Crack isn’t pot or booze. This I know for sure. It destroys immediately. Plowing all this indiscriminately into some ideological war against the War on Drugs is, well, ideology.

    [Heh heh. I just used “ideology” pejoratively. Did I use it correctly?]Report

    • NB: I regret appending “heh heh” to my last. It was intended as self-deprecation. I’m sincere about the content and am thoroughly troubled by this conundrum.Report

    • North in reply to tom van dyke says:

      Tom, I would like to note for the record that the horrors of crack are generally one of the many bastard children of the War on Drugs. Crack was developed as a low cost variant of cocaine. The prices of cocaine (and other milder drugs) were high due to the War on Drugs. Without the cost pressures of the War on Drugs cocaine would have been far less expensive and the pressures and dynamics from which crack was created would be either nonexistent or greatly reduced.Report