Ethan Nadelmann

American writer; campaigner for the legalization of marijuana

Ethan Nadelmann (born March 13, 1957, in New York City) is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a New York City-based non-profit organization working to end the war on drugs.

Ethan Nadelmann


The War on DrugsEdit

  • Who are we? We are people who love drugs. They say we like drugs. It's true. Especially marijuana. Marijuana has been good for us. God put it here for a reason and we need to find a way to live with it in peace. But we are also people who hate drugs. We have suffered from overdoses and addiction. But we know that drugs are here to stay, and prohibition and the criminal justice system is not the way to deal with it. And we are people who don't care about drugs. People who care about the Constitution, who care about 2.2 million Americans behind bars, who care about fundamental rights and freedoms.
  • There are almost half a million Americans behind bars today for breaking a drug law. The United States incarcerates more people for drug law violations than Western Europe incarcerates for everything, and they have more people than we do. There were 50,000 people behind bars on drug charges in America in 1980; now we have almost a tenfold increase. Yet extraordinarily few politicians are talking about that.
  • Of the huge part of our generation who have used drugs, how many have told their parents, to this day, even though they are now successful professionals and parents and what have you? There's a need to come out of the closet and talk openly about drug use. As things stand, the only kind of use that is visible is either the dysfunctional drug use or the media portraits of it. So there's this incredibly skewed view of what drugs are about.
  • There's a sense that the drug war has proven its failure. Five or six years ago, people would say, "Well, we haven't really tried it." It's hard to say that with credibility any more. People tend to get bored with old ideas. and the war on drugs is becoming an old idea. There's a kind of natural pendulum or circularity, where people begin to think that change is inevitable. And that's going to happen in the drug area.
  • If there's one thing the international community should do, if only out of deference because he won the election, is to take seriously his arguments that coca products have a place in the international commodities market.
  • If somehow we could snap our fingers and there would no longer be any drugs in the world whatsoever, would there be no more addiction? Would there be no more suffering? Or is it possible that addiction is not really about drugs, that addiction is really about the relationships that human beings form with one another and all sorts of things? That it's about the difference between establishing good relationships and bad relationships? Who is going to be in control? Who is going to say what this relationship should be between ourselves and these plants and chemicals and substances?... Is this a decision that we just put in the hands of government? Is this a decision we put just in the hands of doctors? Just in the hands of the pharmaceutical companies, the tobacco companies, the alcohol companies and all the other corporations that profit off of the production and sale of these things? The true challenge is how do we learn to live with these substances in such a way that they cause the least possible harm and the greatest possible good. What will cause people to wake up and say "Stop?" What will cause people to say, "Enough is enough?" What will cause people to say, "I value my freedom even if that freedom involves a measure of risk?"

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