End the war on drugs, Baker Institute expert says


David Ruth

Jeff Falk

End the war on drugs, Baker Institute expert says
Becker: Nation must embrace a sensible approach of legalization and regulation

HOUSTON – (July 21, 2014) – As states around the nation consider the legalization of marijuana and the federal government is reforming drug-sentencing guidelines, the time to end the war on drugs has come, according to Dean Becker, a nonresident research associate and member of the Drug Policy Program at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Becker has written a new book, “To End the War on Drugs” (DTN Media), on the topic and is traveling to Washington, D.C., July 29 to raise awareness about the war’s shortcomings among federal policymakers and the media. He and collaborators will hold a news conference from 10 to 11 a.m. EDT at the Cannon House Office Building, Room 340, C St. S.E. Becker is available to discuss his book and efforts.

The war on drugs was launched in the early 1970s during President Richard Nixon’s first term and is based on the concept of prohibition and “zero tolerance” for drug users, producers and traffickers.

“We have been duped,” Becker wrote. “It starts with a small lie that many citizens think does some good for a few. It escalates by bending the Constitution to protect that vulnerable few. It increases when the populace becomes jaded to the mechanism of lies, handing the future of liberty to those who proclaim higher priorities must be given sway over principles. It continues to increase, to grow ponderous, overbearing and inquisitorial. It is what binds us to our terrorist enemies and propels our domestic dilemma of gangs, violence, bigotry, financial overload and societal fragmentation. It is the drug war.”

Becker’s book features the thoughts of 115 experts on the subject of drug policy. He asks U.S. policymakers to acknowledge the failure of current drug policies and embrace a sensible approach of legalization and regulation.

Working with the Baker Institute, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Becker will provide paperback and electronic copies of his book to the White House, Congress, Supreme Court and governors nationwide and request that this be a “summer reading assignment” for leaders in all branches of government.

“Dean Becker has skillfully arranged expert insights and combined them with his own keen insights to provide readers with a clear and compelling account of the myriad failures of the war on drugs and sensible guidelines for moving beyond it,” said William Martin, the Harry and Hazel Chavanne Senior Fellow in Religion and Public Policy and director of the Drug Policy Program.

A former police officer, Becker has been a reporter for the Pacifica Radio Network for more than 12 years and has covered the drug war. More than 1,000 experts have appeared on his radio programs, including the late Milton Friedman, noted conservative advocate Grover Norquist and former Mexican President Vicente Fox. Recordings and transcripts of these interviews, now carried on more than 70 radio stations throughout the country, are archived on the Baker Institute website at http://bakerinstitute.org/drug-policy-program/drug-truth-archive.

To interview Becker or for more information, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at jfalk@rice.edu or 713-348-6775.


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Related materials:

Becker biography: http://bakerinstitute.org/experts/dean-becker.

Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks among the top 15 university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute’s blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.