Bush-Era Drug Czar Bill Bennett Blasts Growing Drug War Critics

By Dirk Hanson 07/06/11

“Normalizing, de-stigmatizing, and legalizing illegal drugs lowers their price and increases their use,” former gambling addict insists.

Like the worst teacher you ever had.
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We’ve been wondering where this guy has been keeping himself. William Bennett, you may remember, was Drug Czar under President George H.W Bush. He is also the author of a bunch of books about virtue and goodness, and an extremely overweight, chain-smoking, pathological gambler who got publically nailed for losing millions of dollars playing those big shiny high-end slot machines in Vegas. Mr. Bennett then shuffled away for a while to sit in the Punish Chair. But we are a forgiving bunch here at The Fix. If Mr. Bennett has faced down his gambling demons, as he claims, much the better for him. But, as a hard-line conservative and former Voice of Reason in the Republican Party, he has not changed his tune when in comes to the Drug War. CNN gave Bennett the opportunity to sound off on the topic of “Why Barney Frank and Ron Paul are wrong on drug legalization.”

“We are witnessing a new push to end the so-called war on drugs and legalize drug use, starting with marijuana," Bennett wrote. Bill has even distanced himself from longtime colleagues at the National Review, who recently declared that "curtailed personal freedom created a violent black market and filled our prisons." Bennett’s response? “The legalization of drugs, including marijuana, would exacerbate each of these problems.” The crucial bit for Bennett is the kids: “Keeping drugs illegal is one of the best ways to keep drugs out of the hands—and brains—of children.” Mr. Bennett doesn’t touch on the matter of why that hasn’t worked so far. But here's another thing Bennett is very sure about: “Normalizing, de-stigmatizing, and legalizing illegal drugs lowers their price and increases their use.”  Bennett doesn’t mention Portugal. Come to think of it, he also doesn’t mention random “stop and frisk” procedures for minorities, the piles of dead bodies along the Mexican border, or the inability of drug warriors to make any drug unavailable, or even scarce, in the continental United States, during the past 40 years of warfare. Bennett wants us to gamble on 40 more years of drug war. We say no dice.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]