Borden's Message: 'Stop the Drug War'
by Ari Armstrong, August 23, 2002
David Borden is an unassuming fellow from New Jersey who studied piano and composition in Aspen before turning his attention to public policy. Now, he heads up the Drug Reform Coordination Network. His goal is as simple as it is complex: "ending drug prohibition in the 21st century." Borden returned to Colorado August 9 to address a forum in Aspen.
David Borden of DRCNet shares his views in Aspen.
DRCNet runs a free e-mail service to provide updates about the drug war. Those who wish to sign on to the list or find out more about the organization should visit http://www.drcnet.org/.
"This is not simply an intellectual issue," Borden said of drug policy reform. "This is a moral and humanitarian issue." While partial reforms are important, "the drug war is not working, and we need to end prohibition."
"There are very predictable consequences to black markets," Borden pointed out. A pamphlet from DRCNet cites, "Up to 40% of murders in major cities and 20% nationwide are related to the illegal drug trade." And, even as prohibition has created more violence on our streets, the growth of the prohibition machine is out of control. The federal prison population has jumped over 500% in the last 30 years and the "federal drug budget has increased 17-fold since 1980." When it comes to drug policy, Borden noted, "U.S. policy is closer to dictatorships and pseudo-democracies."
And yet Americans are slowly waking up to the horrors of prohibition. Borden cited numerous organizations that have criticized the drug war or important components of it -- groups like Cato, the ACLU, National Review, and the Economist. Two sitting governors have actively questioned the policy of prohibition. And numerous single-issue groups have fought for limited reforms.
The success of groups with a narrow focus, however, leads to " a very ironic situation" in which the debate about prohibition *per se* can get sidetracked. Borden argues reformers "need single-issue groups, plus a strong, full, intellectual approach."
Borden described a couple projects DRCNet has undertaken. The "John W. Perry Fund" -- named after a Libertarian killed in the 9-11 terrorist attacks -- provides scholarships to students denied money because of a criminal drug record.
DRCNet is also actively engaged in building a global community that supports reform. Borden plans to help organize events around the world that bring together reformers and educate policy makers.
Borden hopes DRCNet can be a force for "gathering our forces together, building our forces, and encouraging them to be bold."