Public concern about drug abuse as a major issue in American life may be ebbing. The notion that "the drug war is a failure" has become the common wisdom in academic and journalistic circles. Support for routine and lengthy imprisonment of non-violent drug offenders may be eroding, even among the prosecutors, police, and judges whose job it is to enforce the law. Anger among African American, Latino, and other minority communities at the perceived discriminatory enforcement of drug laws is simmering and may begin to boil over in ways that effect the political terrain. And after the events of September 11, 2001, the newly declared "War on Terror" may supplant any "war on drugs" as the focus of the American mind for years to come. All these themes are observable in debates over federal and state drug policy during the last year or so. In the rest of this essay, I venture a tentative mapping of the current geology of the national drug policy debate -the plate tectonics, the fault lines, the erosion, the regions of potential volcanism - and some still more tentative thoughts about how the accretion of subterranean forces may change the contours of American drug policy.
Frank O. Bowman III, Editor's Observations: The Geology of Drug Policy in 2002, 14 Fed. Sent. R. 123 (2002)