CCLE & DRUG POLICY REFORM 

 

 

 


1)   Is the CCLE a drug policy reform group?

The CCLE is opposed to laws that make otherwise law-abiding people criminals simply for using psychoactive drugs. But drug policy is just one of the issues we address.

Our focus is on protecting freedom of thought, and we maintain that criminal drug prohibition violates freedom of thought by intimately infringing on the fundamental right to self-determine one’s own mental states. The CCLE’s drug policy work is different from that offered by most drug policy reform groups.

Most drug policy reform organizations take a harm reduction position against the war on drugs. They oppose the drug war because it (drug prohibition) causes more social harm than the drugs themselves. This is a consequentialist approach to the issue – one that debates the relative harms of drugs versus the relative harms of drug prohibition.

We believe that this harm debate is not only impossible to resolve (how exactly does one quantify the harm of a heroin overdose versus the harm of over-crowding prisons or corrupt police officers?), the debate structure may actually produce its own sort of harm because it encourages bad science about drugs and drug policy. Framing the debate and policy analysis in terms of harm encourages the government to exaggerate the harm associated with drug use, and to deny that some drug use may present little or no harm. (One example is, medical marijuana, which the federal government will not acknowledge has any medicinal value because such a acknowledgement would detract from its larger argument that marijuana is an inherently harmful drug that must be outlawed.) Additionally, we are concerned that a harm reduction approach to drug policy leaves open the possibility of future, more efficient (less harmful) forms of prohibition.

Most importantly, critiquing the drug war by focusing exclusively on its consequences ignores the character of drug prohibition – and its character is flawed. 

We seek to add this -- otherwise unaddressed -- component to the national debate over drug policy.

2) How is the CCLE’s approach to drug policy different?

The CCLE’s focus is on protecting the unlimited potential of the human mind, and we maintain that criminal drug prohibition infringes on the inalienable right to freedom of thought. We maintain that the war on drugs is not a war on pills, powders, and plants, anymore than the earlier governmental efforts to ban books or to censor publications was a war on paper and ink. These are wars against thinking certain ways, and for this reason we maintain that criminal drug prohibition is unconstitutional cognitive censorship, and inconsistent with the basic values and freedoms upon with the United States was founded. So long as a person does not endanger others, the CCLE maintains that the government lacks the constitutional authority to punish the person simply for self-determining his or her own cognitive processes.

3) I don’t agree with illicit drug use. Why should I care about the war on drugs?

The war on drugs is a major policy issue with real and important implications for legal rights well beyond the use of illicit drugs. New developments in legal pharmaceuticals (memory enhancers, mood enhancers, and anti-aging drugs) as well as the development of other neurotechnologies that directly affect cognition will soon challenge our understanding of personal liberty, identity, and human rights. Criminal drug prohibition sets terrible legal precedent that threatens to impede the creation of just and sustainable policies for a modern society with powerful mind technologies. (See Neuroethics for more.)
 

The CCLE strives to protect the fundamental right to freedom of thought -- a right that Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo has called "the matrix, the indispensable condition for nearly every other form of freedom." Because our enumerated rights date back to a time in which the drafters could not have conceived of modern methods of mental enhancement, or mental surveillance and control, the CCLE is committed to gaining legal recognition of cognitive liberty and to expanding legal protection for our rights of mind.