Posts Tagged ‘advocacy’

War on Drugs

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

For last week’s grand rounds, Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance spoke about the public health implications of the war on drugs in the United States. He argued that drug use should be treated in the medical system, not the criminal justice system.

He makes a compelling case that punitive drug laws lack any rational basis and serve only to incarcerate minorities for minor offenses. Using the metaphor of the automobile, he believes that drug use will not go away soon, but we have an obligation to minimize the negative impacts through enlightened public policy and medical intervention.

I am sympathetic to his claim that marijuana and heroin should be legally available like alcohol and tobacco. What I’m not too sure about is what limits to place on legal drugs. Is there a minimum age at which citizens can use cocaine? Should a person be allowed to possess hundreds of pounds of marijuana? Just as there is no scientific basis for banning drugs, nor is there sound evidence for the consequences of deregulation.

Safer Intersection

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

When I first applied for a position at BU, I had to visit the Human Resources office. HR at the medical campus is located in the Crosstown Building at the corner of Mass Ave. and Albany St. It's a busy, dizzying intersection with cars coming off the interstate, others turning to the hospital, and buses ferrying passengers to the subway.

In the lobby of the Crosstown Building is a photograph of the intersection mounted on poster board. A sign asks viewers to mark with a push pin the most dangerous part of the intersection for pedestrians to cross. The board is riddled with pins.

So, it's good news that BUMC faculty and students successfully negotiated with city officials to protect pedestrian crossings at the lights. It took persistence, pique, and creativity (at one point the advocates wrapped their heads in bubble wrap), but it shows how effective a small group with an important cause can be.