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Group therapy

"It's official," says America's little-known Libertarian Party. "The war on drugs is over and the government has lost."

Although they are called newsgroups, you rarely find headline-making news in them. But the Libertarians are posting claims in forums such as alt.drugs.culture, talk.politics.drugs and alt.drugs that the Clinton administration is about to admit that the "war on drugs is unwinnable". Quoting from what it says is a draft National Drug Control Strategy policy statement, the party claims that even the "war" metaphor is under attack. Instead, the administration is being urged to "view drugs as a disease, like cancer".

It's a dramatic about-face if it proves true. But the Libertarian Party's leader, Steve Dasbach, wants to see real changes. "If the War on Drugs is really over," he says, "the government should declare a general amnesty on all drugs users." It is not called the Libertarian Party for nothing. "It's time to let them live in peace," he declares portentously, as if drug use were as fundamental a human right as free speech. Dasbach also wants to see the "massive army recruited for this war" to be decommissioned and sent home, and "all property seized by federal agents under drugs laws to be returned. There are also the prisoners of the war ... the list goes on."

But the Clinton administration is just playing with words, according to Dasbach. Its new plan still calls for spending billions on anti-drug efforts, as well as targeting alcohol and tobacco use by minors. "So the unwinnable War on Drugs will now become the unwinnable War on Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco."

However, although the Libertarian Party was making plenty of noise, few contributors to the drugs forums seemed to be taking any notice. Perhaps they have decided that trying to change the US government's stance on drugs is the unwinnable war.

Or perhaps they are hoping the US government will listen to the billionaire financial wizard and self-appointed global thinker George Soros. Phil the Web Frog posted this quote from the great man: "We must keep in mind that stupidity can happen even within well-established democracies and that indeed the 'war on drugs' initiative can be related to the Vietnam War for its lack of understanding of the real threats and opportunities ..." Mmmm. I can't see that comparison going down very well with US politicians.

But over in rec.drugs.cannabis they don't have time for drugs politics and libertarian posturing. They are concerned with more homely matters, such as hash butter. "High," (sic) begins one such posting. "Do someone know how much butter should I use per grams of buds or leaves? I know that it depends how strong is the weed and from how much strong I would like the butter. Consider that I have a medium-quality weed and want an extremely strong butter." This hash butter junkie must have had plenty of that weed before writing. Unfortunately, no one had responded. Down the list, another home cook was "looking for a recipe for Hash Cookies. Can anyone advise?"