-- AN  ONLINE  PUBLICATION --


Note: The Fifth Column is a regular, independent column
written by Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D.

For this issue, Dr. Schaler has invited his colleague, 
Professor of Justice, Law and Society Emeritus 
Arnold S. Trebach, to contribute to the Psychnews 
as a guest columnist.

Opinions and comments are invited. Please send them to
the PsychNews Int'l mailbox: psychnews@psychologie.de



           Arnold S. Trebach, Ph.D., J.D.

[Note:  Every year, the Drug Policy Foundation (DPF) pays 
homage to achievement in the field of drug policy reform 
through its Annual Achievement Awards.  The awards are 
presented each year at the Awards Banquet, held at DPF's 
International Conference on Drug Policy Reform.  Professor 
Emeritus Arnold S. Trebach delivered this essay on receiving 
the 1999 Richard J. Dennis Award for Outstanding Achievement 
in the Field of Drug Policy Reform.] (2,3)

     I am honored and grateful that The Drug Policy 
Foundation (DPF) has chosen me to receive the Dennis Award 
this year.  This gives me the opportunity to express my 
sincere thanks to all of the fine people who provided so 
much encouragement and support during the turbulent decade 
when I started this organization and saw it grow into a 
major force for positive social change.

     I dedicate this award to the people who were vital in 
the beginning.  Especially, I want to share the honor of 
this award with my wonderful wife, Marj Rosner, and with 
Kevin Zeese.  Believe me, DPF would not have started without 
their help and guidance.  For some years, Kevin, Marj and I 
constituted the entire board of directors and the actual 
day-to-day working leadership. We relied heavily on Rich 
Dennis, for whom this award is named, for financial support 
and for frequent counseling and guidance on all manner of 
difficult issues.  None of us will ever forget, moreover, 
the inspiring encouragement of three giants who are no 
longer with us in the flesh but are very much present in 
their enduring lessons: Ed Brecher, Wes Pomeroy, and Norm 

     As many of you know, I retired from the presidency of 
the Foundation and from my professorship at the American 
University at the end of 1997.  In a sense, the decision to 
leave both organizations was rather sudden, although I had 
been thinking about such moves for a long time.  I felt that 
it was simply time to move on to the next phase of my life 
and work. I regret that I did not have the time to sit down 
and talk to each of you and explain these rather drastic 
moves in person.

     Even though I planned it and it seemed the right thing 
to do at the time, my leaving DPF was painful for me.  I 
loved the place and still do. It was, and is, one of my 
proudest accomplishments.  I look upon it and its people--
those still here and those who have moved on to greater 
glory--in almost the same way that I look upon my children 
and grandchildren, with unqualified warm affection.  I never 
doubted the over-riding worth of the organization or of its 
mission.  I still do not.

     When I set up the organization, the guiding idea was to 
make drug policy reform decent and respectable.  This was 
because in the Eighties proponents of drug law reform were 
seen by many to be simply burnt-out relics of the Sixties, 
interested only in securing a steady supply of dope.  I saw 
a need to counter that image and to build a solid 
professional and scholarly institution that would be 
respected in every segment of society in this country and 
throughout the civilized world.

     Because of my interest in things British, I adopted a 
phrase from that country to describe the people and forces I 
was attempting to rally in the United States and around the 
world--the loyal opposition.  I wanted to demonstrate that 
those who opposed the drug laws and the drug war were a 
vital part of the society, just as much as those who 
supported that war and drug prohibition.  That message was 
important for both groups, for both the proponents and the 
opponents of current policies.  It was especially important 
for the latter group, the drug-war dissenters.

     All of us have been so brainwashed by the theology of 
prohibition that even the most pronounced and convinced 
opponents, such as myself, at times need reminding that it 
is socially proper and responsible to be an opponent of the 
war on people called the war on drugs; we are really not 
condemning children to die from freely available chemicals; 
we are acceptable dinner guests; and yes you would want your 
daughter to marry one of us.

     This need for ideological reinforcement within our 
society of reformers was why, shortly after starting DPF, 
that I came up with the idea of annual awards for excellence 
in drug policy reform endeavors.  As I was watching the 
Academy Awards from Hollywood one night during the late 
Eighties, it struck me just how the leaders of the 
entertainment business had managed to implant in the minds 
of so much of the world's population the notion that the act 
of being an actor was truly worthy of great acclaim in the 
form of an award from within the society of actors and of 
the entertainment business.  Moreover, that award carried an 
aura of acceptance far beyond the business world of 

     Then and there the seeds were planted for the annual 
awards and the annual Awards Banquets of The Drug Policy 
Foundation.  The first took place in 1988, at the Second 
International Conference on Drug Policy reform.  This of 
course is the eleventh such awards event.  I have presided 
over the first ten.  I never dreamed I would appear as the 
recipient of an award, certainly not the primary one.

     I saw the foundation as a standard and a symbol around 
which all decent people and all decent organizations and 
institutions could rally. That included drug consumers and 
their organizations, such as NORML, but my hopes for DPF 
were that it would be seen as much broader.  I saw it as an 
umbrella organization or a big tent that would provide 
comfortable space for the widest range of reformers--to cite 
a few examples, those who wanted full legalization, those 
who wanted decriminalization only of soft drugs like 
marijuana, those who wanted harm reduction or medicalization 
of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine, and those who did not 
know what they wanted but knew only that they did not want 
current policy.  I sought to enlist the support and active 
involvement of a large number of Establishment people and 
institutions.  I also sought to encourage others to form 
similar organizations and then to enlist still others.

     As I look back on it all, I am amazed and delighted at 
the growth of the drug policy reform movement and at the 
number of new organizations that have grown up in this and 
other countries modeled at least in part on The Drug Policy 
Foundation.  It is interesting to see how many of them have 
adopted the very name or something close to it.  Some 
potential organization founders came to DPF conferences for 
some solace and comfort--and happened there to meet funders 
and supporters who helped them change history.  I am also 
encouraged by the extent to which reform ideas, especially 
harm reduction, are spreading throughout the civilized 

     However, real reform is difficult and replete with 
obstacles.  Look at the obstacles that have been put in the 
path of implementation of the successful medical marijuana 
propositions of recent years.

     The job of saving America's soul from the ravages of 
prohibition and the drug war is not done.  There is a long 
road yet to travel.

     I have decided that my job is not done yet, either.  I 
note that Tony Bennett, for one, is about my age and that he 
keeps singing his old songs, and a few new ones.  I intend 
to keep singing mine also.

     In fact, I never stopped.  When I left the foundation 
and the university in 1997, I discovered that I was almost 
as busy as before.  As the saying goes, I found that I had 
not really retired but had simply changed jobs.

     One of the most important is my involvement in a case 
in the United Kingdom where I have been serving as an 
advisor to the lawyers and as an expert witness.  The 
central figure in the case is a doctor who was erased from 
the medical register by the General Medical Council in large 
part because he prescribed narcotic drugs to an addict who 
later used them to commit suicide.  In other words, the 
doctor lost his license to practice medicine due to the fact 
that he prescribed drugs to an addicted patient. Supposedly 
such practices are a well-accepted part of British medicine 
and have spread from that island nation to much of the 
civilized world under the rubric of harm reduction.  
However, as this case shows, in any nation questions 
continually arise as to the proper role of doctors in 
prescribing powerful drugs--whether to patients in 
organically based pain or to patients who are suffering from 
addiction, sometimes of course, one and the same human 

     The doctor in this case is a man of principle.  He has 
hired lawyers and is fighting to secure justice on a number 
of fronts.  I have joined in this cause.  If the right of 
doctors to be protected in the rational use of their 
prescribing powers is not secure in the United Kingdom, it 
is secure nowhere. 

     The need to protect those powers and to protect the 
doctor-patient relationship in all societies is a vital one.  
That principle has become an important part of two new 
organizations that I have recently founded. 

     The first is The Trebach Institute, a 501(c)(3) 
charitable foundation, and the second, Arnold S. Trebach & 
Associates, LLC, a tax-paying professional consulting firm. 
Both are meant to continue to serve the needs of drug policy 
reform in areas that I believe need urgent attention now.  
As was the case with the launch of DPF, both will be 
initially funded by my wife, Marjorie Rosner, and me.  And 
as in the past, we will seek outside funding in a variety of 
forms to expand the activities of these groups.  And, also 
as in the past with DPF, we shall seek to cooperate with all 
of the existing reform organizations, big and small, new and 
comparatively old, on a basis of friendship and 
colleagueship.  That includes DPF for the wheel has now gone 
full circle.  I am just starting up again and you, old 
friends, are well-established.  We cannot do it alone, none 
of us; the task is too big and the opposition too well-
entrenched and too well-funded.

     Here are some of the principal elements of the missions 
of these groups.

     First, as I have indicated, is the protection of the 
doctor-patient relationship. That phrase is meant to 
encompass a broad arena, one which was among my initial 
interests when I started DPF.  My particular interest now is 
to enlist lawyers in the defense of doctors and patients 
accused of violating the drug laws or medical ethics and 
standards.  Even within existing law in any country, there 
are times when doctors and patients are accused of violating 
those laws or medical ethics, often because their medical 
practices oppose prohibition ideology.  There is a great 
need for good lawyers to get involved in such cases in an 
effective manner.  And there is also a need for training for 
those lawyers in the best strategies and techniques in order 
to prevail.

     A second and closely related element is the enhancement 
of the welfare and legal rights of substance abusers, those 
who are addicted to any chemical, legal or illegal.  The 
emphasis, however, will be on abusers of illegal drugs, 
especially opiates.  This will involve working with patient 
advocacy groups and with some individual addicts.  The 
initial purpose is to raise the consciousness of addicts so 
that they think of themselves as potentially decent and 
productive citizens and not as sub-human savages whose very 
existence presents a threat to society.  The latter is the 
image many addicts have of themselves, brought about in part 
by the fact that this image is created and promulgated by 
opinion leaders, including some so-called addiction experts.

     My major inspiration for working compassionately with 
addicts is found in the lives and works of two wonderful 
Britons, Bing Spear and Terry Tanner, both of whom, sadly, 
have gone on to their heavenly rewards.  Even though Bing 
was a senior Home Office drugs official, with some 
enforcement powers, he was good friends with many long-time 
injecting heroin addicts. He felt an obligation to look out 
for their welfare.  Addicts understood this sense of 
compassion.  When I was about to deliver a eulogy in his 
honor several years ago in St. Botolph's Church in London, a 
lady (a wonderful, brilliant soul with a long history of 
drug abuse and prostitution) rushed up and advised me with 
some passion, "Don't forget to say what he did for us 
junkies!"  I didn't.

     Terence Tanner was a Catholic priest who ran a hostel 
or set of apartments for addicts in London.  Many of those 
addicts were using vast quantities of prescribed drugs.  He 
sought to help all of them to lead normal and responsible 
lives, regardless of the issue of drug use.  Father Tanner 
once observed: "The French have a proverb, 'By doing the 
work of a blacksmith you become a blacksmith.'  We would 
adapt it to our work, 'By living a normal life, you become 
normal.'" This perceptive and passionate advocate for the 
hated thus sought to counteract this hurtful reality: 
"addicts are the scapegoats of our age."  You will not be 
surprised if my work in this arena is under the rubric of 
The Scapegoat Project.

     A third element in my future efforts will be aimed at 
creating changes in laws and medical standards so as to 
provide better medical care.  I have long fought for changes 
of this nature, such as for making marijuana available in 
medicine.  Others have made giant strides here and I will 
not expend much effort on, say, medical marijuana.  It is in 
good hands.  At the same time there is a need for change 
regarding other drugs, especially the opiates.  In this 
connection, I intend to return to my early interest in 
making heroin available in American medicine for the 
treatment of organically based pain, especially for terminal 
cancer patients, and also for addicts.  There is no reason, 
save unreasoning fear, for banning this fine medicine from 
the American medicine chest.

     A fourth component of my new work will be to emphasize 
the fundamental truth that many of our social and criminal 
justice problems stem from the stranglehold of prohibition 
and the accompanying phobia about legalization.  This phobia 
permeates the reform movement as well as most of the 
society.  It poisons too many good minds and organizations.  
Even some libertarian organizations, which supposedly would 
oppose such governmental intervention into the most personal 
aspects of the lives of a free people, do not really support 
legalization for fear of alienating their generally 
conservative supporters.

     My position is that the new mantra of all of the 
reformers ought to be this: Legalization Is Not A Four-
Letter Word.  It must again become a vital part of our 
broader reform discussion and part of the agenda of every 
major reform organization.  I am glad to see that it is 
still part of the agenda of The Drug Policy Foundation, 
although I am not clear how strong a part.

     By legalization, I mean the total repeal of drug 
prohibition. A major effort ought therefore to be expended 
by reformers on how to design the world after repeal or 
after the disintegration of the drug-war machine. There is 
no doubt in my mind that prohibition as we have known it is 
doomed.  We, all of us in the reform camp, are writing its 
funereal music. Yet, something will replace it.  We 
reformers have a responsibility to come up with new 
practical methods as to how these new models might be 

     Many concepts now appear in reform literature that 
ought out to be reexamined and perhaps retooled.  For 
example, I have long advocated the following approach for 
the US, which might well apply, in some respects, to other 
countries.  By a national law repeal the current dominant 
federal drug control laws and return the power to control 
drugs to the states, as was done with alcohol prohibition in 
1933.  Then I would recommend that each state set up its own 
unique system of new drug control and treatment laws. 

     My preferred model for the states would have two 
options. The first would be the medical option. Under this 
option medical patients and adult recreational users would 
have to go to doctors and obtain prescriptions for the drugs 
they desired.  It would be up to individual doctors to 
prescribe or not.  However, the doctors would have much 
broader protection if they chose to do so.  The second 
option would be the non-medical option under which adults 
would be able to purchase modest amounts of virtually any 
drug from non-medical drug stores.  These establishments 
would be carefully regulated by well-designed sets of new 
laws not unlike those now controlling the sale of alcoholic 
beverages in the various states.  As in the case of those 
liquor laws and regulations, the new drug laws should be 
under constant study and re-evaluation.

     More recently, I have been impressed by the great value 
of the Dutch coffee shops.  Here we have the best example of 
de facto legalization in the world.  The coffee-shop model 
involves careful planning, national and local regulations, 
and regular police supervision.  It is under constant re-
evaluation and adjustment by the responsible Dutch 
authorities. It should be in the forefront of the next wave 
of reform because it provides for the near-legal use of 
marijuana and hashish by adults for recreation, not for 
medical treatment.  The mayor of Amsterdam recently granted 
me a license to operate a coffee shop; it is real, not 
simply honorific.  I am tempted to put it to use before it 
expires, but that would involve a song that I have not yet 
sung.  Still, it is an intriguing melody . . . .

     I have described some of these models in previous 
writings, but know that they need rethinking.  I hope that 
others will be encouraged to come forward with many other 
ideas in the study of rational models of legalization, and 
of how they might be implemented.

     A danger here is that, like in the Soviet Union, when 
the old order collapses, there will be chaos.  Those best in 
a position to move in and take over will be the old 
apparatchiks.  We in the reform movement must train our own 
administrative cadres lest the new machinery of legalization 
be run by the likes of Bill Bennett, Barry McCaffrey, and 
even Gabriel Nahas.

     Moving on to the fifth area of great interest for these 
new organizations, we want to be very active in the 
educational arena.  This is an arena wherein Jeffrey 
Schaler, my colleague in these new organizations, and I can 
talk from personal experience.  We have both seen how 
difficult it is to bring drug policy reform ideas into the 
mainstream of American education. And we have also seen how 
students and some teachers are deeply hurt by current drug 
laws and enforcement practices as they apply within 
educational institutions.  The story of teacher Sherry 
Hearn, who was fired for objecting to searches of innocent 
students, has been well-reported in DPF publications.  There 
are many stories like hers.

     Our plan is to present special seminars that will 
attract the best university students from this country and 
others in part because we will provide scholarships for them 
to attend.  They will be given an intensive primer on the 
realities of the drug laws and of drug policy reform, and 
they will be asked to go back to their schools to spread the 
word about these ideas and the need for them in the 
curricula of those schools.  We shall also seek to design 
new curriculum materials and books for high schools and 
colleges.  Finally, we will develop plans to protect 
students and teachers in their rights to dissent from school 
policies that infringe on their freedoms as citizens in the 
guise of protecting them from drugs.

     There is more to report but that will give you some 
idea of what I am doing in my roaming about the pastures of 
retirement.  As in the past I am having a great deal of fun 
in these endeavors.  Again, my thanks to The Drug Policy 
Foundation for this award and for all of its fine work--and 
to all of you for your help.

     We have a great deal of work to do.  In this connection 
it might be worthwhile to recall the words of F. S. Perls, 
the founder of Gestalt therapy, "To die and be reborn is not 

     We, all of us, have more uneasy miracles to create 
together, more births that will continue to make us gasp at 
the wonder of it all.

     Thank you so much for your kindness and compassion. 

(1) Essay on the occasion of receiving the Richard J. Dennis 
Drugpeace Award, Awards Ceremony, 12th International 
Conference on Drug Policy Reform, The Drug Policy 
Foundation, Decatur House, Washington, D.C., May 15, 1999.
(2) See http://www.dpf.org and 
(3) The Dennis Award was presented to Professor Trebach by 
Jeffrey A. Schaler, on behalf of the Drug Policy Foundation.  
To read his presentation speech see 

Arnold S. Trebach, Ph.D., J.D., Professor of Justice, Law 
and Society Emeritus, School of Public Affairs, American 
University, is the Founder and Past President of the Drug 
Policy Foundation.  He is currently Chairman of The Trebach 
Institute, Washington, D.C.  
Email:  arnoldtrebach@compuserve.com