Starting Saturday, the Drug Enforcement Agency is temporarily closing the two main exhibit galleries in its Washington, D.C., museum -- yes, it runs an actual museum -- for a "major renovation and update." Its website details what we can expect: "new interactive content, an expanded history timeline, iPad stations with even more facts and information on the history of drug abuse and drug law enforcement, and an all-new Junior Special Agent program for our younger visitors!" *
Is telling "the story of drugs in the United States" really a good use of taxpayer money? If so, is the DEA the branch of the federal government likely to tell the story with accuracy and objectivity?
I say no on both counts. Readers inclined to disagree might take a gander at the museum's web page before they decide whether its material is adding anything useful to America's educational landscape, and ponder the fact that this project, ostensibly dedicated to telling "the story" of drugs in America, neglects to dedicate any time or attention to the costs of drug prohibition.
Ponder too the material for student visitors that the museum provides. Here's an excerpt from the teacher's guide:
In 1970, President Richard Nixon combined 50 separate pieces of drug legislation with the Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. In 1973 he combined several antidrug agencies into one super agency, The Drug Enforcement Administration. What impact do you think this consolidation had on enforcing drug laws?
By concentrating all of the enforcement efforts under one command, resources could be more efficiently allocated to fight the war on drugs. Reducing the competition among the existing agencies would have a positive effect on the end result.
So that's why we started winning the War on Drugs in 1970. In seriousness, who can take this seriously as museum material? A federal agency cannot be a good judge of whether it ought to exist in its present form.