Will the real U.S. policy on drugs, if there is one, please stand up?
Last month, President Reagan announced the formation of a new bipartisan legislative-executive task force to produce a comprehensive new federal anti-drug effort "no later than 45 days from now."Here it is 36 days later, and the task force has yet to hold its first meeting - because it hasn't even been set up.
That's not the fault of President Reagan, who named four top officials of the executive branch to serve on the task force. The trouble is that congressional leaders are snubbing the Reagan initiative, preferring to go their own way.
In fact, both the House and Senate seem likely to have their own ideas on how to wage the war on drugs. Within a few days, House Democrats are expected to unveil their omnibus drug bill. For their part, Senate Democrats are working on a separate legislative package.
Meanwhile, a White House-sponsored conference this week unveiled more than 100 recommendations for fighting drugs. Among them are creation of a drug czar with Cabinet rank, increased taxes on beer, wine, liquor, and tobacco to finance the anti-drug effort, and creation of a National Drug Prevention Agency.
Thus, the federal establishment seems well on its way to muffing the opportunity to produce a coherent, coordinated approach to what all sides agree is an increasingly serious national problem.
It's an approach that is bound to keep eluding Washington until it puts the search for workable solutions to drug abuse ahead of the desire to jockey for partisan advantage.