DrugSense Weekly, October 13, 2000 # 170

DrugSense Weekly, October 13, 2000 # 170
Posted by FoM on October 13, 2000 at 14:15:12 PT
PBS Frontline Series Follow Up
Source: DrugSense
Dear Frontline:Your series is a mild improvement over the overt and tacit support journalists have historically provided to America's intellectually bankrupt and highly destructive drug policy in that it points out some of that policy's failures. However it stops well short of examining the reasons for those failures and does not even approach stating the obvious historical fact that every attempt at substance prohibition has proven to be both futile and destructive.
Journalism in the United States has a reprehensible history: it has been the willing handmaiden of racism and repression. This series did less than it could have to atone for that sorry record. All that would have been needed was accurate research and the simple truth.This series was ultimately a disappointment because it stopped well short of both truth and accuracy- probably to avoid unduly offending the political supporters of our quasi-religious national policy. Those supporters were undoubtedly discomfited, but not nearly as much as they would have been by an accurate appraisal of their work.Tom O'Connell, MDDear Frontline:I expect because we are all heavily involved in the nuances of drug policy that the Frontline effort to cover the issue did not tell us much new. Although even for us the backtracking of former DEA Administrator Jack Lawn was a pleasure to behold as was the review of Bill Bennett's misdirected drug policy. However, for the public -- that does not monitor drug issues closely, if at all -- the history of failure may have been eye opening or re-enforcing of the sense that the drug war cannot work. From that perspective the Frontline documentary was a big plus.Of course, the failure to deal with how to best control the market is a major oversight. The reality is that even the most successful treatment-based demand reduction programs will never eliminate demand. Indeed, there will always be significant demand of many of the currently illegal drugs. Since there will be demand there will always be a market to satisfy the demand. Therefore, we (as a society) need to come up with a strategy to control the market as effectively as possible. As a result there will have to be debate between prohibition vs. regulation. It might have been too much for Frontline to bite off with this show, but there will have to be some discussion of this issue in the future otherwise drug policy will be stuck in the ping-pong between treatment and incarceration -- with neither ever working and us bouncing back to whichever is in vogue at the time.Our job is to find a way to break this ping pong match between treatment and incarceration and force review of how to control the drug market. It seems the two first steps are (1) breaking marijuana away from the other drugs and encouraging regulation of the marijuana market; and (2) allowing prescription access to heroin as the Swiss have done.Kevin Zeese Dear Frontline:I enjoyed watching your "Drug Wars" presentation. The information you presented was valuable and timely. Unfortunately, there are a couple of concerns which cause me to question the depth of your analysis and reporting.First, your report neglected to discuss the heroin warlords of Southeast Asia. The Golden Triangle region has for years been a major supplier of heroin to the US, and a significant source of corruption throughout SE Asia. Yet, instead your report focused on the stories that grabbed headlines for the DEA during the 1980s and 1990s, specifically Mexico and Colombia.Second, rather than use an objective medical or scientific source to discuss the harms of crack and cocaine, you used former DEA agent Bob Stuttman and a former crack dealer. In so doing, you perpetuated the hype and hysteria around crack which you rather otherwise skewered during the program. The reality is crack is cocaine, thus cocaine is just as dangerous as crack -- the difference is that one is smoked and powder is usually snorted (or injected). Indeed, the main differences between the freebase cocaine of the 1970s and the crack cocaine of the 1980s and 1990s are the method of production and the fact that crack is broken up and sold in cheap, single-dose units. What makes smoking crack more dangerous than snorting powder is the fact that smoking a drug is a quicker, more intense high. The notion that crack was some sort of super-drug is a false notion that could lead to the perception that powder cocaine is benign by comparison. The fact that declining numbers of young people view cocaine as dangerous, as reported in the newest Household Survey, tends to support my contention. I hope that sometime in the future Frontline will devote its resources to a fuller analysis of US drug policy. Though "Drug Wars" was interesting, it was ultimately the story of the DEA and a few of their foes. Interesting video, but not as substantive as I'd hoped, especially coming from Frontline.Doug McVayThese are just a few of the many letters, opinions, and factoids in the wake of this weeks 2 part PBS Frontline series "Drug Wars." Tom O'Connell, Kevin Zeese, Doug McVay, Eric Sterling There is a lot on FRONTLINE's website, including the opportunity to comment on the program: The website on the symposium that I participated in last week should be up later today: Eric Sterling Click the link to read all of DrugSense Weekly's News Bulletin:DrugSense Weekly, October 13, 2000 # 170 Companies Tangled in Web of Drug Dollars Pull of Wars, Policy and Pot Drug Wars Chronicles 30 Years News and PBS Frontline Special Report Frontline Series in Collaboration with NPR CannabisNews MapInc. Archives:
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on October 13, 2000 at 17:59:30 PT
My Thoughts
Hi dddd,I wasn't sure if you were able to see the series while you were away but I guess you did. Maybe I thought it was so good because I really didn't know much about the drug war until I started doing this a couple of years ago and I learned alot and now will recognize the names of people better. I wish they would have offered a solution but I knew they wouldn't. It sure showed the futility of the drug war. Peace, FoM!
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Comment #3 posted by dddd on October 13, 2000 at 17:20:28 PT
 Frontline does do a pretty good job,but I must heartily agree with Dr. O'Connell;"This series was ultimately a disappointment because it stopped well short of both truth and accuracy- probablyto avoid unduly offending the political supporters of our quasi-religious national policy." Frontline may seem to cut through the bullshit,but it is actually treading lightly,when it comes to stepping on the toes of the PBS deep pocket big dogs.You will never see Frontline do an expose' that digs too deeply into the real world class corruption that runs rampant in the fiasco known as "The War on Drugs". Frontline is basically bought and paid for by political entities.The 'P',in PBS,could perhaps stand for 'Political'..?..........dddd
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on October 13, 2000 at 15:47:03 PT:
Hi Dankhank
I thought the series was excellent. I learned so much. It sure shows that prohibition causes more problems then drug use itself. I really enjoyed the series on The History Channel. They mentioned drugs that I never heard of. Now we need to see the laws change. I liked when they showed people that had taken LSD. One girl was just watching herself comb her hair and I laugh about how you can look at a piece of fabric for 4 hours. LOL! At least the person tripping out on the fabric was having a good time and surely didn't hurt anyone.
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Comment #1 posted by dankhank on October 13, 2000 at 15:31:42 PT:
maybe half of the story?
Good points made here, it IS true that more could have been shown perhaps with another 2-hour block?All in all, though it was good, I thought ...Peace ...
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