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  Group Says War on Drugs Has Failed, Filled Jails
Posted by FoM on January 06, 2002 at 08:13:05 PT
By Diana Heil, Journal Staff Writer 
Source: Albuquerque Journal  

justice By asking for a show of hands on several points, Ethan Nadelmann knew plenty of American Civil Liberties Union members, drug war critics and past or present recreational marijuana users were in the crowd Saturday at a Unitarian-Universalist Church forum.

But the "unusually friendly audience" didn't stop this New York City son of a rabbi from rolling out his best sermon on what he sees as a dire need for drug policy reform in the United States.

"The war on drugs has played to people's fears like almost nothing else," he said.

Yet America's war on drugs, he said, has failed to protect children, as illegal substances are readily accessible. Further, the penal system is neither effective nor compassionate, he said.

Policy Reform

Nadelmann, national director of the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation, makes frequent trips to New Mexico. He sees the Land of Enchantment as fertile ground for adopting the most comprehensive drug reform package in America, especially since Gov. Gary Johnson is willing to tackle the issues. Nadelmann's nonprofit group funds lobbyists and referendum initiatives to end the war on drugs.

Another panelist at Saturday's forum, Katharine Huffman, directs the state branch of Lindesmith — the New Mexico Drug Policy Project — which opened in January 2000.

Come Jan. 15, six drug reform bills will begin filtering through the state Legislature. None would legalize drugs for mass consumption. All are modeled after laws that have been passed in other states — and some had broad support in last year's New Mexico session before the clock ran out.

Eight other states allow people with certain diseases, such as cancer and AIDS, to obtain a card from the state health department that allows them to possess, grow and use marijuana for medicinal reasons. New Mexico legislators will consider such a bill this session. But like the other laws, it would not set up a legal distribution system for marijuana, Huffman said.

Another bill would prescribe treatment and supervised probation, instead of incarceration, for first- and second-time nonviolent drug possession offenders.

Reform for the sentencing of habitual offenders would give judges, rather than prosecutors, the discretion to add years onto a sentence.

Another proposal would restrict how state officials can seize a person's assets that may have been used by that person or somebody else to commit an offense. If passed, the bill would require a person to be charged with or convicted of a crime before the state could take personal property.

Treatment, Not Jail

A parking ticket system would become the civil penalty for possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana under another proposal. Offenders would pay a fine of $100.

Also, drug crime-only offenders could qualify for federal benefits, such as food stamps, without waiting five years, as they are required to now. This bill would waive the federal restriction on certain benefits.

"The majority of New Mexicans support all of these reforms," Huffman said. "The less we spend on jail, the more we have to spend on treatment."

Angie Vachio, director of Peanut Butter & Jelly Inc. in Albuquerque, develops programs to assist people after incarceration. As a panelist, she said these reforms would restore money and quality to New Mexico treatment centers that have dried up because Medicaid doesn't cover treatment costs.

The Unitarian-Universalist Church, the host of the forum, has charged itself on the national level with researching alternatives to the war on drugs. Moderator Patricio Larragoite, a local dentist, made clear Saturday's event was not a debate, however.

All three panelists appeared unified on what New Mexico and America need to do to deal with drugs in a common-sense, compassionate manner that protects human rights. And the panel discussion quickly led to action, with audience participants signing up for tasks such as testifying before the state Legislature.

Individual Rights

Nadelmann, a high-profile author and critic of drug-control policies, was an assistant professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University from 1987 to 1994.

Individuals, not the government, should have the right to decide what to put in their minds and bodies, he said. Current policies have taken that right away and packed jails, he said.

"People should not be punished for what they put in their bodies," Nadelmann said.

He rolled out a string of statistics: The United States makes up 5 percent of the world's population but 25 percent of the world's prison population.

Since 1980, the number of people incarcerated for breaking drug laws has increased from 50,000 to 500,000. And more drugs were legal 100 years ago in America than today, he said.

"American drug policy is based on a myth that we can be a drug-free society," Nadelmann said. "That's not a worthy objective. It's a totalitarian objective."

Citing the studies of anthropologists — who find peoples all over the world who use plants and chemicals to alter their consciousness — and the assumption that people aren't born chemically balanced and crave substances, Nadelmann claims drugs are here to stay.

Our challenge, he said, is: "How do we learn to live with drugs so they cause the least possible harm?"

Complete Title: Group Says War on Drugs Has Failed, Filled Nation's Jails

Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Author: Diana Heil, Journal Staff Writer
Published: Sunday, January 6, 2002
Copyright: 2002 Albuquerque Journal

Related Articles & Web Sites:


Governor Gary Johnson's Home Page

NM Governor Looking To Leave His Mark

Advocates Gear Up for Drug-Reform Push

Gary Johnson's Visit to the Drug Policy Forum

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Comment #4 posted by DdC on January 06, 2002 at 15:14:59 PT
Maintaining Dysfunction
Only perpetuating the war on drugs profits the "whorriors", winning or losing doesn't. Any war. Cannabis Prohibition removes many more harmful alternatives of the vested interest. 500 Pharmaceutical lobbiest in Washington DC is no coincidence. The FRCn DARE, PFDA Partnered with the Media, Petro Chems, Fossil Fuels and Pharmaids not sold when its homegrown. Those not taught cannabis in school, holding on to $6 figure diplomas and ego's resisting the cannabis truth. Politico's getting taxes returned on money spent maintaining dysfunction. The international banksters and korpses profiting on the poisons keeping organics struggling to gain market shelve space. Or alternative foods or gasoline or an alternative if we decide to stop drinking. I think the more we speak out, the more people squirm if they're on the inside of the WoD, and sooner or later if we continue the stigma will switch onto those stubborn worshipers. We're coming in from the cold Peace, Love and Liberty DdC

Nazism or WoD?

- Blaming social problems on a cultural, racial, or behaviorial group.

- Selling the public on the idea that all members of the targeted group are 'bad' people.

- 'Facts', which cannot be verified, and pseudo scientific studies are used as propaganda against the targeted group. History is rewritten.

- "These people have no right to have their viewpoiunt aired." and " Anyone who disagrees or questions us must be one of them!"

- Characterizing all members of a targeted group as subhuman and typically capable of monstrous deeds and/or crimes.

- "They corrupt, seduce and/or destroy our children."

- "We must give up some of our freedoms, liberties, and rights in order to combat this menace to society."

- Laws criminalize members of targeted group and they may be denied jobs, the right to own property and/or be restricted as to where they may live or go.

- Citizens are urged to 'turn in' friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members.

- Non-uniformed police squads set up to wage war on targeted groups utilizing deception, infiltration, espionage and entrapment.

- Property and assets are seized from people who are members of targeted group. Property may be divided between the informer and the state.

- Prisons, rehabilitation camps, 'hospitals', executions and genocide ("kill them all" "Zero Tolerance")

Maintaining Dysfunction

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by Lehder on January 06, 2002 at 10:00:57 PT
Legalizing Democracy
United States citizens who wish to change the drug policies of their own land must study and seek to learn what it is that has destroyed the underlying ideology of the drug war in Mexico and in other Latin American lands. It is not the view that the drug war is an "error" that can be fixed by free market thinking. What has created a new consensus in Mexico and in Latin America is the understanding that the drug war is an intentional policy to further enrich the rich, to further corrupt the corrupted, and to prevent the explosion of true democracy so desired by the peoples of our hemisphere.

The War on Drugs was never intended as winnable. It was intended as a permanent institution, in place to enrich the wealthy and to empower the powerful no matter what the social costs or the costs in destruction of individual lives. That's why, our cities are a dangerous mess, why schools are full of guns and cops but can't teach. It's why all the while we have oil millionaires as president and vice president, and why 20,000 Enron employees lost their retirements while Chairman Kenneth Lay collected $160,000,000 as the company collapsed. The War on Drugs is now spearheaded by second of two Presidents George Bush, the son and grandson of Prescott Bush who became wealthy himself and who financed Adolf Hitler through the sale in America of German industrial/war bonds. When the institutional nature of "war on drugs" was exposed in Latin and South America, and when Europe began the legalization process for marijuana on a continental scale, suddenly we were introduced to the "war on terrorism" to not only maintain but to expand the powers of news censorship and the repression of constitutional liberties. And now Bush and Ashcroft are telling us that drugs = terrorism, that if you disagree with Ashcroft then you are aiding terrorism, and that drugs create terrorism. Coincidence? I think not.

Legalization - of Democracy:

We wish to place the horse ahead of the cart: to simply legalize democracy first. To obtain a world that does not prevent communities, states and nations from adopting their own drug policies (and, indeed, their own policies on every other social and economic issue), so that this world can have many different drug policies that peacefully coexist.

For example, in Texas there are towns that have "dry laws." One cannot sell alcohol in these towns. We have no problem at all with that local option. It occurs on a local level, and not from an imposed sameness of policy from above. Most towns don't have dry laws, though, and we feel confident that most locales on earth would not decide to adopt the prohibitionist policies on drugs that are currently imposed by Washington, if the right of peoples to decide such questions is restored. The existence of many places, like Amsterdam, that would democratically decide against prohibiting drugs would destroy the prohibitionist problem: the high price, the dangers of unregulated product, the mafias, the enrichment of dirty money launderers at the expense of honest businessmen, the corruption of entire governments, the overpopulation of prisons, and all the other ills associated with prohibition.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by lookinside on January 06, 2002 at 09:21:39 PT:


those in power view us as assets...drug use encourages people to think makes "worker bees" less efficient because they begin to see the futility of their situation...

we begin to see we are enslaved by corporate "rules"...they buy our souls for money...

i believe the 60's saying was, "turn on, tune in, drop out."

makes sense to me.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by Lehder on January 06, 2002 at 08:27:40 PT
The War On Drugs Has Been A Tremendous Success
But it is painfully clear to us, having investigated first-hand how the drug trade operates internationally and in our América, that drug prohibition is no mere error in policy. Because it was never intended to succeed in lessening or eliminating drug trafficking or drug abuse. It is a policy that was and is intended to fail, again and again, and to justify a set of repressive policies purportedly to "combat" the very ills it creates.

The war on drugs was designed to fail. It was designed to increase drug use, atomize society, impoverish people, spread illness, increase unemployment, destroy lives, imprison productive people, subvert democracy, shred the Constitution, empower the ignorant and brutal, create a police state, destroy the educational system, hold people in ignorance, manipulate and censor the news, and enrich a tiny puritanical minority of mega-millionaires and corporate bosses. It has succeeded in all these objectives.

Decriminalization is not enough. The control of drugs must be completely removed from government and its outlaw associates and placed in the hands of citizens.

[ Post Comment ]

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