Lecturer Small has Big Ideas About Drugs 

Lecturer Small has Big Ideas About Drugs 
Posted by FoM on October 16, 2001 at 23:18:27 PT
By Jake Lilien
Source: Daily Collegian
Last year, Andrew Epstein, a senior at Amherst College, conceived an original project for an art class. In order to make a statement about the futility of the war on drugs, he managed to ban the sale of coffee on the Amherst campus for 24 hours, and watched the pandemonium that ensued. His project made national news, including the front page of the New York Times.
Last night Epstein and Amherst College Students for a Sensible Drug Policy attempted to host a debate between two drug policy advocates - Deborah Small, public policy director for the pro-legalization Lindesmith Center, and Robert Housman, the former assistant director of the anti-legalization organization Strategic Planning - in order to foster discussion of drug policy issues on the Amherst campus. Housman, however, was unable to attend, due to Congressional hearings on the September 11 attacks. In his absence, Small delivered a lecture last night in Converse Hall on the arguments for legalization, and led the audience in an open discussion. Rather than argue that legalization could lead to greater public safety, a common argument of decriminalization advocates, Small focused on the argument that drug laws, in theory, violate human rights. "All of the drugs you buy or take are things your body makes naturally," Small told the assembled audience. "Our body makes opiates, and stimulants, and things that make you sleep. Nothing you put into your body is foreign. Using drugs is a way of increasing the body's own ability to alter its consciousness." "As long as human beings have been on this planet," she continued, "we have looked for ways to alter consciousness. There is no society that didn't have some ritual around the altering of consciousness. Some of it was attached to religious practice, some was erotic, and some was recreational. It's nothing new."Small pointed out that medical author Dr. Andrew Weil has noted that young children often attempt to alter their consciousness."Children engage in behavior with similar effects to drugs," she said. "Holding their breath, running around in circles, holding their head below the water in the bathtub. For the most part it's a pleasant thing."A great deal of Small's lecture dealt with what she perceives as hypocrisy on the part of the government in accepting some drugs but denouncing others."Some people would say that it's perfectly reasonable for a society to prefer coffee over cocaine," she said. "I would say, how? And why? And does that make any sense?"She pointed out that Ritalin, a drug regularly given legally to schoolchildren, has many similar properties to cocaine.At one point, she asked if anyone in the audience felt that marijuana, as a drug, was more harmful than caffeine or cigarettes. "I don't know about all y'all," said Small, "but I tried marijuana, and I liked it. It didn't make me feel a whole lot different than drinking a couple of glasses of wine. But you can go to jail for that!"I don't know how many people in this room smoke cigarettes," she continued. "When you talk about drugs with such a high level of addictiveness, I can not think of many others...but we as a society have built in regular fixing times for people - cigarette breaks, coffee breaks."A crucial point of Small's argument was that drugs, even if dangerous, should be legal for those who wish to do them simply because it is not the business of the state to intrude in such matters."The goal of the war on drugs is to control people's personal behavior," she said repeatedly.While Housman was not in attendance to present the anti-legalization argument, many audience members took Smalls to task on her views. Particularly controversial was her assertion that pregnant women should not be punished for using drugs such as cocaine.One audience member, who described her experiences babysitting for a child with fetal alcohol syndrome, accused Small of being more concerned with the rights of an expecting mother to use drugs than the right of a child to be "born healthy"."If you're a pregnant woman who has a problem with obesity or an eating disorder, you can harm your child just as much [as if you used drugs]," she responded. "You can harm your child by taking in too much salt. Are we going to pass laws that mandate that people not do that?"Erica Pollack, a senior double major in Art and Neuroscience, also questioned Small's rationale."If a child is born with fetal alcohol syndrome, and its mother turns to the government for aid and health care, shouldn't the government be able to make some restrictions on bringing that sort of child into the world?" she asked. Other attendees expressed a sense that Small was ignoring the negative aspects of drug usage."My concern is that, even though I can understand how we might be better off without drug laws, it's still not a good situation," said Rachel Speer, a freshman. "I don't see how your policy addresses that clearly. There are drug problems whether we have drug laws or not."In response to a question about the connections of race and the war on drugs, Small decried current drug policies as racist. She pointed out that a far higher percentage of people of color are incarcerated for using and selling drugs than whites."Go to any state in this country," she said. "Got to prisons, and see who's there. There's no state that doesn't have more black, brown and poor people in prison for drugs than anybody else."She attacked the mentality that white women need to be protected from drug-using men of color. She said that she was especially disturbed by a scene from the film Traffic a movie she said she otherwise admired, which showed a black drug dealer taking advantage of young white woman."The one thing they should not have done was show a black man administering drugs to a white woman so that he could have his way with her sexually," she said. "Other than Don Cheadle, the only black guy you saw was the naked drug dealer standing over the naked white girl." In concluding her lecture, Small urged that Americans not turn away from what she sees as a violation of civil liberties."You might say, 'I'm not the police officer who arrested these people. I'm not the judge who sentenced these people. Why am I accountable?' But you are accountable - for what a society does in your name." Source: Massachusetts Daily Collegian (MA Edu)Author: Jake LilienPublished: October 16, 2001 Copyright: 2001 Daily CollegianComments: Publication of University of MassachusettsWebsite: http://www.DailyCollegian.comRelated Article & Web Sites:SSDP - DPF Day the Urns Went Dry
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Comment #6 posted by Mitchum Rathbone on October 18, 2001 at 14:52:38 PT
Thanks for the links....           Mitchum
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Comment #5 posted by Sudaca on October 17, 2001 at 13:38:38 PT
to asnwer some points
left unanswered... legalization does not remedy the "drug problems" per se, as one kid pointed out. However, it remedies the problems caused by prohibition. These are not minor problems; corruption of the government, drug lords, drug wars, incalculable amount of tainted money (which ends up financing terrorists), the loss of respect for the law, the alienation of law enforcement, infectious diseases spread by unsanitary habits fueled by the marginalization of drug behaviour, racist social policies... The ridiculous profits caused by prohibition are too much for society.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on October 17, 2001 at 11:43:10 PT
Here's ours.  I have it as a related link 
Good Article!The Day the Urns Went Dry 
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Comment #3 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on October 17, 2001 at 11:38:44 PT
  The coffee prohibition was mentioned as a link to an earlier article, as it was done (and reported on) several months ago. Searching here or at could probably find it easily... yeah, try these:  Pretty good idea, if you ask me. Them caffeine junkies are a menace to society! I'm sure, if "they" wanted to study it, they'd find that caffeine is involved in a majority of road-rage incidents...
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Comment #2 posted by Mitchum Rathbone on October 17, 2001 at 10:19:03 PT
where are the reports of "pandemonium"?......i am unfulfilled by this article...i want to hear about the "coffee freaks".....losing it!!!!!       Mitchum
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Comment #1 posted by xxdr_zombiexx on October 17, 2001 at 04:57:02 PT
The Impact Of Propaganda on Public Debate freedom to think new ideas for awhile..before having to find a paying job.I like the college-boy's idea of banning coffee - an excellent "consciousness-rising" thing to do.Ms. Small apparently knows how to take the "bull" by the horns. She did what I would like to do sometimes: have an avenue to argue these ideas with persons who are still largely brainwashed by the Media's portion of the War on Some Drugs.She does appear to have missed - or the points were left out of this article - that it is the Media that is so hugely complicit in the WOSD's goal of "controlling peoples' behavior". control of behavior in the media is to influence the mind: advertising and propaganda.People behave based largley on what thy are thinking. They have an idea of what they want to eat - usually - before they start eating. Advertising's whole existence is about influencing human choice. By hook or by crook. By any means necessary. This is why McCaffery and the US Government sought to buy influence in TV shows and movies. They want all tv and movies to reflect their "values".**"My concern is that, even though I can understand how we might be better off without drug laws, it's still not a good situation," said Rachel Speer, a freshman. "I don't see how your policy addresses that clearly. There are drug problems whether we have drug laws or not."**This is an example of what I mean: Ms. Speer is so steeped in the propaganda of the WOSD and totally buys into it uncritically she cannot see the "trees for the forest". She states the case copmpletely reversed and sees the idea that laws prevent people from using drugs. Thus changing the laws will create MORE drug use. As if there are people who WOULD smoke pot- or use real drugs- if it was only sanctified by the Government.But she sees the problem: there are drug problems despite the laws. This is because "Druuugs" are a HEALTH problem first, foremost, and most importantly. Its unimportant that they are "illegal". Legality has NO impact on health and saftey. Illegality exacerbates the problems known to exist with "real druuuugs".Beyond this they totally avoided the fact that the WoSD is really just prohibition of the cannabis plant - hard drugs are thrown in there to make pot look bad.Prohibition succeeds by eliminating rational, effective, and proper public discourse on cannabis and hard drug issues. The public is left with only heavily emotionalized nonsense arguments - like the one echoed by Ms Speer, here.**"If a child is born with fetal alcohol syndrome, and its mother turns to the government for aid and health care, shouldn't the government be able to make some restrictions on bringing that sort of child into the world?" she asked. **
Didnt the NAZI's create this idea? Its generally considered a civil-rights violation to forcibly sterilize the mentally retarded. This idea has been paraded around bu prohibitionists for use with crack users as well. I see many people in our psychiatric clinic that should never be allowed to have children 'cuase they will never be able to raise them and they will be mentally ill. It is mentalities like these that allow the goverment to get away with outright violations of the Constitution, the Bill of rights, and with the Cannabis Prohibition. The media plays a HUGE role in this and that goes largely unsung.
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