Saying No To The War on Drugs 

  Saying No To The War on Drugs 

Posted by CN Staff on October 16, 2002 at 21:06:43 PT
By Sarah Klein, Metro Times Staff Writer 
Source: Metro Times  

It was 6:30 on a Friday night on the University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus. Students savored the last breath of summer and lounged on porches, sipping beverages from plastic mugs. At one house on State Street, a trio of young men sparked up a joint in plain view and brazenly passed it around.Although such indiscreet use of marijuana is not an uncommon sight in Ann Arbor, home of the annual Hash Bash, the men could have faced serious repercussions if busted. Like complete loss of all financial aid or, in a worst-case scenario, a long prison sentence.
The war on drugs has accumulated many horror stories, accounts like that of Chrissy Taylor, who at age 19 was sentenced to 20 years for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, because her boyfriend coerced her into picking up a shipment of chemicals. Stories like that of Robert Booker, a first-time offender who was sentenced to life imprisonment for drug conspiracy.The Journey for Justice is committed to spreading these very stories across the nation, heightening public awareness of the thousands of severe penalties doled out each year for nonviolent drug convictions. The combined effort of two national organizations, the November Coalition and Common Sense for Drug Policy, the Journey for Justice will tour the nation for four years, highlighting the injustices of current drug policy and calling for reform. The kickoff of the tour took place last weekend with a Friday lecture in Ann Arbor and a Saturday forum in Detroit.Organizers say the drug war is a fallacy that has caused countless injustices, wasted tax dollars, invoked sexist and racist policies and resulted in thousands of draconian sentences for victimless crimes. The Journey for Justice is calling for a complete re-examination of the nation’s current war against drugs, and is attempting to organize a grassroots constituency through public education and discussion. Proponents are not interested in highlighting one particular drug or cause; instead, they want to draw attention to the drug war as a whole — especially the issues of incarceration vs. treatment and creating alternatives to current policy.“War on people” A group of varied ages and races, some clad in tie dye, others in crisp suits, filed into a U-M lecture hall. In a morose version of a family album, photos flipped by on an overhead screen, snapshots of men and women with their families, subtitled with such phrases as “marijuana conspiracy — 20 years” and “cocaine conspiracy — life imprisonment.”Nora Callahan is executive director of the November Coalition. She initially became involved in drug policy reform when her brother was convicted on a drug charge 14 years ago. He has 13 years left to serve.“The drug war is a fraud,” Callahan repeated again and again. “This isn’t a war on drugs, it’s a war on people.”Callahan said one of the fundamental problems with the drug war is the focus on punishment and incarceration. She lamented that drug users are treated as criminals, not as people suffering from a disease. Callahan said the massive amount of government money used to jail offenders would be better spent if funneled into treatment programs for addicts.“Treatment dollars in the U.S. were seven times more effective than money spent trying to eradicate drug use at the source,” she said, quoting a study from the RAND Corporation.It’s no secret that the drug war is big business, on both sides of the equation. Callahan feels the enormous sums invested into the war on drugs are simply going up in smoke.“Tax dollars are paying for a system that causes more harm than any illegal drugs ever did,” said Callahan.Callahan would eventually like to see illegal drugs regulated in the same manner as prescription drugs, which she feels would make the illicit drug trade unprofitable.“We need to take the profit out of the drug war, plain and simple.”Callahan feels drug users are unfairly targeted and sentenced by race and gender. She says police use racial profiling when searching for drugs, causing an inordinate number of minorities to be imprisoned. Callahan says women are likely to face longer sentences than men, because the system is “informant based,” which she is against. In addition, she says women often hold lesser roles in the drug trade, and know little about bigger players in a network.“When it comes time to barter for freedom by testifying against others, they don’t have any info,” she says. “That’s the only way to get a sentence reduction. Tell on three, go free.”Another major problem: Drug offenders are sent en masse to prison, where drugs are widely accessible.“The place you can easiest find drugs in America is in the prison system,” said U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, during day two of the conference in Detroit.“I smoked pot all throughout prison,” said activist Chuck Armsbury of the November Coalition. Support for reform Historically, the state of Michigan has not placed an overwhelming priority on drug policy reform. Debra Wright, co-chair of the Drug Policy Forum of Michigan, said too few lawmakers are interested.“There’s more support [for drug law reform] amongst the people than the legislators. They’re behind the eight ball,” she said. “There’s a lot of people in the city of Detroit that see and feel the damage caused by the war on drugs, so there is a lot of support behind it.”U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Detroit, spoke in favor of ending the drug war at the Detroit panel. Detroit Chief of Police Jerry Oliver was unable to attend, but criticized the drug war in a recent op-ed piece in the Detroit News.Wayne County Sheriff Robert Ficano was not in attendance, and does not support legalization or regulation of any currently illegal drugs for any reason. And he believes incarceration is still an important factor in cracking down on drugs.“Should there be more treatment? Sure,” he said during a phone interview. “What it really should be is a combination of prevention, treatment and enforcement. You don’t use punishment as the full arsenal. There’s a number of arrows in the quiver — incarceration is just one of them.”Ficano believes legalizing or regulating drugs would not work.“If you legalize drugs, you’ll see insurance rates go up, because you’ll see more people who need treatment. If you just let the market open up and say ‘here, it’s legal, try it,’ you’ll have more substance abuse problems,” he said.“If you have someone on the street who can’t afford the drug and craves it, whether it’s on the street or they can go buy it at Rite-Aid, if they don’t have the money they’re still going to have to commit the crime to get it.” Inveterate user Renee Emry-Wolfe is a criminal.The 42-year-old mother of four mirthfully tells this to anyone, without a tinge of shame in her voice. Clad in a sunshine yellow top and flowered pants, Emry-Wolfe has a deep scratch on her nose and two blackened eyes. The Ann Arbor resident has multiple sclerosis, and the injuries were sustained in a fall. In addition to difficulty walking, Emry-Wolfe suffers from muscle spasms and pain. She is currently on probation for growing marijuana, a drug which she claims is the only satisfactory treatment for her symptoms.Emry-Wolfe was diagnosed with MS at the age of 19, and quickly prescribed a cocktail of heavy medications, which she says made her physically ill and reduced her to a stupor.“In ’85 I told them to put their drugs where the sun didn’t shine,” she said cheerfully.Frustrated with the avenue of traditional medicine, she decided to try her friends’ suggestion of smoking marijuana, and has been steadily using to this day — and racking up a rap sheet in the process.Emry-Wolfe has been busted several times for possession and growing her own personal supply of medical marijuana. She also garnered national attention in 1999 when she protested a congressman’s anti-medical marijuana initiative by lighting up a joint in his Washington, D.C., office. She was hauled off in handcuffs, but received only a slap on the wrist.Emry-Wolfe is angry that her only source of treatment comes with criminal repercussions, but remains committed to spreading her message to lawmakers on a personal level.“The only arrests or convictions I have are for growing my medicine,” she said.At the Detroit discussion, she used both hands to lift her body from her seat so she could stand while addressing Conyers.“If I have to talk to every one of you one at a time,” she told him, “I will.”Note: Conference highlights hypocrisy and injustice. "Tax dollars are paying for a system that causes more harm than any illegal drugs ever did."For more information on Journey for Justice, visit the November Coalition’s Web site at: http://www.november.orgSarah Klein is a Metro Times Staff Writer. Source: The Metro Times (MI)Author: Sarah Klein, Metro Times Staff WriterPublished: October 16, 2002Copyright: 2002 Metro Times, Inc.Contact: feedback metrotimes.comWebsite: http://www.metrotimes.comRelated Articles & Web Sites:Ann Arbor Hash Bash For Justice Stop on The Journey for Justice Activists Push for Legalization

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Comment #6 posted by afterburner on October 17, 2002 at 19:48:49 PT:
I think you had it right the first time: without cannabis users and gentle cannabis there would be only hypocrisy and injustice left.
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Comment #5 posted by DdC on October 17, 2002 at 11:08:31 PT
Thanks DANA We all try and do what we can...
I think when one is in this war long enough they will realize it ain't about toking pot. Its about living free. That is a 24/7 job just maintaining what the forefathers gave us. While Fascist try 24/7 to take it away...
thanks againPeace, Love and Liberty or the Really Dumb Monger Fascist!...DdCGood Terrorists, Bad Terrorists: How Washington Decides Who's Who Colombia Deception. 
Fri May 4 '01 Paramilitary squads are tearing apart Columbian families and culture as they defend U.S. oil interests. Monsanto produced defoliant is sickening thousands. Bush is asking for an increase in military aid to Columbia, up from 1.3 billion dollars this year. Continued...
Hemp Car v Fossil Fuel War
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Comment #4 posted by goneposthole on October 17, 2002 at 07:28:10 PT
if we could just get rid of cannabis users and cannabis there would be no hypocrisy and injustice.Forgot to insert the word 'no'.Dyslexia and them some
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Comment #3 posted by goneposthole on October 17, 2002 at 07:01:13 PT
Hypocrisy and injustice highlighted
If we could just get rid of the cannabis users and cannabis there would be hypocrisy and injustice.A 'perfect' final solution
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Comment #2 posted by DANA on October 17, 2002 at 01:18:39 PT
....Just want to let you know,that I salute your outstanding work in our fight!..You are an inspiration to us all!......same holds true for p4me,,and numerous others.......Thank You!.............Sincerely......d
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Comment #1 posted by DdC on October 17, 2002 at 00:14:49 PT
Journey for Justice begins!
From: "Hilary"
Subject: Journey for Justice begins!The November Coalition, an ASA member group, has started its ambitious continental tour on the East Coast to mobilize the drug reform grassroots. Following is this month's schedule of stops I've only included the detail for the first city, for all others see their website), which will culminate in a strong action in Washington DC on November 1. We encourage all medical marijuana advocates who can to
join in this important coalitional effort.Journey for Justice Events Coalition office (509) 684-1550Friday, October 11th DetroitNOON - 2 PM: November Coalition Chapter Meeting Location: The Picasso Coffee Shop 418 W. Willis Detroit, MI 48201-1702Ann Arbor, MI7:00 PM: Exploring the issues behind drug war injustice Speakers: Kevin Zeese, Nora Callahan, Chuck Armsbury, and more Location: U of M campus in Lecture Room 1 - Modern Language Building.Followed by a rally and candlelight march through downtown Ann Arbor State to Liberty to Main, ending back at the courthouse on Washington.Sponsored by: University of Michigan chapter of SSDP, University of Michigan chapter of Libertarians, Washtenaw County Libertarians, Drug Policy Forum of Michigan, The November Coalition and Common Sense for Drug Policy.Organizer(s): Rachelle Lambson - lambsonr h... - 734-320-4979Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)Website: Drug Policy Forum of Michigan Website: November Coalition Website: Common Sense for Drug Policy Website: http://www.csdp.orgSaturday, October 12th Detroit, MI Sunday, October 13th Detroit, MIThursday, October 17 Ray Brook, NYFriday, October 18 Ayer/Boston, MA Saturday, October 19 Danbury, CT Monday, October 21 Middletown, CTTuesday, October 22 New Haven, CTSaturday, October 26 New York CityTuesday, October 29 Philadelphia, PAFriday, November 1 Washington, DCMajor demonstration at U.S. State Department BuildingHilary McQuie, Campaign Coordinator, Americans for Safe Access1678 Shattuck Ave. #317, Berkeley, CA 94709Phone: 510-486-8083, Fax: 510-486-8090*ASA. Americans for Safe Access to medical cannabis. More ASA-related LINKS: Please forward or distribute any, or all parts, of this message. It is also archived at the email list linked below. Hundreds, and possibly thousands, of non-subscribers read the open public archive of messages: An MMM Million Marijuana March (and other topics) list homepage. 200 cities worldwide. ************************************************************************If any of you would like to drop Todd a line and some good vibes, his address is: Todd Patrick McCormick P.O.W. 11071-112 fci P.O. Box 3007 Terminal Is., CA 90731 A Dale, Ind., man received a life prison sentence Thursday in connection with a sophisticated marijuana operation in Michigan that involved several local individuals, including a former executive director of the ECHO Health Center in Evansville. The marijuana farming operation is believed to be one of the biggest ever discovered in Michigan, and authorities say large amounts were distributed in the Evansville area.Federal authorities say Chad Robinson, 45, of Dale, purchased a 75 acre farm in Sanilac County, Mich., where marijuana worth millions of dollars was produced in 1995 and 1996. Authorities discovered the marijuana operation in October 1996 while investigating a complaint of horses running loose in the area.Ties to the operation were found in the Evansville area as well as in Kentucky and Ohio. Authorities say the farm was bought by Robinson in February 1995, and more than 14,000 pot plants were processed there that year. The figure grew to 19,000 plants in 1996, say authorities.Robinson's life sentence was ordered Thursday by U.S. District Judge David Lawson in Bay City, Mich. Authorities say the drug charge on which Robinson was convicted normally carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years, but it was upgraded in his case because of two prior felony drug convictions.Other local individuals charged in connection with the operation include: Ralph Michael Kough, 53, the former ECHO Health Center executive director. Kough received a two-year prison sentence in May after pleading guilty to a federal marijuana charge.He was convicted of buying marijuana from the farm for local distribution. Kough's wife, 53-year-old Barbara Kough, has pleaded guilty to Indiana state marijuana charges arising from a search warrant execution at her home in 1998. She has not been sentenced.Marcus Robinson, 53, of Tennyson, Ind., was the owner of record on the Michigan farm and one of its primary financiers, say authorities. He was sentenced Sept. 26 to 15 years in federal prison.Rex R. Robinson, 40, of Oakland City, Ind., has been convicted of two federal drug charges and is still awaiting sentencing.************************************************************************MAKING THE WALLS TRANSPARENT and Prisons: Unequal Justice"The horrors experienced by many young inmates, particularly those who are convicted of nonviolent offenses, border on the unimaginable. Prison rape not only threatens the lives of those who fall prey to their aggressors, but it is potentially devastating to the human spirit. Shame, depression, and a shattering loss of self-esteem accompany the perpetual terror the victim thereafter must endure." U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, Farmer v. Brennan SPR - Stop Prisoner Rape
SPR - Stop Prisoner Rape Rights Watch
Male Rape in US Prisons rights
Children in the US Children
Juvenile Justice Labor of ConfinementHuman Rights Watch has documented abominable conditions for children in detention in countries around the world. In the United States (Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, and Maryland), Pakistan, Jamaica, among other countries, children are subjected to excessive force, inadequate medical and mental health care, and are provided with little or no education. Often, these children are placed in the facilities along side adults, exposing them to physical and sexual abuse.Close to Home: Juveniles in Adult Jails
Op-Ed by Michael Bochenek
The Washington Post Systems, Inc. (CSI) is a publicly-traded corporation that contracts with governmental agencies to operate correctional projects. Malik Johnson & Stephan D. Mullen - Ohio Child Abuse Investigato... of Information Services Internet Website Detention Study Juvenile Detention Directory 1997-1999; Paperback Info Network Health Issues and Juvenile Justice Benefits of Treating Kids Like People approves $1.5b to fight juvenille crime Major new legislation, the Juvenile Crime Control Act of 1997 (H.R. 3), designed to assist states and local governments in combating serious juvenile crim in the News page 4 Assault Information Page November Coalition is working to end the atrocities of America's "War On Drugs" . Join today! Keep Renee Boje Free! "We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark. -The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light"-PlatoFAMM Lawyers and Judges against the drug war Drug Reform Coordination Network
Cops Against The Drug War
Human Rights and the WoD
http://www.hr95.orgDrug Sense
Change the Climate Free James Geddes/90 years for 5 plants,J.htmlRelease Petition LOST MY FREEDOM and can't find it anywhere Linx Real Price of Prisons and Me: We've Got No Idea America
http://www.defraudingamerica.comThe story of Will Foster 93 years for medicinal cannabis
Free the Prisoners of WoD
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