'War on Drugs:' A Foul Tragedy

'War on Drugs:' A Foul Tragedy
Posted by CN Staff on December 06, 2005 at 07:48:21 PT
By Garrison Keillor, In These Times
Source: AlterNet
USA -- A marijuana grower can get life in prison without parole, while a murderer might be in for eight years. No rational person can defend this. We Democrats are at our worst when we try to emulate Republicans -- as we did in signing onto the "war" on drugs that has ruined so many young lives.The cruelty of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 is stark indeed, as are the sentencing guidelines that impose mandatory minimum sentences for minor drug possession -- guidelines in the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act that sailed through Congress without benefit of public hearings, drafted before an election by Democrats afraid to be labeled "soft on drugs."
As a result, a marijuana grower can land in prison for life without parole while a murderer might be in for eight years. No rational person can defend this; it is a Dostoevskian nightmare, and it exists only because politicians fled in the face of danger.That includes Bill Clinton, under whose administration the prosecution of Americans for marijuana went up hugely, so that now there are more folks in prison for marijuana than for violent crimes. More than for manslaughter or rape. This only makes sense in the fantasy world of Washington, where perception counts for more than reality. To an old Democrat, who takes a ground view of politics -- What is the actual effect of this action on the lives of real people? -- it is a foul tragedy that makes you feel guilty about enjoying your freedom.If suddenly on a Friday night the red lights flash and the cops yank your teenage son and his little envelope of marijuana into the legal meatgrinder and some bullet-headed prosecutor decides to flex his muscle and charge your teenager -- because he had a .22 rifle in his upstairs bedroom closet -- with a felony involving the use of a firearm, which under our brutal sentencing code means he can be put on ice for 20 years, and the prosecutor goes at him hammer and tong and convinces a passive jury and your boy's life is sacrificed so this creep can run for Congress next year -- this is not your cross alone to bear. If the state cuts off your right hand with a meat cleaver on my account and I don't object, then it is my cleaver and my fingerprints on it.I don't dare visit Sandstone Federal Prison here in Minnesota for fear of what I'd see there: People who chose marijuana, a more benign drug than alcohol, and got caught in the religious war that we Democrats in a weak moment signed onto. God help us if we form alliance with such bullies as would destroy a kid's life for raising cannabis plants. Garrison Keillor is the host and writer of "A Prairie Home Companion," now in its 26th year on the air.Source: AlterNet (US)Author: Garrison Keillor, In These TimesPublished: December 06, 2005Copyright: 2005 Independent Media InstituteContact: letters Website: Article:Clinton: Pot Should Not Be Prison Offense -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #29 posted by Ferre on December 11, 2005 at 13:44:47 PT
Corrupt to the bone
Politicians who, with all the information available today, are in favor of prohibition, are either plain stupid or corrupt to the bone.Reverend Ferre van Beveren
THC Ministry Amsterdam
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Comment #28 posted by FoM on December 07, 2005 at 09:23:13 PT
I agree with you too. There are religious reasons by the extreme right in my opinion. Hurry up and make Armageddon come. Bush's father was threatened. We needed to get rid of aging weapons so we can make more and some people will make money. So many reasons.
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Comment #27 posted by Toker00 on December 07, 2005 at 09:08:00 PT
YW dongenero, FoM
FoM, I have to agree with Max. There is an ulterior motive that they won't go public with, ever. It's sitting there like an 800lb. gorilla, but they won't admit it. Oil is power and the Bushites want ALL of it. We ain't gonna let that happen. Let's get our sons and daughters home to help us Wage Peace on War! Then we will dismantle the military machine worldwide. NO MORE WARS!!!!!Wage peace on war. END CANNABIS PROHIBITION NOW! 
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Comment #26 posted by FoM on December 07, 2005 at 09:06:25 PT
Max Flowers 
I agree with you. I am not a gun person but so help me if we were invaded by a foreign country I would become just like Annie Oakley. What did Bush expect? Oil is all I can think of.
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Comment #25 posted by Max Flowers on December 07, 2005 at 08:22:29 PT
Those questions you asked above are key. In my opinion Bush and the rest of his crew know damn well that "victory in Iraq" is not something that can actually be achieved; but war makes warmakers rich. When your "enemy" is fanatical, basically insane, and fighting you as the invader on their home territory, there is no winning possible (for you the occupier that is). There has to be a secret plan to stay there and even build up a presence in the region.The kind of war going on now could in theory go on for decades, because you can't wipe out that kind of enemy on their home turf. Just imagine a foreign force invading America and trying to kill all the guerilla resistance that would form! It would be absolutely impossible. We would be so incredibly motivated. Well, that is exactly how it is for Iraqi insurgents. Except they're much harder than we are, having been exposed to war and brutality at home for decades (centuries, really).I also believe that Bush is stalling in order to allow the international trial of Saddam to happen and be finished, because he sees it as the knockout blow that he has wanted Saddam to suffer ever since 1991. He sees prosecuting Saddam and installing a replacement government in Iraq as part of the same plan, but while the first part was pulled off, the second will be impossible in my opinion.
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Comment #24 posted by FoM on December 07, 2005 at 07:53:18 PT
Thank you for the pictures. People think the 60s died. It didn't die it just went about life and now that we are back in the same situation as we were in Vietnam here we are again. Taking it to the streets will help end this terrible war. Bush says we have to win before we leave Iraq. I want to know what the heck we are going to win. Win what? What does victory mean for Bush? I think that controlling the oil is what he wants but doesn't have the nerve to say it. I wonder what others think he wants before we bring our troops home.We The People not politicians will make the change happen.
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Comment #23 posted by dongenero on December 07, 2005 at 07:37:28 PT
thanks for the link Toker
Great pics.
I love reading the protest signs! There are some good ones in there.
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Comment #22 posted by Toker00 on December 07, 2005 at 03:58:30 PT
We the People.
Some pics of our protest at Houston Indy Media... peace on war. END CANNABIS PROHIBITION NOW!
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Comment #21 posted by Toker00 on December 07, 2005 at 03:44:39 PT
Death to war.
WHEN our voices get loud enough, FoM, not if. The politicians are hearing a faint far-off rumble from the people right now. It's turning the heads of those who hear it. But we have a lot of hard-of-hearing politicians. Money and Power seem to make you deaf to the voices of The People.
There were over three hundred people at the Cheney/Delay protest in Houston Monday night. Delay heard us because he mentioned some of the groups, by name, in his speech to the Damned. I think Cheney is still deaf, though. The crowds are getting bigger. The voices ARE getting louder. Rave on, people! Let's get so loud that even the deaf can hear us!Wage peace on war. END CANNABIS PROHIBITION NOW!
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on December 06, 2005 at 21:24:04 PT
I agree with you about politics and the third party route. I will vote for a Democrat to make sure we don't get another Republican but that's the only reason for me. No more of what we have had to endure with this administration is all I hope for.We the People will bring change and then politicians will have to listen if our voices get loud enough.
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Comment #19 posted by whig on December 06, 2005 at 21:16:25 PT
The third party route won't work because anyone who pursues power through any party or no party is not to be trusted with power. I advocate intentional abstention.
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Comment #18 posted by BRM on December 06, 2005 at 21:05:58 PT:
war on drugs:' a foul tragedy
Brothers and Sisters have you not been told that for God so loved the world that He created cannabis/hemp/marijuana so mankind would have a reason to make war on one another and put their childern in prison to be tortured and become a victim of rape. Why would you want a plant that can give you clothes,food shelter,and fuel for your car, when you can have war, pain, and suffering. Man created guns to make sure Gods wish would be carried out. If you think for one second that the demopulbicans and repubcrats that you vote for, to represent your ideas, to make the changes you want, are going to walk away from all that money they get to keep the drug war the way it is. Well, you better think a little more.I could be wrong on this, but if WE the people democrates and republicans alike unite and take say, 5 to 8 million votes away from each party to start a strong third party. Well WE may not win an election, but I do believe WE would get their attention. And who knows maybe after 1 or 2 elections,WE might just win one. This is from a Republican who voted for Bush the first time but not the second. And I do vote third party now, and I blieve this is what it is giong to take to get the changes WE as a nation need.
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Comment #17 posted by cannabliss on December 06, 2005 at 16:44:21 PT
The times, they are a-changin'
The same Midwest/Lutheran/apple-bobbing/county fair/knit a quilt/whiter than extra-bleached WonderBread/something for people jonesin for Lawrence Welk/... Garrison Keillor wrote this?Something is up in this country...
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Comment #16 posted by global_warming on December 06, 2005 at 16:03:19 PT
The Clock is Ticking
It is Tue Dec 6 2005 -Money Spent on the War On Drugs this YearFederal $18 Billion American DollarsState $28 Billion American DollarsTotal $47.5 Billion American DollarsSource: Office of National Drug Control PolicyImagine what all that money could do for all of us Americans, build new schools, educate millions of children, build the greatest health research centers so that we could combat disease, hunger on a planetary scale.Imagine
Drug War Clock
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Comment #15 posted by global_warming on December 06, 2005 at 15:29:57 PT
prison crowding
Here in NJ, there is some legislation making the rounds that would decrease the distance of the drug free zone from 1,00 feet to 200 feet.Is seems that these mandatory sentences are putting low level drug consumers into long prison sentences, and that price tag is bothering some people.End the war on drugs/people.Drug abuse should never be a crime, drug abuse does not need a cop or an expensive dea swat team replete with helicopters and automatic weapons.There are terrorists out there, and they are not smoking that blessed weed.
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on December 06, 2005 at 13:57:46 PT
Editorial: Looking at Drug Laws
December 06, 2005 North Carolina -- As a former state chief justice and also former Wake County district attorney, Burley Mitchell knows a lot about how drugs affect criminals and how drug laws affect society. So it's worth listening when he floats the possibility of decriminalizing at least some drug offenses.The context of Mitchell's suggestion -- made at a recent forum on prison crowding -- was the flood of inmates coming into North Carolina (and indeed, federal) prisons, and the state's failure to keep pace by building enough prison cells. Even with 3,000 new prison spaces becoming available by 2008, the state still is projected to be short by 2,900 in 2010. And of course incarceration isn't cheap. North Carolina spends about $24,000 a year on average to house an inmate.Obviously, the illegal nature of drugs restricts supplies to some extent, even at great costs in law enforcement. Tight supplies mean steep prices, which become a lure for violent gangs and organized crime.It wouldn't be an easy debate, since many politicians understandably would be reluctant to lessen drug penalties while authorities are battling a steep increase in methamphetamine use, for instance. But people who imported or trafficked in the most damaging drugs -- such as meth, heroin or crack -- still could be subject to prison. 
 Complete Article:
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Comment #13 posted by siege on December 06, 2005 at 13:55:44 PT
Cocaine use fuels rise in hard drug offences
LONDON (Reuters) - Cocaine use fuelled a rise in Class A drugs offences in England and Wales to record levels last year, government statistics showed on Tuesday.Class A offences -- those relating to the most harmful substances such as cocaine and heroin -- rose 2 percent to 36,350, the Home Office data showed, an increase of more than 25,000 offences from 1994.Cocaine offences dealt with by police were up almost 16 percent from the previous year. Ten years ago just 2 percent of all known drug offenders were involved with cocaine, but that figure had now risen to 10 percent with 8,070 offences.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on December 06, 2005 at 12:06:40 PT
The Stranger: After I-75
Some of the article has coding that isn't right so I thought I would post the link instead of trying to post it. Here it is.***Dec 1 - Dec 7, 2005 Seattle’s Move to De-Prioritize Marijuana Arrests Is Working—Arrests for Marijuana Use Are Down, Pot Smoking Is Not Up, and Other Cities Are Following Our Lead. So What’s Next? How About Ending the War on Drugs?BY ELI SANDERSWhat kind of drug experts are awake at 8:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning?Normally, one would expect to see only the most ragged tweakers on Capitol Hill up at such an hour. But in Seattle last week a bunch of middle-class professionals—drug experts all—were gathered bright and early in a dim conference room at the downtown Red Lion. They wore business attire and academic eyewear, carried laptops and lattes, and shared one common goal: to dismantle the war on drugs.This was decidedly not the Hempfest crowd. Instead, the people at this conference represented the intellectual vanguard of the drug-law reform movement: physicians, psychiatrists, attorneys, policy experts, teachers, and social workers who feel that the current drug war is a failed policy in need of radical revision. They had come to Seattle from across the country because it seemed the natural place for a gathering of those at the forefront of thought on illicit drugs. While Americans may tend to think of San Francisco as the likely center for any drug-related movement, and while it may seem surprising to think that Seattle could be at the vanguard of anything at this moment, given the prevailing feeling of stuckness on civic issues in this city, it turns out we’re ahead of the rest of the country on this one. Largely below the radar, Seattle has moved to the new cutting edge of American social policy on adult drug use.The most obvious example of this is Initiative 75, passed by a strong majority of Seattle voters in 2003. The measure mandated that arrests of adult marijuana users would become the lowest priority for law enforcement agencies in the city, all but decriminalizing pot smoking in Seattle. It was opposed by drug warriors from U.S. Drug Czar John Walters on down to Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr, but it nevertheless succeeded in radically altering the climate for pot smokers here, and has become the model for subsequent similar measures in Oakland, Denver, and Columbia, Missouri. Add in Seattle’s innovative drug court, which allows people convicted of drug crimes to choose treatment over incarceration, and the King County Bar Association’s new and groundbreaking blueprint for drug-law reform in Washington State, and this city emerges as something of a demonstration project on drug reform for the rest of the country.It’s all part of an intentional, coordinated effort by local activists. The aim, says Roger Goodman, director of the bar association’s Drug Policy Project and an organizer of the conference, is simple and exceedingly ambitious: “Change the culture.”First, here in Washington. Then, slowly, across the United States.Initiative 75, if you believed those who warned against its passage in 2003, was going to confuse kids, lead to an explosion of marijuana use, and squander taxpayer money on a citizen review board to study the effects of the new law. None of this has happened, even according to Carr, the city attorney, who had warned before the law’s passage that I-75 was “wrong for our children and our community.”Complete Article:
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on December 06, 2005 at 11:55:51 PT
Marijuana and Drugs Again Together
I do not understand why they keep putting marijuana in the same articles as hard drugs. How can we ever get society to understand?***Shoot This Idea Up ***Liberal thinking and legalizing drugs are equally dangerous ***I love reading arguments in favor of drug legalization. They often include statements to the effect of “marijuana is not as bad as smoked tobacco,” or “marijuana causes fewer auto accidents than alcohol.” People might as well argue “methamphetamine isn’t any worse than snorting pseudo ephedrine, red phosphorous, hydrochloric acid, drain cleaner, battery acid, lye, lantern fuel and antifreeze.” Apparently, these are all thoroughly convincing rationalizations that justify drug legalization. After all, lots of other things are worse than drugs.Complete Article:
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Comment #10 posted by whig on December 06, 2005 at 11:17:34 PT
You write: "I wish I could find a political party that is dedicated to the non-initiation of force and non-use of coercion against people. To me, that's where the rubber meets the road. Why does it seem to me that everyone has their pet reasons force should be initiated again some people? The initiation-of-force part and the coercion part, that's the part of politics and government I don't like."Politics *is* force. This is important for us to realize if we want to stop feeding the system which is destroying ourselves. As more of us have woken up and withdrawn our consent from the state, the remaining adherents of the state have been showing their true colors, thus awakening still more of us every day.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on December 06, 2005 at 10:43:21 PT
Police That Are Afraid
I would like to know how many police are shot or shot at during drug raids (mostly hard drugs I would think). Guns in a serious criminals hands would scare me too. I'm not defending the police but I know my sister is a good person and she was a cop for over 20 years and wouldn't have ever hurt anyone. 
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Comment #8 posted by JustGetnBy on December 06, 2005 at 10:34:44 PT
Fearfull Police
I believe that Police have told the prohib-lies so long that they have frightned themselves.I am sure that a few police are shot during encounters with drugs each year, and I suspect there are more unarmed citizens shot by police in these same situations.  The police themselves set the rules of engagment which creates fear among all parties involved.  I would like to see some stats on how mant people are shot 
as a result of police/SWAT/dynamic entry situations. I think if we could force them to justify these tactics in the pubic/legal venue they would be forced to stop these armed assaults against the citizenry.
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Comment #7 posted by siege on December 06, 2005 at 10:34:17 PT
cannabis easy ''target'' 
Heavily armed swat teams and DEA have to have someone to make them look good so they pick on the Cannabis user an easy ''target'' so they don't get hurt, Cannabis user are not violent criminals, that they are portrayed to be, The swat teams and DEA, are like little childern, that run to mommy and say look mommy, I did not poo poo my panties, looking for recognition for there survival.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on December 06, 2005 at 09:39:33 PT
I don't know the answer to your question but our society is so gun oriented that it helps create violence. If a police man isn't afraid of being shot by a criminal that might have a gun then maybe the violence would be checked. I assume that in Canada heavily armed swat teams don't bust down people's doors but I could be wrong. I am not against guns but guns contribute to why swat teams use force in my opinion. It's fear of being killed by violent criminals.
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Comment #5 posted by observer on December 06, 2005 at 09:28:07 PT
I wish I could find ...
I wish I could find a political party that is dedicated to the non-initiation of force and non-use of coercion against people. To me, that's where the rubber meets the road. Why does it seem to me that everyone has their pet reasons force should be initiated again some people? The initiation-of-force part and the coercion part, that's the part of politics and government I don't like. That's what I don't like about prohibitionist drug policy: it initiates the use of force by sending men with guns (police) to force you to stop using drugs, and force you into jail, or shoot you if you resist. (Or shoot you if the cops can claim they thought maybe you might have resisted, etc.)
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on December 06, 2005 at 08:59:37 PT
My Wish
I am not a Democrat but I lean more towards the Democrats and Greens then any political party. I've been told by my sister who is a die hard Republican that after what this administration has done that she knows that a Democrat will be president in 08 and I agree with her. I hope the Democrats will start speaking out now. 
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Comment #3 posted by E_Johnson on December 06, 2005 at 08:38:04 PT
I've been waiting ten years to see this
Seems there's a revolt breaking out in the Democratic Party.All that hard work by Libertarians is finally paying off!
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on December 06, 2005 at 08:30:29 PT
Good to see Garrison Keillor join the ranks of the outspoken. Who would've thought? He's absolutely right though. I would also like to ask him about what happened with the Democrats and the Patriot Act, but that's another issue for another day....
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on December 06, 2005 at 07:52:54 PT
Related Article from AlterNet
Liberalism's Brain on Drugs***By Ryan Grim, In These TimesDecember 6, 2005If we live in a fundamentally free society, how does confining a drug offender to 17 years in prison jive with America's values of equality and liberty? At some point, everyone ought to throw his or her political theory -- whatever it is -- up against the wall of reality to see if it sticks.Complete Article:
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