Smoke a Joint & Your Family Could End Up Homeless

Smoke a Joint & Your Family Could End Up Homeless
Posted by CN Staff on May 28, 2008 at 20:13:54 PT
By Tony Newman, Huffington Post
Source: AlterNet
USA -- Drug addiction is bad. But the war on drugs is worse.Courtland Milloy of the Washington Post wrote a heart-breaking story that exemplifies the wasteful and counterproductive way our society deals with illegal drug use. Mr. Milloy talks about Frances Johnson, a 68-year-old grandmother in Washington, D.C. who faces eviction simply because her grandson was arrested for possessing a small amount of marijuana. The federal government's public housing system has a "one strike and you're out" policy for any drug law violation -- even if that violation occurs miles away from home.
How does our society benefit from making homeless a whole family because of a little bit of marijuana? Why are we punishing Ms. Johnson who herself did nothing wrong? Does anyone really believe such draconian policies will help reduce marijuana use? How will an eviction affect her grandson's chances for recovery? Should any family be kicked out of their home for a loved one's drug use?Though they contain no racist language, the application of the government's zero-tolerance prohibition policies are overtly racist, classist, ineffective and inhumane. The New York Civil Liberties Union released a report earlier this month that found 83 percent of those charged with marijuana possession over the last 10 years are black or Latino even though federal surveys show that whites are more likely to use pot. If you are poor and live in public housing, your whole family is punished for a drug offense--even for smoking a joint. But if you are middle class and do not rely on public housing or other benefits it is a "personal" issue. Despite our arresting a staggering 800,000 people for marijuana last year, marijuana is as easily available as ever -- to find some, just inquire around your local high-school.For 40 years, we have been waging a "war on drugs." Just what does our $40 billion-a-year drug war get us? Our prisons are exploding with nonviolent drug offenders; families are kicked out of housing when many have done nothing wrong; thousands die from street violence generated by prohibition's lucrative black market; and drugs remain as plentiful and easy to obtain as ever.Enough is enough. Ms. Johnson should not be more "collateral damage" from this unwinnable war.For 40 years, we have been waging a "war on drugs." Families are kicked out of housing when many have done nothing wrong.Tony Newman is communications director for the Drug Policy Alliance.Complete Title: Smoke a Joint and Your Whole Family Could End Up HomelessWashington Post: Hard-Line Drug Law Threatens a Pillar of the Community: AlterNet (US)Author: Tony Newman, Huffington PostPublished: May 28, 2008Copyright: 2008 Independent Media InstituteContact: letters Website: Policy Alliance -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on May 29, 2008 at 21:23:09 PT
drug laws
The black press in my area is finally starting to run some stories about the racist nature of the Drug War. Good for them. The drug laws were put in place for racist reasons and remains in place for racist reasons. Halderman wrote in his memoirs that Nixon blamed African-Americans for the country’s “drug problems” and sought to craft laws that singled them out for prosecution without appearing to do so. 
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Comment #1 posted by afterburner on May 29, 2008 at 05:47:10 PT
Muzzled by the Feds
It is unfortunate that those who, from personal experience, are aware of its usefulness are so reluctant to be public about it. I believe it would be good for the country if more people in business, academic and professional worlds were known to be marijuana users. The government has been able to pursue its policies of persecution and prosecution largely because of the widespread false belief that cannabis smokers are either irresponsible and socially marginal people or adolescents who "experiment", learn their lesson, and abandon all use of the drug. That lie is unfortunately perpetuated when those who know better remain silent. It's time to let the truth come out.
To Smoke or not to Smoke: A Cannabis Odyssey
By Lester Grinspoon, MD
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