The War on Drugs Has Conquered Only Common Sense

The War on Drugs Has Conquered Only Common Sense
Posted by FoM on April 19, 2000 at 20:34:24 PT
By Edwin Stickney, Billings MD
Source: Billings Gazette
President Richard Nixon announced a War on Drugs in 1972. At that time there were about 200,000 individuals in prisons in the United States. Now, 28 years later, with a federal anti-drug budget of just under $20 billion, the prison and drug population has topped two million persons! 
As Roger Clawson, in a Gazette column published in 1995, said, “In comparison, the Vietnam War was a splendidly successful campaign.” In addition to its demonstrated lack of success, the War on Drugs has had other effects that may be categorized under some of the following headings: Wasted Lives and Eroded Civil Liberties:In 1997, the State of Oklahoma sentenced a father convicted of murdering his son to four years in prison, and a 57-year-old arthritic who grew marijuana to self-medicate the pain of his disease was sentenced to 93 years in prison. Police broke into the apartment of a retired Black Baptist minister in Boston early one morning, handcuffed him, and, in the melee, he had a heart attack and died. Later they discovered that they had the wrong address, but “no-knock” policy authorized the action. Tonya Drake, age 35, mother of four, no criminal record or history of drug use, was paid $44 to mail a package for a friend, unaware that it contained 232 grams of cocaine. Sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. We incarcerate black men at a rate of 3,109 per 100,000. South Africa, with its former policy of apartheid, had a rate of only 729 black men for every 100,000. Hypocrisy:There are approximately 3,500 deaths per year from illegal drug overdoses and usage. There are 400,000 deaths per year in the United States from tobacco-related illnesses, and tobacco is the drug which is legal! Most authorities believe that nicotine is much more addictive than any other drug available on the market. Alcohol has the highest index of aggressivity (road rage, family abuse, etc.) of any available drug, yet both of these drugs are legal. In their desperate attempts to stem illegal drug use, “drug experts” often indulge in grossly distorted diatribes against marijuana–blaming it for decreased sperm production, atrophy of reproductive organs in women, destroying chemicals in the brain, etc. From the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard medical school comes the information that “One of marijuana’s greatest advantages as a medicine is its remarkable safety. It has little effect on major physiological functions.” Damage to Foreign Relations:Our drug policy has led to thousands of deaths and enormous loss of wealth in countries like Colombia, Peru and Mexico, and has undermined the stability of their governments. The tremendous (and constantly growing) demand for illegal drugs in the United States makes interdiction patently impossible. (The Mennonite Church of Colombia has written the Clinton administration, imploring them NOT to send $1 billion in military aid to the Colombian government.) Robert Barro, professor of economics at Harvard, says, “Instead of Washington providing money to the Colombian government, we should begin thinking of curtailing the cash that American consumers send to the other side – the guerrillas. This could be accomplished, virtually overnight, by legalizing drugs in the U.S.” (Emphasis mine.) Solutions:Given the fact that humankind always has and always will use drugs, how can we minimize the harm to lives and maximize the positive effects of money dedicated to solving the drug problem. Some suggested solutions are: Needle-exchange programs. The furnishing of sterile needles to addicts helps to eliminate the spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. These programs have been endorsed by almost all public health authorities. Drug courts which impose strict but positive treatment and behavior guidelines on drug offenders. They cost only a small fraction (under $1,000/year vs. $25,000 for prison) of the money needed to incarcerate offenders, and result in positive effects, rather than the life-ruining effects of prison. Repeal the draconian mandatory sentencing guidelines which take away judicial flexibility and authority. Put the money thus saved into drug treatment programs. Results:Perhaps the most important step for this nation to take is to approach the abuse of drugs in a unified manner–considering the abuse of all drugs (whether currently legal or illegal) as illness to be treated rather than punished. This will: Cut our massive and ineffective drug interdiction budget. Eliminate the assaults upon civil rights and remove the incentive to build further expensive prisons. Improve our relations with neighboring countries. Take the profit out of drug-dealing. Newshawk: SledheadUpdated: Wednesday, April 19, 2000Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.CannabisNews Articles On The War On Drugs - Over 1400 News Items:
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Comment #1 posted by Kanabys on April 20, 2000 at 06:42:02 PT:
Good going
This is another great article. Keep the truth flowing and mayby, just maybe, something within my lifetime will happen that makes sense.
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