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Looking for a Fix!
Posted by FoM on February 21, 1999 at 07:12:27 PT
How We Got into This Mess and How We Can Get Out!
DRUG CRAZYBy Mike GrayThe war on drugs is not succeeding, and both of these compact, well-documented books help to explain why. To start with, the drug traffickers have adapted rapidly to each new assault launched by the government's anti-drug warriors.
 Now, aided by mobile phones, communications jammers and other high-tech equipment, the traffickers have become an ever more formidable enemy. According to a State Department report, the smugglers have replaced the straightforward trafficking routes of a decade ago with "a complex web of nodes and lines linking virtually every country in the world to the main drug production and trafficking centers." In the United States, a new generation of users is giving heroin a new life, and the Colombian drug syndicates have decided to invest heavily in the production of that drug.How did this seemingly endless war on drugs begin in the first place, and what are our chances of getting out of it? In Webs of Smoke, two scholars, Kathryn Meyer and Terry Parssinen, track the history of the drug trade over the first 50 years of this century. Their focus is on the entrepreneurial side of the business. Using more than 200 recently declassified State Department files of suspected narcotics traffickers as well as other archives, they also provide detailed portraits of drug smugglers at work.The leading traffickers portrayed in this book, like many skilled business people, come across as extremely adaptable to market demands and highly capable of countering those who would suppress them. They are internationally minded, able to work with people from all nations. But they are not part of any international conspiracy. Their alliances are impermanent. They compete with each other. Their power shifts from group to group and from country to country.As Meyer and Parssinen describe it, as far back as the early 1900s the drug trade involved relatively sophisticated smugglers from many nations. Take the example of Paul Yip, a South China mid-level gangster who made a smooth transition from merchant to opium smuggler. By the early 1930s, he was part of a network spreading from Shanghai throughout China that used a Japanese ship captain, among others, to import opium into China from Persia. "Paul Yip had the temperament of a born opium smuggler," write Meyer and Parssinen. "He was quick to recognize opportunity where others saw only chaos in the shifting political alliances. He was willing to accommodate any side, and he was a violent man. Aside from his smuggling activities, he attracted the authorities' attention in 1935 when he came home one evening to find one of his mistresses in bed with his gardener. He shot them both."It was also in the 1930s that America got its first drug czar: Harry J. Anslinger, a former railroad policeman who, as head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, promised to make "unceasing war" on drug traffickers and on drug addicts. Manipulating public fears of crime and of a global narcotics conspiracy, Anslinqer shaped a government approach that for three decades emphasized enforcement over treatment and rehabilitation. By the time he retired in 1962, say Meyer and Parssinen, Anslinger appeared to have the drug problem contained, but he could not have anticipated "the coming storm of the 1960s, when America's youth rediscovered drugs."In contrast with the scholarly tone of Web of Smoke, Mike Gray's Drug Crazy is an angry book. Gray detects a decades-long pattern of officials manipulating statistics and the public's fears in order to mobilize billions of dollars in a futile effort to halt the drug trade. In the end, Gray says, unprecedented penalties have fallen "on the heads of small-time dealers and users instead of the major traffickers they were intended for."From the streets of Chicago to the jungles of Peru, Gray vividly describes the front lines of the drug war. His description of Cook County's night drug court, more of a grim production line than a court of law, is particularly disturbing. A policeman can decide whether to prosecute or not. "This is the arena where the fault lines of American justice are clearly visible," Gray writes. "Absolute power is inevitably subject to political pressure and favoritism. The white kid in the Mercedes gets a pass and the black kid in the car behind him gets five years without parole."As for the war on drugs, Gray concludes that its failure can be seen on the streets, where the drugs "are stronger, cheaper, more pure, and more widely available than at any time in history. Everything from crack cocaine to Dilaudid is just a phone call away and chances are they'll deliver." Prior to the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, if people wanted drugs "they at least had to go to a drugstore," says Gray. "Now they can get anything they want from the neighbor's kid." One consequence of the Harrison Act -- which brought morphine, heroin and cocaine under federal control -- was to dry up addicts' legal sources of drugs and make them more dependent on illegal suppliers. According to Gray, "if Americans are to have any say at all in what their teenagers are exposed to, they will have to take the drug market out of the hands" of gangsters and cartels and "put it back in the hands of doctors and pharmacists where it was before 1914."At the least, these two books provide persuasive evidence that the war on drugs has never worked well and that new approaches must be tried.Dan Southerland, vice president and executive editor of Radio Free Asia, reported on the drug trade from Asia as a foreign correspondent.  Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on February 21, 1999 at 19:54:11 PT
Drug Crazy!
Thanks for the great comment. I love to post the stories but it is hard for me to comment on them but I was impressed that this was in the Washington Post. I think they are very conservative in their stories and that makes this article even more special. I was in a chat with Mike Gray not to long ago and he is very interesting to listen too. Peace soon I hope!
FoM's Freedom Page
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Comment #1 posted by Dr. Ganj on February 21, 1999 at 19:00:59 PT
Drug Crazy!
I've read Drug Crazy, and it is a great book! Not only does it explain why we got into this, but he has a good plan to get us out, as well. It's a big, ugly, war machine with no conscience, but we can stop the madness. Please get this book, and be informed. If we arm ourselves with knowledge, we can beat this awful beast.Stay out of jail, and I wish you all the best.         Dr. Ganj          
http://www.hightimes.com
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