Beyond The Shadow of the Drug War

Beyond The Shadow of the Drug War
Posted by FoM on August 03, 2000 at 07:22:52 PT
By Frank Lingo -Special to The Star
Source: Kansas City Star
The Shadow Convention continued Tuesday on the issue of the failed war on drugs. The event's co-creator, columnist Arianna Huffington, opened the day by praising Colin Powell's speech at the Repugnicans' convention for his mention of 2 million prisoners in America. Fat chance that the fat cats will change. Huffington also quoted from The New York Times, which called the Shadow Convention "an uneasy assortment of the disgruntled." 
Sure, disgruntled people are here, but these activists take the lead in doing something about problems that millions of others agree need to be addressed. As for the "uneasy" part, everyone's getting along fine. In fact, it's quite a success, given that the Shadow Convention is new this year and has a minuscule budget compared with the lavish coronation for "Shrub," much of the money coming from us, the taxpayers. Incidentally, about $40 billion of Americans' state and federal taxes go in the bottomless pit of fighting the drug war. And it hasn't gotten us squat. According to the Lindesmith Center, a Shadow sponsor, 54 percent of high school seniors say they've tried marijuana. Drug reformers say that between 1981 and 1998, the price of heroin and cocaine dropped sharply while levels of purity rose. Lindesmith also cites a Rand Drug Policy Research Center study that shows treatment is 10 times more cost-effective than interdiction for reducing cocaine use. Add the information that every dollar invested in treatment saves society seven more, and you have to wonder why the politicians would rather be mean than smart. Among Tuesday's participants were an assemblage of folks, mostly young and black, wearing white T-shirts with the message "IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU," a warning that the drug war could wreck your family, as it has theirs. First to speak was the Rev. Edwin Sanders, a minister from Nashville, Tenn., with a powerful, passionate style. Sanders said he was asked to give the benediction, but he turned the organizers' goof into his theme by calling for the end of the drug war. Sanders was right when he said it's time for the faith community to take its position. "Too many people have been relegated to the scrap heap of life," he railed, as "profiteers mine a new black gold" in the business of prison-building. With applause nearly drowning him out, Sanders said, "We are writing a new declaration of independence. Borrowed from the GOP's right-wing shindig, New Mexico's Gov. Gary Johnson was at the Shawdow Convention. He said prohibition not drug use was what placed this country apart, and he called for legalization of marijuana. Between speakers there was a slide show, with pictures of people now prisoners and their sentences such as 17 years, 23 years, 30 years, life -- mostly on a charge of drug conspiracy. Putting more of a human face on the horror was Gus Smith, who told of his daughter, Kemba Smith, a college freshman who got romantically involved with a drug dealer who had posed as a student. Although the prosecutor said Kemba had never sold or used drugs, the pregnant student was convicted of conspiracy, money laundering and making false statements. Kemba was sentenced to 24 years, a term exceeding what many killers serve. She gave birth in prison. A group of kids from Detroit and St. Paul, whose families have been imprisoned for drugs, came out to sing and read poems. Hearing the stories from these young sweet faces made for more heartbreaking moments. It surely put a cold light on Colin Powell's claim that George W. Bush cares about people. Frank Lingo may be reached by e-mail at: franklingo earthlink.netContact: letters Feedback: August 2, 2000All content  2000 The Kansas City Star  Related Articles & Web Sites:RAND's Drug Policy Research Center Shadow Conventions Conventions Convention 2000 News Board Articles On The Shadow Conventions: CannabisNews Articles On The Shadow Conventions: 
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Comment #2 posted by Rainbow on August 03, 2000 at 09:19:57 PT
I agree
Lehder is right about speaking up. It got me in trouble though at a gig at the Freightliner Corporation in Portland. There are still the mean around so watch out.But on a lighter note I have been sending news from this site to a candidate for my legislature (US). She is now convinced and supports us at least with Medical Marijuana. She even said that she would co-sponsor a bill when elected.My heart was a pumping when I got that call and the good news. Hey sometimes we can make a difference when we find people who are not mean and who are not "owned" like many of the repugicans and democan'tsBug your pols and to be pols. CheersRainbow
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Comment #1 posted by Lehder on August 03, 2000 at 08:18:22 PT
Power to the People
 We in opposition to the war lack visibility and we lack economic force. Now neither Safeway nor General Electric nor Quest Diagnostics is going to take a public position against the war. But when governors, senators and judges are beginning to openly oppose our leaders' continued manipulation and enforcement of ignorance upon the people, then I think the times they are achangin and that we can successfully confront our "leaders" economically and from a position of power. These next few months of the presidential campaign and election are the ideal time for a Mom&Pop neighborhood grocery to nail a placard above their door: "This business opposes the destructive War on Drugs". Well, call me a deluded, raving anarchist, but I think that business would see a loss of many customers - and a tremendous increase in overall business. Soon it would find that it had many competitors. We need a system of voting that is meaningful, and the almighty dollar is it. That is the American Way.
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