Voters Set Trends in Approach to Drugs 

Voters Set Trends in Approach to Drugs 
Posted by FoM on December 18, 2000 at 09:08:03 PT
By Doug Bandow
Source: USA Today 
Lame-duck politicians have a tendency to speak unpopular truths. So it would seem with Bill Clinton, who declared in Rolling Stone magazine that those using or selling small quantities of marijuana should not be jailed.Nor is Clinton the only politician to criticize the endless war against drugs. New Mexico's Republican governor, Gary Johnson, another lame duck, has turned drug-law reform into a veritable crusade. Johnson, who admits to past drug use, now is a triathelete who warns against drugs. But he contends that the drug war is misguided. 
And Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Calif., this year made drug-law reform the centerpiece of his unsuccessful Senate campaign. These three politicians may be anomalies, but their willingness to speak out illustrates an important phenomenon overshadowed by the presidential contest: Voters are beginning to demand changes in how we treat drug problems.Campbell lost, but the California drug-reform initiative he championed, Proposition 36, won  despite opposition from virtually the entire political and law enforcement establishment. Proposition 36, which diverts nonviolent drug offenders from prison to treatment, was modeled after an Arizona plan approved in 1996 with the support of an unusual left-right coalition.This was not the only success for drug-reform advocates. Aside from Massachusetts, which narrowly defeated an initiative similar to Proposition 36, every other statewide drug-reform campaign won Nov. 7.Over the vehement opposition of the drug warriors in Clinton's administration, Colorado and Nevada approved initiatives legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. (Previously, citizens in jurisdictions as disparate as California and Maine imposed similar rules on reluctant public officials.) Nevada's measure even requires that the state provide a legal pot supply for eligible users.Tighter Seizure Laws:Oregon, where voters earlier legalized medical marijuana and rejected a legislative attempt to recriminalize marijuana, joined Utah in reforming drug-forfeiture laws. Police and prosecutors routinely seize property from people merely accused of a crime and keep it for their own use; these initiatives require some proof of guilt.The most direct challenge to the government's lock-'em-up strategy came from California's Mendocino County, where authorities last year confiscated more than $200 million worth of pot. Despite opposition from the local sheriff and prosecutor, voters decriminalized marijuana cultivation for personal use. Although binding on neither state nor federal officials, the initiative further demonstrates fading popular support for the drug war.Rethinking the Issues:That changing public attitude seems to be affecting some politicians. Michigan Gov. John Engler and New York Gov. George Pataki, both Republicans, have discussed relaxing their states' Draconian mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Hawaii this year became the first state in which the legislature legalized the medical use of marijuana. Some states have moved to allow the sale of syringes and cultivation of hemp, and Vermont has established a methadone program to treat heroin users.So far, the impact of these drug-policy reforms is limited. The federal government continues to block access to marijuana by the sick and dying. Forfeiture abuses remain rampant. And issues such as hemp and needle distribution are peripheral.Even the success of Proposition 36, which requires that drug offenders fail two rehabilitation attempts before being imprisoned, remains problematic. It still prescribes prison as the ultimate sanction, and will be put into effect by its opponents, including Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, who suggests that money may not be available to fund the initiative.But further drug-law reform is inevitable, because the existing system isn't working. This country has imprisoned millions of people, wasted billions on enforcement, and sacrificed civil liberties. Yet the illicit drug trade continues to spawn crime and attract kids. And tens of millions of Americans still use drugs  some, like actor Robert Downey Jr., even after serving time in prison.Thankfully, voters increasingly are saying enough. They know the answers to drug abuse aren't easy  but they also know the drug war is a spectacular failure. Source: USA Today (US)Author: Doug BandowPublished: December 18, 2000Copyright: 2000 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.Address: 1000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington VA 22229Fax: (703) 247-3108Contact: editor usatoday.comWebsite: Articles:Mr. President, Show Mercy and Good Sense Naked Truth on Drug War Clinton on Dope Pot Smoking Should Not Be Prison Offense
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Comment #10 posted by Stripey on December 21, 2000 at 21:49:56 PT
That's the way to be. . .
You always have such wonderful commentary, Kap. . .I guess I'm a tad ignorant of the Regan Admin, seeing as I wasn't even out of grade school . . . I think I was still in first or second Grade when Daddy Bush took office, So I'm just a sprat. . .I can only make calls on the politics that I was able to follow, the last of the Daddy Bush admin and both Klinton Admins. . . The realization that DaddyBush brought around a lot of the war changes my perspective a little.Note: a little. . .I do think though, that dubya will try and pawn off the drug war on Klinton for most of his administration. Probably most of it. I think that although he'll come around, the doubt caused by a drug war without a leader could sway public opinion quite a bit and possibly lead to some major groundbreakings at the state/local levels. Bush pushing off the drug war would be much better than Gore Warring on for the "mothers of America." Like tipper did with the censorship stickers on American music, and possibly the shreds of the democratic party that pushed the million mom march, the other side would have crusaded for the safety of america. That was a recurring theme in Gore's campaign, especially in respect to Gun control. (but that's for another BBs.) That means the Dems might have actually instated another million mom march, except they'd be gunning for all of the OTHER "dangerous" people out there: you and me. This is all just conjecture, and I'm just using you guys to bounce some theorys off of, so comments are welcome. =) Especially from you, dddd. . .
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Comment #9 posted by kaptinemo on December 21, 2000 at 07:01:26 PT:
With regards to Bush and 'State's Rights'...
Dubya knows that the only way he can insulate himself from criticisms is, as Stripey has pointed out, blame Klinton. But he can only blame Klinton for so long; sooner or later he will have to take credit or blame for things that are obviously his doing. As to State's Rights; pols turn their coats more often that I change my underwear. Ronnie Ray-gun (Zap!) was supposed to be a big State's Rights man, and look what happened. Under his direction, and later that of Bush's Daddy, the DrugWar became *Federalized*. It was under the ReaganBush (no real diff between them, and with Ronnie nodding off in Cabinet meetings, who do you think was *really* running the show?) Administration that we got the forfeitures, the no-knocks, the prison construction was begun, all that nonsense set in motion. The Federal budget exploded, the mandatory minimums took away from local judges their discretion in setting sentences, I could go on and on. All of which was one slap after another at supporters of State's Rights. Which were Ronnie's and Georgie's *biggest supporters*. All those Bible-thumping, Moral Majority types who acted as the Republican Party shock troops in the late 70's and early 80's were caught flat-footed and their jaws dropped to the floor. They had been rooked, but they hoped to have their way later in the Administration; they never did. Georgie played them for fools, and has no doubt 'schooled' his son in how to play that game again. Can anyone honestly expect Bush's son to be any different? Like all Prez's, he'll say one thing to be elected, and as soon as he can, will wrap himself in Federalism for the 'good of the nation'. That means continuing the DrugWar his Daddy helped escalate.Forget him, and concentrate on the local and State levels, like we have. We are winning there, and soon the Feds will have to accede...or destroy the last shred of legitimacy they lay claim to by commiting total policy-by-declaration. Which would mean the dissolution of the States. (Klinton tried to do that by Executive Order 13083, and got his pinkies burned from the backblast so badly he rescinded his little attempt at coronating himself King within 24 hours after he signed it.)Like I said, we are winning...without the help of big-shot pols. It would be nice if they helped...but I'd always count my fingers after extending the hands of friendship towards the likes of them. 
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Comment #8 posted by Stripey on December 20, 2000 at 11:24:11 PT
Well . . .
That's really the best attitude to have, no room for disapointment. . .I guess I don't see a whole lot changing unless Bush lets the Columbian thing turn into a royal disaster then play hero to pull the US out of it. That's when a lot of the closet MJ proponents will speak out against the drug war.Catastrophy has a neat way of bending public opinion. If the people see that the columbian conflict (dare i call it so. . .) is a complete and utter failure and a catastrophy for all the innocents, the anti-drug-war folks will be able to step out and speak without being chastised by the majority of the folks that are still trying to support the drug war and keep the delusion that drugs are a crime, yadda yadda yadda. . .I'm just a tad more optomistic about the whole thing I guess. . . No hopes, no letdowns though! =)
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Comment #7 posted by dddd on December 19, 2000 at 23:07:22 PT
Stripey,,,I gotta basically agree with you,with the following exceptions;a)On the matter of Gore losing,I can understand why you accuse me of being pissed,but in reality,I agree with   what you alluded to,,Gush..Bore...Shrub...2 X makes very little difference.It's actually the opposite,I'm  glad bush won because he's more fun to trash.B)If you are expecting some sort of kinder,gentler moderation of the drug war,based on the theory that bush will "leave it up to the states",,you're dreamin'.I'm hopin' for the best,but I expect the worst....................dddd
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Comment #6 posted by stripey on December 19, 2000 at 22:45:20 PT
Oh Christ. . .
Yeah, putting more control of the drug war into the states hands is most definately so much like McAssfry and Klinton's rampant incarceration of the MMJ users. *s*4d, sometimes I think that you're just pissed that Gore lost. Bush has been staying away from the drug issue as much as possible, because it's a bruise for him. Don't you see that his urging toward the state's rights is a step forward for the MMJ users and for rec users? If it's the state's call, then Cali's, for example, can get the medicine they need. That also leaves the states responsible for the prosecution of "drug criminals" and gives them the choice between incarceration or treatment.I think that Bush is leaving the drug war to the states because he doesn't want to fight it. He's not even going to do anything about columbia. . . why? If it fails, like it will, he can blame Clinton. Everyone knows it's failing, I know dozens of Anti's that think it's a waste of money, time, and lives.Bush wants nothing to do with drugs in office. That's where he got attacked repeatedly. He's not going to come across as a hypocrite, because he doesn't want to, and the party REALLY doesn't want to. . . because regardless of how things come out for Bush, the Republicans are ulitmately going to take all of the political heat. If Bush screws up, more people are going to vote democrat in every race, not just the Prez-race in 2004. So if the Republicans allow Bush to become a raging hypocrite and LOSE the drug war at the same time, they've all but lost the house and senate.But here, how would Gore and the "we-have-to-save-Americans-from-themselves" Democrats have been any better. . . and not much much worse?
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Comment #5 posted by NiftySplifty on December 19, 2000 at 17:26:25 PT
Corporations rule.
This might not be the place for it, but since you mentioned corporate influence I'll make it brief. There was a recent study done of 300 corporations that "donated" huge amounts of money to the different Republicrat campaigns. Over 70% of the CEOs dreaded "the phone call", didn't want to donate, and felt shaken-down. Corporations aren't buying influence, the gov is using strong-arm tactics to sell "protection", just like classic mobsters. Buy it, or else. So, when people ask about campaign finance reform, does anyone really expect them to do it? It's like asking Luca Brazzi to be gentle.
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Comment #4 posted by dddd on December 19, 2000 at 04:00:24 PT
things to come...not pretty
 Although this article has a bit of a hopeful flavor,I am not looking forward to any changes from the dubya administration. I think we will find dubya using the classic "both sides of the fence",and,"it's not my fault",strategies to avoid dealing with the growing dissent concerning drug policiy. Dubya is the equivelent of a republican Clinton,when it comes to being a masterful manipulater of responsibility.(this is true of all successful politicians). Dubya has already mentioned that the drug issues should be left up to the states,but that's like saying,"most politicians should be honest"....One hand will wash the other.Dubya will blame congress,congress will blame dubya,,,dubya will consult with his drug czar,,,the congress will form a commission to begin a study on what to do about the obscenities,and injustice of the drug war...The whole issue will go on the same desk with campaign finance reform...... If you thought the Clinton administration sucked,and that the country was bought and paid for by corporate special interests,,,,,YOU AINT SEEN NOTHING YET......The shrub will usher in a whole new era of Texas style,and Texas sized accommodations for wealth and monopolizations.......It aint gonna be pretty. Weve already seen what dubya does when it comes to respecting voters and their votes,and their rights......................................................................................................................dddd 
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on December 18, 2000 at 11:38:51 PT:
Missing an obvious point
Lumping the Kowardly Klinton in with the brave Governor Johnson is as flagrant an insult as you can get. Sure, Johnson is a 'lame-duck'. But he also spoke up for what's right, and is continuing to take the heat for his adherence to the truth...and speaking it.Whereas, Klinton has presided over the single greatest incarceration of harmless cannabis users in the history of the DrugWar. He has aided and abetted the DrugWar at every turn, approving of Barry and Janet Reno's jihad against MMJ users and their attempt to silence doctors in recommending MMJ, continued (and increased!) civil forfeitures, prison construction, etc.And only now, when he is on his way out the door, does he opine that there is validity to what we here have been saying for so long. But then he continues to insult the intelligence of everyone whose IQ is above room-temperature level that, quote:'"I think that most small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized in some places, and should be." He went on to add, "We really need a re-examination of our entire policy on imprisonment. Some people deliberately hurt other people and they ought to be in jail because they can't be trusted on the streets. Some people do things that are so serious that they have to be put in jail to discourage other people from doing similar things. But a lot of people are in prison because they havedrug problems or alcohol problems and too many of them are getting out, particularly out of state systems, without treatment, without education skills, without serious efforts at job placement." Well, duh, Mr. President, when did you come to that earth-shattering conclusion? After you have sent millions into your brand-spanking new poured-concrete hell-holes euphemistically referred to as 'correctional facilities'? Torn apart hundreds of thousands of families, ruined millions of lives, stolen billions in property, destroyed careers...and you think it didn't happen on your watch because of your mistaken belief that the penalties for MJ use *don't exist*? Where has your head resided for the last 8 years? Now more than ever, I am so proud to be able to say that I didn't vote for this jerk, ever.
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Comment #2 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on December 18, 2000 at 11:26:22 PT
Budz in the Hood
  And herbal purveyors never ask for identification nor refuse to sell to minors.
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Comment #1 posted by RAS JAMES RSIFWH on December 18, 2000 at 09:21:57 PT
a B.E.T. comic said the other night on cable tv that weed is legal in the hood because there are many hours you cann't buy alcohol; but weed you can buy twenty-four:seven.GET YOUR LAUGH ON! KINGS AND QUEENS! the manifesting TREE OF LIFE (cannabis sativa) is NOW bearing fruit each month of the year on both sides of america's streets...REV 22 1&2. LIVING IN THE CITY OF GOD, GIVE ALL PRAISE... 
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