Reasonable Alternatives

Reasonable Alternatives
Posted by FoM on March 15, 2001 at 22:03:01 PT
By Rich Miller
Source: Capital Fax
Rep. Ron Stephens, a Republican from Troy, checked himself into the Betty Ford Clinic the other day because he was addicted to drugs. The reaction of his fellow House Republicans has been nothing short of amazing. They've expressed sincere concern about his well-being, and have pitched in to make sure his district continues to be served. 
They immediately volunteered to carry his legislation and attend his committee meetings, even though they are already being run ragged by an overloaded committee schedule. They've proven they are his friends as well as his colleagues. Their reaction is even more interesting when you consider how anti-drug the House Republican caucus is. Some of them are pushing a series of stringent anti-drug bills this spring. They've even backed a bill that would make it a crime to post information about marijuana on the Internet. Rep. Stephens is a pharmacist, and the Department of Professional Regulation claims that it knew about his problem. It's possible he could face disciplinary action upon his return. In the meantime, though, his colleagues' behavior is absolutely correct. Compassion, empathy and assistance. There's no talk about Stephens being a "moral failure," as people like conservative nanny Bill Bennett refer to drug users. There have been no demands for Stephens' imprisonment, or for his ouster from the House, or for get-tough laws on drug-addicted pharmacists. Compassion, empathy, assistance. Perhaps all the members of the General Assembly can learn from this experience. If Rep. Stephens needs our understanding, then why not other drug users? If there are no calls for his imprisonment and ouster, no demands to reduce the rights of everyone in order to punish a minority for harming themselves, no cynical dismissal of his attempt to seek treatment, then why impose those failed "solutions" on the rest of the population? This is the second hard lesson about the War on Drugs that the House Republicans have experienced in the past few months. Rep. I. Ron Lawfer, a Republican from Stockton, tried to move legislation that would allow the University of Illinois to plant a small field of industrial hemp to study whether Illinois farmers could make money off the crop. The reaction was swift and fierce. Anti-drug groups and police denounced the legislation as a step towards legalization of marijuana. The harsh reaction took Lawfer and his colleagues by surprise. They considered themselves loyal soldiers in the War on Drugs. But now they were being equated with a bunch of California hippies. Industrial hemp has very little THC - the ingredient that makes pot smokers high. You'd have to smoke a whole field to catch a buzz, but by then you'd probably be too sick to notice. "Thousands of years ago, people started selecting hemp for its fiber production or its drug producing capacity. Over that time, the plant has evolved to be almost two separate plants. We're obviously most interested in fiber production and these varieties have almost no drug-related derivative," said Don Briskin, University of Illinois Professor of plant physiology. Briskin is the guy who wants to do the U of I hemp research. The uses for hemp are many and varied. Plastics, fiber, paper and a ton of other stuff can be manufactured with the product. Put the crop into a rotation with soybeans and corn and many weeds are strangled out of existence, plus it can reduce the populations of harmful insects. The university planned to grow the crop behind two barbed wire-topped fences. Security would not have been an issue. Lawfer continued pushing his bill despite the cries of outrage from anti-drug warriors. The bill fell a few votes short of passage last fall, but he brought it back to the floor in January and the bill wound up on the governor's desk. Governor Ryan vetoed the bill, claiming concern that the legislature didn't provide enough safeguards. In the meantime, the General Assembly has learned some valuable lessons, mainly that common sense is a rare commodity in the War on Drugs these days. The strident anti-drug lobby would toss Rep. Stephens out on his ear, even though his colleagues instinctively realize that what he needs right now is their help and compassion. And they've seen how the hysteria against drugs can block practical legislation which could eventually help struggling farmers make ends meet. Maybe they're finally turning a corner. Most of the energy behind the War on Drugs comes from an irrational fear of the unknown. The more legislators see the damage that this fear can do, the more likely it is that they'll look for reasonable alternatives. Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter. He can be reached at: Article Courtesy Of MapInc. Mike D.Source: Illinois Times (IL)Author: Rich MillerPublished: March 15, 2001Copyright: 2001 Yesse CommunicationsAddress: PO Box 3524 Springfield, IL 62708Fax: 217/753-2281Contact: 71632.147 compuserve.comRelated Articles:Ryan's Veto Nixes Chance To Research Hemp Hell of Addiction
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Comment #3 posted by Dankhank on March 16, 2001 at 07:20:30 PT:
Agreed ...
This smacks of the highest of hypocracy that can easily be documented in the media. It is true that we must distribute this story with our strong disapproval. We disapprove not of the treatment of Rep Stephens, but of the treatment of everyone else.I hava a hotmail acct. and recently enabled the "rich-text" feature. It allows me to copy this page in all it's glory and send it on ... whild adding my commentary either at the head or tail of the page.Hope you don't mind, FOM.
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Comment #2 posted by dddd on March 15, 2001 at 23:44:19 PT
This fries me so bad,I cant even make fun of it,,yet it's no suprize.The obscene anomole of comparitive hypocricy is beyond heinous.(pardon my spelling and verbal misuse).This is a significant outrage,worthy of the loudest howlings,and brisk exposure.GOOD GRIEF!...........................................................ddddisgusting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Comment #1 posted by NiftySplifty on March 15, 2001 at 23:04:11 PT
Oh, I get it.
If we get caught, that's when we go to jail, but if we turn ourselves in, we get sympathy. Or, maybe it's if we get caught, we go to jail, but they get sympathy. Good article. I hope more pols take notice!Nifty...
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