|Al Gore on Drugs|
Posted by FoM on August 14, 2000 at 16:58:03 PT|
By Dennis Hans
Source: MoJo Wire
The Clinton-Gore administration spends millions to fight illegal drugs, but does nothing about one of the most damaging substances in American society: alcohol. Perhaps the fact that Big Booze is generous at campaign time explains the contradiction.
Drugs are bad, except the ones that finance campaigns.
"If young people have emptiness in their lives, if they have a lack of respect for the larger community of which they're a part, if they don't find ways to feel connected to the adults who are in the community, if they feel there's phoniness and hypocrisy and corruption and immorality, then they are much more vulnerable to the drug dealers, to the peers who tempt them with messages that are part of a larger entity of evil."
So spoke Al Gore in February 1999, denouncing illegal drug use by young people.
Phoniness? Hypocrisy? Corruption? Immorality? Those four words nicely sum up the Clinton-Gore "anti-drug" policy.
First, one might ask why Gore spoke exclusively about illegal drugs. The stated No. 1 goal of the Office of National Drug Control Policy is to "Educate and enable America's youth to reject illegal drugs as well as alcohol and tobacco." While the White House, to its credit, is making a concerted effort to reduce youth smoking, it has said little about alcohol and done even less. Unlike Big Tobacco, Big Booze remains a bipartisan briber.
According to "Millennium Hangover," a report by Drug Strategies, a centrist nonprofit research institute, alcohol industry political action committees "gave $2.3 million to federal candidates during the 1997-1998 campaign cycle -- as much as contributions by the tobacco industry, and 21 percent more than the gun lobby ($1.9 million) ... Thirty out of 34 Senators elected in 1998 -- including 15 Republicans and 15 Democrats -- accepted contributions from alcohol PACs totaling more than $400,000."
So the administration's bipartisan-backed "anti-drug" advertising campaign excludes the mind-altering drug most likely to kill or hook the very teens the campaign ostensibly seeks to protect. Alcohol is a factor in 100,000 American deaths each year, compared to 52,000 for all illicit drugs combined. Marijuana causes a tiny fraction of those deaths. Pot can be and is abused, but alcohol boasts 12 million addicts. It tears apart families. It's a major factor in violent crime, including domestic abuse.
This would seem to call for a massive program that a) provides treatment on demand, b) encourages abstinence, and c) floods the media with sensible, science-based safe-drinking guidelines that can reduce the risk of developing an alcohol problem or addiction. It's not likely that Gore or his compassionate, recovered-problem-drinker rival will propose as much at the St. Louis presidential debate, sponsored as it is by Anheuser-Busch.
"Despite the cost of alcohol abuse to the nation, estimated at $167 billion annually, no comprehensive strategy has been developed to reduce this problem. Federal spending on alcohol problems does not begin to compare with expenditures for reducing illicit drug use," charges the Drug Strategies report. "Without Federal leadership -- concentrated, coordinated programs with well-defined goals and adequate funding -- the enormous cost of alcohol abuse in both human and economic terms will only increase."
It adds: "Voters have demanded action to stop illicit drug problems, but have not expressed similar concerns about alcohol. Most voters are not aware of the costs associated with alcohol abuse, and Congress does not hear from large numbers of constituents that alcohol abuse presents a pressing problem."
Young people try alcohol and other drugs for a host of reasons. Most of these kids aren't troubled; they are curious about what it's like to get high, and eager to engage in "adult" behavior.
Gore smoked pot as a young man. Were his college-chum "connections" agents of evil? Does he think his old Harvard toking pals applauded when half-a-million Americans were arrested for pot possession in 1996, and again in 1997 -- far more than in any year under Nixon or Reagan?
Last year, the vice president told a group of black columnists he favors reducing the draconian penalties for crack cocaine -- which have contributed substantially to the explosive growth of the black and Hispanic inmate population -- to the level for powder cocaine, the preferred coke of white high-rollers. But will Gore do more than whisper this to black columnists? Will he make it a "fundamental fairness" issue in his campaign?
By doing so -- or better yet, by advocating treatment rather than prison for nonviolent drug abusers; by dropping the silly "entity of evil" rhetoric and speaking sensibly about teen-age drug use; and by formulating an alcohol policy that puts the health of the American people ahead of the health of the alcohol industry -- Gore can demonstrate he is cutting himself off from the phony, hypocritical, corrupt, and immoral drug policies of the administration he serves. What do you think?
Dennis Hans' political commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, Canada's National Post, and Tompaine.com, among other outlets.
Direct Link To Above Article.
Web Posted: Aug. 15, 2000
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|Comment #4 posted by FoM on August 16, 2000 at 06:11:30 PT|
Several readers brought to our attention a discrepancy in the numbers relating to illicit drug use.
The article originally read: "Alcohol is a factor in 100,000 American deaths each year, compared to 52,000 for all illicit drugs combined. Marijuana causes a tiny fraction of those deaths."
Some clarifications are in order.
In fact, alcohol is a factor in at least 100,000 American deaths per year.
Illicit and illegal drugs, however, directly and indirectly cause between 10,000 and 16,000 deaths per year, according to figures from the Drug Abuse Warning Network and the Lindesmith Center.
According to Drug Sense, http://www.drugsense.org/ the 52,000 drug-death figure drug czar Barry McCaffrey has circulated, and which our article used, comes from unpublished research prepared for Office of Drug Control Policy, which has still not been released for public scrutiny. The number also can be deceptive, in that it includes all drug-related deaths, including suicide, homicide, motor vehicle injury, HIV, pneumonia, hepatitis, endocarditis, and infant deaths, as well as overdoses.
Marijuana has been, in fact, never proven to have directly caused any death, according to Drug Enforcement Administration's Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young.
Young's report said one would have to smoke 1,500 pounds of marijuana (20,000 to 40,000 joints) within about 15 minutes to overdose on the drug.
However, marijuana has been involved in some deaths. While precise numbers of marijuana-related fatalities are difficult to find, medical examiners in a recent study reported that the presence of marijuana/hashish in the bodies of drug-overdose and drug-related deaths rose 12 percent from 1997 and 1998.
We regret the errors.
|Comment #3 posted by Kanabys on August 15, 2000 at 08:51:27 PT|
How???? You'd have to smoke you and your families weight in it for it to kill you. The only way I can figure that it causes death is if the cops beat you to death when they bust you!
|Comment #2 posted by mota20 on August 15, 2000 at 01:53:15 PT|
|Comment #1 posted by Rainbow on August 14, 2000 at 19:03:29 PT|