A Bit Ill at Ease with Drug User

A Bit Ill at Ease with Drug User
Posted by FoM on August 01, 2001 at 07:34:45 PT
By Thom Marshall 
Source: Houston Chronicle 
Dean Becker makes me a little uncomfortable. He is working hard to bring about an end to the drug war -- writing, talking, organizing things. But he admits to being a longtime user of marijuana. Over the past couple of years, I have met or corresponded via the Internet with many anti-drug war activists, and have read the views and comments of others. The ones I am most comfortable with are those who do not use illegal substances, and believe others should stay away from them, too, but believe we shouldn't punish people who don't. 
I know of a governor, a judge, a psychologist involved with the criminal-justice system and many others who do not use drugs and who oppose the drug war. I find it easy to relate to what they say, easy to agree with them about the damage the war is doing to our society, our country, our world. Yes, he does inhaleAl Robison, a pharmacologist and founder of the Drug Policy Forum of Texas, said that "we have many members who are proud to say that they have never used an illegal drug in their lives and never will." He said one longtime member once proposed that no one who uses an illegal substance be allowed to join. That did not become a rule. Robison recently described Becker as "one of our most active members" and said Becker is the only member of DPFT who has expressed a willingness "to say in public that he smokes cannabis from time to time and benefits greatly from it." Becker also is vice president of the Houston chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. He organized a May rally for legalizing marijuana held in conjunction with events staged in many other cities. He recently started an online forum that features prominent guests from the anti-drug war movement, and is found on the New York Times Web site. Becker, 52, said that he started smoking pot when he was 18: "A buddy and I went to Mexico to get some because that's where the newspaper said it was." He said he was introduced to speed and downers in the Air Force, where he was busted for 0.023 grams of pot. ("They scraped an empty matchbox.") "I next got busted when I picked up two friends of mine that were hitchhiking with two suitcases. Two minutes later I was pulled over, the suitcases were full of prescription drugs they had stolen from Eckerd the night before. I spent 28 days in Harris County, went to trial and got two years' probation. ... In the following 10 to 15 years, I got busted various times for minor pot possession." Despite those arrests, of all the substances he has experimented with, Becker said that alcohol caused him the most problems. He said that in 1985 he "quit drinking and hanging around idiots and I have not had any trouble since." But he has continued to smoke marijuana "most every day," he said. "I perhaps use $6 or $7 worth per week." He said the grass also has a medicinal purpose as it relieves recurring pain from an old injury much more effectively than the Marinol prescribed by his doctor. `I am not a danger'Becker was not surprised when I told him he made me a little uncomfortable. He said he makes people like me uncomfortable because we think the main reason he wants the drug war ended is so he can use without fear of getting busted. "I want to convince you people I am not a danger," he said. "I am a good person. I take care of my kids." He pointed out that he has a good job as a project analyst and has a record as a reliable worker. He said he wants kids protected from drug dealers and, even after the drug war is ended, judges should throw the book at anyone who sells to kids. Robison hosts a live hour-long show on public-access TV every other week, Drugs, Crime and Politics, and he has invited Becker to be on the program today (6:30 p.m. on Warner Cable channel 17). I plan to watch to see whether he is convincing or still makes me a little uncomfortable. Thom Marshall's e-mail address is thom.marshall chron.comSource: Houston Chronicle (TX)Published: July 31, 2001Author: Thom Marshall Copyright: 2001 Houston Chronicle Contact: viewpoints Website: NORML Policy Forum of Texas Articles - Thom Marshall 
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Comment #8 posted by lookinside on August 01, 2001 at 19:56:59 PT:
you said it as good as it can be said, brother...
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Comment #7 posted by kaptinemo on August 01, 2001 at 18:22:12 PT:
Let's not make like antis, here
and jump to conclusions, shall we?Mr. Marshall (if some of you actually do suffer from the fabled 'short-term memory' loss antis are constantly wailing about) has consistantly written articles favorable to the reform movement. Many of those articles have shown up here.If he claims that he feels some trepidation at being in close quarters with a cannabis user, fine. At least he's honest. But he also realizes that his discomfort has more to do with the possibility of being in the wrong place at the wrong time - meaning, in said close quarters - if that user is busted. Are any of you going to tell me you don't worry about the 'knock at midnight'? If you aren't, you must be in the Netherlands or, in Brixton, or some other place more enlightened. You sure as Hell aren't in the States.So cut him some slack, willya? 
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Comment #6 posted by Sudaca on August 01, 2001 at 10:20:43 PT
its all right
some people are uncomfortable being around catholics, blacks, asians, gays, pot smokers. So what. You don't have to like me but you can tolerate me; you sure don't have a right to mess with my life as I don't have the right to mess with yours.With time and openness that uncormfotableness will dissolve; after all it's the usual fear of the unknown.Get to know the real person not the stereotype and you'll find that its hard to be so darn judgemental.Finally, why is it that users can't be involved in this effort to regain civil rights? a lot of us feel we're the directly affected party. Under the writers uncomfortable logic Dr. King should have been white to be an effective spokesman for the black civil rights movement. This doesn't make sense.
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Comment #5 posted by Good Guy on August 01, 2001 at 10:12:15 PT
Uncomfortable for a reason
I assume he is trying to bridge the antis who do not feel comfortable with marijuana with compassion. Eventually stories like this will go away with the lies. Mai-ju-uana is bad......Mmmkay.
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Comment #4 posted by Doug on August 01, 2001 at 09:57:51 PT
Civil Disobedience
One can look at drug use as civil disobedience: the laws are wrong and non-violent action is called for. It is also a human rights cause -- millions of people in the United States are being told they are less than human and are being arrested  and even killed for their beliefs. And the most despised drug users are the "junkies" for whom we should all have sympathy. Marijuana use is just a mild form of protest of the drug war, and sometimes I think if we really had guts we'd all be shooting heroin in solidarity with those most at risk. If more people who didn't smoke would at least buy herb as a sign of their protesting this unjust war, perhaps we'd make more progress towards ending it.
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Comment #3 posted by Patrick on August 01, 2001 at 09:36:00 PT
I suspect the author is uncomfortable because he still is holding on to the lies and propaganda he has been fed all of his life about marijuana. Many people have seen Reefer Madness and unwittingly take it for face value. They don't know any better. While those of us that partake and have experimented with other substances know what the effects of a "buzz" are really like, we are still a minority in the population. So I can understand and relate to his being uncomfortable. The good thing is that he admits he is willing to listen now. The others (the majority) that feel this way as well seem to be at least opening their minds to debating an issue that has been off limits for far too long. AMEN
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Comment #2 posted by greenfox on August 01, 2001 at 08:33:11 PT
"Who the hell cares if this writer feels "uncomfortable"? What does that mean, anyway?" Well, I think it's pretty simple. They want you to "listen" to those "druggies" but don't really pay attention to them. You see people, the general tone is changing. They still have the need for groups, (us vs. them mentality,) and it's f****** sad. I would hate to be on the OTHER side when all is said and done. Cowards. :)sly in green, foxy in kind.-gf
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Comment #1 posted by Harvey Pendrake on August 01, 2001 at 07:54:50 PT
Is there a point to this?
Who the hell cares if this writer feels "uncomfortable"? What does that mean, anyway? I feel uncomfortable around boring people.Anyway, what is the point the author is making (if there is one)? Is it that people who make him feel "uncomfortable" should be arrested and sent to jail?
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