A Ceasefire For The War on Drugs

A Ceasefire For The War on Drugs
Posted by CN Staff on July 26, 2006 at 21:47:44 PT
By Dan Keyserling, Cavalier Daily Associate Editor
Source: Cavalier Daily
USA -- We were somewhere around the 1970s on the edge of the Acid Wave when the drug war began to take hold. The politically typical thing to say today is that the so-styled "War on Drugs" is without foreseeable victory -- and how unfortunate, really. Almost without exception, however, America regards its beloved war as one worth fighting. And it is, to an extent. But the tactics need some adjustment to accomplish anything beyond the current, hopeless stalemate.
The most crucial step to changing America's atrociously flawed drug policy is to reevaluate our rules of engagement, so to speak. If we don't, we continue along a path to nowhere, entrenched in a war with endless enemies and no peace in sight. If you reread my first paragraph, you will hopefully notice the absurd way martial analogies pervade even casual discourse. We are fighting a war. Drugs are the enemy. Enemies must be killed, etc. The militant analogies swell further when politicians rant about "an all-out offensive" against "public enemy number one," as Nixon did during the dope-sodden 1970s. Such unthinking saber rattling strangulates thoughtful debate, it removes the tactics from rational discussion (we are at war, mind you), and it brands anyone with a different opinion a dissenter and, therefore, a traitor As my horrific first paragraph no doubt suggests, the limited lexicon from which we draw our descriptions of American's drug problem cripples our ability to deal with it. The height of ignorance and inarticulacy, of course, being American policy regarding marijuana. American media and politicians hone tactics to excuse illogical, senseless, even blatantly racist public policy -- you've all seen it -- they eagerly "declare war." By issuing haughty proclamations, politicians submerge the issue in a climate of fear and images of struggle, and they adjust their accountability accordingly. When drug addiction becomes worthy of (often unjust) imprisonment rather than treatment, the consequences are lumped under the disgraceful terms, "collateral damage," or a "casualty in the war on drugs." In other words, the terminology regarding the drug war has outlived its usefulness. We need new vocabularies, and thus new policies. There is no longer (nor was there ever) the need for certain statutes -- mainly the intense prosecution for marijuana violations -- that originated during the time when "Reefer Madness," a propaganda film portraying marijuana as the impetus for rape, murder, domestic violence, and schizophrenia, was considered insightful medical commentary. As it happens, the city of Denver recently legalized possession of modest amounts (under one ounce) of marijuana. And they have done so, shockingly enough, without a scourge of dope-crazed rapists and killers. Perhaps they dodged a bullet there, but I think the Denver example is evidence that drugs aren't all equally detrimental to society, and therefore they do not all deserve to bear the same consequences (or cultural taboo, for that matter). Specific, less dangerous drugs like marijuana ought to be considered similarly to less stigmatized substances -- cigarettes and alcohol, for example. Though even that exaggerates its dangers. This column is far too brief to discuss the minutia of marijuana legislation, but allow me to clarify this point with some statistics. According to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency, more than 100,000 Americans die each year as a result of alcohol consumption. Additionally, in the United States, there are an average of nearly 360,000 tobacco-related deaths annually. These are astonishingly high numbers for two substances that are legal, albeit well regulated. Compare those casualty rates with those of marijuana. Statistics on the matter of marijuana-related deaths range from zero to around a dozen or so, but nearly every reputable source is loath to attribute any deaths to the supposedly madness-inducing weed. Alcohol and tobacco kill more people annually than atomic weaponry ever has. Judging strictly by the numbers, we always seem to miss the real weapons of mass destruction. During war, as President Bush parrots frequently, one is either "with us" or "against us." Obviously, anyone who challenges American lawmakers or their war making knows precisely to which side he or she belongs. Hence, war analogies. It makes disagreement treasonous and skepticism seditious. An effective strategy, you must admit. It seems a bit curious that while marijuana is outright banned, alcohol and tobacco dwell comfortably on nearly every college campus. Which is okay, even great. But our standards for regulation ought to have some ringing of justice and fairness. Other states will be well served to move, however gradually, toward the progressive example of decriminalizing legislation set by Denver. By finally matching punishment with the gravity of the crime, we might finally be able to declare victory in a war against a more fearsome foe, stupid wars. Dan Keyserling is a Cavalier Daily associate editor. He can be reached at:  dkeyserling cavalierdaily.comSource: Cavalier Daily (U of VA Edu)Author: Dan Keyserling, Cavalier Daily Associate Editor Published: Thursday, July 27, 2006 Copyright: 2006 The Cavalier Daily, Inc.Contact: opinion cavalierdaily.comWebsite: Justice Archives
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Comment #7 posted by afterburner on July 27, 2006 at 12:33:24 PT
"Abstinence is the best way to prevent teenage pregnancy, responded Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla." --posted by FoM RE the Senate's recent vote to "protect" young women from getting an abortion without parental consent.What he meant to say: Abstinence is the *only* way to prevent teenage pregnancy. Zero tolerance, yeah, right! /sarcasm off
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on July 27, 2006 at 12:27:58 PT
It is very sad to me. 
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Comment #5 posted by Dankhank on July 27, 2006 at 12:05:33 PT
Argue with that?
I look to always flesh out the story. You oughta hear the conversations I have with a 40-something woman who had a child out of wedlock 34 years ago or so, who recently converted to Catholicism, now watches the Catholic network for inspiritation and recently seemed to GLOAT that condoms won't prevent their girls getting HPV, fundamental Christians will deny allowing their own children a vaccine that is supposed to prevent the growth of HPV into Cervical Cancer. These young women, theirs and OURS are expected to use the information to induce Celibacy, thereby preventing acquiring the disease.HIV didn't stop kids from having sex. HPV won't either, but these evil people will deny their kids an innoculation, suggested to happen at age 11 or 12 because they feel it will encourage pre-marital sex.These evil people will likely comfort their dying child by saying that they shouldn't have had sex.We do indeed live in Crazyworld.
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Comment #4 posted by Dankhank on July 27, 2006 at 11:47:14 PT
False charges
They called me a child pornographer the story ...Dr. Douglas Besharov, a child abuse expert at the Maryland School of Public Affairs, and the first director of the U.S. National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, estimates that out of the nearly 3 million child abuse reports made every year, seven in 10 of them are without merit. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 60 percent of child abuse or neglect reports are "unsubstantiated." While there are no separate statistics concerning child pornography, there have been dozens of cases similar to ours documented in recent years. A long story, but worth it ...Look for the above paragraph about 4/5ths down.
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Comment #3 posted by Dankhank on July 27, 2006 at 11:00:05 PT
Child Rapists?
My vote is to incarcerate for long times anyone driving DRUNK.I harbor no fear that child "rapists" have no place to go, drunk driving kills many more than practically any other activity conducted by humanity.These days, hammering "child rapists," is akin to talking about hammering "date rapers."a recent study by a well-respected individual states that upwards of 70% of child abuse, sexual or other, charges are false.It appears that child rapist charges are the NEW, "he raped me," now evolved to: "he raped my child."I'll provide the link, later. Gotta go for now
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Comment #2 posted by whig on July 27, 2006 at 05:19:58 PT
They can't let all the pot-smokers out of jail unless they can come up with a new reason to imprison half the adult male African-American population.That's the real reason for the drug war and we know it.
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Comment #1 posted by Wayne on July 27, 2006 at 04:53:41 PT
there it is
"By finally matching punishment with the gravity of the crime, we might finally be able to declare victory in a war against a more fearsome foe, stupid wars."THAT'S the principle that the American people have forgotten in this whole charade... let the punishment fit the crime. These right-wing neocons are so willing to lock people in cages for almost anything. Why?? Out-of-sight, out-of-mind I suppose.LET THE PUNISHMENT FIT THE CRIME. Get the pot-smokers out of jail to make room for child rapists. How could anyone possibly argue with that?
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