COLUMN: Current Drug Policies Reek of Injustice 

COLUMN: Current Drug Policies Reek of Injustice 
Posted by FoM on October 19, 2000 at 09:14:30 PT
By Jason Griffiths, Daily Trojan 
Source: U-WIRE
"Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Are these three ideals not the very basis upon which our country was founded? Then why are there laws in this country that take these rights away from some with absolutely no rational justification? I am talking about laws confining the use and possession of certain drugs, namely marijuana. Not only is marijuana use less harmful than alcohol and tobacco which are both legal and legitimate "drugs," it is being punished more severely than violent transgressions in our society. 
Going even further than that, laws banning this natural plant are discriminatory, cost taxpayers tremendous amounts of money and are more harm than help to society. We all know the different names, what it looks like, what it smells like and that society says "marijuana's bad." But what is so bad about it? Let's look at the facts. According to a John Hopkins Study in May 1999, there is "no significant differences in cognitive decline between users and nonusers of cannabis." But in terms of short-term effects, it is not much different than alcohol, as it mainly affects the functioning of psychomotor skills. Speaking of alcohol, more than 100,000 people per year are killed from alcohol-related accidents and health problems. In fact three times as many people are killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents than are by all illicit drugs combined. Marijuana also is not chemically addictive, as is the nicotine found in tobacco products that kill more than 430,000 people per year. Marijuana has proven medicinal benefits, which neither alcohol nor tobacco can boast. There are no known deaths from ingestion of marijuana, as opposed to alcohol (alcohol poisoning); an overdose large enough to bring a state near death is "unachievable by humans smoking marijuana." To avoid confusion, I don't mean to condemn the use of alcohol and tobacco; I'm just comparing marijuana use to a legal and socially acceptable activity. If it's okay to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, then why are we punishing marijuana users? Not only are we simply throwing those convicted of drug use (or even possession) in prison for a mandatory minimum sentence, but we are doing so in an unreasonably accelerated manner. While the number of people entering prison on convictions for violent crimes has increased during the last 20 years by more than 80 percent, the number on drug convictions has increased by more than 1,000 percent. Why do we pay almost $9 billion a year to keep these people in prison? Does it make you sleep better at night knowing that the big, bad pothead from next door is behind bars, right where he belongs? Marijuana use is a crime that affects nobody but the user, whose inhibitions and any aggressive tendencies are lowered. What business is it of ours to throw harmless marijuana users in jail, while violent felons are left to roam the streets? Despite the continued stringency of these laws, drug use has not declined; 141 million people use marijuana today. There is no point to this continued fight against drugs. There is a chance, however, to take a step forward and reduce the severity of these laws in California right now. Prop. 36 (on the ballot this November), if passed, will replace automatic imprisonment with probation and a drug treatment program for the conviction from the possession or use of illegal drugs. Not only will this make more room in prison for violent offenders, but it will also save an estimated $150 million of taxpayers' money each year soon after implementation. These laws as illogical as prohibition was in the '20s are creating a setback for society. The majority of drug-related arrests are made in mid- to low-income neighborhoods, where minorities make up a higher proportion of residents. This, along with "racial profiling" (brought to the public's eye recently), accounts for the disproportionate number of minorities arrested on drug-related charges. African Americans, for example, make up 13 percent of drug users yet comprise 55 percent of those convicted. As if this isn't bad enough, the Higher Education Act of 1998 denies financial aid to students who have any drug-related convictions, regardless of the severity. Financial aid is supposed to be a tool for helping those who can't afford a higher education, yet just by the nature of this act, it is denying assistance to those for whom it is aimed to help -- low-income families. How are these minorities supposed to escape the stereotypes and continued cycle of poverty if our law enforcement seeks them out for arrests and our government denies them monetary assistance to work toward a college degree? Currently there are two active student organizations on campus advocating more lenient and rational drug policies: the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Currently these two groups are working in conjunction with each other, advocating Prop. 36 and petitioning the reform of the Higher Education Act. Think about it. Do our present laws regarding drug policy make any sense? Do they achieve anything besides the waste of taxpayers' money and the further subjection of minorities? Why can't we just leave marijuana users alone? I don't ever remember a stoner hurting someone else as a result of his or her usage; in fact, I always remembered the stoners as the kindest and most tolerant people, laidback and stress-free. What business is it of ours to govern the harmless activities people do in the privacy of their home? Why can't we just relax and start worrying about the things that actually hinder society? (U-WIRE) Los Angeles Author: Jason GriffithsUpdated 12:00 PM ET October 18, 2000 Daily Trojan U. Southern California(C) 2000 Daily Trojan via U-WIRE Related Articles & Web Sites:SSDP Campaign For New Drug Policy Rethinks Drug War Strategy Like Proposal of Drug Treatment Articles - Proposition 36
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on October 20, 2000 at 13:03:35 PT:
A Good Article
US IN: OPED: Drug Laws Incompatible With God's LawsNewshawk: Sledhead - VOTE Patrick L. Lilly, Colo. Senate, Dist. 12Pubdate: Fri, 20 Oct 2000Source: Indianapolis Star (IN)Copyright: 2000 Indianapolis Newspapers Inc.Contact: stareditor starnews.comWebsite: Kurt St. AngeloNote: St. Angelo is chairperson of the Libertarian Party of Marion County.In the eyes of God, using government to prohibit drug use is more immoral than drug use itself. Fighting a wrong with a wrong does not make our drug policies right. Here are some reasons. Unlike the sins of stealing, killing and other acts that directly harm people, drug use is God's exclusive province. Whatever people choose to do to their own bodies (taking drugs, tattooing and body piercing, eating poorly, not exercising, elective surgery) are issues solely between them and their God (or nature), who metes out His own natural punishment. Click the link to read the complete article.
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Comment #2 posted by Amber on October 19, 2000 at 13:56:33 PT:
That was a beatiful speech. Honestly, I am amazed. Thank you. 
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Comment #1 posted by i_rule_ on October 19, 2000 at 10:32:37 PT
You da man, Jason
Magnificent. Superb. Excellent. Out standing. Far-out. Groovy. Hip. Out of sight. Wonderful. This is another force read, for the anti's.
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