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Democratic Candidate Calls For End To Drug War

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Of the eight Democrats vying for their party’s presidential nomination, I think it’s fair to say former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel is the longest of the long shots.

That’s what I thought of him late last month when I sat across from the Democratic presidential candidates on the stage of Howard University’s Crampton Auditorium. I was one of the three journalists who got to question the full field of Democratic contenders during a PBS presidential forum.

The 90-minute program was billed as a chance for the candidates to “address issues of concern to black America.” Virtually everyone was there to see and hear the frontrunners —Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. When the forum ended, though, Gravel’s views are what I found most intriguing.

When Michel Martin of National Public Radio asked the candidates what they would do about the “scourge” of HIV/AIDS infection among black teens, Gravel’s answer, though not on point, hit an important mark.

“The scourge of our present society, particularly in the African-American community, is the war on drugs,” Gravel said.

Then he said this about the other Democrats on the stage: “If they really want to do something about the inner cities, if they really want to do something about what’s happening to the health of the African-American community, it’s time to end this war. There’s no reason to continue it in the slightest. All it does is create criminals out of people who are not criminals.”

His words drew applause from the mostly black audience, but not even a nod of agreement from the other Democrats.

Maybe it’s the certainty of his “also-ran” status that emboldened Gravel to call for an end to the drug war. Maybe he just wanted to make a splash among the sea of reporters that turned out to cover this gathering. Maybe what is said was really heartfelt. I don’t know.

What I do know is America’s drug war has taken a heavy toll in black communities across this country.

Disproportionately, blacks are arrested and imprisoned for nonviolent drug crimes.

In 2005, blacks — who are 12% of the nation’s population — comprised 34% of the people arrested for drug violations, according to the FBI’s 2005 Crime in the United States report.

While physicians understand that drug abuse is a medical problem, far too many black drug users end up with criminal records that reduce their chances of finding a job and escaping the gravitational pull of the drug culture.

That’s not the fate that befalls people like Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears, who go in and out of drug treatment centers without fear of being jailed.

A law enforcement sting caught former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who is black, using *edit, and he was sent to prison. But many high-profile white drug abusers are allowed to go to the Betty Ford Clinic to kick their habit instead of being sent to jail.

Gravel appears to understand the unfairness of this nation’s drug war. And in calling for its end, he shows more courage than the Democratic Party’s other presidential wannabes.

News Hawk- User 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: The Times Herald
Author: DeWayne Wickham
Contact: DeWayneWickham@aol.com
Copyright: 2007 The Times Herald
Website: Times Herald - www.thetimesherald.com - Port Huron, MI
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