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We Need To Consider What War On Drugs Has Wrought

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
State Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson's bill to legalize and tax marijuana in Washington addresses a state revenue shortfall and challenges a federal policy.

In considering her proposal, it's important to examine not just its local effect but also the context of federal prohibition — because one influences the other.

In Washington and across the country, there is a significant discrepancy between drug prohibition and practice. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services surveys show little change in our habits over the three decades of an all-out domestic drug war.

Recent episodes of the next legal high, whether bath salts, salvia or Four Loko, reflect a critical truth. We are a nation of users; we indulge in all sorts of consciousness-altering substances and practices.

Yet, the domestic drug war continues as a social policy. What are the effects of this effort? Billions of dollars have been spent prosecuting and incarcerating people for low-level drug offenses. From 1989-2009, more people were incarcerated for drug offenses than for all violent crimes combined.

To fully consider decriminalization in Washington, we need well-informed discussion to examine our assumptions about various drugs and their users. The problem is that the drug war has limited research, silenced casual users and intimidated people about discussing the realities of drug use.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and its drug czar can't be a public resource because their mission excludes the possibility of legalization. Researchers with data to share should inform this debate. The following points are offered in that spirit:

- The U.S. drug war is not, as stated, a war on drug distribution. It has become a war on users. In 2008, 4 out of 5 drug arrests were for possession, not for distribution. Since the ONDCP was founded in 1988, incarceration for drug offenses has risen 1,100 percent, but drug use continues relatively unabated. Even law enforcement professionals acknowledge the futility of policing drug use.

- The drug war's propaganda is costly, but is it effective? In a domestic drug war funded by over $15 billion a year, the focal media campaigns (including D.A.R.E.) have not demonstrated efficacy in curtailing illicit drug use.

- We are all users. Most everyone seeks to intentionally affect consciousness in one way or another, from caffeine and alcohol to practices such as yoga or running (which stimulate endocannaboids in the brain). We support the use of pharmaceuticals to manage moods.

So we should rethink "use," especially the urge to get high, as a human appetite and broaden our understanding of that desire.

- Our drug scheduling system is unscientific and illogical, and its related penalties are unjust. A re-evaluation of controlled substances classification is overdue because it is incongruent with what we have learned about many of these substances since 1970.

For example, marijuana and ecstasy are listed with heroin in Schedule I — the most dangerous drugs. Cocaine, methamphetamine and oxycodone, however, are in Schedule II — seen as less hazardous. The schedules should be revised with updated scientific data.

- The drug war, whose policy goal is "the creation of a drug-free America," is an abject failure. Although it's imprisoned many people for low-level drug offenses, this domestic war has not significantly influenced the urge to use drugs, except perhaps to make illicit substances less available and increase the recreational use of pharmaceuticals.

We celebrate substance use in this country, whether through coffee culture, cocktail mixology or synthetic drugs. If we consider growing trends of substance use, it's hard to see a drug-free America as anything but a fantasyland that most of us don't want to inhabit.

We like our mood-altering substances ... with or without a black market economy.

The U.S. drug war's consequences have become part of an invisible cultural landscape. As a police sergeant says in "The Wire," "You can't call this a war . . . wars end." Drug prohibition is ineffective but has created an industry that is costing us a great deal.

With the proposal to legalize marijuana, Washingtonians have an opportunity and an obligation to reconsider what this war has wrought. Ingrid Walker is associate professor of arts, media and culture at the University of Washington Tacoma. She is writing a book about the use and perception of illegal drugs in the United States.

NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: thenewstribune.com
Copyright: 2011 Tacoma News, Inc.
Contact: Contact us - The News Tribune
Website: We need to consider what war on drugs has wrought

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Good Article. And let me say what this War on Citizens has wrought, starkly:
It has divided families, it has jailed people for non violent crimes, it has spawned a DEA with world powers and the right to shoot first and ask questions later, it has made drug cartels billions upon billions of dollars the whole world over, it has brought money to the Fed Gov and State Gov and City Gov through the spoils of war. It has brought death and destruction and loss of business/livelihood to many in the medical marijuana industry.
In short, it has ruined the lives of many for possessing a dried flower. Period. And it's wrong. And I personally, am not subscribing to their dribble anymore. It's morally wrong to tell someone, you can smoke tobacco, and develop cancer and lung disease, etc, but you cannot consume this dried flower, which will not hurt you. Excuse me? Say what? Are you serious? I can drink a fifth of tequila a night, which is killing my liver, yet I cannot legally consume a plant with medicinal side effects???? Say what the f***????
THAT'S why this gets me so badly. That's what pisses me off beyond belief. I can hurt myself 3 different ways from Sunday, but I can't help myself, with a plant. I can sit on my front porch and grill a steak and drink tequila and smoke cigarettes (i don't smoke, but I do chew) but I can't just simply smoke a few hits off a doobage without heading straight to jail. Why? What gives them the right? Why do I have to listen? Who are they? They are nobody to me. They mean exactly Zero to me. I'm sorry but I am a Human Being. And I have 1, Count Em, ONE, life to live. And I will live it the way I see fit. Period. That's my right. As a Human. I hurt no one.
Sigh. Can the government not see this??? While Big Pharma grows it, people will still be put in Jail for a flower.
But....... we are going to Win. This is birth pangs. That's all.
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