My father wrote this little diatribe many many moons ago… I’ve edited it just a wee little bit, fixed the REALLY BAD grammatical errors – but the rest is all him.
THE WAR ON DRUGS
by John Raymond Moderie
“When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.”
If we care about the future of this country, it is time for Americans to admit that the “War On Drugs” has been a joke. Not just a failure, but a total catastrophe. We lost the drug war – drugs won. We lost for a good reason. We chose the wrong enemy. You cannot win a war against plants and chemicals. It was bogus to begin with – a war no one wanted to win, certainly not the government. The real enemies: ignorance, drug abuse and addictive behavior survived the war, untouched and as strong as ever.
Our nation is flooded with drugs legal and illegal; gun battles rage in our cities as rival gangs seek to expand their turf or just to get even for yesterday’s killings. Crime is rampant. The war on crime is really the war on drugs, but the violence is not about drugs – it’s about money. Once you declare something illegal its market value increases to the point where it’s impossible to stop people from trading in the product and becoming rich. It’s clear that dope is a multi-billion dollar industry. The drug war is the biggest cash-maker the federal government has had going for it since the fall of the “Evil Empire.”
The same people who gave us the cold war and the war in Vietnam, the same people who have run this country head over heels into debt, now give us the war on drugs as justification for their invasion upon our private lives, and their disastrously overstuffed budget.
Here is an issue on which both sides can and should agree: The government’s war on drugs has eroded our rights as Americans, both innocent and guilty. It has crippled the economy and created an atmosphere where the police run amuck, invade our homes, beat us, kill us and seize our property, all in the name of protecting us from ourselves. The real enemy in the war on drugs is freedom.
Politicians, cops, judges, physicians and millions of Americans who use drugs daily know that the drug war is a total bust. Yet the government continues to raise the battle cry because it is in their best interest to keep the myth of the war alive. Like all wars, the drug war enriches those who profit on our weaknesses.
Drugs are here, available, a fact of life. The prisons are a hot spot for drugs. If we can’t keep drugs off the cell blocks of our maximum security prisons, we will never be able to prohibit them in a free society. It’s crazy to think otherwise. Politicians who claim to be working toward a “Drug-free America” defraud their voters.
The continuation of criminal penalties for drug possession is filling our prisons with those who are addicts – not criminals. We are a nation of addicts, whatever substance or activity the addiction is directed toward; food, sex, work, gambling, shopping, drinking, smoking, watching television; it doesn’t matter what we are addicted to, laws won’t change it. What matters is that we learn to control our addictive behavior.
Making the drug illegal merely enables the drug addiction by allowing the addict to blame the drug for the addiction. We wage war on plants and substances instead of trying to understand and learn to control addiction.
We blame the substance, the evil foreigner who produces it, or the dealer who provides it instead of forcing the consumer to take full responsibility for his or her behavior. Some people become addicted to drugs, others do not. Those who care about themselves and other people, and who want to lead healthy active lives usually know when to say “NO!” to drugs.
The doctor who prescribes drugs such as pain pills, Valium, or sleeping pills is viewed as giving relief through his legal remedy. People who take illegal drugs often say they do it for the same reasons as the patient who seeks relief from the doctor, because it works. Drugs legal or illegal do relieve pain, but drug addiction only compounds pain. By telling us what drugs we are allowed to become addicted to and punishing us when we become addicted to “controlled substances,” the government is treading on our most basic right – the right to determine our own behavior, along with the obligation to take responsibility for our own actions.
Neither drug use nor drug addiction is responsible for the overcrowded prisons. The drug war is. The war is responsible for the corruption of our police forces, our prosecutors and our judges, and as it corrupts these people, it empowers the most aggressive elements of our society. The war is responsible for the increase of firearms and violence on the streets. By calling their anti-drug effort “war” the government has OK’d the use of weapons by both sides. The war has also meant a surrender of personal liberties. Americans now submit to being surveilled, stopped on highways and searched, having their urine analyzed, their phone lines tapped, their children turned to informants, and their land and homes invaded by drug cops – all in the name of their shadow war. The authorities may seize our cash, our cars and our homes, even if they only suspect wrongdoing. We have to pay lawyers to try to get our assets back, whether convicted of illegal activities or not.
We need to put a halt to all this madnesss and place the responsibility of choice where it belongs – in the hands of the individual in a free American society. We need to begin by legalizing the least harmful of any illegal drug, less harmful even than many legal drugs, and one that is used by 30 to 40 million Americans – marijuana. This would grant amnesty to the hundreds and thousands of people currently incarcerated, on probation or on parole for having grown or possessed this plant. In turn, this would cut down on problems such as overcrowding in prisons and our tax dollars going to waste. By letting us do away with criminal penalties for possession of marijuana, we can permit individuals to grow plants for personal consumption and license large scale growers. Like tobacco and alcohol, marijuana could be sold with appropriate regulations for quality control. Instead of wasting billions of dollars chasing potheads and ripping up cannabis plants, we would create a badly needed influx of capital into the legitimate economy.
Marijuana, by any and all standards, is less harmful than two presently legal, though controlled and clearly very addictive drugs – alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol abuse is directly responsible for at least 150,000 deaths a year, tobacco about 400,000. Yet we are free to use alcohol and tobacco without risking imprisonment. As we become more educated about the dangers of these substances, some of us may think twice about lighting up or tossing one back, but the choice remains ours to make. The government is not in our homes telling us what to do. We are responsible for our own well-beling. We are free to make choices. There has never been a documented case of marijuana-related death, though its illegality forces users to risk imprisonment, even death. The substance itself is relatively helpful, and has a long history of use as a medicinal herb. [It has been used for centuries to treat pain and anxiety, helps prevent bone deterioration and promote muscle growth, and can be used as a treatment for asthma because of its expectorant properties.]
Cultivation of hemp for use in making paper, cloth, rope, oil, and even alternative automotive fuel options could be a potentially huge market. Even hemp farming is an ecologically sound proposition. Americans would do well to investigate the business possibilities. After all, our constitution was written on hemp paper.
However, as it is today with marijuana being illegal and a war being waged, the police have arrested over eight million Americans and thrown them into the justice system’s soup-pot. Eight million. Think of the lives damaged or destroyed by criminal prosecutions, prison sentences, and felony records. No wonder the nation is lacking in “family values.” Think of the tax dollars wasted to imprison marijuana outlaws. Think of how much we could do to inform, educate, and assist drug addicts if those same dollars were spent in an effort to help our fellow humans, rather than to wage a vicious and unwinnable war against our very selves. Think about it.