Leland: war on drugs is pointless fight

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Posted Thursday, November 10, 2005 - 12:00am

A serious matter has recently come to my attention which I must address. I am going to write about, express opinions and generally crack a few jokes about the current war on drugs in this country. I say this because anyone who actually thinks this so-called war is winnable either has a tremendous sense of humor or spent their childhood riding around in a school bus half the length of regular buses. Besides if I don't make fun of the war on drugs who will?

Once again I am armed with facts, statistics and other such nonsense gleaned from hours of research on the Internet. I also come with personal experience, of things I have done and witnessed.

First of all, I understand the reasoning and motivations behind the war on drugs. I honestly do not know why there is a "war" against drugs. Now what I assume the reasons are is that drugs can cause poverty and ruin the lives of those who take them. Drugs cause crime, disease and can break up families and marriages. Drugs are a burden on taxpayers and create unnecessary innocent victims.

Drugs are bad, and bad for your health. It was not all that long ago in this country that people thought a certain way about drugs and I'm sure some still do.

Now I am not defending drugs or the use/abuse of drugs, I am simply stating some observations.

The whole reason I am writing this article is because it has been brought to my attention that Pres. George W. Bush is pushing for a stronger stance against drugs, with a particular gripe against marijuana. This to me is like trying to cure AIDS with cough syrup only to find out the patient being treated came into the hospital for a flu shot.

Marijuana, in my opinion, should not even be placed in the same category as the rest of the substances labeled as "drugs." Has anybody ever seen an angry pothead? Have you ever been robbed by some random weed fiend? Have you ever seen anybody on the cover of High Times magazine looking unhappy in any way, shape or form? I sincerely doubt it. Seriously, find someone who is really into pot and I will show you a genuinely happy person. Not that I advocate or promote the use of Marijuana, because it does have its negative aspects just like anything else in this world. However, it's positive aspects far outweigh the negative. I feel marijuana gets far more negative press than it deserves. I have a lot more to say on the subject but not enough space.

Before sitting down to write my story, I tried to look up the so-called drug war and federal antidrug policies. Almost everything that turned up was reasons as to why it is currently failing. Not only is the war on drugs failing, it cannot be won. I honestly believe that, not only because of what I have seen, but because of my attempts at what I like to call research. I found circumstances as to how the war on drugs could be won, but they are so difficult to achieve that they might as well be impossible. Some include: we could stop drug production in other countries, we could stop drugs at the border, and we could stop the sale of drugs within the United States.

Sounds simple right? Let me show you what else I found. On December 28, 1992, ABC Television aired a special on the drug war in Bolivia which, according to the Bush Administration, is our "best hope" for winning the drug war in South America. They concluded decisively that there was no hope and that the war on drug production had already been lost.

There is no credible evidence anywhere to suggest that there is any possibility that drug production can be eliminated in other countries.

By the Federal Government's own estimates, the entire U.S. consumption of illegal drugs could be supplied by approximately one percent of the worldwide drug crop. In their best year, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agents working together with foreign governments, seized about one percent of the worldwide drug crop, leaving 99 percent free to supply the U.S.

There is no credible evidence anywhere that we could stop, or even greatly reduce, the flow of drugs across our borders. In fact, all of the Federal Government's own evidence shows that this is impossible and a waste of money.

Kind of a downer isn't it? Hey, look at the bright side, if you like to do drugs then you can be pretty sure of a steady supply from somewhere. If all those drugs are out there and trying to get here, there is a pretty good chance of you getting some. Also it could cut down on the cost of dental care, because if you do certain drugs, you can lose your teeth.

That is not to mention that all the people who like to participate in drug-related activities number in the millions. Under the law, all drug users are drug dealers because the laws in most states read that any distribution of illegal drugs is considered a sale, regardless of whether there is a profit or monetary interest involved. Therefore, under the law, anyone who ever passed a joint to the next person at a rock concert is a "drug dealer". From my observations, there are, for every drug dealer who gets put in jail, a number of others who are right there ready to take their place.

Has anybody seen that Chris Rock special where he's talking about crack dealers with a warehouse full of crack wondering how he is going to get rid of all his crack? Rock speaks the truth, the only problem dealers have with their supply is not getting rid of it. The problem for them is keeping enough around. Some people want to get high. They want to get a pipe, load it and go to town. Right now there is someone on the phone calling a friend or someone else trying to get drugs. Drugs are an all day, all night, never closed business. That's the way things are. I believe that if someone found a way to get rid of all the drugs in the world and ways of producing them, by the next day people will have found some other way of getting high.

So I ask you, should we as a nation be pursuing the war on drugs or is it time to find an alternative to curtailing drug use/abuse? I say go for an alternative. We are spending billions of dollars putting people, many of whom do not deserve to be, in prison.

Another statistic, almost 60 percent of federal inmates, 55,624 people, are drug offenders. Half of these are first time, nonviolent offenders (Bureau of Prisons, 1997). To feed, clothe, house and guard these 55,624 prisoners, it costs taxpayers $3.5 million per day or $1.27 billion annually.

Some people might agree that an alternative is needed, but what would that be? Education has been suggested and tried, but does it work? I think it does to a certain extent. I believe that education is the key to reducing drug use/abuse and production. Invest more money in drug counseling and preventive courses. If we can make drugs boring, then drug use would go down, as would production. Just thought I would make a couple of suggestions.

One other thing I would like to mention is that whatever else you can say about drug users/abusers, they do it to themselves. There is no reason for it, they made the choice and put whatever it is, into themselves willingly. If you see someone strung out and looking tore up from whatever it is they took, don't feel bad for them. People know what they are doing. Ever since I was a little guy, I have been bombarded with messages telling people not to do drugs, and all of the harmful things they can do to you. I have seen ex-addicts and heard their stories of what happened to them

as a result of drugs. I have seen addicts do drugs and watched them fall deeper, and deeper into that life. I usually don't pay that much attention so I am sure that I even missed a lot of the message there. What I am saying is that everybody who does this to themselves does so with full knowledge of what can happen. Everybody knows that drugs are bad for you and if you let them get control of you, then bad things happen. I have no sympathy for anybody complaining about what drugs did to them and don't do anything about it. It's their fault and until they try to get off drugs and do something with themselves, they deserve what they get. Harsh? Maybe, but that's just how I feel. If you need help and actually try, I will do whatever is in my power to help you, or at least recommend a good place to get help.

Basically what I am trying to say is the war on drugs is a failure and will never amount to anything positive. I know exactly what you are thinking, you are going to look up ways that the war on drugs has done good, and how there are more drug arrests than ever before and all kinds of other useless facts. But that is my point, there doesn't need to be that many drug arrests. There is no need for so many to go to prison when what they really need is help. I don't know how to solve the problem or if it even can be solved, but I know that war is not the answer. By the way, I forgot to crack some jokes about the war on drugs.

For access to the information I obtained, go to Google and type in The Drug War, The Drug war/George W. Bush, Anti-Drug Policies and Anti-drug Policies/George W. Bush.

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