Pubdate: Sun, 11 Feb 2001
Source: Star (IL)
Copyright: 2000 The Sun-Times Co.
Contact:  6901 W. 159th St., Tinley Park, IL 60477
Fax: (708) 802-8088
Website: http://www.starnewspapers.com/
Pubdate: Sun, 11 Feb 2001
Author: James E. Gierach

READY, WILLING TO SERVE AS DRUG WAR CZAR, AND FINALLY FIGHT IT RIGHT

For the past 12 years, I have fought to the end the war on drugs. Both
as a candidate for public office and citizen commentator, I assailed
the drug war for making most American crises worse instead of better.

I contended that drug war increased drug availability, use and
addiction. It transformed "the land of the free" into "the prison
capital of the world." It put guns in the hands of kids, funded the
gangs and caused turf wars and addict crime.

The drug war corrupted our police, our kids and our institutions. It
contorted law enforcement into an informant-based, "save yourself"
perversion of The Golden Rule.

The drug war put more drugs everywhere, encouraged the concoction of
newer and more harmful drugs, and subverted truth in drug labeling,
since all illicit drugs were painted with the same "just say no"
label, a woefully uninformative warning.

The drug war assaulted the Bill of Rights, due process of law and
fundamental fairness more savagely than it did drugs or dealers.

The drug war unfairly discriminated against African-Americans,
Hispanics and the poor as it institutionalized prison slavery and
family fragmentation. It spread AIDS among injecting drug users and it
worsened the health of addicts.

Anti-drug propaganda promoted drugs by means of misconceived anti-drug
messages sent to kids with a repetition that became the mother of
drug-use learning. Drug-free promoters overlooked the reality that an
anti-drug ad is first and foremost a drug ad.

When Police Chief Lee Brown resigned as drug czar, I applied for the
mind-altering substance job. Instead, President William Clinton
appointed an Army general, signaling an escalation of the drug war.
Gen. Barry McCaffrey, like his drug-war predecessors, failed to whip
the drug problem and exasperated drug war harm exponentially.

At that time, when former President Clinton attempted to "do
something" about the runaway drug problem by elevating the director of
Office of National Drug Control Policy ("drug czar") to Cabinet-level
status, I wrote that America needed an addiction dean more than a drug
czar. But my warning fell on deaf ears.

Too many drug years later, I remain ready, willing and able to serve
as drug czar.

 From that office, I would civilize American drug policy by
implementing hard reduction  a more tolerant, kinder, less
incarcerating, more legalized, more treatment-oriented, "take the
profit out of drugs" economic approach.

Soon, if not already, an American majority will be on board. The
people themselves are coming to the realization that it is the drug
war itself that is at the heart of most American crises. While a
difficult task, drug policy reform has the potential to mend these
United States and make a world a better place.

President Bush, although I am Democrat and you are a Republican, who
better than a Democrat to send on this harrowing, thankless, mission
impossible? Drug war is the impossible task of "spinning illicit drugs
into wholesome children." This is a job for a Democrat sent to the
front lines by a Republican.

I own a slingshot and welcome the opportunity to slay the drug war
giant.

James E. Gierach

Oak Lawn
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