Pubdate: Sat, 21 Sep 2002
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2002 Los Angeles Times
Author: Robert B. Harris


What Males points out is the reality that the U.S. cannot have a
rational discussion of drug use because our drug laws are so
intimately connected with our prejudices. Our drug laws have always
been based on our racial, ethnic and class prejudices. These are
grounded in feelings of white superiority, fear and loathing. Our very
first anti-drug law addressed the use of opium by the Chinese in San
Francisco. Marijuana became a problem when it was an alternative for
middle-class white Americans during Prohibition and later when it
crossed the color line on college campuses.

America's "war" on drugs has been, in fact, a war on race and class in
the guise of a public health debate. This is evident by the fact that
the most dangerous drugs in America, those that claim the most
American lives--alcohol and tobacco--are legal and generally ignored
in the debate about drug use. But before we can move to a rational
discussion on drugs we must face the racism inherent in our current
drug policies.

Robert B. Harris, Lancaster
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