Pubdate: Mon, 01 Dec 2003
Source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times (TX)
Copyright: 2003 Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Author: Edward Daner
Note: Edward Daner is a former sociology professor and Fulbright scholar 
who retired to Corpus Christi after teaching at Boston and Syracuse 
Universities and with the community college system of California.


In recent news, that champion of rectitude Rush Limbaugh allegedly returned 
from a drug-rehab program and a young man in Corpus Christi was shot and 
killed in an incident begun when police officers said that they smelled 
marijuana coming from the victim's car.

Added to that news was the federal government's refusal to tolerate 
California's new law permitting the medicinal use of marijuana.

And around the globe American special operations people are aligned with 
unpopular regimes ostensibly fighting the left-wing insurgents who are 
using drug profits to further their aim of revolution. From Columbia to 
Afghanis-tan, the war against drugs is played out year after year, ad nauseam.

Here at home, local officials and newscasters eagerly report every 
mega-million-dollar seizure of marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy found hidden 
in vehicles attempting to pass through this area.

Apparently, "just say no" isn't working. At the same time that the drug war 
consumes billions of dollars and we continue to stress enforcement and 
punishment rather than rehabilitation, we are bombarded by pro-drug 
messages that seem to sponsor every popular televisions show.

Awash In Drug Messages

We are told that anxiety can be helped by taking a drug; just call your 
doctor. Constipated? Take a drug. Incontinent? Take a drug. Baldness can be 
stopped and reversed by taking a drug; call your doctor. Impotent? Take a 
drug and see your doctor. Tired? Take a drug. Arthritic pain? Take a drug, 
but be sure to call your doctor first. Can't sleep? Take a drug. Sleep to 
much? Take a drug, but don't forget that important call. Too fat? Too thin? 
Too active? Too lethargic? Is there any problem that those good folks at 
our drug companies haven't been able to help us with?

And of course, the most damaging drug of all, the one that kills far more 
than any of the illicit drugs aforementioned, is perfectly legal. It is so 
heavily promoted that one begins to feel left out of all that is fun by 
refusing to use alcohol.

Our rate of alcoholism is on a par with Russia and some statisticians claim 
that we are essentially a nation of alcoholics. Yet, alcohol, even in the 
form of beer, is culturally accepted. Non-alcoholic drug users are 
sometimes ridiculed by their peers. It's an "in" thing to be wasted at times.

This societal confusion, which distinguishes between good drugs and bad 
drugs, has overloaded our prison system. Nearly a third of federal 
prisoners are incarcerated on drug charges; some for only possession. None 
that I know of have been jailed for possessing Budweiser, Tecate, or merlot.

The message being delivered to our young people is so confusing that no 
wonder the result is ineffectiveness. It's OK for adults to use their 
"good" drugs, either for health or recreation, but it is bad for certain 
drugs to be used on the street or in the board room.

Good old Rush had absolutely no use for those who sought the 
de-criminalization of certain drugs, but at the same time was apparently an 
addict to pain killers in such volume that his purchases cost nearly 
$10,000 at a time. What was that adage about glass houses? Will Limbaugh 
now join forces with those who argue for a sensible drug policy and an end 
to a war guaranteed to be as successful as prohibition? Or will he continue 
his position as master hypocrite?

A Phony, Immensely Costly War

The war on drugs is a phony and it has always been that. Unfortunately it 
has consumed so many people and so much in national resources that it 
continues to be waged no matter what the consequence. Like Iraq, it is 
difficult if not impossible to admit we are wrong and stop a course of 
action that produces not victory but continuing misery.

A colleague once asked if I thought America would ever grow up and join the 
family of mature Western nations. So far, there's little evidence to 
suggest that it is occurring.
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