Pubdate: Mon, 08 Oct 2007
Source: Journal Standard, The (Freeport, IL)
Copyright: 2007 The Journal Standard
Author: N. Bill Smeathers


It seems my letter to the J-S Editor, "Terrifying  Justice" Sept. 2,
generated very positive and  supportive input from the public, and not
just locally,  but rather from across the country. Sept. 5: "Letter
Prompts Anger, Sadness." Sept. 7: "Put an End To  Prohibition." And
Sept. 7: "Keep Police in Line." One  point, just how "controllingly"
out of control our law  enforcement community has become. Understand.
I am not  in anyway opposed to law enforcement. As a civilized
society we must have it. However, we do not need law  enforcement
which functions in such a way that it  becomes oppressive. Sadly
enough, in one way or another  the problem stems from or is influenced
by the war on  drugs, and why we need to fight to end the war on  drugs.

To end this war, where do we start? There are so many  important

We have over a half million non-violent drug offenders  clogging our
prisons and jails. Court dockets are a  mess. Mandatory minimum
sentences, and inflexible  sentencing guidelines, condemn many low
level offenders  to years and even decades behind bars, often based
only  on the word of a confidential informant, some of whom  are even
compensated. With 2 million people behind  bars, the U.S. leads the
world in incarceration at a  level beyond any time in our history.

Drug prohibition creates a lucrative black market that  causes
violence and disorder, particularly in the inner  cities. It draws
young people into lives of crime. Laws  in some areas criminalizing
syringe possession, the  drive behind much underground drug use and
sales,  encouraging needle sharing increases the spread of HIV  and
Hepatitis C. Thousands of Americans die from drug  overdoses or
poisonings by adulterants every year. Most  of these deaths would be
preventable through quality  control which would exist if drugs were

Our (America's) drug in the South American Andes fuels  a continuing
civil war in Columbia, with  prohibition-generated illicit drug
profits aiding its  escalation. Opium growing, and the attempts to
stop it,  both hurt Afghanistan's attempts at nation building and
helps our enemies.

Patients needing medical marijuana, and the people who  provide it to
them, go without or they live in fear of  arrest and prosecution.
Doctor's fears of running afoul  of the law causes large numbers of
Americans in need of  opiates for chronic pain to go under-treated or
untreated altogether.

Profiling assaults the dignity of members of minority  groups, and of
the poor, denying them equal justice.  From drug testing in our
schools, to SWAT and SLANT  teams invading our homes and terrorizing
our children  and handicapped persons, assaulting the citizenry's
very existence, privacy has been gutted.

That's not all of it, and it isn't a pretty picture.  This is why we
must oppose drug laws - fight to end  prohibition, for legalization -
because of the harm and  the injustice that prohibition is inflicting
on so many  people in so many different ways. Because we understand
that freedom is not just a right to control our bodies  and what we
put into them, (even though that ought to  be enough).

And for so many reasons that I don't know where to  start - to save
the lives of the addicted, so many  patients can be treated, for
privacy, for peace, for  safety, to restore ethics in government, to
end the  injustices large and small - for all these reasons and  more,
we must put an end to the drug prohibition. These  views are correct.
This cause is just. We must fight to  make this a better world for

N. Bill Smeathers

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