Pubdate: Tue, 26 Jun 2007
Source: Daily Reveille (LA Edu)
Copyright: 2007, Daily Reveille
Author: Joseph Ruchalski
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


President Nixon's declaration that drug abuse is "public enemy number 
one in the United States" in 1971 launched a "war on drugs" that has 
raged since the war in Vietnam.

Like the war in Vietnam then and in Iraq today, this war has proven 
to be much more complex than a simple "red versus blue" campaign. The 
soldiers are sworn law enforcement officers and organized crime 
members playing a dangerous game of "cops and robbers." The victims 
are varied, some helpless, destitute, or hardened criminals 
themselves, but all are civilians.

Like Iraq, there is another faction who would like to do away with 
the whole affair - drug policy "insurgents."

Leading the insurgency are advocacy groups such as the Drug Policy 
Alliance, the Marijuana Policy Project and the National Organization 
for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, who challenge the Federal 
Government on judicial, legislative and executive fronts. This past 
year has beared mixed results for advocates, in part because of 
uncooperative executive and judicial branches at the federal and 
state levels but also at the advocacy level.

Since President Nixon ignored the findings of his own commission 
urging federal decriminalization of marijuana in 1971, twelve states 
have enacted medical marijuana laws, and many more localities have 
put the enforcement of marijuana prohibition as the lowest law 
enforcement priority. In April, Gov. Bill Richardson made medical 
marijuana into New Mexico law. Last week, Rhode Island's legislature 
rejected Gov. Donald Carcieri's veto of MPP's medical marijuana bill, 
solidifying the number of states in the union with medical marijuana 
laws. New York is waiting on its state senate and governor to take 
final action on a bill that passed the assembly by a 93-52 vote.

The list of losses are equally numerous. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme 
Court continued its history of stretching the "interstate commerce" 
clause of the constitution.

Gonzales v. Raich allowed the federal government to further curtail 
state rights by rationalizing since medical marijuana could be 
transported and sold across state lines.

Despite California's medical marijuana law prohibiting it, the 
Federal government can shut down state sanctioned "cannabis clubs." 
This allows state medical marijuana patients and growers to be 
prosecuted under federal law.

Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell vetoed a MPP sponsored bill last week, 
citing conflicts with federal law and "family values" of voters. On 
Monday, the Supreme Court set a dangerous precedent for further 
constraining student speech by virtue of its content in its "Bong 
Hits 4 Jesus" case ruling.

The judiciary's actions have cleared the way for executive agencies 
such as the Drug Enforcement Agency and local law enforcement 
departments to exercise excessive police powers and undue influence 
in public policy. Drug law enforcement has taken on a troubling 
para-military flare with officers in battle dress uniforms with guns 
drawn executing "no-knock" search warrants.

A hard nosed approach on crime may never draw the ire of the public, 
but a botched raid on and death of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston 
should. Atlanta police suspected her apartment was being used to sell 
crack cocaine, obtained a warrant and plain clothes officers raided 
the house. Johnston, anticipating the raid as a home invasion, opened 
fire on the officers. They justifiably returned fire, but then went 
on to plant all the drugs that were found that day, whicn included 
three bags of marijuana. Officers J.R. Smith and Gregg Junnier pled 
guilty to a variety of charges relating to the incident in federal 
court. Like the war in Iraq, our "boots on the ground" have failed to 
speak the local language and only inflame violence not among Shiites 
or Shia, but Bloods, Crips and Banditos.

Not content to engage in mere enforcement, the DEA orchestrates and 
U.S. tax payers fund a variety of public relations campaigns 
demonizing drugs and drug users, as well as attempting to legitimize 
and further their bureaucratic interests. According to the DEA Web 
site, marijuana and its legalization advocates are endangering the 
country by blurring the lines between "fact and fiction." On its 
face, these Web sites are contrived and sometimes outright false, 
which is a fact that will not escape the critical eye.

Critiquing current drug policy and scrutinizing agencies such as the 
DEA is an important task for government reform. The unwise laws and 
mechanisms that enforce them conveniently demonstrate the heights of 
government corruption, bureaucratic inefficiency, deliberate 
misinformation, and hypocrisy. President Bush's handling of the war 
in Iraq and Afghanistan has been criticized since its inception and 
exposed some darker elements within his administration. Similarly, 
the war on drugs accomplishes the same things, regardless of 
partisanship of an administration in peace time. Although the war in 
Iraq rages on, popular discontent is being voiced and put at the 
forefront in presidential debates now and in those to come. Marijuana 
advocates should further prod latent public discontent and foster new 
energy towards an issue not unlike the war in Iraq.

Call it a "decapitation attack" because it is precisely what the war 
on drugs needs to bring it to a peaceful and ultimately beneficial 
conclusion that America deserves. Until federal prohibition is dealt 
with, state level campaigns will be subject to asymmetrical warfare 
like true insurgents, and their detractors can continue to propagate 

Citizens from all over the political spectrum can recognize the 
futility of the war on drugs and disharmony of their ideological 
beliefs and the government's conduct. Marijuana advocates need to 
focus on taking public discontent to its numerical and national 
heights. Dismantling the war on drugs will not only be a wise public 
policy course but also bring accountability back to an out of control 
federal government.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman