HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug Crazy
Source: Salon Magazine
Pubdate: 10 June 1998
Author: Mike Gray

DRUG CRAZY How We Got Into This Mess And How We Can Get Out

If religion is the opiate of the masses, drug prohibition is the high of
the ruling classes. You do not have to be Stephen Jay Gould, an admitted
therapeutic toker, to see the folly of
criminalizing a citizen's association with plants, especially the kind
bud -- cannabis indica, sativa and the hearty ruderalis (hemp). And
yet President Clinton, a Rhodes scholar who joked on television about
his youthful, offshore fling with Mary Jane, has juiced up Nixon's war
against greens and crushed legitimate research into reefer's healing

America's century-long love affair with dope-busting is the subject of Mike
Gray's engrossing "Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess and How We Can Get
Out." Gray is a Hollywood screenwriter and director with a jones for
muckraking -- he co-authored "The China Syndrome" and produced a documentary
titled "The Murder of Fred Hampton."

From the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Act to the current blooming of
medical marijuana in Arizona and California, Gray covers the usual
historical landmarks with entertaining twists. Although he is
indisposed to prohibition, his easy-to-read, fast-moving polemic has
the feel of fairness. The true beauty of the book, the forest behind
the trees, is its Voltaire-level refutation of the Church of Drug
Enforcement. Gray seems particularly good at reporting the social and
political context of destructive policy decisions. For example, a
bogus 1909 cure for opium addiction prepared the way for the cruel
Just-Say-Cold-Turkey attitude of our earliest narcotics laws. His
chapters on the hemispheric quagmire created by exporting our drug war
south of the border makes you want to burn Old Glory.

Gray sees an escape route running through Holland and Great Britain.
Hamstrung by a United Nations treaty, the Dutch cannot easily legalize
marijuana. But they have found a loophole -- tolerance. Small sales of
weed are permitted in no-hassle coffee shops under government
supervision. In theory, this keeps Dutch youth off the harder stuff by
socializing the use of the non-addictive leaf. In practice, the
trade-off appears to be working. Experimentation with heroin and
cocaine has dropped steadily among Dutch teenagers while the
marijuana-using population doubled between 1988 and 1992. The
increase, of course, looks like red meat to the zero-tolerance crowd.
But Gray points out that use by American teens likewise doubled in the
same period, "despite the most repressive prohibition in history."

As for the cocaine- and heroin-afflicted, Gray describes the success
of an old-fashioned, now heretical maintenance program in a Liverpool
clinic where clients were dispensed their daily doses and expected to
carry on with their lives. What happened? No HIV, high employment and
a 94 percent fall in client crime. Naturally, the clinic was closed
down. So how insane is the U.S. about drugs? Tobacco and alcohol are
licensed to kill in the millions, but a few grams of gentle cannabis
can land you in jail, forfeit your house and lose you your job --
unless you are Rep. Dan Burton's son (his stash included eight pounds
and 30 plants) or play for the Dutch-oriented National Basketball

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