HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Just Say No To Rhetoric
Pubdate: Fri, 15 Feb 2002
Source: Surrey Leader (CN BC)
Section: Opinion
Copyright: 2002 Surrey Leader
Author: Paula Carlson


In remarks made at the White House this week, U.S. President George Bush 
added more ammunition to the already armed-to-the-teeth, decades-old War on 

"Drugs help supply the deadly work of terrorists," Dubya said. "Make no 
mistake about it: If you're buying illegal drugs in America, it is likely 
that money is going to end up in the hands of terrorist organizations."

Not that a tweaking, fix-hungry junkie cares a whit about where his/her 
money ends up, be it Mustafa's Quik-Learn Flight School or Manuel Noriega's 
legal defence fund.

And illegal drug consumers don't much care where their money comes from 
either, be it your stolen TV set or the desperate exchange of their own 
bruised flesh for cash.

Addiction's funny that way. The drug becomes the only thing that matters. 
What's not amusing is the beefy, stamp-out-evil approach to substance abuse 
that continues to dominate policy on both sides of the border.

The "terrorists profit" theme that Bush used to announce his 
administration's new anti-drug initiatives - $19-billion worth through 2003 
- - was echoed in slick ads broadcast during the Super Bowl, that bastion of 
brawn-fuelled bravado.

In B.C., elite police "Green Teams" bust marijuana grow-ops in a 
Canadian-style display of getting tough on drugs.

Yet despite the confiscation of vast quantities of the so-called "gateway" 
drug, the narcotics market is thriving.

Drug abusers continue to line the courthouses, fill hospital ER beds and 
cost taxpayers incalculable amounts of money in piece-meal "treatment."

Down south, where there exists a greater divide between the haves and the 
have-nots, the 'hoods and haute couture, it's even easier to reduce the 
complexity of addiction to a stand-off between "us" and "them."

Bush boils his strategy down to a form of over-simplified social economics 
not seen since the Reagan years and Nancy's asinine Just Say No anti-drug 
campaign, which she announced with a flurry of red, white and blue balloons 
on the manicured White House lawn.

"Ours is a concerted effort to reduce demand," Bush said Tuesday, aiming to 
cut drug use by 25 per cent within five years. "As demand goes down, so 
will supply."

No word on how to reduce that demand, how to take the aching hopelessness 
out of poverty, how to inject positive mentors into neighbourhoods teeming 
with gangs yet devoid of fathers, how to move the disenfranchised into the 

No words, in fact, except the rhetoric.

As long as we continue to "fight" the "war" on drugs, rather than treat 
substance abuse as the health care issue it is, addicts will remain the 
enemy instead of who they really are. Our neighbours, co-workers, family 
and friends.
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