David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 5/23/03
"This time they've gone too far" is a frequently felt sentiment in the anti-drug war movement. How dare Thailand's government slaughter hundreds of suspected drug offenders with no trial? How can the cruelty of mandatory minimum sentences such as the Rockefeller Drug Laws survive in a civilized society? How can some members of Congress be so treasonous as to attempt to legalize government campaigning on the taxpayer's tab against drug reform ballot initiatives? And how can federal jurists imprison compassionate caregiver Ed Rosenthal for years, not even allowing his jury to know the fundamental truth of his case, that he was a medical marijuana provider?
On June 4, a vastly expanded coalition opposing New York State's draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws will take to the streets of Manhattan to demand an "end to slavery," as one organizer put it, full repeal and nothing less. The same day, advocates nationwide will demonstrate on behalf of Ed Rosenthal, coinciding with his sentencing. Outraged defenders of the rights of drug users will protest at embassies and consulates of the Thai government in England and elsewhere. And efforts to defeat the assault on democracy contained in the appropriations bill have taken a strong tone of moral outrage, with some success in gaining support within the halls of power.
Though public support in America for medical marijuana is overwhelming, still federal drug warriors refuse to respect the rights of the states, the will of the people or the needs of the patients. As abhorrent as are mandatory minimum sentences, as tragic and destructive their toll and as racist their application, still Congress and legislatures cling doggedly to their cruelty and wastefulness and keep those laws on the books -- sometimes taking small or even large positive steps in some quarters, but just as often escalating and making them worse.
Why? It is as the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass once expressed: "Power concedes nothing without a demand." Simply, the powerful vested political and economic interests benefiting from the drug war will not back down just because there are people who disagree with them, even a great majority of people. Only the power and ability to turn the knobs and levers of power, to enable political careers to succeed or to end them, will turn the tide against the drug war.
And that means that many more reform supporters need to actively show outrage at such outrages. Many more people need to take the time to go to the protests. Many more individuals, businesses and charities need to write more and larger checks to organizations that are pressuring leaders and educating the public on these issues. Many more enlightened citizens need to act on the alerts, write letters to the editor, deluge the offices of Congress and the states' capitols with phone calls, lobby, speak out, cry out for change with moral outrage until the powers have no choice but to listen.
It can happen, but you are the key. What can you do today to help stop the war on drugs?