Editorial: Why Prohibition Scares Me 12/19/03

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David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 12/19/03

David Borden
This week saw a great victory in the federal courts. Patients Angel McClary Raich and Diane Monson, in a lawsuit they brought against the federal government, won the right to use and obtain marijuana for medical use consistent with the terms of California law including Proposition 215. For the time being, at least, medical marijuana is legal in the several states within the US 9th Circuit that have passed medical marijuana laws. Raich told DRCNet (following article) that she has been "living in a state of fear that we could be raided and imprisoned at any time."

Such fear is justified, and not only for medical marijuana users, or for that matter any drug users. Grim news this week proved this in a terrible way. Kenneth Brown Walker, a 39-year old father and taxpayer in Columbus, Georgia, was shot in the head by a police officer. The police stopped the car he was in, and they claim he was shot because he didn't show his hands. No drugs were found; the driver and the passengers were completely innocent, didn't do anything wrong. Kenneth Walker was minding his own business, yet now he is dead.

I was not in or near Walker's car, so I will withhold judgment for the moment -- not on the culpability of the officer who shot him, only on his degree of culpability. Judgment is long overdue, however -- harsh judgment -- for the leaders in law enforcement and politics who have encouraged the reckless drug war tactics which lead to such tragedies. It ought to have been obvious from the beginning that the more police are in the business of intruding into random situations waving guns around, the more often accidental shootings will take place, the more danger there will be for police, suspects and bystanders alike.

Prohibition scares me. Every time I hear another report of drive-by shootings -- drug gangs expanding into new territory -- guns following the drugs into the communities, even the schools -- I grimace in frustration at the state of denial which permits it all to continue. When will we do the obvious and put it all to a stop by ending criminal prohibition of drugs?

The longer we wait, the greater the escalation of the arms race. The more dangerous the criminals grow, the more police sent on patrol, the heavier the weaponry both of them carry. The louder the calls for arrest, the better financed the vested interests in enforcement, the larger the number of raids and resulting tragedies. And the cycle continues.

Angel Raich and Diane Monson shouldn't have to live in fear. Police shouldn't wave their guns around randomly at peaceful people. And Kenneth Walker shouldn't be dead. The war on drugs is futile and dangerous, and not a single needless killing in it can be justified. The prohibitionist system must be dismantled in full. And in the meantime, for every police killing or drug trade shootout or preventable overdose, judge guilt, cast blame, condemn the system. For Kenneth Walker's sake, and those who follow.

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Issue #316, 12/19/03 Editorial: Why Prohibition Scares Me | Victory! Federal Appeals Court Rules Feds Can't Persecute Medical Marijuana Patients | Supreme Court Okays Arrest of All Occupants in Cars Where Unclaimed Drugs Are Found | Flex Your Rights in News -- New and Improved BUSTED Video Offer Available from DRCNet Too | Afghanistan: Drug War Yields to Terror War as Rumsfeld Glad-Hands Drug Dealing Warlords | Newsbrief: Georgia Deputy Kills Innocent Man in Highway Drug Stop | Newsbrief: Campaign Watch -- Kucinich Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: Morocco Cannabis Production Booming, UN Drug Office Reports | Newsbrief: Canadian Supreme Court to Rule Next Week on Key Marijuana Cases | Newsbrief: With National Parks Threatened, Colombia Fumigation Petition Drive Underway | Newsbrief: Nigerian Reefer Madness Breaks Out as Officials Blame Marijuana for Social Strife | Newsbrief: UN Drug Office Predicts Humanitarian Crisis as Myanmar Opium Ban Goes Into Effect | Announcement: New Hemp Nutrition Bar Supports Advocacy | DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | The Reformer's Calendar

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