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Editorial: Their Security Demands You Vote Repeal

This week a headline came out of Birmingham, Great Britain, of a type that particularly frustrates me. It's the type of headline that moved me to sign up with the fledgling drug legalization movement 13 years ago. "Criminal gangs are infiltrating Birmingham schools and children as young as nine are being used as drugs mules," as well as schools in Manchester and London, the Birmingham Post reports Education Minister Jim Knight as having told a House of Commons panel. "It is an emerging issue we want to nip in the bud before it becomes something genuinely worrying for parents and pupils," Knight said after the hearing.
David Borden
How much does he want to nip it in the bud? Enough to brave politics and defy ideology? There's one sure way to end the problem -- legalization. But while they do talk about legalization a bit more in Britain than our politicians do here in the US -- the leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, has raised the issue before -- they still don't talk about it enough. At least not enough yet to actually do it, despite how obvious a good move it would be.

Make no mistake, it is obvious. If the primary fear in the drug issue is that drugs put kids in danger, what about the very real danger kids are placed in once drawn into illegal drug gangs, or even as bystanders? But that problem exists only because of prohibition. For all the downsides of alcohol and cigarettes, for example, drugs as surely as any other, how often does one hear about kids selling them on the street, or in the schools to other kids?

It is an endemic problem, and "tough" enforcement is no solution. Back in the early 1990s, police in Boston, Massachusetts, did a major "sweep" of Mission Hill, a primarily African American neighborhood plagued by violence and disorder, much of it from the drug trade. A friend of mine spent a summer there as a teacher and mentor to a group of schoolchildren -- the summer after the sweep took place, as it so happened. There was a difference in the neighborhood, he told me, it was a lot cleaner than before, at least for awhile. But even then, the kids in his group would still get accosted on their way to and from school by drug gang members wanting them to do work for them, a troubling and disheartening phenomenon.
WONPR poster (courtesy Hagley Museum and Library)
The legalization question came up in conversation when he and kids and parents were hanging out together one night as they often did. He expected almost everyone to be against it, but interestingly it was split about half and half. Also interestingly, the split was not generational -- there were kids who wanted the government to get tougher on the drug trade, and parents who wanted to legalize it all, and vice versa. His report made me wonder if we might have more support than we realize we have in certain communities.

Much is at stake here. If prohibition draws children -- as young as nine -- into the drug trade, at some point it also acquaints them with the guns that underground sellers use to protect themselves. Youth and guns don't always mix well, to say the least. A young person has more probability (on average) of actually using such a weapon in the fear or passion of the moment, or through a misjudgment, than an adult does (again, on average), even an adult criminal. Blumstein tentatively attributed the mid-1980s spike in violence, and the significant rise in youth gun ownership, to the combination of the crack trade -- which increased the number of sellers needed in the drug trade because the drug is short acting and addicts make more separate purchases of it -- and the mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which increased the risk to adults in the drug trade and thereby the price they required to participate in it, and the incentive therefore to use minors who are not subject to the mandatory minimums and so would work more cheaply. Osmosing from that base, guns became more common in the youthful population at large. Unintended consequences, but not so unpredictable.

A famous poster from alcohol prohibition days depicts a motherly figure with children, reading, "their security demands you vote repeal." So it did then -- so it does now.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

End Prohibition Starting with Marijuana

I could not agree more with Dave Borden's plea to change course on Drug Policy and begin the process of Re-Legalization. Between 1989-1997, my own publication, (New Age Patriot) gave voice and argument to this position. Unfortunately it still falls on deaf ears.

More unfortunate is that there is a reason for this. As Pogo once said, "we have me the enemy and it is us." For "ever" it seems that the grass root activists have wanted the complete Re-Legalization of Marijuana. But groups like NORML, High Times and the like never really seemed to share the same fervor for our goals. Their actions were diffuse to say the least.

Then there are the "money" guys: Lewis, Sperling and Soros. They began with support for Prop 215 in California in 1996 which, for the first time since 1938, gave the sick access to Marijuana. I applauded their efforts, at the time, but cautioned that: only by taking Marijuana out of the Controlled Substances Act (1970) would our victory be assured.

Sure enough time had proved me right. The Raich case, before the Supreme Court sealed the deal. Now the Bush administration is escalating its war against the Medical Marijuana dispensaries throughout California.

But the disingenuousness of these "money" guys goes quite a bit further. In 2001 Michigan activists launched the most progressive Marijuana initiative in US history, PRA. PRA would have allowed cultivation and consumption to ALL adults, for both medical and recreational use. But when I attempted to contact Soros, through Ethan Nadleman for needed financial support we were completely ignored. The Michigan activists had collected over 270,000 signatures and needed the financial help of Soros to collect an additional 150,000 . . . in order to assure the initiative a place on the ballot. Nadleman refused to provide an audience with his boss, Soros, and PRA did not get on the ballot.

And there was worse new to come. Rainbow Farm, a now famous site for Marijuana reform activists, was inundated with 105 Local, State and Federal agents a week before 911. Rainbow Farm was instrumental in getting PRA as far as it got and was listed as one of the 10 most "hemp-friendly" places on the planet by High Times.

That weekend before "911" they invaded Rainbow Farm and murdered Tom Crosslin and his partner Rollie. To this day I am quite convinced that both the Bush Administration and "soon to be" governor Granholm were complicit in this senseless murder.

So with or without their help we still must persist in our quest. And this is the course I feel we should be taking.

Then, as now, the most prudent course is to work towards the immediate legalization of Marijuana. As a recreational drug it is one of the safest available. More importantly, extricating it from the grasp of drug marketers would also prevent many kids from access to the "harder" drugs (Cocaine, Heroin, Methamphetamine) which dealers also commonly sell. In doing this Marijuana becomes a "gatekeeper drug" . . . insulating the public and especially young kids, from the harder drugs.

I have outlined a strategy for achieving this goal under the moniker of the "Merp Project." You can read more about it in the links provided below. If you believe the "Merp Project" makes sense I encourage you to pressure NORML, High Times and the "money guys" to get off their respective asses and get the job done.

The "Marijuana Re-Legalization Policy" (MRP) Project
Pronounced "Merp Project"

Americans used to be the innovators, the movers, the shakers. Now we can't seem to accomplish anything. We claimed victory against Germany and Japan in 5 years during WWII. But today we haven't secured a single village in Iraq over 5 years and have wasted a trillion dollars and 3000 American lives doing it. Worse yet we should never had invaded in the first place. It really begins to have you questioning the leadership of this once great country.

Pogo was only partially correct. Yes, we are often our own worse enemy. But we also have the ability to awaken all of the dormant attributes that lie sleeping within each of us: the innovator, the doer, the victor.

In the end the future is but a result of which, of these attributes, we choose to nurture and build. I still believe we can set a course towards a better world. And in that world, which I see quite clearly, we will all be able to cultivate and consume all forms of Soma without the interference of an intolerant government. In my world the government will truly reflect the will of its people.

Bruce W. Cain
Editor, New Age Citizen

Prohibition lores children into drugs and crime on purpose

The drug war is designed to cull the herd of those who might question authority by tasting forbidden fruit. Drug use is a litmus test for conformity to the prevailing status quo.

It is a never ending frustration to see authorities respond to the expanding negative effects of their policies by demanding that we expand the policies even more.

In the real world under-educated and under-employed people of all ages are enticed into crime by the lucrative opportunities offered by the $ 322 billion global drug black market.

NIDA's Volkow is quoted as saying that kids brains are not fully formed to make critical decisions about things like drugs. "WASHINGTON - Call it the science of peer pressure. When teenagers fail to just say no to drugs, Dr. Nora Volkow blames their brains, not their willpower — they lack links between some crucial brain regions that won't fully form until they're adults."

So why do we leave children to run the gauntlet of their formative years between the forbidden fruit of addict dealer peers, gangsters and social predators offering drugs, bling and success on one side and 'just say no', police, prisons offering mandatory minimums of anal rape tough love on the other?

A few years ago the following quote was online but the link expired. It goes nicely to you argument David.

"Horrified by the violence and corruption that alcohol prohibition fostered, lifelong Republican Pauline Morton Sabin told Congress in 1930, "...women played a large part in the enactment [of prohibition]... They are now realizing with heart burning and heart aching that if the spirit is not within, legislation can be of no avail. They thought they could make prohibition as strong as the Constitution, but instead have made the Constitution as weak as prohibition..." She went on to say that before prohibition, her children had no access to alcohol. During prohibition they could get it anywhere."
October, 1998
Brainstorm Magazine
Cascade Policy Institute

Gangs here, there and everywhere

"You're talking 12, 13, 14-year-old kids that are standing out on the corner, and there's many cases in the city where we've come across kids of that age with guns,"

Jan 25, 2007 7:18 pm US/Eastern
Philadelphia Gang Violence On The Rise


Well-regulated, transparent legalization of all drugs in the western world is the only sane way to go.

The obvious benefits compared to now can be listed from here to heaven.

How to approach the transition from the mire now to there is the only difficulty, because so many have clear or subtle self-interest in the status now, and many others have to little true info to trust the transition-process to work out well.

The alcohol-prohibition is a valid example to build on towards drug-use regulation within the law. But it's become too long ago to be easily grasped and trusted by people conditioned by growing up under "The war on drugs" since 1971.

A fuller shared model of purpose in society seems to be necessary to combine with the logical arguments for allowing drug-use within the law.

A more updated and specified model of common purpose based on the good old ideals of "freedom, equality, solidarity, life, liberty and happiness for all" will do. Then arguments of what drugs do and do not do to consciousness, life-styles and society will have a clearer, more falsifiable standard to be compared with and measured against.

Without a strongly formulated alternative model of society presented briefly at every opportunity, strife for wiser drug-policies will continue to be drenched and drowned by the demagoguery of the illogical "war on drugs".

The lack of logic and realistic purpose is actually the strength of "the war on drugs". The lack of a realistic logic in fact makes the drug-war nearly (but only nearly) unassailable.

Criticized for failing to fulfill a purpose, the purpose is quickly presented as something else, and the formulation of purpose keeps jumping whenever one purpose is shown to fail. (Just as in "the war on terror".)

The war on drugs instead relies on a conventionalized dogmatic emotional attitude unanchored in clear thought, that "drugs are bad and bans protect from drugs". It matters little how untrue this emotionalized attitude is or can be shown to be.

The attitude reverts quickly back to itself by the pressure from the prevailing mode in surrounding official society whenever the heady possibility of another and better condition around drugs approaches mental accept.

All it takes for the new tender thought of legal drug-use to topple back, is an emotionally presented claim that it's wrong - like a father angrily talking of how "drugs" destroyed his son, or a mother weeping over the same. No clear logic needed - only the emotional logic of unstated, presumed premises.

This is the emotinally dug-in condition drug-legalization efforts are up against. Only by presenting a demonstrably viable different model for drug-distribution and use in society, will the majority dare to change their stance. The majority must be offered a new condition to fall back upon, rather than a new condition to stretch up to. That is how emotional logic functions, as opposed to rational mental logic.

By calmly presenting a stamp-sized picture of how legal drug-use may work - not seeking to convince but seeking to re-mind (!) - such a position to fall back down upon may be provided. E.g. by briefly pointing to the fact that western societies are already at saturation-point in drug-use, and anyone who so wishes find the drugs they want.

A simple, benevolent screening process, asking the buyer to state on a form why they want the drug before drug-buying is allowed, would probably be sufficient to make most people reflect upon their use enough to cause drug-use to diminish instead of increase with regulated legalization. (There's always the example of the Netherlands and other western countries that legally allow use to suggest the truth of this.)

As it is, much drug use happens from lack of reflection, outside the zone of clear thought which the field of legal behaviour provides.

Showing that already most drug-use happens in responsible ways (only some 3-4 % become "problem-users" - under any form of legal condition), and that transparency around drug-use can only improve the responsibility people show about use, may be a good point to continue from.

The homeland of people happily using or abstaining from available drugs to continue their relaxedly clear-minded development of life is where we want to go. Right?

That's one stamp-sized position to fall back upon.

Ole Ullern

Superior fear

America lives in a state of fear.

Fear of crime.

Fear of addiction.

Fear of Blacks.

Fear of illegals.

Fear of the stranger next door.

As long as Americans are held in a deer-in-the-headlights state by these well honed fears, fanned by daily headlines repeated ad nauseam about the latest drug related criminal violence on our streets and in our world, nothing will change. Nothing can change.

Two things will change this situation. 1. a greater fear. 2. Debunking the above listed fears.

The reform movement has worked hard at the debunking. But the drug war induced fear is so well ingrained that it needs to be shaken hard before people will acknowledge that their fears are debunked and then adopt alternatives to the debunked fear. I firmly believe the greater and more valid fears are fear of the crime fostered by the drug war imposed economy and fear for the national security of America because the prohibition economy provides billions of dollars to terrorist armies including the Taliban who we are fighting right now.

Why should prohibition be allowed to continue to fund America's enemies?

Make it clear to people that national alcohol prohibition funded the growth of national criminal gangs. The international drug prohibition is fostering the growth of STATELESS international terrorist armies. Whole armies free of state sponsorship thanks to the $ 322 global annual retail black market economy of the drug markets.

There are no greater fears than the fear of terrorism and violent crime.

My essay on terrorism at LeftIndependent blog:

Superior fear: True

Too true. The Question is what to do.

Angry attacks on the spreading of fears only feed into that spreading of fear, through providing a semblance of confirmation in the emotional tone that there exists something to be feared - totally independent of the logical, cognitive content of what's said.

My belief is that providing an emotionally more attractive default-option than the current drug-ban/drug-war situation is the solution. Showing the world won't change (for the worse), only some threatening problems - like drug-related crimes - will go away with dropping the drug-bans, is how to promote legally allowed and well-regulated drug-availability.

Show and present the drug-ban free solution as easier to reach than "victory" in the current state of "drug-war". That's the way.

Ole Ullern

the famous poster

The prohibition poster.

We could try a concerted effort to debunk the entire 'for the children' paradigm. How about a multi-blog and web site effort to expose the harms done to children by the drug policy and/or the economy created by the drug prohibition policy.

What has the drug war done for children?

A way to legalize drugs

like many of you, abhore the war on drugs and the disasterous effects it perpetuates both locally and abroad. That being said, it begs the question, "can anything be done to end it"?

Until now we have assumed that laws and people with guns would be enough to quench the innate thirst in humans to alter consciousness. History has proven to us again, and again, and again, that the Law+Armed People+Prison=Compliance equation simply DOES NOT WORK when applied to such a personal choice as when, where, and how a person decides to alter their consciousness. I think the problem is simple, that such a choice can never be resolved via simple boolean on/off yes/no reasoning. The choice itself consists of a number of such decisions, for instance: Should one get high? Is one old enough to get high? Does getting high conflict with your personal value system, and does it have to conflict (does your belief-system specificly prohibit "getting high"?)? Do you have to do anything in the foreseeable future that would require you to be "of sober mind" (yes, like drive somewhere)? Do you have a high rate of chemical-dependance or psychosis in your family? These are all questions to be entertained and answered on an individual level, and as such cannot be resolved via some all-enveloping dictum enforced with a gun.

So what then, let anyone who wants to use a drug use whatever drug they want whenever they want????? HELL NO!!! There is a great deal of time in any given day that requires one to be as focused as can reasonably be expected (you know, like when you are at work....or driving), and studies have shown that early use of some drugs will in fact have imparing effects later on in life. Besides, in the whole Law+Armed People+Prison=Compliance ideology, what exactly are we trying to stop? Are we trying to get people to stop using drugs??? Commercial glamourization of drug-use alone demands that they be at least available, and the plethora of new designer anti-depressants, tranquilizers, amphetamines, and other mood enhancing drugs produced by pharmacuticle companies every year suggests exactly the opposite. So what are we really trying to stop? If I can go to a doctor, bitch about a back-pain and get hooked up with a script for Oxycontin (a synthetic opiate 10x stronger than street opium) what is the point in prohibiting me from going down to the corner and scoring a gram or two of Afghanistan's finest? With a growing number of states and principalities relegating their anti-marijuana enforcement priorities to that of a traffic-ticket, the whole point of mantaining any form of enforcement against the use of drugs becomes further blurred.

I think the biggest point behind our drug laws is to curb actual abuse (there is a casual but distinct difference between use and abuse) rather than to inspire complete abstinence from drug use. Personally I take that responsibility very seriously (often having pissed people off with my out-right refusal to drive while intoxicated...oh well, tough titty get over it and I'll drive us back when I sober up). Much like driving laws are meant to instill at least a functional-civility in the drivers of our streets, I think our drug-laws should be re-crafted to instill responsibility in the casual user of drugs. Hence my solution: A drug-use license card!

If one can pass a drug-competency exam (after having reached the age of 18 relatively crime-free) they would be issued a license by the state (states would control the actual card-associated restrictions and penalties, while the fed would control production standards, labor laws, and market regulation. Ultimately the levels of intoxicating agents in products would be monitored at the state level due to locally grown or manufactured products entering the market, but the FDA would set initial quality and intoxication stanards.T
The issuee would have to display the card upon enterence into a "drug-store" thus signifying what level of drug he or she was allowed to purchase, and the transaction would end with the swipping of the card (can't have you buying an ounce at every store and then reselling them to kids). Of course transactions would be monitored but only to ensure against such frauds as noted above.

Just like a driver's license, your drug-use license could be taken away, or some of your purchase privledges can be revoked (ie if you let someone else use your license, if you are caught selling drugs to those who are underage or have had their privledges revoked, if you are caught causing a disturbance, or creating a public nuisance as a result of or otherwise related to your being intoxicated in public or private, if you are caught driving or doing something else inappropriate for drug-use (like being at work) while being high). Instead of prison, many of these offenses could be resolved via public restitution (clean-up crew, mentoring, participation in a drug education program for youths).

So there it is! The Drug-user's Licence!
Do you think it would work?

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