Breaking News:Dangerous Delays: What Washington State (Re)Teaches Us About Cash and Cannabis Store Robberies [REPORT]

Editorial: How Much Reality is Too Much?

David Borden, Executive Director
David Borden
How much reality is too much? For many politicians, any intelligent discussion about what the drug laws are actually doing to us is more reality than they can take.

This was illustrated in a lurid way recently, after the city council of El Paso, Texas, did something unusually real. As part of a resolution expressing solidarity with the neighboring Mexican city Juarez, struggling with a wave of drug trade violence that sometimes crosses the border, council members included an amendment calling for "an honest, open national debate on ending the prohibition of narcotics" to stop that violence.

El Paso Mayor John Cook, who had only watched silently when the resolution was discussed, responded by vetoing it, arguing that it would make it hard for him to lobby Congress for funding. But he demonstrated the ignorance underlying his veto move in an e-mail deriding legalization supporters as "pot heads" that wound up going public.

It got worse. State legislators and even El Paso's US congressman got involved, lobbying the council members with sky-will-fall warnings about El Paso losing out on stimulus and law enforcement funding. But City Rep. O'Rourke, the sponsor of the resolution, pointed out that none of the legislators could cite a single actual threat made.

Tuesday, the Council failed on a 4-4 vote to override the mayor's veto. But the mayor's victory was pyrrhic. Council reps who voted against the override stated publicly they did so only because of the threat of losing funding. And critics of such intellectual intolerance waxed eloquent, like City Rep. Steve Ortega, who voted to override: "If we are silent on this matter, the prospects for the future of this community are placed in danger. And I'm not going to stand here idly and listen to unnamed legislators threaten us for having a dialogue over the future of this community."

For a city council to speak up about prohibition causing violence was too much reality this month for a mayor, their state legislators and congressman. But with neighbors across their border being killed, and the effects of it hitting El Paso, that reality was too much for the council to not speak up, at least for awhile. Ignorance won the final vote this time. But we'll be back.

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!


We need more community leaders who are not afraid to do their job.

alapoet's picture

Kudos to the city council!

It's about public officials stepped up to the plate, spoke out and started actually doing their jobs -- addressing the very real problems which face us!

Drug prohibition has never worked and will never work.

Homeless Plea to President-Elect Obama

January 11, 2009

TO: President-Elect Barack Obama

FROM: Ruben Botello, Founder

Dear Mr. Obama:

I have been in and out of homelessness since being honorably discharged as a USMC Vietnam veteran in 1969. I wound up homeless then, in and out of homelessness with my two sons in the Eighties, and homeless on my own again in the Nineties.

I started the American Homeless Society in 1987 while my sons and I were homeless in California. I have been in several hunger strikes, marches and demonstrations for homeless rights since then but have seen little progress.

My longest hunger strike was 58 days against President Reagan’s “trickle down” economic policies that created much more instead of less homelessness in our country. You now speak about fixing our nation’s economy from the “bottom up” and that should mean you are starting by ending involuntary homelessness at the bottom.

HUD Secretary Philip Mangano has been promoting 10-year plans to end homelessness in major cities across the country on behalf of the Bush Administration for the past few years. We would hope and pray you make a similar commitment to abolish homelessness but throughout our nation, not just in individual cities because there are far more homeless than these urban plans will ever reach.

Slavery was abolished in America over a century ago; why not abolish homelessness today, Mr. Obama? Homelessness is just as bad as slavery in several ways and much worse in others.

Men, women and children from all the races, colors, cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, religions and creeds in our diverse society find themselves homeless daily. They are forced to endure harassment, discrimination and persecution in our nation today much like the slaves President Lincoln’s armies fought to free in the Nineteenth Century.

America’s homeless are also forced to endure nature’s harshest conditions without warm homes or shelter for protection; without good food and nutrition; without essential hygiene, medicine and healthcare; and without the necessary education, training or experience required to qualify for the dwindling supply of jobs in today’s worsening economy. Many of America’s homeless today are even employed but underemployed and unable to afford existing rentals while thousands of others are altogether unemployable.

How can our great nation permit so many of these poor souls to continue to suffer and die needlessly on our streets? I joined the Marines to fight for my country in the Sixties so that all Americans could have a better life, not just the rich and well-to-do who are receiving all the bailouts today.

The list of barriers and obstacles facing today’s homeless goes on and on, Mr. Obama. Please, if you are serious about fixing our nation’s economy from the bottom-up, begin at the real bottom by making a firm commitment to end involuntary homelessness throughout our country without further ado.


Ruben Botello, Founder

US REP REYES. Head of Intelligence?

US REP REYES. Head of Intelligence? How can this man be the head of the US House of Reps Intel committee? Just how intelligent is it to openly suppress freedom of speech with obvious threats? Boy, this country is in great trouble. Just imagine what thuggish behavior is going on behind the curtains. Yes, were going to have a lot of change in government and it looks to be all bad. Just look at who else Pelosi picked for other positions. Then we have Mr. Obama who's stacking the deck with prohibitionists. People better stand up & speak out before it's too late. It looks to be a situation of drug laws reformers being pushed to make their point before the prohibitionists get settled in. That's the only way to succeed. Everybody, contact your elected officials and politely demand the end to the war on drugs. We should at the least insist on the legalization of marijuana. This means you either need to sign one of the pre-made form letters found on sites like this. Or, learn all you can real fast in order to be able to write intelligent letters of your own. Here's a link to contact your elected officials from: Please, do that & contact them today. No one else can do this for you. It looks to be a make, or break situation. Let's get going, now.

Signed, Joel Green

On the contrary

You suggest people "politely" demand an end to the drug war. Many of us have been doing that (sometimes, daily) for a very long time, with very little to no response from legislators at either the federal or state level. It is now past time for politeness, it is time to be ANGRY, and to let them have it with both barrels, so to speak!

Tell them you will work to have the recalled from their position if they do not begin to represent the views of the people. One letter/email/call saying that won't get them to change, I know, but an avalanche of them would, especially since politicians know for every letter/email/call they receive there are at least 10 more people in their district who feel the same way about that issue, but won't take the time to contact their "representatives" about it.

oh ya

Mj will continue to be illegal as long as there are closed mind juicer rednecks making laws and dicisions about mj.

Malkavian's picture

Now it's back to stupid reality

It's a quote from The Simpsons, and the scary part is that even Homer got it. Sure, fine ... play make-believe for a while, but then ya gotta face it.

Another thing whose enormity has begun to overwhelm me is the nonchalant way in which so many people talk about how nobody is going to use his or her political capital to correct the terrible error of prohibition. And the audicence just goes "aha, sure, I get it" as if it's the most natural thing in the world to subject other people to death, maiming, incarceration and theft ... all for one's political career.

That's where I wonder if people had the same polite, serious-looking faces beaming with "well of course" when nazis killed Jews, when people were burned at the stake or when supporting apartheid and slavery, and State-sanctioned hate-crimes against homosexuals?

Doing what they do to people who choose differently wrt. intoxicants needs to be redefined as hate-crimes.

Why do our "officials" support criminals?

Why, do our officials support the failed policy? I think there are many answers, but maybe the most important question, is why do our officials continue to support drug prohibition? There-by putting criminals in charge of American drug policy. There has to be a reason. Is it possible that we have elected and re-elected, that many idiots. However, have we investigated these yokels? Are they caught up in some nether world? Or, is there a money stake to be had by our "officials"? I have wondered about that for at least five years, ever since, one of our local police officials, was caught selling their stash of seized cannabis, and doing very well. But then isn't about profits?

At a local level, it's drug dealing and law enforcemnet...

but at the international stage, it's about jobs for police, dea agents, lawyers, jugdes, correction officers, wardens and prison staff, subcontractors and suppliers, pawn shops and our politicians. It's more about maintaining lifestyles than addiction.


We were a lot smarter back in the 1930s when we repealed the prohibition of alcohol!! I can't believe that this country, with 5% of the world population, has 25% of the world's prisoners!! It's unfortunate that our 'leaders' are more interested in the almighty dollar than they are in people's lives!! Here's an interesting article that shows just how stupid we've become:

SCHOOL - 1958 vs. 2008

Scenerio #1: Jack goes quail hunting on the way to school and drives into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack..
1958: Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2008: School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.
Scenerio #2: Johnny and Mark get into fistfight after school.
1958: Crowd gathers, Mark wins, Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2008: Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.
Scenerio #3: Billy breaks window in neighbor's car and his Dad gives him whipping with a belt.
1958: Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes successful businessman.
2008: Billy's Dad arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister she remembers being abused herself and their Dad goes to prison. Billy's Mom has affair with psychologist.
Scenerio #4: Mark gets a headache and takes aspirin to school.
1958: Mark shares aspirin with Principal out on smoking dock.
2008: Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.
Scenerior #5: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of Juky, puts them in model airplane bottle, blows up red ant bed.
1958: Ants die.
2008: BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.
Scenerio #6: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. His teacher, Mary, finds him crying and hugs him to comfort him.
1958: In a short time Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2008: Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in state prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.
Scenerio #7: Pedro fails high school English.
1958: Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes onto college.
2008: Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Nerwspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway, but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he can't speak English.


funny! and sad, too!

I jut about did not read it, because it was getting a little long. Glad did, though. I forgot about those "good old days". Now, I worry about having any guns because my wife got busted for forging scripts, to get pain medicine for her chronic pain, that she cannot get doctors to adequately treat!. Things are all messed up! SNAFU!!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <b>

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School