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The war on drugs is a war on our youth

Matthew Fogg Fogg, of Washington, D.C,. is a chief deputy U.S. marshal. He was recently a guest speaker at Virginia Tech. When I speak out against the war on drugs, I do so from a position of experience. I supervised a major metropolitan area Drug Enforcement Administration task force. I have tracked America's most wanted fugitives. I have participated in SWAT operations. I know about the drug war's failures from firsthand, frontline experience. This "war" -- declared as such by President Richard Nixon in 1971 -- has escalated over the years and is now one of the most egregious policies of government wrongdoing in our nation's history. It is a violent and wasteful exercise in futility. It is an assault on our Constitution. It is both a racist and cultural assault upon the citizens of this nation, with no legal justification. And it is not founded upon any coherent notion of justice or common sense. Most of all, the drug war fails to protect our youth. In fact, it increases both the harms and danger to today's generation of young people. How many of today's politicians have used drugs in their past? Has their former drug use prevented them from seeking office? Did that use prevent them from getting elected? Did that use prevent them from being effective in their offices? Obviously, the answer is no. Many elected leaders admit past drug use, including a former president and a current candidate for our nation's highest office. But would any of them have risen to positions of prominence and power if their past had included a conviction for drugs? Using illegal drugs is most often done in a person's youth. The most common substance of experimentation is marijuana. That particular plant has been around for thousands of years and has a prominent place in human history as both an agricultural commodity (for its fiber and seed) and as a medicine. Not until an extreme bigot -- who was a career Prohibition bureaucrat -- began a campaign of "reefer madness" seven decades ago was hemp even controversial. But Harry Anslinger's efforts became the template for the 70 years of drug prohibition to follow. All illegal drugs were at one time legal substances. Not until they became illegal did the problems of their abuse ever escalate into real problems. For young people today, the problems are multiple. Not only are the drugs readily available, but they are often adulterated and made more dangerous because their control is in the hands of unscrupulous criminal predators and their organizations. Plus there are the additional hazards of government drug policies. Random drug testing in our schools is a growing movement that essentially teaches our children that submission to authority outweighs the principles of individual liberties guaranteed in our Constitution. Seizures need to be accompanied by a warrant describing exactly what is to be seized and describing the reasons for seizure. Drug testing is both random and warrantless. Is this the lesson in civics we wish to be teaching? Or should we be reinforcing the notions of both personal responsibility that falls on individuals and their rights as plainly laid out by the ultimate law of the land -- our Constitution and its core Bill of Rights? Make no mistake, the drug war is wrong and a fraud being perpetrated upon us by those with a vested interest in the industries profiting from it. The time has come for this war to be exposed as the egregious and racist wrong that it has become. When our government's policies have brought us to the point that we imprison black males at a rate six times greater than South Africa's heinous apartheid, it is time for all of us to acknowledge its racist roots. When we seize the most personal of personal property, bodily fluids, from our children and subject them to searches by police dogs and armed police in their schools, we have become that which generations past have fought so righteously against. original post by the Roanoke Times at
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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