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US: An Exit Strategy From America's Longest War - 40 Years Of

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URL: http://www.mapinc.or...1/n393/a08.html

Newshawk: Kirk

Votes: 0

Pubdate: Wed, 15 Jun 2011

Source: AlterNet (US Web)

Copyright: 2011 Independent Media Institute

Website: http://www.alternet.org/

Author: Tommy McDonald and Stephen Gutwillig, California Director of

the Drug Policy Alliance

 

 

AN EXIT STRATEGY FROM AMERICA'S LONGEST WAR -- 40 YEARS OF DISASTROUS DRUG PROHIBITION

 

When Will We Abandon What Is Arguably The Most Disastrous Public Policy In American History Since Chattel Slavery And The Jim Crow Legacy?

 

Forty years ago this week, President Richard Nixon declared illicit drugs "public enemy #1." The ensuing war on drugs has been fought in fits and starts by every ensuing administration and is arguably the most disastrous public policy in American history since chattel slavery and its Jim Crow progeny.

 

This ignominious anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect, to ask ourselves and our leaders some very hard questions, and to demand a new direction in U.S. drug policy once and for all.

 

Initiated by President Nixon and escalated under Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, the war on drugs was said to be fought to keep Americans, particularly children, safe from harmful psychoactive substances. After four decades and at least $1 trillion, illicit drugs are actually cheaper, more potent, and widely available to Americans of all ages. Addiction remains persistent among a relatively small percentage of drug users, yet the overwhelming majority of people who want to access drug treatment don't, most often because they simply can't afford it. What's more, overdose deaths as well as HIV and hepatitis C transmissions have all skyrocketed despite recognized, low-cost public health interventions. That's because the drug war focuses on criminal justice -- rather than health-centered -- solutions to problems caused by drugs.

 

In fact, the acceleration of drug-related prosecutions is the largest contributor to the six-fold ballooning of this country's prison population since 1970. Of the 2.3 million Americans behind bars, half a million are there for drug offenses, the vast majority for possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use. For context, the United States incarcerates more people just for drug crimes than Western Europe -- with 100 million more people -- incarcerates for all crimes combined. Here in California, we imprison 8,500 each year for drug possession, at an annual cost of nearly half a billion dollars.

 

Our over-reliance on a criminal justice approach to drugs is made even uglier by easily-documented racial disparities that reveal system-wide selective enforcement of our drug laws. Despite what we're used to seeing in the mainstream media, people of all races and ethnicities consume and distribute drugs in roughly equal proportion. That means white Americans take and sell the vast majority of illicit drugs. Yet, African Americans and Latinos represent a startling two thirds of all people arrested for drug crimes. The impact of a permanent drug arrest record, let alone a felony conviction, has well-documented lifelong consequences. The mass criminalization of people of color, particularly young African American men, has become as profound a system of racial control as the Jim Crow laws were in this country until the mid-1960s.

 

Far from keeping us safer and healthier, the war on drugs has been a war on families, on communities of color, and on American public health. Today a vibrant national movement voices that message as more and more people speak out against this historic policy catastrophe. At least 50 events around the country this weekend, seven of them in California, will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the drug war and advocate alternative approaches, many of which have been in place around the world for decades. And just two weeks ago, the Global Commission on Drug Policy called for a major paradigm shift in how our society deals with drugs, including decriminalization and legal regulation. The high-profile commission is comprised of international dignitaries such as former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, entrepreneur Richard Branson, and the former Presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Switzerland. Their report understandably sent a jolt around the world, generating thousands of international media stories.

 

Now the time has now come for all of us to forge an exit strategy from this nation's longest war. It's time to replace our punitive drug laws, and their race-based enforcement, with policies grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights.

MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.

Edited by greenbuddha
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medical.http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2011/06/failed_war_on_drugs_40th_anniversary_cops_call_out.php

Cops Hand-Deliver Report To Drug Czar's Office While Czar Refuses To Meet

 

In conjunction with this week's 40th anniversary of President Nixon declaring "War On Drugs," a group of police, judges and jailers who support legalization released a report Tuesday showing how the Obama Administration is ramping up a war it disingenuously claims that it ended two years ago.

 

Following the report's release at a press conference Tuesday morning, the pro-legalization law enforcement officers attempted to hand-deliver a copy to Obama Administration Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, the former Seattle chief of police who claimed he ended the War On Drugs two years ago.

 

Instead of making time to listen to the concerns of fellow law enforcers who have dedicated their careers to protecting public safety, the Drug Czar simply sent a staffer to the lobby to receive a copy of the cops' report.

 

 

Photo: HungryBeast

Norm Stamper, LEAP: "Although President Obama has talked about respecting states' rights to enact medical marijuana laws, his DEA has raided state-legal medical marijuahttp://hungrybeast.abc.net.au/stories/drugs-extended-interview-norm-stamperna providers at a higher rate than under the Bush administration."

​"It wasn't hard to put together a report showing how the Obama administration continues to wage the failed 'war on drugs' even while pretending to end it," said Norm Stamper, also a former chief of police of Seattle and now a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). "Although President Obama has talked about respecting states' rights to enact medical marijuana laws, his DEA has raided state-legal medical marijuana providers at a higher rate than under the Bush administration.

 

"Similarly, this president has continued a Bush-era budget ratio that heavily favors spending on punishment over providing resources for treatment, even though he has said drug addiction should be handled as a health issue," Stamper said.

 

The full text of the pro-legalization cops' report is available online by clicking here.

 

In the past four days alone, 2,500 people have used LEAP's website to send letters to President Obama asking him to transform his administration's good rhetoric on ending the War On Drugs into public policy. That action alert is also available online by clicking here.

 

"Over the past few weeks, us cops who have been on the front lines of the 'war on drugs' have made numerous attempts to schedule a meeting with the drug czar to share out concerns about the harms these drug laws are causing," said Neill Franklin, a former Baltimore narcotics cop and LEAP's executive director. "The fact that he refused to sit down with us and discuss these issues -- even when we went directly to his doorstep -- speaks volumes about how much the Obama administration would rather ignore the failed 'war on drugs' than do anything to actually address it."

 

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represets police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the War On Drugs and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence.

 

Tags: drug czar, kerlikowske, war on drugs

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Until we move to decriminalization, preferably legalization, the racial divide will not subside !!!!

 

dr. Jinx

Legalization implies regulation. Decriminalization means it is no longer a criminal offense. I personally don't want it regulated any more than my rose bushes are.

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Legalization implies regulation. Decriminalization means it is no longer a criminal offense. I personally don't want it regulated any more than my rose bushes are.

 

The Devil's always in the details . However we must have legalization of medicinal Cannabis or research and access for patients will never progress to a acceptable level . Without legalization patients will never have the opportunity to the rights and privilege's of all other Citizens they also need and deserve to live as normal and possible .

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