Sunday, September 25, 2005

My Side Of The Fence

Okay, back to my side of the fence with my real views on drug prohibition. Without writing a dissertation, I want to discuss how The War on Drugs is irrational, unconstitutional, racist and immoral. (You asked for it, Vegas!).

Drug prohibition is completely irrational. It simply doesn’t make sense to spend $40 billion dollars per year on surveillance, arrests, incarcerations and bureaucratic drug warrior salaries while starving social programs that rehabilitate people with addiction problems. It is an absolute absurdity that we allow alcohol and nicotine, two of the most dangerous and addictive of all drugs, and we imprison users of marijuana and ecstasy. It’s also irrational to think that the War on Drugs keeps our children and neighborhoods safer. In 1933, when the prohibition of alcohol ceased, violent crime decreased sharply and immediately. This is because the illegality (i.e. scarceness) of alcohol made it a more valuable commodity, thereby creating an extremely lucrative black market. Just as alcohol prohibition gave us Al Capone and the Mafia, today’s drug war employs inner city gangs, international crime and terrorism organizations and corrupt police and politicians.

The War on Drugs is unconstitutional. The paranoia instigated by the drug warriors, has led to societal approval of major violations of our nation’s founding principles. Unconstitutional searches and seizures, wiretaps, entrapments and confiscations have been embraced as legitimate law-enforcement tools. During Reagan’s crusade against drugs in the 1980s, urine drug testing in the workplace became standard. Now, many Americans don’t even question this humiliating and invasive test of company loyalty. In 2003, Senator Joseph Biden (who happens to be a possible contender for the Democrats’ nominee for President in 2008), pushed the RAVE (Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy) Act through both houses of Congress. The RAVE Act was hidden in a legislative bill dealing with child abduction (the Amber Alert Bill), and passed with bi-partisan support. The RAVE Act essentially allows the government to prosecute business owners, should any of their customers use or sell illegal drugs on their property or at their event – even if the owners have taken steps to stop such activity. Benjamin Franklin once said something like, “those who would trade freedom for security, deserve neither freedom nor security.”

The War on Drugs is, and has always been, a war against minorities. The first anti-drug law passed in the United States was passed when, in 1875, the city of San Francisco (ironically enough) passed a law that made smoking opium illegal. Middle class, Euro-Americans had been taking opium in a liquid form for some time, but when local newspapers started running reports of white women being lured into Chinese opium dens and turned into sexual slaves, legislative action was taken. Not surprisingly, the use of liquid opium continued to be legal…but smoking opium, as the Chinese immigrants did, was outlawed. Cocaine was made illegal in 1914, because lawmakers believed testimony from Dr. Christopher Koch who said that “most of the attacks upon the white women of the South are the direct result of a cocaine-crazed Negro brain.” In 1937, marijuana became illegal as fears that its use was spreading from Mexicans to white American youths, and that something needed to be done. Currently, though most drug offenders are European-American, African-Americans are sent to state prisons on drug charges at 13 times the rate of European-Americans. Much of this racial disparity is due to sentencing guidelines in which possession of five grams of crack nets the same five-year mandatory minimum sentence as the sale of 500 grams of powder cocaine.

That’s enough drug war rant for tonight. I’m tired and fresh out of crack. The last part of this trilogy will address the immorality of the War on Drugs, from a personal experience perspective.
I know you’re waiting with baited breath...


Jackie said...

Nice job Cy. You are a formidable opponent. Loves it! Props to us and our fabulousness for picking difficult sides of controversial issues.

I raise my cosmopolitan to your blogging excellence.

Work it!

VegasGustan said...

Very good points indeed. Well written and quite articulate.

I think that privately-owned companies still should have SOME rights to drug testing though. I am not sure where to draw the line, but there should be one. Their are companies now that have legally fired people for something as simple as smoking, due to the health dangers and drastic increase insurance rates. Maybe I am just biased since my mother-in-law owns the company I work for and I have a vested interest to see it well ran.

hofzinser said...

This really comes down to what is the role of government in our society.

It should protect our borders from outside invasion.

It should represent our interests overseas.

It should have a structure to resolve disputes (court).

It should have laws in place for crimes with victims.

This means no federal drug laws.
This means no federal prostitution laws.
This means no federal income taxes.
This means no federal social programs like social security, welfare, unemployment, FEMA, etc.
The less things the feds have power over the better.

Let the states and locals dictate the laws for their juristiction. Our country is too diverse to handle federal-level programs.

You are spot-on dweller in the lair. Nicely done.

If people want to fuck with their own brains and bodies then let them.

If this leads to them committing victim crimes like murder, robbery, etc, THEN deal with it.

Have faith in people and their communities. Have faith that we don't need to feds to tell us what is good or bad for us. Have faith that we can take care of ourselves and the ones we love.

The fed is not mommy or daddy.

Cyrus said...

Jackie...I may be formidable, but alas, I stand Wookie-less. But thanks for complementing my fabulousness with yours.

Vegas...Thanks for the props and the input. Just to take the discussion one step further...I wonder if companies should force employees or potential employees to undergo a full on health profile check whereby anyone with a unhealthy genetic tendency, or a propensity to eat unhealthy foods or drive badly would be denied employment because of insurance concerns. As far as employee performance...forced drug testing has no correlation. I'd wager that a fairly substantial percentage of the population would fail monthly drug tests, and still perform very well at work. I'd also bet that a large percentage of the population who would pass with flying colors, suck ass at their jobs.

Hof...I've really struggled with the Libertarian idea of keeping the federal government at the bare-bones level, and moving all governmental powers to the state level. The idea of having a range of lifestyle options available (don't like the laws in one state - just move), is certainly appealing to me.

However, I don't share your faith that a fair and just system would develop without a network of social services and environmental protections. In terms of the individual and individual freedoms I am a total Libertarian. One should be free to live as they wish as it doesn't impose on someone else's ability to do the same. But, when it comes to economics, I really fall into the restrained-capitalism-with-a- heaping-tablespoon-of-socialism category. I want to live in a free, but conscientious society. Too much to hope for?

VegasGustan said...

I completely agree that there are some 100% sober people who are terrible employees and we have fired them. It is such a fine line to walk on. You are obviously fully capable of being a productive person who takes drugs, but so many more aren't. I don't know, I guess in this case, we agree to disagree.

Valerie - Riding Solo said...

I have worked with sobers, drunks and druggies and some of all of them could work well.

Myself, if I'm partying I wanna party, if I'm working I wanna work hard and fast and get it done so I can play. I can't mix them.

I hate any invasion of my privacy. You don't need a drug test to spot a crummy employee.