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Mr. Wilson goes to Washington

By John Wilson, The November Coalition

"Well, Mr. Wilson, some things in this world just don't make sense and I guess our drug policy is just one more example of this," spokesperson at ONDCP, The White House, responding to my queries about the Ten Year Plan.

Supporters of the drug war call me an activist, but I'm always surprised to hear that term applied to me. I still maintain that I am merely doing my civic duty when I challenge drug war advocates to defend drug war policy.

The chances that my nine year old niece will be exposed to street drugs are greater today than when I was nine years old­­this fact is a direct result of U.S. drug policy. I can no longer support a policy that in effect makes drugs more readily available today than they were when I was a child.

Drug use is a health issue, not a law enforcement issue. For example, over the past 25 years the use of tobacco has been cut in half without sending one person to prison or vowing to stop the drug at its source. Public health officials armed with facts and treatment have succeeded in a controlled market of legal distribution, while the nail 'em and jail em' mentality of law enforcement stubbornly clings to prohibition and the violence inherent in an illegal market­-a market that has and always will be dominated by drug war profiteers.

Advocates of zero tolerance have yet to address a fact that addiction specialists pointed out in an in-depth PBS documentary hosted by Bill Moyer's; Close to Home which aired in 1998. The majority of Americans using drugs do so without becoming addicted. For those who are addicted, U.S. history documents the success of the clinic-based system for difficult users. In fact, the Swiss are currently going into their fourth year of heroin distribution with the same results our clinics achieved prior to federal intervention: "I know of no other crime prevention program with such a big reduction in theft and other serious crimes."-Martin Killias, Institute of Police Science and Criminology. Fact: The street market dries up and the number of new users drops dramatically.

All drugs have the potential to restore health or remove health depending on how the drugs are used­­all drugs. Prior to 1937, tincture of cannabis (medical marijuana) was widely prescribed for the treatment of insomnia, loss of appetite and depression. When Congress banned the use of cannabis based medication with the Marihuana Tax Act, the American Medical Association strongly opposed the ban. If the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 had a shred of validity, tobacco and alcohol would be scheduled, probably as Schedule II along with cocaine and methamphetamine. The CSA is a political tool, not the product of responsible pharmacology. Clearly, the CSA has more to do with attempting to control the behavior of certain people rather than controlling the distribution of potentially harmful drugs. Excerpt: "To determine whether or not a drug should be controlled, it is important to know the pattern of abuse of that substance, including the socio-economic characteristics of the segments of the population involved in such abuse."

Do prisons effectively reduce drug use or drug trafficking? Federal and State inmates tell me that they can get any drug they want in prison anytime. All said and done, ONDCP reports that 70 percent of all illicit drug use in America is exclusively marijuana. Take marijuana out of the equation and we are left with approximately 3.5 million users/abusers/addicts of meth, coke, heroin and a smattering of people who use hallucinogens.

What gets my attention more than anything else is the fact that the U.S. leads the world in incarceration. Upwards of 60 percent of all federal inmates are serving time for a drug offense. Half of those are non-violent first time offenders. I am morally offended by the drug war: Where is the morality in ignoring proven methods of treating addiction? Where is the morality in caging human beings for 10, 20, 30 years or life? Where is the morality in targeting minorities? Where is the morality in exposing these people to rape and disease? Where is the morality in denying medical treatment? There is not a shred of morality in this war.

Let's replace the drug war with a sensible drug policy. Let's bring our loved ones home.

What if all merchants ran their business like

Drug War Roofing Company?

In keeping with the war on drugs theme, Drug War Roofing Company reminds all customers:

Ninety percent of your leak will continue indefinitely.
DWR can't stop the leak.
You know it. We know it.
Heck, we admit it in advance. You insist on paying us anyway.

Our motto:
"If it keeps just one kid from sitting under a leaky roof, it's worth it!"

Federal law dictates that you use our approach to roof repair. There is only one way to fix a roof. All loyal Americans know this. There will be no discussion.

Go ahead and complain. DWR will ignore your complaints and hire more people only to produce the same results, all the while charging you a higher rate than we did last year.

Shucks, that's a 25 year tradition at DWR.

Certified by the government of the United States, hand picked by the government of Mexico, our crack staff includes some of Mexico's finest. Dagnabit, they gotta be good!

(if you can't trust U.S. and Mexican government officials, who can you trust?)

Employees taking bribes? Corruption? Murder? Innocent by-standers caught in the cross-fire?

It's all in a days work at Drug War Roofing.

Don't you worry none, DWR will bend the U.S. Constitution like a mud-stained rainbow and place the U.S. military right in your very own backyard.

Drunk with power and wielding automatic weapons; the military isn't trained to repair roofs, but it sure looks good on our resume.

DWR currently charges 4.5 million dollars an hour.

Best call now; inevitably, our rates increase every year.

We at DWR firmly believe that it is our moral duty to continually escalate our efforts no matter the fee, regardless of the consequences. We are going to stop the rain at its source. We owe it to the children.

We're just a phone call away.

That's 1-(800) GET -SOAKED.

by John F. Wilson, December 1997.

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