Wednesday, Novembw 17, 1999
Why the Government won't win the "War on Us"
Recently, Andrew Yurick,' Gloucester County prosecutor, wrote that people ask him if there is a "war on drugs" and why it has not been won ("What government must do to wage real war on drugs," Perspectives, 10/20).
His answer was a fairy tale, to put it mildly. Basically, he blamed it on our Federal government not implementing a Vietnam-era defoliation campaign in countries like Columbia Peru and Mexico. (Agent Orange-like). This is asi-nine! The fact of the matter is millions of people like me prefer to use certain drugs. I prefer marijuana. No matter how much money the Democrats and Republicans pour into their useless war effort, millions of us will use it because we want to.
No amount of money, effort or martial law will stop "we the people" from enjoying the drugs we choose to ingest in our own bodies, or stop others from helping others to obtain the drugs. Yurick, Christie Whitman and the countless other state and federal officials who brag about winning the war on drugs are liars. It's being lost. I'm glad, too.
This so-called war is nothing but government-sanctioned oppression and tyranny. The war never can be won by the government because the people don't want it to win. No amount of brain washing, which they call education, will change this.
Yurick also mentions 98 percent of drug cases are plea-bargained away. That is disgusting. The government forces people to give up their right to a trial by jury with bribery. Plea bargains should be illegal. Yes, then the courts will be clogged with drug cases.
Hello, have you ever thought maybe the drug laws are wrong. I advocate to all drug defendants to demand a jury trial and to advocate to their jurors to utilize jury nullification to correct the wrongness of the unconstitutional, illegal "war on drugs." The "war on drugs" has proved not only useless and enormously expensive, but also cruel in its application to drug victims.
Criminal prohibition is wrong because the state has no business using its police powers to punish adults for what they decide to do with their own minds and bodies. On the most basic level, the state has no legitimate power to send me to prison for eating too much red meat or fat-laden ice cream or for drinking a few beers or glasses of wine each day. The only purpose for which state power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.
Although criminalization has not made drugs less available, it has assured that they would be available under only the most dangerous and violent circumstances. And most of the violence is not due to the pharmacological influence of drugs, but to the illegality of the market that is created by the law.
Criminalization does not deter commercial transactions or help addicts. The huge amount of spending on interdiction and other law enforcement detracts from our ability to provide treatment on demand. Three-quarters of the swollen federal drug policy budget remains devoted to law enforcement, despite the fact that no serious student of interdiction thinks it has worked or can work. Federal criminalization has clogged the federal court system and, according to Chief Justice William Rehnquist, is having deleterious consequences for the administration ofjustice.
Our 85-year experiment with criminal prohibition of drugs has not solved the problems. It has created other serious problems resulting from the excessive and unprincipled use of the government's police power.
Criminalization has eroded the Fourth Amendment, resulted in widespread urine testing, led to unprecedented explosion of racially skewed incarceration, led to the spread of AMS, violated sound medical practice by restricting the use of methadone and interfering with the management of pain, and swept away the right to not have your property taken without due process of law. It also has established a pretext for racial profiling on our highways, in our airports, at our customs checkpoints and on our streets.
Above all, criminalization has intruded the state into that zone of personal sovereignty where the state should never be allowed to go. By failing to distinguish between users and abusers. the government has demonized all drug use without differentiation.
It's time to initiate a serious and extensive study of drugs, their
benefits and their harm, and the proper role of government. I believe
such an inquiry, fairly conducted, will lead to the conclusion that criminalization
was a mistake, and that both freedom and safety require the abandonment
of criminal prohibition and the development of a differentiated and appropriate
regulatory system to control the availability of drugs.
The writer, a resident of Chesilhurst, recently ran unsuccessfully for Camden County freeholder and the General Assembly. He represents the LEGALIZE MARIJUANA PARTY