Priorities, People

Monday, August 08, 2005

Priorities, People

If I had to pick an overwhelming theme that summed up my complaints about the Bush Administration it would be their upside-down, inside-out priorities. Case in point, little attention has been paid to the changing face of America's other neverending war-- the War on Drugs. From Rolling Stone:
[Marijuana] now accounts for nearly half of drug arrests nationwide -- up from barely a quarter of all busts a decade ago.
Pot now accounts for nearly half of drug arrests nationwide -- up from barely a quarter of all busts a decade ago. Spurred by a Supreme Court decision in June affirming the right of federal agents to crack down on medical marijuana,

The Drug Enforcement Administration has launched a series of high-profile raids against pot clinics in California, and police in New York, Memphis and Philadelphia have been waging major offensives against pot smokers that are racking up thousands of arrests.
Since taking over as drug czar, [John] Walters has launched an extraordinary effort to depict marijuana as an addictive "gateway" to other, more powerful drugs. "Marijuana use, especially during the teen years, can lead to depression, thoughts of suicide and schizophrenia," he declared in May. Trying to capitalize on fears of terrorism, Walters has linked drugs to terror, running a much-derided series of television ads suggesting that the money marijuana users spend on pot winds up funding terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda.

"For Walters, it's all marijuana, all the time," says Graham Boyd, director of the Drug Law Reform Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. "He is reinforcing the atmosphere that marijuana is the drug we should care about, and that the government will do everything it can, including locking everyone up, if that's what it comes to."

Since 1992, according to a recent analysis of federal crime statistics by the Sentencing Project, arrests for marijuana have soared from 300,000 a year to 700,000. The government spends an estimated $4 billion a year arresting and prosecuting marijuana crimes -- more than it spends on treating addiction for all drugs -- and more and more of those busts are for possession rather than dealing. One in four people currently in state prisons for pot offenses are classified as "low-level offenders." In New York, arrests for possession -- which now account for nine of every ten busts -- are up twenty-five-fold during the past decade. In Memphis, marijuana arrests are up nineteenfold, and large spikes have also been recorded in Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Houston.
I suppose they have to do this to marijuana since it is the one illegal drug that could be legalized sometime in the next few decades. It absolutely, positively doesn't belong on the same list as dangerous narcotics like heroin, cocaine, etc. Frankly, alcohol on a good day is far more dangerous to both its users and to the public at large than marijuana on its worst day. As the reasons for keeping marijuana illegal and its users treated as criminals are going up in smoke the crackdown on the plants and its users increases. Too bad that so few people have a clue.

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