#198 Ashcroft’s Escalation Of The Drug War Won’t Help

Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2001
Subject: #198 Ashcroft’s Escalation Of The Drug War Won’t Help

Ashcroft’s Escalation Of The Drug War Won’t Help


DrugSense FOCUS Alert #198 Tuesday Feb. 13, 2001

Recently on the Larry King Alive show on CNN the new U.S. Attorney
General John Ashcroft said, “Well, I want to escalate the war on
drugs. I want to renew it, relaunch it if you will.”

Of course, if he had been paying attention, he would know that every
administration since Reagan’s has escalated the war on drugs.
Ironically, Ashcroft’s comments came just as the Chicago Sun-Times
finished excerpting journalist Dan Gardner’s excellent series from the
Ottawa Citizen on the devastation and futility of the drug war (see
http://www.mapinc.org/gardner.htm). A Sun-Times editorial (below)
noted the discrepancy.

Please write a letter to the Sun-Times or other media outlets listed
below where Ashcroft’s statements were publicized to say drug problems
can only be addressed by moving away from the drug war, not embracing
it more closely.


It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do


Phone, fax etc.)

Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent
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and be motivated to follow suit

This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our
impact and effectiveness.



Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Contact: letters@suntimes.com

NOTE: Your letter can also be sent directly to Larry King Live by
visiting http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/larry.king.live/ Scroll to
the bottom left of this web page and click on “Send In” under the
“Email the Producer” headline.


Some other newspapers have printed or editorialized on Ashcroft’s call
for a renewed drug war. Please send a letter to them to tell them how
terrible Ashcroft’s idea is.

URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n240/a09.html
Pubdate: Sat, 10 Feb 2001
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Contact: letters@post-dispatch.com

US: Relaxed Ashcroft Outlines Priorities On `Larry King’
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n233/a02.html
Pubdate: Feb. 10
Source: Kansas City Star (MO)
Contact: letters@kcstar.com

US: Ashcroft Outlines Top Three Priorities
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n230/a01.html
Pubdate: Thu, 08 Feb 2001
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Contact: letters@uniontrib.com

URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n228/a04.html
Pubdate: Thu, 08 Feb 2001
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Contact: letters@washpost.com



US IL: Editorial: Frontline Report – We’re Still Losing
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n250/a05.html
Newshawk: Sledhead
Pubdate: Sun, 11 Feb 2001
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2001 The Sun-Times Co.
Contact: letters@suntimes.com
Address: 401 N. Wabash, Chicago IL 60611
Feedback: http://www.suntimes.com/geninfo/feedback.html
Website: http://www.suntimes.com/ FRONTLINE REPORT: WE’RE STILL LOSING

In the movie “Traffic,” Michael Douglas, portraying the new national
drug czar, is met with stares and shrugs when he urges aides to “think
outside the box.” He has seen the tens of thousands of cars that enter
California daily from Tijuana, Mexico. He has been told that only a
fraction of the drugs being smuggled through this point are
intercepted by authorities. “Let’s have some new ideas, now,” implores
the impatient Douglas character.

But there is no courage among his staff to acknowledge that victory is
not at hand in this war on drugs.

In real life, we know that our approach to controlling illicit
drugs–primarily through interdiction and punishment–has failed.
Drugs still are readily available to people who want them–though at a
cost that prompts too many users to commit crimes to obtain the money
to buy drugs.

Nearly a half-million people are behind bars for drug-related
crimes–a tenfold increase since 1980. Yet, a typical teenager finds
it easier to buy marijuana than a six-pack of beer.

For the last six weeks, the Sunday Sun-Times has published excerpts
from a special report examining the war on drugs.

Ottawa Citizen editorial writer Dan Gardner paints a picture of a
well-intentioned effort–to keep Americans drug-free–that has spawned
a host of unwanted consequences, including fomentation of a $400
billion criminal industry, violence in some of our poorest communities
and official corruption.

In an interview on CNN last week, Attorney General John Ashcroft
listed “reinvigorating the war on drugs” as one of his top priorities.
If that means devoting more resources solely to intercepting drugs,
his plan has been invalidated. More encouraging are President Bush’s
remarks that indicate a willingness to re-examine certain aspects of
the drug war. He has noted that minimum sentencing for first-time
users “may not be the best way to occupy jail space and/or heal people
from their disease.” Bush also said that authorizing medical use of
marijuana should be a decision for states, not the federal government.
If these are hints that the Bush administration will treat drugs as a
health problem rather than primarily a crime problem, they are welcomed.

Today’s installment in Gardner’s series ( Pages 34-35 ) focuses on
“harm reduction”: the idea that drug use has always existed, and
always will, and how do we reduce its harmful effects on society.

Some European nations have, in effect, decriminalized possession of
small amounts. More dramatic approaches include setting up ways for
addicts to safely ingest drugs.

In the United States, we are far from government-run “safe injection
sites,” but the European experience is intriguing if not compelling.
Certainly, dropping mandatory prison for first-time nonviolent
offenders would be a good start, as would stronger efforts to redirect
drug users into treatment.

Bush has not yet appointed a drug czar, but a positive sign would be
naming someone who is well-versed in the health aspects of drug abuse.

As Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, the Clinton administration’s drug czar,
has said, “America can’t arrest our way out of the drug problem.”

There is increasing criticism of our war on drugs–criticism offered
up by reasonable people motivated by a desire to reduce the unintended
consequences. Bush has acknowledged this divergence of views, and he
should establish a national commission to examine the arguments.

Let’s have some new ideas.

Because stares and shrugs just aren’t going to cut


Recently on the Larry King Alive show on CNN our new Attorney General
John Ashcroft said, “Well, I want to escalate the war on drugs. I want
to renew it, relaunch it if you will.”

In 1972 when President Nixon launched the war on drugs, the federal
budget for the drug war was approximately 101 million dollars. This
year the federal budget for the drug war will be more than 19.2
billion dollars. More than a 190 fold increase.

What have we received for our so-called investment? Nothing positive.
In what used to be the land of the free, we now incarcerate more of
our people than any other country on the planet. With less than 5% of
the world’s population, the United States now has more than 25% of the
world’s prisoners. Thanks to the drug war.

Thanks to the drug war, many of our individual rights guaranteed by
the U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, have been effectively nullified.

Thanks to the drug war, more than 700,000 Americans were arrested last
year for possession of marijuana. Marijuana is a natural herb that has
never been documented to kill a single person.

Yet the drug war is what our Attorney General John Ashcroft wants to
intensify. Obviously, the drug war is not working. Obviously, we need
to do something different.

Best regards, Kirk Muse

IMPORTANT: Always include your address and telephone

Please note: If you choose to use this letter as a model please modify it
at least somewhat so that the paper does not receive numerous copies of the
same letter and so that the original author receives credit for his/her work.

ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing

3 Tips for Letter Writers http://www.mapinc.org/3tips.htm

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Prepared by Kirk Muse – http://www.drugwarinfo.com and Stephen Young –
http://home.att.net/~theyoungfamily Focus Alert Specialist