#333 Stop The Reefer Madness, Senator Hatch!

Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006
Subject: #333 Stop The Reefer Madness, Senator Hatch!

STOP THE REEFER MADNESS, SENATOR HATCH!

*********************PLEASE COPY AND DISTRIBUTE*************************

DrugSense FOCUS Alert #333 – Tuesday, 25 July 2006

Monday morning brought a breath of fresh air from the July 24 opinion
page of the Washington Times.

Terry Michael – the executive director of the Washington Center for
Politics and Journalism – authored an “open letter to Senator Orrin
Hatch (UT), calling for an end to the socially devastating War on Drugs.

Senator Hatch received likely unwanted attention this past month when
he extended his strong personal and political influence to facilitate
the release of an American citizen facing drug charges in the country
of Dubai. Among other reasons offered for his action, Hatch said he
made the calls out of his long-standing angst with mandatory minimum
sentencing guidelines, which require judges to issue sentences without
taking into account a person’s past history or specific
circumstances.

See: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v06/n918/a03.html

Mr. Michael’s appeal was that Senator Hatch and other federal policy
makers who recognize one or more aspects of the failed drug war should
give more careful review to the wide range of personal and social
destruction wrought by a policy of drug Prohibition.

Please consider writing a succinct Letter to the Editor and sending it
to the Washington Times with your own personal appeal to federal
lawmakers to call an end to The War on Drugs.

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Extra Credit: Based on their history, we believe it likely the
Washington Times will provide space for a rebuttal commentary in the
coming week for either Senator Hatch, Drug Czar John Walters or
another leading federal policy maker who supports the policy of drug
Prohibition. Please watch the MAP DrugNews feed
http://www.drugnews.org and consider writing a separate LTE in
response to this anticipated column.

Thanks for your effort and support.

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

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Contact: The Washington Times letters@washingtontimes.com

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US DC: OPED: Legalize Drugs

URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v06/n967/a02.html
Pubdate: Mon, 24 Jul 2006
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2006 News World Communications, Inc.
Contact: letters@washingtontimes.com
Website: http://www.washingtontimes.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/492
Author: Terry Michael
Note: Terry Michael runs a program to teach college journalism
students about politics, and writes at his “libertarian Democrat”
blog, http://www.terrymichael.net
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/people/Orrin+Hatch
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/decrim.htm (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/hr.htm (Harm Reduction)

LEGALIZE DRUGS

An open letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch: stop reefer madness here, as
well as in Dubai.

Mr. Hatch, you have demonstrated willingness to act beyond ideology,
when a practical approach makes more sense than “conservative” or
“liberal” purity.

You did so recently, for an American victim of draconian drug
penalties of the United Arab Emirates. This is an appeal for your
leadership to stop the equally devastating American “War on Drugs.”

Many officials admit behind closed doors that our drug policy needs
radical revision. Few will say so publicly. This “third rail” of
politics is exacerbated by the collusion of mainstream media,
suspending usual rules of journalistic practice, publishing government
propaganda without quoting critics of drug-war policy.

Our policies result in tremendous harm creation, about which much has
been written, but I’ll summarize here:

Denial of liberty. Our drug war constitutes an assault on individual
liberty, privacy and choice, from both the left and right. Liberals
fight for a woman’s right to abortion and conservatives go to the
ramparts to defend gun owners, but both agree to throw into prison an
adult who smokes dried, leafy vegetation. With impunity, we can drink
ourselves stupid and destroy our lungs with tobacco. But using a
recreational substance as old as wine will get us jailed.

Waste of treasury. When our resources should be directed at lawful
attempts to keep dangerous politicized religious fanatics from
entering our country, we spend tens of billions futilely trying to
interdict chemicals, most of which, in moderation, are demonstrably no
more harmful to the body than alcohol and tobacco.

Government-created violent black market. Alcohol did not create Al
Capone. Prohibition created Al Capone, with the mayhem, official
corruption and murder that accompanied the 18th Amendment. And
cocaine does not create drug cartels. America’s War on Drugs creates
drug cartels.

Government violence against its own people. With guns blazing, law
enforcement agencies not only deny life, liberty and property to those
who work in the government stimulated black market; they rack up
untold “collateral damage,” maiming and killing innocent bystanders,
in countless stings gone bad.

Promoting disrespect for the rule of law. With millions of Americans
scoffing at the China-like oppressiveness of the War on Drugs, our
policies undermine respect for the rule of law and our democratic
policy-making institutions. As the drug warriors clog our courts and
fill our jails, we disrupt the lives of the poor and the powerless,
who can’t afford crafty lawyers and have no political
connections.

Health harm creation. Perhaps most important, our policy is creating
untold health harm to millions, particularly the young. We educate
them about the responsible use of two potentially very dangerous, but
legal, substances, but we try our best to keep them ignorant of the
real effects, and side effects, of other psychoactives. While
hundreds of thousands die each year from the short- and long-term
health damage of alcohol and tobacco, no one succumbs to marijuana,
and remarkably few die from other illegal drugs.

None of that argues for use of psychoactives of any kind, legal or
currently illegal, particularly by young people with unformed
intellectual and emotional lives. But it makes a powerful case for
bringing other substances out of the shadows with decriminalization
and legalization, and for spending some of those wasted billions on
education, harm reduction, and, when needed, addiction treatment. The
obsession of drug warriors with cutting off supplies of softer drugs
has pushed thousands to try the bathtub gin of Neo-Prohibitionism,
crystal methamphetamine.

So, Mr. Hatch, I am hopeful your efforts to save an American being
abused in Dubai will cause you to re examine the drug-war abuse
millions of Americans face here everyday.

I understand how difficult it will be to return to drug policy sanity.
I had jury duty this summer and was sent out on a panel for a case of
marijuana possession with intent to distribute. I wasn’t chosen for
the jury, but it made me realize how much the Drug War Industrial
Complex has to lose if we change our laws. Probably a third of the
jobs in that courthouse would disappear. Thousands of lawyers,
prosecutors, DEA agents, and prison guards would have to find
productive employment. Local law enforcement offices would lose much
of their federal funding for high-tech toys.

But America would be a less violent and healthier nation. Billions
fewer tax dollars would be disbursed as welfare to the legal
industries formed around the drug war. And official corruption,
stimulated by the lucrative black market we have created with our
policies, would diminish, not just in Colombia, Mexico and
Afghanistan, but right here in America.

Senator, it will take courage to lead in the battle to stop this war
on America and its founding principles. But you have shown the wisdom
to change your mind before.

Several decades ago, my Baby Boom generation laughed at “Reefer
Madness.” Then we made it public policy. It’s time to stop the madness.

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Additional suggestions for writing LTEs are at our Media Activism Center:

http://www.mapinc.org/resource/#guides

Or contact MAP Media Activism Facilitator Steve Heath for personal
tips on how to write LTEs that get printed.

heath@mapinc.org

You are welcome to join Steve and other LTE writing friends of MAP
Tuesday evenings at 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central, 7 p.m. Mountain,
or 6 p.m. Pacific, for a roundtable discussion of how to write LTEs
that get print and specifically how to best respond to our Focus Alerts.

In addition, you can learn from Steve how you can participate in our
newly-formed LTE Team.

See: http://mapinc.org/resource/paltalk.htm for all details on how
you can participate in this important meeting of leading minds in
reform. Discussion is conducted with live Voice (microphone and
speakers all that is needed) and also via text messaging.

The Paltalk software is free and easy to download and
install.

The password for this gathering will be: welcome-pal (all lower
case)

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PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER

Please post a copy of your letter or report your action to the sent
letter list (sentlte@mapinc.org) if you are subscribed, or by
E-mailing a copy directly to heath@mapinc.org if you are not
subscribed. Your letter will then be forwarded to the list so others
can learn from your efforts.

Subscribing to the Sent LTE list (sentlte@mapinc.org) will help you to
review other sent LTEs and perhaps come up with new ideas or
approaches as well as keeping others aware of your important writing
efforts.

To subscribe to the Sent LTE mailing list see

http://www.mapinc.org/lists/index.htm#form

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Prepared by: Stephen Heath, MAP Media Activism Facilitator =.