Subject: My interview will air Oct 7, on Ch. 18, West Lafayette, IN Date: 14 Sep 92 05:45:
From: email@example.com (Paul Hager)
Subject: My interview will air Oct 7, on Ch. 18, West Lafayette, IN
Date: 14 Sep 92 05:45:42 GMT
The title says it all. I was interviewed for the "Dealing
with Drugs" segment of the Ch. 18 news. I spoke in my capacity
as the ICLU Drug Policy Task Force Chair and as a member of the
Drug Policy Foundation. Although I didn't say anything that
hasn't been presented on the net at one time or another, my
interrogator, Jeff Smith, seemed completely captivated. We
ended up going through 2 complete 15-min tapes and were well
into a 3rd when we stopped. Jeff said that the interview went
about 4 times longer than usual. The actual segment on the news
only runs about 2 minutes so he's going to have a lot of material
from which to select.
In describing alternatives to the drug war, I told Jeff
that my own position was full legalization. However, I said, there
was a broad coalition opposing the drug war with people like me,
William F. Buckley, and Milton Friedman representing the full legalization
position and people like Mayor Kurt Schmoke of Baltimore representing
the medicalization position -- which I then described. I got some
digs in against Clinton's idea of boot camps and "shock training",
likening them to concentration camps or Bedlam-style insane asylums.
I presented the idea of "victimless crimes" and said that the
drug laws created such a category. Jeff wanted me to react to a
scenario: 3 cops bust a guy in a trailer park for 1/2 kilo of pot
and call in several backup cars. I said that scarce police resources
were spent to apprehend a person doing no measurable harm to society
while possible thefts or assaults -- crimes WITH victims -- were
taking place. I said that was the tradeoff that the drug war
forced us to make and said that there was evidence to support that
this tradeoff was real and not theoretical (I cited Rasmussen and
Benson). Jeff said that the show usually presents the latest bust and
that the segment with me would be a departure. This led me to
believe that they will show the bust that he described with me
providing the voice over.
Jeff wanted to know if I thought legalization would
ever come about. I said that I firmly believed that reason and
accurate information always prevail in the long run -- thus that
it was inevitable that the drug war would end. I said that the
public is ultimately pretty smart and will respond if facts are
put fairly before them. I said some things about alcohol prohibition
and how the public became fed up with the gang wars fought with
machine guns, the rise of organized crime, and the use of children
as drug couriers for alcohol -- "does any of this sound familiar?"
I said. Once the public became aware that we had a prohibition
problem and not a drug problem, change would come swiftly.
One interesting moment came after the interview. The
subject of crack came up. Earlier I had said that the Surgeon
General had identified tobacco cigarettes as the most addictive
drug and Jeff came back to that asking, "but what about people
selling their bodies for crack?" I answered that, at the end
of WWII, there were a lot of people in Europe who were selling
their bodies for psychoactives like chocolate and tobacco. I
said that price and demand were the key factors in the equation
and that in conditions of scarcity, either through unavailability
and/or black market price, such behavior was to be expected.
The interview will be edited down and will air on the
6 o'clock news on October 7. Jeff promises to send me a VHS
copy so I'll get a chance to see how I come off.
On the way back to Bloomington, I stopped off at a
MacDonald's to get a burger and fries. I became aware that the
music that was being piped in was 60s psychedelic. As I settled
down to eat, what should come on but White Rabbit -- for a moment
I thought that I had been transported into a Hunter S. Thompson
road novel: call it "Fear and Loathing in Lafayette". The kids
behind the counter had no idea what was going on -- their little
DARE-indoctrinated minds didn't realize the deprogramming that
was taking place -- wouldn't realize it until it was too late and
they were waist deep in lizards and pulling out their own eyeballs.
Snapping from my reverie, a moment of chilling confusion: had I
merely THOUGHT about the lizards and the Oedipus bit, or had I
yelled it out loud? I very quietly and deliberately got up and
[with apologies to HST]
paul hager firstname.lastname@example.org
"I would give the Devil benefit of the law for my own safety's sake."
--from _A_Man_for_All_Seasons_ by Robert Bolt
email@example.com (michele) writes:
> firstname.lastname@example.org (bill nelson) writes:
>>There are many problems in this country -drugs are not one of them. Drug
>>abuse is a problem, the way some people are treated is a problem. Making
>>drugs illegal so it is profitable to have a black market in those drugs is
> I have to acknowledge the fact that *drugs* are not the problem;
>however, I say that with very strong revervations. To me, drugs (any kind)
>seem to walk a very fine line of being safe/unsafe. It is so easy to say
>that drugs are okay and that we can take them to alleviate any kind pain;
>and yet, this is where typical addiction begins. I am not saying that all
>drug users are addicts; but typical addiction starts with this idea. The
>point I'm trying to make is that I think the abuse problem cannot be solved
>by legalization. Even if there are more chances for a better for education
>and a better rehabilitation, I don't see how the abuse will be solved if
>drugs are made available on a legal basis.
The significant point is that abuse problems cannot be solved through
criminalization. The whole idea of prohibition was that by forcibly
separating an abuser from his drug, a "cure" for the addiction would
follow. This might have been a worthwhile experiment in 1914 but 77
years of empirical evidence has shown that this approach is a signal
failure. On the other hand, abuse of opiates and cocaine were declining
when the Harrison Act of 1914 led to the prohibition of these drugs.
All of the horrendous social problems we associate with opiates and
cocaine followed in the wake of criminalization.
>>It is not possible to stop people from getting what they really want- that
>>includes drugs, sex, firearms, automobiles or any other object that the
>>government decides to eliminate or restrict.
> This is a silly reason to legalize something. Since we can't keep
>the drugs from the people and prohibit what is killing our nation, we should
>hand it out and condone its use? I cannot agree with this claim. How will
>this solve the abuse problem? I agree with the fact that we can't
>possibly keep each and every person from using drugs; but, I don't believe
>that the government should condone and permit drug use based on our
>inability to stop it. If we cannot stop murderers from killing should we make
>it legal? (I know this is an extreme example, but you get the point)
There can be a risk benefit analysis done on each drug and this can
be the basis of legalizing/criminalizing. However, first and foremost,
there is the basic civil liberties issue of the individual controlling
his/her own body. The state only has an interest in intervening when
an individual's actions impinge on the rights of others. For example,
I don't condone organized professional/college sports nor organized
religion. If I get a majority of people who agree with me, is it
proper to prohibit these activities?
As I'm sure others will point out, criminalizing acts that infringe
on the rights of others -- e.g. murder -- merely gives government
the power to intervene on behalf of citizens who might become or have
already become victims. Criminalizing acts that DON'T infringe on the
rights of others is an attempt by the dominant society to enforce
beliefs and lifestyles on a minority and has no place in an enlightened
>>What is needed is 1)education of the populace as to the affects, benefits
>>and hazards of the various drugs 2)easy access to factual information
>>about these drugs for anyone who desires them 3) making the drugs legal
>>to eliminate/minimize the black market.
> I must agree that education is a must. We have to be informed, or we
>are doomed. What I am concerned with is how the legalization of drugs will
>affect the abuse problem. Of course, the black market is terrible and the
>sleeze-bags should be thrown in jail, but at the expense of the abuser? If
>by legalization we increase the abuse of drugs, can we justify that by
>saying that the illegal dealers are gone? In my opinion,no.
But what is "abuse?" And, what is the likelihood that "abuse" will
increase if various drugs are legalized? Most of the evidence actually
indicates that "abuse" will decrease: turn of the Century opiate and
cocaine abuse decreased while it was legal and decriminalizing marijuana
was followed by decrease in its use/abuse in both Holland and the U.S. --
these are just two examples.
> The legalization of alcohol has also been mentioned. True, not
>everyone became an alcoholic after prohibition; but, the abuse of alcohol
>did increase. To me, this is the most important factor. The abuse
>increased after its legalization. Even though people don't seem to care
>about the 'message' the government sends out,the abuse still increased.
>You tell me today that alcoholism is not a major problem in our society.
>If more educationn is needed, then I say go fot it, but legalization
>determines alot more than we think.
I believe that exactly the opposite was true. Per capita USE decreased
during Prohibition but the evidence is that ABUSE actually increased.
Certainly health problems from alcohol went up during Prohibition.
paul hager email@example.com
"The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason."
-- Thomas Paine, _The Age of Reason_
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Vince Cavasin)
Subject: More WOD casualties
Summary: police, civilian killed in wod fuckups
Keywords: war on drugs deaths
Date: 18 Feb 92 19:42:35 GMT
Article reprinted with permission by:
"THE ROLLING PAPER" a quarterly publication of Texas NORML, Spring 1992
Elderly Woman Latest Victim of War on Drugs
An elderly woman in Kilgore, Texas became one of the latest victims of the
War on Drugs.
Annie Ray Dixon, 84, was shot and killed January 30, at 1:30 a.m. by
Kilgore narcotics Officer Frank Bagget. Dixon was killed in her bed room
when officers broke down her bedroom door. No drugs were found in Dixon's home.
The continuing use of deadly force by police agencies only contributes to
the increase of violence and reduced safety for everyone.
War on Drugs Suffering 'Friendly Fire' in Dallas
Two Dallas police officers have been killed in the past 7 weeks, by
other officers, in the current insanity known as the War on Drugs.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Officer Larry Bromley was "shot
repeatedly"...(when)"Back up officers rushed to the car and fired at what
they believed was a suspect.
Again, according to the News, "Harold Hammons became the second narcotics
officer...to be killed by 'friendly fire' "...(when)"an officer armed with
a shotgun was bumped from behind and the gun fired striking Detective Hammons
in the neck."
In the first case two "suspects" died too. One was 21 and the other was
17. It's awfully scary out there, then the guns come out before they know
who they're shooting at. The use of entrapment and the willingness to use
deadly force is not making the streets any safer.
Texas NORML deplores any death from violence. All too frequently
institutional violence is aimed at those least able to resist it. In
its over zealousness, the War on Drugs is costing us too much 'ancillary
damage' to our civil rights.
------------+ For information/donations contact +-----------------
Austin,TX NORML/PO BOX 13549/Austin TX 78711/(512) 837-4674, 467-6021
San Antonio NORML/2138 Austin Highway/San Antonio TX 78218/(512)654-8720
Bryan, College Station NORML/PO BOX 9077/College Station TX 77842/(409)268-1180
Houston NORML/PO BOX 1952/Bellaire TX 77401/(713)465-8418
This article appeared in The Pittsburgh Press on August 11, 1991
A photograph of James Burton who now lives in the Netherlands appeared
in the article.
If you would like a copy of the article, contact the Pitt Press
or send a self addressed stamped envelope to:
Students for the Legalization of Marijuana
PO Box 4205
Urbana, IL 61801
Ask for a photocopy of the Pitt Press Article about Burton. We have
reduced the article down to 8.5 x 11 and included a letter to send to
your Congress Critters on the back.
The Pittsburgh Press said that it was ok to photocopy any article and
distribute it as long as it was unedited and the copy clearly stated
We will be publishing a newsletter soon called "Smoke Signals." It's
a real killer. It should be back from the printer in time for our
meeting on Wednesday. The newsletter is six pages, if you would like
a copy of it, please let us know. Although the newsletter is free,
please consider giving a donation (if you can) to offset the cost of
publication (SLM is a registered student organization of the
University of Illinois and a chapter of NORML). A dollar would be
great, two even better. Plus, you should put two stamps on the return
envelope. We'll be posting the text of Smoke Signals to the net soon.
Students for the Legalization of Marijuana
at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
GOVERNMENT SEIZES HOME OF MAN WHO WAS GOING BLIND
By Andrew Schneider
and Mary Pat Flaherty
James Burton says he loves America and wants to come home.
But he can't. If he does he'll wind up in prison, go blind, or
Burton and his wife Linda live in an austere, concrete slab
apartment furnished with lawn chairs near Rotterdam in the
Netherlands. It is a home much different from the large 90 acre
farm they owned near Bowling Green, Ky. before the government
For Burton who has glaucoma, home grown marijuana provided his
relief - and his undoing.
Since 1972 federal health secretaries have reported to Congress
that marijuana is beneficial in the treatment of glaucoma and
several other medical conditions.
Yet while some officials within the Drug Enforcement
Administration have acknowledged the medical value of marijuana,
drug agents continue to seize property where chronically ill people
"Because of the emotional rhetoric connected with the marijuana
issue, a doctor can prescribe cocaine, morphine, amphetamines and
barbiturates cannot prescribe marijuana, which is the safest
therapeutically active drug known to man." Francis Young,
administrative law judge for the DEA was quoted as saying in
In an interview this past July 4, Burton said, "We don't really
have any choice right now but to stay" in the Netherlands, where
they moved after he completed a one year jail term for three counts
of marijuana possession. "I can buy or grow marijuana here
legally, and if I don't have the marijuana, I'll go blind."
Burton, a 43 year-old Vietnam War veteran, has a rare form of
hereditary, low tension glaucoma. All of the men on his mother's
side of the family have the disease, and several already are blind.
It does not respond to traditional medications.
At the time of Burton's arrest North Carolina ophthalmologist
Dr. John Merritt was the only physician authorized by the
government to test marijuana in the treatment of glaucoma patients.
Merritt testified at Burton's trial that marijuana was "the only
medication" that could keep him from going blind.
On July 7, 1987, Kentucky State Police raided the Burton's farm
and found 138 marijuana plants and two pounds of raw marijuana.
"It was the kickoff of Kentucky Drug Awareness Month, and I was
their special kickoff feature. It was all over television," Burton
Burton admitted growing enough marijuana to produce a pound a
month for the 10 to 15 cigarettes he uses each day to reduce
pressure in his eye.
A jury decided he grew the dope for his own use - not to sell as
the government contended - and in March 1988 found him guilty of
three counts of simple possession.
The pre-sentence report on Burton shows he had no previous
arrests. The judge sentenced him to a year in a maximum security
prison with no parole.
On top of that, the government took his farm: 90 rolling, wooded
acres in Warren County purchased for $34,701 in 1980 and assessed
at twice that amount when it was taken.
On March 27, 1989, U.S. District Judge Ronald Meredith - without
hearing any witnesses and without allowing Burton to testify on his
own behalf - ordered the farm forfeited and gave the Burton's 10
days to get off the land. When the owners of the property live at
a site where marijuana is growing in their presence, "there is no
defense to forfeiture," Meredith ruled.
"I never got to say two words in defense of keeping my home,
something we worked and saved for 18 years," said Burton, who was
a master electrical technician. Linda, 41, worked for an insurance
company. "On a serious matter like taking a person's home, you'd
think the government would give you a chance to defend it."
Joe Whittle, the U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the Burton case,
says he didn't know about glaucoma until Burton's lawyer raised the
issue in court. His office has take a lot of heat on this case and
what happened to that poor guy," Whittle says. But "we did nothing
"Congress passes these laws, and we have to follow them. If the
American people wanted to exempt certain marijuana activity - these
mom and pop or personal medical cases - they should speak through
their duly elected officials and change the laws. Until those laws
are changed, we must enforce them to the fullest extent of our
The action was "an unequaled and outrageous example of
government abuse," says Louisville lawyer Donald Heavrin who failed
to get the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
"To send a man trying to save his vision to prison, and steal
the home and land that he and his wife had worked decades for,
should have the authors of the Constitution spinning in their
U.S. war on drugs claims medical victims, too
People suffering from AIDS, cancer and some other painful diseases are
being victimized by the Bush administration's war on drugs, according
to organizers seeking reform of the nation's marijuana laws.
Late last month, the National Organization to Reform the Marijuana
Laws (NORML) held a three-day lobbying session in Washington to
convince legislators of the values of the illicit plant. [Aside from
Cockburn's columns, the Nation, ITT, etc, usually don't think to
include group's addresses/tels -HB]
Robert Randall, founder of the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics
(ACT), has argued for a decade that marijuana is of great medicinal
value and should be made available in appropriate cases. An estimated
30 million Americans consume the drug on at least on occasional basis,
even though its possession is treated as a crime in most of the 50
At present, only five persons [!] in the U.S. are legally permitted to
smoke marijuana. One of them, a bone cancer patient, uses it as a
muscle relaxant, while another find it helpful in reducing the
severity of his spasmodic seizures. The three remaining individuals,
all afflicted with glaucoma, are able to take advantage of marijuana's
documented ability to alleviate pain associated with this eye disease.
Randall, who is among the three glaucoma patients, was the first
American to win the right to use marijuana as a therapeutic agent.
Through ACT, he now assists others engaged in the arduous and
protracted effort to gain legal access to the drug.
Randall's Washington-based organization came close two years ago to
achieving a major breakthrough. Ruling on a suit brought by the
alliance, an administrative judge with the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Agency (DEA) agreed that marijuana's legal status should be changed.
Judge Francis Young concluded that marijuana ought to be removed from
the DEA's "Schedule One," which includes drugs regarded as addicting
and entirely lacking in medicinal properties. LSD and heroin are also
proscribed under the same category.
Young ruled in favor of ACT's contention that marijuana should be
place on Schedule Two, which lists addicting drugs that do have
therapeutic uses. Cocaine is included on that roster. [Note: I
remember my 10th grade social studies teacher telling us of cocaine
having been used as a pain killer for her following eye surgery -HB]
Such action would allow physicians to prescribe marijuana while
retaining the current prohibition against its general use. In
announcing his decision, Young described the drug as "one of the
safest therapeutically active substances known to man."
In December 1989, however, the DEA's overseers decreed that marijuana
would remain on Schedule One despite Young's ruling. ACT is appealing
that order, but many observers believe that the federal government
will strongly resist any attempt to ease restriction on marijuana
"It would be a big public-relations loss for DEA to admit that
marijuana has any therapeutic value," says John Dunlap, a spokesman
for NORML. "They're going to keep fighting very hard."
The publicity barrage accompanying the war on drugs is part of what
makes it difficult to gains official approval for use of marijuana as
a medicinal agent. "Doctors are very leery about openly recommending
marijuana use because of the whole atmosphere created by the war on
drugs," says Mary Lynn Mathre, head of NORML's council on marijuana
and health. "They're afraid they'll be suspected of being lenient
about illegal drugs."
Still, pressure continues to mount for liberalization of the
government's attitude toward therapeutic marijuana use. Recently, for
example, a researcher at a university in Florida reported that the
active ingredient in Cannabis destroyed the herpes virus in test-tube
experiments. Because millions of Americans are afflicted with some
form of herpes, that finding may potentially be of great political
[Article by Kevin Kelley in In These Times, Sept. 19-25, 1990]
Email me if you'd like the address to write to to get a free issue of
In These Times (ITT).
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
NORML addresses on PeaceNet:
Dale Gieringer, 130 Wilding Lane
Oakland CA USA 94608
[Internet format: USER@igc.org to reach peacenet]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I just got back from a meeting of the Monroe County
Community School Corporation (MCCSC) Board of Trustees. Tonight
they were to "discuss" the expansion of the D.A.R.E. program
to the area high schools. I contacted my Bloomington Civil
Liberties Union chum, Randy Paul, and together we went to the
meeting to find out what was up. I should preface this account
by saying that neither Randy nor I assumed that there was likely
to be a civil liberties issue that would emerge from the activities
of the D.A.R.E. folks but that didn't preclude us from showing up
as "concerned citizens."
Once we entered the board room, it was apparent that things
were going to be stacked against us: two or three of the board
members were sporting D.A.R.E. sweatshirts. Randy and I found seats
and waited for things to get under way. The meeting was sparsely
attended -- in fact, I believe that Randy and I were the only people
there who weren't school administrator types.
After approval of the minutes from the last meeting, the
D.A.R.E. people got up to talk. One of them was a "health teacher"
(gym coach??) and the other was "Officer Friendly" aka Jim Graft
(what an appropriate name for a police officer). Graft talked about
how successful the program was in the elementary and junior high
schools. He then showed a 5 - 10 minute video extolling the
successes of the L.A. program. One curious assertion made by some
rah-rah type on the video was that the students "showed cognitive
growth." But, more about this in due course.
Before I proceed, I should probably say something about the
D.A.R.E. program for those netters who may be new to this group and
therefore unfamiliar with what it is. D.A.R.E. stands for Drug
Abuse Resistance Education and is the unholy spawn of Nancy Reagan's
"Just Say No" PR rehabilitation campaign and Daryl Gates' politic
alternative to shooting casual drug users. Gates, it will be
remembered, is the LAPD chief who justified the disproportionate
number of black suspects who were dying when being "subdued" by
the choke hold by saying that blacks were more delicate and more
susceptible to brain damage from the hold. It's easy to see how
the LAPD could have built up a reputation for police misconduct and
racism that is a national disgrace while under the firm hand of
a guy like Gates. D.A.R.E. involves "teaching" kids to "resist
peer pressure" and "say no to drugs." In actual practice, it is
an indoctrination campaign built around police authority figures
who enter the classrooms and purvey misinformation.
After the presentation by Graft, I got up and spoke. I
imagine that Randy was hunkering down in anticipation of my delivering
a vitriolic attack on the program -- in private I usually fulminate
with colorful explosions of invective so Randy's apprehension was
not without some foundation. I introduced myself and said that
I was a concerned citizen. I said that I was familiar with LA, having
lived there for 3 years, and that I also knew about Daryl Gates and
the LAPD -- people whom I expected were now known to board members as
well. I said that I was very concerned that police were going to
be teaching in the classroom because they were operating way outside
their areas of expertise. Police were agents of the criminal justice
system and not competent in areas of psychology and child development.
Implicit in the D.A.R.E. program, I said, was the idea that peer
pressure led to drug abuse. There is no scientific basis for this.
I referred to the work of Shedler and Block as well as other researchers
over the past 20 years who have demonstrated that drug abuse is the
result of emotional problems and family dysfunction. I said that it
made much more sense to spend limited resources on trained psychologists
and counselors who could identify "at risk" children and focus efforts
there rather than using D.A.R.E.'s scattergun approach. I also asked
about the "cognitive growth" claim and what it could mean.
The board chairman thanked my for my comments and said that
they "had counselors" (yeh, sure) already and that the D.A.R.E. program
was a good "prevention" program. At this point, Graft got back up for
some rah-rah of his own. When he finished, I raised my hand and queried
the board if it was possible to ask Officer Graft some questions. Sure,
they said. I asked Graft what happened if someone failed the D.A.R.E.
course. I bet no one had ever asked him that question because he didn't
come close to giving me an answer. The best he could come up with was
that only one person had not made it through the course but this person
was doing "bad" in math and english already. In essense, he was saying
that no one failed the course unless they were low lifes already. I next
asked him, what if someone gives different answers on drug effects --
different answers from the pharmacological information you provide. I
had to explain what I meant by pharmacological. He said that they only
talked about the two "gateway drugs", alcohol (!!) and marijuana and
no other drugs. So, again, I homed in on the question of what would
happen if a student gave different answers from the ones he was
presenting. Graft was hemming and hawing and the chairman came to his
rescue and said that the questions were hypothetical (of course they
were, so what?) and that they had to move things along.
Thus ended the presentation of Officer Friendly and the
D.A.R.E. corps. No votes were taken while Randy and I were there.
We ended up leaving about 15 minutes after Graft, et al. left.
My impression of the board was that they were a bunch of
middle-aged white men whose concept of what constituted education
would have been considered retrogressive in the 19th Century.
As far as they were concerned a politically correct (there's that
phrase again) show in the schools was preferable to real education.
Appalling! What I might have said to the board was that the D.A.R.E.
program approach which involves the usual lies about marijuana is
akin to having a sex education course in which kids are told that
a girl can get pregnant from kissing. When a school is in the business
of telling lies, something is desparately wrong. I might have also
told the board that teachers who know that the D.A.R.E. people are
lying are intimidated into silence -- how's that for peer pressure
For now, the D.A.R.E. program is in place here in Bloomington.
Graft did make one interesting admission to the board. He said he
thought it would take "15 years" before it would be possible to
assess the results of the program. Hopefully, the drug war will
be ending in the next few years and marijuana, at least, will be
completely legal. I'm betting that Graft and his know-nothings
will be out of the teaching business in the not too distant future.
paul hager email@example.com
"I would give the Devil benefit of the law for my own safety's sake."
--from _A_Man_for_All_Seasons_ by Robert Bolt
/* Written 9:12 am Dec 3, 1991 by sulak in peg:talk.pol.drugs */
/* ---------- "Judge speaks in favor of ending war" ---------- */
Did anyone see the AP wire story in Friday's newspapers. I even heard it
on CBS radio news Thursday night/ Friday morning:
Frustrated judge: Legalize Drugs
West Palm Beach, FL (AP) was the byline.
US District Judge James C. Paine called for the legalization in a
meeting while he was speaking the the Federal Bar Association in Miami.
Here are some things that the article quoted him as saying:
"I have joined that group of people who believe that the use and sale of
controlled substances should be legalized."
"Alcohol didn't cause the high crime rates of the '20s and '30s,
Prohibition did. And drugs do not cause today's alarming crime rates,
but drug prohibition does."
"Trying to wage war on 23 million Americans who are obviously very
committed to certain recreational activities is not going to be any more
successful than Prohibition was."
"Our society has had a lot of experience with legal dangerous drugs,
particularly alcohol and tobacco, and we can draw on that experience
when we legalize marijuana, cocaine, and heroin."
Paine is 67 and was appointed by President Carter to the Southern
District in 1979. [You can bet Bush will not nominate him to the next
Supreme Court opening. :-(] He also said that re-legalizing would reduce
corruption of law enforcement officials, lead to the production of
weaker drugs, reverse a trend toward abuse of civil liberties and
eliminate the futility of fighting a war the government isn't winning.
Another judge, Judge Howard Berman of the Palm Beach County Juvenile
Court said later, "I think the whole thing needs to be rethought. I'd ne
open-minded about it." The article said Judge Berman was 'intrigued'.
"In the past ten years, the Republicans/Democrats have ...
* Tripled the national debt
* Shredded the Bill of Rights
* Destroyed the American banking system
* Increased taxes
* Imposed an ineffective and inflexible system of schooling on yet
another generation of Americans
* Supported despotic regimes around the globe
* Brought us an expanded war on drugs"
The Libertarians are opposed to the above actions and need your help.
For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org (email) or 1-800-682-1776 (voice)
Standard Disclaimer: These may not be my opinions, my employer's opinions,
a devil's advocate's opinions, or anyone else's opinions. Are they opinions?
"`Consider these figures,' Koop ended. `Last year  in the United
States, 2,000 people died from cocaine. In the same year, cigarettes
killed 390,000 people.'"
[See AML file lib/domestic/tobacco.cburn -- an excellent article]
Death Rates Per 100,000 Users:
Alcohol Tobacco Cocaine Heroin
150 650 4 80
Cato Institute Data
[From: Heartland Journal (see file ~/lib/elsalv/guat.nun)]
Easy to Get Hooked On, Hard to Get Off
"To rank today's commonly used drugs by their addictiveness, we asked
experts to consider two questions: How easy is it to get hooked on
these substances and how hard is it to stop using them? Although a
person's vulnerability to drug also depends on individual traits --
physiology, psychology, and social and economic pressures -- these
rankings reflect only the addictive potential inherent in the drug.
The numbers below are relative rankings, based on the experts' scores
for each substance.
Ice, Glass (Methamphetamine smoked) 99
Crystal Meth (Methamphetamine injected) 93
Valium (Diazepam) 85
Quaalude (Methaqualone) 83
Seconal (Secobarbital) 82
Crank (Amphetamine taken nasally) 78
PCP (Phencyclidine) 57
Ecstasy (MDMA) 20
Psilocybin Mushrooms 18
[Research by John Hastings]
[From: _In Health_, Nov/Dec 1990; eye-balling by Harel Barzilai;
relative rankings are definite, numbers given are (+/-)1%]
"`There's some abuse potential with marijuana,' Koob [sic] says. `For
example, it's probably at least as dangerous for someone to drive
while high on marijuana as to drive while drunk. But on my list of
drugs likely to produce dependency -- people who are out of control of
their use and want to quit, but can't -- it's pretty far down the
"By the same token, LSD may be dangerous if it makes you think you can
fly and your dive out a window, but it's unlikely to produce
addiction. `It is just not a drug that people take in a compulsive
way,' Koob says. Some people scoffed when the Surgeon General four
year ago called nicotine the most addictive drug known. But survey
figures indicate that nine of every ten people who light up a
cigarette will one day have trouble quitting, compared with perhaps
two first-time cocaine users."
("Dr. George Koob is a leading neurobiologist at the Research
Institute of Scripps Clinic (San Diego)")
[From: _In Health_, Nov/Dec 1990]
Subject: Sample Anti-WOD Flyer
Date: 8 Jan 92 02:39:58 GMT
The following text is a sample anti-WOD flyer. If anyone asks, I deny
authorship of or collaboration on this text. I further refuse to state
whether I sympathize with the ideas presented therein. Just for the
record. -- Jim Mason
Info : The text was squeezed horizontally as so to fit nicely here. The
document was designed to fill both sides of an 8.5x11 sheet. A bar
shows where the page-break was. The Title was in a large bold font and
assorted phrases were underlined for emphasis - which did not translate.
An additional bit of text not appearing encouraged all readers to
xerox the flyer and distribute copies themselves.
The 'War on Drugs' Must STOP !
- Before We Destroy Ourselves -
Some facts to consider :
1) Anyone who wants drugs can get them within minutes.
Legalization would thus cause little increase in drug usage.
'Deterrence' through police power is a joke. After years of this
'drug war', there are as many drugs as ever.
2) Anyone who wants drugs can find a way to get money for them
no matter what the price. High prices mean robbery, burglary,
assaults and murders. The higher the price of drugs, the more
crimes will take place in order to pay. Cheap and legal drugs
would cause these kind of crimes to stop immediately.
3) Organized crime thrives on the presence of illegal, expensive
drugs. The profits are enourmous. Cheap and legal drugs would
put many gangsters out of business and stop the street
violence associated with drug gangs.
4) The tremendous amounts of money generated by the drug trade
get funneled into foreign countries, depleting our economy and
doing great damage to the necessary agricultural industries in
the affected nations. They become 'addicted' to a one-product
economy. Soon, destroying the illegal drug market will mean
destroying these supplier nations - and we will have to support
5) Here at home, the temptation drug money presents to our
police, bankers and politicans breeds corruption on a grand
scale. Politicians and police are corrupt enough already and do
not need this extra incentive.
6) Our government has a vested self-interest in keeping drug use
a crime. The reasons have little to do with public order. The
'War on Drugs' creates government jobs, high-paying positions
and great personal power for many beaurocrats. It serves the
politicians, not the public.
7) The 'War on Drugs' is being used as an excuse to reduce or
destroy many of our constitutionally-guarenteed freedoms.
Legally, our government can now do much of what those
terrible regimes in China and the Soviet Union can do to their
citizens. Warrantless searches, surveillance, blood and urine
testing, property confiscation, coerced 'confessions' ... we have
become what we usually accuse our enemies of being.
8) In a free nation, there are many aspects of other peoples
behavior that we must realize are none of our business.
Moralizing and speechmaking will not change human nature ;
and humans like to indulge in intoxicating substances. No law,
army or police force will change this. Free citizens must choose
9) People rarely die from taking drugs. Most 'drug deaths' result
from the effects of this artificially maintained 'war'. Support for
'War on Drugs' means you are creating circumstances that
endanger your friends, neighbors and children far more than
any drugs could. THINK !
10) The many billions of dollars wasted on this 'war' are needed
Yes, you have been lied to by your government, misled by the
religious right and fed distortions by the news media - so what else is
What's new is that by promoting this 'war on drugs', the institutions
we rely on the most to help us maintain Americas' coveted liberties
are instead leading us down the path to ruin - the same kind of horror
that the Russians are just now throwing off. Lacking worthy enemies
outside our borders, that segment of our political spectrum that craves
power and domination over others has invented an entirely new
enemy to do battle with. The problem is that this enemy lurks within
our own borders and takes the form of our neighbors, our friends, our
children and ourselves - the enemy is us.
The scenerio sounds like something from the depths of communist
China. An unidentified group of dangerous individuals are said to be
destroying the heart of the national ideology, culture and productivity.
They spread their corruption to the youth, to the universities and even
the government. In order to identify and control these dissidents,
radical measures must be taken. The police are granted wide-ranging
powers to interrogate individuals ; search their homes, property and
persons if they seem 'suspicious'; coerce confessions from detainees
; sieze money and property without due process ; bug telephones ;
read medical records ; track banking activities ; monitor business
contacts and keep lists of ones associates. Children are given an
extra dose of the party-line in school ; organized rallys are held ;
teachers are taught to spy on their students ; kids are forbidden to
wear clothing or speak words that may convey the 'wrong message'
; guard-dogs and TV cameras abound and in special educational
sessions the children are taught to turn their parents in to the police.
On TV and in the press, carefully crafted propaganda hammers
unceasingly on the official point of view, the official facts. On the job,
employers take blood and urine samples, wire their workers to lie-
detectors, issue psychological tests - all in the name of 'production'.
Does this sound bad ? Russia ? China ? Nazi Germany ? Iran ? North
Korea ? Alas, you can find this brave new world by simply looking out
of your window. Will you discover someone peeking in ? If not today,
what about tomorrow ?
Is it becoming a little more obvious now ? Can you see what we are
doing to ourselves and our country ? No drug can damage the
American ideal so badly as this nasty kind of witch-hunting. The public
interest is not served - only the interests of the powerful who are
seeking even more power. Our rights are diminished, our wallets
drained, and for what purpose ? So people can't make themselves
dizzy ? It's insane !
And what of the untold billions of dollars thrown away on this drug
'war' ? This is money that could be curing cancer, re-floating the
social-security fund, hiring competant teachers and financing our vital
industries in the face of international competition.
REASON, and a sense of PROPORTION can deliver us from this self-
made crisis. Shall we become just like those nations we have always
despised or will we put forth the effort to make American liberty a
shining star for the rest of the world to follow ? The choice is ours -
and we must choose soon.
Any country that calls itself "The Land of the Free" should spend its
time thinking of ways to add even more liberty to its fabric - not on
taking liberties away.
From: email@example.com (James Douglas Del Vecchio)
Subject: Anti-prohibition reading material
Date: 6 Mar 92 22:08:44 GMT
The Economics of Prohibition:
by Mark Thornton, $27.95 (hardcover) 184 p.
Why Prohibition is and always must be an abject failure.
Beyond the War On Drugs:
by Seven Wisotsky, preface by Thomas Szasz $16.95 (paper) 279 p.
Dealing With Drugs:
Consequences of Government Control
ed. by Ronald Hamowy, $14.95 (paper) 385 p.
The Crisis in Drug Prohibition:
ed by David Boaz, $7.95 (paper) 148 p.
You can request them through an inter-library loan, or order them from
a local bookstore, or call Laissez Faire Books: 800-326-0996.
You can get on the Laissez Fair Book Club mailing list free for just
Jim Del Vecchio
Subject: "War on Drugs and Media" Paper (LONG)
Date: 11 Dec 91 00:52:13 GMT
Representation of the "War on Drugs" in "Time" and "Newsweek"
By David Hirmes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Big Picture?: A Case for Perplexity
My method of research was fairly simple. I searched for articles in
Time and Newsweek that in some way dealt with the "War on Drugs"
between 1986 and 1989. I came up with several cover stories, and many
smaller ones. As for my purpose: I was looking for how these news
magazines handled a problem that has been a part of society for thousands
of years, and yet just recently has been declared a "war". Even in terms of
hightened awareness about drugs, there were several times in history, not
just the 60's and 70's, in which drugs became of "national importance". So
why the hype? How had it changed and how does it change through the
years analysed? I decided that the best way to discover this would be to
search for the "frames" the media used to portray the "war on drugs".
The idea of frames was first introduced to me in Todd Gitlin's book "The
Whole World Is Watching". Gitlin's example was the turbulent times of
the 60's, and in particular, the New Left. He found that the media used
various ways of framing the New Left which gave a distorted view of
what the movement was all about. In this paper I hope to expose some
frames used in the "war on drugs".
The overall impression I got through reading a plethora of articles from
Time and Newsweek from August of 1986 to November of 1989 was that
the news media were just as perplexed as the government and the general
populous about drug abuse. The questions asked in '86 were still being
asked in '89, with perhaps a heightened sense of urgency. The question of
why people do drugs in the first place, why and how it leads to addiction,
how serious is the problem, is it getting worse, what can we do about it as
citizens, what can the government do about it, how has it gotten this far,
who is to blame... The questions remain in a steady stream, yet no one
seems to have realistic answers. Those who do make promises or
predictions usually end up looking foolish a month or a year later.
President Bush has learned his lessons, and has made little promises on
how successful the "war on drugs" will be in the near future. Recently,
"Drug Czar" William Bennett resigned from his post. One of the prices
payed for turning a problem into a "war" is that there is always the chance
one might lose.
Framing the Problem - 1986
The government's "war on drugs", and therefore, coverage of the
nation-wide drug epidemic, began in full force when large scale drug abuse
expanded from the inner-city to middle-class Americans and the
workplace. Coverage also expanded with increased violence in urban,
and later rural areas. There is an interesting admission to this subtle (and
not so subtle) classism in both 1986 cover stories from Time and
Newsweek. In Newsweeks' "Saying No" article (8/11/86) it is stated that:
"In part, the change in the public mood has a racist tinge: drugs simply
moved from the black and Hispanic underclass to the middle-class
mainstream and are being felt as a problem there."1 While the admission
of racism within mainstream America was surprising, it was equally as
interesting that Newsweek blamed Americans for their lack of caring
about the plight of the inner-city, and not the lack of news coverage itself. I
have found, although I did very little research before 1986, that the
problems of drug abuse in the inner-city were covered only when the
problem had reached many more levels of American society. This is
exemplified by what seemed to be an extremely offensive comment in the
Time article "The Enemy Within":
As drugs have moved out of the ghetto and into the workplace, as bus
drivers and lawyers and assembly-line workers get hooked, innocent
consumers are put as risk. The cost of employers from drug abuse-- from
lost productivity, absenteeism and higher accident rates-- is estimated at
about $33 billion by the government.2
Are they assuming that there are no bus drivers, lawyers, and
assembly-line workers in the ghetto? Is the loss of work- place
productivity more of a concern than the decay of the inner- city?
Obviously, Time knows its audience.
A History Lesson
After realizing that there is indeed a drug problem in America, the two
news magazines diverged on two different paths. While Newsweek
chose to deal with the current administrations changing policy, Time
decided to give some historical context to the drug problem. Since the
article had already framed itself as as dealing with the "war on drugs", the
history that was presented held all drugs at an equally evil level. Pot,
heroin, cocaine, and PCP were all equally responsible for the current drug
crisis. Of course, no mention of legalization efforts, were mentioned, two
notable deletions seemed to be the World War II program of "Hemp for
Victory" as well as the complete failure of prohibition. While pot is
regularly lumped with much more dangerous drugs such as cocaine,
heroin, and PCP, or in the context of a "gateway" drug, cigarettes and
alcohol are rarely mentioned. By leaving out cigarettes and alcohol, which
account for over 100 times more deaths a year than all illegal drugs
combined, an important facet of this issue is missing.3 The violent aspects
of drugs like crack and PCP are hyped in many articles, but rarely are the
moods of those on alcohol.
There were some positive aspects of "The Enemy Within" article. For
one, a framing in which the "enemy" is ourselves, rather than some evil
Latin American drug empire is a positive shift the idea that DEA officials
can cure the drug problem by cutting off the Southern supply. And the
article did spend almost half of a small paragraph explaining the
disproportionate cases of death and health care costs from tobacco and
alcohol opposed to other illegal drugs. But it must be stressed that
devoting even a half a paragraph on this subject was the exception to the
Probably due to my reading Mark Hertsgaard's "On Bended Knee", a
book about the relationship between the Reagan administration and the
press, the coverage of Reagan seemed especially dubious. In the
Newsweek cover story "Saying No", it is stated point blank that Reagan
began taking the drug crisis seriously only when public opinion polls
deemed it necessary. While Nancy's Just Say No campaign had been in
full swing for a few years, the President had not considered it a top priority
until '86. The article states that Reagan's philosophy had always been one
of education and treatment, where volunteers and corporate America
should take the responsibility to deal with the problem. Yet at the same
time, a full $1.8 billion of the $2 billion given for "war on drugs" in 1985 was
for enforcement, leaving the remaining $200 million to be divided between
education and treatment programs.4 In fact, from 1982 to 1986, the
allotment for treatment and education actually decreased over $80
The Newsweek article also featured a short interview with the
President. When asked "You've described America as 'upbeat, optimistic'
--why are drugs such a problem now?" Reagan replied: .ls1
For one thing... the music world.. has... made it sound as if it's right there and
the thing to do, and rock-and-roll concerts and so forth. Musicians that
young people like... make no secret of the fact that they are users, [And] I
must say this, that the theatre--well, motion-picture industry--has started
down a road they'd been on before once, with alcohol abuse...6
(note: ... and  are Newsweeks, not mine.)
When asked directly why drugs were a problem in America, our
Presidents answer was rock and roll and the movies. This is the president
who had been cutting social programs for the last five years, who had been
virtually ignoring the problems of the inner-city, and this was his thoughtful
analysis. But this had been part of Reagan's fairy-tale version of America
from the start. By framing the issue in this way, Reagan disqualified his
domestic policy from any part in the drug crisis, and at the same time
trivialized the issue as non-political.
As a side note, just as Hertsgaard points out over and over in "On
Bended Knee", the press let the President frame the issues. Following his
short interview, Newsweek dedicated a full article entitled "Going After
Hollywood" which spent a good amount of time nit-picking at recent
movies in which drug use was glorified.7 While the initial Newsweek
cover story was entitled "Saying No!", no one from the inner-city was
asked about the effectiveness of this campaign, nor were they asked about
any of the new policy changes. In the place where the drug crisis
supposedly originated, no voice was given at all.
Framing the Solution - 1986
The Big Three
Options to combat drug abuse are limited to the Big Three:
enforcement, treatment, and education. Throughout the four years
analyzed, the "debate" always dealt with which of the three is more
important to focus on financially. Legalization is barely mentioned at any
level, except to completely lambaste the idea. On the other end,
enforcement debates range from cracking down on casual users, to full
military intervention at home and abroad.8
"Battle Strategies"/Reagans on TV
Even as early as September of 1986, the news magazines had a cynical
view of the "war on
drugs". The First Couple went on national television urging Americans to
stop the using drugs at the same time when law enforcement officials
were telling the press there was no way to stop the supply of drugs from
entering the U.S.9 A Time article entitled "Battle Strategies" explained
the various methods of "combat" (remember, this is a "war"): The border
patrols, heightened arrests, drug testing (which would soon become a
major issue), treatment, and education.10 Another article in Newsweek
(9/22/86) explained how the Reagans were getting involved through
Nancy's Just Say No campaign and Ronald's new interest in the issue
(now that he realized voters felt it an important issue).11 The tone of both
articles seemed to take the issue as more of a political one that a social or
economic problem, a trend that would continue through my research. In a
September, 1986 article, Time extolled: "The abuse of illegal drugs has
certainly become the Issue of the Year, except that the main issue
involved seems to be how far politicians scramble to outdo one another in
leading the crusade."12 One must ask: Whose fault is that-- the politicians,
the news media, or both?
In framing the solution, the news magazines seem to forget that the
problem itself has not truly been identified. The so- called solutions are
attacking the symptoms, not the disease. This simple fact is not recognized
by the news magazines. By telling kindergardeners in the inner-city not to
do drugs is one thing, but when these same children grow old enough to
see the best opportunity for wealth and power is that of the drug dealer,
ideals could change quite easily.13
Re-Framing the Problem - 1988
Night of the Living Crack Heads
The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) conducts a survey every
two to three years called the National Household Survey on Drug Use,
which questions about 8,000 people.14 Much of the government's policy
relies on this document for data. In 1988, after decades of almost steady
increase, the survey showed a decline in most drug use in the United
States. The marked exception was cocaine (and its smokable derivative
crack) which went down for casual use, but rose steadily for those who
used the drug more than once a week.15 By this time, the "war on drugs"
had been in full swing for several years, and while the NIDA statistics
showed one side of the story, the "rising tide of violence" (a favorite media
catch phrase), "crack babies", rise of crack use by upper and middle-class
whites, and what appeared to be the growth of gangs, gang violence, and
drugs in small towns across America, showed quite another. A common
frame to begin articles in which policy changes or announcements were
being made by Bush or William Bennett, were specific incidents of
violence or irony resulting from the drug crisis.16 Interestingly enough,
while this gave a cynical and somewhat confrontational frame for the
article, it also seemed to lead into something of an aggressive opinion
regarding the implementation of enforcement policy: In response to more
violence, reporters' first reactions seemed to be "Where are our guns?"
The vast majority of articles found from 1988 on that did not report
specifically on an event or government announcement, dealt with various
aspects of crack. Two out of the three cover stories dealing with drugs
from 1988 to 1990 had to do with crack: Time had "Kids Who Sell Crack"
(5/9/88) and Newsweek simply had "Crack" (11/28/88). The third was
entitled "Addictive Personalities" and featured Kittie Dukakus on the
cover (Newsweek, 2/20/89). Both "crack" cover stories had various
problems and inaccuracies, although in general Time seemed to have a
slightly better grasp on the "big picture" (i.e. some semblance of analysis)
than Newsweek, in which sensationalism seemed a much higher priority.
I'd like to give a somewhat detailed account of these articles because to a
large degree, they focus on most of the (domestic) frames used in media to
represent the "war on drugs".
The Time story begins with the tale of a 13 year old dealer named Frog.
In describing why young blacks from the ghetto might begin to deal drugs,
Time explains: "Like most young American people, they are material girls
and boys. They crave the glamorous clothes, cars, and jewelry they see
advertised on TV." I suppose because most young Americans do not read
their magazines, this allows Time to print ads of a similar type (not to
mention another highly addictive drug, nicotine, which kids can't see on
TV). Showing that not only kids from the ghetto can get hooked, Time
next focuses on Eric, an upper-middle class white honor student who
became addicted to crack. The next section of the article discusses the
"live for today" attitude of many teenagers involved in drug dealing, as well
as prison over- crowding. When a huge raid in L.A. is conducted and "Half
(of those arrested) had to be released for lack of evidence" A mere
sentence is dedicated to this frightening trend of mass arrest, with only the
"civil libertarians" upset over the seeming loss of civil rights.17 The article
redeems itself to some degree, towards the end, when it goes into a
somewhat detailed account of the current job and educational situation for
lower-class people in America. This is the only article I found where more
than half a sentence is used to blame cuts in job training and education
programs by the Federal government as a possible problem somehow
related to drugs.18 It is also worthwhile mentioning that this article was
written on Reagan's way out, over seven years since Reaganomics began.
Newsweek, which tried to give a nation-wide view of the drug war by
going to a crack house, a prison, a rehab center, and a court, failed to find
any connections or insights into the drug problem except to equate all drug
addicts as on the same low-life level. It's hard to expect much from an
article that in the third paragraph states: .ls1
These are the two Americas. No other line you can draw is as trenchant
as this. On one side, people of normal human appetites, for food and sex
and creature comforts; on the other, those who crave only the roar and
crackle of their own neurons, whipped into a frenzy of synthetic euphoria.
The Crack Nation. It is in our midst, but not a part of us; our laws barely
touch it on its progress through our jails and hospitals, on its way to our
If images virtually out of "Night of the Living Dead" are used as the
initial frame towards the drug addict, why would anyone not feel that these
"Others" should be dealt with by any means necessary. Since this article
was purported to be a "day in the life piece", practically no historical
background on the crisis, and no analysis of a larger picture were given,
leaving a very narrow view of the true problem.
In Herbert Gans' book "Deciding What's News", he describes what he
calls "enduring values", values that the press consider an intragle, positive,
and necessary part of American society. It is when these values are
threatened, that the news responds. Some of Gans' "enduring values"
include: "ethnocentrism, altruistic democracy, responsible capitalism,
moderatism, [and] social order"(p.42) All of these values are threatened
by drugs. Newsweek's portrayal of this bipolar society, the "Crack
Nation", is proof of how the threatening of these values can turn to
dangerous assumptions, exaggerations, and misrepresentations within the
"objective" news media.
Re-Framing the Solution - 1988
The journalists seemed as war-weary as the DEA agents they were
reporting about. So when Time purports in March of 1988 that
"Americans lose patience with Panama", they are possibly referring more
to the administration and news journalists, than the American people.20
With hind-sight, we can see that Noreiga was actually a minor player in
Latin American drug smuggling operations. Soon after the U.S. invation,
the New York Times reported that the flow of drugs in and out of Panama
actually had increased.
Later in 1989, when Newsweek reports on William Bennett's progress
as Drug Czar (one of the oddest terms associated with the "war on
drugs"), the reporter intones: "...he is likewise correct that tougher law
enforcement is the necessary first response."21
To a large degree, it seems that reporting on the drug war by 1988-9
turned from cynical, somewhat hopeless, and aloof, to cynical, angry, and
battle-worn. Reporters began to tire of the governments rhetoric, and as
drugs began to draw closer to their own homes, they became more
anxious for a solution. So perhaps because of the fact that law-makers are
giving no other solutions, when Bennett and Bush explain the solution
begins with more cops, more guns, more prisons, and harsher treatment of
casual users (as well as treatment and education, of course), the press are
not so alarmed. When the Presidential appointee Bennett explains that
legalization would be a "national disaster" as would attacking the "social
front", one find the options even more limiting.22 .pa
Breaking the Frames: Distortions and Omissions
In beginning to understand the framing of the "war on drugs" within the
news media, one must first look at the statistics (the NIDA survays) and
how they are used to shape governmental policy and public opinion. First,
it must be noted that these are household surveys, which would exclude
the homeless and those with no permanent homes. Second, the rising
trend to punish the casual user would automatically create an atmosphere
of distrust and suspicion. Third, the surveys do not consider legal drugs
such as alcohol and cigarettes, which account for many more deaths a
year than all other illegal drugs combined. I am unaware if the police
reports, which have been used to show that large amounts of people
arrested test positive for drugs, include alcohol. While these reasons do
not completely disqualify the results of the surveys, they do question their
The next problem found through the articles analyzed were the
selection of sources for information and anaylsis, in a word: who was given
a voice in the news. By this I mean who was interviewed, quoted, and
used as the source of information for the articles. For the most part,
ordinary citizens were interviewed only to determine the level of the
crisis-- how bad a neighborhood had gotten, how many people they knew
were involved with illegal drugs, etc. Never was a man or woman from
the inner-city, or even one from a suburban area for that matter, asked
what they thought the causes of the drug crisis were, or why it was so bad
in certain areas. For the most part, the Big Picture was left to the
government and to a lesser extent, the news media itself.
Where were the voices of teachers, medical professionals, social
workers, minority group leaders, civil rights activists, and the most taboo of
all, legalization activists? The medical professionals and social workers
were asked how their various programs were coping, and sometimes the
successful ones were examined in detail, but that was the extent of their
voice. Minority leaders, even media favorites like Jesse Jackson, were
ignored, and their cries for reinstating social programs lost in the Reagan
years were never heard. Civil rights activists were only refereed to in the
third person as in "civil libertarians were worried of this law" or "those
concerned with civil rights had reservations about the legality". The one
notably exception to this was the continuing controversy over drug testing.
But it is important to realize that this controversy deals with almost all
Americas. Anyone with a job (no longer simply air-traffic controllers and
government employees with "security" positions) could be effected by
these measures. And yet the truly dangerous actions, ones that most
Americans take for granted, are all but ignored. From mass arrests of
suspected drug dealers and not using warrants to search homes and cars,
to suggestions of using the military to destroy coca fields in other countries-
- these issues were barely discussed.
The entertainment element within the news media played an important
role in the "war on drugs" as well. Just as with Magic Johnson now, were
it not for the death of Len Bias and the scandal of Daryll Strawberry, who
knows how long it would have taken the media to catch on that there was
a drug problem in America. When looking up source articles for this
paper, the list of "Drugs and Sports" was longer than that of "Drug Abuse"
or "Crack" for several of the years between 1986 and 1990. Possibly the
media found in sports-drug related scandal,an entertainment side of the
drug war that had more mass appeal than an inner-city murder or siezure
of some odd tonnage of cocaine from Latin America.
Finally, while it is not a panacea, nor a complete answer to the reasons
behind America's drug crisis, I had thought that questioning the social and
economic policies of Reaganomics would have brought to light some of the
reasons why drug dealing, let alone drug abuse would become more
appealing to those who suffered from the cuts in Federally funded social
programs in housing, medical care, and education. But those comparisons
were never made. Except for a small section in the Time cover story of
1988 mentioned earlier in the paper, simply the idea that economic factors
were somehow involved in drug abuse were completely ignored. A
portion of the reason for this might have to do with Reagan's insistence
that it is the drug user and potential drug user that must be focused on. It is
"Just Say No" and law enforcement-- these are our options. Not much
10"Battle Strategies" Time (Sep 15 86)
11"Rolling Out the Big Guns" Time (Sep 22 86)
12"The Enemy Within" Time [cover story] (Sep 15 86)
13see "Addictive Personalities" Newsweek [cover story] (Feb 20 89) for
the sillyness of trying to find a definition.
14see "Drug Abuse and Drug Abuse Research", U.S. Dept. of Health and
Human Services, Rockville, Maryland, 1991, also see the first chapter of
"Communications Campaigns About Drugs", Pamela J. Shoemaker, ed.,
Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., Hillsdale, NJ, 1989.
15 see "Drug Abuse and Drug Abuse Research", U.S. Dept. of Health and
Human Services, Rockville, Maryland, 1991, and "National Drug Control
Strategy", U.S. Government document, 1990.
16"Tears of Rage" Time (Mar 14 88) and "Bennett's Drug War"
Newsweek (Aug 21 89)
17"Crack" Newsweek [cover story] (Nov 28 88)
18"Kids Who Sell Crack" Time [cover story] (May 9 88)
19"Crack" Newsweek [cover story] (Nov 28 88)
20"Tears of Rage" Time (Mar 14 88)
21"Bennett's Drug War" Newsweek (Aug 21 89)
23see the chapter "Cocaine-Related Deaths: Who are the Victims? What
is the cause?" Linda S. Wong, M.A., and Bruce K. Alexander, Ph.D., in the
book "Drug Policy 1989-1990: A Reformer's Catalogue" Arnold Tresbach,
ed., The Drug Policy Foundation, Washington, D.C., 1989.
(in chronological order)
"Saying No!" Newsweek [cover story] (Aug 11 86)
"Going After Hollywood" Newsweek (Aug 11 86)
"The Enemy Within" Time [cover story] (Sep 15 86)
"Battle Strategies" Time (Sep 15 86)
"Rolling Out the Big Guns" Time (Sep 22 86)
"Urban Murders: On the Rise" Newsweek (Feb 9 87)
"L.A. Law: Gangs and Crack" Newsweek (Apr 27 87)
"The Southwest Drug Connection" Newsweek (Nov 23 87)
"Drug Use: Down, But Not in the Ghetto" Newsweek (Nov 23 87)
"Tears of Rage" Time (Mar 14 88)
"Where the War Is Being Lost" Time (Mar 14 88)
"Kids Who Sell Crack" Time [cover story] (May 9 88)
"Crack" Newsweek [cover story] (Nov 28 88)
"Addictive Personalties" Newsweek [cover story] (Feb 20 89)
"Fighting on Two Fronts" Time (Aug 14 89)
"Bennett's Drug War" Newsweek (Aug 21 89)
"A Plague Without Boundries" Time (Nov 6 89)
"Drug Abuse and Drug Abuse Research", U.S. Dept. of Health and
Human Services (NIDA is under this orginization), Rockville, Maryland,
Gans, Herbert J., "Deciding What's News", Vintage Books, New York,
Gitlin, Todd, "The Whole World Is Watching", Univ. of CA Press,
Hertsgaard, Mark, "On Bended Knee", Schocken Books, 1988.
Hiebert, Ray E., ed., "What Every Journalist Should Know About the
Drug Abuse Crisis", Voice of America, Wash. DC., 1987?
(this book has articles from Nancy Reagan and Ed Meese
Hoffman, Abbie, "Reefer Madness", The Nation, Nov. 21, 1987.
Levine, Michael, "Going Bad", Spin, June 1991.
(this article is the story of a DEA agent disallusioned
by the governments handling of the drug war)
"National Drug Control Strategy", U.S. Government document, 1990.
Shoemaker, Pamela J., ed., "Communication Campaigns About Drugs",
Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., Hillsdale, NJ, 1989.
(a suprisingly uninformative book.)
Trebach, Arhold S., ed., "Drug Policy 1989-1990: A Reformer's
Catalogue", The Drug Policy Foundation, Wash. DC, 1989.
(an excellent resource for those interested in
Some sources suggested to me that I didn't get a chance to read:
"The Great Drug War" by Arnold Treback. Macmillan, 1987.
"Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream" by Jay Stevens,
Atlantic Monthly Press, 1987.
"Acid Dreams: The CIA, LSD, and the Sixties Revolution" by Martin
Lee (one of the founders of F.A.I.R.) and Bruce Shlain, Grove
[END OF PAPER]
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