Editorial: A Typical Week in the Drug War 12/10/99

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David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected]

A young person in boot camp dies of abuse. Two murder victims at the U.S.-Mexico border are found to have been killed for their work as informants. An important study of marijuana as medicine is forbidden from being performed. It's a typical week in the drug war.

New York City welfare recipients suffering from addiction fall victim to typical ignorance of the realities of treatment and recovery. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of pain patients, are left without adequate medication, because of typical ignorance about the proper use of narcotics for pain control and typical fear of the medical boards and the DEA.

Thousands of injection drug users, and many others indirectly, including newborn children, contract HIV or hepatitis through needle sharing. Opponents of needle exchange express typical disregard for the loss of life -- in Judge Judy's case, a little more callously than is typical -- and, typically, ignore the overwhelming scientific and public health case for needle exchange and lifting the laws that prevent users from obtaining sterile syringes.

Tens of thousands of young people are arrested on drug charges. The week is not very typical -- for them -- but is a typical week. Hundreds of thousands of drug offenders languish behind bars. For most of them the week is tragically typical, and it's a typical year in the late 20th century United States. Nevertheless, drugs continue to pour over our borders, into our cities and our prisons, oblivious to the mass arrests and incarcerations --unstoppable, and therefore typical.

A mainstream foundation blasts U.S. drug and crime policies as wrongheaded -- not so typical -- and a government mouthpiece defends the national drug strategy by dissembling and misrepresenting facts -- very, very typical. A U.S. Congressman and Senatorial candidate of the Republican Party calls for addicts to legally receive drugs, to reduce crime and misery. The resulting attacks on him by political opponents are typical -- in fact, predictable. But the act of speaking out for drug policy reform and against the failed drug war by a mainstream politician is an atypical showing of courage and candor.

Atypical, but gradually becoming less unusual; for in this atypical year, he joins two governors in questioning drug war dogma. And it is gradually becoming harder for the drug warriors to use their typical tactics of demonization and marginalization to dismiss calls for drug policy reform.

It's a typical week of suffering and death and wasted resources in the failing U.S. drug war. But it's an atypical time, a time of awakening and of hope for a better future: a time when the forces of ignorance and repression will give way to reason, justice and compassion; a time when war will give way to peace.

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Issue #118, 12/10/99 INTERVIEW: Lynn Curtis, President, Eisenhower Foundation | Republican Congressman, Senate Candidate Calls for Drug Maintenance Programs | Protesters Take Over Office of NYC Secretary of Human Resources | FDA-Approved Medical Marijuana Research Blocked Under New Federal Guidelines | Study Finds Poverty More Harmful to Children than Pre-Natal Exposure to Cocaine | Newsbriefs | Rebroadcast of Snitch Next Week | New Issue of Harm Reduction Communication Available Online | Deadline Extended for Year 2000 Drug Policy Foundation Achievement Awards | Editorial: A Typical Week in the Drug War

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