The Drug War Is Meant To Be Waged, Not Won
Clifford Thornton, Green Party of Connecticut
Because of the drug war and the collateral damage that ensues, the black and Latino communities are in a devolutionary state. Minorities have been continually singled out even though whites out number blacks and Latinos as sellers or users.
The real problem is not drug usage, but the drug policies. We as a people, and as a country have to be thoroughly educated on this issue called the ìwar on drugs.î
If you do not understand racism, classism, white privilege, terrorism, and the war on drugs ó what these terms mean, how these concepts work ó then everything else you do understand will only confuse you.
Many see the drug war as being supported by three major phenomena, all of which result in unequal treatment based, either directly or indirectly, on race, class or white privilege. This is how it works, not only in America, but also all over the world:
1. Greed ó Drug markets are a dandy source of ìblackí money, which ends up being recycled (laundered) through our banks and other financial institutions. This money is then made available for all sorts of scams, including political contributions, which guarantee that politicians remain ìtough on drugs.î The drug war effectively exempts most well to do adolescents from any severe punishment, while it guarantees the poor and unconnected are hit the hardest.
In terms of participants, the upper level dealers and financiers are seldom even identified; but the mid and lower level workers (often ìminoritiesî) are far more visible and at risk of arrest. The job security provided to police and the prison industry is also a big motivator in continuing the war on drugs.
The benefits of the war on drugs to the pharmaceutical, alcohol and tobacco industries do not need to be spelled out. If cannabis were legal, they would all take a big hit. As it is, illegal cannabis already reduces their sales significantly. Also understand that cannabis is not the real prize; it is HEMP. Hemp would immediately revolutionize the clothing, paper, and food industry ó a no-no in this country.
2. Overt racism ó The malignant racism, which justified slavery, is definitely not dead. It survived under Jim Crow (segregation) and continues to survive under the drug war. There is abundant evidence that blacks and browns actually have fewer drug problems than whites, but youíd never know it from our media. As editor past and present of many Drug News Week lies for years, I had continuous evidence that the war on drugs is incredibly racist in all its applications. Most whites accept that unfairness; at the very least, they donít feel any great need to protest.
3. Fear and the intellectual dishonesty that fear promotes in medicine and the ìtreatmentî disciplines psychology and sociology. This is a very complex issue. Thereís no doubt that the drug war survives partly because medicine has been so thoroughly co-opted. The whole system of classification of mental ìdisordersî has also been corrupted by the war on drugs. We literally have no defensible objective standards for the labels we apply; labels demanded by ìtreatment.î Our official take on abnormal behavior also promotes continued marginalization of dissent, especially by minorities. The truth is that blacks are condemned to the worst schools and if they make any trouble at all, the so-called solution is to banish them administratively from the system ASAP. I also see this in New Zealand and all other countries where there is a significant minority population.
America has been a racist society ever since its constitution was drafted in 1787. We, as a nation, have never repudiated our ìsaintedî foundersí embrace of slavery. Until we do, I suspect weíll remain an intensely racist society. The cruel treatment of slaves was justified by a spurious doctrine of racial ìsupremacy;î but I suspect it was mostly motivated by (the now) seldom-discussed fear of a ìservile rebellion.î
Our white forebears thus saddled all Americans of color especially blacks, with the bitter legacies of their own guilt and fear. Until that is recognized and repudiated, I see no real improvement. The drug war has been substituted for slavery and segregation and most people canít see it or donít want to see it.
I am not promoting drug use. I am promoting a sound logical approach to this problem. Marijuana should be regulated and controlled like cigarettes and alcohol. Heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and meth am phetamine should be medicalized and come under the supervision of medical personnel. All the rest of the illegal drugs should be decriminalized for future debate, and true and honest medicinal study. Taxes derived from the sale of cannabis and hemp will go back into the communities as reparations to rebuild the infrastructure such as public education and health care for those that have been ravished by drug war maladies.