In 1969 President Nixon appointed the Schaeffer Commission to study the marijuana question, expecting that it would present findings that would buttress his opposition to legalization.
He needn't have bothered. The Schaeffer Commission, like the LaGuardia panel before it, concluded the best solution was a legal, regulated market. After thinking it over, Nixon declared that he would never so reward the protest generation who had betrayed their country by opposing the War.
This is how we find ourselves thirty years later still re-fighting Vietnam--in the war on folks who smoke pot. Except that, as Robert McNamara confirmed, those of us who protested against the war were right, because Vietnam was never remotely winnable. And in the counter-insurgency against the counter-culture, all the casualties are American.
It's not really war on heroin or cocaine, because 85% of drug war "criminals" just smoke pot. The urine test has become the new litmus test whereby the Gingrichs and Giulianis join with unreconstructed Cold War democrats like Joe Califano in the ferreting out and punishing the attitudes they hold responsible for the "stab in the back" the Glorious Crusade against Communism suffered in the '60's.
It makes no sense to blame 20 million pot heads for hard drugs and crime any more than it makes sense to demonize them for Vietnam. That fact is, we were right about pot--especially the nexus of pot prohibition and racism--just like we were right about Vietnam. But because of subtle but invidious discrimination against all things counter cultural, in politics as well as the media, one whole segment of opinion is systematically excluded from the current national debate about what to do about "drugs."
Why should you listen? Because those closest to the problem have developed a "harm reduction" approach to living with "drugs" that could save America from a War that is potentially limitless in its demands on our lives and our treasure.
To begin with, we would have a lot less addiction, less AIDS and less violent crime today if America had listened to the Schaeffer commission and separated marijuana from hard drugs 30 years ago. This step--which drug warriors dismiss with disingenuous references to "drug use among 10th-graders"--is the single overwhelmingly popular drug reform demand advanced everywhere by those who practice what they preach, as opposed to the academics who advocate across-the-board legalization.
Pot use is up, not coke use--because of harm reduction education. But Barry MacCaffrey and A.M. Rosenthal debate the Cato Institute, not the counter-culture. The Drug Warriors intend to keep the focus on the horrors of "drugs" while the Partnership for a Drug Free America trots out its big new government-sponsored ad campaign against pot. Anyway, they know perfectly well we already have legal opiates--methadone, and now buprenorphine, which is more euphoric and easier to quit.
Also, for the past 10 years, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has been sitting on at least one broad-spectrum cure for poly-drug dependency--the African Rain forest drug Ibogaine, which interrupts coke, junk, booze and cigarettes for months, even years, with just one treatment
The New York Times has run two major articles on Ibogaine. A small but definite minority is completely cured with just one dose--and up to 70% could keep their addiction in remission if Ibogaine chemotherapy were available every 4 to 6 mos. Two days in the hospital instead of methadone every morning for the rest of your life. And it's the only know cure for crack!
The reason that Ibogaine is not being made available with the dispatch of, say, protease inhibitors, is that the political priority here is not coke and heroin--never was!--but stopping the legalization of marijuana and protecting the market share of legal drugs like Prozac, Budweiser and Tylenol that would be directly threatened by something that doesn't give you a hangover. There are even those who maintain that Ibogaine is blocked because of "counter cultural connections", it came up from the drug users, and "making it official" would undermine the Drug War line demonizing all users.
The second great drug reform must be to end this lock of the big ad agencies and the drug, alcohol and tobacco companies have on the U.S. drug policy. A few years ago, ABC News finally blew the whistle on Tylenol. Take 3 Tylenol's and a couple of Budweisers and you can die of liver failure! Both products are big sponsors of the Partnership, whose President at the time, Jim Burke, was awarded his job for his sucessful p.r. campaign in the wake of the Tylenol tampering scare of '83. At that time Burke, who had ordered a comprehensive internal review, learned of this shocking danger to consumers, but withheld this information within the top echelon of Johnson & Johnson, whose Robert Woods Johnson Foundation is a prime conduit for Drug War funding. The FDA was pressured not to require a warning label for more than a decade, while hundreds of deaths occurred, and Jim Burke was paid to lie about marijuana, which has never
Next week, in 5 states and the District of Columbia medical marijuana ballot initiatives will pass and then be frustrated by the same vengeful, vindictive minority that has shown that it will stop at nothing to keep cannabis from people with AIDS, MS and other chronic or life-threatening conditions. We really have no other choice. We need a Million Marijuana March!
Ask yourself which is more likely to impact on the current heroin epidemic (which is real) releasing Ibogaine directly to addicts, or withholding pot from sick people under the theory (which has never worked in 50 years!) that if we just stop all manifestations of marijuana, hard drugs will gradually wither away?
Your probable answer is one reason why Drug Warriors blame dissent for "creating a casual attitude toward drugs in high schools," and why last June's U.N. Drugs Conference organizers endorsed an international crackdown on all protests or public questioning of the Drug War.
Listen to the majority of drug users. No one is arguing to legalize angel dust or crack cocaine! Legalize pot. Legalize Ibogaine. Legalize clean needles and decrim personal use of hard drugs
so that we can deal with the more harmful substances through the public health system, not the prisons. Try harm reduction and you will be amazed.
The long national nightmare will be over.
The Million Marijuana March is scheduled for the first Saturday in May, every year, in New York, San Franscisco, Chicago, Atlanta, London and a number of other exotic cities. Contact 212-677-7180; or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cures-not-wars.org.