Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Damned Drug War Blues

You'd think that after being involved in the War on Drugs as a journalist for the past 20-something years I might be able to retire from it. Wouldn't that be nice. Yes, but not realistic. Not so long as hundreds of thousands of non-violent people are being busted every year for choosing to relax with something other than alcohol. And truth be told, if I'd have been better at my job we might have legalized the illegal substances by now.
So I guess I'm stuck in this becase I havn't succeeded yet.
There are still times you just want to throw up your hands. Like in Philly last month, when they banned Blunts. Not that you can't by cigars, you just can't buy them singly. And you can't by them in flavors. Is that ridiculous or what? Is that gonna keep someone, anyone, from smoking a bit of weed? Is that going to reduce crime, give you a little more take home pay, or do anything that will improve anyone's life?
And now in Minnesota and Michigan there are new bong bans in place. More than that, they're really bans on all drug paraphernalia. But to what end? For three months, until someone successfully challenges the new bans--which they will, because they always do--kids are going to have to make do with the bongs and rolling papers they already have. Or they're going to figure out how to put a piece of silverfoil over a glass filled with water and stick a straw through it to make their own pipes. But again, the ban isn't going to do anything but put a few hippy glass-blowers on hard times for a couple of months. And the people enacting these laws don't make any pretense that they're being enacted to stop pot use or crack use or whatever. They freely admit they enact these laws because it "looks bad" to have shops openly selling products that cater to people who might use illegal substances when there are laws against the substances themselves.
And of course, none of those laws have ever kept anyone from using those substances either.
So sometimes I just want to throw my hands in the air. Just nonsense. And a waste of your tax dollars. And a waste of human life for those caught in the gears. And a horror for a country that professes to value individuals and individualism and freedoms.
And then, once in a while, something good happens that makes me want to shout YES!
And that happened just last week, when Tyrone Dwayne Brown, serving life in Texas, was given a pardon by governor Rick Perry. Brown, known on the street as T-Baby, was a hell-raiser and a thug as a young teen. Regularly sent to special schools and juvenile jails for car-theft and a host of other crimes, at 17, he was busted for aggravated robbery. He got 10 years deferred for that, one of the conditions of which was peeing in a cup for drug tests. Two months into the program he failed and had his probation revoked. At his court date on the probation violation the judge decided he’d had enough and sentenced him to aggravated-life. Though it wasn’t marijuana that caused his initial problems, Brown may well be the only guy in the whole country ever sentenced to life for failing a urine test.
And just last week, after serving 16-years of that sentence, he walked out of prison a free man.
About fucking time.
Anyway, with all the other people in prison and jail and whose lives are ruined over pot and other essentially harmless substances by laws meant to put the screws to anyone who doesn't tow the status quo line, and with legislators coming up with lame ass paraphernalia laws not intended to stop crime but to be window dressing on a failed war on drugs, well, I guess I just can't quit yet. So I keep plugging along, running a column called Drug War Follies in Skunk magazine and writing features for Marc Emery's Cannabis Culture, and the occasional piece for High Times.
But I sure wish we'd legalize and I could get onto other things.

No comments: