Pubdate: Mon, 05 Jun 2000
Source: Colorado Daily (CO)
Copyright: 2000 Colorado Daily
Contact:  P.O. Box 1719, Boulder, CO 80306
Fax: (303) 443-9357
Author: Paul Dougan


In his May 26-28 letter, Democratic Congressman Mark Udall's chief of
staff, Alan Salazar, asserts that Udall advocates "progressive
policies across the board." So, what exactly is Udall's "progressive"
policy on the war on drugs, particularly the war on marijuana users?

The war on drugs has become America's new McCarthyism, a cancer on the
Bill of Rights. While some "drugs" are physically dangerous and a
menace to society, it's clear marijuana is relatively harmless and for
certain medical purposes, highly beneficial. Yet, Washington
officially groups marijuana with heroin and employs the silly gateway

First, gateway is a cause-effect fallacy: it assumes chronology equals
causality. Many hard drug users first used pot, the argument goes;
therefore, pot leads to dangerous drugs. Of course, most hard-drug
users used other substances first too, and if gateway were a sound
argument, America would now be a nation of junkies. In "Smoke and
Mirrors," reporter Dan Baum writes, "The number of Americans who smoke
pot has skyrocketed in the last thirty years -- to as many as 70
million -- while the number of heroin addicts is about the same in the
mid 1990s as it was in 1970: about half a million" (153).

Second, to the extent gateway is true, the illegalization of marijuana
makes gateway a self-fulfilling prophecy. Baum quotes a University of
Kentucky researcher whose results were said to support gateway theory:
"By throwing subjects into a subculture that elicits heroin use, even
moderate marijuana use can weld the first link of a casual chain
leading to heroin" (153).

The war on marijuana is a thinly disguised war on the counterculture;
as such, it's a form of ethnic repression and a gross violation of
human rights. And like the Republicans, the Democrats are guilty as
sin. They wage war against "ethnic cleansing" abroad while practicing
it at home; they speak of "respect for diversity" while criminalizing
hippie America. Mr. Salazar, if Mark Udall is such a "progressive,"
why hasn't he condemned this Nazi-like persecution of a member of
America's ethnic family? In contrast, Green candidate Ron Forthofer
calls America's pot policies "mean" and "evil." Now that's a

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