Pubdate: Mon, 12 Feb 2001
Source: Herald American (NY)
Copyright: 2001, Syracuse Herald American
Contact:  P.O. Box 4915, Syracuse, N.Y. 13221-4915
Authors: Duane Hardy, Larry Seguin . The Rev. Jack Wilkinson


To the Editor:

A few months ago, our Congress appropriated $1.3 billion to be delivered to 
Colombia in connection with the "war on drugs."

Almost immediately, I began to notice small items in our papers reporting 
the shooting of groups of people, randomly, in their yards and other 
village settings, carried out by military or paramilitary personnel. There 
was no mention of any connection the victims had to any phase of the drug 
trade. Colombia is not an unstable country. It is a nation with important 
connections to world trade, with ports on both the Caribbean Sea and the 
Pacific Ocean, and with oil and other rich resources. It has its own 
internal problems of land ownership and distribution of wealth, among 
others. These have been aggravated by our providing a market for drug 
cartels to become almost a kingdom unto themselves.

It seems to me that it is not our right or our duty to try to solve 
Colombia's internal problems, as the $1.3-billion "aid" indicates is our 
intention. Rather it is our responsibility to change our way of handling 
the drug-consumption problem that makes it so profitable to the drug lords 
of Colombia. The movie "Traffic" portrayed the futility of present methods.

New York Gov. George Pataki is suggesting the repeal of some of Nelson 
Rockefeller's draconian sentencing laws. Some states are allotting 
increased funds to treatment centers. More money to Colombia will lead to 
more involvement by our government and more killings in Colombia. There's 
got to be a better way!

Duane Hardy,  East Syracuse  NY

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To the Editor:

Why do we waste so much time on the medical marijuana issue? It seems so 
senseless. Why couldn't cannabis be decriminalized and regulated like alcohol?

Any doctor will tell you that there is no harm in relaxing after work with 
one beer or one glass of wine - it can actually be healthy for you. The 
18th Amendment in 1920 (Prohibition) made alcohol illegal, except within 
the home or for "medical," religious or industrial purposes.

Cannabis contains antioxidants "more powerful than vitamin E or vitamin C," 
according to Dr. Aiden Hampson of the National Institute of Mental Health. 
This is in addition to its well-documented neuro-protective, 
anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. So why couldn't one joint a day 
to relax with after work be healthy too?

Why couldn't alcohol and cannabis be sold in the same stores, side by side? 
Why not be able to grow your own cannabis? You can manufacture your own 
alcohol. You can legally make 100 gallons per adult, up to two adults per 
household. So it's legal to manufacture and have in your home 200 gallons 
(1,200 pounds) of beer.

It doesn't seem to matter that marijuana is illegal, even with the threat 
of prison people use it recreationally or medically anyway.

We didn't repeal the 18th Amendment on Dec. 5, 1933 so people could use 
alcohol. They were already using alcohol. It was repealed because of the 
crime and corruption it generated.

Larry Seguin , Lisbon  NY

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To the Editor:

Your editorial Jan. 30, entitled "Fighting Drug Abuse," ends with a 
quotation from Edward Jurith, acting director of the White House Office of 
National Drug Control Policy, to wit: "Treatment programs that follow a 
criminal from arrest to post-release follow-up must be implemented to end 
the cycle of drug abuse and crime." My quarrel is with Jurith, not with 
your publication. What he says here is logical only if you accept current 
laws as givens. However, if drugs were legal, there would be no 
drugs-to-crime-to-drugs cycle for the following reasons:

You can't break a law that doesn't exist.

Drugs are no more associated with crime intrinsically than they are with, 
say, going to your job every day. In other words, making drugs illegal 
makes about as much sense as making earning a living illegal. If drugs were 
legal they would be: a) regulated, b) off the street and c) affordable.

Only about 15 percent of drug users need treatment. The rest are merely 
committing radical acts of freedom in protest against stupid drug laws. 
Yes, there is a cycle, but not the one suggested by Jurith. It goes like 
this: Stupid drug laws (cop and crook enrichment) lead to arrest and trial 
(criminal justice attorney enrichment), leading to treatment, whether 
needed or not (health professional enrichment) or to jail 
(prison-industrial-complex enrichment), leading to disenfranchisement 
(white supremacist gratification), leading back to stupid drug laws again.

Well, yeah, let's stop the cycle. Get rid of the stupid drug laws!

The Rev. Jack Wilkinson CNY Chapter president Reconsider, Forum on Drug 
Policy Syracuse ,  NY
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