BUSTED UP OVER ENDLESS BUSTS: Cigarettes, Alcohol, Marijuana and the devastating Hypocrisy of the War On Drugs.

I don’t smoke cigarettes, I don’t drink alcohol, and I don’t smoke marijuana—in fact I never have smoked a joint. So other than admitting I am the world’s most boring person, I also say this as a disclaimer of non-agenda. In fact, I have zero affection for these three drugs.

However, I despise far more—and believe it to be just as dangerous (because hypocrisy is endlessly pervasive)—the political and moral hypocrisy of the fact that (from an article by Paul Armentano called 20 Million Arrests, and Counting):

“…one American [is] arrested for pot every 38 seconds.

Yet despite this massive increase in arrests—by contrast, federal statistics indicate that adult marijuana use has remained fairly stable over the past decade—the mass media and Congress continue to ignore the story.

By doing so, they ignore the plight of millions of Americans who suffer significant sanctions and hardships because of pot-related run-ins with law enforcement. These penalties include probation and mandatory drug testing; loss of employment; loss of child custody; removal from subsidized housing; asset forfeiture; loss of student aid; loss of voting privileges; loss of adoption rights; and loss of certain federal welfare benefits, such as food stamps.

Talk about disenfranchising and criminalizing a society—a mostly young society, to boot. You know, booze was once legal, too. So was hiding a fugitive slave.

And alcohol? Hardly anyone can gather at a party without bringing this hopeless intoxicant (excluding of course quality dark beer from micro-breweries). Joking. Whatever.

Look, doesn’t the obligatory bringing of alcohol ever make you take pause? Conversations with people whose company one truly delights in isn’t enough without intoxicants? Granted, real idiots can be at parties, too—but don’t they just become bigger idiots after a case of Coors? And don’t get me wrong, I am anti-prohibition. Not unlike the old saying that you only truly believe in free speech if you defend the right of people to say things you despise.

Either way, according to the book Getting to Maybe (pg 190):

“[Drunk driving] remains the single largest criminal cause of death in Canada, where approximately 1,500 people are killed each year as a result of impaired driving, a number about three times higher than the murder rate. The situation is worse in the United States.”

Killed. That excludes injured, maimed, paralyzed, brain damaged etc, which is logically much higher.

And hundreds of thousands die of smoking related diseases in North America every year—and don’t kid yourself, those deaths are often extremely violent. I watched a friend die of lung cancer. It wasn’t pretty. A beautiful, dignified person—and by the end he didn’t have the energy, strength or lung capacity to wipe himself (which wasn’t a regular problem because of the brutally constipating side-effect of taking morphine for the agony he was in.

Ah, yes. Cigarettes.

By the way, he was still, of course, incredibly dignified.

The original article continues.

Some Americans serve time for pot. Nearly 13 percent of state inmates and 12.4 percent of federal inmates are incarcerated for marijuna-related drug violations, according to a 2006 Bureau of Justice Statistics report. (The report did not include the estimated percentage of inmates incarcerated in county jails for pot-related offenses.)

In human terms, this means that some 34,000 state inmates and an estimated 11,000 federal inmates are serving time behind bars for violating marijuana laws.

In fiscal terms, this means U.S. taxpayers are spending more than $1 billion annually to imprison pot offenders.

Well done, small government.

The front-end criminal justice costs—such as the number of hours a police officer must put in to arrest and process the average pot offender—is far greater. Some researchers, such as Harvard University economist Jeffery Miron, estimate it at upward of $7 billion a year.

Heck, that’s 1/100th of the bailout. Think of the war machines you could build for 7 billion dollars.

But the financial and social costs tell only part of the story.

Up to 70 percent of all individuals in drug treatment for pot are placed there by the criminal justice system, according to statistics published by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

It’s just an insane amount of hypocrisy—so much so that I end up defending drug use. That is really perverse. Statistics further show that 1 in 3 of those people put into rehab had not smoked marijuana thirty days prior to admission.

Geezuz. Just a little pot for thought. Stay vigilant in your critical thinking, to be sure. And love more, man. That’s the thing. And if you are spiritual-minded, so-called, you don’t have to keep looking to the sky to be closer to God: we increase our divinity by increasing our humanity. Be yourself. Cause no harm. See more and more people as sisters and brothers, until there is nobody unrelated.

Lots of love,

Pete

Share

One Response to “BUSTED UP OVER ENDLESS BUSTS: Cigarettes, Alcohol, Marijuana and the devastating Hypocrisy of the War On Drugs.”

  1. Sue says:

    Hi Pete,

    Great blessay. I remember hearing on KPFA (Not sure if that one is out of Berkeley or Palo Alto, but it’s in the SF Bay area) quite a while ago about the ongoing punitiveness that drug “offenders” are met with even after they have served there time. It seems to me that being excluded from receiving almost any kind of social assistance or support that would help some of them make positive changes to their lifestyle (depending on what underlying circumstances contributed to their “crime”) is actually just setting some of these individuals up for continued failure to thrive in a healthy, productive way. Ultimately, that costs society a whole lot more, but then again the prison industry is a big money maker (and money taker given how much it costs to run the damned places).

    Anyway, that’s my two cents worth. Thanks for the great chanting at the mantra workshop on Sunday.

    Bright blessings,
    Sue

Leave a Reply