Monday, April 30, 2007

No More Drug War!

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A few jobs ago I was a web person for a drug policy reform organization. Some people thought i was attracted to this line of work out of self interest, but honestly, when your whole workday is about drugs drugs DRUGS they are the last thing you want to do when you get home. Actually, it was learning on the job about the injustices perpetuated by the war on drugs that forever altered my political orientation. It is only my Hobbesian view of the world that keeps me from being a full-blown Libertarian.

For instance, the war on drugs is a war on people of color. Blacks and whites use drugs at equivalent rates, but African Americans are arrested for drug offenses at six times the rate of whites. And the United States has the world's highest incarceration rate largely due to arresting non-violent drug offenders. And consider this: you are, as a taxpayer, spending $300 a year on the war on drugs.

There were two drug war issues in particular that angered me: one was the inability of people with diseases such as cancer and AIDS to obtain medical marijuana, and the other was the under-treatment of pain. In the case of the former, politicians would generally use 2 excuses to justify keeping medical marijuana illegal:

1) Marijuana has no medical value

2) The existence of marinol, an FDA-approved cannabinoid.

Wait a minute! Even the goverment's own supressed medical study by the Institute of Medicine will tell you 1 is bunk. There are also numerous peer reviewed journal articles here.

But if you still are not convinced, you need to ask yourself, if marijuana has no medical value, why are companies trying to market Delta-9-THC in pill form? Number 1 and number 2 contradict each other.

Anyways, the war on drugs has hit me a little closer to home recently. Once a week or so I wake up with a crushing sinus headache. Ocassionally the cuplrit is too much red wine the previous eveing, but it is just as likely caused by changes in atmospheric pressure. In order to get on with my day I take a sudafed. But as you know, the active ingredient has been pseudophredine, which politicians felt compelled to regulate because if you stockpile a lot of boxes you can make crystal meth. My sudafed got replaced by a "PE" formulation which is about the equivalent of decaf coffee. Now meth lab owners are having to schlep to Mexico for their pseudophredine and I am having to go to the pharmacy window at Safeway and sign a registry for what was previously an over-the-counter medication.

While I was trying in vain with the PE to get rid of my congestion, some of the fluid leaked into my inner ear so I now get a brief sensation of falling if I hastily avert my gaze while walking. All because of the drug war!! This is like a pin prick on the drug casualty scale but aggravating nevertheless. For more on what you can do to try to end the war on drugs visit

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