Light at the end of the tunnel?

Light at the end of the tunnel?

By M. L. Simon

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Is the international drug war starting to wind down? In a word, maybe. Which is a much better word than the usual “no” we have been getting for the last 80 some years.

First, the good news in Britain—cannabis use has been essentially micro-criminalized. What the heck is micro-criminalized? It means that pot is not legal. But it also means pot is not very illegal, unlike the Class A drugs that include Ecstasy, LSD, heroin and cocaine. Pot was downgraded from a schedule B drug such as amphetamines to a schedule C drug such as anti-depressants, steroids, and other prescription drugs. Marijuana then goes from an arrestable offense to a ticket-only offense. However, other laws against pot will still remain on the books, giving the police a wide latitude on whom to arrest and what crime to charge them with. The British police, being sensible, will turn their efforts to solving real crimes rather than pursuing the minor vices of otherwise law-abiding citizens. Dealing and growing will still be illegal, but here again, police in Britain show great wisdom. Only the indiscreet will be charged. The police will not be pursuing pot criminals. Not full legalization by a long shot, but this policy direction if pursued should lead to full legalization in one to two years.

Farther ahead in the race to legalization are Portugal, Spain and Italy, who have effectively decriminalized personal possession of all drugs.

The news in the Netherlands on the medical marijuana front is quite interesting. Medical marijuana is to become an official government health benefit. Patients with a doctor’s prescription for marijuana will be able to fill it at a local pharmacy. Quite a contrast with our DEA, who have been arresting doctors in California recommending marijuana and confiscating their patient records as well as busting a medical marijuana dispensary run by the city of West Hollywood. This dispensary was run under California law with the blessing of the county sheriff and the involvement of a local city councilman. It seems that the DEA in America is doing its best to drive this natural medicine underground, despite the wishes of the voters in California. Isn’t it great to live in a free republic where the wishes of the voters are respected? No doubt we are a light and a beacon to the world. Without agencies like the DEA, America would be just another banana republic. More on this in my next column.

How about some good news on the American front? The American Senate in its own small way seems to be wising up to the disaster in Colombia. The president has asked for $731 million to fight terrorism/drugs/communists (take your pick) in Colombia. The Senate has reduced that number to $567 million. Not a huge reduction, to be sure, but it is one of the first times that a president has gotten less for prohibition enforcement in foreign countries than he asked for.

Saying of the week: If we eliminated all the kids who used illegal drugs before leaving high school, that would still leave half of them.

Ask a politician (since e-mail carries no anthrax and thus is getting more attention these days, I’m only giving out e-mail, voice, and fax numbers for the time being.):

Do you support drug prohibition because it finances criminals at home or because it finances terrorists abroad?

Our politician of the week is Senator Dick Durbin. Dick earns our thanks as well as our question. He voted against reefer madness, jail‘em-all John Walters for drug czar. Thanks again, Dick.

Senator Dick Durbin

Voice (202) 224-2152

Fax: (202) 228-0400


M. L. Simon is an industrial controls designer and independent political activist.

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