Drug War 101: 5 Things You Should Watch or Read

Posted on January 21, 2013

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Coz the war on drugs, is just a war on us
And the wrong time to see it is when you in them cuffs” – Stic.man of Dead Prez

end the warI have no reason to think that my voice will be any louder or more clear than countless others trying to bring attention to the horrible War on Drugs this country has waged on its citizens.  Since the banning of opium at the turn of the century, then cocaine and hemp,  (well before Tricky Dick Nixon coined the term) the War on Drugs has been the epitome of everything that is wrong about this country.  The war on drugs is unethical, unequal, inhumane, un-christlike, unsuccessful, unscientific, and a bunch of “un’s” and “in’s” the English language hasn’t invented yet.

“Why is this my war?” your say, “Why should I care? This is why we hire police and correctional officers.  To take care of bad people so we don’t have to deal with them.”

I want to beg with you. I want to plead with you, to see the humanity  of your fellow Americans.  I figure recognizing the humanity of the Afghans and Latino’s involved in the cocaine and poppy trade is too much for xenophobic Americans, but I’m still baffled as to how we can’t see the human toll when it hits black people in D.C. on crack, or white people in Nebraska on meth.  The “War on Drugs” rhetoric has convinced us that these communities deserve to be fatherless and poor due to their own sinfulness.  I have nothing new to add to the End the Drug War argument, but I do realize this is a brand new concept for many people, so here is a list of 5 things you should read or watch to bring you up to speed.  It includes one organization, one documentary, one website, one book and one magazine article.  Of course, this is not the definite list of things  to expose yourself to in order to be caught up on the subject, but this is one of the most crucial issues of our generation.  Not having an informed opinion on the subject is unacceptable, so you should use to familiarize yourself with the topic. (click on the photos to take you to the necessary websites).

#1 L.E.A.P.

LEAP logoA major hurdle in ending the War on Drugs, is dispelling the myth that those against the drug war are just users and enablers making excuses for sin and vice. There is a growing community of law enforcement who agree that our current drug war is counterproductive and inhumane.  My friend and creative colleague Janks Morton put me on to L.E.A.P. last year.  Law Enforcement Against Prohibition does not get nearly enough press, especially in an era where whole states are starting to tackle the idea of the human toll of prohibition.  This site is a great resource to the anti-prohibition movement, and an interesting look at  the moral dilemma our more social conscious law-enforcement officers are dealing with.

Here is their Vision and Mission Statement:

Vision Statement

LEAP envisions a world in which drug policies work for the benefit of society and keep our communities safer. A system of legalization and regulation will end the violence, better protect human rights, safeguard our children, reduce crime and disease, treat drug abusers as patients, reduce addiction, use tax dollars more efficiently, and restore the public’s respect and trust in law enforcement.

Mission Statement


The mission of LEAP is to reduce the multitude of harmful consequences resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ending drug prohibition.

LEAP’s goals are: (1) To educate the public, the media and policy makers about the failure of current drug policy by presenting a true picture of the history, causes and effects of drug use and the elevated crime rates more properly related to drug prohibition than to drug pharmacology and (2) To restore the public’s respect for police, which has been greatly diminished by law enforcements involvement in imposing drug prohibition.

LEAP’s main strategy for accomplishing these goals is to create a constantly growing speakers bureau staffed with knowledgeable and articulate current and former drug-warriors who describe the impact of current drug policies on: police/community relations; the safety of law enforcement officers and suspects; police corruption and misconduct; and the excessive financial and human costs associated with current drug policies.

check the videos on this site, and join this countries most important “end the war movement” since Vietnam.

#2 The House I Live In

click the photo to visit official site

I had been trying to find ways to watch this movie since I heard about it’s release last year.  I finally got a chance when I paid youtube a small fee to watch it online, and I suggest you do the same.  It would be better if you don’t watch it alone, because this movie and this topic deserve a good conversation.

If you have read or researched the War on Drugs or the P.I.C. the material in “The House I Live In” is nothing new, but it’s probably the best combination of all the statistical, historical, political, scientific information and anecdotal stories I’ve seen in one place.  Director Eugene Jarecki takes us on a journey as he catches up to his childhood nanny (literally named Nanny) and asks her about her family.  When he finds out that the black kids that he knew as a child ended up in completely different life paths than him due to their involvement with drugs, he tries to get to the heart of it.  A series of interviews with judges, police officers, non-violent drug offenders, correctional officers and families of drug offenders takes us deep into our current apartheid system like few films before it.

#3 StopTheDrugWar.org

stopthedrugwarThis is a relatively new one for me, even though I was rocking a Stop The Drug War t-shirt since my days in undergrad.  In this constantly evolving war to stop a war (I guess it would be easier and more effective to call it the Peace on Drugs movement) new information is our most valuable asset.  This website will keep you up to date on all the latest legal battles, examples of legal over-reach, and success stories when it comes to turning back the tide on this awful war.  Here is their mission statement

StoptheDrugWar.org works for an end to drug prohibition worldwide and an end to the “drug war” in its current form. We believe that much of the harm commonly attributed to “drugs” is really the result of placing drugs in a criminal environment. We believe the global drug war has fueled violence, civil instability, and public health crises; and that the currently prevalent arrest- and punishment-based policies toward drugs are unjust.

Our primary but not exclusive emphasis is on US policies. We pursue these objectives through the following strategies:

  • Publication of extensive, journalistic-level materials, mostly online, an area in which we are the acknowledged leader;
  • Long-term organizing of coalitions advocating specific policy reforms for which mainstream support can be mobilized for political change in the near term;
  • Grassroots activation and mobilization of drug policy reform supporters; and
  • Incorporating practices in all of our programs that support and grow the many organizations in the drug policy reform movement and the movement as a whole.

#4 The New Jim Crow

Jim Crow book coverThis book by Michelle Alexander has taken the black intellectual world by storm in since it’s release in 2010  Michelle has shot her way quickly up my list of heroes.  People who aren’t afraid to speak the truth that makes people uncomfortable, that makes societies look at themselves, and lead to governments to change, are always my favorite people.  I’m confident that when this War on Drugs is over, this is going to be put down in history as one the most significant publications in bringing that about.  Once again, other people can speak better than me on how pivotal this book has become, so here are some quotes from other leaders…

A powerful analysis of why and how mass incarceration is happening in America, The New Jim Crow should be required reading for anyone working for real change in the criminal justice system.

—Ronald E. Hampton,
Executive Director,
National Black Police Association

For every century there is a crisis in our democracy, the response to which defines how future generations view those who were alive at the time.   In the 18th century it was the transatlantic slave trade, in the 19th century it was slavery, in the 20th century it was Jim Crow. Today it is mass incarceration.  Alexander’s book offers a timely and original framework for understanding mass incarceration, its roots to Jim Crow, our modern caste system, and what must be done to eliminate it.  This book is a call to action.”—Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO, NAACP

#5 This article from Matt Taibi in Rolling Stone Magazine

Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke

Matt-TaibbiMy feelings for the Obama administration has been documented now in both editorials and songs.  It’s actually nothing personal against the man, just the realization that he is no different than the 43 others before him when it comes to pandering and selling out the American people for corporate interest.  Few things speak to the hypocrisy and oligarchical control of this country the fact that executives from HSBC were caught red handed helping drug smugglers launder money (not to mention helping Iran move money) but absolutely no one from that organization even had to explain themselves to a judge.  The money laundering was so thorough that they literally provided the drug cartels with specially shaped boxes so they could slide their drug money to HSBC tellers more efficiently.  This whole scenario makes my blood boil (as well as Mr. Taibi’s) and I would call for the impeachment of the entire administration, except I know that no Democrat or Republican would have behaved any differently.  We have never had a problem in this country, with feeding peons to the meat grinder while rewarding the diabolical masterminds with more opportunities to exploit us all.  Someone from HSBC needs to go to jail. Yesterday.  If Rae-Rae up the street gets caught with 5 lbs of marijuana he is serving a minimum sentence, but if the bankers who help the kingpins launder money get caught, they just fine the company and say “don’t do it again”.  That is an absolute tragedy, and I am assuming that the rest of America isn’t as appalled as I am because they haven’t been paying attention.  That needs to stop now.

This is just the beginning, the beginning of the end of the War on Drugs.  It can’t go on forever, and we cannot wait until another generation gets fed into this meet grinder.  Educate yourself, then join us as we bring peace instead of this decade long war on the American People.

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