The 1936 anti-drug movie "Tell Your Children" - more commonly known as "Reefer Madness" - fol-lows the destructive paths of several young people who become "addict-ed" to marijuana through wild par-ties thrown by pushers.
Looking back on the movie with the knowledge we have today of the effects of marijuana, "Tell Your Children" is more of a joke than a cautionary tale about the dangers of drug use. We have a feeling lat-er generations will think the same thing about some of the ways gov-ernments are attempting to fight the so-called "war on drugs" today.
A cold sufferer can no longer stop by the corner drug store and pick up the most effective decongestant. Many popular brands contain a key ingredient that can be used in cooking methamphetamine so the feds have restricted the amount a person can buy at one time. Stores now must keep it behind the phar-macy counter and make people ask for it.
In place for a few years now, the restrictions haven't lowered the amount of meth on the streets. As an effective tool in reducing U.S. drug use, it has been a failure.Another government attempt to cut down on drug use has been laws that ban the sale of "drug par-aphernalia." Of course, pot smok-ing hasn't gone away. Users simply found other common objects that could be used. Banning things doesn't keep them from people who want them. But governments never seem to learn this lesson.
Now Chicago's City Council is considering a ban on the use sale and possession of tiny self-sealing plastic bags often used to package small quantities of drugs. Accord-ing to a news report in the Chicago Sun-Times, Alderman Robert Fio-retti got the idea for the ban after he picked up a dozen or so bags off the ground in a stroll through a city park. He wrote the ordinance and is guiding it through the City Coun-cil.
Language in the proposal would outlaw "self-sealing plastic bags un-der two inches in either height or width." Setting aside the previously men-tioned fact that bans don't work, the next problem is that the law would be easy to circumvent. A blogger dis-cussing the issue on one site wrote that now he'd have to start buying his drugs in larger quantities.One council member expressed concern that innocent people could be caught up in the ban. He told the members that similar bags are used to hold extra buttons and jewelry. Crafters and other hobbyists use them to store small items they use.
Not to worry, he was told, lan-guage in the bill says '"one reason-ably should know that such items will be or are being used' to pack-age, transfer, deliver or store a con-trolled substance," the Sun-Times story said. Store clerks will appar-ently be asked to be mind readers and discern the future uses of the bags they sell, and if they're wrong, they face $1,500 fines.
In a stunning display that those running the drug war don't have a clue, Lt. Kevin Navarro, who heads up the Chicago Police Department's Narcotics and Gang Unit, called the proposal an '"important tool' to go after grocery stores, health food stores and other businesses." That's a relief; grocery stores are such an important link in the drug trade. Another council member backed the ban, saying it's a desperate mea-sure to address what he called "the most destructive force" in the city's neighborhoods.
He almost has it right. "The most destructive force" in his city and others isn't drugs; it's the drug war that drives up the price of drugs and makes dealing them so attractive to criminal elements.The drug war isn't working. It's time for officials to stop worrying about being tagged with the soft-on-crime label and take courageous steps to re-evaluate a failed policy.
Pubdate: Tue, 11 Mar 2008
Source: Jacksonville Daily News (NC)
Copyright: 2008 Jacksonville Daily News