On the Role of Government: Wasted on Pipe Dreams
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Author: Mikki Norris
Published: Wednesday, March 5, 2003
Copyright: 2003 San Francisco Chronicle - Page A - 25
Contact: [email protected]
As we prepare to go to war with Iraq and continue fighting terrorism at home, it is appalling that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration has chosen to step up the attacks on businesspeople by going after pipe- and bong- makers and sellers ("U.S. raids firms selling items used by pot smokers," Feb. 25). Where are the government's priorities?
Let's waste some more resources on "Operation Pipe Dreams"! The message the DEA and Office of National Drug Control Policy send by going after "paraphernalia" (pipe) sellers is that the drug warriors have too much time on their hands and too much money to spend. This latest move is another misguided action stemming from their policy to demonize cannabis consumers, and it shows just how intellectually and morally bankrupt they are.
The drug warriors raided last week all of the "easy" targets, including three individuals from the Bay Area as well as Chong Glass of Los Angeles, owned by actor-comedian Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame. But makers and sellers of artistic glass pipes and bongs are not the enemy. Our country is on heightened terror alert status as we head toward a foreign war that could bring even more serious repercussions to our shores. How appropriate is it to use law enforcement officers to seek out these artists, craftspeople and business entrepreneurs? Not at all!
It is difficult to decipher the DEA's muddled thinking: "Hey, there are some people using medical marijuana legally under state law! We better go after the sick and, oh, yeah, imprison all their cannabis providers! And take their pipes, too, so they can't take their medicine. Our national security depends on it."
"Drug Czar" John Walters is living in his own dazed delusions. He is so blinded by his mission to scapegoat marijuana users for society's ills that he cannot see that marijuana prohibition and the need to get tough on the smoking utensils is a frivolous waste of our tax dollars and law-enforcement resources.
Walters claimed that last week's raids "send a clear and unambiguous message to those who would poison our children: We will bring you to justice, and we will act decisively to protect our young people from the harms of illegal drugs." When will he go after the sellers of cigarettes? Oh yeah, I forgot: Walters' Office of National Drug Control Policy tells us in its ads that marijuana is more dangerous than cigarettes, even though there are no known deaths from cannabis and hundreds of thousands die each year from tobacco. And even though cigarettes have a high potential for abuse, have no accepted medical use and no medical value, they are legal and marijuana isn't.
"People selling drug paraphernalia are in essence no different than drug dealers," said John Brown, acting DEA chief. "They are as much a part of drug trafficking as (gun) silencers are a part of criminal homicide." Does this mean the feds will be going after guns and silencers? Not on your life. This failure of judgment -- being unable to see the difference between marijuana, which has never caused a single death by overdose, and guns, which kill uncounted people each year -- illustrates the insanity of federal drug policy.
Fear, fear, fear. Now, we must be afraid of these big, bad paraphernalia people. They are so dangerous. Another flaw in this logic is that many water pipes, carburated glass pipes, etc., are designed to cool smoke and increase the amount of oxygen taken with the inhalation to reduce potential harm from smoke. Without them, people simply use ordinary tobacco pipes or fashion soda cans, ink pens, apples and aluminum foil into pipes. Readily available, these methods may carry other risks, like exposure to aluminum. Will the DEA next go after stores that sell Pepsi, Bics and Reynolds Wrap to arrest the owners and shut them down? Anything can be paraphernalia, after all.
Get Walters and Brown real jobs fighting terror, instead of the outdated battle against paraphernalia. For the sake of our national security, they need to be removed from office.
Mikki Norris is director of Cannabis Consumers Campaign: http://www.cannabisconsumers.org -- which attempts to give an accurate image of people who use marijuana.
She is co-author of "Shattered Lives: Portraits from America's Drug War" (Creative Xpressions, 2000).
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