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October 2000

Cease Fire In The War On Drugs-Yes On Prop. 36


By Stephen Simac

One of the most important initiatives on California's ballot in November is Proposition 36; The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000. The proposition will divert 25,000 non-violent Californians arrested for illegal drug possession into medical treatment, instead of prison.

It will also set aside $120 million annually to fund such treatment.

Because it's cheaper and more effective to treat illegal substance users medically than with law enforcement, Prop 36 is projected to save $250 million in new prison construction and parole costs in the first two years.

Ninety percent of the arrests and imprisonment in the War on Illegal Drugs are for non-violent drug possession, mostly for marijuana. Users are like victims caught in the crossfire of suppliers and destroyers lured into the War by the easy money.

Prop 36 will begin a cease fire. It is based on a similar law passed by a two thirds majority of Arizona which has already resulted in a sharp drop in crime, drug use and prison admission.

Naturally people whose jobs depend on waging or supplying the War on Americans who Use Drugs are panicky. They've started firing their big guns of Lies, Half Lies and Save the Kids slogans to persuade the voters to keep funding the slaughter of Users.

Along with every other county DA, except for Terrence Hallinan of SF, Marin's top lawyer, Paula Kamena opposes prop 36. Her unlicensed medical opinion is that the threat of incarceration is needed to force drug users into treatment, other wise they'll just party on until they destroy themselves.

Prison for drug Users is like Reno for gamblers. Eighty-eight percent of prisoners say they have easy access to illegal drugs, the rest asked the wrong guard. Kamena is facing recall for her refusal to do her job and follow state health law.

Seventy percent of Marin voters approved legalizing medical marijuana in 1996 for those who need it to relieve pain and suffering. Marin law enforcement is still prosecuting legal users. Like thousands of other government officials, they are addicted to power and drug war money, unable to think rationally or compassionately.

Putting them in prison for war crimes may be necessary to break their addictive personality. Although arrests for non-violent possession will continue with this law, they will be de-criminalized and made a medical problem. Most People are able to Use Drugs without problems, some people are self destructive no matter what they use.

This is a historic opportunity to Vote Yes on prop. 36. The War on Illegal Drugs dates from 1917, when the common medicines of cocaine and opiods were made illegal to use. In 1919 the Great Experiment of a dry nation gave military status to prohibition and built an army of law enforcement to combat the criminals lured by easy money in the black market.

When the people realized it wasn't working they ended Prohibition almost overnight in 1933. The phoenix of solving medical problems with law enforcement rose from the ashes in 1937 when marijuana was made a federal crime, as it had become in many states during Prohibition.

Since then, the war on people who use other drugs than government sanctioned ones has raged on unabated, with millions of victims caught in the crossfire. Vote Yes on Prop 36, to call a cease fire in the war on drugs, an important step to reduce the casualties. Vote for politicians who will restore our constitutional rights lost in the war zone.

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