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"Who's Responsible?"

     The headline of a recent article in the ALBUQUERQUE TRIBUNE
caught my eye: 

"City councilor draws fire for talking about legalizing drugs." 
The Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety
released a statement in which he said that the City Councilor's
ideas were "irresponsible and a danger to the public's safety." 
The following sentence drew a letter of reply out of me:  "To
suggest that a change in government policy would somehow lessen
the plague of drugs is to imply that government is partially
responsible for current problems."

     The TRIBUNE published the following letter from me, omitting
only the sentence shown below in brackets.

     'This letter is not to imply, but to state as loudly and
clearly as possible that government is indeed "partially
responsible for current problems."  Drug problems, that is,
in response to your article in which the New Mexico drug czar
[your own very revealing designation] blasts Albuquerque City
Councilor Ruth Adams for suggesting that we need to sit down and
talk about legalizing drugs.

     'The government is responsible for most of the problem.  The
street price of illegal drugs is as high as it is, not because of
the cost of production and transportation, but simply because the
substances have been declared illegal by the government.  The
huge profit now available from such trade is what drives that
trade, and provides the incentive to create new addicts.

     'Every human society has found a way by which individuals
enter what is called ASC [altered states of consciousness]. 
Ingested substances provide a quick entry; there are other
techniques, like chanting, dancing, running and meditation.  No
government will ever be able to enforce a prohibition against
altered states.

     'The commitment to force is ruining the society.  Prisons
and law enforcement make up one of the few growth industries in
New Mexico.  Our neighborhoods have become war zones.  "Jobs,"
when compared to that immense government-supported profit
available from "dealing," look downright foolish.  The entire
arrangement is grossly unstable, to understate it.  [As Abba Eban
said (with reference to Israel's ongoing occupation of the West
Bank), "Coercive jurisdictions cannot be maintained."]

     'It is foolish to pretend that the illegal drugs are more
harmful to users than legal ones.  Alcohol and tobacco kill and 
injure more people than all illegal drugs combined.  

     'The attempt on the part of the government to prohibit
alcohol failed.  Attempts to "regulate" tobacco are in the
process of being negotiated away, and the substance which kills
more than 1000 persons per day will remain "legal."  In
comparison, marijuana has never been known to kill anyone, and
the fact that it remains illegal and expensive is partly due to
the fact that a very costly government agency now depends on that
"war" to keep its own budget up.

     'New Mexico's drug czar will be out of work, when the
foolish concept of "illegal substance" is finally dropped.  We
won't need to build any new prisons then, either.  It's an
ancient dilemma: "What will the preacher do, when the devil is

                        'Sincerely, etc.'

     "Coercive jurisdictions cannot be maintained."  Five little
words that summarize it all.  No wonder they omitted them.  They
make it all too clear.

Post Script:  Our other daily paper, which supports the
established powers that be even more abjectly than the TRIBUNE,
published four letters much like mine above, including one from
Tony Hillerman, along with a pro-czarist but literally
incomprehensible tirade from a drug-war "expert."  Maybe the worm
really is about to turn on this topic.  Perhaps it is time for
the establishment to change its mind.  The longer it takes for
that to happen, the more all-encompassing this unnecessary
tragedy will become.
* * *
Copyright © 1997 Harry Willson

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