published October 2, 1987 Westchester Gannett newspapers
Legalize the plant drugs Cannabis, Coca and Opium
William Raspberry is mistaken if he thinks the government has not been going after consumers. Indeed, in all of the victimless or "vice" type of crimes, drug type laws have been the ones where the customer is most vigorously prosecuted.
Raspberry seems unaware of the large numbers of drug users serving jail sentences for mere possession with thousands having served sentences of ten years for having as little as one marijuana cigartette. Although marijuana penalties were reduced during the 1970s in a few state, the definiton of a "drug dealer" is broad enough to allow or mandate a disproprtionate jail term for friends who pass a joint around in social sessions on private property.
Likewise with the rise in popularity of cocaine and the raise of political opportunists such as Rudolph Giuliani, who find it advantageous to theoir political careers to set up elabprate sting operation and waste tax dollars prosecuting and jailing productive white collar coke users, our jails are overflowing. Although a minority of cocaine destroy themselves with the overuse and/or misuse, millions of responsible and productive citizens with healthy relationships with such drugs suffer daily insult and threat from government.
I am dismayed that Raspberry fails to see the threat to civil rights posed by a government stirring up animosity and hatred towards peaceful minority groups of individuals. If Raspberry wants to rid peaceful neighborhoods of (presumably non peaceful) drug dealers, he would support legalization. There is no justification for the laws against marijuana and cocaine in its natural chemical form, coca, which contains many nutrients and other alkaloids recognized as modifying cocaine's effects in ways that can only be described as good.
Legalization would not only solve or mitigate drug problems, it would avoid the disturbing increase in government powers over individual freedom.
Although history has shown conclusively that drug prohibition is doomed to failure, politicians seek more police state power to fight this war. For so many to be so blind, or deceitful about this assault on civil rights and liberties is frightening.
D Willinger Jan 4, 1988 Letter Blame Misplaced