Monday, October 8, 2012

Drugs in America

In the last post, the article  "The Heretic",  described how drugs were banned and scheduled, including how certain drugs were prohibited, even from investigation, despite convincing evidence of potential  and promise, both scientific and  spiritually.

Many, many American's self medicate to one extent or another. Caffeine, energy drinks, nicotine, and stimulants, help many people prepare for life's events of the day. Later, alcohol, tranquilizers, pot, and sleeping aides help millions "unwind" from our stressful daily life.

NPR ran an article about the drug war recently, and I include it here:

When It Comes To Drugs, A 'House' Deeply Divided

Eugene Jarecki's The House I Live In takes a measured, multiperspective look at U.S. drug policies, which approach drug use as a criminal matter rather than a medical one.
Samuel Cullman/Charlotte Street Films
Eugene Jarecki's The House I Live In takes a measured, multiperspective look at U.S. drug policies, which approach drug use as a criminal matter rather than a medical one.
The House I Live In
  • Director: Eugene Jarecki
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Running Time: 110 minutes
Not rated
text size A A A
October 4, 2012
Drug abuse is primarily a medical problem, not a crime against
society. American anti-drug policy is a means of social control that's
rooted in racial and ethnic prejudice. The country's incarceration
industry has become a self-sustaining force, predicated on economics
rather than justice.
None of these arguments, made vigorously in The House I Live In, are novel; some have been advanced for decades, if not longer. But Eugene Jarecki's documentary assembles them deftly, with much help from former crime reporter David Simon, who left the Baltimore Sun to become the auteur of such mean-streets TV dramas as The Wire.
Jarecki, whose previous films include Why We Fight and The Trials of Henry Kissinger, approaches the issue from several angles. Much of the movie is a standard historical documentary, beginning with Richard Nixon's "war on drugs," but later rewinding to recount how such intoxicants as opium and marijuana went from accepted to outlawed.
This back story will not startle anyone old enough to remember the days when Reefer Madnesswas a regular midnight attraction at art-house cinemas. Drug-culture aficionados (whether users or not) have long known that various now-banned uppers and downers were once legal and even bourgeois. Most fast-food consumers have heard what the first part of Coca-Cola's name originally meant.
Former crime journalist David Simon used his experience writing for the Baltimore Sun to create the television show The Wire.
EnlargeSamuel Cullman/Charlotte Street Films
Former crime journalist David Simon used his experience writing for the Baltimore Sun to create the television showThe Wire.
The movie also has a personal element, involving the drug-destroyed son of Nannie Jeter, who used to work for the filmmaker's family as a housekeeper. Threaded though the twinned narratives is the commentary of Simon, who calls the treatment of African-American drug users "a holocaust in slow motion."
The emphasis on racial and ethnic persecution explains the movie's title. "The House I Live In" is a musical ode to a discrimination-free USA, co-written in 1943 by Abel Meeropol. (He also composed "Strange Fruit," the anti-lynching song that became one of Billie Holiday's signature numbers.)
Many drug-war veterans and observers, including active and retired police officers, appear on screen. But Jarecki keeps returning to Simon, who calls the U.S. "the jailingest country in the world" and Swift-ishly asks, "Why not just kill the poor?"
Class as well as race identify the people most likely to serve hard time for drugs, often under the "mandatory minimum" sentences that have made operating private penitentiaries a reliable business. Laws that treat crack cocaine more harshly than the powdered variety have overwhelmingly affected black defendants. But the burgeoning appetite for crystal meth has stuffed prisons with poor, mostly rural whites.
The U.S. has spent an estimated $1 trillion warring on drugs since Nixon's presidency, to little effect. Putting nonviolent, nontrafficking dope users in jail seems to serve no purpose. Yet it continues under both Republican and Democratic administrations. The House I Live In shows Nannie Jeter as she hopefully watches Barack Obama's 2008 electoral victory, but doesn't analyze the current president's apparent reluctance to significantly alter anti-drug policies.
Then, too, it's a fact that many Americans seem to want to see dopers go to jail, and not just because their imprisonment boosts the economies of prison-dependent rural towns and counties.The House I Live In doesn't discuss the popularity of harsh anti-drug laws, but support for them surely has something to do with fear of the vicious dealers whose crimes are grist for news coverage, cop shows and such lurid movies as the current End of Watch.
Maybe that's something Jarecki should have asked David Simon about.

Today, major drug companies have their own method for distributing drugs in America. Just as Madison Avenue have used the media to sell soap, they now use slick commercial ad's to push their developed drugs, they are trying to sale. In addition to the financial support usually offered  a long list of disclaimers remind us, that it is our bodies, that these legal drug experiments are being conducted. 
Drugs, both legal and illegal have an enormous impact on society chronicled by "The House I live In".
The war on drugs has been a failure. A prison and law enforcement industry has become financially dependent upon the 42 year continuing war. Because of the financial incentive, halting the  inertia of maintaining the status quo is difficult, and changing the strategy from a law enforcement to a medical health issue will be difficult.

No comments:

Post a Comment