Synthesis/Regeneration 13   (Spring 1997)

What Would a Green Drug Policy Look Like?

by Bob Brister, Austin Greens

(below#) Green Party in Germany & Cannabis

A Green approach to drug policy must recognize the following:

  • Drug use in itself is not necessarily good or bad, but depends on its context.
  • Current drug policy which allows the great killers, alcohol and tobacco, to be legal while criminalizing other drugs is grossly hypocritical.
  • People naturally seek a change of consciousness, as shown by children who spin around in order to get dizzy, archeological evidence that some of the earliest urban settlements in human history were centered around breweries, and the use of psychoactive plants throughout millennia by almost all cultures.
  • Drug addiction is a social and medical problem and should not be treated as a criminal justice issue.
  • Much of self-destructive drug use can be attributed to the horrible economic and social conditions many people live in. Thus, attempts to reduce destructive use must take into account much larger social and economic issues.
  • The "chemicalization of society" promoted by the pharmaceutical industry accounts for the much of the attitude that one should be able to take a pill to solve problems instead of examining and dealing with the sources of problems.

The drug war has resulted in the denial of appropriate medical care such as marijuana for a variety of ailments from glaucoma to muscle spasms to nausea.

The "war on drugs" is a massive global social disaster. The criminalization of drugs has generated huge problems:

  • Political and police corruption-from Mexico City to New York to South America, illegal drug market money buys favors.
  • Violence erupts from the Peruvian jungles to North American ghettos.
  • Corrupt elements of the banking industry launder billions of dollars of drug money, both foreign and domestic.
  • The drug war serves as a cover for counter-insurgency military aid to repressive governments from Mexico to the Andes Mountains.
  • While the rest of society is victimized by the drug war, police bureaucracies, judicial bureaucracies, prison bureaucracies, prison construction firms and their subcontractors, drug testing companies, Customs and Border patrol bureaucracies, dishonest anti-drug campaigners, lawyers, drug traffickers, and security firms benefit from the war on drugs.
  • Street crime and burglaries generated by the drug war victimize the general public.
  • Drug criminalization and its resulting very lucrative market provide a ready source of funding for illegal, secret wars, as in Indochina and the contra war against Nicaragua, fueled respectively by the heroin and cocaine trade.
  • The drug war has resulted in the denial of appropriate medical care such as marijuana for a variety of ailments from glaucoma to muscle spasms to nausea. People in severe pain and dying people, have been denied appropriate pain relief.
  • Good people are being imprisoned because of the absurdity of drug prohibition.
  • Politicians scapegoat victims of the drug war.
  • The drug war turns schools into liars who provide false and incomplete information to young people who recognize the lies and hypocrisy.
  • Hemp, an incredibly versatile and ecologically benign plant, is made unavailable for a wide variety of industrial uses including paper pulp, which could reduce or eliminate the need to cut down trees for paper. Many things made out of plastic can be made out of hemp. Use of renewable hemp fiber and fuel does not contribute to global climate change as does fossil fuel and deforestation.

A Green drug policy must meet several standards:

  • It must be compassionate. For drug addicts, that includes immediate and universal availability of treatment.
  • It must honor freedom and individual choice. That means drug possession and use must be legal.
  • It must not create crime-generating illegal markets for drugs.
  • It must meet the requirements of both harm reduction and freedom.
  • It must not infringe on civil liberties. It must respect the right to privacy.
  • Its educational programs must be honest. History and cross-cultural comparisons should be included in drug education programs.
  • Honest drug counseling about the factual dangers of drug use must be available on request.

In the 1920s and 30s, alcohol was prohibited-made illegal by a Constitutional amendment. Alcohol prohibition led to street violence, drive-by shootings, police corruption, and the rise of organized crime. Not surprisingly, drug prohibition has led to the same. Just as the U.S. rejected alcohol prohibition, so too will drug laws change.

Green Party in Germany & Cannabis

by Mike Feinstein, Green Party of California

The German state of Schleswig-Holstein is legalizing cannabis for recreation. ID cards to applicants 16 and older will be issued to reduce the contact of cannabis users with hard drug dealers. The ID card will contain no personal information, but rather will be used to collect data about the program. Under the program, ID card holders will be allowed to purchase and possess no more than 5 grams of hashish on their person. The German state of Hessen will tabulate statistics and evaluate the program so that their is little chance of the evaluation being compromised. If successful, the program will be considered as a model for legalizing cannabis for the entire country. The measure is supported by the Green Party and the Social Democratic Party. The model project is being implemented by the Schleswig-Holstein Minister of Health, Heide Moser.

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