As First Published in the November/December,
How Strange Does
It Have to Get?
Why It Is Time
To Decriminalize Drug Use
One of the things
has made From The Wilderness successful has been our ability
to take bizarre and seemingly inexplicable events and,
our analysis, make sense out of them. FTW is a giver of "Ahas!" A good example was our explanation of
exactly how and why the Impeachment of President Clinton
proved to be such a tragicomic debacle. By laying out a
timeline we demonstrated clearly how Bill Clinton blackmailed
his way out of the Impeachment with a CIA report incriminating
George Bush and the Reagan Administration in cocaine trafficking.
By revealing connections between Ken Starr and secret 1982
negotiations that made it easier for the CIA and its agents
to move drugs, we produced many (still reverberating) "Ahas!".
[We will be publishing our first book on that subject next
FTW provides you
what we like to call a "map" of the political
and economic geography in which we live and move and have
our being. The result, we hope, especially in times of
or rapid change, is an empowering guide for clear-eyed,
intelligent action based upon truly informed choices rather
than frightened reaction or resignation and denial. We
agree with Thomas Jefferson that a well informed public
will almost invariably come to the right conclusion. You
and I both know what the problem with that equation is.
Let's consider some
examples about how well - by design - you have NOT been
Did you know that
August the Drug Enforcement Administration seized 40,000
pounds of sterile Canadian hemp seeds as they were being
imported for use as birdseed? The seeds (for more than
hundred years a principal ingredient in all bird seed)
less than 13 parts per million of THC, the ingredient in
marijuana that causes intoxication. Hemp and marijuana
in that hemp is not intoxicating. The seeds were incapable
of sprouting if planted. Using the same ratio, a non-alcoholic
beer has four times more alcohol than these seeds have
Is the DEA afraid that the seeds would be a "gateway" drug
to lead parakeets on to crack cocaine? In November,
after stunning humiliations, the DEA, which had undoubtedly
been acting on orders of the Justice Department and the
White House, through Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, relented
in its seizure order. But it still has not released the
Did you know that
all the plants on the earth there are none that have more
commercial uses than hemp, from clothing to food, to medicine,
to energy, to building materials? Did you know that commercial
hemp production would threaten the incomes of pharmaceutical
companies, synthetic textile makers, timber companies,
companies and paper mills? For a real eye opener I suggest
that you read Jack Herer's well documented and very "fun" book
The Emperor Wears No Clothes, now in its twelfth printing.
He has a standing $50,000 cash offer to prove him wrong.
Did you know that 7
states and the District of Columbia have voted overwhelmingly
in favor of medical marijuana?
Did you know that, regardless
of state laws, doctors and nurses routinely provide marijuana
to cancer and terminally ill patients in hospitals and hospices?
Did you know that Members
of Congress, led by Bob
Barr of Georgia, actually attempted to throw out and invalidate
a vote by the people of the District of Colombia (61%) in
favor of allowing medical marijuana? Brother Barr is still
working on that particular butchery of the democratic process.
Did you know that,
reported by The Sentencing Project this November, women
are the fastest growing component of our prison population
and that almost all of them are non-violent drug offenders?
Two thirds of them have children under the age of eighteen.
In 1986 the number of women in state prison for drug offenses
was 2,400. In 1996 it was 23,7000 - a tenfold increase
Did you know that in
1986 there were 34,000 men in state prisons for drug crimes
and in 1996, ten years later, there were 213,900? Most of
the men there now are non-violent drug offenders.
Do you know that
held corporations like Corrections Corporation of America
and Wackenhut (with a long and well documented history
CIA financial and management connections) house many of
these prisoners under contract to all levels of government
and that their stocks trade on Wall Street? The stock prices
rise and fall based upon the number of inmates housed and
provided as "slave" labor to the government and
Did you know that
naturally occurring byproducts of the opium poppy and coca
leaf are relatively non-addicting substances that have
in the general pharmacopoeia of mankind for thousands of
years with comparable (usually lower) addiction rates than
alcohol - especially distilled spirits? Did you know
that it is only the manmade chemically refined versions
of these drugs that are overwhelmingly physically addictive
for certain people?
Did you know that
these drugs were not illegal their retail values would
be hundreds of times less than what prevails on the streets
today? To paraphrase my friend, author Dan Russell whose
new book Drug War is a must read, "Go out on the street
and buy some cocaine. Easy. Now, go out and try and buy
a coca leaf. Impossible. Try the same thing with heroin.
Easy. Now try to score a little opium ball. Impossible."
Learn what has become obvious in the Netherlands and Britain
and Switzerland and Belgium and many other countries: An
addict who does not have to burglarize a house to get his
drug will not burglarize a house. He or she will go to the
clinic or to the doctor for a dose. A functional
will go to work, get a paycheck and pay for his or her
How many alcoholics are hard working and never miss a day
of work yet, stupefy themselves nightly to the great loss
of their families and friends?
Do you know that
governors (New Mexico and Minnesota), many church leaders,
a former U.S. ambassador, university professors and deans,
Nobel Peace Prize laureates, current and former heads of
state of many western hemisphere nations, the former Vice
Chairman of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, two former
one sitting U.S. district court judges and several
state supreme court justices have called for an end to
War on Drugs? They call it, quite correctly, a total failure.
Did you know that on
October 25, as Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey was calling for
$1.5 billion dollars worth of military aid for Colombia,
ten million - TEN MILLION - protestors took to the streets
in that ravaged country of out-of-control warlords, maniacs
and people defending themselves from U.S. inspired carnage?
They pleaded, begged for peace. Two million marched in Bogota
alone. Like Kosovo, Colombia is a home to the two most precious
commodities of the Twentieth Century - oil and drugs. It
is only in these nations, like Vietnam, that the U.S. selectively
intervenes and turns local conflicts into inflamed, infected,
pustulated and bloody profit centers where U.S. made arms,
equipment and consumer goods disappear into black holes
Did you know that
related asset forfeiture, without due process of law or
a conviction, is now a major component of law enforcement
budgets nationally and that the total amount of money and
property seized from Americans, without a trial, is in
hundreds of millions of dollars annually? Did you know
in 1992 L.A. County Sheriffs deputies murdered Donald
Scott, in a bogus drug raid, in another (Ventura)
county, just so they could seize his ranch? Coincidentally,
it was a ranch that Scott, on a number of occasions, had
refused to sell to the National Park Service. The search
by deputies, following Scott's murder, revealed no drugs
anywhere on the property, not even a sterile hemp seed
an intoxicated canary. Nor did Scott have any criminal
Scott's case is no different from thousands of cases each
year - just bigger.
Did you know that the
Senate, this November, in a long overdue response to the
unjustifiable discrepancy in mandatory sentences between
crack and powder cocaine (100 to 1), took steps to resolve
the conflict? Instead of voting to reduce mandatory crack
sentences to compare with those for powdered cocaine they
voted to raise the mandatory minimum sentences for powder.
They voted for more prison beds and labor for Wackenhut
and CCA rather than taxpayer benefit.
According to former
San Jose Chief of Police Joseph MacNamara, now a fellow
at the Hoover Institute, when Richard Nixon started the
War on Drugs in 1972, the Federal law enforcement budget
allocation was $101 million. Today, in FY 2000, it is $17
billion at the Federal level and, according to FTW Contributing
Editor Catherine Austin Fitts, it is $73 billion if you
include state and local expenditures and prison construction.
$73 billion is more than the annual budget of three quarters
of the nations on earth. Did you know that today drugs are
more plentiful and comparatively less expensive than they
were in 1972?
Did you know that in
1999, also according to Chief McNamara, there are 60,000
active case investigations of police corruption in the United
States involving one or more police officers?
Let's Get Personal
It is time to draw a
line in the bullshit.
Did you know that
Boje, a 30 year old California commercial artist who was
helping two AIDS patients grow marijuana for medicinal use
(after California's Proposition 215 legalized it) was arrested
for her efforts? When she realized that she, who had no
criminal record, was facing a Federal sentence of ten years
to life in prison, she fled to Canada. She realized that
the Federal Government has made her a pawn in its war against
all seven states which have legalized medical marijuana.
Just over half a millenium since the burning of Joan of
Arc, the United States is attempting to fry a new kind of
heretic. And the attractive Bojee is not a regular drug
user and the plants were not hers. Like Jean D'Arc
- as the French call her - Boje is becoming a messenger
telling us about cowardice and greed.
Her friends, two
patients Peter McWilliams and Todd McCormick, were arrested
on Federal (not state) charges, and told by the U.S. district
court judge that, if tried, they would not be allowed to
tell the jury of their need for medical marijuana or of
the California law permitting it. They have both agreed
to a plea bargain to avoid serving minimum ten year (death)
sentences in a federal penitentiary. Boje is now fighting
extradition on the grounds that she is a political refugee
and would be a political prisoner in the U.S. Does this
woman sound as though she deserves ten years to life?.
two young men near death from AIDS deserve the wrath of
the U.S. law enforcement establishment? I have filed an
affidavit in support of Renee's application for political
refugee status in Canada. [To read more about Renee's case
pick up the December 1999 issue of Glamour Magazine or
her web site at www.thecompassionclub.org/renee
Is all of this strange
enough for you?
I am going to explain
to you why the government of the United States of America
must go to any length to defeat and imprison a 30 year old
woman who was trying to assist her sick friends. When I
became a policeman I expected and wanted to face dangerous
and violent criminals, people who hurt society and their
fellow man. I'll be damned if I can see any kind of a threat
in these three. I see more danger and harm in those who
would persecute them.
Changing The Map Instead
of Reading It
Before I take a
on any particular issue, and before I even try to analyze
a problem for my readers I try to remove any personal bias.
Before I spout off further let me tell you where I am coming
from. When I was a Los Angeles police officer, specializing
in narcotics, I bought the drug program, propaganda and
campaign hook, line and sinker. It was easy to see that
heroin addicts committed crimes. It was happening all around
me in South Central L.A. I made more than 500 arrests
of "hypes" who were committing burglaries, stealing
cars, selling drugs, forging checks etc. Then I caught the
CIA dealing drugs and saw them have not only complete immunity
but the assistance of local law enforcement managers and
intelligence officers as well. In 1976 I attended a two
week DEA training school at which I was told the official
policy of the United States Government: "Cocaine hydrochloride
is less harmful than marijuana." I am angry
that piece of propaganda even today.
I have also written
more than thirty articles on the subject of substance abuse
for The U.S. Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. I was
its West Coast Correspondent from 1983 to 1986. I also wrote
stories on crack cocaine for L.A. papers when the epidemic
was just starting. I served on the Board of Directors of
the National Council on Alcoholism of the San Fernando Valley
for two and a half years.
I am also a recovering
addict myself. My drug of choice was alcohol. And, thanks
to a 12 step recovery program, I have not used a mind altering
substance of any kind - not even a beer or a joint - in
what will be seventeen years come January of 2000. I have
worked with and "sponsored" a great many addicts
in recovery from their addictions to all kinds of substances
from alcohol to crack cocaine to heroin. So I have some
experience on the subject and arguably no particular axe
So how do we explain
this strange - no, this BIZARRE - behavior by our government
and elected representatives? The only way to explain this
behavior is to see clearly that the United States needs
for illegal drugs, especially marijuana, to remain illegal.
Why? Because legalization of marijuana would remove the
need for billions of dollars in law enforcement and prison
budgets. Legalization would drastically reduce the price
and the huge profits would no longer be laundered through
the big banks. Remember that $200 billion in illegal drug
profits is laundered each year through American banks. As
FTW has documented so thoroughly in the past, that $200
billion supports Wall Street and many powerful special interests
there. Empires would fall.
Hell, people could
it in their back yards. When was the last time you saw
getting arrested for growing celery, or tea, or tomatoes?
What would that do to the stock values and price to earnings
ratios of drug companies who make a zillion chemicals to
help people eat after "chemo" or relieve glaucoma
or ease menstrual cramps? No, if marijuana were legalized
then the drug war would collapse, because if one great lie
is revealed then the rest of the basic assumptions become
suspect. And in order to keep marijuana illegal it must
first be demonized. If it has any redeeming value whatsoever
then the argument that it is "devil weed" falls
apart. Admit that, when smoked, it has unique medicinal
value and the whole structure of lies upon which the drug
war is based falls apart. No one has made this argument
more compellingly than China Syndrome author Mike Gray
his devastating 1998 book Drug Crazy.
Did you know that
the early 1930s, before Harry Anslinger and the Federal
Bureau of Narcotics demonized marijuana and hemp with a
propaganda campaign akin to what Hitler used against the
Jews, hemp was close to being a billion dollar commercial
crop and a major farm staple in the U.S.? Did you know
both Washington and Jefferson grew it? Did you know
that the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp
paper that would be illegal today?
Then there's the question
of the hard drugs. Not the ones God created in plant form
like opium or coca, but the ones that are hundreds or thousands
of times more potent and addictive that man created from
the plants, or, like speed, from chemicals directly. What
do we do with them? Well, after twenty-seven years, billions
of dollars, millions of ruined lives and murdered cops,
after horrible addictions and millions of crimes committed
to secure expensive illegal drugs, what successes do we
have to show for the War on Drugs?
The myth that by
drugs we will have eight year olds standing on street corners
injecting heroin is just that - a myth. In countries where
use has been decriminalized or where medical doctors, churches,
families, tribes and cultures respond to addictions with
treatment, the success rates are much higher - and crime
is much lower than in the U.S. There is a lot more money
available for things like Catherine Austin Fitts' "Popsicle
Index." And, as I well know from my experience in
trenches of recovery, there are many people who can and
do smoke the occasional joint, chew the occasional coca
leaf (or drink the tea) in South America and smoke an occasional
pipe of opium from the middle East to the Far East. There
are even some who occasionally inject heroin without developing
cravings or physical addiction.
exactly the same as for people who drink an occasional
have an occasional beer, or a glass of wine and then are
able to walk away leaving part of it unconsumed. Now I
written extensively on the scientifically proven addictiveness
of drugs like crack cocaine or smoked methamphetamine.
have detailed in FTW articles how the CIA studied the fact
that cocaine smokers in South America were sometimes lobotomized
(unsuccessfully) to treat their addictions. But the CIA
and the Rand Corporation (CIA funded) and UCLA scientists
also knew that not everyone who smoked cocaine became addicted.
What they found was that Crack cocaine was, however, the
most effective "addictor" out there. According
to some estimates it hooks almost half of the people who
smoke it more than twice. Thinking like the CIA does, or
like Wall Street does, what a perfect business venture
is that instantly secures a permanent market (via addiction)
of ten to twenty per cent of first time users and fifty
per cent of third time users.
No, the "problem":
medically, genetically, spiritually socially, is in the
addict not in the substance. To say otherwise is to say
that because some people are alcoholics then beer and wine
should be banned. from the universe. We tried that and we
got Al Capone, the Bronfmans, Lucky Luciano, Dutch
Schultz and Meyer Lansky and there was booze everywhere.
The time has come
decriminalize all drug use in this country, to regulate
it and tax it and thus to take away the power from the
warmongers. Within that policy, to give hungry farmers
access to a crop that was a U.S. farm staple for 250 years,
all bans on the personal cultivation of marijuana and commercial
hemp should be immediately removed. FTW's map says
that this is not only a sane and a rational step - it is
also inevitable. Not only will it result in more humane
and less repressive responses to social problems, it will
cut the very legs from underneath the financial criminal
plutocracy that now controls our government, our media and
our society. From my perspective, there's a case up in Canada
involving a 30 year old woman that may prove to be another
"shot heard round the world.." This case may not
be that shot, but there will be some other Renee Boje,
McWilliams or Todd McCormick that will. And that case will
compel us all to make a choice as to whether we favor timid
conformity with oppression or sanity, compassion and change.
I, for one, hope that case is right here, right now, in
Canada. Because to prolong these confrontations only increases
the numbers of people who must suffer in the meantime.
To quote Sam Smith
the Progressive Review (www.prorev.com), action on these
principles and on issues like WTO in Seattle allows people "of all stripes to come together and discover that
they have more in common with each other than they do with
their leaders." And the outcome of this one case may
well determine whether the most precious commodities of
the new century will be technology, intelligence, information
and the human spirit - or the ability to control and
Michael C. Ruppert