enigma of drug policy is couched in a difference of how "harm"
is perceived. Societal leaders today have established a very myopic
way of defining harm. The way it has been since the beginning of the
Electro-Chemical Age is to invent a drug, throw it before the public in
food, medicine or something consumable, record societal reaction, and then
someone comes along, extracts it, copies it, decides it can be used to
make people feel good, and once it's abused by children, government
snatches it like a controlling parent, makes all kind of unnatural laws
against anyone for merely thinking about it (almost), possessing it,
selling it, distributing for sales, manufacturing or farming it, buying,
possessing the chemicals that comprise it, having receipts or bank
statements or other evidence that indicate the purchase of the chemicals
or any piece of equipment used in manufacturing, transporting, or selling
it, owning a communications device linking someone to a source...
Yet, it should make you wonder why on earth are there people still walking
the streets. That's precisely what the government wants
you to wonder.
years ago a shade of drab olive, the old schoolbus didn't seem like it was
going to make it through the snow to the top of the hill. It kept
slipping backwards and it once nearly toppled over. But when they
had gone about as far as they could go, the driver, a Latino man they
called Jersey, parked on an angle and the four remaining passengers -- two
men and two women in their 30s -- trudged out into the snow all bundled
up. The guys hung back, following the women as they wandered through
the winter wonderland. At one point, one of the guys, dropped his
gear and made a snowball and tossed it at one of the women. The
women scampered and screamed and after awhile at examining the trees, one
of the women found one she liked.
"It's too big!" the one guy
"But that's the one I want," the
It was a beautiful tree and nearly two
hours later, the five-member team had dragged the huge tree onto the bus
and they were off.
That night, the huge front room at the
bottom of the long, winding staircase of the Prescious Paradise orphanage
for kids whose parents had been sent to prison for drug-related offenses,
had turned on the lights of a 14-foot high Christmas tree.
There were 16 volunteers from the area who had spent nearly 8 hours
decorating the huge tree. Now it was nearly 9pm and the busload of
kids came in from the Christmas Party down the street. There were
"Ooooos" and "Ahhhs" and mummering. The
twinkling lights were reflected in the eyes of the excited chidren who
carried their treasured gifts. Then one beautiful African-American
10 year old girl took the box she had gotten as a gift and hurled it at
the tree, knocking it onto its side.
"IT SUCKS!" the girl
cried. "I HATE IT! I HATE ALL OF YOU AND I HATE THIS
WORLD. MY MOM AND DAD DON'T BELONG IN PRISON. THEY BELONG WITH ME!
I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WRONG...!"
After the girl ran up the stairs, some of the
other children threw their gifts at the tree, smashing branches and
ornaments. Others walked away. Some just stood there not
knowing what to do. Others cried.
The exhausted adults quickly tried to bring
the situation under control. Bob, a social worker, just stood there
like a little boy, his mind wandering. This was his fourth year at
Paradise. The work was challenging. The rewards, trivial. The
outcome would be one of uncertainty. Bob wondered. The parents of
these children were not violent, angry, dangerous or a threat to society
in any way. These parents were loving, endearing, caring, parents
who had been stopped in their tracks by laws that were brutal and
senseless. These children were lost because the lawmakers were
self-serving and destructive. It only Bob could reach out and yank
them into Paradise where thy could see the results of their
A few days later, the African-American girl who had
started the fray had been found in a closet. Her lifeless feet
dangled next to a ladder that she used to climb to her death. She
had taped textbooks to her tiny waist to pull her body down as she tied
and extension chord to a hook inside the closet. It was obvious that
the girl had struggled for some time before she succumbed to her
death. It seemed as though she might have changed her mind as the
tape around her body appeared to have been pulled at, as though she were
trying to free herself. She had probably tried to climb back onto
the ladder, but slipped as the chord pulled her away, she died, probably
thrashing about after her neck broke and she was unable to get oxygen to
her brain. There would be no funeral for the girl. Her body
was taken away by the coroner.
How do you tell incarcerated parents that
their daughter in the hands of the state had committed suicide?
Every time our government sends someone to
prison, they alter the course of history. They weaken a family and
the infrastructure of the US. Tearing families apart is what our
legislators do when they create laws that don't add any value. They
are selfish reminders that we are still barbaric animals with the
emotional propensity of our ancestors who lived in caves. A society
that is ruled by fear will spin out violence. To reduce
harm, we must start by reducing the laws that cause it. It's common
sense: In the Electro-Chemical Age, drugs cannot be stopped; but,
drug laws can. Use a period to end a sentence.