busted: america's war on marijuana
Discussion

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thanks for a very balanced and objective presentation on an issue mired in misinformation and spurious self-interest agendas on all sides.

I would like to address what I have not yet seen in any discussions on this subject, that being the ignored yet significant benefits and life quality improvements often afforded to many cannabis users, and I don't necessarily mean its medical applications.

First hand experience plus outside accounts of cannabis users such as the late Carl Sagan, numerous artists and musicians, have led me to conclude that quite a large segment of regular cannabis users can attribute many of their accomplishments to their relationship with this plant. Yet little is said about this, I think, because its message greatly adds to the argument towards its legitimacy.

Many students and scholars have reported anecdotally to cannabis' ability to ease the learning of abstract concepts, such as string theory and astrophysics. It has contributed greatly to musical appreciation and creativity, and influenced many works of art considered classics.

The stereotypical stoner who can't remember his name is a real archetype as well, I will concede, but similarly one cannot refute the existence of the enlightened, cannabis-charged intellectual either. The well written compositions of others within this feedback session should serve as evidence to this fact. The "unattractive" truth has a need to be recognized.

One can not refute the presence of cannabis within virtually every civilized culture, past or present, that has existed on this planet, and almost always as a positive contributor to the respective society. To denounce this substance based on the flawed assumptions, made by a non-representative minority, during a relatively short period of a culture that has existed not even a nanosecond in the duration of all humanity is truly arrogant.

I am a proud, intelligent, responsible tax-paying American who maintains a healthy life and lifestyle. And I'm also a "heavy" cannabis user. The biggest thing I'm ashamed of is my hypocritical government and that through taxes I am forced to support those who do not represent my beliefs...even close.

Gregg Tong

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am 38 years old and many of my freinds smoke pot daily. I think your estimate of three million smokers is grossly underestimated. You should calculate the number of rolling papers alone sold in this countrynot counting pipes and you would probably have a much higher figure.They sure aren't rolling cigarettes! Also my freinds and their families might suffer the ravages of alcoholism, if it weren't for the calming effects of pot. Many spend from $400 to $1000 a month on pot. That is a crime!

Obviously there is an increasing need to sooth the modern stressed out mind or else Prosac, Paxil, Zoloft,Xanax, etc. wouldn't be sold in mass quantities. Also I know ther are millions of smokers who might otherwise eat marijuana if it were cheaper. What would be the main health affects then?

Finally most smokers keep their habit a secret and would never come forth to rally to free the weed because they fear losing all they've worked for and how it might affect their jobs or place in the community.

P.S. I once read an article in the Atlanta Constitution concerning how scientists had discovered receptors in the brain that were perfectly shaped to receive the THC molecule As if to say we are born to love marijuanaThat would make a good show or side note to this program.

Brian O'Connell

Dear FRONTLINE,

The day is coming when all the old ignorant politicians will be dead or drooling on themselves. The prohibition on Marijauna will end. It is too bad so many good citizens, parents, and families lives have to be ruined for those corrupt politicians pride. The war on drugs has been one-sided for now.

Ross Anderson
chattaroy, wa

Dear FRONTLINE,

It is a good thing when presentations such as that on PBS last evening are aired so that at least a continuing dialogue is engendered amongst thoughtful, well-meaning people.

This is not a new topic and I can remember marching in Washington D.C. in the 1970's and proclaiming much the same as is now being presented in this forum. My deepest regret is the monumental harm that has been caused to this country, to the people of this country - our friends and neighbors - under some misguided need to protect ourselves from ourselves.

Now, we live in times wherein we not only have not made any progress on this issue since the 70's, it is verboten to even speak positively regarding this issue publicly for fear of censure and vilification.

If that doesn't epitomize the irrational fears surrounding this issue, then what will it take? General McCaffrey is a junior league Harry Anslinger wannabe and that one thing which he should find so precious that he would give his life for it - freedom - is the one thing he is so zealous to forfeit for the benefit of you, I and the rest of America.

How long America?

Joseph Selby
Pickerington, Ohio

Dear FRONTLINE,

VOTE!!! If you don't like the status quo, vote the people out of office that support it! I wonder how many people took the time to respond to this webpage but do not make time to vote! Look at Minnesota ---everyone there was tired of the same old 'business as usual' and they voted in Jesse Ventura.

I feel that the war on marijuana is counterproductive and our youth will continue to suffer the consequences until something is done. I feel that the situation could be dramatically improved through the following provisions:

1 Legallize growth for personal use by requiring growers to be 21 years of age and buy a federal license: $50/yr.

2 Limit the number of plants in the household to a reasonable number; 5 to 10.

3 Keep the current penalties for selling marijuana and continue to be tough on sellers.

4 Make 1/2 oz. or less possession legal as long as license is in hand to prove that you grew your own.

5 Use the $50/yr license fee to support children's anti-drug campaigns with a new outlook of teaching TRUTH in all drugs including tobacco/alcohol.

This plan would put a major crunch on the selling of marijuana by driving prices way down to the point that it is not profitable to grow and sell; therefore, decreasing the sales to minors. If 5 million people got licensed for personal growing, $300 million would go to children's anti-drug campaigns.

Our founding fathers were brilliant enough to see that tyranny was possible in the future, so they emplaced a method of government regulation---BLOODLESS REVOLUTION----GO TO THE POLLS AND VOTE!

J.P. H.
Lakewood, CO

Dear FRONTLINE,

One aspect was missing in your wonderful frontline.

I was hoping that some interviews would have been performed in the Netherlands, where marijuana is legalised and very well controlled. What I wanted to know is the result of the policy.

Interviewing officials in Holland would have given a lot of answers to the questions raised in the US.

Congratulations.

John Cordier
East Haven, CT

Dear FRONTLINE,

I have done heavy research into the D.A.R.E program and its impact on the students it targets. The US Justice Department actually funded a study conducted by The Research Triangle Institute, which followed the effects of the D.A.R.E. program. The government reviewed the methodology of the research program to assure a lack of bias in the results.

Initially, D.A.R.E. was supportive and cooperative with the researchers. However, following the release of preliminary results showing D.A.R.E. has negative impactif any significant impact at all on the study group, researchers were terrorized by D.A.R.E. supporters. D.A.R.E. no longer cooperated with the researchers, which made their work increasingly difficult. Many researchers left the study in fear after receiving numerous harrassing and threatening phone calls in the middle of the night. Once the study was concluded, and after a great deal of evaluation all of which found the results in order and free of biasfrom the US Justice Department, due to hardline pressures from D.A.R.E. administration, the Research Triangle Institute's research became the first study to be fully funded by the Justice Department and not published.

My point is this, there is absolutely not a single professional, un-biased study that can authenticate that D.A.R.E. is effective in achieving its goal. Since the program began, more kids are using drugs. The program not only familiarizes students with drugs at an early age, but also provides them with exaggerrated half truths about drugs, and the students draw on that knowledge later in life when faced with the opportunity to smoke a joint.

However, the decisions many young people are making are not those preached to them as an elementary school child. They instead feel they are making an educated decision, because they have had the effects of drugs drilled into their heads since 4th and 5th grade, and they see that their friends are not the scuzzy morons who can't remember their own names depicted in the program videos and handouts.

I was involved in the first D.A.R.E. program instituted at my school when I was in 5th grade. I recall full heartedly hanging on every word Officer Wilkerson said. My friends and I made pacts to never do drugs, and to report any one whom approached us. However, as we went through intermediate, high school and now we are all in or graduated from college, the number of students from my class that have not ever smokeed marijuana can be counted on one hand. The subsequent classes at my previous schools have had increased drug problems.

Bear in mind, I do not condone the use by young people, I only wish to make a statement regarding use by young people.

Children must be encouraged to involve themselves with academics and other positive activities, rather than taking time away from academics to allow an uneducated "D.A.R.E. Drug Counselor" 'counsel' them on a social dilemma they have not yet developed, nor been faced with.

Melanie Auer
Houston, Texas

Dear FRONTLINE,

The pot law in this country is the result of a conspiracy between the Duponts, Mellon Bank, HearstWilliam Randolph, and Henry Anslinger and until you present this FACT you have not even begun to discuss the subject. That is what the prohabition of all drugs is about. If you remove the number of pot smokers from the "drug problem" numbers you have no drug problem.

The pot mythology is what drives the multibillion dollar Drug enforcement industry. Without it they have no excuse to exist. I find it interesting that it isn't called the Draino Enforcement Agency, because Draino is a truely dangerous substance.

C. Gambill

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am a substance abuse clinician. I work with court referred clients in an intensive out patient program. My efforts are best spent working with people who are addicted to hard drugs that really can ruin their lives; not nineteen year-olds who's parents found a half ounce in their kids sock drawer and flipped.

Based on my education and life experience, I don't buy the statement that marijuana is a "gateway" drug. I'm 46 now, and I look back on the wild days of my youth, and I can't help but notice that nearly all the freaks that I used to party with, at one point or another lost interest in being a stoner.

The same riotous youth that once skinny-dipped in the reflection pool at the Washington Monument during the May Day demonstrations, are now driving beemers, and making deals on their cell phones.

Lenny Brisendine
Richmond, Virginia

Dear FRONTLINE,

I disagree that marijuana is a "gateway" drug. My opinion is that tobacco and alchohol are the true gateway drugs. The majority of pot users that smoked pot when I was in high school had started out by smoking, dipping, and getting drunk. They saw adults getting drunk and they wanted to add to the mix by doing something Mommy and Daddy weren't doing.

Baby boomers have been raised in a culture that has demonized pot use but glorified the use of alchohol and tobacco. Americans seem to have lost the ability to think for themselves ... We have become very lemming-like by blindly believing what we are being told about the dangers of pot.

There are lots of things in society that present a much worse evil than pot use.

The amount of money that is spent on search and destroy missions for pot users is astounding. Ten billion dollars to wage war on pot alone? And it isn't working. Mandatory sentences and life imprisonment for pot use while murderers, rapists, and drunk drivers who kill people in automobile wrecks get reduced sentences and go free. Where is the justice in this?

I think that the reason that our government won't criminalize alchohol and tobacco is purely economics. These two industries put ten of thousands of people to work, they pump tens of billions of tax dollars into Washington, D.C., and it keeps attorneys busy litigating cases of drunk driving and lung cancer.

Why not change the laws concerning marijuana use until it is proven that it is more deadly than tobacco and alchohol? Either declassify marijuana as a "drug" or pass laws making tobacco and alchohol "drugs". Make marijuana available to the public and let our government regulate it just like tobacco and alchohol and collect taxes on it. Our government should legitimize marijuana and deal with it from an economical standpoint.

And release those people who are imprisoned and serving mandatory 10 yr. to life sentences for using or growing pot. They broke the law but they don't deserve this kind of insane punishment, not when the rest of the criminal element is being set free.

Steven Smothers
Green River, Wyoming

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am 23 three years old and I have been out of of high school for five years or so. I have been around all kinds of drugs for the past eight years.

I watched your show last night and thought it was great. One thing that I strongly agree with is the undercover cop who now deals only with Marijuana cases. He I thought was one the only one who was talking with a lot of common sense. Yes, the drug is illegal but I think it is in a catagory all on its own. This drug doesn't kill people and cause users to kill or rob a convience store to supply thier habit. I enjoy getting high but I also realize that it is illegal and it is still going to get you put behind bars.

Right now I am in the Navy so I can't smoke Weed unless I want to risk my future, but am I going to smoke it when ever I get out? Yes!

Some people say that weed doesn't effect your ability to work nor does it effect your ability to make judgements.

I like smoking weed but let's be serious for a minute. It effects your judgement and your whole outlook on how you see things. When I quit smoking pot for the military, I found the whole world got clearer. I found it easier to make daily decissions along with planning goals for the future.

I have no doubt that pot has an effect on you. I don't think that it kills nor does it tear up families but I do know the body is affected to the point where it should not be legal.

If pot were to become legal it would cause some serious problems. You would have people getting high and operating machinery.

I lived in California when the whole medical thing came out where you can smoke it if you have a docters note. Well I think that is one eyelash short of making it legal. I have friends who carry a docters note with them and they are my age and there are even some who are 19years old and have a note.

I read one of your letters and I have to disagree with one of the guys who wrote. Maybe I only see it through my eyes but I don't think it is additive. I smoked pot for atleast four years or so. There was times when I would get high for a straight month but then I would just go without for several weeks. I could just go without it and it would not effect me. But in some cases I have seen people smoke it until they are completely stupid. To the point where you ask someone their name and they can't think of an answer. So I guess I have different thoughts about it being addictive.

Pot will never go away in my eyes. It is only going to get bigger and bigger. One question that I would like to know is--take a look at Amsterdam. There is a society where pot is legal. You can buy it just like buying a cheeseburger at McDonalds. How does that country deal with Marijuana?

There are a lot of reasons why it should stay illegal and less reasons why it should become legal. Would I like it if it became legal? Yes, the price whould sure drop but I think in the long run it would hurt this country more then it helps it.

Steve link
El Dorodo Hills, Ca

Dear FRONTLINE,

If a person wants to use this drug then why not let them as long as they are not hurting anyone but themselves.

There are so many people in this world who want to control every aspect of everyone's life and would make decissions for them every moment of the day if allowed. Many of our rights are slowly being taken from us because of those who want to control all of us.

I think we should look at the real problem of being told what to do with every minute of our lives by others than to worry so much about someone who uses cannibus.

Dave Tyrrell

Dear FRONTLINE,

As always, I enjoyed your objectivism; you truly show that the Public’s interest is your highest priority. After watching it I quickly tuned into your web site to find what other information you chose to make available. Again, I found arguments from all across the spectrum: strict prohibitionism to decriminalization to scientific exploration.

I would like to offer these hypotheses up for further discussion and analysis:

... You are what you eat. Anything taken into one’s body affects their physical and mental states. Your physical appearance, your mood and your physical well-being are all affected by what is put in your body. This is plainly visible in the coffee that gives you a jumpstart on the day before you, in an unhealthy lunch at a burger joint that slows you down, in the pain reliever taken for your headache, and again in a large satisfying dinner that puts you right to sleep at night. Drugs are chemicals which fuel and feed our chemical machine of a body. Everything you put in your body is a “drug” in that sense. We are affected at all times, by single influences or in combinations, and by some in vastly different ways than others. As not all people tend to agree, they also tend not to agree on what is “good” for someone, and in what amounts.

All we know is what we know for ourselves. We are physical beings, based in a world that we know is there by our perceptions of it through physical senses. Individually we get to interpret and choose which senses to obey and which to ignore. That gives us an infinite number of interpretations and choices. There is no way to force someone to change his or her mind. There is no way to force someone against their will to interpret and choose differently without destroying their freedom. There is also no need to, so long as no one else’s rights are infringed upon.

Specifically concerning government policy on drugs, the preceding ideas offer this: It is that time when a self examination is in order. We must re-evaluate how our government has a say in what we feel, eat, and say, ever mindful that what I think and feel about our world is of no more or less importance than what our President thinks, is of no more or less importance than what the street bum thinks, is of no more or less importance than what you think.

P.S. I am a 23 year old college dropout. I have an excellent relationship with my parents, who disagree with my marijuana use. I and most of my friends have and would be classified as stoners, druggies, users and abusers if Drug Czar McCaffrey had anything to say. We all hold down $30k+ a year jobs, wave to our neighbors and shovel the snow from their walks. We go out to bars or local concerts to enjoy social life and hopefully meet that special someone. We support drug-free school zones, neighborhood watches, and our local fire department. We are the people you pass on the street who nod and tell you “Good day.” We are Americans who vote for people who have become far too disconnected from the majority of their nation. We are taxed but not represented. Wasn’t there a war fought for that?

Eric Henley

Dear FRONTLINE,

After watching your show tonite on this most delicate subject, I saw the online address you provided to us viewers and came to it. I am so amazed at the response I have seen here and want to say that these people are complete hypocrits.

I myself do not smoke "pot" and I just dont understand how most of these people say "the pot smokers" deserve this kind of treatment. I bet half these people replying here drink Alcohol, smoke cigarettes and drive under the influence.

People who tend to have such strong comments on this subject dont even know what they are talking about. I cannot believe that half the people that were shown on this documentary were sent to prison for 10 years to life.. It's completely INSANE!

What about people with DUI convictions? Most people I know getting caught driving under the influence get a slap on the wrist maybe 2 or 3 times, until it comes to the point where they actually kill someone while driving under the influence. This makes me so mad to see people support the government on controlling Marijuana like this and not control something way more dangerous like Alcohol or cigarettes. You people need to read the labels of the bottle you tilt over your glass and the cigarette packs you open daily... Maybe you'll see things in a different light.. But I seriously doubt it since it is legal...

tree miller
tampa, fl

Dear FRONTLINE,

I do not smoke pot, but I'm so glad you're tackling this issue.

At the moment my husband and I are awaiting a date for a civil-trial to determine the seizure of our home and property. He is a Vietnam vet who now has a medical recommendation for the use of marijuana, written by Dr. Tod Mikuriya, an ex-CIA psychiatrist who was on Nixon's staff during the first studies on drugs and vets. My understanding is that those studies were swept aside because they didn't produce the desired results, namely that marijuana could influence the "grunts" to be more aggressive.

My hubby and his lifetime friend a 3-purple-heart vet grew their marijuana without my knowledge, in one of the other buildings on our property. We were all comvicted of criminal offenses, though mine was in a separate trial from theirs. A medical defense was discounted because the law in Washington State hadn't been passed at the time. The upshot for me was that I was convicted of a felony even though essentially I only had knowledge of a misdemeanor, the misdemeanor being the use of pot. You can imagine what this did for my business as a private music teacher.

We had a suppression hearing prior to the trial, in which eight of the nine allegations against us in the affidavit for probable cause were excised from the search warrant. These were classified as "misrepresentations and omissions". Actually, they were lies, or more properly, "perjury". From the one last allegation, the one where the officer said he smelled pot, the warrant stood. I would never have believed the extent of abuse we citizens are steeped in, had I not experienced it myself. I'd love to tell you the morbid details, but you'd have to give me a day or two.

I believe that drug abuse is a terrible scourge to all of us, and that something constructive should be done. But the Drug War has become such a self-perpetuating and destructive machine that it has become the greater enemy. I always send people to www.lindesmith.org. for thoughtful ideas on changing the laws, and approaches to education.

We need to re-think the Drug War. Thanks again. Keep up the good fight. I will too. If you believe, it's time to say so, even if you put yourself at risk.

Signe Crawford

Pt. Angeles, Wa.

Signe Crawford
Pt. Angeles, Wa.

Dear FRONTLINE,

I believe the bottom line is whether we as a nation are going to allow individuals to be responsible for their own lives. There will always be individuals who will ruin their lives at least temporarily by certain behaviours. Decrimiminalized vice will always have a price in lives wasted. Ciminalized vice threatenes the entire society due to corruption, empowerment of organized crime and the increasing loss of freedom and privacy... If someone wants to risk their lives with dangerous behaviour LET THEM! Life is a learning process. Not a cradle with guard towers on every corner.

Greg Specht
San Jose, Ca

 

 
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