in response to a reactionary pro drug war column by nationally syndicated columnist William Raspberry
William Raspberry is mistaken if he thinks the government has not been going after consumers of illegal drugs (column of Sept. 8). Records show that most drug law arrests and prosecutions have been directed against consumers. Indeed, in all of the "victim-less" or "vice" type of crimes, drug type laws have been the ones where the customer is most vigorously prosecuted.
Raspberry seems unaware of the large numbers of drug users serving jail sentences for mere possession, with thousands having served average sentences of ten years for having as little as one marijuana cigarette. Although marijuana penalties were reduced during the 1970s in a few states, the definition of "dug dealer is broad enough to allow or mandate a disproportionate jail time term for friends who pass a joint around in social sessions on private property.
Likewise with the rise in popularity of cocaine and the rise of political opportunists as Rudolf Giuliani, who find it advantageous to their political careers to set up elaborate sting operations and waste tax dollars prosecuting and jailing productive white collar coke users, our jails are overflowing. Although a minority of cocaine users destroy themselves with the overuse and/or misuse, millions of responsible productive citizens with healthy relationships with such drugs suffer daily insult and threat from the government.
I am dismayed that Raspberry fails to see the threat to civil rights posed by a government stirring up animosity and hatred towards peaceful minority groups of individuals. If Raspberry wants to rid peaceful neighborhoods of (presumably non peaceful) drug dealers, he would support legalization. There is no justification for the laws against marijuana and cocaine in its natural form, coca, which contains many nutrients and other alkaloids recognized as modifying cocaine's effects in ways that can only be described as good.
Legalization would not only solve or mitigate drug problems, it would solve or mitigate the disturbing increase in government powers over individual freedom.
Although history has shown conclusively that drug prohibition is doomed to failure, politicians seek more police state power to fight this war. For so many to be so blind or deceitful about this assault on civil rights and liberties is frightening.
DOUGLAS. A. WILLINGER
Blame for drug abuse misplaced to benefit politicians, big business
published January 4, 1988