By Meg Ramirez of Sandy, Oregon. Previously, Meg contributed "Keep it simple, stupid."
I got a letter today… A trip to my mailbox is usually anything but exciting, but I must admit I was intrigued by the yellow manila envelope nestled in amongst the usual bills and junk mail today. Its cellophane window and bulk rate post mark told me it was a mass mailing, but the return address cryptically said only: Walter Cronkite.
Walter Cronkite? Why was the venerable old newsman writing to me?
A more careful examination of the front of the envelope told me. It said: “It’s time to end the disastrous War on Drugs.”
How interesting. "The most trusted man in America" is advocating against the War on Drugs and on behalf of the Drug Policy Alliance.
Today, our nation is fighting two wars: one abroad and one at home. While the war in Iraq is in the headlines, the other war is still being fought on our own streets. Its casualties are the wasted lives of our own citizens.
I am speaking of the War on Drugs.
And I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara admits what is plain for all to see: the War on Drugs is a failure.
I raise this issue here on BlueOregon, because I feel it’s long past time for the Democratic Party to step up to the plate and stop this second, mad war that’s being perpetrated against our own citizens, right here on our soil.
But alas, the War on Drugs still consumes too much of our elected officials time, energy and resources. And it’s a bipartisan boondoggle. Consider this:
The Oregon Senate Committee for Business, Transportation, and Workforce Development will hold a public hearing today at 1:00 p.m. regarding S.B. 465. This bill, sponsored by the Drug Free Workplace Legislative Work Group, would unnecessarily expand the ability of employers to discriminate against state-registered medical marijuana patients. The bill would allow employers to adopt policies that would permit them to fire or refuse to hire patients for using their medicine in a responsible manner.
If this bill is passed, patients could be targeted for simply having marijuana metabolites in their system, without regard for when patients use their medicine, where they ingest it, or if they are actually medicated while at work.
The committee members are:
Sen. Rick Metsger, chair (D-26): (503) 986-1726 Sen. Bruce Starr, vice-chair (R-15): (503) 986-1715 Sen. Ryan Decker (D-14): (503) 986-1714 Sen. Larry George (R-13): (503) 986-1713 Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson (D-25): (503) 986-1725
Three “D”s and two “R”s. I think it’s really sad that one of the few issues our contentious delegates can agree upon is sanctioning hard working Oregonians who have a legal prescription for a medically beneficial substance. Those folks don’t have it hard enough, right? They must suffer from cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, severe pain or nausea, seizures, or persistent muscle spasms to be granted a medical marijuana card – a prescription, if you will – and they’re still working or trying to find work. So let’s put ‘em on the unemployment line. How compassionate. And gee, it’s only a short hop from the unemployment line to public assistance. How intelligent.
A recent post here on BlueOregon objected to the proposal by Republican Representative Wayne Krieger to drug-test legislators. It inspired many comments, both for and against, this idea. Overwhelmingly though, most of those on the “pro” side, appeared to want it as a matter of equity. That is, if we, the people, must be subjected to drug testing, so should those who deem it appropriate to create, monitor and/or enforce such tests – such as politicians, policy setters, cops, judges, and doctors. Very few progressives seem to be in favor of forcing people to pee in a cup – especially when it might actually affect them.
What I also got from that discussion, was a general lack of knowledge of the whole issue by many. People seemed not to know how insidious drug testing has become. Here’s just one example:
“Narcotic Contracts” have become common practice at both the VA and with many Medicaid providers. These contracts demand that a patient who is prescribed Schedule II narcotics must submit to random, “blanket” drug tests, that check for everything from marijuana right up to meth, regardless of what the patient is being treated for. Veterans, who’ve served their country bravely are being cut off from the legally prescribed opiates they need to fight intractable pain, simply because they smoked a joint – usually used also to battle their chronic symptoms.
This policy is gaining widespread popularity because doctors are seeking to indemnify themselves against prosecution by an overzealous DEA. And it is but one of the many examples of those that have been victimized by this costly, ineffective and indiscriminate war.
Mr. Cronkite also wrote:
When I wanted to learn the truth about the War on Drugs, I took the same approach I did to the war on Vietnam: I hit the streets and reported the story myself. I sought out the people whose lives this war has affected.
I urge all Progressives, Democrats, and freethinking people to join me, “Uncle Walter,” and so many others in speaking up against this failed War on Drugs. Do some research. Peruse some web sites. Seek out the people whose lives this war has affected. Learn their tragic stories. Politicians know the War on Drugs is a failure that is ruining lives. We need to have the courage and conviction to tell it “the way it is,” as Mr. Cronkite wrote, without regard for the consequences or controversy that may ensue. And then we need to change it.
Special thanks to Nathan Miller, MPP legislative analyst, for the heads-up on S.B. 465. I urge you to call or contact committee members to protest this unnecessary and harmful legislation.