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Marijuana

Marijuana: The Facts And The Media Coverage

A Research of the Media Coverage of the War on Drugs:

Marijuana: The Facts and the Media Coverage

The "war on drugs" was announced by President Nixon in 1971. The media has

been there since the very beginning: covering this so called war with every means at their

disposal. Some feel that this media frenzy was caused, in large part, by the government

of the United States of America. Others feel- that this heightened media coverage is a

direct result of the consequences of drugs and drug abuse. For whatever reasons that the

media was there, the participants in this pro and con attitude that surrounded the "war on

drugs," used any platform that the media could provide them with to speak their thoughts

on the subject. The proprietors of these thoughts and words were people of all types.

They ranged from professors, to congressmen, to prisoners of the "war on drugs." All of

these people had something to say and the media was there to listen to most all of it.

In the following pages two opposite views about the "war on drugs" will be

looked at. Those who believe the war on drugs is effective, and those who feel it is a

gross waste of money as well as a violation of human rights. Also, whether or not the

media played a non-bias role in covering both sides of the issue. In particular, the media

frenzy that lasted from 1983 to 1987 will be examined. This period in the coverage on

the "war on drugs" followed a classic pattern of a slow initial increase in overall media

attention, followed by a shift in emphasis to subjects of broader interest. Then interest in

the drug issues increased sharply, peaked, and declined. I will also look at the role the

media played in the stages of the "war on drugs." From the fear that general America had

due to the large number of young adults and children who were smoking marijuana and

experimenting with mind altering substances, such as LSD, in the 1960’s. To the

springing forth of the federal government to stop the trafficking of illegal drugs. These

efforts by the government were followed by the education of America about the dangers

of drugs. This education was especially aimed at the children of America. Programs

such as D.A.R.E. and other drug prevention methods were unleashed on the country’s

children. Have they worked? If so, to what extent? Lastly I will give my opinions and

views on this subject, taking into consideration days and weeks of research on said

subject. A subject that some embrace and some denounce.

Some people have always been advocates of the "war on drugs." The media has

seemed to go along with these people more so than the people against the war on drugs.

Coverage by the media is naturally greater when the person applauding the war on drugs

is a congressman or someone else of high prestige. This side of the battle line believes

that the government’s war on drugs should be maintained until the drug problem in

America is eradicated. Even though these advocates are definitely pro-war on drugs, they

have no realistic illusions of the total eradication of drugs and drug abuse in the United

States of America. Given this knowledge, the advocates for the war on drugs know that

prevention is a very important part of the war. To stop the trafficking of illicit drugs is

just one of many aspects to fighting a successful war on drugs. First and foremost the

demand for illegal drugs should be halted.

The war on drugs has been effective in that it has brought to attention the dangers

and downfalls of drug abuse in America. This is due, in large part, to the media coverage

that accompanies the war on drugs. Tough laws and stiff penalties is just a fact of life in

getting this point across to the citizens of America who might use and distribute illegal

drugs such as marijuana. People seem to respect the law better when the consequence

and repercussions are made known to them. Mark Souder, a Republican member of

Congress representing Indiana, made known that the legalization of marijuana is not

supported by the American people. "Proponents of marijuana legalization are attempting

to con voters with deceptive referenda on medical marijuana. But marijuana should not

be smoked as medicine because it is a harmful and addictive substance that can cause

respiratory disease, mental disorders, and other health problems. Marijuana can also lead

to abuse of other drugs. The government should keep marijuana illegal and strengthen its

efforts to prohibit it," Congressman Souder wrote. Some people, like the congressman

from Indiana, feel the same way. The drug lobbyists ask for legalization on the platform

of marijuana for cancer patients and other sufferers of disease. The advocates for the war

on drugs feel that the drug lobby is exploiting the ill and dying to get their foots in the

door for the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana.

Some advocates of the war drugs actually feel that further research on the possible

medical benefits of marijuana should be considered, but people should never forget that

marijuana is a dangerous and addictive mood-altering substance. Marijuana proponents

are using a platform of medical agenda to legalize all marijuana use. Michael J. Meyers,

a drug addiction physician at Kaiser Permanente in Carson, California, stated in an

argument that this medical agenda of the proponents of marijuana would result in public

confusion and in poorly written laws such as California’s Proposition 215 initiative,

which made it legal for some medical marijuana use in the state of California.

Those against the war on drugs say that our prisons are teeming with young

people who’s only crime has been simple possession of marijuana, and that drug arrests

seem to unfairly target minorities. There is a reason for this. The war should first be

taken to the people who do not have the means or resources to fight back. To help the

law abiding citizens of neighborhoods who otherwise cannot help themselves. Inner city

populations, for whatever reason, are predominately made up by minorities. It may seem

that drug arrests are unfairly targeted at minorities, but this is a legitimate and important

campaign in the war on drugs. The inescapable truth is that getting drug traffickers off

the street protects neighborhoods against criminals, violent crime and social ills attendant

with drug use.

Mark Kleiman, University of California at Los Angeles, has made the statement

that: "Locking up a burglar does not materially change the opportunities for other

burglars, while locking up a drug dealer leaves potential customers for new dealers."

While advocates for the war on drugs consider statements like these to be absurd, they do

realize that more has to be done about the drug problem than arresting people. This is

where the media plays a huge role in the war on drugs. After all, when the governments

wants to influence it’s citizens, it does so through the mass media. The war on drugs was

designed by the government to, basically, reduce the demand for illegal drugs by

educating the public about the dangers of drugs and drug abuse. In essence the

government wanted to change the public’s attitude toward drugs. The battlegrounds of

this war include newspapers, television, magazines, and radio.

While the war on drugs was mainly forged in the early eighties, it’s roots go back

to the sixties. The public began to become concerned with the rise in popularity of

marijuana and LSD by the youth of America. This led to efforts in 1972 by the federal

government to stop the drug trade. In 1974 the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or

NIDA, was created and given the task of drug research and for developing treatment and

prevention programs. The research that the National Institute on Drug Abuse conducted

showed that American’s use of illegal drugs increased throughout the 1970’s. Not only

this, but public awareness of the dangers of drug use was low. NIDA needed something

that would reach young people and their parents about the dangers of drug abuse. The

"Just Say No" public service announcements were born. The media was now in alliance

with the war on drugs.

With the media behind them, the advocates of the war on drugs started to fight

with vigor alongside the largest media campaign for public awareness ever. The

proprietors of the war on drugs, mainly the United States government, realized that they

would have to get facts and figures to back up their claims about the dangers and

downfalls of drug abuse. They needed figures that would support their case: teenage

drug arrests, emergency room visits, and even deaths due to the abuse of illegal drugs.

Once again they turned to NIDA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, to gather this

information and, in essence, fuel the fire of changing public opinion about the dangers of

drugs.

NIDA sponsors three major epidemiological programs to collect information on

the incidence and prevalence of drug abuse and its health consequences. The first, which

monitors the drug-use patterns of the general public over the age of twelve years old, is

the National Household Survey on Drug Use. This survey has been conducted every two

to three years since 1972, and interviews approximately eight to ten thousand people over

the age of twelve each time the survey is done. Here, as an example of this survey, it

shows in 1985 that 70.4 million Americans had used marijuana, cocaine, or other illegal

drugs at least once in their lives. This was a startling figure for most Americans. Not

only that, but the survey showed that drug use had been rising every year since the first

survey in 1972.

The second program that the National Institute on Drug Abuse used to collect

information was called the National High School Senior Survey. The surveying of drug

abuse by high school seniors was thought to be a conservative, yet reliable, indication of

future drug trends among the adolescent population. The results of the High School

Senior Survey mirrored those of the National Household Survey on Drug Use. Not only

does this report show the changing trends in drug use by high school seniors, but it also

shows their attitudes and beliefs about drug use. It reports such things as how dangerous

and harmful they think drugs are, how much they personally disapprove of drug use, and

their attitudes on the legality of using various drugs in different circumstances. NIDA,

the National Institute on Drug Abuse, uses this information when it is designing

education programs.

NIDA’s third source of epidemiological data is the Drug Abuse Warning

Network, which monitors reports on people who come to hospital emergency rooms for

drug-abuse related health problems and reviews medical examiner’s reports on

individuals who die from drug-abuse related causes. These reports give the media

concrete evidence that drugs can, and do, kill. These three NIDA data sources give the

advocates for the war on drugs evidence to go along with their warnings. The overall

data consistently showed that awareness about the dangers of drug use was low.

Teenagers were just not educated about the harm that drug use could lead to. These facts

led to the development of one of the most effective tools in the war on drugs’ arsenal, not

to mention one of the largest media driven public awareness campaigns in history.

The "Just Say No" information campaign was designed to educate teenagers and

their parents. It was designed to make drug-free kids the norm in society. Drug use was

no longer to be seen as a rite of passage for America’s youth. Not only did "Just Say No"

provide information to the public, but it provided a slogan and a concept for national

public and private sector activities in drug abuse prevention. It seems that people need to

reminded of the social and health consequences of drug abuse. For this reason the "Just

Say No" campaign was incorporated in most all facets of American life. Television spots,

radio spots, newspaper spots, and even urinal filters were adorned with the messages of

the "Just Say No" information campaign. While the people who were for the war on

drugs thought this campaign, and others like it, would get the message across to

America’s youth about the dangers of drug use, other people who were not advocates for

the war on drugs felt that it was a propaganda campaign that was leaving out vital

information.

Some people like R. Keith Stroup, founder and executive director of the National

Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws (NORML), feel that marijuana

should definitely be kept out of the hands of youngster and teenagers, but responsible

adults using marijuana responsibly, and in moderation, will have less harmful affects than

tobacco or alcohol use. This lobby feels that the continued criminal prohibition by the

government of the United States of America is a wasteful and destructive social policy

that results in the needless arrests of thousands, even millions, of otherwise law abiding

citizens. Not only does this war on drugs lead to unjust arrests, it has proven to be

counter productive to treat marijuana smokers as criminals. Arresting people for

marijuana use serves no societal purpose. Rather it diverts important police man power

and resources from truly serious crime to arresting someone for smoking a joint. The

arrests of these otherwise law-abiding citizens has a terribly destructive impact on their

lives with regard to family, career, and social status.

It is not being suggested that marijuana is completely harmless or can not be

abused: all drugs can be abused, even the legal ones, so moderation is the key.

Marijuana used in moderate quantities by responsible individuals is less harmful than

alcohol and tobacco. "Today far more harm is caused by marijuana prohibition than by

marijuana itself," Stroup argued at a congressional testimony before the Subcommittee on

Crime, Committee on the Judiciary, US House of Representatives, March 6, 1996. Stroup

believes that marijuana smokers are no different than their non-smoking peers other than

the fact they don’t use marijuana. The marijuana smokers, for the most part, have good

careers, hold together families, and even go to church. They contribute to their societies

in a positive way all day long, but at night they become deviants because they smoke

marijuana. It’s time that we stop looking at hard working citizens as living on the fringes

of society just because they smoke marijuana cigarettes. They simply prefer marijuana

over alcohol as their recreational drug of choice. As long as marijuana is smoked

responsibly, it has less harmful side effects than tobacco or alcohol.

What exactly is "responsible" marijuana smoking. According to Stroup there are

a few rules and guidelines that can be used by marijuana smokers to govern their use of

the drug and to only use it when appropriate. First, and foremost, marijuana, and any

other drug for that matter, are to be used only by adults. Not only are drugs just to be

used by adults, but they are to be used by responsible adults. It is utterly irresponsible to

make cannabis available to children. Children do not drive cars, enter into contracts, or

marry, and they must not use drugs. Although it is unrealistic to think that young people

will never do drugs and alcohol, it is realistic to think that we as responsible adults can

guide and set into place a set of morals and a conscience that will shape our children into

responsible, productive adults.

The second guideline is no driving. The responsible cannabis consumer does not

operate a motor vehicle or other dangerous machinery while under the influence of

cannabis. This is common knowledge, as with any type of drug such as alcohol or

cannabis. When the lives of others, who have chosen not to use drugs, are put in danger

by reckless and foolish activities it becomes a problem to be dealt with seriously.

Objective measures of impairment should be researched and developed instead of relying

on chemical testing which holds unfair consequences to cannabis users. A marijuana

cigarette smoked up to thirty days ago can still show up in the body system since THC,

the active ingredient in cannabis, is fat soluble. On the other hand, alcohol is out of the

system in a matter of hours. This holds true for more serious drugs such as cocaine and

LSD, which are out of the system in a matter of hours if they were ever even there in

traceable amounts.

The third guideline for responsible cannabis use according to NORML’s

standards, is what is known as Set and Setting. This states that cannabis users, at least

responsible cannabis users, will not be afraid or apprehensive to say no if the mood or

setting is not conducive for an enjoyable and enlightening experience. The cannabis

consumer has a set of values, attitudes, experiences, and personality that should govern

when, how much, and how often cannabis should be used by them. The setting refers to

the consumer’s physical and social surroundings. All of these guidelines are important

for responsible cannabis users, but perhaps the most important guideline is to resist abuse.

Use of cannabis to the extent that it impairs health, personal development or

achievement, is abuse, to be resisted by responsible cannabis users. Some cannabis use is

harmful; most is not. It is all a matter of moderation. Of course this holds true for all

drugs, or anything for that matter, including alcohol. There is a war on "drug abuse", but

this has become diluted and has targeted all drug use, whether abusive or not. If

marijuana use is to be targeted, standards must be set to define abuse.

The fifth guideline for responsible cannabis use is to respect the rights of others.

No one should ever violate the rights of others, and no substance use excuses any such

violation. Responsible cannabis smokers always respect the rights of others, including

those who wish to avoid marijuana entirely: especially those who wish to avoid

marijuana entirely. This shows that there is a difference between marijuana use and

marijuana abuse. Those against the war on drugs feel that the distinction should be made

between the two, and the government should specifically target marijuana abuse.

Responsible marijuana smokers pose no threat to themselves or society and the

government should limit its involvement in their lives.

In 1973 the point was made that responsible marijuana smokers pose no threat to

society. Several states, eleven in all, adopted modified versions of decriminalization, led

by Oregon. These states continued to punish marijuana possession, but in way of a

citation that resembled that of a parking ticket. The benefits were obvious to those being

cited. They had no charge on their records and they were spared the indignity of being

jailed. This approach also benefits law enforcement, freeing up valuable manpower and

resources to attack serious criminal offenses. Nearly one-third of all Americans live in

states that have had fifteen to twenty years of real world experience with marijuana

possession decriminalization. The experience has been very favorable. Marijuana usage

rates, both those who reported using marijuana once in their lives and those who smoke

on a regular basis, are the same in states that have decriminalized and in states where

marijuana smokers are still arrested. The evidence indicates that we can stop arresting

marijuana smokers and there will be no adverse effects to the population.

Beyond the implications of decriminalizing recreational marijuana use, for the

obvious benefits it instills in society, the issue of medical marijuana use needs to be

seriously looked at. Marijuana is an effective means of overcoming the nausea and

vomiting that goes hand in hand with cancer patients and HIV positive citizens living in

the United States of America, or anywhere for that matter. It is useful in many spastic

conditions including multiple sclerosis, quadriplegia, and paraplegia. For some suffering

from epilepsy it is the only effective anticonvulsant that works. It also lowers intraocular

pressure in people who suffer from open-angle glaucoma. Many physicians find it

difficult to recommend any smokeable medicines. The obvious effect on the lungs is not

good when any form of smoke is inhaled, but the amount needed for most patients is very

small. In documented cases the benefits out weigh the adverse affects. This does nothing

to change the fact that the greatest danger of using marijuana medically is not the

impurities in the smoke. The greatest danger facing patients who use marijuana

medically is the illegality of the drug.

While public awareness has not always been high when it comes to the illegal

drugs issue, whether for medical or recreational use, it was almost at frenzy level from

1983 to 1987. Media coverage starting in 1983 may not seem very current, but the fact

remains that never since has the public awareness been so high as the years between 1983

and 1987. There is no doubt that this frenzy is sure to occur again in the future. The

period between 1983 and 1987 is probably the strongest model for what future media

coverage will be like as new campaign in the war on drugs take shape. Even though the

pattern that public interest followed in the drug issue mirrored that of other emerging

issues, the drug issue was subject to unusually strong public information campaigns from

the National Institute on Drug Abuse along with the exploitation of the issue by many

politicians who were up for national elections in 1986. While these influences were

enough to spark a general public interest it was accentuated by other accounts, most

notably the cocaine over-dose death of basketball great Len Bias in the summer of 1986.

This was the perfect fuel for the drug war campaigns to show just how dangerous drugs

could be. Not only that, but they could even affect a highly regarded role model such as

Len Bias. The national media coverage sharply declined in 1987. Of course in dealing

with things like this its mostly speculation at the reasons why this sharp decline went into

motion. Several reasons could be the motivating factor in this media trend. Things such

as overexposure and overreaction. Perhaps it was a slackening of drug education efforts

or media diversion due to other pressing news stories. History has shown that the drug

issue can transform and take on different forms. The introduction of new drugs on the

scene, the reemergence of an out of style drug, and the deaths of celebrities due to drug

related problems will surely come again in the future. The media will be there to reflect

the general public’s concerns and cares. Interests will peak and then decline again. This

roller coaster syndrome is most likely to never change. As long as humans have human

nature there will be problems of some form or another and, if able, the media will be there

to cover every last drop of the issue. Sometimes this coverage will be incredibly thought

provoking and sometimes it will be incredibly superficial and one-sided: Just as it is

today.

Whenever the media is discussed, the issue of privacy is bound to come up. With

the coverage of the war on drugs this has been no exception. President Bush has tried to

draw the line with his family on who is fair game with the media, and who is not. The

media seems to be getting mixed signals on family privacy. When someone is caught

with marijuana, they are arrested and they get a strike on their record. While this may not

be to the interest of the media, it is certainly a question of whether or not our privacy is

being violated. It seems that politicians would feel that a drug offender loses his right to

privacy, but when the subject was brought up in an interview with President Bush about

the underage drinking citation that his daughter received, he quickly made the point that

that was off-limits. He was fair game, and his wife Laura was "fairly" fair game, but his

daughters were both off limits to the prying eyes of the media and the public. Not to

mention the fact that Jeb Bush’s daughter was busted trying to get Xanex with a forged

prescription. Maybe since the issue has hit home with some politicians they will realize

that something else needs to be done about chemical abuse in this country.

My opinions on this issue are definitely in favor for ending the war on drugs.

With all due respect to the people who advocate a war on drugs, it seems that common

sense has gone out of the window and been replaced by some government agenda to

control the lives of, with the exception of their marijuana usage, law abiding and

responsible citizens of the United States of America. The average prison sentence served

in the United States of America for a murder charge is 6.3 years. The average prison

sentence served in the United States of America for a marijuana charge is 10 years. I can

not understand how this is feasible in any society. I have never seen any news coverage

on the fact that a person can rape another person and do less prison time than a person

caught growing one marijuana plant. There seems to be no common sense in the war on

drugs. More than 700,000 marijuana users are arrested every year: that’s one every 45

seconds. That is 700,000 tax paying, contributing members of society arrested every 45

seconds. Those people arrested are fathers, and wives, and husbands who must face the

shame and hardships of doing jail time and having a scar on their records.

The government spends billions of dollars a year on a war that targets substance

abuse. Despite the fact that billions are spent on this war, it is no harder to buy drugs than

it was before the war on drugs. The government ran an ad during the 2002 SuperBowl

that basically claimed that "if you buy drugs, you support terrorists." It seems to me that

if drugs were not illegal than there would not be a market in the United States for

terrorists who sell drugs. This commercial was the biggest bit of propaganda since the

Nazis in W.W.II. This ad has even sparked parody ads. In the parody we have a smiling

Mr. Bush saying, "This month I wasted $10 million tax payer dollars on a deceptive ad

campaign, and shamelessly exploited the war on terrorism to prop up the failed war on

drugs. C’mon, it was just politics." It is estimated that Americans spend $32 billions

dollars annually on marijuana. The amount of revenue that this could make for the

government, at six percent taxing, is around $1.9 billion dollars. Add the $1.9 billion that

the taxing of legal marijuana would generate to the billions of dollars the government is

already spending to fight illegal marijuana, and there is a lot of money. Money that could

be spent to fight serious crimes that threaten our personal person and property. Obviously

the war on drugs has done nothing to curve the use of drugs in the United States, so

maybe its time to try something else.

With all of this evidence on the table why is it so hard to change our wicked ways.

Traditions in America seem to be hard to break. Traditions that have been rooted for

years and years in our country seem to be harder to change than the color of the sky. The

Ku Klux Klan is also an American tradition, but we don’t seem to have a problem

condemning it because it is obvious that the ideas they forge are not for any greater good

of the society. Richard Nixon declared the war on drugs as we know it in 1968, but soon

discovered that curving America’s appetite for drugs was harder than say, breaking into a

hotel room during a presidential election. Thirty years and billions of dollars later, the

war on drugs has been about as effective as a Playboy article changing the minds of a

bunch of feminists. The fact remains that despite all the money spent on the war on

drugs, all the man power thrown at it, and all the public information campaigns that it is

no harder to go on the street and buy drugs. A war with no victories is a waste of time

and humanity. The bad thing about the whole situation is that even though there has been

no positive effects from the war on drugs, five presidential administrations have been

through the White House, even those who inhaled, and no drug reform has been made.

Only now with President Bush has drug reform even been put on the table. But with

anti-drug fanatics like Attorney General John Ashcroft, it is going to be hard for anyone

to make a difference. Never the less common sense seems to be taking a hold on some

politicians. Gary Johnson, the Republican governor of New Mexico since 1994, stunned

opponents and allies alike when, at the start of his second term, he announced that he was

in favor of legalizing marijuana, making him the highest elected official in the country to

call for a repeal of drug laws. "It’s on the table now," the governor says with pride, "and

its not going away. When I started advocating drug reform three and a half years ago,

sure enough, the polls plummeted. But I found that if you explain the issues, walk the

voters through it, they understand."

I feel that the best model for what might become in the face of marijuana

legalization is the repeal of prohibition. In 1920, after a constitutional amendment made

all forms of alcohol consumption illegal. Crime rates rose 24% in the following decade.

After a long hard day of bootlegging illegal liquor, the bootleggers could stop at a

roadside store and buy some nice soothing, relaxing cocaine. The cocaine was legal back

in those days and the liquor was illegal. It all goes to show just how silly the whole thing

has been. The war on drugs does not differ that much from the time of prohibition. And

like prohibition, surely we will someday come to our senses, and repeal the war on drugs.

This would make the obvious even more obvious that we need to put time and effort into

things like terrorism, not into ordinary Americans who do no harm to anyone perhaps

themselves.

Maybe our representatives are too busy worrying about missing interns to come

up with their own exit strategy for the disastrous war on drugs. If so, they should look to

some other countries, who are civilized nations, for inspiration. At the end of October

2001, England downgraded possession of marijuana from an arrestable crime to an

offense that merits a verbal warning. British authorities cited the "common sense"

observation that marijuana is far less harmful than drugs like cocaine and heroin. Similar

initiatives are already on the table in countries like Australia and Canada. Are we going

to be the last squares on earth? Holland, of course, is the most famously pot-friendly

country on earth, and an excellent model for decriminalization. Holland’s per capita

marijuana consumption is lower than that of America. The percentage of tenth graders in

Holland who have tried pot is 28%. The percentage of tenth graders in America who

have tried pot is 41%. A local health authority in Holland was quoted as saying, "we

have finally succeeded in making pot boring." This goes to show that if the item,

whatever it may be, is forbidden than there is much more of an appeal for it. We want

what we can’t have, and there seems to be an aura of forbidenness that surrounds any

drug in the United States. I believe that, if since the beginning of time women wore hats,

except in the privacy of their bedrooms, we would have magazines like PlayHead

Monthly and Busty Foreheads. If the top of a woman’s head is forbidden, then I want to

see the top of a woman’s head. The facts speak for themselves. They speak for

themselves so much so that many countries are following in the footsteps of Holland and

other pot friendly countries.

The drug trade is as old as mankind itself and has proved to be unstoppable. The

profits that this trade generates can either go to gangs and organized crime, or maybe

even terrorists, or it can go to private industry and government programs. The

government is going to have to realize that if all the dope, cocaine, crack, heroin, LSD,

and anything else that causes a favorable feeling in the user, is done away with that it is

not going to matter. Guys will go down in their basements and become like mad

scientists. They’ll figure out some way to get a buzz, and possibly make a dangerous

substance in the process. The point being that drug use is going to be here despite

anything the government tries to do to stop it. The drug use might as well bring a benefit

to the government. At this point in time the government simply seems to be making more

and more enemies in their fight for the war on drugs.

As for the media coverage of the war on drugs, it leaves a little to be desired in my

opinion. I’ve never seen Andy Wise do a "Does It Work Thursday" on the war on drugs.

In my experience alone, I have seen very little coverage of the war on drugs. When I do

see it, coverage seems to go strictly to the big busts. A tractor trailer full of marijuana

from Mexico gets caught at a weigh station, and I would hear a little about it. Coverage

seems to look primarily at the victories for the law enforcement, but never seems to cover

the failures. Surely there are failures among the drug war. All of the statistics can’t lie.

Yet I never seem to see any media news coverage that depicts the war on drugs as a waste

of money and a drain on society. Maybe if the message got out to more people then

legislation would pass more quickly, and we could pass this dark age in American history.

The world has had a long and meaningful relationship with narcotics. Why

should we put regulations on it now, and waste a lot of money? When the ancient

Egyptians were not too busy mummifying each other they were dabbling in opium and

cocaine. Scientists also have evidence of cannabis from pipes found in William

Shakespeare’s garden. Britain’s King James I, who commissioned the version of the

good book that we are all familiar with, ordered that hemp be grown by colonists in his

namesake settlement of Jamestown. The Declaration of Independence was written on a

hemp parchment.

In my overall research of this subject, I have found that the war on drugs is a very

big waste of money. Not to mention the fact that it makes absolutely no progress. Drug

use is on the rise and drug prevention in schools is a joke. The only thing I can keep

saying is that common sense has flown out of the window, only to be replaced by

law-maker’s political agendas. It seems we as Americans can not handle this issue alone.

Apparently we will need some help from other countries who have tried, and been

successful, at decriminalizing marijuana possession. I have looked at the issue from both

sides: those who advocate the war on drugs, and those who oppose it passionately. I

have looked at how the media plays an important role in making up the minds of the

American people. After looking at all of these facts I have come to the conclusion that

we are doomed to continue on this silly road to the hopeful eradication of all drugs in the

United States. Something drastic needs to be done, if for nothing else, the sake of this

country, and the future it holds for generations to come. The cycle of violence that the

drug war creates can only be stopped if the war is called off.

Bibliography:

Bibliography

Gaines, K. Larry, and Kraska, B. Peter. "Drugs, Crime, and Justice: Contemporary

Perspectives." Waveland Press, (1997), 21-35

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