Smoke and Mirrors

A review (by an unknown reviewer) of

Smoke and Mirrors: The War on drugs and the Politics of Failure
by Dan Baum
$24.95. 396 Pages. Little, Brown and Company

Smoke and Mirrors traces the history of the contemporary Drug War which most people trace to the Nixon Administration in 1967. Through interviews with 175 people - including John Ehrlichman and Janet Reno - he traces the escalation of the Drug War and its effects: a reduction in civil liberties, an escalating waste of tax dollars, a gold mine for prison builders and drug testing labs etc.

Baum is extremely critical and argues that the Drug War:

  1. has never achieved the primary goal of making drugs less available;
  2. is responsible for the increase in drug related crime and homicide;
  3. has caused an explosion in our prison and court systems by imprisoning non-violent drug offenders under mandatory minimum laws;
  4. has increased the dangers of drug abuse without decreasing the number of addicts.
Baum, like myself, believes that the Drug War serves multiple purposes by:
  1. diverting attention away from more important criminal acts (e.g. Clinton's Welfare Reform Act of 1996, which, even by conservative estimates, will force another 2 million children into poverty);
  2. allowing the seizure of assets from the 70 million Cannabis smokers which are then used to finance further drug interdiction efforts;
  3. keeps the lower class in check through imprisonment and the threat of imprisonment.

Baum believes the War on Drugs actually has little to do with drugs and a lot to do with social control. In a recent High Times interview he was asked why he thought Marijuana was the least likely drug to be Re-Legalized - and he answered "because so many people use it."

Absolutely. A majority doesn't use it, but so many people use it that, with marijuana illegal, we have a 70-million-person "drug problem." If marijuana were legal tomorrow we'd have a 5-million-person drug problem. Our "drug problem" would disappear ... We've got an illegal drug problem. We can say that we have 70 million users of illegal drugs, and people think -- Well, that means 70 million crack addicts. Marijuana is used to beef up the numbers. There has been a conscious effort made to erase distinctions among the drugs, so that we can say we have 70 million users of illegal drugs. But what that really means is that we have 5 million crack and heroin users, and 65 million pot smokers. [High Times, January 1997, page 76]

This book is definitely on the right track and I highly recommend that you read it.

New Age Patriot
P. O. Box 419
Dearborn Heights
Michigan 48217

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