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In the months since I've been writing a column for Fabulously 40, I've developed a whole new healthy respect for the profession of journalism. I'm referring to those renowned daily columnists that must hold their reader's interest with their cognizance and articulation on a daily basis in the most read publications in the country, and even around the globe. To rise above redundancy, open new avenues in the thought process, and still remain current on issues and events without pummeling folks with almost ad nauseam detail is a feat. If we aren't aware of the perils of the planet, worry of wars, the emergency of economy, and the bungling of bail outs by now, we must be taking residence under a rock!
Being a writer of prose and poetry first, and a wannabe journalist second, this is especially challenging for me, even once a week. I surely don't wish to bore people with more of the same. We went through that in the two-year long election process. I must say, however, that period was a never-ending fount of something to rant about. I'm almost sorry it's over. Or is it? They're already projecting for 2012. It's a wonder anything ever gets done to solve the current dilemmas! I suppose you could say we are very adept at applying band-aids and erecting smoke screens to avoid real addressing of potential travesty. Re-election depends on it!
In my quest for a diverse column, I did a little research on PBS, Discovery, and the History Channel. With problems that are definitely current, definitely on-going, and my own burden of a pondering mind that often becomes my worst enemy, I thought to throw out a purely speculative theory and find out how others might feel. These crucial problems are not often delved into beyond the headlines and the more underground blogs. Yet, they are issues that could possibly all be related. I decided to live dangerously and rip off a band-aid or two.
Here's the overall picture. We have ever-rising rates of violent crime and gang warfare on our cities' streets; over-crowded prisons can't adequately deal with the influx; the criminal justice system is bogged down and nearly non-functional; budget deficits are appalling; local governments lack the funds for adequate law enforcement; the borders are war zones, and healthcare costs are soaring. Add to that, insufficient rehabilitation services and shortfalls in entitlement programs. Schools are no longer safe and an illegal weapon is easier to obtain than a college degree. Corruption runs rampant in government and agencies intended to serve.
So what is new and innovative about that, you might be asking yourself. We've been hearing about these problems for decades! And, that's the point. Why do they continue to worsen with no end in sight? What is the common denominator that weaves intricately throughout this entire big picture we are all so familiar with? I posit the answer is drugs – the illegal kind. Illegal drug trafficking and addiction is the root force behind all the calamitous predicaments we deal with.
Last Friday, December 5th was the 75th anniversary of the Twenty-First Amendment which repealed the Eighteenth Amendment enacting Prohibition. That is the only instance in our history that an amendment that simply didn't work was amended! Why didn't it work? Intoxication, after all was immoral and harmful to the American Ideals. Why did it launch the period of more criminal activity, mob rule, gang warfare, broken families, over-taxed law enforcement, crowded correctional institutions, bogged court systems, corruption in government, lost jobs and insufficient treatment services and help for victims than any other time in our young history? More importantly, is there any correlation to this period and the problems we face today in regard to illegal drugs?
Prohibition and the war on alcohol did absolutely nothing to deter folks from drinking. Conversely, it created a whole new underground of criminals out of hopeless alcoholics who didn't even understand their disease and even social drinkers otherwise harmless. It created the supply and demand wars that led to violence and mayhem, profit and greed. What did we learn? We learned that government failed miserably at legislating morality. Before you have a criminal, you must have a crime. Before you have a business incentive, you must have a reasonable expectation that there is profit to be made. Think about it.
We all complain about purposeless wars. We lament the billions and billions spent and the lives lost in Iraq to what accomplishment. Is the threat of terrorism or nuclear weapons less because of it? Yet, we've spent untold billions more over decades on a "War on Drugs" that has done absolutely nothing to solve the problems but rather, has exacerbated them. Is drug addiction down? Have the suppliers, now world wide, been deterred? Have the gangs that entice young boys and girls to take up the street life because the prospect of a good education and a good job are a pipe dream been curtailed? Have prison sentences for possession dissuaded the users, or worse, the main dealers and suppliers who never seem to be caught? Have tons of confiscations that seem to disappear in the corridors of evidence rooms interrupted the supply? Or just driven the price up? Have the growers in the poppy fields been offered a sustaining alternative that would remove the power of protection by Al Qaeda?
Could all that money be more wisely spent simply by removing the crime and additionally applying licensing, distribution oversight, and taxes to the sale to fund social services, restoring neighborhoods, health care, education and rehabilitation? Would growers given a legal status open up whole new agriculture opportunities? Would less burdened law enforcement, courts and institutions be freed up to deal with more abusive crime and corruption like assault on person and property or embezzlement? Would those crimes, too, go down if addicts were able to ask for and receive treatment?  Thought food, girls. Just thought food.      

Susan Haley, Author

**Susan Haley is the published author of two books, several articles on networking, editing and publishing. She's an award-winning poet, and the copy editor and book reviewer for Pepper Tree Press Publishing and book reviewer for AME Marketing out of San Diego. She also contributes a column to "The Florida Writer" the official magazine of the Florida Writers Association, of which she is Facilitator for the Sarasota County Chapter. The audio version of her novel "Rainy Day People" was recently awarded runner-up Finalist in the 2008 Indie Excellence National Book Awards. She also contributes a variety of editorials and excerpts of her work to various E-zines and newsletters and local papers.


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Midnightmom wrote Dec 8, 2008
    • Well, I think it makes sense to make hemp legal. There are so many uses for it other than illegal drug use. Heck medical marajuana is legal in my state, Colorado, but I guess it is still against federal law.

      In Alaska, you are allowed to grow 18 plants for your own use. I can’t see the feds wasting all the money they do, and jail space, on fighting the possession of marajuana as a crime, that’s for sure. But, where do you draw the line? Forgive my ignorance here, but do you allow the ingredients for meth, or meth itself, to be legal? Oh, that’s right, you can get that at WalMart, or any drug store or pharmacy.  

      Personally, I have seen where the citizens have voted for the legalization of marajuana, yet the law was not allowed to be passed, or honored by the federal judicial system. Yes, the money involved in keeping the possession of marajuana a crime is absurd.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Diane Klapper wrote Dec 8, 2008
    • Susan I agree with midnightmc.  I think that they should legalize grass.  I live in California a the people voted to make marajuana legal but it’s really not as far as the Fed say. It’s a misdemeanor for possessing less than an ounce. They also need to close the borders to help empty our prisons, have less uninsured vehicle accidents, and have more room in the emergency room for people who pay for their treatment.  I can’t understand why illegals get free health care why don’t U.S citizens?
      Boston Legal is on here now and I lovveee it!  It’s the final episode.  I’ll miss it so much. I love How they banter back and fourth about the Government and every other topic. It’s on for another hour so I must say Buy bye.worried

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Inakika wrote Dec 12, 2008
    • Also, hemp plants root very quickly and deeply, it would be quite beneficial for States like California that suffer from wildfires and mudslides after the fact. It would really help to sustain the hillsides and prevent further erosion.

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Dec 12, 2008
    • Well, from the three respondants, the concensus seems to be that if nothing else, at least marijuana should be legalized. Just that would save several billion a year and probably generate a few more in taxes. My generation used to call it Mary jane, or MJ.
      I will say this, tho I don’t partake anymore and haven’t for years, I’m one of the original 60’s hippies. :) I still have friends that are smart, professional, comfortable, and as healthy as anyone can be with age, and they’ve been smokin’ bowls for near on forty years and still choose that as their relaxation of choice. It being illegal never stopped any of them and they sure aren’t criminals! They are all productive members of society.

      The mayor of the small town south of me, yes the mayor, whose done some good things for the community got busted for growing six plants in her home! I’d dare say, that the agency arresting her was more corrupt than she was. They don’t want people growing their own because it hurts the dealers who pay them off. Sorry, but that just IS South Florida.

      I’m all for legalizing MJ and leaving more room to throw the drunk drivers in jail. Making something illegal does little to deter. Upbringing and character does that. I don’t NOT rob and maim people and property because it’s illegal. I don’t because I don’t choose to live that way.

      In addition, what many people don’t know is that illegal weapons and illegal drugs are usually coming from the same supply lines. OOoops. I think I just gave my personal opinion. A no-no for a journalist. :)

      Hope everyone has a good weekend.

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