The Times They Are a-Changin'

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Mar 24, 2001.

  1. By Thom Marshall
    Source: Houston Chronicle

    Change is on the horizon.
    Many have long been hoping that, like a rescue ship, it was on the way to our troubled shore. They have been broadcasting appeals for change, getting more anxious as conditions around us grow ever more severe, straining their eyes watching for signs of it. Others have been hoping that change could be kept away, believing it would not bring rescue at all but make things grow worse at an even faster pace.

    But it is out there, and growing larger, getting closer, confirming the claims of the sharp-eyed few who first spotted it months ago.

    Change is surely coming to the drug war.

    I admit that I couldn't actually see it in December, when local law professor and drug law specialist Buford Terrell predicted the big money-power barrier to ending or drastically changing the drug war would suddenly come crumbling down within three years.

    However, a great deal has been happening to sharpen the focus:

    Only days ago, Mexican President Vicente Fox came out in favor of legalizing drugs in order to eliminate the profits and violence that go with illegal dealing. Fox was quoted as saying that change in the drug war would need to be worldwide for it to work in Mexico.

    One story pointed out that he made the comments on the same day the movie Traffic opened in theaters across his country. Directed by Stephen Soderberg, Traffic is the fictional story of a man chosen to be our national drug czar, the post once held in real life by Houston's own Mayor Lee Brown (who has not recently been taking any sort of high-profile role in drug war issues).

    And speaking of Traffic, what a splash it is making -- major bucks at the box office and a handful of Academy Award nominations. More important, it has stimulated serious national debate.

    Traffic hasn't played in Tulia:

    I called the newspaper in Tulia to find out whether Traffic has played the Royal Theater in that Panhandle town. The woman who answered the phone at the Tulia Herald said it hasn't, but she expected it would because the Royal is a top-notch theater and gets all the top films.

    I'll be interested to find out how it does there and what the patrons think of it. Tulia, you may recall, earned quite a drug-war reputation when 43 residents were busted in a controversial drug sting. Much criticism has been leveled at the quality of the investigation. Since 40 of the 43 were black, charges of racial targeting led to lawsuits filed by the NAACP and ACLU.

    The lengthy sentences handed some defendants, and the many questions raised regarding the legitimacy of the sting operation, brought anti-drug war activists and news reporters to Tulia from all over the nation. The civil lawsuits and criminal appeals and an ongoing federal investigation are certain to keep Tulia in the drug-war spotlight for a long time after Traffic has come and gone at the Royal Theater.

    The movie inspired Ted Koppel to do a five-part series on his Nightline network TV program, and it is a hot topic in newspapers and on talk shows all across the land. It seems somehow fitting that a Hollywood motion picture could spark discussion and hasten drug policy change in the nation's capital, where screen actor Ronald Reagan once presided.

    Pat on back for drug reformer:

    Speaking of the Reagan administration, former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Schultz called New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson recently with an "attaboy" for Johnson's efforts to improve drug policies in his state. The Associated Press reported that Johnson said Schultz told him that they both shared the view that the war on drugs had been a failure, and that Johnson could tell anyone he wanted to that Schultz said so.

    New Mexico's legislature adjourned without legalizing medical use of marijuana and without decriminalizing possession of small amounts of it, but other parts of Johnson's drug reform package did pass. The measures would allow the administering of a drug to help prevent deaths from heroin overdoses, would allow pharmacies to sell hypodermic needles, and would expand drug treatment.

    Meanwhile, in Austin, our Texas lawmakers are actively considering a bill that would allow those arrested with marijuana to avoid prosecution if they can prove a doctor told them they should use it for medical reasons.

    Change is on the horizon.

    Thom Marshall's e-mail address is:

    Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
    Author: Thom Marshall
    Published: Published: March 22, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 Houston Chronicle
    Address: Viewpoints Editor, P.O. Box 4260 Houston, Texas 77210-4260
    Fax: (713) 220-3575

    Amarillo Globe's Special Section - Tulia:
  2. Ah yes! The times are a changin'. Slowly but surely.

    Way to go Mexico!

Share This Page