IN my lifelong urging that we think out of the box, I have long argued that marijuana must be decriminalized. On August 30, 1983, I wrote “Who’s Afraid of Mary Jane? The Truth About Marijuana” in Mr. & Ms.. I got pummelled and pilloried from pillar to post with mothers calling me to tell me what they thought of me and my ancestors.
My friend, Sen. Tito Sotto, says bring back the death penalty, routinely used in China but drug trafficking continues. Big time.
I would argue for probing legalizing drugs.
Why is marijuana legal in part of North America and elsewhere, like Paraguay and the Netherlands? Are they dumb or know something we don’t? Their sanity and humanity have not been questioned. My own sanity I lost a long time ago. But not 3,000 years ago — I don’t go back that far — and to date marijuana has not conclusively been proven as toxic. In 2734 Emperor San-Neng wrote in a pharmacological work that marijuana tranquilizes. (N. Zinberg, Sentence First – Verdict Afterwards, Book Review, 71 Harv. L. Rev. 1032, 1073 (1971). Hence, the decriminalization.
The user may be sick but not a criminal. Shortcoming is altogether different from wrongdoing. The user belongs in a rehab clinic, not a jail where he goes in a human being and goes out a brute.
If Dubya Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama had been convicted for using marijuana would they have become presidents? No wisecracks that Mary Jane occasioned or caused 1) going to Iraq, with its Guantanamo atrocities 2) romancing White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and 3) Obamacare and resuming diplomatic relations with Communist Cuba.
Cannabis Clubs proliferate in Spain, where they say “grandes males grandes remedios.” The greatest enemy of a major reform is a minor one. Justice Brown wrote: “It is the desire to earn money which lies at the bottom of the greatest effort of genius. The man who writes books, paints, picture, mould statues, builds houses, pleads causes, preaches sermons, or heals the sick, does it for the money there is in it; and if, in so doing, he acquires a reputation as an author, painter, sculptor, architect, jurist or physician, it is only an incident to his success as a money-getter. The motive which prompted Angelo to plan the dome of St. Peter, or paint the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, was essentially the same as that which induces a common laborer to lay brick or dig sewers.” So it is with drug traffickers. Criminalizing means there is money to be made – big-time.
So why not remove the profit motive or desire to earn money – in humongous sums – behind our drug problem?
Behind the move to legalize all drugs to remove the profit motive are distinguished names, George Schultz, William Buckley, Milton Friedman and other Nobel Prize winners (BTW, I like that one does not apply to be honored in Nobel; others, you have to write “please honor me naman.”). In 2011 a global commission report on drug policy signed by Schultz, Mario Vargas Llosa, Paul Volcker and former Presidents Henrique Cardo and Ernesto Cedillo said: “The global war on drugs has failed” and recommended “experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.” E.g., Time, April 2, 2012, p. 20, col. 2.
Again, drug users are sick, not criminals, and therefore belong in rehab centers, not prisons.
We ought to examine the Schultz-Buckley-Friedman alternative. Buckley was a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic. Decriminalize drugs. We may start with marijuana that is legally available for medication or recreation.
Prohibition did not work but only spurred bootlegging and Al Capone. Nicotine is decidedly toxic but we have just driven smokers to sidewalks and second-hand smoke is equally toxic now. But we don’t criminalize it cuz of the powerful cigarette lobby and the sin tax it stands for (Colorado gets a lot of marijuana tax money).
We cannot have society say, “aha, you are committing suicide on the installment plan. We’ll do it, and accelerate, it for you. We’ll have you branded a criminal, not just sick. We’ll ruin you.”
We have here a crime arguably without a victim. No need to criminalize what is at core a medical issue. The billions wasted on a war that cannot be won are better spent on a peaceful approach.
The scandal today in Bilibid is traceable to outlawing drugs. The desire to earn money. The profit motive.
In 2001, Portugal totally decriminalized drugs, with positive effects. It is only a small country of course and it may take a country like the US to lead the effort. It can start with Mary Jane, now legal in many parts there. Cannabis Clubs galore in Spain, as earlier mentioned. Uruguay allows all drugs. Switzerland has relaxed its laws on marijuana.
The new drive in Muntinlupa led one inmate to contact me to help prevent a transfer of some inmates to the NBI. But I could not go to the penitentiary because of the traffic. Imagine crawling last Tuesday on the SkyWay from Magallanes to the NAIA exit. And then again from Arcadio Santos to the toll booth area where they have ambulant collectors, another Only in D Pilipins entry. It seems to me the area should be doubled or even trebled. More booths, easier flow. No rocket science. Common sense. As is done in NLEX and other non-backwater countries.
My pal, Claro Mamaril, unheralded as one prosecutor against Rene Corona, passed away last Tuesday in Bacoor. I had planned to visit him in a Bacoor hospital more than once earlier but had to turn back. Traffic, repairs going on, lack of traffic discipline. Bacoor seemed like in another planet. In Las Pinas, I could see kin, 70, also in a hospital, but the other day the wife, my sis, merrily texted he had made utot, broken wind; farting could be such sweet sorrow.
The other day, Wednesday, I got a text that Panyero Raul Daza would go to a Bacoor funeral home (Samson, in Molina 3), where I was the night before. During his years of exile, Raul and Claro worked together in California. Claro was a quiet Unknown Soldier in the anti-dictatorship struggle but the patriot would not go unwept, unhonored and unsung, in our heart of hearts. He migrated in 1971 but relocated here for good in 2009.
May we all have the best and the finest the season of grace and goodwill and the coming year can bring anyone – in the country with the longest holiday season in the world.