The War on Drugs is Perfectly NORML

(C) 1993 by Jim Hogshire

When they came for the Fourth Amendment I didn't say anything because I had
nothing to hide.

When they came for the Second Amendment I didn't say anything because I
wasn't a gun owner.

When they came for the Fifth and Sixth Amendments I didn't say anything
because I had committed no crimes.

When they came for the First Amendment I couldn't say anything.

* * * * * * * *

When we bemoan the horrors of the War on Drugs we always speak of how the
Constitution "is being ripped to shreds."  But even as we say these words we
don't seem to comprehend just what this means.  We just say it, and then,
having said it (among friends of course) we go back to demanding our cable
TV rates be lowered.

The truth is, our rights are not being "eroded."  Most have already been
eliminated.  And just like the above epigram suggests, your right to say so
will be the last thing to go.  When they start telling you what to say and
how to think, you'll know it's all over.  Sadly, that is what's happening
now.  The ever-powerful police state has modified its laws to the point
where it is downright profitable to go hunting citizen/suspects -- someone
who is growing even one marijuana plant, "loitering" too long in a single
area, selling "paraphenalia," or saying the wrong things.  The general
acceptance of the police state has paved the way for the "War on Drugs" to
expand -- to porno dealers, religious groups, gun owners, foreigners, and
"troublemakers" of every stripe.

This could never have happened without a stunning lack of resistance by the
people -- especially those who consider themselves at the forefront of the
Drug War Resistance.  We "resisters" have allowed ourselves to be stratified
and fragmented to the point where nearly everyone -- no matter how
supposedly radical -- agrees with at least some of the government's
oppression.  Pro-hemp people are among the worst offenders with their
explicit pleas to allow the government to "regulate and tax" hemp.  Faux
pro-drug luminaries like Terrence McKenna (_Food of the Gods_, etc.) go a
little further in advocating more use of psychedelic drugs, but would still
outlaw opiates and cocaine -- since theses are "hard drugs."  It might also
be that these folks don't happen to like coke or smack too much and are thus
willing to send their fellow man to jail in the hope that _their_ particular
drug will get the government's nod.  But the government only reluctantly
gives the slightest of nods to MDs and others with the proper credentials.

So far we have managed to believe that the various outrages (warrantless
searches, asset forfeiture, preventive detention, military troops enforcing
civilian laws, etc. ad nauseum) are temporary aberrations.  Somehow we make
ourselves believe reason will overcome this madness before it goes too far.
Or maybe we each think it would never get around to us -- after all, _I'm
not doing any harm_.  How could the police possibly be interested in me?
Well, they are interested in you -- and have demonstrated this time and
again by compiling huge databases made up of information on nearly every
citizen who owns a telephone.

The War on Drugs was never meant to alter anyone's drug use -- it was a
money and power scam from the start.  "Fighting drugs" has given our
government just the excuse they need to send troops to foreign countries and
to police our borders and even our cities.  The litany of atrocities is long
and runs the gamut from wholesale human sacrifices overseas, to the theft of
a few hundred dollars from a guy in an airport who can't immediately prove
it wasn't earned illegally.

And now they have come for the First Amendment.

A gardening supply shop just handed over $100,000 to the government rather
than prove it was not involved in a conspiracy to grow marijuana because it
had placed ads for grow lights in two magazines.  A famous author is forced
to use a pen name on his latest books because his real name is too
associated with drugs and book dealers often refuse to carry any book that
can bee construed as promoting drug use.  Even the word "marijuana" has
caused a gardening book to be taken off the shelves in fear of cops raiding,
then seizing the whole store.

When cops in Indiana ran out of names gleaned from confiscated garden supply
store customer lists and busted every hydroponic gardener they could, they
set up their own hydroponics equipment stores, charged low prices, then
calmly talked with customers while copying down names and license plate
numbers.  The monetary gains from this operation were measly, but the number
of people going to prison and the fear injected into the community as a
whole must have been worth it.

The War on Drugs has been highly successful in cowing the population, and
increases its control every day.  Once again, what is most disturbing is the
complicity of the people.  From turn-in-your-parents campaigns to NORML's
obsequious "legalize, then tax and regulate!" proposals, to the idea that
even marijuana should be illegal if it exceeds a certain arbitrary quantity,
even "libertarian" types are tripping over themselves to help the cops.
When we are not busy validating portions of the government's propaganda in
the vain hope that we will be spared a pitiful ounce of weed, the rest of us
are silent.

Today we live in a culture of fear and distrust, a culture that has taken
fewer than ten years to create.  The use of asset forfeiture laws was not
very commonplace until after 1985.  And the assault on speech only began in
the last four years or so.

First, there is operation Green Merchant (it still continues, after
collecting billions of dollars and destroying countless lives).  In 1987, Ed
Rosenthal first wrote with awe of some of America's pioneer indoor pot
farms.  Yet, he may not have realized that even though he and his fellow pot
smokers had moved indoors, they were still in harm's way.  After all, at
that time the courts still recognized some modicum of privacy rights
(helicopters were not allowed to hover just above a person's house taking
infra-red pictures without a warrant, for instance).  But by the end of
1988, nearly every state had mimicked federal statutes that not only relaxed
the standards for probably cause but also increased the powers of search and

These last laws have come to be known under the heading of "asset
forfeiture" and although they have been used vigorously in every state for
at least the last five years many people still express shock that such a
thing is legal.  What is asset forfeiture?  Basically it's this: The state
seizes property under what they term "probably cause" and then keeps it,
claiming it now belongs to the state because of a legal doctrine known as
"relation back."  Relation back says that once any thing, be it cash, car,
or bass boat is used in an illegal way, it belongs to the state from that
moment on.  Thus if you lend your car to someone who uses it to bring drugs
to a friend, the car is no longer yours.  This is true even if the crime
goes undetected for some time afterward.  That car belongs to the state and
if it ever alleges that a crime took place in it, it can take possession of

This legal doctrine is not new; it harkens back to the Inquisition when
those accused of heresy by the Church lost their property -- half to the
Church, half to the local secular official.

Normally, especially if the case is weak, the authorities will tell you to
kiss your property goodbye or face prosecution.  With the maximum penalties
we have all voted for (or at least kept silent about) who wants to go to
court?  Most people just grind their teeth and let the government keep
everything.  One wonders what sort of marijuana tax could possibly compete
with this as a source of revenue?

You _can_ get your property back.  You merely have to prove to a civil court
by "a preponderance of evidence" that the state is wrong in its suspicion
that the property was used in a crime.  Now the burden of proof is shifted
to the defendant, and it is a difficult burden to boot.  Preponderance of
evidence constitutes 51% or more (in the judge's opinion) of the evidence.
Probable cause requires only suspicion.  Thus, the state takes by probable
cause, then requires a higher standard of proof from you, the ex-owner, to
get it back.

Yes, this is the exact reverse of the doctrine of "innocent until proven
guilty."  But they get away with it because no human is charged with any
crime.  The case is against the confiscated property.  That's why you see
such cases as The State of California vs. $5,000 cash.  You see, property
doesn't have as many rights as people.  Even if you are acquitted of any
crime, your car, cash or bass boat will still have to prove its innocence.

By the way, this is nothing new either.  This legal fiction harkens back to
at least the 12th century when a kettle was once tried for murder after it
fell off a shelf on someone's head and killed him.

Obviously, this has made for some easy pickin's for state cops who often get
into humorous court battles with each other over which jurisdiction gets how
much seized property and bank accounts.  It also invites the government to
play even faster and looser with and "rights" Joe Citizen might have left.
Thus, we have "paraphenalia laws" that are sporadically enforced to scare
off certain people or to drum up some quick money.  Paraphenalia laws
spawned still other that make it illegal to even talk about drugs in such a
way as could be construed as "promoting their use and/or manufacture."  The
Analog Substance Act has even made vertain compounds illegal that haven't
yet been made or used by anyone.  Indeed, these drugs exist only in theory.
This last bit is truly a new twist on legal reality.  Even the harshest
medieval minds concerned themselves only with things generally recognized as
real and did not make that which did not exist illegal.

Now, search warrants issued on phoned-in "anonymous tips," "pre-trial
detention" based on a prosecuteor's allegation, probable cause based on
"profiles" that include several million people, are all commonplace.  Things
that didn't used to be illegal are now felonies.  In some states it is a
crime to have prescription drugs stored in anything but their original
container.  At least one dissenting judge noted this made a pill illegal for
the time it took to remove it from the bottle and swallow it.

The War on Drugs brought us our first true thought crime when it introduced
the idea of a _conspiracy of just one person_.  Unlike any other federal
conspiracy charge, the War on Drugs does not require you to do a single
thing in furtherance of your conspiracy.  In other words, if you
consider selling drugs -- that is itself a crimew.  For any other crime you
have to _do something_.  Today we are seeing the first cases where speech --
the transfer of information -- has become illegal.  If someone asks you how
to grow marijuana, you will be guilty of a crime if you tell him.

Good thing for me I don't smoke pot, huh?  Hope nodoby asks me how to forge
a prescription.  Or decided ephedrine is an analogue of speed.  Or decides a
novel I write inspires thoughts contrary to the State's interests.  This is
the application of "thought crime" and nothing less.  To police our thoughts,
the cops keep extensive files on anybody, and everybody.

In some states, each and every prescription filled is noted by a computer
and kept in an enormous database.  When, in the computer's estimation,
something appears "suspicious," the cops are dispatched to investigate -- if
not make an arrest.  In Ohio, cops don't leave such crucial decisions up to
a computer.  There, the police have free access to any pharmacy's records
and are allowed to even store this information at various police stations.
And urine testing has subjected the majority of Americans to lifestyle
investigations by almost anyone.  Scrutinizing pee yields all kinds of
information about a person besides "drug use."

Each and every person traveling on an airplane is now noted by law
enforcement agencies, and even small bank transactions are reported to the
government.  Police databases now make available extensize information on
any citizen.

So far, our attempts at solutions to this problem have been utter failures.
I think that's because they rest on asking the system to change itself in a
way that is clearly not in the interest of the system at all.  All this is
due to our silence and bleating for mercy.  And Big Brother loves bleating
sheep.  He loves the sheep who agree there is such a thing as a "hate
crime," the sheep who believe there are such things as "hard drugs" or drugs
that "really should be controlled" or that certain religious outlooks aren't
"real churches."  And of course he loves the majority of sheep who are
willing to part with "some of their rights" and convince themselves they
won't regret it.

The pro-hemp sheep are perhaps the worst of all.  They have even been
suckered into arguing for marijuana legalization on the basis of its value
as an agricultural crop!  About the only use for marijuana _not_ mentioned
by pro-hempists these days is that you can get high from it!  Pro-hemp sheep
love to tell stories about how the Founding Fathers wrote our Declaration of
Independence on hemp paper.  Some even go so far as to say that hemp can
_save the world_.  Please master, if you let use have our hemp, we'll back
up the rest of your oppression.  Here, you can even tax it, if you want.

But could the government ever expect to make as much money off taxation as
it already does with asset forfeiture?  In a world where a police dog
"alerting" on a stack of cash results in a jackpot, or possession of any
amount of drugs costs you your house, is this supposed to lure them into
legalizing pot -- the chance to regulate at a lower profit than which they
already regulate?

I know this is counter-culture heresy, but the fact is, no group has been
more complacent about the War on Drugs than the pro-marijuana smokers.  For
all their self-righteous jabbering about freedom, they do little to secure
it.  They buy 90% of the government's anti-drug line and heartily condemn
users of any other drugs.  _High Times_ now "hates heroin, alcohol, speed
and cocaine" according to a _USA Today_ interview with _High Times_ editor
Steve Hager.  "Now the only articles about heroin or cocaine you'll find in
_High Times_ will tell you where to get treatment," he says.  Once a million
circulation magazine devoted to all types of drug exploration, the magazine
now essentially agrees with the Drug Warriors that coke and "crack" are

In return, _High Times_ has suffered a concerted and sustained program of
harassment by the DEA, which systematically drives away its advertisers and
subjects it to threats of prosecution.  But its hypocrisy remains
transparent -- some of their largest advertisers are companies that sell
ephedrine and caffeine pills as fake speed.  Both of these drugs, especially
ephedrine, can be fatal in relatively small doses.

Some articles suggest _High Times_ has come completely under DEA control
when they run articles that teach growers to do their best to grow as little
as possible so, if busted, they won't be charged with dealing and face
stiffer penalties.  "If you grow, make sure you know the rules of the game,"
one article ends, "and play the games accordingly."  Is this the magazine
that published _The Encyclopedia of Recreational Drugs_?  Advise on how to
"play the game?"

Al Capone would be ashamed.

At least the coke dealers resist.  They shoot back at governments that shoot
at them.  They put prices on judges' heads, they blow away cops and spring
their pals from prison.  In our country, no one fears a sheep with a grow
light and a marijuana seedling.  What is feared is physical abuse and
death.  This has been the punishment for people with nothing to confiscate
for years.  As a result, in areas where the punishment is not asset
forfeiture, but incarceration, the Drug War really is fought with guns.
Mostly this is in the inner city and on a few rural pot plantations.  The
propaganda has so far been able to hornswoggle us with the lies of
"instantly addicting crack," PCP giving someone the strength of ten men, and
the general fear of colored people at home and abroad.

The fear of the "Other" has led us to seriously limit firearms (semi-
automatic weapons are supposedly favored by drug dealers when, in fact, they
are most-favored by police departments), endorse pre-trial detention and the
U.S. Army enforcing civilian laws (when will we have forced billeting of
soldiers?).  Oh, save us from those dark-skinned foreign druglords!  We have
now allowed our governemt to adopt truly fantastic "crime packages" that
include the death penalty for destruction of government property, mandatory
life sentences for small amounts of this or that substance and general
mistreatment for anyone deemed a "kingpin" -- an elastic definition which
seems to mean "anyone accused of having drugs."

Before it's completely illegal, I would like to remind everyone that tyrants
don't get disposed of by rational arguments or deal-making.  In the end, it
must become unprofitable and uncomfortable for The Establishment to continue
to wage their Drug War.  To this end it is obvious that mere talk is not
enough (but, by all means SPEAK OUT -- without that all is lost) but action
is required.  The simplest means of action is to turn the monster on its

As the drug warriors become increasingly rapacious, as their SWAT teams blow
away more and more innocent people, the public's perception of them is going
to sour.  So one of the best ways to fight the oppression is to bring the
war home to those who love it so much.  Why not report your kindly family
doctor for drug dealing?

Without much proddiing you can get the police to tear his place apart, and
perhaps ruin his practice.  The doc will see he has more to fear from his
government than anyone else, and so will all his friends.

Why not go ahead and help the cops with their turn-in-your-neighbor
programs?  Just make sure the neighbors you turn in are those with the
smuggest attitudes and the juiciest assets.  If those guys believe so
heartily in the fairness of our criminal justice system, why not plant a
little coke in their cars, then call the cops?  Throw pot seeds on a
politician's lawn.  As the richer-and-more-powerful discover the joys of
dealing with the man in blue they may come to listen to your logical
arguments.  But as long as they think they can escape the consequences of
their own police state, they will continue to back it.

Take a tip from the IRS -- terrorize just a few percent of the insulated
middle class and the rest will readily do what it takes to escape the same
treatment.  After a slew of millionaires lose their houses, and some regular
folks lose their bass boats and enough regular white folks see their
children off to ten-year stretches in prison for non-crimes, the Drug War
will cease.  But not before.

Otherwise, never miss a chance to expose the Drug War for what it is.  If
you have children, encourage them to challenge their teachers whenever
anti-drug messages come up.  Teach them to teach their classmates that the
teachers are lying.  You don't have to promote drug use to promote your
Constitution.  All you have to do is promote freedom.