AUDIO FILE: FEDERAL "DRUG CZAR" PRESS CONFERENCE.
U.S. Drug Czar, John P. Walters of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, visited Portland today as part of the White House's "25 Cities Initiative" National Tour, seeking to reduce substance abuse in America's largest cities. According to the press packet, "in most communities in America, the drug problem is being actively addressed by federal, state and local agencies and organizations, but too often, their efforts do not work in concert with each other. This initative will seek to coordinate and focus these efforts in achieving shared goals."
U.S. Drug Czar, John P. Walters of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, visited Portland today as part of the White House's "25 Cities Initiative" National Tour, seeking to reduce substance abuse in America's largest cities.|
The News Conference was hosted by Judy Cushing, president of the Oregon Partnership, a state wide non profit. After introducing Portland Police Chief Mark Kroeker for a few brief comments, she then expounded a little on the "25 Cities Initiative," which is a local approach to a national problem. "In Portland leaders have meet over the last month to look at the most salient issues facing the community. They have addressed and identified three local initiatives they will focus their attention on." The first is Meth education, which has to do with pre cursor chemicals; the second "has everthing to do with the education of the public, schools and parents and community leaders about the angers associated with marijuana. Marijuana today is much different the marijuana of yesterday, and young people are being harmed; the third initiative has to do with parents, and the fact that parents are the most powerful influencing factor in childrens lives."
At this point John Walters gave his remarks for about 5 minutes and then opened the floor for questions from the media.
This file, including introductions and Q & A is about 40 minutes in length.
John P. Walters
Rather than give a synopsis of John Walter's remarks, I'll let the audio file of the News Conference supply that information. But, in my opinion, some comments need to be made about the Conference. Though asking the news media to take part in the efforts to lessen substance abuse in this country, no mention was made of the culture of legal drug use prevalent in this country, due in no small part to the activities of the media.. Quite often the first thing a doctor does is to prescribe drugs; televison ads offer chemical relief for everything from osteoporosis to arthritis; movies and televison air programs which glorify both drugs and the drug life style. Add to this the enormous power of the drug companies, and we have a climate which is moving in the oppposite direction from lessening drug use and abuse. In this climate, discouraging the youth to walk that road is a formidable task, especially if this isn't acknowledged at the outset.
During the Q & A period, he criticizes a manipulation of sick and crippled people by those whose agenda is only to legalize ALL drugs. How he knows this wasn't revealed. I find it incredible that he can assign these alterior motives to a broad and growing movement and then summarily dismiss all attempts at legalizing a drug many feel has theraputic value in their suffering as wrong. There seems to be scientific research on both sides of this issue. It is one thing to hold to his side of the disagreement; it's quite another to dismiss those who disagree with him as having a dispicable agenda, one that would increase drug addiction, especially among the young people of our nation.
Also, I found that his remarks concerning Medical Marijuana were extremely shallow and blatantly insulting. He says that smoking Marijuana may make people "feel good," but that so would smoking crack or doing heroin. Hardly to the point. For many people that "feeling good" is often relief from debilitating and constant pain. Whether smoking crack would lessen ones pain isn't the issue. The issue is that marijuana does, and this is an avenue that it seems the Federal government itself might have an alterior agenda in prohibiting.
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp
Nothing was mentioned about the conflict between state and government which in Oregon is not just about Medical Marijuana, but also about the doctor assisted suicide initiative passed a short time ago which is under attack by Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Death With Dignity
All in all, an attempt was made to make this a "feel good" News Conference. Yes, too many people use drugs; too many people, especially young people, are becoming addicted to drug use and to a life style which escalates their addiction and reduces access to potential alternatives; too much our our broader culture condones, -even encourages, drug use and the glorification of the life style is part of the story line of many movies. Our children receive mixed messages from many directions in our society, and to criminalize one drug beyond all others, especially with our tolerance for the excesses of prescription drugs, tobacco and alcohol, seriously undermines the credibility of not only the government, but all those in positions of authority.
Any effort to coordinate local and federal groups to work together on this problem is to be applauded. But if this effort is made at the expense of local sovereignty and holds segments of society up to condemnation, ridicule and incarceration, certainly the effort is counter productive and doomed to failure, as has so far been the fate of the War on Drugs. To insist that those who believe marijuana assuages their pain are wrong or merely chumps in some kind of political chess game is an opinion, an opinion offered up dogmatically with no evidence or documentation.
If indeed the federal government wishes to work with local communities to curb substance abuse in this country, it could begin by including all the community, and not toss insults at those who happen to disagree with their perception of reality.
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