General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

What does the fact that drug use is a non-issue in the presidential election say about Americans' attitudes about drug use?

Asked by tinyfaery (40254points) October 15th, 2008

Do Americans no longer equate drug use with a nefarious persona? Why the shift?


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18 Answers

El_Cadejo's avatar

“Do Americans no longer equate drug use with a nefarious persona?” I would loveeeee to think that was the case, but the war on drugs is still going strong so i dont know. I guess only time will really tell.

i do love the whole “i didnt inhale” or “i did inhale” fuck it just say if you smoked some weed or not. I mean is it any better to have smoked and done it wrong than to have smoked properly?

jvgr's avatar

I agree with your sentiments uberbatman, but the war on drugs is an issue that should be out in the open.
How much is spent on this war?
How effective has it been?
If people in high security prisons get knives, guns and drugs what makes the feds think their war is even hopeful?

What really upsets me is the whole marijuana thing. There is so much evidence that alcohol is a much worse substance than marijuana, yet the feds keep on misinforming everyone.

There was an Native American band in N or S Dakota. They have no access to employment and most lack employable skills, so after a period of research and contacts, they decided to start an agricultural industry – hemp for fabric. It was selected because it would grow well in the environment and required the least energy inputs.

They had lined up buyers (in Europe because it’s illegal here), got a crop going and just as they were ready to harvest, in comes the DEA who razed the entire crop. Didn’t matter that the hemp had about as much thc content as a rope or that they had signed contracts from fabric mills to buy the crop.

They planted again the next year after they thought the issue had been sorted out.
Same thing.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@jvgr agreed the war on drugs is a complete and utter failure. When will this country learn you cant win a war on words. TERROR!!!

But seriously look at california for instance. Medicinal marijuana is completely legal there, yet the DEA still illegally raids dispensaries. Id be interested to see if anything changes if and when Obama takes office.

Its not even funny how many uses hemp has and how fast we could get our country out of debt if only we legalized it.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Is there any evidence that either of the presidential candidates have every used drugs? Maybe I’m incredibly naive, but I thought it was a non-issue because there was nothing to talk about. Is there something to talk about? Please, clue me in here!

Trance24's avatar

Too much thats how much is spent on it. There is no reason for us to be spending as much as we do on a “war” that does not work, and is down right stupid in a lot of cases. Alcohol and cigarettes two of the most dangerous substances to human health are legal and acceptable, but marijuana a drug that has been proven to help people in a lot of cases is shunned and outlawed. I just do not understand why we are so involved what human beings put into their body. If it is bad for them and they know it and still want to do it then let them. When they end up hurting someone for it punish them, but do not punish hundreds of virtually harmless civilians who enjoy a good smoke every now and then. We are arresting everyday people for having personal possession of weed, and filling our jails when we need to save those spots for real criminals. Criminals that are shooting children in the streets, or causing other violence.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@la chica gomela click the article that tinyfaery posted, obama is out in the open about it. Dont know about mcpain

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Wow, that’s freaking awesome! I like him even better than I did before!

jvgr's avatar

@uberbatman: ‘Medicinal marijuana is completely legal there, yet the DEA still illegally raids dispensaries”

The reason Cal’s dispensaries get raided is that the friggin Fed doesn’t recognize the state law…How come McCain doesn’t cite this as an example of needing to get government out of the way?

fireside's avatar

I believe there was a study commissioned before GW Bush ran for President and something like 75 percent of respondents said their vote would be unaffected if they found out that a presidential candidate had use cocaine in the past.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@jvgr i know. Fucked up country were in isnt it? and to answer your question i would go with because Mccain is all for this kind of bullshit

Trustinglife's avatar

This is an interesting question. I would say it is an issue!

But why does it LOOK like a non-issue? Because the media doesn’t ask the candidates about it. Why not? Why aren’t there open forums, so we can see the candidates answer questions from real people – who aren’t heavily screened?

If we had such open forums, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a question about this “non-issue.” And many others. 9/11? Potential mass migration? Why McCain has so many houses? What it’s like to work so hard on their campaigns for so long? Campaign finance? Etc.

Malakai's avatar

I’m inclined to think that maybe no one effing cares anymore.

Don’t we have bigger problems?

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

I think the fact that 800,000 people are arrested every year for marijuana possession is a huge issue. Since our judicial system is run like a business and many jails are privately owned, it is big business making people criminals out of nothing. The 2 party candidates only talk about “issues” that the media makes into issues. They wouldn’t dare step out of line to bring up a “non-issue.”

If you want to see some real issues that this country is dealing with, watch the 3rd party debate on Sunday. I know most of you on here are already voting for Obama, but if you consider yourself open-minded, I recommend listening to what the “no chance” candidates have to say and you will see why they have no chance. They are not lock step with MSM and I can almost guarantee they will talk about the “war on drugs.”

Didn’t Obama mention something a while back about his support of decriminalization of marijuana?? Clinton did too, although marijuana arrests went up 85% from the beginning of his presidency, to the last. Shows you who really runs the show.

SuperMouse's avatar

I for one would be more suspect of an individual around my age who tells me they never even experimented with illegal drugs. Let’s be honest, drugs are a reality in our society and someone who has never been exposed is probably leading a very sheltered life. That is not a person I would want running our country.

I am impressed that Obama came right out and admitted drug use. Apparently McCain was quite the party guy during his time in the military, there is no doubt in my mind that during leave on his tour of duty in Southeast Asia, he partook. Everyone tends to think of him as an old codger so the question of drug use would probably not come up.

As for the war on drugs, I think it is a joke. It would be nice if someone in government finally realized that and stopped the madness.

Malakai's avatar

@ chris – I agree completely with everything you just said. I was referring more to past drug use by presidential candidates.

generalspecific's avatar

well the war on drugs is a stupid plan, but I think maybe if we had better anti-drug programs maybe drug use would be less of a problem. first of all DARE is just some bullshit. all they do is tell a bunch of 5th graders: “marijuana is BAD! don’t do it! cocaine is bad! don’t do that either! or heroin!”
but kids will be kids and eventually a lot of them smoke weed, realize DARE was wrong, and think, maybe they were wroke about coke too? and then do that.
i honestly thing Erowid needs to make some kind of program for kids. just give them the pro and the con, because some drugs are honestly not as bad as others and weed just doesn’t deserve all the shit it gets.

and i dunno if that’s really on topic all the way, but i had been thinking about it so had to say something.. haha

Zuma's avatar

As someone who has been to prison on a drug possession charge, I can tell you that the “war on drugs” has nothing to do with drugs. First of all, it is a $50 billion a year industry whose main purpose is to provide lucrative jobs for those who lock people up, and to prevent the people who get locked up (who tend to be poor and people of color) from voting, since they usually vote Democratic.

The war on drugs is the Republican’s answer to the welfare state, only the people on “welfare” in this instance are the prison guards, the DEA agents, the cops, lawyers, prosecutors and judges who make a very good living destroying the people they catch and punish. To someone who has never been to prison it may sound like I am exaggerating when I say that the whole purpose of prison is to destroy a person, but I mean what I say here.

When a person becomes a prisoner he undergoes a legal transformation called “civil death.” All of his rights are stripped away except for a few nominal constitutional rights, such as due process and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. I refer to these rights as “nominal” because prisoners were stripped of any meaningful access to Federal courts in 1996, and so have no real way to enforce them.

One of the things you are stripped of is your ability to pay your bills. Thus, you can lose your house, your car, your credit, causing your whole financial world to implode because you cannot act on your own be half, or easily transfer power of attorney to someone who can do this for you(assuming you know someone trustworthy). Naturally, being ruined financially plays havoc with your relationships, and seriously diminishes your chances of recovering after the ordeal.

Under a loophole in the 13th Amendment, states can (still) egally enslave prisoners, something which was widely practiced in the Old South up until WWII, and which is starting to come back. Prisoners can be forced to work for as little as 9 cents per hour (a rate that has remained unchanged since 1973).

The only reason people work in prison is to pass the time, but they do as inefficiently as possible, so as to reduce any possible benefit to their oppressors, who are unreasonable and unfair regardless of what kind of job you do. Hence, working in the system for any length of time tends to destroy your work ethic, along with any desire to contribute to society. If you never had a strong work ethic or were never too pro-society to begin with, the constant humiliation and unfair treatment by the guards completely destroys your respect for the law, the cops, and the society they stand for—and doubly so when one is subject the insane punitiveness of prison for a non-violent and victimless crime like drug possession.

Prisons are dangerous, filthy, disgusting, disease-ridden places where 100 men are commonly packed together in a space the size of half a basketball court and forced to share 8 barely-working and never-clean toilets. Respiratory diseases, serious skin infections and diarrhea epidemics are frequent, while the medical care is so dangerously sub-standard that in California it meets the standard of “cruel and unusual” punishment. I was in one 200-man dorm where, in one 6-month period, two men died in the middle of the night due to medical neglect.

The water was so polluted where I was that I broke out in hives over 75% of my body, but the doctors could not prescribe me the bottled water I needed, so I had to pay for it out of my own pocket at 65 cents a bottle, on a wage of 19 cents an hour. If I hadn’t been lucky enough to have family sending me money from the outside, I could have spent the year it took exhausting my appeals in severe pain, and maybe lost my vision.

There is absolutely nothing worthwhile to do in prison, so prisoners spend most of their waking time scheming of ways to smuggle contraband or short-circuit the electrical system in order to get it lit. Not only is there no rehabilitation, but they actively punish you for attempting to rehabilitate yourself. They make access to phones, writing materials or books an unbelievable hassle, and they do it on purpose because they want you to get fed up and demoralized so that you will continue to screw up.

In California 28.6% of the 172,000 people in their system are in for parole violations, most of them for “technical” violations like not showing for an appointment, or having beer cans in one’s trash, or turning in a dirty pee test—things that are not actually even crimes. Parole agents are glorified prison guards who work in the community. And, they can return people to prison for 12 months at a time, just on their say-so. There is no automatic hearing for probable cause, no judge, no jury, and no independent oversight to act as a check against the arbitrary exercise of power by parole officers. As a consequence, the Departments of Corrections can “violate” a parolee at will; sentence them to additional prison time, for vague “offenses” that are not even crimes, without any judicial oversight or review. Hence people commonly serve more time in prison on parole violations than on their original sentences.

In California, roughly 70% of the people released return to custody on just this basis. This is not necessarily because they commit new crimes; it is because the prison guards get more lucrative overtime when the prisons are overcrowded, somebody flips out and they lock the whole place down. So, don’t let the prison guards fool you when they tell you that they “walk the toughest beat in the state.” If a riot kicks off, its generally their own fault, if not deliberate—like putting rival gang members together, or feeding prisoners wet baloney sandwiches for days on end.

Not only does the United States incarcerate more people per capita than any country in the world (roughly 7 times more than Canada and European industrial democracies), it also incarcerates 7 times more Blacks than Whites per capita. In 2005, there were 990 incarcerated White males per 100,000 population, but 6,838 Black males per 100,000 population.

Neither candidate wants to discuss how the drug war (Prohibition) was a failed policy from its inception, or how it does does absolutely nothing help people or deter people from using drugs, because to admit these things would be to admit that the War on Drugs was never about drugs and was always about Jim Crow. Neither side wants to draw attention to the nascent police state which has grown up around the Drug War, or how is combining with the War on Terror and the War on Illegal Immigration to extend the surveillance capabilities and the reach of the state into people’s communities and their private lives. Neither side wants to discuss how this police state apparatus has been diverted from its stated national security purposes and is now engaged in the business of disenfranchising people, and keep communities so distracted and burdened by poverty that no leadership can emerge and organize the community politically.

Blacks and people of color know full well what’s going on, they just don’t want to bring this political grievance up at this particular time. Crime rates are lower now than at any time in the past 35 years, yet people’s fears of crime are at an all time high. According to criminologists, this exaggerated perception of crime stems from being fed a constant diet crime fantasies in the form of TV murder dramas. These portray many times the number of murders than are actually committed. The resulting fear of crime tends to be heavily racially tinged, so that promoting “law and order” becomes a sneaky backdoor code for measures and policies that promise to crack down on Blacks and other people of color. Trying to do this with Obama in the race risks giving the whole “law and order” sham away. And, of course, it would be foolish for Obama to remind white people of their fears by bringing up drugs, crime, incarceration or any of the rest of it.

saint's avatar

President can’t do anything about it so why make it an issue?

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