Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thoughts on the NAACP National Conference

I was very happy to see that drug policy reform issues were given time at the Conference. Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, spoke intelligently and passionately on the topic.

I have been a supporter of the Alliance for years and was a long time financial contributor. While I am happy that Ethan said what he said and the audience appeared to be very interested, I sincerely wish it had been a black person making the statements. As anyone with a good familiarity with the reform movement can attest, black faces are sorely missing on an issue that overwhelmingly effects us more than any other race. I was fortunate to be able to see that drug law enforcement has a far more negative impact on our communities than drug abuse. This is not an easy realization to arrive at when you are forced to deal with the violence associated with territory disputes on a daily basis. In many black communities it is more tolerable to be a non-prohibition related murderer than it is a drug dealer.

When Barack Obama had his opportunity to speak, he spoke about families raising their children properly. He spoke of the impact his Mother had on him. Interestingly he chose not discuss how his life would have changed dramatically if he had been arrested once while experimenting with cocaine and cannabis. While there are many people who view drug addicts and abusers as lazy and incompetent among other things, they ignore a simple reality. Many of these individuals hold intensely difficult occupations. A clear example of this was stockbrokers and others in high finance that had a cocaine problem. These are not the kinds of jobs that can be obtained or maintained with a criminal record, regardless of ability. There are many functioning alcoholics who hold jobs and perform well. They are blessed to not have worry about losing their livelihood simply because they had alcohol in their possession.

There are many habits than can have an adverse effect on one's life. Drug use in moderation is the only one that totally alters the direction of your life based on nothing to do with chemical properties.


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