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If Democrats want to help the poor and also strike a deep blow to the conservative psyche of neo-totalitarianism, end the "drug war."   End this war on minorities and troubled persons.  It's a health issue, not a criminal issue.  More and more countries are defying the conservative ideology:

Argentina's Supreme Court ruled out prison for small-scale pot possession on Tuesday, saying the government should go after major traffickers and provide treatment instead of jail for consumers of marijuana.

Ruling in a case involving several young men caught with marijuana cigarettes in their pockets, the judges struck down a law providing for up to two years in prison for possession of small amounts of narcotics.

Tuesday's decision doesn't legalize drug possession outright. But Argentina's Cabinet chief favors keeping drug addicts out of the justice system, and was waiting for the ruling before forwarding a proposed law to Congress.

The seven judges said they were unanimous in "declaring the unconstitutionality of prison for private consumption."

http://www.cbsnews.com/...

My bold.

The "drug war" is unconstitutional on many grounds but chief among them is freedom of speech.  If the rich can pay off Congress people to get them to do their ill bidding and call it freedom of speech, which they do in SO many ways, then I can surely call possessing a God-given plant freedom of speech.  

If a highly toxic substance like alcohol can be legal, so can marijuana, which is nontoxic (meaning you can't suffer toxic overdose).  

I won't even go into the other legitimate arguments in relation to marijuana showing promise with reducing cancers in studies and alleviating pain:  I am focusing on Harm Reduction policies here.

As to the hard drugs, I believe Harm Reduction policies like what was recently enacted in Mexico is the right approach.  Holland has shown that focusing efforts on Harm Reduction is effective at lowering drug abuse rates; making drug abuse a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue is the ethical thing to do as well.

Here's an article on Mexico's decriminalization.  The wall is coming down folks!

Some critics have suggested that easing the punishment for drug possession sends the wrong message while President Felipe Calderon is waging a bloody war against major narcotics traffickers.  [snip]

But it was Calderon who proposed the decriminalization legislation.

His reasoning: It makes sense to distinguish between small-time users and big-time dealers, while re-targeting major crime-fighting resources away from the consumers and toward the dealers and their drug lord bosses.

"The important thing is . . . that consumers are not treated as criminals," said Rafael Ruiz Mena, secretary general of the National Institute of Penal Sciences. "It is a public health problem, not a penal problem."

http://www.latimes.com/...

Again, my bold.

The article explains that users caught with small amounts "5 grams of marijuana, 500 milligrams of cocaine -- clearly intended for "personal and immediate use" will not be criminally prosecuted.  And "40 milligrams of methamphetamine, a synthetic and especially harmful drug, is permitted under the legislation, as is up to 50 milligrams of heroin."

It's time that we Democrats stop succumbing to the conservative fear-mongering on drug use.  People who abuse drugs and alcohol are sick.  They need medical treatment, not jail.  Decriminalize drugs.  Legalize marijuana.

Originally posted to a gnostic on Tue Aug 25, 2009 at 06:58 PM PDT.

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