Sunday, January 11, 2009

More Drug War Musings

Robert asks a damn good question here, and gives some great reasons for a "yes we can, right the hell now" answer. One of his commenters says of the War On Some Drugs:

Don't refer to this as a war. The police don't fight wars, the military does.

It's not often you see that level of ignorance on a blog, from either actual bloggers or commentors. Usually these days it's reserved for those in the mainstream media. If it's not a war, then why so much discussion and concern over the militarization of the police? I think it's worth asking at what point the shredding of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights outweighs the threat of currently illegal drugs. But, of course, so many people fall back on the old knee-jerk response of "drugs'r'bad, hmm-kay?" For some strange and unknown reason, the term "unthinking sheeple" comes to mind. I'm sure I'll figure out why sooner or later.
Meanwhile, Tam blogged about this a few days ago, but it came up in this morning's Chron as well...
WASHINGTON — In the heart of the Ethiopian community here, a group of friends gathered after work in an office to chew on some dried khat leaves before going home to their wives and children for the night. Sweet tea and sodas stood on a circular wooden table between green mounds of the plant, a mild narcotic grown in the Horn of Africa. the United States khat is illegal, and an increased demand for the plant in such cities as Washington and San Diego is kicking up a small national storm, leading to stepped-up law enforcement efforts and escalating clashes between narcotics officers and immigrants who defend their use of khat as a time-honored tradition.

The story goes on to say that "...some experts are not convinced that its health and social effects are so benign. A report from the World Health Organization found that consumption of the plant can lead to increased blood pressure, insomnia, anorexia, constipation and a sense of general malaise. The report also said that khat can be addictive and lead to some psychological and social problems."
Odd. While not identical to the problems caused by consumption of tobacco, alcohol or caffeine, it would seem that to the eye of this untrained observer that the drawbacks of khat consumption more or less run along the same lines. I think it's worth asking how khat consumption in the U.S. has affected the demographic that consumes it the most. Call me crazy, but I'd think if it was that bad by now we'd have seen news reports about the wild-eyed khat addicts running amuck on the streets of America's major cities.
And I know that this is just going to be controversial as hell, but I did find interesting the contrast between the takes of the Ethiopian community and the DEA agent. Who would you trust more, someone who partakes of the drug and leads a functional life or someone who more or less has just read about it and, moreover, has a vested interest in keeping it illegal? Just a thought...