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living rooms and back yards, even to the Gold Medal stand of the Olympics.
Not only is such a thought immoral and irresponsible, it accepts real suffering from drug use and abuse as a "cost-effective" tradeoff for an imagined decrease in crime. We at the center do not believe in benign neglect.
The center, already deeply concerned about media influences, is horrified at the possibility of sending a whole new set of mixed messages to our young people. Let's be honest with ourselves: drugs already have a glamorous and sexy image. If we legalize them, we won't be able to keep drugs, any more than we have cigarettes and alcohol, out of the hands of our kids. We are not that smart as a government, we are not that smart as a people. If we legalize drugs, our national efforts in the past decade, which have resulted in a measurable effect-decrease in drug consumption and, more importantly, a change in the attitudes of our young people and of people throughout our country—will suddenly be thrown away in one moment.
Ultimately, whether we legalize drugs or not is a litmus test for our society and its values. Will we abdicate our responsibility to our children because the going got tough? We must not. Let us instead get ourselves in gear.
Mr. RANGEL. Mr. Marvin Miller, member of the Board of Directors, NORML. TESTIMONY OF MARVIN D. MILLER, MEMBER, BOARD OF
DIRECTORS, NORML Mr. MILLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I appreciate the intelligent and sanguine effort this committee has made in the last day-and-a-half to try and address this problem. Everybody agrees that drugs are a problem in our society, and crack and heroin addiction are creating tremendous drains on our financial resources.
As you have pointed out repeatedly, Mr. Chairman, and other members of this committee are aware, and as the witnesses have said, there is no funding for the educational and training programs that we so desperately need. And what are we doing with this underground economy? We are letting it run rampant and letting it control the marketplace, letting it control purity. We are treating all drugs the same. They are not all the same, and no one will agree that they are the same. Everyone agrees that they are different.
People say that we need education and training, but the first and foremost approach is to use law enforcement, police, jail cells, arrests, court time. We spend a combined state and Federal budget of $10 billion a year fighting drugs. Of that amount, most of it goes to marijuana possession. Of all drugs, marijuana represents the largest number of arrests, 40 percent. The remainder is spread out among all other drugs combined. Of that 40 percent, 93 percent are for simple marijuana possession. There are 50 million marijuana smokers in the United States that are criminals simply because of their choice of that substance. Otherwise, they are law abiding, they are productive, they pay taxes.
What we are talking about here is an enormous waging of war on our American population. There are 2800 DEA agents; FBI agents are not included in that number, Customs are not included in that number. Local and State police forces and the local sheriff departments are the prime law enforcement people in this country. We are not a government of national police.
We are a Government where crime is controlled by local States. That is where the biggest war is fought. That is where a lot of money and coordination goes.
What we are doing is having this $10 billion budget with five percent going to education and training. There is no national education program.
There is no national treatment program, as you are aware. There is no money for it either.
The last bill which passed a week or so ago was under-funded. Where is the money going to come from to deal with training, treatment and education? I have a suggestion.
We have put together a bill to make marijuana a regulated, controlled, available substance. As was pointed out by my colleague at this table, Mr. Karel, when alcohol prohibition ended, all the breaks were removed, so the problem increased. In Britain they did not remove the breaks.
They left the breaks on and the problem did not increase to the degree it did here and the problem there is less. Marijuana is a different substance, a benign substance. A DEA administrative law judge ruled that it is the most benign substance known to man.
It is not addictive. It doesn't generate violence. We are talking about change here, dare to question. We, of all countries in the world, have become great because we don't sit on our hands and look at fixed solutions.
We always question and examine and try to look at old ideas and look for new solutions. Let's not march with the Light Brigade, into a march of folly, into a policy that everybody says does not stop drugs on the streets.
Mr. Keating, when asked by Congressman Rangel in December 1987 whether all this had stopped one ounce from hitting the streets, he answered the truth, no, it did not. Let's look at new ways.
We cannot legalize everything but why should 50 million Americans be made criminals? Why can't we take that funding, that tax resource, and raise the level of education?
We will not be a free society if we wage war on the population at home. We cannot continue to give more and more power to law enforcement to the degree that the end justifies the means because once we do we are really in serious trouble.
I ask for you to consider something different. Look at something from a new way and give it serious thought.
We welcome Ed Towns from New York, a hard-working member of the select committee. If we can take a break now, let's discuss a proposed schedule.
This is the Department of Defense appropriations budget on the House floor now. I understand Mr. Whitfield has a statement. We will take a break, vote and come back and then the committee will have an opportunity to question.
The Chair hears no objections. We will break until 11:15. [Recess.]
Mr. RANGEL. When the committee went to recess we were about to hear from Ray Whitfield. Mr. Whitfield.
TESTIMONY OF RAY WHITFIELD Mr. WHITFIELD. Thank you.
Members of this select committee, I welcome your invitation to testify regarding the proposals to legalize drugs.
As you know, I am an ex-drug abuser and ex-offender, but I ask you to hear my testimony as not only coming from those two life experiences because today, I am also a husband, parent, grandparent, taxpayer, a professional and productive member of the Washington, D.C. community. Hopefully, my testimony will reflect these dimensions as well as my concern about drug abuse.
I am very concerned about drug abuse in all its dimensions, prevention, addiction, treatment and the public and private consequences of this destructive behavior. I will try not to duplicate what my wife has said, but I agree with all of the points she made. And consequently I will support any proposal that works positively to reduce or eliminate drug abuse. But I do not view the legalization of narcotics as one of those positive proposals. This is based on what may be a false assumption that the proposal is made as a measure to reduce drug abuse. Perhaps I am wrong. Come to think of it, I have heard proponents say many things, but I have not heard them say legalize today and be drug free tomorrow.
When I look at one of their proposals, that legalization will reduce the number of drug-related murders, I am not totally convinced. Let me abuse semantics and change drug-related murders to drug-related deaths. When I hear about drug-related murders, I think about shoot-outs in the street with the possibility of innocent people being killed, gangland style executions which are documented and glorified in our movies and history books, with victims left in dark alleys, rundown apartments or secluded wooded areas, with the media there to inform us of the lawlessness which is threatening the very fabric of our lives. This vision is very threatening, scary.
But when I hear drug related deaths, somehow the vision is altered. First of all, the media usually is not there to help us formulate our vision. It just isn't very spectacular and so much easier to ignore. It doesn't threaten us in the same way that drug related murders do, even if the body count is very similar. It doesn't occupy the headlines in the metro sections of newspapers week after week, or provide the obscene pictures on our nightly news broadcasts. And if it isn't reported, it must not be news, therefore, it doesn't present a problem. At least it doesn't present the kind of problem that demands our attention.
Yes, I am convinced that the number of media worthy drug-related murders would decrease. I am also equally convinced that the number of drug related deaths would be increased. Good health and long life is no more a by-product of heroin, PCP, cocaine and its derivatives than is tobacco and cigarettes.
Obviously, I don't think much of legalizing narcotics, but there is still the question of what shall we do to win this so-called war on drugs. In closing, I would like for us to consider some of the things that I believe have brought all of us together today around the issue of drug abuse.
Perhaps in reviewing them we may be directed toward searching even harder for solutions. Hopelessness, privilege, a twisted sense of values, and duplicity are the things I have in mind.
Hopelessness is the primary reality of one segment of our population.
Some have turned to drug abuse to ease their pain and find escape from a reality they feel ill-equipped to deal with. Others in this same category, without the educational background to compete in our structured society, have used their entrepreneurial skills on the wild side. They are the young local drug sellers who will put me or anyone else in their graves in an attempt to hold onto what they view as their ticket to success. We have nothing to threaten them with. Many of their lives have been worse than anything the criminal justice system has been able to devise. And I would add, probably are able to devise.
Privilege is the primary reality of another segment of our population. Over the last two days I have heard some of those sentiments for privilege. They have turned to drug abuse for recreation. They are confident that the term "dope fiend” doesn't apply to them. They are educated, not deprived in the traditional sense, and do not commit street crimes. Still they don't realize that drugs and recreation are diametrically opposed.
A twisted sense of values is shared by both groups and is partially responsible for their susceptibility to drug abuse. It allows one group to feel they have no choice and the other to feel that they are marching to the tune of a different drummer.
Duplicity describes the way that our governmental agencies and policy makers have dealt with the issue of drug addiction during my lifetime. By that I mean while official governmental policy has not overtly supported drug addiction, many of its policies have contributed to it, i.e., the lack of anti-drug abuse education and addiction treatment facilities in major black ghettos during the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, plus closing the only two Federal treatment centers in Lexington, Kentucky and Texas.
During that period of time it was not considered a national problem. Minorities and poor whites were mostly addicted to heroin, while middle and upper income whites were still dealing with the myth of cocaine suiting their lifestyle and it not being addictive. Over the last two days I still hear people say they are not certain of the addictive qualities of cocaine. Drug addiction did not become a public problem until it reached suburbia in the late sixties and early seventies. That is duplicity. It is also duplicity if our government policy requires us to support drug dealers in the fraudulent name of fighting communism, or stopping drug related deaths. A twisted sense of values can only create havoc and confusion.
As a drug abuse consultant, I continually meet youngsters from a variety of environments. The common denominator among them is drug abuse with one or more of the things I have mentioned as a contributing factor.
If nothing else, I sincerely hope that these hearings illustrate very forcefully that drug abuse is not the root problem. Drug abuse is a very destructive symptom indicating a number of other problems.
If this is not recognized, we may be doomed to continually treating symptoms in the form of drug abuse, or other behaviors that are equally destructive. I hope my testimony will help to move the issue of drug abuse prevention beyond dialogue toward accomplishment.
For those who talk about legalizing marijuana, are any of you familiar with a report issued last June by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services in Baltimore where the nine-month study indicated that 1,023 patients out of that study, 34.7 percent, were found to have used marijuana within four hours of admission to the center?
They attributed the direct relationship to the use of marijuana and automobile accidents.
Mr. MILLER. I am familiar with it and I appreciate your bringing that forward, because it makes my point.
In uncontrolled, illegal substances, you have no control over potency. If you drink a glass of beer with a sandwich and only have one and two hours later get in your car, you are going to know what the beer will do to you.
If you have an uncontrolled market place, you have no idea what the marijuana cigarette will do to you. If you control the potency, you will have no problems like that.
If you took just ten percent of the money used to criminalize marijuana, you could make films like those that were shown to the soldiers in World War II to warn them of some activities involved in World War II.
Mr. RANGEL. Do you believe if the marijuana cigarettes were manufactured by the cigarette manufacturers, do you think that it would be dangerous?
Mr. MILLER. No. I think the purity and potency can be controlled and regulated. If we separate marijuana from the hard drugs and tell our people the truth, then they will listen to us.
Mr. RANGEL. You are saying it would be no different than cigarettes if it was controlled, regulated and legalized?
Mr. MILLER. It would not be any more dangerous than the subsidized tobacco market and in some ways less dangerous than the alcohol market.
Mr. RANGEL. You would then suggest that we treat marijuana basically the same way we treat cigarettes?