Twenty years ago, I wrote this piece as my Thanksgiving editorial for The Week Online, a publication that I launched, wrote, edited and published for its first 137 issues. It was the nation's first online news magazine covering domestic and international drug policy from a reform perspective. That publication, which was later re-named "The Drug War Chronicles" will soon publish it's 1,000th issue.
A lot has changed in drug policy since Thanksgiving 1997, but far too much has not. And today, under the current administration, we are threatening to reverse the important progress that has been made towards a more rational and humane approach toward drugs of all kinds. And so I leave this Thanksgiving editorial here as a reminder that while things have gotten better, the drug war, and the movement to end it, is far from over.
Giving Thanks in a Time of Drug War
- Adam J Smith, November 23, 1997
If neither you nor someone you love has had to decide between the relief of pain, the suppression of life-threatening nausea, or the loss of sight, and the prospect of risking arrest and conviction under state or federal marijuana laws, give thanks.
If neither you nor someone you love has had the experience of armed agents of the state kicking in your door, terrorizing your home's occupants and damaging your personal property, give thanks.
If neither you nor someone you love has contracted injection-related AIDS, or Hepatitis C, because there was no legal source of clean needles for themselves or a present or past sexual partner or a parent, give thanks.
If neither you nor someone you love has been the victim of Prohibition-related violence or crime, give thanks.
If neither your child nor another child that you love has been lured by the siren song of the black market, or by gangs, or been shot at by a law enforcement agent for being in the wrong place at the wrong time (and for being the wrong color), or been saddled with a life-long criminal record for youthful experimentation, or been banished from school for possession of an aspirin, or been tried in court as an adult, give thanks. If neither you nor someone you love has had property taken by the state without so much as being charged with an offense, give thanks.
If neither you nor someone you love has had to suffer the indignity of urinating in a cup, on demand, for the privilege of maintaining menial employment, give thanks.
If neither you nor someone you love has sought drug treatment and found that it was unavailable to those of modest means save through the processes of the criminal justice system, give thanks.
If you and everyone that you love can go through this list and be thankful for each and every entry, know that you are among a shrinking group of Americans who have managed to avoid some of the most common consequences of the War on Drugs.
But know too, that your tax dollars, in ever-increasing amounts, are helping to make the number of citizens like you smaller each year.
So give thanks. But remember too that there is work to be done. Happy Thanksgiving.