Letters for October 3, 2002

Anti-drug ‘lunatics’
Re: “Pot provokes paranoia” [RN&R Guest Comment, Sept. 19]:

J. R. Reynolds offers good advice when he recommends that voters do their own research before listening to what the authorities say about marijuana and Question 9. Any serious investigation of the facts is certain to debunk the Reefer Madness claims made by America’s lunatic drug crusaders.

When the science and history of marijuana are examined, it becomes clear that there is no good reason to prohibit cannabis for any use.

Voters can find Internet links to government and reform sites regarding drug prohibition at the Think It Over Web site, www.drugsense.org/tio/links.html. It won’t take long to learn who’s telling the truth about marijuana. Redford Givens San Francisco

Reefer madness myths
Re: “Pot provokes paranoia” [RN&R Guest Comment, Sept. 19]:

In his thoughtful column, J. R. Reynolds advises readers to research marijuana themselves rather than rely on the junk science tossed about by career drug war bureaucrats. This is sound advice. In order to understand the intergenerational culture war otherwise known as the war on some drugs, historical background is needed.

The cultural roots of America’s drug laws are rarely acknowledged by the mainstream media. As a result, few Americans realize that marijuana prohibition is based on culture and xenophobia, not science. These days marijuana is confused with 1960s counterculture, but that wasn’t always the case.

The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican migration during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the American Medical Association. White Americans did not even begin to smoke marijuana until a soon-to-be entrenched government bureaucracy began funding “reefer madness” propaganda.

Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages have been counterproductive. An estimated 38 percent of Americans have smoked pot. The reefer madness myths have been discredited, forcing the drug war gravy train to spend millions on research, trying to find harm in a relatively harmless plant.

The direct experience of millions of Americans contradicts the sensationalistic myths used to justify marijuana prohibition. Illegal drug use is the only public health issue wherein key stakeholders are not only ignored, but persecuted and incarcerated. In terms of medical marijuana, those stakeholders happen to be cancer and AIDS patients.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.
Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, DC

Failed frog, no feathers
Re “Bad Blood” [RN&R News, Sept. 19]:

I was disappointed with the article discussing the murder trial of Native American Rocky Boice. All of a sudden Boice has gone from a failed frog to a misunderstood prince with the tap of the Freudian wand wielded by the media and criminal lawyers playing word games. Our sympathies should begin and end with the victim.

You made reference only to the victim being a “gang member.” Unfortunately for a juror, the public, and the potential victims in our society—such “character” evidence about a criminal on trial is not made public (with few exceptions, e.g. felony convictions). Jurors will never know if Rocky Boice has assaulted others, been caught shoplifting or if he is a constant drunk or drug-user. How much suffering did the victim endure before he died at the hands of 11 thugs?

You highlight that Boice is Native American—a minority. Being a minority does not entitle one to kill another human being. It’s interesting to see a minority find his heritage—the picture you painted of Boice holding feathers—when he is facing much-deserved prison time.

Your article is also incorrect about the reservation system. The U.S. government tried to assimilate the tribal reservations and governments into the United States. That initiative was fought by the tribes, and now the federal government, by law, must recognize the tribes as “domestic dependent nations” with a right to be sovereign or separate.

Finally, Leonard Peltier was neither an activist nor a martyr. He is a cold-blooded murderer who had a well-known defense attorney. The case was re-litigated, and every president since Carter has listened to his plea for a pardon. He is a guilty, and he is a killer.

There was a way to highlight the plight of the Native American and the potential issues of race in a trial—and you missed it. Listen to the evidence, rent To Kill A Mockingbird and rethink that comparison. Will you then speak as loudly for the victim as you have for the defendant?

Deuce Runningwater
Cherokee tribal member