From the week of October 4-10, 2001

Jeremy Jacksen

Basic Instinct

Beating the rap: As I sat and read the article about the guy locked in solitary confinement for alleged ties to the Aryan Brotherhood ("Solitary Man," Paul Rubin, September 27), I couldn't help but think of all the other gangs that must exist in prison. His alleged membership, although nothing to sneeze at, is still nothing compared to the guards who continually smuggle drugs into the prisons or look the other way when another inmate is beaten. The SMU II unit sounds a lot like inhumane treatment. Doesn't something in the Constitution protect against treatment so inhumane as to deprive [one] of the basics of human contact?

Jim Morrow's comment at the very end: "At any rate, Mark Koch is not the kind of guy you'd want living next to you," certainly doesn't ring true with me. After reading the article, I'd rather have Mark Koch living next to me than any of the DOC employees, Jim Morrow included.

So much in our society is based on hearsay and conjecture that it's not surprising that Mark Koch is in the position he's in now. I'm sure he was framed by the DOC as a way to silence him for the work he did against the DOC. It's scary to think that we give this much power to one group or organization.

Name withheld by request

Reefer Badness

Seize and desist: I have no doubt that security forces at Dulles, Newark and Boston airports arrested quite a few people in the hours before the September 11 attack, and I wish someone would report the number. Of course, no terrorists were caught that fateful morning, but it's a certain bet that several peaceful Americans engaged in muling drugs and cash around the country were detected and prevented from boarding planes, or were arrested after disembarking ("Big Bong Theory," Robert Nelson, September 13).

Our nation's forfeiture laws give police departments a hell of a lot of financial incentive to focus on drugs because, in Arizona and most other jurisdictions, any department that makes a bust leading to forfeited funds or property gets to keep the lion's share of the take. If the president is serious about wanting to take away terrorists' funds, he is essentially admitting that we must legalize drugs as soon as possible. If we took that step, we would simultaneously remove funding from a lot of vicious street gangs in this country that have undoubtedly killed more than 5,000 people over the years. By legitimizing the drug market and taxing it, this country can quickly and with the least bloodshed win the "war against terrorists," and also pay for all the largess that is now hemorrhaging from government coffers. More important, we will thereby refocus our government on its primary job -- security -- which it has woefully neglected in its decades-long pursuit of peaceful Americans to incarcerate and rob.

I hope the advocates behind the marijuana reform movement will not be too timid; this is no time for baby steps. If Americans cannot be persuaded now that drugs must be legalized -- for our own safety's sake -- then they never will be willing to take the necessary steps to bring peace and security to this nation, or any other.

Jim Hankey

Unhappy hookah: Could someone please try to write a serious article about marijuana, without all of the cloying pathetic emotionalizing demonizing little journalistic cutesy-poo clichéd epithets and terms of marginalization like "stoner," "sociopath," "weedhead," "pothead"?

Why are American journalists so absolutely incapable of writing a straight story about marijuana? What is it with you people? You are addicted to your own cuteness. It's not cute, it's nauseatingly repetitive and representative of the lack of original and serious thinking that has taken over American journalism since corporate TV news began to write the rules.

But hey -- you sound so cute! Cutesy-poo pot puns! Cute pun-filled cynical arch smirky writing.

I think NORML should give an award for the most cloying, cliché-ridden marijuana "journalism" of the year.

The energy you spend trying to sound flippant and cute and clever would have been better spent on researching your facts about marijuana history. Your version of marijuana history gets a D minus for all of the facts you got wrong and all the facts you left out in the name of maintaining your little cutesy high.

Patricia Schwarz
Pasadena, California

Pot thickens: The war against marijuana has cost billions of dollars, ruined millions of lives and is a complete failure. Two groups, however, have benefited greatly from the war. The black market and the police have reaped the benefits from this ongoing national disgrace.

The black market has enjoyed years of growing profit and continues to rake in millions, if not billions, annually. The police in this country and in others have used the war to get manpower, equipment, overtime pay and new technology they never would have gotten had the war not been waged. For these two groups it pays well to keep the status quo.

This writing, however, is not about the wasted money or the lives lost in the undeclared war on American citizens. It's about one citizen who is unhappy because he cannot exercise his pursuit of happiness -- because for me, happiness is smoking marijuana.

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