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by Nora Callahan

Now and again I am asked, "How can you protest what is law?" Or I am told, "But the law is the law - it is wrong for you speak against something that is the law!"

America has a long history of legislation that brings more harm than good - of passing and enforcing laws that after a test, prove dismal failures. Just because a law is law, it does not mean that it can not be challenged. Nor does it mean that it is a just law and it certainly does not mean that it can never be changed. History will bear me out.

From the 1620's until the latter part of the 1700's - the law of this land punished a person for religious beliefs. Countless people died on the gallows for this "terrible crime." In many of the colonies this perverse law continued until the Constitution was put in place following the revolution.

For over two hundred years in this land, slavery was a legal enterprise - surely that was unjust, but it was law nonetheless. Civil Rights for men and women of color have only been a matter of law for thirty years.

America has a legacy of tyrannical eras - legislation that has brought only misery and disaster to its citizens. Early in this century we had a period of alcohol prohibition that ended when citizens began to rally in the streets to condemn it. Today historians deem the early prohibition era a failure - but for over a decade it was the law of the land.

Today we have the drug war. Mandatory sentencing has removed discretion of judges and so, the police align with prosecutors and together they extend their heavy hand in judgement. This was the same scenario during the Witchcraft delusion of the 1690's.

The War on Drugs is being argued as unwinable, unjust and furthering the drug problem in America. It is a war that has eroded our civil rights, is spending billions of tax dollars and imprisoning hundreds of thousands of people.

This is not the first time that a law has been imposed upon the people and frenzied prosecutors given license to destroy lives. Sadly, it is not the first time, but encouragingly, these eras pass into historical record as a law is no longer law . . .

It is time to change the laws that enable our country to wage a war on drugs. We must unite and with a common voice demand our legislators end this folly. I urge every victim of this agonizing war to speak out against it at every opportunity. If we do, and only if we do - will we bring about change in our country's drug laws.

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