Director's message

By Nora Callahan, Executive Director, the November Coalition

We mention winds of change, sharing hopeful' news of prosecutorial reform. We report some of the latest news from the drug war front, always with the thought that communicating what is taking place will help our readers understand the futility and inhumanity of the war on drugs. I often have wondered how they might find a graceful way out of the present course of war in America. I'd thought that perhaps they would return Federal Parole and more states would vote such as they did in Arizona a few years ago and let the first time drug law violators go home. Now it looks as though the judges could end part of the injustice of the war, simply by following federal law.

Washington State will probably pass 1-692 this year and a sick person that uses medical marijuana, under some circumstances, won't be sent to prison. Nevada, Oregon, and Alaska. Each state that declares victory in November will have to contend with the federal government stepping in with a heavy boot and thwarting the will of the people. So be it. We will meet them head on. Public opinion is shifting and I decided with confidence that it is not just my imagination. We reported on pages 21 & 22 the "press" that TNC members and other reformers have received in the last few weeks.

A "thank you" to Jackie Quarterman, who imprisoned keeps up with Congressional goings on -- one that we had missed until Jackie brought it to our attention is H.R. 3396. We have covered this bill in our lengthy article that begins on page 1. Thank you Jackie!

There is an abundance of email at our office and now and again an "off-topic" message comes streaming in. The "delete" key comes in handy, but now and then an off-topic post has value. This autumn I and others will speaking to students at colleges around the country. Who are the young adults who are starting college this fall? This question was posed and answered within an entertaining email. In part it read: Most were born in 1980. They have no meaningful recollection of the Reagan era. They were pubescent when the Persian Gulf War was waged. Their lifetime has always included AIDS.

Atari predates them and the expression "You sound like a broken record" means nothing. They may have heard of an 8-track, but haven't listened to one. The digital Disc was introduced when they were 1 year old. As far as they know, stamps have always cost about 32 cents. They have always had an answering machine. Most have never seen a TV set with only 13 channels. They were born the year that the Walkman was introduced by Sony and have no idea when or why Jordache jeans were cool. They never took a swim and thought about Jaws. They don't know who Mork was or where he was from. They find nothing strange about Gorbachev doing pizza commercials and most of their parents were still in diapers when the Beatles were on the charts.

I read this feeling more enlightened about the audience I would be addressing in the coming months. Taking it further, I realized there were other things that many starting college this year don't know. 'They don't know that a "urine test" was once-upon-a-better-time, a physician's and only a physician's diagnostic procedure. They can't remember early evening television without Fox Network's COPS, replete with video of police agents battering down a door and bleeps that filled in the words that begin with, "Get down on the floor, M----- F-----!" They don't realize that 20 years ago, the only job opening for a German Shepard was as a guard or guide dog; that a "buy and bust" meant you spent too much money at the grocery store, and a "no knock" was a neighbor that could enter your house with a verbal greeting.

They have not been taught that a "DARE" is something they shouldn't take, and a "tattle tale" is someone that no one wants to be. The young adults of today do not remember a world before the Drug War and I plan on sharing with them the fond memory of a freer America -- a place where we didn't fear those who once protected us, where a person's home was his castle and afforded a family protection. There was a time that citizens were not railroaded into decades or life in prison on the word of an informant. These are only but a few of those fond memories . . .

Let us keep working to make our memories the present course in America and the drug war part of our past... .

Love to you all,