Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Global and National Events Calendar

Bottoms Up: Guide to Grassroots Activism

Prisons and Poisons

November Coalition Projects

Get on the Soapbox! with Soap for Change

November Coalition: We Have Issues!

November Coalition Local Scenes

November Coalition Multimedia Archive

The Razor Wire
Bring Back Federal Parole!
November Coalition: Our House

Stories from Behind The WALL

November Coalition: Nora's Blog

June 21, 2007 - Daily Southtown (IL)

Column: War On Drugs Claims Another Victim

By James E. Gierach, Guest columnist

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

I guess I feel like venting a little. This past weekend, I spent my time in Orlando, Fla., because my cousin's 29-year-old-son Chris, who recently was admitted to the Colorado bar to practice law, killed himself with cocaine. Such a tragedy.

Chris's family, and girlfriend of the past year, learned of Chris' cocaine affliction three weeks before his death. He suffered a grand mal seizure that led to the discovery of his trouble, and, three weeks later (June 5), he succumbed to a prohibited and uncontrolled addictive substance.

The pain of this Father's Day weekend will ache forever and ever. The ache is the fathers, the mothers, the sisters, the brothers, the girlfriends, the cousins and all of us who care about one another. So many tears.

Already in a somber mood, I returned home Saturday night to celebrate Father's Day with my son (who at the age of 12 already has been offered drugs) and family, only to read that people were marching in the streets on Chicago 's Far South Side, because so many kids have been killed this past school year in gang-turf wars.

The marchers called for "tighter gun-control measures and an end to gang violence," according to a Chicago Tribune story. Bishop Paul Hall asked: "How much is dope worth to take a young life? How much is gang-banging worth to take a young life?"

"Enough," the actions of gang-banging dope dealers seem to say louder than words.

Bishop Hall said the aim of the march was to go through neighborhoods afflicted by gang violence, and call on gang members to stop dealing drugs and put down their guns.

Oh, yes, please put down your guns; forsake your livelihood; eat berries for breakfast, lunch and dinner; wrap your family in swaddling clothes; and live in a stable.

"Oh, yes, let's have some stricter gun control." But the sportsman jokes: gun control means hitting the target.

The gun-control plea enables us to ignore the estimated more than 120 million guns in the United States. Even banning guns will not eliminate them or stop the killing.

Guns are here to stay, along with spears, gun powder and nuclear weapons. So we must realize that it is the drug dealer protecting his wares, his cash, his corner and his business that we have to fear.

Gun control may be a laudable objective, but it cannot substitute for serious thought about our prohibition drug policies that precipitate killing and put guns in the hands of drug dealers for the wrong reasons.

Inanimate objects, like guns and drugs, even though easy targets, are not the enemies. It is our policies concerning those inanimate objects that make those objects so lethal.

"Let's march against drugs, guns and gangs," some activists say.

How many marches? How many speeches? How many times have I tried to no avail to change the course of the mighty drug-war river by speaking and pleading with the marchers, organizers and leaders for an end to drug prohibition as the road to peace.

Why is every finger not pointed at the cursed drug-war mistake?

The consequences of our drug prohibition folly are so demonstrable, so obvious, so redundant. Why is the villain -- drug prohibition -- so invisible, so sacrosanct and not targeted? The prohibition of drugs in our lives is, seemingly, as deadly and inextinguishable as the life of Halloween's Michael Myers.

But there is a ray of light at the end of the tunnel.

That light is emanating from law enforcement officers who once waged war on drugs with a vengeance but now fight even harder to end it.

LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) is an international organization consisting of reformed drug-warriors who universally lambaste the killer, drug-prohibition policy that has taken over America and the world.

These are not bleeding hearts, left-wing extremists or ivory-tower idealists. LEAP members have credentials, knowledge, experience and sincerity beyond reproach.

Cannot the sober and thoughtful among us also see the moral imperative of displacing drug prohibition with drugs controlled and regulated through a system of legalization that decimates the gang-bangers' drug business and prevents death, disease and destruction?

In editorial board and other appearances within the past two months, the former Seattle chief of police Norman Stamper and I have urged for the dire need for drug policy reform.

Within that time, my cousin's son has died from cocaine; my 25-year-old client with a clean record -- but charged with stealing fishing poles from a neighbor's garage -- has died from heroin; and Chicago Tribune reporters have written about methamphetamine and crime rampaging across the Midwest plains and beyond.

Goodbye, Chris. Goodbye.

And as one singer painfully and rhetorically beseeched us a few wars ago: "When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?"

James E. Gierach is an attorney and resident of Oak Lawn

For the latest drug war news, visit our friends and allies below

We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.

The Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Reform Coordination Network
Drug Sense and The Media Awareness Project

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact