Opposition to Sensenbrenner Drug Bill Reaches Australia
Bad news travels fast. Rep. James Sensenbrenner's proposed new drug bill, which reads like a parody but unfortunately isn't, with its provisions providing for two year jail terms for college kids who don't snitch on a transaction within 24 hours of observing or learning of it-- and five years for passing a joint to a person who has recently been released from drug treatment--is even news in Australia. From a Jack Marx column in the Sydney Morning Herald:
In case you haven’t noticed, the war on drugs is accelerating. In America, a controversial bill - H.R. 1528, Defending America's Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of 2005 – gets a hearing again this week. The bill is troublesome for a number of reasons, which you can read about here and here and here. But the most alarming aspect of H.R. 1528 is that it provides for a two year jail sentence for anyone who observes or come across information about drug distribution near learning institutions – that’s universities and colleges, too - and does not report it to authorities within 24 hours and provide full assistance investigating, apprehending, and prosecuting those involved. This is an interesting proposition, because if it were enacted in Australia, almost everybody I know would be going to jail, and those who remained outside wouldn’t be worth knowing.
.... know absolutely nobody between the ages of 20 and 50 who hasn’t tried drugs. Nobody. Of those people, I know of only a few whom I could be absolutely sure would definitely say no if someone offered them a drug today. These people are not junkies or fringe-dwellers, but decent, visible professionals who pay their taxes and would sooner go to jail for a night than deliberately hurt their neighbour. The argument that they are harming society by supporting drug dealers is misguided – criminal drug dealers are the invention of a society that deems drugs illegal. The war on drugs has succeeded only in placing decent people in great peril while making criminals very rich men.
The various frightening implications and possibilities regarding H.R. 1528 need not be listed - you can imagine what they are in justa few moments of reflection. The fact is that, under a law such as the one H.R. 1528 proposes, all of us are criminals waiting to be caught. It represents the point where the war on drugs has lost its mind, its pious extremism blind to the damage it will do to a society that respects its neighbours.
Thanks to Mr. Marx for the link to our post - which is how we found out about his column. It may be the first time TalkLeft has been cited in Australia.
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