Report on the State of the Art by Richard J. Schimelfenig

Mr. Schimelfenig posted this report on MapTalk, the mailing list for MAP, Inc. He graciously consented to it being posted here.

The Media Awareness Project is one of the most effective organizations of the legalization movement. Unlike most organizations, the leadership of MAP is visible involved and accessible.

At the risk of being somewhat off-topic, I think that this report will be of interest to list readers. I am entering my third week of classes at the local college. As I will only be attending classes here for a semester (to get enough credits to enter a much higher level school) and since they do not offer a curriculum that directly relates to my goals, I thought it would be interesting to take the same classes that are required for people who want to become cops in Delaware. These people are the ones who will become the supervisors and directors, commanders and other high level officers. The courses themselves are taught by both active and retired cops. Two classes in particular will be of interest to list readers. "Introduction to Criminal Justice", and "Society, Drugs and Human Behavior". Both of these classes are being taught by retired cops who held very high positions in the Delaware law enforcement community. I am the only student in these classes who is not seeking a career in law enforcement. The importance of both the student body of these classes and the teachers will be obvious in a moment. I have been pleasantly surprised that the teachers in these classes are saying, up front, that law enforcement in the drug war is a failed ideology, and that even enforced treatment is a failure. Indeed, they daily make statements that law enforcement has no place in attempting to engineer social policy on drug use! In "Intro to CRJ", the instructor, a former state police colonel, pointed out that when Reagan started the who "Drug War" thing, spending was at about $7 billion dollars and was less than a tenth of the law enforcement budget, and that we now spend almost half of law enforcement budget (he said about $60 billion this year out of a law enforcement budget of about $130 billion~!) on the drug war, and that drugs are more available, and more pure than they were when Reagan boosted the "Drug War'. Even more surprising to me was that he said that this is not a war on a substance, but a racist war on minorities - on people. He said, one can not wage war on inanimate objects. In "Soc., Drugs, and Hum. Beh.', the instructor asks every day if the students understand that attempting to legislate human appetites will ever work. He also drums home that it historically never works and in fact is the major contributing factor to increases in crime and other damages associated to drug use. He also is a retired top cop from Delaware. This teacher has made it clear that marijuana is nothing like the hype and hysteria. He said that, as cops, these people being groomed to be high level officers could find better things to do with their time than worry about marijuana users. _He played the movie "REEFER MADNESS" in class_!!! and used that to illustrate the hysteria of today! In fact, he says, on a daily basis, that there is no such thing as a drug problem or an addiction problem. He said that all drug use can be characterized in relationship to political, social and economic factors that have little to do with any ability drugs have to do damage. He also says that it is irrational and immoral that so much attention is put on marijuana (and even other drug use) use, while the two most dangerous drugs remain in society. Tobacco and alcohol, he repeats constantly, do the most damage to the individual and to society, yet the government spent as much on supporting tobacco farmers last year as they did on attempting to eradicate marijuana. He called it horrendous, and an abuse of society. Both teachers have said that while using social engineering through law enforcement seems like a noble goal, the fact is that it has drawn thugs and gangster types in to police work, and the drug war has made enough jobs available that people who just a few decades ago would not have been hired as cops can easily get work in law enforcement. My mind is boggled. These are not courses that just anyone takes, as I said, every student (except me) in these classes are on a career track to become high level cops. These are required courses for officers. The one thing that both classes keep pointing out is that the media is complicit in the horrors of the drug war, and that until we change the way the media portrays drug use, and end the mischaracterization of drug users as criminals, they (and we!) are complicit in the fear mongering that creates and maintains drug war hysteria. They also point out that as long as people are spoon fed lies about the effectiveness of law enforcement in the drug war, that the people will continue to elect hard line anti-drug politicians, so the process moves full circle. And a vicious circle it is, indeed! The politicians drive the media to cover more drug war horror "stories". that spoon feeds the fear and hysteria, the hysteria causes the people to demand more cops, the politicians write ever more draconian laws and yet nothing in the process does anything to change the fact that people want to use drugs, and there is simply no way to stop them from doing that. Anyway, I'll close for now. I'll try to answer any questions anyone has, and if anyone would like more specific information I'll be happy to answer the best I can.
-Richard J. Schimelfenig

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