[ca.politics] Pot war puts us in wrong CAMP; now people take a crack at coke

bandy@lll-crg.ARpA (Andrew Scott Beals) (08/19/86)

Pot war puts us in wrong CAMP; now people take a crack at coke

by Bill Mandel, San Francisco Examiner, 17 August 1986, page B-1.

All through the night, the crack dealers sit on peeling wooden
staircases outside the pregentrified Victorians in the Western
Addition, talking and playing a portable radio low.  You can make them
out by the glowing tips of their cigarettes.  Every few minutes a car
pulls up and a dealer strolls leisurely to the curb, passing small
packets of deadly smokable supercocaine through rolled-down windows.
Business is good.

Meanwhile, in Humboldt County, 215 miles to the north, law enforcement
troops in the 1986 Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, or CAMP, fan
out at dawn from Garberville, sweet spot of the famous Emerald
Triangle, in an attempt to cripple the North Coast's leading illegal

The pot fighters' attitudes may be a little grimmer this year -- CAMP
has already suffered two casualties.  Two Siskiyou County deputies and
a pilot were killed when their surveillance plane crashed in the
Klamath National Forest earlier this month.  But there's also a reason
for good cheer.  CAMP 1986 is riding an unprecedented wave of public
support as America declares war on "drugs."

Before that war escalates beyond rational control -- a real danger as
politicians scramble over each other to appear "tougher on drugs" -- it
might be wise to consider just who and what the real enemy is.  In
their zeal to eradicate marijuana, the peace officers of CAMP may
unwittingly be fighting on the side of crack dealers, speed and PCP
merchants and the cocaine warlords of Central and South America.

There is no shortage of cocaine in the Bay Area.  Nor of killer crack,
speed, PCP and those alphabet-soup, mind-messing designer drugs.  As
law enforcement officials admit, the fight against the import and
domestic manufacture of these dangerous substances is being lost.
There is, however, a severe local shortage of California-grown

CAMP can take credit for this drought, but only indirect credit.
According to growers and former growers in the Emerald Triangle and the
Big Sur area, fear of CAMP's impact inhibited planting of last year's
crop.  Industry sources say CAMP's actual 1985 haul of confiscated
marijuana plants was just a tiny fraction of the crop never planted.
With all its guns, planes and helicopters, CAMP's greatest
anti-marijuana weapon last year was psychology.

(Another disincentive to planting in 1985 was a new federal law
allowing the confiscation of land on which marijuana is cultivated.)

The small 1985 crop was smoked up long ago.  With no supply available,
even from the most reliable sources, millions of marijuana users now
have two choices: clean up or use something else.  There's no official
study of which way people are going, but recent history provides a
predictive model.

In 1969, President Nixon proudly launched Operation Intercept, which
succeeded in choking off a percentage of marijuana smuggling from
Mexico, at the time the nation's prime source of marijuana.  Drug
experts agree that the shortage of marijuana in the summer of 1969 led
frustrated marijuana smokers to try LSD, LSD masquerading as mescaline,
cocaine and that era's menu of designer drugs (MDA, STP, etc.).  The
summer of '69 may have been the high-water mark of non-marijuana drug
experimentation, marked as it was by Woodstock and other tribal rock
gatherings at Atlantic City, Atlanta and the Isle of Wight.

It's possible that the introduction of cocaine as an acceptable
recreational drug among middle-class people -- a phenomenon that
expanded like a deadly flower throughout the '70s -- had its roots in
Nixon's Operation Intercept.  Now, 17 summers later, how many potless
marijuana smokers are turning to cocaine, crack, speed and other, more
dangerous drugs?

My view is that CAMP is fighting the wrong war.  Although marijuana is
no longer seen as a harmless medicinal herb, even the worst findings
about marijuana's safety pale in comparison to the harmful properties
of America's other popular recreational substances, be they legal or

You never see a marijuana smoker staggering down the street, retching.
People stoned on marijuana don't get into belligerent fist fights at
parties.  There's no such thing as an insulting stoner who suddenly
makes a grab for another person's spouse.  Marijuana makes people
passive, never aggressive.  Someone driving while high on marijuana
tends to go slower and be more cautious than when he's sober.  Not even
the police will claim that people rob from others to support their
marijuana habits.

One could argue that America should ban all stimulants, depressants and
psychoactive substances, that in addition to eradicating marijuana,
cocaine, heroin, morphine, psychedelics, PCP and cocaine we should also
prohibit the use of beer, wine, distilled spirits, cigarettes and
perscription tranquilizers, sleeping pills and mood elevators.  There's
also a good argument for banning television, too, while we're at it.

It would take quite an effort to clean up America totally.  It would
take more than politicians posturing and law enforcement officials
forcing us all to pee into bottles.  That's just show and empty talk.
A total cleanup would require a major shift in a culture that is
predicated on addiction to ever-more-pleasant novelty, an addiction
reinforced daily by advertising and media imagery.

In the absence of a common will to change a society in which people
readily turn to "drugs" -- be it cocaine, MTV or Chivas Regal --
marijuana seems to be the easiest target.  It may also be the wrong
Andrew Scott Beals
bandy@lll-crg.arpa	{ihnp4,seismo,ll-xn,qantel,pyramid}!lll-crg!bandy
LLNL, P.O. Box 808, Mailstop L-419, Livermore CA 94550 (415) 423-1948

Amu, ne armu!