-General Purpose Statement-
The Foundation to End Drug Unfairness Policies (FED-UP) was organized in 2000 to stop the wholesale violation of human rights--specifically individual’s rights to decide what citizens may or may not do with their own body or what they may consume.
Human rights cannot depend on what is popular or not popular at a particular time. Rather, the litmus test must be whether the individual is physically harming another. If there is no outside victim, there is no crime. Individual choice may result in injury to oneself, but that decision must be made on the most personal level possible—by each separate human being.
One of the worst violations of human rights is the current drug war. It has imprisoned thousands of non-violent offenders, corrupted our policing agencies, violated the U.S. Constitution through forfeiture laws that seize property without due process, and turned our government into a bully instead of a peacemaker. Other side effects of the drug war include violent crime, high taxation and larger organized crime gangs. However, the worst offense is the deterioration of freedom.
Like all wars, the American war on drugs has intruded upon neighboring nations. Thousands of innocent people have been harmed or killed in nations like Columbia where U.S. policy has interfered with the internal affairs of another country.
The nature of government is to acquire more power and authority to establish the perfect society. If individuals fail to adhere to the preconceived ideal, they become targets of harassment, prosecution and punishment. And to deter others from doing the same, strong legislation is often passed that goes far beyond the original intent. For instance, to track the flow of possible drug money, the U.S. government has passed laws to spy on the personal bank accounts of every American citizen, similar to the atrocities of the Patriot Act. To listen to conversations of possible drug kings, the U.S. government has acquired the power to wiretap almost any phone line or trace any e-mail. And to stop drug trafficking, the government has passed laws restricting the free flow of travel.
Government agencies are prepared to stop at nothing to prevent individuals from taking illegal substances. And in their fervor, they have shown that they are willing to sacrifice any personal liberty to accomplish their goals. If the government can violate any human rights in controversial cases, they can surely do so in more mundane ones. The floodgates have been flung wide open and basic human rights are now at risk. We at FED-UP are determined to close the gate and restore a more peaceful and free society.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE DRUG WAR?
Asset Forfeiture: Undermining Liberty in the Name of the Law
Everything. If it is impossible to keep illegal drugs out of the prison system, how can government keep it out of a relatively free society? But there is a darker side to the Drug War--asset forfeiture laws. In order to seize the property of citizens, policing agencies are spending more time targeting citizens with expensive property than chasing after violent criminals.
For instance, early in the morning of Oct. 22, 1992, 61-year-old Donald Scott was awakened by an army of 31 people from eight law enforcement agencies. They broke into Scott's home at his 200-acre Trail's End Ranch in Malibu, California. His wife screamed that intruders were in the house and as Scott came out of the bedroom with a pistol in his hand, he was shot and killed. The agents searched the house and grounds but failed to locate any illegal drugs.
The district attorney from Ventura County, Michael Bradbury, investigated the raid and issued a report stating that "a primary purpose of the raid was a land grab by the (Los Angeles County) Sheriff's Department." Just before the raid, government officials had been informed that the ranch was worth over 1 million dollars and that "80 acres sold for $800,000 in 1991 in the same area." Bradbury later declared that the search warrant was "bogus," and that a Los Angeles sheriff's deputy had lied to obtain the search warrant. The informant cited by the Sheriff's Department denied ever accusing Scott of being involved in illicit drugs. (From James Bovard in Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty).
In 2000 the government finally agreed to award $5 million to Scott's heirs and estate in return for dropping a wrongful death lawsuit. However, nobody was ever charged with Scott's death, and the LA Sheriff's Department still maintains that they had done nothing wrong.
Hundreds of forfeiture tragedies similar to Donald Scott's have occurred in the United States. Government officials are seizing people's property based on rumors from anonymous informants. The drug war has gone far beyond the enforcement of drug laws. It has become a mob-like racket to rob citizens of their property in order to supplement an otherwise inadequate budget. America has entered a dangerous new era of secret police forces and government agencies that are destroying decency, constitutional law and our traditional rights to life and property. Is the Drug War worth our freedom? Is it worth losing everything for which past generations have fought and died? End the war on our liberties by ending the War on Drugs.
THE WAR ON DRUGS AND SELF-OWNERSHIP
People have a right to their bodies.
This simple statement has been echoed by many, including John Locke (1600’s) and most recently Prof. Robert Nozick at Harvard University, author of Anarchy, State, and Utopia.
Self-ownership means that every human being has the right to live his life as he chooses. Further, everyone also has the “equal right” to be left alone by those who want to live as they choose. In other words, individuals can act in accordance with their own choices, providing that those actions do not infringe on the equal liberty of another.
Liberty is not a license to do anything. The initiation or the threat of physical force against another denies a person’s self-ownership. This is why all the various drug laws are terribly wrong. They permit a third party—government—to determine choices for people. How can anyone own himself/herself if they cannot even determine what to ingest? How can there be liberty if people are arrested and jailed simply because they smoked a plant for medical or non-medical use. Other drugs, like alcohol and nicotine/tar in cigarettes, are far more dangerous than marijuana. If someone is found drunk on the street, he might spend a night in the drunk-tank, sent home and encouraged to join Alcoholics Anonymous. A caught drug user will be jailed, put on trial, and if convicted might receive a life sentence.
But what are the alternatives if self-ownership is considered unacceptable. If people do not own their own bodies, then someone else does. Is it the butcher down the street, the mailman or a neighbor? Or is it the government? The question becomes; if people do not have the right to own themselfves, then where does the government get the right to own its citizens? Without self-ownership, citizens are in essence “slaves of the state.” Such a condition allows the government to do anything to their citizens—murder, rob, kidnap, etc. with impunity.
Some will argue that since citizens have a right to vote in a democracy individual rights will be protected. But often the majority ignores the basic right of self-ownership and votes in laws that persecute and injure minorities (i.e. Jim Crow laws in the South). Whether under dictators, kings or democarcy, individual rights must be supreme; otherwise nobody has the right to control their own life.
In the case of drugs, the issue is not whether illegal drugs are good or bad, it is whether the individual makes the final decision. No matter what people consume—drugs, fatty food, refined sugar, vitamins or arsenic—the individual is the only one that can make that choice. And whether a product is legal or illegal, a sovereign individual will still make choices. In an existential sense, a sovereign individual will still make choices and do what he or she believes is right. Freedom is eternal and the general public will someday demand full individual autonomy.
THE DRUG WAR:
IF THERE IS NO VICTIM, IS THERE A CRIME?
So what is a crime? The government’s so-called war on drugs is a great example of making criminal law where there is neither a crime nor a victim. When people trade for drugs, cars or washing machines, if both sides of the transaction are satisfied, there is no violation of rights, no injustice, no crime. The real question is far more fundamental: can government make anything a crime? When the Nazis put Jews into crematoriums, they were simply following the law. When Blacks were mistreated in the South by police and the authorities, they were simply following the Jim Crow/apartheid laws of the day. In reality, for a crime to exist, there must be a victim; someone must trespass against another. If there is no victim, there is no crime. If a person drinks too much or over-indulges with fatty foods, candy or cigars, has a crime been committed? Of course not. Crimes must involve physical aggression or fraud against others. That is exactly why victimless crime laws are phony laws.
The Oxford dictionary defines crime as "an evil or injurious act" or "wrong-doing, sin." The trouble is, who defines evil or wrong-doing? Currently, it is a crime for dairy farmers in California to give away milk to charity. Is private charity ever evil? Fidel Castro of Cuba once made the celebration of Christmas against the law. Is celebrating a holiday immoral? In Afghanistan under the Taliban, it was illegal to fly kites or for men to shave off their beards. In fact, it was illegal to preach any religion expect the Muslin faith in Afghanistan. If caught, the penalty could be death. Obviously, there seems to be no limit to what a government will codify into laws.
The laws against so-called illegal drugs are immoral because there is simply no crime involved. The whole concept of freedom is to allow each individual the choice to decide what to do with his or her life. Unfortunately, centralizing authorities want to control people and their actions, and are willing to pass any laws they deem to be righteous. And yet, nobody can really make decisions for another. Most citizens know right from wrong and will do what they believe is right and will follow their convictions and lifestyles, no matter what legislators write into their laws. Drugs can be dangerous, but not nearly as dangerous as a government willing to outlaw anything and everything.
GOVERNMENT PERSECUTION OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Since the Proposition 215 in 1996, legalized the use of medical marijuana in California, many local law enforcement agencies have ignored the law. Throughout the state, dozens of patients with a doctor’s prescription to use medical marijuana have been spied upon, arrested and jailed as if they were criminals.
One of the best known cases is that of Steve Kubby, the gubernatorial candidate for the Libertarian Party in 1998. Diagnosed with terminal adrenal cancer in 1975, Kubby was told that he would live no longer than five years; nobody had outlived the disease beyond that time period. Vincent DeQuattro, a specialist at the University of Southern California Medical Center has referred to Kubby as a medical miracle, and said that smoking pot has played a part in keeping his tumors in check. The physician send a letter to Placer County arguing that depriving Kubby of medical pot is endangering his life.
During the raid, both Steve Kubby and his wife were arrested at their Lake Tahoe home on suspicion of possessing marijuana plants and cultivation with the intent to sell. However when the commando raiders discovered Kubby’s legal paperwork for medical marijuana, the drug agents backed off until the district attorney arrived and arrested them anyway.
One of Kubby’s supporters, Brian Cross, said after the raid, “The police aren’t here to protect us. We used to call them ‘peace officers’ because their job was to maintain the peace."
After they were handcuffed, the Kubby’s were forced to march through a blizzard to get to a transport truck. Freezing and miserable, they were taken to a jail cell in Auburn, where they spent a night in an unheated holding tank. Steve spent the night vomiting and shivering and lost 15 pounds in less than a week. Soon after the ordeal, Michelle contracted pneumonia.
Steve and Michelle Kubby are waiting for their day in court and expect to win. He had 31.2 pounds of smokable weed—roughly half of what the federal government provides to licensed medical-marijuana smokers for a year.
If the government refuses to obey their own laws, how can they expect citizens to give their respect and cooperation? Some politicians and law enforcement agencies are only concerned with their own control and power. Medical marijuana laws dilute their control, which is a major reason to support the individual rights of ailing patients and their doctors to make these important decisions. If the government can ignore these rights, then they can do it in less controversial areas.