By Alfa · Jun 21, 2004 · ·
  1. Alfa

    Some of the most prohibitive drug control laws ever were passed on
    Reagan's watch -- and Just Say No wasn't the half of it. As Reagan's
    deification by the media and the right reaches epic proportions, three
    of his less-than-endearing legacies deserve to be highlighted:

    Mandatory minimum drug sentences in 1986. This was the first time
    Congress passed mandatory minimum sentences since the Boggs Act in

    Federal sentencing guidelines: Under this new method of sentencing,
    which went into effect in 1987, prison time is determined mostly by
    the weight of the drugs involved in the offense. Parole was abolished
    and prisoners must serve 85 percent of their sentence. Except in rare
    situations, judges can no longer factor in the character of the
    defendant, the effect of incarceration on his or her dependents, and
    in large part, the nature and circumstances of the crime. The only way
    to receive a more lenient sentence is to act as an informant against
    others and hope that the prosecutor is willing to deal. The guidelines
    in effect stripped Article III of their sentencing discretion and
    turned it over to prosecutors.

    The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988: This law established a federal death
    penalty for "drug kingpins." President Reagan called it a new sword
    and shield in the escalating battle against drugs, and signed the bill
    in his wife's honor:

    Nancy, for your tireless efforts on behalf of all of us, and the love
    you've shown the children in your Just Say No program, I thank you and
    personally dedicate this bill to you. And with great pleasure, I will
    now sign the Anti-Drug...

    Did the law nab Pablo Escobar? No. The law's first conquest was David
    Ronald Chandler, known as "Ronnie." Ronnie grew marijuana in a small
    town in rural, northeast Alabama. About 300 pounds a year. Ronnie was
    sentenced to death for supposedly hiring someone to kill his
    brother-in-law. The witness against him later recanted. Clinton
    commuted Chandler's death sentence to life.

    While we agree Nancy Reagan is to be lauded for her caretaking of her
    husband the past ten years, we must also point out that she is
    responsible for the "Just Say No" campaign against drugs, which
    ultimately deteriorated into a punchline. Remember this famous Nancy

    Not long ago in Oakland, Calif., I was asked by a group of children
    what to do if they were offered drugs. And I answered, 'Just Say No.'
    Soon after that those children in Oakland
    formed a Just Say No Club
    and now there are over 10,000 such clubs all over the country.

    As a result of these flawed drug policies initiated by then President
    Reagan, (and continued by Bush I, Clinton and Bush II) the number of
    those imprisoned in America has quadrupled to over 2 million. These
    are legacies that groups like Families Against Mandatory Minimums are
    still fighting today. Even George Shultz, Ronald Reagan's former
    secretary of state, acknowledged in 2001 that the War on Drugs is a

    In Smoke and Mirrors, Dan Baum, a former Wall Street Journal reporter,
    provides a detailed account of the politics surrounding Reagan's war
    on drugs.

    Conservative parents' groups opposed to marijuana had helped to ignite
    the Reagan Revolution. Marijuana symbolized the weakness and
    permissiveness of a liberal society; it was held responsible for the
    slovenly appearance of teenagers and their lack of motivation. Carlton
    Turner, Reagan's first drug czar, believed that marijuana use was
    inextricably linked to "the present young-adult generation's
    involvement in anti-military, anti-nuclear power, anti-big business,
    anti-authority demonstrations." A public-health approach to drug
    control was replaced by an emphasis on law enforcement. Drug abuse was
    no longer considered a form of illness; all drug use was deemed
    immoral, and punishing drug offenders was thought to be more important
    than getting them off drugs. The drug war soon became a bipartisan
    effort, supported by liberals and conservatives alike. Nothing was to
    be gained politically by defending drug abusers from excessive punishment.

    Drug-control legislation was proposed, almost like clockwork, during
    every congressional-election year in the 1980s. Election years have
    continued to inspire bold new drug-control schemes. On September 25 of
    last year Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich introduced legislation
    demanding either a life sentence or the death penalty for anyone
    caught bringing more than two ounces of marijuana into the United
    States. Gingrich's bill attracted twenty-six co-sponsors, though it
    failed to reach the House floor. A few months earlier Senator Phil
    Gramm had proposed denying federal welfare benefits, including food
    stamps, to anyone convicted of a drug crime, even a misdemeanor.
    Gramm's proposal was endorsed by a wide variety of senators-including
    liberals such as Barbara Boxer, Tom Harkin, Patrick Leahy, and Paul
    Wellstone. A revised version of the amendment, limiting the punishment
    to people convicted of a drug felony, was incorporated into the
    welfare bill signed by President Clinton during the presidential
    campaign. Possessing a few ounces of marijuana is a felony in most
    states, as is growing a single marijuana plant. As a result, Americans
    convicted of a marijuana felony, even if they are disabled, may no
    longer receive federal welfare or food stamps. Convicted murderers,
    rapists, and child molesters, however, will continue to receive these

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  1. sands of time
    Yep, this is what I remember him most for.
  2. Woodman
    This is true!

    I liked Reagan. I STILL like reagan, but I think one of the worst things he did was to overlook the freedoms that founded our country.

    Morphine, cocaine, pot, were all relatively unrestricted at the beginning of the 20th century.

    TODAY, evil foreign cartels control street justice in the USA.

    It is OBVIOUS that the war on drugs is a failure.

    The "Vietnam War" didn't last as long, and how many have died as a result of this post-modern prohibition agenda.

    It's time to declare an end to this war with reasonable terms that will pacify both sides.

    How much death, destruction,and loss of potential TAX REVENUE does it take for government officials to recognize financial loss & political failure?
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