Voting Against the War on Drugs

Third party candidate Tom Golisano is gaining rapidly in the New York polls against incumbent governor Pataki and democrat McCall. Most importantly, his rapid rise in the polls is based on his recently released media campaign attacking the Rockefeller drug laws of New York and his plan to repeal those laws.

Everyone, it seems, wants to reform drug laws these days. Canada has taken the audacious steps of adopting a "regulated" medical marijuana law and of studying the possible decriminalization of marijuana use (despite protests from her keepers in Washington DC).

The Canadian Senate has already declared that marijuana is not a gateway drug and the House of Commons will shortly release a report on the non-medical use of marijuana.

By the way did I mention that President Bush's niece violated the terms of her court ordered drug treatment by hiding some crack cocaine in the heel of her shoe?

The Netherlands decriminalized marijuana long ago but recently Britain has reformed its drug laws and so has Portugal. Countries like Spain and Germany no longer put much effort or energy in enforcing laws against the possession and use of the softer drugs, like marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms. In the minds of many Europeans, the war on drugs is over, and the government lost.

Many states have passed medical marijuana laws, including at least eight states which have passed "effective" medical marijuana laws that provide at least some protection for doctor and patient against the federal drug thugs.

But real reform means repealing bad laws and this is what is so exciting about the Golisano campaign. The Rockefeller drug law is the worst in the country with the possession or sale of even small amounts of narcotics resulting in mandatory sentences of at least 15 years or longer. Today a narcotics arrest results in a destroyed life, a broken family, and $2 million in more taxes and government spending.

Golisano is campaigning to repeal the Rockefeller law entirely and is spending part of his considerable fortune on commercials that attack the laws as brutal and counterproductive. As a result his support in public opinion polls has increased significantly to 22% which is higher than Jesse Ventura was this close to the election. Golisano was running to the right of Pataki, attacking him as a liberal, calling for tax cuts, and declaring his opposition to gun control. Now his campaign is attracting blacks and Hispanics from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

By advancing the cause of radical reform Golisano has put new life into his campaign and broken the deadlock on drug policy reform. Everyone including Pataki and McCall supported "reform" of the drug laws, but nothing had passed. If the long-shot Golisano wins, drug reform wins, but even if he loses you can expect New York to reform Rockefeller and to pass a medical marijuana law to appease the voters.

Admittedly, even with Rockefeller repealed, federal drug laws will still be on the books, but state-level mandatory minimums will be gone. Non-violent drug users and small time dealers can be given light sentences or be directed to treatment programs. Voters and taxpayers will see that getting "soft" on the hard drugs will actually result in less crime, the world will not come to a drug-induced end, and the stage will be set for even further reform. Therefore, while it is still a "marginal" reform, it's the type of reform that lowers the bar for all drug law reform and sets the stage for future victory against the war on drugs. This is a big step forward from the medical marijuana movement.

Normally I don't encourage people to vote. However, a case can be made for voting for the underdog simply because politicians hate competition and they really hate 3rd party competition. In this case, a vote for Golisano also deals an important blow against the war on drugs.

As a former New Yorker, I greatly lament the state's voting record which has produced some of the worst politicians on the planet. Here is a state that even resorts to importation when the domestic crop of politicians is not sufficiently statist, devious, and destructive. The net result is the virtual destruction of New York and its economy over the last forty years. New York was once the leading economy in the world with leading high tech industries, significant diversified agriculture, as well as being tops in tourism, trade, entertainment, and banking. Today it staggers from high taxes, debt, and massive government.

One good vote will not earn my forgiveness, but it will be a start.

October 24, 2002