Letter to the Editor of the Times-Standard, Eureka, CA, in response to an open invitation for communal input concerning Humboldt’s Drug Problem
Let’s stop punishing people in pain.
Take the nickel and dime cop game out of the equation and address addiction as the medical issue it is, and the root causes as the societal issues they are. See some progress:
1. Decriminalize everything.
2. Immediately release and drop charges on all possession only cases; target high end traffickers in drugs of abuse ONLY (businessmen, politicians, developers). Push for more Psychedelic research, use, and education- the most interesting forgotten tool in addressing addictions since Bill Wilson and Tim Leary exchanged letters 60 years ago.
3. No more low level drug arrests at all. Zero. Police target high end traffickers only. (This is just the start, because prohibition does NOTHING to help addiction, only adds to the PRICE TAG, it’s on it’s way out)
This leaves funds for:
1. The Addicted:
a. Safe use sites across the county where amphetamines, heroin, cocaine, methadone, etc. is given clean–sans street adulterants and dirty works, No breaking into homes for the flatware or the quad, no stolen cars sent to the Bay and no sex for the drugs. Clean drugs are available FREE OF CHARGE at supervised sites 3 x daily, with increased and improved counseling. (What presently passes for the California Addiction Studies Counselor Certification Program is a review of failed tired tactics from physicians, parole officers, rehab counsellors, and police justifying paychecks.
b. Increased improved supervised shelters and safe camping sites for the houseless. It’s an ever increasing mass that cannot be ignored and camping responsibly is A LOT cheaper than housing everyone at the Humboldt Hilton (the largest building in the largest city in this county is the jail, with a 50+ bed expansion recently requested) and continually cleaning up hazardous illegal campsites. Often the same sites, every week,,,,, What’s that definition of insanity often used in recovery circles? “Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”
c. With the black market gone, safe housing and access to medicine, TREATMENT BEGINS. For their clean and free drugs addicts will be working for the city. A single drive through any part of this county shows plenty of work to be done. Required jobs of anyone physically able, and an actual bed to sleep on after work.
d. INCREASE penalties on all other crimes: Theft, Rape, Home Invasions,…if you’re still out there committing crimes with safe access to medicine, you need locked up.
With extra resources properly trained officers should have the time to actually close many open cases; rapes home invasions and the like. The open murder in Arcata would be a good start. Retroactive investigation and closure of heinous yet open, unsolved crimes goes much further than writing seat belt tickets and sticking hands in a homeless addicts pockets. No more cheap stats. We want results.
e. USE EVERY TOOL in the tool belt; The 12 Steps, Ibogaine and DMT, rTMS and DXM, acupuncture, long hikes, psychotherapy, sweat lodges, bench presses, healthy non-processed foods, opportunities to serve others…ETC.
2. The “On Their Way”// The Youth:
a. Drug education in schools that tells the truth about everything from sugar to cannabis to opium to Viagra, and the vast differences in all that we call “drugs”.
b. Youth centers across the county including everything from boxing to basket weaving to badminton, basketball, batik, baking, home building, etc etc etc . What do they want and need?? We ask them and provide.
c. Every kid has a unique talent. Everyone. But even the lucky few with parents, teachers, and coaches around, so many go mentor-less, tutor-less, direction-less. With the need for community and connection so important, while scrambling to fit in somewhere, drugs and gangs have become the most readily available other option. Everyone wants to contribute something, some more than others, Let’s ensure EVERY kid has that chance.
As–still–promoting itself as the “only game in town” 12-Step groups often create a dangerous (deadly) divide between modern medicine and the Power of Myth.
Here’s the thing: sugar is the deadliest (taking numbers) and priciest (public health costs=more numbers) drug in our country! (thats is if you don’t include petroleum, its products and trinkets). Drop the Abstinence myth. It’s an outright lie. Bill Wilson did not need to take a “War on Drugs” and its ramifications into account, BUT WE MUST. The best a collective of recovering addicts could come up with in writing the preamble to Narcotics Anonymous was Nixon and Anslinger’s Drug Scheduling? Really!?! Cannabis is not heroin nor is it chocolate cake nor is the thirteen year old girl that takes to the needle exactly like the 50 year old man that takes to the bottle.
We are unique, and not terminally so, nor do we need the bones of others to recover on. WE NEED EACH OTHER. Recovery is not a contest, I really don’t care about your clean time other than to say I’m glad you’re alive and well today. When Darwin speaks of EVOLUTION, he speaks of Cooperation, not Competition. Exclusivity sucks, especially when it’s being served by serial bottom feeders. Anyone on whatever self selected or doctor prescribed medication they need to survive that day needs to have a voice and a seat SOMEWHERE. If you are going to call yourself the “only game in town” make THAT seat available and tell the 20 yr member with vacuum cleaner problems on repeat to keep quiet.
This is just a start. The problem runs so deep. The Need for More: gas, money, meetings, therapy, money, land, kids, sex, money, food, God, exercise, money et al.. must be examined. I won’t suggest Ayn Rand, but try reading Johann Hari or Gabor Mate: We are ALL somewhere on the addiction spectrum, indeed our economy would collapse were it otherwise.
Little has been learned since we drained our once abundant river(s) of their last fish, since ships routinely sank with the weight of clearcut forests on their way back to Spain. Our relationship to our environment, ourselves, each other, and what we really need to Thrive…….require serious review.
**Since this was first written Oregon has taken some interesting new steps, as have several other cities and states in crisis. The World Health Organization has even stepped up…