May 20th was great. The public forum which was a discussion on rethinking our current drug laws was well attended and informative. A representative from Oneida County Sherriff Dan Middaugh's drug task force attended, NYS Senator Joe Griffo also sent a rep.
We invited the District Attorney of Oneida County, The Mayor of Utica, The Utica Police Department and members of the Mohawk Valley Substance abuse industry. The DA Mayor and police did not send anyone.
But they were there in spirit.
Before the festivities began I had an opportunity to speak with Middaugh's rep (name withheld). He admitted his frustration with our current situation. He has seen many lives turned upside down as a result of use and interdiction. We both admitted our shortcoming when it comes to a solution but we both agreed that something needs to be changed.
"I just don't know Dave... I just don't know"
Our approach perhaps?
The notion of good and bad drugs maybe?
Ironically he alluded to the current battle in the sherriff's rural jurisdictions which has less to do with Crack (COCAINE) and Heroin ("bad bad drugs") and more to do with legally obtained prescriptions.
Peter Christ from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) provided a wealth of facts to illuminate the insanity of our government's current stance when it comes to controlled substances.
The discussion panel was assembled to address all the different variables.
Jessica Maxell from the Syracuse Peace Council was able to shed light on the affects of our High demand on the economy of Columbia. A country rich in natural resources yet The Coca plant is somehow (duh) the main cash crop. She showed how we retard their progress through our symbolic ($) support of whatever political body is in power.
The FARC which controls part of the country is not part of that 'support' conversation. The FARC which collects a 'street tax' on Cocaine exports and is essentially a 'terrorist' organization that is allowed to operate with impunity are direct beneficiaries of the illegal trade. Remember we are just talking Coke.
There are other substances like heroin or opium that drive other 'terrorist' economies the same way. In fact cartels in South America recently (past ten years) have started to produce opium effectively putting a dent in Asia's global market dominance of that particular commodity by at least 25%.
I'm not into the details of The FARC's struggles but I bet it has lot to do with rural exploitation of natural resources and land. Poor people being treated like shit.
With our foreign policy on drugs we navigate a minefield of business and personal interest each invested in the current 'illegal' structure. She had great info.
It's obvious our laws do not address the real problems that are the result of drug and alcohol abuse. We have chosen punishment after the fact over prevention. We refuse to acknowledge the demand instead we put out a dragnet and lock up anyone feeding it. On the other end, the treatment side, we provide 'legal' alternatives like methadone which essentially are worse (for your body) than the drug they are designed to replace. We regulate crave suppresors like Soboxin (spelling is questionable here) so they are only available to a limited number of addicts.
Panel member J. Barrett Lee an Episcopalian Minister and Drug Abuse Counselor talked about the streets and legions of poor addicted people who have never had a real grip on their existence. People used to standing in lines since they were children learning how to use the system like a band-aid.
People who do not know how to fish.
He spoke of the revolving door into jail, rehab , back to the streets, chronic disease then death.
He talked about stigmas that keep these people on the periphery of society content in their need.
Very important when you are part of something. It is sometimes difficult to imagine not having a clue of what to do next. J Barrett Lee gave us that perspective.
Larry Tanoury Jr. 25th district Legislator in Oneida County made a panel appearance. He clearly admitted his lack of knowledge on the subject but considered his attendance mandatory because so many of his constituents are affected by The War on Drugs. He was clearly enthused by all the new information he recieved and felt he was part of something 'grounbreaking' in New York State.
A surprise speaker and Addiction Specialist out of Clinton New York ,Dr. Robert Lowenstein, offered clear testimony about the challenges he faces trying to treat addicts.
In mohawk valley there are over a thousand registered heroin addicts. Soboxin a crave suppressor has been proven very effective when it comes to heroin addiction. Only addictionologist are allowed to administer (up to one hundred scrips) this drug it is regulated by the DEA and each Doctor with permission to prescribe it has to take several courses and regularly reapply. In mohawk valley several Doctors recently lost the legal right to prescribe the drug causing a backlog. In his words "there here several hundred addicts, who overnight, were suddenly unable to obtain perfectly legal prescriptions that, to date, had enabled these people to go about their daily lives without a relapse".
Without these drugs you can guess what happens next.
It was a poignant moment. to hear from a doctors mouth how frutrating it is to actually try to help and how ridiculous he sounds to an addict that can easily get the real deal. The problem with the real deal is they, the addict, has to trade in their hard fought integrity by using a ' different drug' because it is illegal and demonized.
Ask Rush Limbaugh he knows more about it than me, in fact, I bet he knows more than some Doctors and Presidents.
Of course yours truly, David Dancy, facilitated the discussion with unequaled professionalism. there we a few people in attendance hell bent on tangents but we needed to keep this discussion on the topic.
I did that.
It was filmed and will be posted on You Tube in the near future.
Any visitor to Dancyscorner will be the first to know.