“Once upon a time there was a girl named Wendy who was very beautiful and very happy and had lots of friends but then one day she did some heroin and got addicted and lost everything and then she died.
– A very, um, beautiful poem on an ad in the DEA Museum
Who the hell knew the DEA had a museum? Not me, and not my friend Ed — otherwise we would have gone years ago. Honestly, it’s everything you would expect it to be…terrible and hilarious, all at once. I highly recommend that you go if you’re ever in Pentagon City.
I already talked about the museum in my first ever YouTube video (woohoo!), but it’s even worse than the comical portrayal of marijuana. Obviously the DEA is stuck in the mindset that drug use should be criminalized instead of treated as addiction (or, in moderation, left alone) and that the police need to be armed and treated as a militia in order to “combat” the problem.
In reality, the War on Drugs is a dated and terrible concept, a waste of resources that could be better used on almost anything else. For anyone who is interested in understanding the link between racism and the War on Drugs, check out The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. It’s a fantastic book, and honestly should be on high school required reading lists. Her argument is that the drug laws in America recreate the Jim Crow laws; because it’s okay to discriminate against felons, making laws and enforcing them in a way that make a disproportionate amount of black people criminals allows for continued racial discrimination.
As we walked around the museum, Ed pointed out all of the cocaine exhibits kind of implied that it looked like they didn’t want to criminalize blow for a while. I agreed — white people were doing coke, so there wasn’t the drive to punish them for it. I think we’re all aware of the disgusting differences in the laws between cocaine and crack, but it was startling to see the history.
“These green snake-skin shoes were worn in the early 1970s by a federal drug agent working undercover in the Detroit band business: ‘These drug dealers were jet setters, white guys trying to be like black guys, dealing in PCP and then cocaine.'”
As we make the transition to decriminalization of marijuana, let’s not forget that FAFSA requires students have no drug convictions on their record. Can we even imagine the number of students that couldn’t afford to go to college because they got caught with small amount of marijuana or cocaine? Underage drinking citations don’t come with a loss of federal funds for school.
How many decades have been spent teaching our children that marijuana is a schedule one drug because it’s extremely dangerous — that it’s on par with heroin and less dangerous than cocaine (a schedule two drug)? How many teenagers have disregarded everything they’ve heard the FDA or their teachers or parents say about drugs after they smoked pot for the first time or hung out with people who smoke? I mean, if weed is more dangerous than coke…bring it on!
I think American society is slowly becoming disgusted with the loss of freedom (and lives) that is a direct result of the drug war. We’re constantly hearing about “isolated incidents” — they clearly aren’t isolated. We’re no Portugal, but I’m hopeful that people will get tired of hearing about our legal system and police doing things like….
Of course, I did see parents that were glad to teach their children the crack den and the head shop are equal evils, so who knows what is in store for America.