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Who We Are and Why We Fight: "People Who Do Drugs, and People Who Don't, Will End the War on Drugs"

The foremost U.S. authority on the harm of the drug war paints a clear and brilliant picture of the path to a better future.

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But do you know who else we are? We are also the people who hate drugs. We are the people who have seen the worst that drugs can do. We are the people living with addiction in our lives, in our own families and in our own communities. We are the people who have lost children to an overdose, and a brother or a sister to HIV, and a cousin to Hep C, and whose parents were alcoholics or drug addicts. We are the people who have seen the gateway theory manifest itself in our own lives and families. We are the people that wish we could have the drug-free society, the drug-free world, but who know that that is not possible, and who know that no matter how much we hate drugs, that the War on Drugs is not the way to deal with the reality.  

And, you know what else we are? We’re the people who don’t give a damn about drugs. We’re the people who don’t consider ourselves drug-users. I mean, my kid may be on Ritalin, my wife’s on Prozac, my dad’s on Viagra, but we don’t see ourselves as drug users. What do you care about? We care about fundamental freedom and preserving the Bill of Rights in America. What do we care about? We care about ending the violence and degradation and corruption in Mexico and other countries that have been harmed immensely by the drug war. What do we care about? About ending the racial injustice and the class injustice of the War on Drugs in our society. What do we care about? About treating addiction as a health issue. What do we care about? Individual freedom and human rights and civil rights and all of the important values that we care about. And we target the War on Drugs because it is the single, most vicious thing undermining the values that we care about deeply.  

So, who are we, this emerging drug policy reform movement? We are the people who love drugs. We are the people who hate drugs. And we are the people who don’t give a damn about drugs. But, every one of us believes that the War on Drugs is not the way to deal with this reality in our society. When people who are embracing 5 to 10 to 20 years in recovery can stand up and say legalize marijuana; when people who have lost somebody to a drug overdose can stand up and say end the incarceration; when people who believe that marijuana is the greatest medicine in the world can stand up to the doctors and the people suffering from pain for whom marijuana is not the answer, for whom an opium drug is the answer; then we become a movement. When the people on the left and the people on right; when the Gavin Newsoms and the Gavin Johnsons can stand together, then we are a movement. When the young and the old stand up together, then we are a movement. And when we can envision a future, a future not in which our leftist ideals and our rightist ideals are the ones that vanquish, but where we envision a future in which we represent the radical center; in which we represent the people who believe in the fundamental decency of mankind, who believe that government can occasionally do good, but always has to be held accountable. When we understand that nobody should be discriminated against or amongst because of what they put in their body; when we understand that our love or hatred of drugs cannot divide us -- it’s all about fighting the oppression of the government and of the popular mindset that oppresses us -- then we are a movement.