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May 25, 2009

Message from the Gulag

The following was OCR'd from a typed message received from Dustin in yesterday's mail. When we spoke on the phone this morning; he was still optimistic and in remarkably good spirits, even though he had already heard of Eddy Lepp's obscene sentence.

I know he would be delighted if anyone reading his message took the trouble to let him know; and that he's remembered.


For a moment, I thought I was hallucinating. Sure, there have been a number of clues lately that there could be a sea change afoot in the war on drugs: the recent Zogby Poll showing 52% of Americans now support outright legalization of marijuana, Assemblyman Ammanio's bill in California to legalize marijuana, and all the other support it has received; Hillary Clinton's comment in Mexico that the American appetite for illegal drugs is helping drive the drug war violence in Mexico; the call for decriminalization of all drugs by several former Latin American Presidents; the promise of Attorney General Holder to stop the D.E.A. raids against Medical Marijuana care givers. and the President's call to end the disparity in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine. But none of this was as stunning or as helpful as the new Drug Czar's call for an end to the War on Drugs in his first interview after his confirmation only hours before, which was the page three Headline in the May 14th, 2009 Wall Street Journal.

As the realization sunk in that this was no mirage, and even before I actually read the article, I excitedly showed it around to other inmates here at Big Spring, most of whom are doing time behind drugs. This is a place where rumors of relief, of a return to sanity in government, have circulated since the beginning of the prison system. For years we've heard rumors of a return of parole, an end to Mandatory Minimums, wiping out the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentencing, and a move toward a common sense drug policy; so I wasn’t surprised when my enthusiasm was greeted with the occasional cynical response, "so what, it don't mean nothin' . . . , but most of the inmates I showed it to were mildly, to very enthusiastic. I think this time the cynics are wrong. I think when America's Drug Czar says the War on Drugs isn't working and it’s time for a new approach, it means something.

For instance, Drug Czar Kerlikowske believes drug policy should shift in emphasis from enforcement to medical, this is an opening for Harm reduction strategies for which medical marijuana is ideally suited! This could be an opportunity for Medical Marijuana to show its effectiveness as a substitute for alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin addiction. Pot Docs have been recommending marijuana for years as a Harm Reduction strategy with excellent results. Perhaps now we can become a recognized and potent force in helping to wean the addicted away from the monkey on their backs.

The door is not only open now for Harm Reduction, but also for rescheduling marijuana.

Further, as more states come on line with Medical Marijuana laws of their own, (perhaps as many as 20 or more will have Medical Marijuana laws on their books by the end of 2009) there will be a move to legalize it nationally.

Much of what is positive now in opposition to the War on Drugs is due to the relentless and courageous efforts of people in the Medical Marijuana community, but none of it would be possible were it not for Marijuana's tremendous popularity. Of all the illegal drugs, Marijuana is not only the most popular and least harmful, it is also safe and effective medicine.

Sitting here in this Federal Gulag in Big Spring, Texas, witnessing the changes going on on the outside, I only wish I could be there for the final push. This is an ideal time to organize and lead and actually make a difference - unfortunately for me, I won't have that satisfaction - but I urge anyone with a talent to lead and organize to seize this moment. Make a difference!!

Dustin R. Costa 62406097

Federal Correctional Institution

1900 Simler Ave

Big Spring, Tx 79720

Posted by tjeffo at May 25, 2009 02:20 AM