All about us can be seen the ravages and ruin that result from the “Drug War” of the late 20th century. Shattered lives, freedom enshackled, governments corrupted, and economies disrupted, all casualties in this politicized “War.”

It is estimated that 70 percent of the nation’s enormous prison population (over 1.6 million men and women) is based upon, or related to, drugs.

Not only is this enormous public expenditure done at the expense of educational and other social concerns, but the human cost bespeaks a generational tragedy.

How many mothers, fathers, sons and daughters have been caged because the ruling political order has condemned a certain chemical substance?

How many men and women have had their lives destroyed by drugs that are legal?

Why is one drug deemed legal and another illegal?

Why does the government damn one drug, while openly supporting another?

Aren’t all drugs bad for you?

Illegal drugs like cocaine and meth, when used to excess, cost an estimated 10,000 lives (or deaths) a year.

Legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco cost over 500,000 deaths per year.

The Wall Street Journal reported the existence of a 15-page draft report from the smoking giant Philip Morris that found nicotine, an active ingredient in tobacco, was a “similar, organic chemical” to cocaine, morphine, quinine and atropine. “While each of these substances can be used to affect the human physiology,” the report stated, “nicotine has a particularly broad range of influence.”

Nicotine, a chemical cousin of cocaine, like its relative, affects the brain.

Furthermore, nicotine, and other pollutants in tobacco, contribute to pulmonary emphysema, a deadly lung disease.

Who can question the poisonous impact of alcohol in crime, drunk driving, domestic violence and liver disease?

If nicotine is “chemically similar” to cocaine, why does the government pay subsidies to farmers to grow tobacco? Why does the government allow its sale through cigars, cigarettes, snuff and dip, to millions every day?

Why are American tobacco companies exporting tons of this poison to Asia, Africa and much of the Third World?

Of course, the answer is dough, bucks, baksheesh—money.

The megamillion-dollar tobacco companies ply their politicians with the funds for their campaigns; the politicians who write laws, ignore the millions who die bitter, choking, emphysemic deaths, and turn a blind eye to this poison.

I’m not suggesting smoking or drinking be made statutory crimes. (The 18th Amendment which prohibited import, sale, transport and manufacture of alcohol proved the error of that method, for it was later repealed.)

It is to show the hypocrisy of a government that okays the drugs it can tax, and fights the drugs it can’t.

From Death Row this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.

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