The War on Drugs is a War on Us

The War on Drugs is a failure and has not achieved anything.

Since the 1970s, constant smear campaigns against psychedelics and marijuana have plagued our televisions and our public schools while alcohol and tobacco are normalized, though they are more damaging.

This 40-year campaign has brought a stigma onto people who have addictions, people who are recovering from addictions and people who consciously decide to take drugs for recreation or therapeutic purposes.

After 40 years of this, I demand to say no more.

Despite being legalized for medical use in more than half the country, marijuana is still illegal and a Schedule I drug, which claims the drug has no medical properties and is highly addictive.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has consistently pushed back rescheduling the drug to a lower class, which is not only delaying further research that should be done, but is also preventing people from being able to receive a medical treatment that–proven by the minimal science there is–that works for them.

Psychedelics have also been used for therapeutic purposes; there’s a nonprofit organization dedicated to studying this. The furthest along in this medical study is MDMA-assisted therapy assisting those who have severe traumas or post-traumatic stress disorder that has been immune to other treatments. It is in its final trials before going to the Food and Drug Administration.

The Drug War in the United States also began the sharp spiking of mass incarceration, with black and brown bodies being put in jail at disproportionately higher rates than those of their white counterparts. The Drug War has been used to promote racism through a “colorblind concept” lens, leading people to ignore the underlying intersections of how institutional racism has played a role in the racial profiling that happens because of the War on Drugs.

I tell you these things because for too long people have been bought into the idea that drug use or drug addiction are a criminal issue; people believing that people who use them should be locked in jail. But it is more than just taking people to jail and making sure they don’t have their addiction. Addiction is no longer seen as a behavioral problem, but actually a disease that disorders the brain.

Not only do we have to combat the social stigmas surrounding drug use, addiction and policies, but we also need to reform current policies in order to make sure drug use is treated differently. We must focus more on education and harm reduction than on incarcerations and punishments.

We cannot be complacent about what happens to our drug laws with the Trump Administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been an opponent of marijuana and a supporter of the Drug War since its beginning.

“Reefer madness” is a myth. The D.A.R.E. program is outdated and no longer serves a purpose in a society where marijuana is used medically.

Now is the time to change the way we handle this.

This column was edited and republished by the original author.

This column was originally published in the independent student publication, the BG News,on March 20, 2017 which can be found here.

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Spousal Rape Needs More Attention

Spousal rape is a rape that is less talked about in conversations about rape and rape culture because the power dynamic is more than just that of the perpetrator and the victim.

It is a rape that occurs between a husband and wife (or husband-husband or wife-wife).

In the state of Ohio, a person can be charged with rape if they impair another person’s judgment or self-control to prevent their resistance. This could be done through giving the victim drugs, controlled substances or any other intoxicant through force, intimidation or lying.

Spousal rape wasn’t included into Ohio law until 1986, but it was only if there was “force” or a “threat of force.” Situations where one spouse drugs another without their knowledge and rapes do not qualify as spousal rape under the law.

This is a loophole that victim advocates and state representatives are trying to close with House Bill 97, but only 17 lawmakers—all of them Democrats—have signed to co-sponsor this bill.

H.B. 97 would eliminate spousal exceptions for rape, sexual bettery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, gross sexual imposition and public indecency. Currently, spouses can only be charged with these crimes if the victim is either not their spouse or is their spouse but they live separately.

First, we have to establish that regardless if it is between two people who are married, rape is still rape and it can occur in marriages. Being married to someone does not stop human beings from being able to consent to sex on their own terms.

Second, the state government has to know (or should know by this point through H.B. 97) the spousal exemption of force or threat of force is hard to prove in the court of law. A victim spouse could have physical injury done to them due to the crime, but it would be disputed by courts as to whether or not the injury happened because of the rape or because of something else. A threat of force can easily be seen in courts as “he said/she said.” Both of these exemptions already make it hard for spouses to report cases of rape because not only are these two statutes going to be hard to prove in court, but the lack of presence could prevent spouses from getting rape kits in hospitals.

If we eliminate these exemptions from spousal rape, we may be able to see a start in spouses reporting their rapes and justice being served for these people, regardless if the perpetrator was their partner. Marital status and living situations should not be issues that are exempted from rape cases.

Last, I find it to be unsurprisingly disgusting that there is not a single Republican in the General Assembly who has co-sponsored this bill. While we have heard and seen our fair share of Republicans say horrid things about rape, abortion and Planned Parenthood, anyone– regardless of political party–should be able to see the importance of eliminating this loophole.

Rape is horrid and traumatic the United Nations considers it a war crime. It is unfair to believe rape cannot happen between two people just because they have their names on a marriage license together. Rape does not discriminate; rape is illegal and a crime. No one, not even spouses, should be exempt from being tried for that crime.

This column has been formatted for the internet and edited by the original author.
This column first appeared in the independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.

Pipeline raises concerns for many groups

A pipeline in the Midwest has caught the attention of the press and the people affected by it through a string of protests that have been happening since spring.

The Dakota Access Pipeline Project is a new pipeline, meant to carry 470,000 barrels of crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa, to the state of Illinois daily.

Construction of the pipeline was granted in March 2016. Dakota Access, the company constructing the pipeline, hoping the pipeline would be constructed and running by the start of 2017, but the protesting by both Native Americans and environmental activists has halted construction.

President Obama met with tribal leaders earlier this week to hear their concerns about the pipeline, but no remarks were made after the meeting.

The pipeline will have capacity as high as 570,000 pounds, according to a website about the pipeline created by Energy Transfer.

The website also said the $3.7 million investment will create up to 12,000 construction jobs. Dakota Access said the pipeline would “bring significant economic benefits to the region.” According to CNN, Dakota Access also said pipelines were the safest, most cost-effective and responsible way to move crude oil between locations.

“Originally the pipeline was slated to go closer to Bismarck,” said Andrew Kear, an assistant professor at the University. He’s in both the political science and the environment and sustainability departments. “(It’s) an urban area, more affluent, and they thought that there would be more political opposition to a pipeline going closer to a heavily populated border of an urbanized area; rather than sending the pipeline towards a more rural, less populated—but nonetheless, land that’s close to Native Americans.”

Earlier this month, the US Department of Justice ruled that construction of the pipeline bordering a North Dakota lake would not continue.

At the end of April, the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, along with the EPA, the Department of Interior and the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation, sent separate letters to the Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency overseeing the pipeline. The three agencies called for the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment and issue an Environment Impact Statement.

The Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes have argued with federal judges that the Army Corps of Engineers did not properly assess the impact the pipeline could have on the cultural sites of the tribes and the effects an accidental spill could have. The tribe also argues the pipeline could affect the river, which could impact not only their only source of clean water, but could also impact the drinking water of 18 million other people.

Native American reservations have tribal sovereignty, which means that they are supposed to have jurisdiction of their own lands, without interference from state governments. The federal government handle issues pertaining to Native Americans.

In August, David Archambault II, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, wrote an opinion editorial for The New York Times. He writes the Dakota Access Pipeline has been “fast-tracked from Day 1, using the Nationwide Permit No. 12, which grants exemption from environmental reviews required by the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by treating the pipeline as a series of small construction sites.”

Archambault also wrote that the Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Missouri River (the river the pipeline will be built under it) in 1958, taking away their natural resources and land in order to create Lake Oahe.

A judge also denied Standing Rock’s request to stop the pipeline earlier this month as well, which prompted the tribe to take their cause and statement all the way to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, where David Archambault II spoke as part of a hearing on indigenous rights.

“While we have gone to the court in the United States our courts have failed to protect our sovereign rights, our sacred places and our water,” he said.

This article has been edited by the original author.
This article was originally published in the independent student publication, The BG News. You can find this version here.

New Hampshire pulls staggering results

After losing to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Iowa Caucuses by a narrow percentage, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary Tuesday night by nearly 20 percent.

With 60 percent of the Democratic vote, Sanders accredited high voter turnout for having a hand in his victory.

According to this same exit poll, Trump was the top pick for a majority of voters who are under the age of 64.

Among all voters under the age of 30 Sanders beat Clinton by a whopping 84-15 percent margin, according to an exit poll conducted by ABC News

On the Republican side, businessman Donald Trump won 35 percent of the vote and Ohio governor John Kasich came in second with 16 percent, according to an exit poll done by CNN.

However, the primary that will be happening in Ohio on March 15 will be different from the one we saw in New Hampshire, according to University political science professor David Jackson.

“We’re a much more representative reflection(s) of the rest of the country than New Hampshire, demographically,” Jackson said. “Ohio is always a competitive state in general elections for president because of the fact that demographically and politically [Ohio is] very much like the country overall.”

While it’s unsure if college students will vote more in this election than in previous years, Jackson says we may not know for sure if young voters are showing up in higher numbers.

Film Production major Nicole Bogdanobic hopes that more students come out and vote.

“I just feel like a lot of people…think that this stuff just doesn’t apply to them, but it does,” she said. “I hope there’s a greater population of people voting.”

Jackson pointed out though that things in elections change fast.

According to the exit poll done by ABC News, Bernie Sanders has most of the white vote and Clinton has the most of the non-white vote.

Jackson also recommended that if students do register to vote, they should register in Wood County while attending Bowling Green State University.

“If you plan to be a student here for four years, you’re basically going to spend 36 out of 48 months of the next four years living in Bowling Green,” he said. “There’s always this thought that students have: ‘Yeah, well I’ll go home to vote….’ It’s too easy to skip over and forget.”

This article has been updated by the original author.
This article was printed on Feb. 11, 2016 in the independent student publication, The BG News which can be found here.