this is the statment I made before the Drug Demand Reduction Advisory Committee, which advises the Governor of Texas on Demand Reduction and Drug Policy in general in the State of Texas. The meeting took place Tuesday, July 30th at the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
For the record, I spoke as a Unitarian Universalist (how I signed in as well) not as a member of DPFT or UUDPR.
First of all, Iıd like to thank the Committee for being open to hearing the views and concerns of the public in their process of considering the official drug policy of the State of Texas. I think thatıs very necessary and itıs my hope that you will continue to do so.
Hi, my name is Justin Gardner, and Iım a Unitarian Universalist from San Antonio.
Our denomination has just recently passed a Statement of Conscience concerning drug policy in the United States of America.
Iıd like to read a portion of that Statement here today. I have a number of copies of the full statement available for anyone who is interested. It can also be found online at www.uudpr.org thatıs Unitarian Universalists for Drug Policy Reform.
After reading a portion of the Statement, Iıd like to touch on some personal issues regarding how drug policy in the State of Texas affects me personally.
This is from the Statement:
"The war on drugs has blurred the distinction between drug use and drug abuse. Drug use is erroneously perceived as behavior that is always out of control and harmful to others. Illegal drug use is thus portrayed as threatening to society. As a result, drug policy has been closed to study, discussion, and consideration of alternatives by legislative bodies. Yet many people who use both legal and illegal drugs live productive, functional lives and do no harm to society.
As Unitarian Universalists committed to a free and responsible search for truth, we must protest the misguided policies that shape current practice. We cannot in good conscience remain quiet when it is becoming clear that we have been misled for decades about illegal drugs. United States government drug policy makers mislead the world about the purported success of the war on drugs. They tell the public that success is dependent upon even more laws restricting constitutional protections and the allocation of billions of dollars for drug law enforcement. They mislead the public about the extent of corruption and environmental degradation that the American war on drugs has left in its wake in other countries."
The Statement goes on to name a number of alternative goals and policy recommendations.
On a personal note, my Grandmother is 1/4 Choctaw Indian. My father being 1/8 Choctaw, is the last of my family to be able to formally belong to the Choctaw Tribe. At 1/16 Choctaw I am unable to legally claim membership in our tribe or to participate in the rituals and membership of the Native American Church.
My issue, and I am not alone in this, is two-fold. My first is that while my Grandmother and Father are protected by the Constitution in their practice of Religious Freedom, I am not.
The second, is that I know from experience what it is to revere a consciousness altering substance, such as peyote, as a sacrament, to know with oneıs whole being that these plant are not just inanimate objects, but are in fact life forms, beings with whom we can commune.
I know from experience that relationships with these teachers can, in the right setting, with the right instruction, transform oneıs life and character such that one can become ever more akin to the spiritual ideals which have been promoted by spiritual traditions the world over for millennia.
I am not alone in this.
Native Americans are not alone in this.
Americans around this country are living in fear because they feel that the United States does not protect their Religious Freedom. They fear that the United States is not interested in hearing the truth in their own souls and in their own hearts of how they come closer to God, and how God has transformed their lives and their community.
I donıt think this is what America was meant to be about.
Most people like myself would be too afraid of the reprisals and negative repercussions or of not being taken seriously, to come to an official government body like this at this time in our history, and reveal ourselves. To come out of the closet and say, yes we too are a part of America, and yes we too deserve a place at the table, and we too are concerned about our children and the health of our society.
Cultures around the world have understood how to have a different relationship with consciousness altering substances. They may refer to them as sacraments or as entheogens and they understand what it takes to transform that relationship so that instead of being a destructive force in the community, they can be a constructive force.
It has been shown in studies that members of the Native American Church who use peyote as part of their ritual have lower rates of alcoholism, spousal abuse and higher rates of employment than their tribesı members who do not belong to the Church. This is part of the work that had to be done in the 1990ıs to re-ensure that Native Americans in that Church would be allowed to continue using their sacrament.
I donıt think weıre even close to discussing these issues in public. I rarely see any mention of Religious Freedom in any materials the government has in discussing the War on Drugs and the policies that are under consideration.
I think this needs to change and I hope you will welcome us at the table.
great job, dude. i feel as you do. im not nat. am. indian but do feel the gov. doesn't protect religious freedom. i have my bachelor of art degree in art education and use to smoke , but where i live now- the stuff is not any good. and a few other reasons. it makes me so mad at how the gov. is- that it makes me sick at times and then so very sad. smoking is one of the few things that i enjoy. im planning to go back to school to get my masters in art ed. i have also thought about getting a degree in relig. studies. that is how i came across this web site. i know the gov. is screwing us, but it doesn't look hopefull to me. i see all these sites and people for the use of marijuana, but i don't ever hear of any kind of news towards a better life. to know you are helping to change peoples view is refeshing! i wish you the best in your endevors. i have thought of (again) becoming a norml member, but i probably wont. one reason i want to go back to school is so i can live in a bigger city where i may be able to gain some pot, since dumas, arkansas is not the place to get some weed. i was even arrested once for having pot. it was one of the worst experiences in my life. the reason i am not going to leave my email address is because- i compute from my parents store office and sometimes they accidently open my emails. i am going to leave my address though and if you are ever doing some campaining in ar. ( like you did in tx.) - you have a free place to stay. i was raised baptist (christian) and have always had strong beliefs- but for alot ( or a few) reasons- im searching. i don't know what for exactly but i so much like (from what i have read and seen so far) the "way" this church of con. c.info.center is working. im going to get back to the site and do what im doing. again- your article( statement) is very touching, inspiring and also- sad. it's not right the way the gov. "runs" things and somehow there has to be a change. anyway- i realize i have written more than i probably should have. if you want to write sometime or need a place to stay (1hr. and 30 min. from little rock) my address is: shawn p. johnson p.o. box 902 dumas, ar. 71639 im 32, so i probably shouldn't care if my parent's read something about marij. , but they are so against it(i blame the media, news and gov.) plus- they just aren't correctly informed and for some reasons that i don't really know - they are against it. but i am going to leave my email address but if you can do me a favor- don't really mention pot, or call it something that i know and they probably don't like- for example-, i don't know, maybe something like the church of cog.cic. or something- hell, nevermind- i can't risk them being in my shit again and ? losing ? thier ?trust. i will probably revist this site later and give you my email address but for the reasons i said- im not going to at this time. keep on keeping on. again- sorry this comment does the same(keeping on).
2. oohhh! Written on 12/11/03 at 18:22:14 MST by shawn
i didn't realize my comment was going to be POSTED! im sorry dan and mary and the rest of the church for cursing. shawn
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