War on Drugs or War on Democracy?

In one week, most of us will head to the polls to cast our vote. This year’s decisive election will mean that every vote will count, especially in swing states where there is a tight race between the candidates. Unfortunately, 5.85 million Americans will not be able to voice their political views this November due to voting regulation laws which deny convicted felons the right to vote in most states. Since the 1970s, there has been a 500% increase in felon disenfranchisement due to the War on Drugs, which disproportionately affects poor, African American and Latino communities. This means that 7.66% – 1 out of every 13 African Americans – will be barred from the vote, an estimate that is four times greater than the rate for people who are not of African American descent. Out of the 10 states with the highest disenfranchisement rates, 7 are in the South. Florida, a state that is almost always critical to an election victory, has the highest disenfranchisement rate in the country with 23.32% of its African American population unable to vote. Disenfranchisement laws have swung Presidential elections (more…)

Progressive Pupil Board Member featured on the Huffington Post

Drug Wars Abroad, Prescription Pain Killers at Home

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post on July 12, 2012.

By Samuel K. Roberts, PhD

Masked by our continuing drug war in Mexico, and the administration’s recent expansion of U.S. drug enforcement into Central America and the Caribbean, is the more serious problem of prescription drug abuse, especially opioids, the class of psychoactive drugs used for pain management which includes codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone, among others. By all measures, the illicit consumption of prescription opioids today exceeds any of our previous drug crises, including heroin in the 1960s and 1970s, and crack cocaine in the 1980s and 1990s. Because those addicted to prescription opioids often take far in excess of safe doses or ingest them in a dangerous manner (chewing, smoking, injecting, or mixing with other drugs), rates of overdose also have exceeded anything we saw with heroin or cocaine. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), reports a 100 percent increase in emergency room visits associated with prescription drug misuse since 2007. After marijuana, prescription drugs comprise the majority of illicit drug abuse among 12th-graders in the United States, according to a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) study.