Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chicago - On A "Slippery Slope" or The Road to Good Sense?

Forty one years ago, On June 17, 1971, President Nixon declared war on drugs. While there are many statistics on the percentage of Americans who acknowledge using or abusing illegal drugs, I wonder about their accuracy. After all, how many people will admit in a survey to committing a federal crime? Whatever the statistics, I bet that the actual number of people using illegal drugs is higher. Just as Prohibition didn’t stop people from drinking and abetted the rise of Mafia power and violence, the War on Drugs hasn’t stopped people from using illegal drugs and has probably contributed to the rise of drug gangs throughout the USA and Central America.

In an effort to cut down on the cost of lives broken by ineffective incarcerations for marijuana not to mention the financial costs to law enforcement, Mayor Emanuel has endorsed a proposed Chicago ordinance that would decriminalize marijuana. Instead of being arrested, people caught with less than 15 grams of marijuana would be fined $250 to $500. Minors and people without ID’s would still be arrested. Since the majority of alderman have said they support the bill, it will likely pass.

In a June 21st  editorial, the Chicago Tribune calls this a “slippery slope” [to sending a message to our kids that drug use is okay]. I disagree. To me, this is just acknowledging that legislating against self-destructive behavior is ineffective. In the process, the city can gain some revenue from the fines. With luck, using marijuana will become legal in the United States someday and the sale of it can be taxed just as we tax the sale of cigarettes and alcohol, both potentially harmful. That could really bring in some needed revenue.

In some other countries, even the harder drugs are legal. For example, Rick Steeves in his book, Travel As A Political Act describes the Swiss policy toward heroin use. Rather than treating it as a crime, they treat it as a public health problem. Vending machines with sterile needles are provided throughout their cities. People can get help for their addictions. It sounds like good sense to me. Nevertheless, I don’t expect the United States to legalize drug use any time soon, but decriminalizing marijuana usage would be a first step to a good sense drug policy. Yeah Chicago!

In the meantime, since there is little that I can do on this issue, I return to food. It is also  potentially harmful when too much of the wrong things are eaten. Look at the growing rate of obesity in our country. This recipe for Pumpkin Spinach Bake is healthy and inexpensive. Preparation time is about 20 minutes.

                                                                 Pumpkin/Spinach Bake

1 can pumpkin
1 8 oz package frozen spinach
spiral pasta ( I use about 4 uncooked ounces.)
4 ounces mozzarella cheese
6 T tomato sauce
allspice, cumin, curry powder, and cinnamon to taste
grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350ยบ Fahrenheit.
Boil the water for the pasta.
While waiting for the water to boil, slice the mushrooms.
In another pot, mix the tomato sauce with the seasoning.
When the water is boiled, add pasta to it. Cook until its al dente.
When the pasta is finished mix all the ingredients into a large casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese. Bake for 45 minutes.



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