Drug Arrests for Selected Years 60,000 50,000 40,000 59,754 59,724 48,006 30,000 33,117 p 077oor/ 20,000 24,403 10,000 16, 12222 0 ’71 ’72 ’73 ’74 ’75 ’76 ’77 78 ’79 ’80 Running Scared on Drugs in Texas . . . From Page 1 zations in large towns and small all across Texas. Members of the Drug Abuse Research and Education group on Drugs Committee, fanned out across the state “educating” people about “the drug problem.” Small, hand-lettered posters went up at local Dairy Queens next to the DQ dude and Beltbuster ads: “Do you know where marijuana users hide?” the posters ask, along with other questions. Marijuana junkies behind every mesquite bush seems to be the message. “This year’s goal,” DARE explained in its monthly bulletin Communique, “is to have parents groups against drugs operating at every grade level in all Texas schools.” We’re running scared. In Corpus Christi, for example, students are suspended from school for a full term with failing grades in all classes if they are caught with drugs on campus. Any approach will do from wire-tapping to dogs in the schools to confiscating private property believed to be obtained with drug money to stop this “plague” Tell-tale signs: \(from a War on Drugs Committee supplement, “A hostility toward ‘the establishment’ frequently appears. The user begins to justify his `drop-out’ lifestyle by criticizwho strive to achieve higher life goals.” “Parents tend to see fewer wholesome kids around. . . . There are mysterious phone calls from strangers or undesirable acquaintances.” “The user’s appearance deteriorates. There is less attention paid to cleanliness, neatness, etc. Hair gets longer, and sometimes the clothing style gets ‘far-out.’ ” sweeping the state. But does the end justify the means? Drug abuse is a problem, admittedly, a problem that should concern us. But do we need a Holy War fueled by big money, high-pressure propaganda, and the passion no doubt sincere of the true believer? The facts suggest otherwise. The “facts” supplied to the Observer by the War on Drugs Committee itself are nothing more than booklets with anecdotes about how Mary and her mother Jill learned to cope with the terrible drug problem in the schools. That’s all. \(Legislators relied, for the most part, More substantial facts are available from the Texas Department of Commuernor’s office that distributes federal and state funds to various statewide programs. The TDCA’s Drug Abuse Prevendirect measure of drug use exists, only indirect indicators. “Drug abuse is generally a hidden activity,” the DAPD explains in a booklet from which we obtained much of our data \(Drug Abuse in Texas: The Problem and the State’s ReThe indicators, according to TDCA, are: drug arrests, drug thefts, drugrelated deaths, emergency room visits, and treatment data. Emergency room visits is not one of the indicators used in this article because of the unavailability of the data. Most of the emergency room data was divided into three-month overlapping intervals over the previous years, making the data difficult to integrate. To at least partially make up for that lack, however, we included a TDCA survey of Texas high school students, one of the first conducted statewide in Texas, and figures will be compared to national statistics, as was done in the Texas survey due to the lack of a previ ous state survey. We also examined figures for marijuana confiscations and seizures from the Department of Public Safety, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Customs to get some indication of what is coming into the state. To underscore the complexity behind statements made about “the drug problem” we present all the data obtained, even some contradictory data. The point is that no one, not the War on Drugs Committee, not Bill Clements, knew what the “drug use” situation actually was in Texas at the time they opened their legislative “war on drugs campaign”: one, because drug use is difficult to determine due to the complexity of the various indicators, and two, because it seems, the War on Drugs Committee hadn’t looked at the indicators involved. The Observer contacted DARE and the War on Drugs Committee to determine just what they had examined, what data motivated their battle against drugs. They were familiar with none of the indicators, except drug arrests. Thinking that perhaps the War on Drugs Committee may have had druguse data available from elsewhere that would justify strong “anti-drug” legislation, the Observer called the Dallas headquarters for the War on Drugs Committee. According to the Committee’s Jerry Dalton, “DARE, in Austin, has all the statistics that were used.” Said Jo White of DARE in Austin, “I wish I had that information [about other indicators]. We have arrest records in Texas compared for so many years. But they’re not really reliable. There’s so many interweaving factors related to drug arrests.” Drug Arrests The War on Drugs Committee and 10 DECEMBER 18, 1981
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