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Drug Warriors Crack Down On Geriatric Drug Criminals

GORSKI-CENAPS Web Publications
Published On: July 10, 2001          Updated On: March 05, 2003
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

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Drug Warriors Crack Down On
Geriatric Drug Criminals

On July 10, 2001 The Libertarian Party published an article entitled Who's safer when a 75-year-old man is sent to jail for growing marijuana? 

The Drug War is creating a whole category of drug criminals -  the elderly and previously law abiding who are drawn to low level drug dealing in order to make ends meet.  These new drug criminals are drawn to the drug trade because the War on Drugs has made selling illegal substances so lucrative that almost anyone can be tempted into breaking the law -- even past-their-crime-prime senior citizens.  

"When a crime wave is being fueled by Geritol, you have to surmise that something is wrong with the law itself," said Libertarian Party National Director Steve Dasbach. "And when the Amish are riding get-away buggies after making drug deals, you know the profit margin in illegal drugs has become so ridiculous that even otherwise law-abiding people can be corrupted.

"Whatever the cause, Americans have to decide if locking up senior citizens, rabbis, and the Amish for drug crimes is an effective use of law enforcement resources -- or whether police should, instead, be concentrating on young, energetic murderers, robbers, and rapists."

Here's a partial list of the new drug criminals being created by the failed War On Drugs Policy:

·      In June, David Burmesch, a 75-year-old Wisconsin farmer with severe arthritis, glaucoma, and diabetes was sentenced to one year in the county jail for growing marijuana on his farm. He was also ordered to serve five years' probation, pay a fine, and perform 200 hours of community service. 

·      David Burmesch's brother , Eugene, age 80, is undergoing competency hearings and could face a similar sentence. Burmesch said he grew marijuana to help pay for the costs of raising his developmentally disabled son.

·      In New York, Eli Gottesman, 74, who was once named "Rabbi of the Year" by his colleagues, is facing charges that he smuggled cocaine and marijuana into a federal prison. If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison.

·      Continuing the Torah'd crime wave, Yitzchal Fried, a 52-year-old Orthodox rabbi, was arrested in February 2000 for selling seven ounces of marijuana to a police informant in Brooklyn. Fried said the marijuana was an "exit drug" that helps people get off heroin.

·      In 1998, two Amish men in Pennsylvania were sentenced to a year in prison for conspiring with a motorcycle gang to sell cocaine at an Amish hoedown. Ironically, both men are Old Order Amish -- the most conservative of all Amish sects -- and reject the use of automobiles, electricity, and most modern conveniences.

·      In May, a 9-year-old boy in Villisca, Iowa, was arrested for selling marijuana to three 14-year-olds. The boy, who wasn't named because he is a juvenile, will be sent for rehabilitation.

·      In November 2000, the Reverend Travers C. Koerner, 55, was arrested in Maryland for intent to distribute methamphetamines. The Episcopal priest was found with $10,000 worth of drugs in his rectory.

What do these cases have in common? They prove that when the government makes something illegal, the price goes up -- which tempts more people into becoming criminals, said Dasbach.

"According to Joseph D. MacNamara, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, drug prohibition causes the price of drugs to be marked up by as much as 17,000%," he said. "And the United Nations estimates that the international black market in drugs is worth $500 billion annually.

"So we shouldn't be surprised that people choose to violate the law when the law itself creates the enormous profits that fuel the drug trade. If we want to stop tempting people into breaking the law, then we need to eliminate the seductive lure of easy drug trade money. And the only way to do that is by ending the War on Drugs.

"If we don't, then we better get used to the fact that people like 75-year-old David Burmesch will continue to fill our prisons. And no American will be safer if that happens."

Terry Gorski and other member of the GORSKI-CENAPS Team are Available To Train & Consult On Areas Related To Recovery & Relapse Prevention
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About the Author

Terence T. Gorski is internationally recognized for his contributions to Relapse Prevention Therapy. The scope of his work, however, extends far beyond this. A skilled cognitive behavioral therapist with extensive training in experiential therapies, Gorski has broad-based experience and expertise in the chemical dependency, behavioral health, and criminal justice fields.

To make his ideas and methods more available, Gorski opened The CENAPS Corporation, a private training and consultation firm of founded in 1982.  CENAPS is committed to providing the most advanced training and consultation in the chemical dependency and behavioral health fields.

Gorski has also developed skills training workshops and a series of low-cost book, workbooks, pamphlets, audio and videotapes. He also works with a team of trainers and consultants who can assist individuals and programs to utilize his ideas and methods.
Terry Gorski is available for personal and program consultation, lecturing, and clinical skills training workshops. He also routinely schedules workshops, executive briefings, and personal growth experiences for clinicians, program managers, and policymakers.

Mr. Gorski holds a B.A. degree in psychology and sociology from Northeastern Illinois University and an M.A. degree from Webster's College in St. Louis, Missouri.  He is a Senior Certified Addiction Counselor In Illinois.  He is a prolific author who has published numerous books, pamphlets and articles.  Mr. Gorski routinely makes himself available for interviews, public presentations, and consultant.  He has presented lectures and conducted workshops in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  

For books, audio, and video tapes written and recommended by Terry Gorski contact: Herald House - Independence Press, P.O. Box 390 Independence, MO 64055.  Telephone: 816-521-3015 0r 1-800-767-8181.  His publication website is

Terry Gorski and Other Members of the GORSKI-CENAPS Team Are Available To Train & Consult On Areas Related To Addiction, Recovery, & Relapse Prevention
Gorski - CENAPS, 17900 Dixie Hwy, Homewood, IL 60430, 708-799-5000,,

This article is copyrighted by Terence To Gorski.  Permission is given to reproduce this article if the following conditions are met:  (1) The authorship of the article is properly referenced and the internet address is given;  (2) All references to the following three websites are retained when the article is reproduced -,,,; (3) If the article is published on a website a reciprocal link to the four websites listed under point two is provided on the website publishing the article.

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