Warriors Crack Down On
Geriatric Drug Criminals
On July 10, 2001 The
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
"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
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
"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."