April 20, 2005

War on Drugs and Marginal Religions

In honor of 4/20, here's an interesting story from yesterday's New York Times about a case the Supreme Court added to its docket Monday, Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal, in which the Justice Department is arguing for the right of the federal government to "ban the importation of a hallucinogenic tea that is central to the religious rituals of a small Brazil-based church":

The case is an appeal by the Bush administration of a federal court injunction won by the 130 members of the church's American branch, who brought a lawsuit five years ago to prohibit the government from invoking the Controlled Substances Act to block the importation of their tea and from seizing the sacred drink. The church, which combines elements of Christianity and indigenous Brazilian religion, opened its American branch in Santa Fe, N.M., in 1993.

The Bush administration's appeal sums up a nice sliver of its deranged set of priorities: taking an agenda, the War on Drugs, that is both a dubious moral crusade and a proven pragmatic failure to begin with, directing it in such a way as to needlessly target some minority culture and trash their rights, and wasting resources on the entire fiasco.

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