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“The Wire” Creator David Simon On The Racism Of The War On Drugs

David Simon has one thing in common with the 45th president of the United States, whom he has criticized on social media and in public: He understands the power of television, Twitter and other electronic media to instantly disseminate ideas in ways the printed word never could.

Simon, 57, is the creator of HBO’s genre-defying/defining series “The Wire,” whose achingly realistic marks can still be seen on nearly every police procedural or crime drama of worth since its finale in 2008.

Simon will receive The Denver Press Club’s 23rd annual Damon Runyon Award, named after the influential journalist and author, at a banquet at Denver Athletic Club on March 31 - a paid event that is open to the public via

Q: You’ve railed against what you see as the futility of the drug war, but it seems a lot of “regular people” are just now waking up to the ravages of heroin, for example, because they can’t ignore it. Since Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, how do you see that trend advancing nationally?

A: You tell me. Is (Colorado’s) Oxycontin use up over other states, or is there any appreciable difference since marijuana was legalized? That’s the primary argument against the liberalization of marijuana: that it’s a gateway drug to other things. Even though, yes, all the rummies drinking rye down by the Cross Street Market, 94 percent of them started with a beer. So is beer a gateway drug? On some level, 94 percent of all murderers who picked up a gun probably had a traffic ticket. Do traffic violations pose the inevitable route to violent crime? There’s a specious equivocation we were sold for 50 to 60 years of the drug war. People who have compulsive disorders are going to struggle with addiction regardless of where they begin, whether it’s caffeine or a beer or a barbiturate. They’re going where they’re going unless it’s interrupted in some definitive way externally. The (anti-marijuana forces) are ignoring the fact that millions upon millions upon millions have used it recreationally and haven’t become drug addicted in the same way that millions have used alcohol and not become drug addicts. So I’m really dubious on the gateway drug part of it.

Read the rest of this story at The Cannabist.


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