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     The Witchcraze’  Latest Incarnation Marijuana School Report


                 By Allison Balch 

          A School Report By A 16 Year Old High School Student




It should become apparent when studying “The Crucible” that the Witch trials of 17th century colonial America, as portrayed in the play and in actual history, closely resemble the War on Drugs of the United States
in the 20th and 21st centuries. Parallels can be seen in almost every facet of these events. The methods of attaining evidence for trials have been uncannily similar, as has been the treatment of suspected witches and drug users. Dangerous government and authoritative corruption causing vile injustice have been present in both the Salem Witch trials and the War on Drugs. It is not shocking to see that these two similar cases of moral and societal warfare have been recognized by many as national tragedies.

In “The Crucible”, after the girls are discovered dancing naked in the woods and performing rituals outlawed in Puritan society, they blame their misconduct on Tituba. After Tituba is questioned about this accusation and whipped she starts naming others who were supposedly
involved in Witchcraft. As a chain effect the girls also start naming townspeople, and because of these confessions of names, Reverend John Hale says that their ties with the devil are broken and the girls are
freed from sin. In the covert world of drug law enforcement, if an individual is discovered with any amount of an illegal substance, he/she may be told to name other users. 

The narcotics officers will inform them of the quota of drug users they will need to turn in, and if they do
indeed fulfill the quota, they are freed from prosecution.

Greed and corruption were the main cause of the tragedies that occurred in Puritan New England. Witch accusers became power-hungry and ruined
the lives of hundreds of innocent men and women. Neighbors exhibited their greed by accusing their neighbors to attain their land. The courts became corrupt and started accepting evidence that should have been seen as heavily tainted and unreliable.

 In 1999, in Tulia, Texas, a rural town described as the crucible of the drug war by Arianna Huffington of
Salon.com, a sting operation was conducted by a private investigator,and 43 were arrested. Forty of the arrested were black. Almost all of the arrested were convicted, and by juries mostly composed entirely of whites. First time drug offenders were sentenced to as much as 20  years in prison. Those with prior convictions received as much as 435 years. 

No evidence other than one eyewitness was used in the trials. The court ignored evidence that supported the alleged drug users’ innocence. It was later discovered that the one eyewitness that had been used had an
issued arrest warrant for theft and was thus a wanted criminal. It turned out that many if not all accused were actually innocent of the crimes they were indicted for.

Bob Newland, a founder of the South Dakota Industrial Hemp Council, wrote this brief comparison of Witches and drug users in a postcard sent to legislators: “Witches were purported to exhibit their affliction by
exhibiting antisocial behavior – including blasphemous speech, appearing to be in a trance-like state, and indoctrination of children into witchcraft . . .

 Drug abusers are purported to exhibit their affliction
by antisocial behavior, appearing to be in trance-like states, and indoctrination of children into drug abuse”. Whether it is coincidence or not and whether it has been done consciously or not, drug users tend to be viewed in much of the same ways that the suspected witches of
Salem, Massachusetts were viewed. Obviously, negative views or opinions about a certain group of people will lead to persecution, and it is not a surprise that Witches 310 years ago were treated much like drug users
are treated today. Suspected witches were ostracized from society, as are indicted drug criminals. 

This includes but is not limited to loss of
voting rights, denial into certain government and private institutions, such as universities, and denial of entry into certain occupations.

The Salem Witch trials are a well remembered tragedy and the horror of them strike fear into anyone who takes the time to reflect on the hysteria and injustice which was present at the time. Many historians claim that by studying history people can learn from past mistakes and
then avoid repeating them. The War on Drugs, however, is still being fought. The death toll is rising, people are still losing their liberties, and even George W. Bush has called the War on Drugs “The biggest public policy failure of the 90’s.” Today the Salem Witch trials are seen as a tragedy. 

There is no doubt that the War on Drugs will someday earn the same status.