View Full Version : War On Drugs

March 17th, 2005, 06:56 PM
According to the State Department's annual drug-trafficking report, a federal law took effect in 1985 authorizing the United States to penalize countries that do not control illicit narcotics production. Today, these same countries are now producing larger quantities of heroin, cocaine, marijuana and other drugs, Furthermore, three years after installing a pro-U.S. government, Afghanistan has been unable to contain opium poppy production and is on the verge of becoming a narcotics state. Opium poppy is the raw material for heroin. Colombia is the source of more than 90 percent of the cocaine and 50 percent of the heroin entering the United States. The report also listed Mexico as a major producer of heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana destined for U.S. markets. Source: New York Times and Associated Press.

Some would argue that the only solution would be the legalization of drugs. By removing the criminality of drug sales, possession and usage, the United States government could devote more of its law enforcement resources on other crimes such as murder, rape, assault etc. Furthermore, they argue that regulation of such drugs could create a revenue enhancement for federal, state and local governments. The counter argument suggests that by legalizing drugs, the government grants an implicit consent that drug consumption is morally acceptable. Others argue that the U.S. should focus more on the demand side of the problem by increasing funds for psychiatric and psychological counseling. Their argument is based on the idea that if the individual is properly counseled and medicated, the demand for illegal narcotics would drop significantly. The counter argument is that this solution is cost prohibitive and will only result in replacing one problem with another. Still others offer a more hard-line approach when it comes to dealing with foreign countries such as setting a deadline for the removal of narcotics production. If the deadline passes, the U.S. should utilize various crop-field-burning methods so as to totally obliterate any type of crop production. This would effectively eliminate the central piece of drug production across the planet. The counter argument, however, is that this policy would prevent farmers from switching to other crops in order to earn a legitimate living. I believe that the problem of illegal narcotics in the United States poses a greater threat to the average citizen than any terrorist and/or nuclear threat in existence today. Perhaps a balanced integration of all three of these solutions is our only answer.

alex ballard
March 19th, 2005, 10:37 AM
Crop burning would be good, but we'll be charatcerized as butchers and nation-burners. And personally, if I was a leader of a country and the US firebombed my country, I would not be pleased to say the least. I wouldn't be suprised if that action, especally in Afganistan, would supr civil unrest and could even provide ammo for Anti-US terrorism. So I think that's out.

What needs to be done, needs to be done a local level. The fact is, thousands of kids think drugs are cool and have NO positive role model. Maybe if we brought back the Rockeffler laws on a national level, then people would be discuoraged.

Ninja Mantis
April 9th, 2005, 06:03 AM
I'm not anti drugs nor pro drugs.

I just think the double standard is hypocritical.

If we are truly a "free" nation why does the gov't tell us what we can and can't put into our bodies so long as we do not harm others? Coffee...is a drug. But caffiene...thats legal. Why?

Bring back the Rockefella Drug laws? That is a great way to keep the prisons full.

What makes people criminals?....laws. Pass a law tomorrow that cigarettes are illegal and the jails would be spilling with a cheap labor force that tax dollars would finance to house.

What if normal things we do were suddenly deemed illegal? Its simply ridiculous....unless we're really a totalitarian state disguised as a free country.

Funny. The "war on drugs" is really just a war on the Poor people. Why are cigarettes (nicotine) and alcohol legal? More people get drunk and start trouble, crash cars and cause lots of problems for families and the community. But that is ok?

Where's the War on Junk food? Oh no...we don't want to mess with the food industry...who so generously support our bought and paid for politicians.

Or the Pharmaceutical industry...that make drugs for profit and have not cured ANYthing since Polio and they're still pissed about that. Think of all the money they could have made 'maintaining' polio patients? So ask your doctor is Cialis is for you. Funny thing, when you ask your doc what to give you...the Dr. becomes your dealer and not your physician.

Hard on pills, cox 2 inhibitors, indigestion medicines (that actuall encourage us to continue indulging in BAD foods). These are the legal drugs...like Vioxx and Celebrex...which get recalled and lead to more problems instead of healing you...they slowly poison you.

Forget about the bogus war on drugs...

It would be better to invest our resources in education and better television programs for kids so they grow up more intelligent and become productive members of society instead of the violent, dumbed down garbage out there today. Better than investing in incarcerating a depressed, uneducated, usually poor people, who's main crime is ignorance.

A smart society thinks long term. Locking people up for drug use will never even address the CAUSE of the problem. But..I guess we're accustomed to treating the symptoms of our problems instead of the cause. Like most of the medications (legal) on the "market" today.

Where are we headed? Seems we (as a society) are suckers to the Pharmaceutical companies...the ones who want a monopoly on all drugs.

Sorry for the long post.

June 9th, 2005, 12:29 AM
Kill them, all of them. Not drop bombs or burn crops, because that releases the shit into the atmosphere. See I hate drugs. Hate them. Hate anyone who does them. Hate anyone who jokes about them. I dont mind cigerettes or alcoholas much but I dont hate them like I do drugs. Brings out the violence in me. Give me a bat and put me in a bad neighborhood and im sure I could produce results.

So apparantly it's neither law nor order for you. Thanks for sharing your belligerence. Maybe you should remember to take your drugs - the little pills in the plastic bottle with your name on it?

June 16th, 2005, 06:49 AM
I don't know how a war on drugs is a war on poor people.

I don't know how poor people can afford drugs. The only people I can think of that can afford drugs are wall street hotshots and their rich children.

June 16th, 2005, 07:40 AM
Drugs are cheap.

In the Big 80's, it was called coke, and it was expensive.

Then a breakthrough occurred on a level with the Model T Ford - crack for the masses.

bohemian rhapsody
June 17th, 2005, 02:59 AM
Then a breakthrough occurred on a level with the Model T Ford - crack for the masses.


June 17th, 2005, 09:25 AM
Up yours.


June 17th, 2005, 09:43 AM
Sarcasm is a difficult concept on the Internet.

June 17th, 2005, 10:48 AM
Not if you're a genius like me. [/sarcasm]

June 21st, 2005, 11:00 PM
Bullshit, absolute Bull Shit. That pisses me off. ****ing Bullshit. Thats how people die. They do that then I appear at there door. Oops.

If you think people die from hemp oil, I think you're a bit underinformed.

June 21st, 2005, 11:13 PM
No, I mean I kill them.

You kill them for eating lollipops?

March 31st, 2008, 08:29 PM
Setting the Record Straight on Marijuana and Addiction

March 31, 2008
by Paul Armentano (http://www.lewrockwell.com/armentano-p/armentano-p24.html)

The U.S. government believes that America is going to pot – literally.

Earlier this month, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse announced plans (http://www.nida.nih.gov/NIDAHome.html) to spend $4 million to establish the nation's first-ever "Center on Cannabis Addiction," which will be based in La Jolla, Calif. The goal of the center, according to NIDA's press release (http://newswire.ascribe.org/cgi-bin/behold.pl?ascribeid=20080314.090235&time=09%2023%20PDT&year=2008&public=0), is to "develop novel approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of marijuana addiction."

Not familiar with the notion of "marijuana addiction"? You're not alone. In fact, aside from the handful of researchers who have discovered that there are gobs of federal grant money to be had hunting for the government's latest pot boogeyman, there's little consensus that such a syndrome is clinically relevant – if it even exists at all.

But don't try telling that to the mainstream press – which recently published headlines worldwide alleging (http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSCOL45569020080204), "Marijuana withdrawal rivals that of nicotine." The alleged "study" behind the headlines involved all of 12 participants (http://www.alternet.org/story/76496/?page=2), each of whom were longtime users of pot and tobacco, and assessed the self-reported moods of folks after they were randomly chosen to abstain from both substances. Big surprise: they weren't happy.

And don't try telling Big Pharma – which hopes to cash in on the much-hyped "pot and addiction" craze by touting psychoactive prescription drugs like Lithium to help hardcore smokers (http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Science/2008/03/07/lithium_may_help_kick_marijuana_habit/2827/) kick the marijuana habit.

And certainly don't try telling the drug "treatment" industry, whose spokespeople are quick to warn that marijuana "treatment" admissions have risen dramatically in recent years, but neglect to explain that this increase is due entirely to the advent of drug courts sentencing minor pot offenders to rehab in lieu of jail. According to state and national statistics (http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/teds2k6highlights/Tbl4.htm), up to 70 percent of all individuals in drug treatment for marijuana are placed there by the criminal justice system. Of those in treatment, some 36 percent (http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/teds2k6highlights/Tbl3.htm) had not even used marijuana in the 30 days prior to their admission. These are the "addicts"?

Indeed, the concept of pot addiction is big business – even if the evidence in support of the pseudosyndrome is flimsy at best.

And what does the science say? Well, according to the nonpartisan National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine – which published a multiyear, million-dollar federal study (http://www.nap.edu/html/marimed/) assessing marijuana and health in 1999 – "millions of Americans have tried marijuana, but most are not regular users [and] few marijuana users become dependent on it." The investigator added, "[A]though [some] marijuana users develop dependence, they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and marijuana dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs."

Just how less likely? According to the Institute of Medicine's 267-page report, fewer than 10 percent of those who try cannabis ever meet the clinical criteria for a diagnosis of "drug dependence" (based on DSM-III-R criteria). By contrast, the IOM reported that 32 percent of tobacco users, 23 percent of heroin users, 17 percent of cocaine users and 15 percent of alcohol users meet the criteria for "drug dependence."

In short, it's the legal drugs that have Americans hooked – not pot.

But what about the claims that ceasing marijuana smoking (http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/display/article/10168/54701) can trigger withdrawal symptoms similar to those associated with quitting tobacco? Once again, it's a matter of degree. According to the Institute of Medicine, pot's withdrawal symptoms, when identified, are "mild and subtle" compared with the profound physical syndromes associated with ceasing chronic alcohol use – which can be fatal – or those abstinence symptoms associated with daily tobacco use, which are typically severe enough to persuade individuals to reinitiate their drug-taking behavior.

The IOM report further explained, "[U]nder normal cannabis use, the long half-life and slow elimination from the body of THC prevent[s] substantial abstinence symptoms" from occurring. As a result, cannabis' withdrawal symptoms are typically limited to feelings of mild anxiety, irritability, agitation and insomnia.

Most importantly, unlike the withdrawal symptoms associated with the cessation of most other intoxicants, pot's mild after-effects do not appear to be either severe or long-lasting enough to perpetuate marijuana use in individuals (http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content?content=10.1080/10550490701640985) who have decided to quit. This is why most marijuana smokers report voluntarily ceasing their cannabis use (http://www.ajph.org/cgi/reprint/74/7/660) by age 30 with little physical or psychological difficulty. By comparison, many cigarette smokers who pick up the habit early in life continue to smoke for the rest of their lives, despite making numerous efforts to quit.

So let's review.

Marijuana is widely accepted by the National Academy of Sciences, the Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs (http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/1/parlbus/commbus/senate/com-e/ille-e/rep-e/summary-e.htm), the British Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (http://drugs.homeoffice.gov.uk/publication-search/acmd/cannabis-class-misuse-drugs-act) and others to lack the severe physical and psychological dependence liability associated with most other intoxicants, including alcohol and tobacco. Further, pot lacks the profound abstinence symptoms associated with most legal intoxicants, including caffeine (http://www.tfy.drugsense.org/tfy/addictvn.htm).

That's not to say that some marijuana smokers don't find quitting difficult. Naturally, a handful of folks do, though this subpopulation is hardly large enough to warrant pot's legal classification (along with heroin) as an illicit substance with a "high potential for abuse." Nor does this fact justify the continued arrest of more than 800,000 Americans annually for pot violations (http://www.alternet.org/drugreporter/63988/) any more than such concerns would warrant the criminalization of booze or nicotine.

Now if I can only get NIDA to fork me over that $4 million check.

Paul Armentano [send him mail (paul@norml.org)] is the senior policy analyst for NORML (http://norml.org/) and the NORML Foundation in Washington, DC. He is the author of "Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids: A Review of the Scientific Literature (http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7002)" (2007, NORML Foundation).

Copyright © 2008 Paul Armentano

April 1st, 2008, 02:17 PM
Too much money is being spent to keep this on one side of the fence.

One wonders how much money is really being made, and who the fence builders really are. It would hurt the drug trade if this stuff went legal, and as hinted in the article, the pharms would not like any kind of grow-it-yourself mild sedative on the market when they have SO MANY to choose from (as well as several to help you "kick" the former).

As for addiction, I can't see it. I have never taken it myself, but I do not see any people suffering PHYSICAL symptoms of withdrawal from casual use. Most addictions and abuses of this substance I see stemming from, and primarily controlled by, psychological factors with little bearing on the actual substance itself. These are people that would get addicted to just about anything that gave them the same feeling, not because of the dependence on the substance itself either....

BTW, sis anyone find it odd that they found only a 23% rate of addiction among heroin users? It would be interesting to see how they came by THAT number!

Well, whatever. Someone is paying the government to keep us paranoid about pot. I think it would open a lot of eyes, bloodshot or not, if we really knew who they were!

May 24th, 2008, 10:03 AM
One of the best I've read.

Blowing Smoke: A Commentary by William C. Shelton

January 09, 2006 (http://somervillenews.typepad.com/the_somerville_news/2006/01/blowing_smoke_a.html)

In this week’s Somerville News, there is a report on a local marijuana seizure. Few topics are more fraught with ignorance, hypocrisy, and hysteria. Yet, I hesitate to write about marijuana for fear that young people might imagine that I’m encouraging them to use it. I’m not. Don’t.

It seems almost impossible to have a rational, fact-based discussion on the subject. One blogger, posting in response to our story, commented about victimless crimes. This sparked a name-calling fury by others, but few ideas and no evidence. Responding to this assault, another blogger insisted that we didn’t know anything about marijuana, but instead of enlightening us, went on to call the name-callers more names.

Those who get deeply into the evidence usually arrive at a conclusion similar to that of conservative icon William F. Buckley: “The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well meaning conservatives and countless frightened parents.”

After reviewing exhaustive evidence and two years’ testimony, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s chief administrative law judge, Francis L. Young ruled that “marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” He characterized its prohibition as “unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious.” His order to make it available for prescription use was ignored.

His was not the first assessment of all available evidence; nor was his conclusion. In 1883, the Indian Hemp Drug Commission found that “moderate use of hemp drugs produces no injurious effect on the mind” inflicting “no moral injury whatsoever.” In 1925, a government study commissioned in response to concerns about its use by U.S. troops in Panama found “no evidence that marihuana…has any appreciably deleterious influence on the individual using it.”

Richard Nixon wanted someone with a zealous anti-drug history to chair a commission on marijuana. He picked former Pennsylvania governor Ray Shafer. Nixon was astonished, when, in 1972, the commission recommended decriminalizing pot.

Over 400,000 people die in the U.S. each year from tobacco use; 120,000 from alcohol. There is virtually no lethal dose of cannabis, so the federal Drug Abuse Warning Network scans medical examiners’ reports in which the lethal behavior of the deceased may well have been influenced by drugs. In 1999, there were 664 cases involving marijuana, in 187 of which it was the only drug.

Many may feel that we can’t put the alcohol and tobacco genies back in the bottle, but the marijuana genie is still locked up. Even though cannabis is less harmful, it does some harm. Indeed, I have been sobered by the drug’s capacity to diminish motivation in certain user acquaintances of mine.

So why should we consider legalizing it? Well, because when young people experience marijuana, they imagine that the falsehoods they were told about it apply to crack, methamphetamine, oxycontin, and heroin as well. That’s the real way that marijuana is a “gateway drug.”

Because we’re spending $35 billion per year on a drug war, yet supply and potency continue to increase, while price drops. Because having to choose between pursuing justice and enforcing unjust laws stresses law enforcement officers who experience quite enough stress already. Because billions that are going to criminals and terrorists could become tax revenues used to fight them.

Because the plant can be used to produce more than 25,000 products, ranging from automotive plastics to cellophane, displacing imports of raw material and manufactured products and providing thousands of jobs to Americans. Cannabis seed oil is an almost perfect ratio of polyunsaturated fats. Paper made from the plant’s fiber would require one-fifth the energy costs of wood pulp, while saving forests.

Because hundreds of thousands of nonviolent Americans are locked up for having the bad judgment to possess it. Because we are spending billions on incarceration, while ruining the lives of otherwise decent people.

On the other hand, crystal meth is cheap, easy to make, instantly addictive, and permanently cauterizing young people’s brains across the heartland. Half of state and local law enforcement agencies identify it as their greatest threat, as opposed to one-eighth for marijuana. In 2003, agents raided 10,180 meth labs, mostly in rural areas. But the Bush administration is cutting aid to rural narcotics teams in half, while increasing marijuana enforcement. Annual pot arrests are now half of all drug busts. They were one-quarter a decade ago.

I sincerely don’t get it. I don’t think it’s a matter of political orientation. I know progressives who repudiate pot, conservatives who want to legalize it, and liberals who act like they’re on it. Nor am I persuaded by those who believe that the tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical interests are preventing legalization. They would jump at the chance to market pot.

Perhaps it’s just that so few political leaders are willing to risk the consequences of speaking truth. As Dresden James once wrote, "When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous, and its speaker, a raving lunatic."

May 24th, 2008, 10:47 AM
Great article. Thanks.

May 24th, 2008, 12:24 PM
...yet supply and potency continue to increase, while price drops.
Somebody show me some place where price has dropped?!:cool:

May 28th, 2008, 02:54 PM
So why should we consider legalizing it? Well, because when young people experience marijuana, they imagine that the falsehoods they were told about it apply to crack, methamphetamine, oxycontin, and heroin as well. That’s the real way that marijuana is a “gateway drug.”

I have been saying this for years.

It is not a "harmless" drug, but it is, by no means, the evil demon that anti-MJ proponents would have you believe. It is not evil, and it does have applications.

In a world where we are innundated with synthetically engineered anti-depression and pain suppressant pharmeceuticals, to keep outlawing this, EVEN ON A MEDICAL PRESCRIPTION BASIS, is insane.

So, I would not recommend this for minors, or anyone who really does not NEED it, but I will not say it will ruin your life either (unless abused in a manner similar to other legal substances). But all this crap going on is... well.... CRAP!

May 30th, 2008, 10:10 AM
'Legal Weed' is just beer, but Feds want to cap sales

The bottle-top slogan of a brewer with a head for business in Weed, Calif., draws a warning from U.S. drug watchdogs. All he's pushing is a respectable local enterprise, backers say.

By Eric Bailey
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 29, 2008
WEED, CALIF. -- — This town is in a tempest over a bottle top.

The federal government is telling the owner of a small brewery here that the pun he's placed on caps of his Weed Ales crosses a line.

"Try Legal Weed," the caps joke.

The U.S. Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau says those three little words allude to marijuana use.

Vaune Dillmann, owner of Mt. Shasta Brewing Co., says he was just trying to grab attention for his beers and this tough-luck place in the morning shadow of Mt. Shasta.

But in the two months since he received a warning, the 61-year-old brewer has found himself in a David-vs.-Goliath struggle, cast as the little guy.

The bureau's bureaucrats have told Dillmann he needs to stop using the "Try Legal Weed" bottle caps. If he doesn't, he could risk fines or sanctions. His worst fear: being forced out of business.

A balding former cop turned saloon owner and then master brewer, Dillmann isn't one to back down.

"This is ludicrous, bizarre, like meeting Big Brother face-to-face," he grumbled recently. "Forget freedom of speech and the 1st Amendment. They are the regulatory gods, a judge and jury all rolled into one. This is a life-or-death issue for my business."

Besides, he said, the town itself was named for a man, not a plant. Abner Weed was a lumber baron who served as a state senator from these parts a century ago.

Officials at the tax and trade bureau say they have no desire to run Dillmann out of the brewing business, insult the residents of Weed or sully the memory of its founding father.

But the agency does intend to keep an eye out for alcoholic beverage labels violating the regulatory rules, said Art Resnick, a federal spokesman.

Dillmann's label faux pas, Resnick said, was twofold: "We consider it to be a drug reference, and find it to be false and misleading to the consumer in terms of what may or may not be the properties contained within that product," Resnick said.

Folks in Weed -- population 3,000 -- know whom they're rooting for.

"It's just plain goofy to me the federal government is making so much of a fuss over this," said Mayor Chuck Sutton. "I can sort of understand their point, but it all seems a little overboard."

"Government is keeping us safe from bottle caps," mocked the headline above an editorial in the Record Searchlight newspaper of Redding, an hour's drive south down Interstate 5.

"Let's get real," the editorial concluded, "anyone old enough to legally buy a six-pack . . . is mature enough not to be dragged into a life of drug-addled debauchery by a message on the bottle cap."

Siskiyou County Supervisor Michael Kobseff also came to Dillmann's defense, saying the town was proud of the brewer and his accomplishments, including the economic stimulus his business had brought to an area still recovering from the timber industry's decline.

On the bottle caps in question, "Try Legal Weed" is surrounded by the slogan "A Friend in Weed Is a Friend Indeed." To Dillmann's supporters, that spells civic boosterism, not drug pushing.

Not that weed isn't being pushed inside the city limits.

Weed has a tradition of exploiting the double-entendre of its name. A pithy placard on the way out of town announces "Temporarily Out of Weed." Gas stations sell "High on Weed" T-shirts. (The town, after all, is at an elevation of 3,500 feet.)

Though the town is no counterculture haven, the metal entry arch downtown is something of a stoner stopover. Summer days find traveling pot aficionados playfully posing for snapshots under the archway's sign, "WEED."

Dillmann, whose family has deep roots in the community, helped erect that sign in 1988 and is quick to note he has never inhaled the illegal stuff. His wife is a longtime grade-school teacher whose forebears homesteaded in the 1880s. His grown son is a firefighter.

Still, he's happy to tap into cheeky reefer references to win a sliver of market share in a bruising business. His bottled brews include Shastafarian Porter (a wink and a nod to Rastafarians) and Mountain High IPA.

Since he began brewing five years ago in an abandoned former creamery, Dillmann has built a business with half a dozen employees, a tasting room with carved-wood bar, a growing distribution reach all over the Golden State and a blossoming reputation for tasty microbrews.

So far, more than 400,000 beer bottles have proudly worn the "Try Legal Weed" caps.

Regulators caught up with the caps in February, as Dillmann was seeking label approval for his Lemurian Golden Lager. They issued a rejection sheet citing several typeface technicalities and one deal breaker: the words "Try Legal Weed."

So far, no one has ordered Dillmann to recall any previously capped bottles. But he recently took delivery of another 400,000 caps. If they can't be used, he'll be out $10,000. That's no small change for a small business like his.

The controversy has, via the Internet, raised the ire of beer lovers all over. Dillmann has received more than 1,000 letters, e-mails and phone calls, almost all in support. He's also tapped his local congressman, Rep. Wally Herger (R-Chico), and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who pressed regulators.

Dillmann has appealed, with a decision expected by Sunday. He vows not to cave, and expects a long, expensive legal battle if need be. He says he just wants to keep his caps and not lose his shirt.

What irks him most, he says -- even more than the feds' lack of a funny bone -- is what he considers a double standard.

While stomping on him, Dillmann says, the government treats Budweiser with kid gloves, despite the fact that "This Bud's for You" also could be mistaken for marijuana slang.

"They sell Bud. We sell Weed," he said. "What's the difference?"

Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times

May 30th, 2008, 10:43 AM
Never been to Weed, but I and countless others have had my picture taken in front of the sign entering Stoner, Colorado.
"They sell Bud. We sell Weed," he said. "What's the difference?"About $50/oz., I'd say.

June 22nd, 2008, 10:32 PM
The Perils of Potent Pot
Is better marijuana really worse for you?

Jacob Sullum | June 18, 2008 (http://www.reason.com/news/show/127058.html)

According to federal drug czar John Walters, the marijuana available in the United States is better than ever. Well, that's not quite the way he put it, but it's closer to the truth.

Last week, as part of its ongoing effort to convince baby boomers that today's "Pot 2.0" is much more dangerous than the stuff they smoked when they were young, Walters' Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced (http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/news/press08/061208.html) that "levels of THC—the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana—have reached the highest-ever amounts since scientific analysis of the drug began in the late 1970s." The University of Mississippi's Potency Monitoring Project reports (http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/pdf/FullPotencyReports.pdf) that the average THC content of the seized marijuana it tests was 8.1 percent last year, up from 3.2 percent in 1983.

That increase is much less dramatic than the one Walters alleged a few years ago. In a 2002 San Francisco Chronicle op-ed piece (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/09/01/ED123513.DTL&hw=John%20walters&sn=003&sc=809), he asserted that "the potency of available marijuana has not merely 'doubled,' but increased as much as 30 times" since 1974, when "the average THC content of marijuana was less than 1 percent."

Since 1 percent is the threshold at which experimental subjects can detect a psychoactive effect, if Walters were right it would mean that people who smoked pot in the mid-'70s, when marijuana was even more popular than it is today, typically did not get high as a result. This rather implausible claim is based on a small, nonrepresentative sample of low-quality marijuana that probably degraded in storage.

Worse, to get his impressive 30-to-1 ratio, Walters compared the weakest pot of the '70s to the strongest pot of this decade. As a review (http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2008.02230.x) of research on marijuana potency in the July 2008 issue of the journal Addiction notes, "There is enormous variation in potency, within a given year, from sample to sample," such that "cannabis users may be exposed to greater variation of cannabis potency in a single year...than over years or decades."

Even when the ONDCP is comparing annual averages, it's not clear that the government's samples, which depend on whose marijuana law enforcement agencies happen to seize, are comparable from year to year or representative of the U.S. market. Still, it's likely that average THC content has increased significantly during the last couple of decades as growers have become more adept at meeting the demands of increasingly discriminating consumers. The question is why Walters thinks that's a bad thing.

With stronger pot, people can smoke less to achieve the same effect, thereby reducing their exposure to combustion products, the most serious health risk associated with marijuana consumption. Yet the ONDCP inexplicably warns that higher THC levels could mean "an increased risk" of "respiratory problems."

It also trots out warnings about reefer madness reminiscent of anti-drug propaganda from the 1930s, conflating correlation (between heavy pot smoking and depression, for example) with causation. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, worries that stronger pot might be more addictive, although she concedes that "more research is needed to establish this link between higher THC potency and higher addiction risk."

By contrast, the Australian scientists who wrote the Addiction article say "more research is needed to determine whether increased potency...translates to harm for users." Unlike our government, they are open to the possibility that the link Volkow seeks to establish does not in fact exist.

To bolster the idea that marijuana is more addictive today, the ONDCP notes that "16.1% of drug treatment admissions [in 2006] were for marijuana as the primary drug of abuse," compared to "6% in 1992." But referrals from the criminal justice system account (http://www.drugabusestatistics.samhsa.gov/TEDS2k6highlights/Tbl4.htm) for three-fifths of these treatment admissions, and marijuana arrests have increased (http://www.reason.com/news/show/123502.html) by more than 150 percent since 1990.

By arresting people for marijuana possession and forcing them into treatment, the government shows why it has to arrest people for marijuana possession. That's our self-justifying drug policy in a nutshell.

© Copyright 2008 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

July 19th, 2008, 07:04 PM
Just Another Drug War Rant

(By Kevin Carson, Thursday, July 17th, 2008) (http://www.theartofthepossible.net/2008/07/17/just-another-drug-war-rant/)

When I tell people in meatspace conversations that I’m opposed to drug prohibition, I frequently get a look of utter astonishment: “You mean people ought to just be able to take crack, or meth, or whatever, whenever they feel like it?”

Well, the point is they can already do that right now. If you look at countries like the Netherlands, where pot is for all intents and purposes legal, and private possession and use of the hard stuff is virtually decriminalized, the actual rates of drug use are probably at or below those in the United States.

So essentially, we’ve allowed our country to be taken over by gangs and organized crime syndicates fighting to control the black markets in illegal drugs. We’ve created lawless, militarized police forces (http://www.cato.org/pubs/briefs/bp-050es.html) that view us as an occupied enemy (http://mutualist.blogspot.com/2005/08/fighting-domestic-enemy-you.html), sadistic bastards who taser people in diabetic comas to death for “resisting arrest,” and murder 92-year-old women in their sleep in botched SWAT team raids (http://www.theagitator.com/category/police-professionalism/). We’ve gutted the due process provisions of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments, which are now kept around mainly as examples of good penmanship. We’ve got the highest rate of incarceration in the entire world–greater than Communist China–and a massive prison-industrial complex using slave labor. We are literally at the mercy of beasts of prey in SS chic uniforms. We’ve corrupted our society to the core. And we’ve done it all for nothing.

The corruption of our society includes turning the cops themselves into the biggest criminal gangs of all, under the corrupting influence of all that drug money. Only the cops’ approach to gang warfare involves building a petty empire of planted evidence (http://www.democracynow.org/1999/12/22/lapd_rampart_scandal), jailhouse snitches, entrapment, plea extortion, and civil forfeiture.

The biggest fans of Prohibition were the bootleggers–probably even more than the Baptists, who served as their useful idiots (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bootleggers_and_Baptists).

Today, most people would probably be amazed at how much of the leading “drug warrior” politicians’ campaign funds consist of laundered money from the drug cartels. As Larry Gambone (http://porkupineblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/importance-of-illegal-drug-trade.html) says,

The point has to be made that whether the figure is $100 billion or $400 billion it is a lot of money and the gangs cannot account for more than a fraction of it. The rest has to be somewhere else and the most likely set of suspects are the people who are already handling billions of dollars such as the offshore money laundries connected to “legitimate” financial institutions or the folks who already have a history of involvement in high-level drug trafficking, namely the CIA….

….The people most vociferous in their support for the so-called War on Drugs are the people, or are associates of the people, who profit from the drug trade at the higher levels.
One thing the illegal drug trade is good for is raising lots and lots of cash. And the biggest organized criminals of them all are probably the shadow warriors of the CIA, using the international drug trade to raise money for criminals and terrorists (http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Alliance-Contras-Cocaine-Explosion/dp/1888363932) in the employ of the United States government.


Notable Comments:

Kevin: Since the 4th Cir has now ruled that Bush may retain “enemy combatants” captured on U.S. indefinitely — including U.S. citizens — it only awaits the DEA and DoJ to determine that these include “combatants” in the war on drugs. After all, when one sells or purchases illegal drugs, one is, as we’ve long been told, funding terrorism.

There’s certainly a scary history of such cross-pollination, Mona. A lot of the arguments federal law enforcement used for the expanded powers under Clinton’s counter-terror legislation and USA PATRIOT, were along the lines of: “We’re already able to do it against drug dealers, so why not against terrorists?” And the powers granted by USA PATRIOT are now being used to investigate ordinary crime (much like RICO has been abused for just about any imaginable purpose). The state loves the “war” analogy, as a source of self-aggrandizing power over any aspect of life. And once it’s granted in one aspect, the state will be sure to declare a “moral equivalent of war” and expand use of that power to as many other areas as possible.

July 21st, 2008, 09:27 AM
I don't know about a 100% allowance of private drug use, especially when some drugs, like Crack and PCP can have substantial effects on not only the user, but those around them.

I do, however, agree that the blacklisting of so many substances has made more than a pretty penny for those that traffic it, and those that are supposed to prevent it (but have chosen otherwise).

So how do you curb usage to get the most effective result? Make everything perscription (which can be abused, but is still cheaper than a street corner AND can be monitored if done correctly) or just legalize it like NyQuil and Sudafed?

July 21st, 2008, 10:55 AM
How is it a federal function to "curb usage?"

The tenuous legal justification for regulating drugs at all is completely derived from Congress' ability to regulate interstate commerce i.e. to prohibit protectionist policies between the States and facilitate free unhindered trade among them.

Why was the 18th Ammendment passed if a federal dictat could have accomplished the same thing?

The drug war is an abomination. Good hearted people who wish to prevent people from ruining their lives with drugs shouldn't align themselves with unbridled government authority that ruins lives while enriching and empowering a ravenous police state.

Nothing justifies tyranny -- not even good intentions.

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.

Daniel Webster
US diplomat, lawyer, orator, & politician (1782 - 1852)

July 21st, 2008, 11:53 AM
How is it a federal function to "curb usage?"

Dunno. You tell me.

The tenuous legal justification for regulating drugs at all is completely derived from Congress' ability to regulate interstate commerce i.e. to prohibit protectionist policies between the States and facilitate free unhindered trade among them.

Not really. The ability to regulate on these substances also goes for public safety. Like I said, certain substances can be a danger to people around you as well as those on the substance. As such, some steps might be seen as appropriate in making them less of a danger to those around them.

Why was the 18th Ammendment passed if a federal dictat could have accomplished the same thing?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitu tion

Not all of us are history majors JK. If you wanted to say Prohibition, it would have been nice if you did so. ;)

I believe the Amendment was looking for more than a curbing of the substance, but more of a unified federal standard. They wanted to set the record strait across the board.

By the way, forgive my ignorance, but isn't the whole drug thing regulated by the FDA now? I am not sure, I know enforcement is by other agencies, but I thought regulation was the FDA (which did not get its own backbone until after Prohibition).


The drug war is an abomination. Good hearted people who wish to prevent people from ruining their lives with drugs shouldn't align themselves with unbridled government authority that ruins lives while enriching and empowering a ravenous police state.

You are lumping everything together. I do believe that much of it is ill conceived, but some of it still remains valid.

I do not want Jr. to be able to pick up a joint, a lude, or a rock at the corner convenience store on the way to school.

Is that an exaggeration? Yes, but total decriminalization of all substances and relinquishment of any regulation will get you similar situations.

Thus my inference to the previously questioned "curbed". Some highly addictive and socially destructive substances should be watched and regulated. But they should also keep in mind, the surest way to kill a profit is to make it too expensive to do it "illegally" and too cheap to get it through approved channels.

You let people grow weed in their back yards, you will find it awfully hard to make money on it in Washington Square.

Regulation over prohibition.

Nothing justifies tyranny -- not even good intentions.

I know where you are coming from JK, but it is hard to agree with you when you take such a unilaterally extreme position on all substances.

I know the current code does not work, but again, I do not want Meth to be easily obtained by whoever is looking for it.

I guess the bottom line is, you make it too hard and the wrong people make a profit.

You make it too easy and some people may end up getting hurt.

And that brings back my question. What level of regulation would be easily maintained, ruin the profit margin for illicit dealers/manufacturers AND limit the universal exposure of people like youth to substances that could prove very harmful to anyone, let alone someone who thinks that "just one hit" won't hurt them?

July 21st, 2008, 06:30 PM
I do not want Jr. to be able to pick up a joint, a lude, or a rock at the corner convenience store on the way to school.
What he can't do that now? From some two-bit dealer peddling unregulated possibly poisonous substances?

Yes, but total decriminalization of all substances and relinquishment of any regulation will get you similar situations.
Alcohol is legal and regulated (and taxed). What's wrong with that model?

Some highly addictive and socially destructive substances should be watched and regulated.
Packaging with certified purity, strength, etc. would cut down on deaths for sure.

I know where you are coming from JK, but it is hard to agree with you when you take such a unilaterally extreme position on all substances.
I don't know where you found that I hold a "unilaterally extreme position."

I know the current code does not work, but again, I do not want Meth to be easily obtained by whoever is looking for it.
But isn't it "easily obtained by whoever is looking for it" now?

I guess the bottom line is, you make it too hard and the wrong people make a profit.

You make it too easy and some people may end up getting hurt.
By their own negligence, not by DEA busting down the wrong door or gang wars in the streets.

July 22nd, 2008, 09:05 AM
What he can't do that now? From some two-bit dealer peddling unregulated possibly poisonous substances?

No, he can't.

Not from anyplace I have seen in Hoboken, or any of the 'Burbs.

You can't say that complete legalization will not make it more readily available. Wait, you did! ;)

Alcohol is legal and regulated (and taxed). What's wrong with that model?

Alcohol is still illegal:

Under 21
While driving
For certain professions

That is what I meant when I said "curbed".

Packaging with certified purity, strength, etc. would cut down on deaths for sure.

I agree with you there, but it is still hard to say that things like Crack and PCP can be taken in any "healthy" dose. Heroin is also kind of tough, but low doses of things like Coke and other MILDER stimulants might actually not be that bad....

I don't know where you found that I hold a "unilaterally extreme position."

Because I mention drugs like Crack Cocaine and you still call for complete removal of all laws making "drugs" illegal. If that was not your intent, that was what it was coming off like.

I am not 100% against you on this JK. I just do not think that 100% legalization would make for a good situation.

Kind of like the "Free market" advocates crying for complete deregulation to stimulate development etc etc. SOME regulation is needed to keep people driving on one side of the street.

But isn't it "easily obtained by whoever is looking for it" now?

No, it isn't. Not for someone who has not found it to begin with and made a contact. Not everywhere is as easily serviced as NYC. The harder you make the first step, the less likely an adolescent will try it.

Hell, something as simple and "natural" as a porn mag was very hard for me to get when I was 16! I know it has gotten easier with the internet, and so have things like drugs, but I hope you get my point.

I am not calling for the same regulations we have now, but saying that getting cocaine in suburbia is as easy as picking up a quart of milk is a little off.

It is not impossible, that is for sure, but it is not as easy as you keep making it sound.

By their own negligence, not by DEA busting down the wrong door or gang wars in the streets.

Not really. I agree negligence is one contributing factor, but blaming all societies ills on regulation and enforcement is not 100% fair.

Absolutes simply do not work. They never do. Totalitarian rule and an iron fist will breed many ills, but complete anarchy never lasts long enough before pack rule starts and people start making their own regulations involving life, conduct, and everything else.

I am not saying that removing all drug restrictions will lead to Anarchy in the streets, although it is phrased that way. All I am saying is that the laws need to be re-written to make the entire trade less profitable. More regulated, less forbidden will make it hard for cartels to make a buck.

July 22nd, 2008, 10:47 AM
...but saying that getting cocaine in suburbia is as easy as picking up a quart of milk is a little off.

It is not impossible, that is for sure, but it is not as easy as you keep making it sound.
So your complete argument revolves around the premise that if drugs were more available, their use would go up.

If thats so, prove the point. Show me some data that supply drives demand.

What makes you think that stores would jump at the chance to sell the more noxious drugs anyway. Wouldn't there be local ordinances like liquor laws etc?

Would your licenced and regulated local purveyor have an incentive to start a neighborhood crack epidemic -- especially if it would threaten his lucrative pot business?

In 1993 in the City of Boston I purchased some weed from a dealer with one of these stickers (http://marijuanastamps.com/massachusets.htm) on it. This guy was very intelligent and enterprising and asked questions; Are you a cop? Is this for you? Is this your money? Stolen money? How old are you? Have you smoked weed before? He had different grades and different prices. He was as on-the-up-and-up as one could be, a real businessman successfully serving a demand. He's probably serving a mandatory sentence in some federal prison now.

July 22nd, 2008, 11:38 AM
So your complete argument revolves around the premise that if drugs were more available, their use would go up.

If thats so, prove the point. Show me some data that supply drives demand.

Impossible request within context and you know it.

I am not a link monkey! ;)

Are you saying that use does not go down when it is made harder to obtain?

I have always found that, for most things, making it a pain in the butt to obtain works better than forbidding it. Odd that a permitted inconvenience is less desirable in some cases than something that is forbidden.

You think that could come mainly from the thrill of trying something illegal? Like the aformentioned skin mags. Seeing one when I was younger was more than just the obvious sexual angle. It was against the law. My heart was going a mile a minute before I even cracked it open.

You say there is no thrill commesurate with any other forbidden act?

What makes you think that stores would jump at the chance to sell the more noxious drugs anyway. Wouldn't there be local ordinances like liquor laws etc?

Possible, but on a job you don't draw a bunch of lines on a plan and hope the contractor will use the sizes that will work.

A lot of times you put in a "whoops" clause, like a minimum size, or number of studs, etc. Local ordinances work well for a lot of things, but something like this needs a base to work off of. We all know that one state forbidding something just gets people to cross state lines to get it.

Would your licenced and regulated local purveyor have an incentive to start a neighborhood crack epidemic -- especially if it would threaten his lucrative pot business?

You are mixing situations.

1. Anyone can grow pot. Hell, the stuff is called "weed" for a reason! :D So that is the first fallacy in that statement. Pot will probably never be very profitable if made legal.

2. You are saying that someone who sells one thing will be the one contemplating selling the other. You know that will probably not be the case. What usually happens is competition. You will not have, for arguments sake, a Weed War where every horticulturally minded natural food store and pharmacy will try to underprice the other. One will start selling vials of the cheapest, most addictive substance known on the streets in quite some time and others would be severely tempted to follow suit.

Will all of them? No. But the example is getting a bit distended, persuing that line of logic will just get us into too many "What if"s.

In 1993 in the City of Boston I purchased some weed from a dealer with one of these stickers (http://marijuanastamps.com/massachusets.htm) on it. This guy was very intelligent and enterprising and asked questions; Are you a cop? Is this for you? Is this your money? Stolen money? How old are you? Have you smoked weed before? He had different grades and different prices.

Wow, I really admire him.

Not really.

Siting one guy who may have wanted to do things differently, in a still illegal trade, does nothing for the argument.

Would he be well suited in a country/area where it was legalized? Yes. I think that if it were legalized, traders like that would be welcomed in teh same vein as small-time Microbrews are now.

Just keep in mind JK, I have never said I oppose the legalization of pot. Personally, I have never tried it, but I do not see it as a major threat in any vein (pun NOT intended) and substances like this would be preferred over other OTC and perscription antidepressants, sedatives/etc.

If only it did not STINK so much!!! :p

He was as on-the-up-and-up as one could be, a real businessman successfully serving a demand. He's probably serving a mandatory sentence in some federal prison now.

Maybe, but again, it has nothing to do with what we are talking about. He was an up-and-up drug dealer. It was a relatively innocuous substance he was selling and I do not approve of where the line has been drawn, but he chose to step over it.

When a person asks you if you are a cop before he sells you something, chances are he knows what side he is standing on, no matter how good his intensions or buisness practice might be..... ;)

I think we understand each other on this. It is probably just a degree of lean on the issue. I am not disagreeing with your basic premise, but the problem is you can't say that things like Crack will cause no harm and noone would ever sell it if it was legalized. We have no real solid numbers showing what regulation could do for or against it, but common sense says making something less convenient has a tendency to curb its use.

Example. Cookies. Put cookies in front of you at the computer while you are working/playing/posting. See how many you eat.

Now put them over in the kitchen and only get one each time you get up to get one. Chances are, you will eat less if you have to get up every time to get one.

Direct analogy? Hell no! But an example of how simple inconvenience curbs usage! ;)

Whatever. I am out of cookies at work! :(

July 22nd, 2008, 11:38 AM
And I thought that wa a short answer!! ;)

July 22nd, 2008, 01:14 PM
Why would a grocer sell tomatoes when its not illegal to grow them in your backyard? You make the most absurd arguments.

Because it's illegal is not an argument for why it should be illegal. Do you not recognize things such as unjust laws?

Realizing you've never tried marijuana... :rolleyes:

Do some homework.

July 22nd, 2008, 01:29 PM
Why would a grocer sell tomatoes when its not illegal to grow them in your backyard? You make the most absurd arguments.

Tomatoes /= weed.

Because it's illegal is not an argument for why it should be illegal. Do you not recognize things such as unjust laws?

Because you had one person who you thought was a fair merchant of a (now) illegal substance does not lend any weight or creedance to your argument that all would somehow be this way if it were legalized.

it had no bearing on your point other than to illustrate that some drug dealers are not as bad as others.

That was my point, not in the justness of a law that prohibits something that is, in all sense of the thing, not a fundamental need.

This is not robbing someone of their right to speak, think or do. While I still agree with you that the law is pointless, holding up a friendly dealer as a Martyr bears no weight.

Realizing you've never tried marijuana... :rolleyes:

Yeah, like having to try it is grounds for you to be able to argue for or against a law for ALL SUBSTANCES.

So you are saying, in order to make Heroin illegal for minors, all law makers have to try it? Come on, get real.

And also realize I never said anything bad about MJ other than its odor. You are barking up the wrong kangaroo.

Do some homework.

I will leave that to the professionals.

BTW, here's your wet towel. :D

August 8th, 2008, 09:57 AM
Travel writer Rick Steves hosts (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/connelly/355879_joel21.html) a new show based in Washington state:
“Marijuana: It’s Time for a Conversation,” (http://www.marijuanaconversation.org) a co-production of the Marijuana Education Project of the ACLU of Washington (http://www.aclu-wa.org/issues/subissue.cfm?&issuesubissue_id=47) and the national ACLU Drug Law Reform Project (http://www.aclu.org/drugpolicy/).

Marijuana: It’s Time for a Conversation

Across the nation, people are beginning to reconsider our marijuana laws. In 2006, America set a new record by arresting over 800,000 individuals for marijuana offenses; 89% of these arrests were for simple possession only. Marijuana remains as available as ever through an unregulated illegal market. Enforcement of marijuana laws costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year – precious public safety resources that could be directed toward more important priorities and more effective policies.

http://www.mep.dreamhosters.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/home.jpg (http://www.marijuanaconversation.org/)

The award-winning “Marijuana: It’s Time for a Conversation (http://www.marijuanaconversation.org/)” invites viewers to consider whether these laws are working for us or against us.

What does marijuana law enforcement cost us in tax dollars?
How effective is prohibition at controlling marijuana use and availability?
What are the social consequences of marijuana prohibition?
Are the consequences of marijuana arrests and convictions fair? Are the laws applied fairly to all Americans?
How did we end up with these laws in the first place?
Is marijuana prohibition doing more harm than good?

Sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union and featuring noted travel writer and television host Rick Steves (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Steves),
“Marijuana: It’s Time for a Conversation (http://www.marijuanaconversation.org/)” begins a long-overdue public discussion about marijuana and marijuana prohibition.

August 27th, 2008, 12:59 PM
Federal Court Rules Driving with Air Fresheners is Suspicious
Federal appeals court rules that motorists can be stopped for 30 minutes and searched if they are nervous and use an air freshener.
8/25/08 (http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/25/2513.asp)

A federal appellate court ruled last week that police can delay a routine traffic stop as long as necessary to conduct a search for drugs. In its decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the validity of a thirty-minute traffic stop in Maryland because the arresting officer claimed the nervous driver had an air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror and had previously been spotted driving in a run-down neighborhood.

The case began on October 29, 2004 when Anne Arundel County Police Officer Tim White saw Michael Lawrence Branch behind the wheel of a White Mercedes Benz sedan. White ordered Branch to pull over at 6:50pm for allegedly running a red light. Officer White remembered having stopped the same sedan less than a month before in a high-crime area, but he had nothing to link the vehicle to illegal drug activity. Nonetheless, White stuck with his hunch.

White claimed he saw an air freshener and smelled laundry detergent, so he immediately got on the radio to request a drug dog, which turned out not to be available. A second officer at the scene told White that the defendant, "knows the law... so getting in the car is going to be difficult." White replied, "10-4" and made Branch wait while he tried to call in a dog from another law enforcement agency.

During the wait, a check showed Branch was properly licensed and had no outstanding warrants, but the car's registration did not show up on the computer. The car was, in fact, properly registered to Branch's cousin. Some 27 minutes into the stop, Officer White called the owner, Christine Retz, who confirmed that Branch had permission to drive the Benz. After Branch had waited a total of thirty minutes, the drug dog arrived and Branch was handed his ticket. A two-judge majority found Officer White had a reasonable suspicion that Branch was a criminal.

"First, the presence of several air fresheners -- commonly used to mask the smell of narcotics -- hanging in the Mercedes," Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote to explain the source of probable cause. "The prior traffic stop of the Mercedes in a drug-trafficking area, Branch's evident nervousness, the presence of air fresheners, and the fact that Branch was driving a car not registered to him. These factors, in combination, could form the basis for a 'reasonable suspicion' of narcotics trafficking."

Circuit Judge Roger L. Gregory disagreed and argued that it was obvious that Officer White was dragging out the ticket writing process in order to conduct a fishing expedition with the drug sniffing dog. Judge Gregory cited the US Supreme Court decision Illinois v. Caballes as explicitly outlawing such conduct.

"A seizure that is justified solely by the interest in issuing a warning ticket to the driver can become unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete that mission," the high court ruled.

Gregory argued further that past supreme court precedent has found fifteen minutes to be an excessive delay. He also cited testimony from Metropolitan Transportation Authority Officer Vincent Edwards who saw no air fresheners and smelled no particular odor from the vehicle. Edwards had brought the drug dog and was on the look out for air fresheners specifically because they caused his dog to give a false positive response on several occasions.

"Officer Edwards's testimony clearly contradicted that of Officer White," Judge Gregory wrote. "In sum, there is insufficient evidence to establish the presence of air fresheners and at the very least there was evidence that called into question Officer White's wavering testimony in this regard. Given that most people are nervous when pulled over by police officers, Officer White's observation that the defendant seemed nervous in conjunction with the defendant's reputation as a drug dealer does not in my opinion rise to the level of reasonable articulable suspicion that would justify a thirty minute detention during a routine traffic incident."

Judge Gregory failed to persuade his colleagues and the court upheld Branch's conviction. White's search had found cocaine base and a digital scale in a locked glove compartment. Crack cocaine and a gun were also found hidden in the back of the car. Branch was sentenced to twenty-five years in jail for multiple offenses.

A full copy of the decision is available in a 120k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: US v. Branch (http://www.thenewspaper.com/rlc/docs/2008/us-branch.pdf) (US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 8/20/2008)


IOW, 'if any odor is present, there is reason to suspect it is there for the sole purpose of confusing drug sniffing dogs, ergo; the vehicle or person may be searched -- even when the associated circumstances are as innocuous as being in an arbitrarily designated "drug-trafficking area" or appearing "nervous."

I ask you, who wouldn't feel nervous if pulled over with an air freshener after this ruling, what with tasers being all the rage these days...

August 27th, 2008, 01:57 PM

Judge Gregory failed to persuade his colleagues and the court upheld Branch's conviction. White's search had found cocaine base and a digital scale in a locked glove compartment. Crack cocaine and a gun were also found hidden in the back of the car. Branch was sentenced to twenty-five years in jail for multiple offenses.

This does not help things...

I don't like the whole air freshener/nervous thing, but it does not help when these things happen, and the guy actually WAS trafficking.

August 27th, 2008, 11:56 PM
Have you ever heard of the Fourth Amendment or the Exclusionary Rule? :confused:

These limits on government action are being purposely and methodically eroded -- all in the name of protecting people from 'narcotics' like the evil reefer.

Perhaps you'd prefer a police state with arbitrary and capricious checkpoints, searches, pat-downs, etc. where you must constantly prove your innocence because everyone is otherwise presumed guilty?

Your attitude gives license to this insidious authoritarian creep perpetrated by police, prosecutors and judges.

Violating drug dealer's rights is OK -- after all they're drug dealers -- Right? That's what you think isn't it?

While I don't wish illegal police behavior to be used against you -- if it is -- you deserve it.

August 28th, 2008, 09:34 AM
Have you ever heard of the Fourth Amendment or the Exclusionary Rule? :confused:

What does that have to do with the statement I made in which the PUBLICS IMPRESSION of what happened would not bode well for the situation given that the guy WAS trafficking?


The point I was making is that it is hard to argue against something in defense of a freedom when an example like thi scomes up. AAMOF, this is an example that would be used by politicians to REMOVE those rights for the "safety" of the general public.

That was my point, not the ruling itself.

These limits on government action are being purposely and methodically eroded -- all in the name of protecting people from 'narcotics' like the evil reefer.

Perhaps you'd prefer a police state with arbitrary and capricious checkpoints, searches, pat-downs, etc. where you must constantly prove your innocence because everyone is otherwise presumed guilty?

No, but you would like general anarchy where people are insulted for taking a viewpoint that is not 100% in agreeance with you?


Go re-read my statement. I was VERY CAREFUL not to criticize you or what you said. I also did not call for this situation. the ONLY thing I stated is that bringing up an example of, say for example, a pedofile keeping kids in his basement against their will is no reason for illegal search and seisure (w/o warrant) will not help the case in the eyes of the public.

In the same way, coming to court and saying that a "hunch" or a "feeling" based on something as innocuous as "feeling nervous" and "air fresheners" is no reason to hold a person for a search when that search turns up not a dime bag, but a gun, crack cocaine, a scale and other paraphenalia is not going to HELP things.

Do you think it helps the case for these rights when someone like this is caught by infringing on them?

Your attitude gives license to this insidious authoritarian creep perpetrated by police, prosecutors and judges.

No, it is not my attitude. It is YOUR perceived image of me that is governing your response. I never said that holding him was 100% right, but you have yet to tell me how this helps your case that the guy was carrying.

I am not saying guilt or innocense here, I am saying public perception and what that means to future interpretations. If this guy was innocent, there could easily be public uproar over it, but how many people are going to come out, besides yourself of course, in defense of a Crack dealer?

How will that help the Fourth Amendment or the Exclusionary Rule?

Violating drug dealer's rights is OK -- after all they're drug dealers -- Right? That's what you think isn't it?

You are putting words in my mouth.

Please stop or I will report this.

While I don't wish illegal police behavior to be used against you -- if it is -- you deserve it.

That's it, you are reported.

August 28th, 2008, 10:17 AM
LOL! I really should stop clicking the View Post link next to your name... but I just can't help myself. :o

August 28th, 2008, 10:29 AM
What is thes recent rash of "I will report you" retorts & posts :confused: ?

August 28th, 2008, 12:14 PM
What is thes recent rash of "I will report you" retorts & posts :confused: ?

Because he insulted me.

I should back off because others have done it?

BTW, I did report it. It is one thing to argue a point, it is another to put words in anothers mouth and claim they are stupid, illogical, wrong, or just plain bad because of it.

I will stand up for what I believe in and voice my opinion. The fact that Jason admitted he has me on Ignore is yet another insult. the guy is being an ass and I am insulted by it.

Maybe I should have done the OTHER thing people do on this board, yell at him, call him names and get banned for a week?

Back On Topic. The guy was a crack dealer. Siting him as a reference for violation of rights will not win you any supporters. Right or wrong, he is a bad example that actually works against the argument Jason has been posting.

Or maybe he is just fighting for the rights of Air Fresheners, I don't know. He gets so defensive when someone talks about drugs.

August 28th, 2008, 01:33 PM
Mexico Pays the Price of Prohibition

(Video) (http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid452319854/bctid1735208006) Americas columnist Mary O'Grady tells Kelsey Hubbard how the U.S. War on Drugs and the demand for narcotics is taking its toll on Mexico.
(Aug. 18)

August 18, 2008; Page A13 (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121901832890848253.html?mod=todays_columnists)

With the world fixated on Vladimir Putin's expansionist exploits in Georgia, a different sort of assault against a democracy south of the U.S. border is getting scant attention. But it is equally alarming.

Mexico is engaged in a life-or-death struggle against organized crime. Last week six more law enforcement officials were killed in the line of duty battling the country's drug cartels. This brings the death toll in President Felipe Calderón's blitz against organized crime to 4,909 since Dec. 1, 2006.

A number of the dead have been gangsters but they also include journalists, politicians, judges, police and military, and civilians. For perspective on how violent Mexico has become, consider that the total number of Americans killed in Iraq since March 2003 is 4,142.

Kidnapping and armed robbery numbers have also soared. In Tijuana, a kidnapping epidemic has provoked an exodus of upper-middle-class families across the U.S. border in search of safety.

As this column has pointed out many times, one reason that security has so deteriorated in the past decade is the demand in the U.S. for illegal narcotics, and the U.S. government's crackdown on the Caribbean trafficking route. Mexican cartels have risen up to serve the U.S. market, and their earnings have made them rich and well-armed.

The victims of last week's killing spree include the deputy police chief of the state of Michoacan and one of his men, a detective in the state of Chihuahua, and a deputy police chief in the state of Quintana Roo. As of July, 449 police and military officers have died in the Calderón offensive, further underscoring the price Mexico is paying for the U.S. "war on drugs." But the costs go well beyond the loss of life.

In a developed country like the U.S., prohibition takes a toll on the rule of law but does not overwhelm it. In Mexico, where a newly revived democracy is trying to reform institutions after 70 years of autocratic governance under the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the corrupting influence of drug profits is far more pernicious.

According to Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora, part of the explanation for the kidnapping surge can be traced to the success of the government's squeeze on the drug runners. He told me in February that he expected the pressure to produce a fragmentation of the cartels, turf wars and an increase in other criminal activities to replace shrinking profits in drug trafficking.

If true, the kidnapping spree might be a sign that Mr. Medina Mora's strategy is working. But when federal investigators recently fingered Mexico City police in the kidnapping and murder of 14-year-old Fernando Martí, the son of a wealthy entrepreneur, Mr. Medina Mora's theory lost some credibility. Rather than being the work of demoralized criminals, kidnapping, in the capital anyway, appears to be just one business run by a well-oiled machine with institutional links.

Ricardo Medina, a leading Mexican opinion writer and the editor of El Economista, the country's top financial daily, told me on Thursday the case shows that "independent of the shooting war on drugs there is the problem of institutions being infiltrated by criminals and corrupted."

Even captured criminals often go free, Mr. Medina says, and all branches of government share responsibility for this crisis of impunity. It is true that judges can be intimidated or bribed. But it is also true, for example, that under Mexican law kidnapping is not a federal crime, and therefore must be handled by local authorities. Often victims do not want to press charges because there is a perception that the local police and local governments are in on it.

That perception has been strengthened in the Martí case, but the problem of impunity is hardly new. As Mr. Medina wrote in El Economista on Friday, "impunity is in view of everyone, day after day. We all see it even to the point of smiling ironically or shrugging our shoulders."

Why hasn't this problem been tackled? One possible explanation in Mexico City is that the district police and the rest of the district's bureaucracy represent an important constituency for the ruling Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD). If the PRD's base prefers the status quo, there is a high political cost to challenging it.

Drug profits going to organized crime only complicate the matter. Writing in the latest issue of the Milken Institute Review, former U.S. foreign service officer Laurence Kerr takes a page out of U.S. history. "America has been in Mexico's shoes: flush with the bounty of illegal liquor sales, organized crime thoroughly penetrated the U.S. justice system during Prohibition. As long as Americans willingly bury Mexican drug traffickers in greenbacks, progress in constraining the trade is likely to be limited." Regrettably, Mexico's institutional reform will also be limited and the death toll will keep climbing.

Write to O'Grady@wsj.com (OGrady@wsj.com)


What side of this proxy drug war does the federal policy of prohibition support? If the intent was to corrupt and destabilize the Mexican government it would surely be heralded a success.

A notable byproduct of this uncertainty and instability has been a flood of illegal workers across the border in search of basic non-criminal economic opportunities who are often forced to coordinate with the very drug smugglers and cartels for safe passage who force them to leave the country in the first place.

Will the failed 'War on Drugs' lead to yet another layer of paramilitarism, surveillance, and thuggish bureaucracy with a 'War on Illegal Immigration?'


A good video exposé on DOJ, ICE and DEA activities on the US-Mexican border:

People and Power - War on drugs - 18 June 08 - Part 1 [11.18] (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_946t24K9DM)

People and Power - War on drugs - 18 June 08 - Part 2 [11.15] (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87rrisBI1I0)

August 28th, 2008, 03:28 PM
BTW, what gives?

Something must be bugging you to go from a relitively civil discussion to wishing me being beaten or detained by cops.

I sense that this particular tangent has more connection to something for you than I myself have provided. Just do me a favor, don't make me the brunt of your frustration.

October 4th, 2008, 10:55 PM

Drug violence kills at least 49 in Tijuana this week


TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) -- Police have found nine more bodies dumped around the Mexican border city of Tijuana, where nearly 50 people have been killed in a week of violence related to the drug trade.

Municipal police found five of the bodies Saturday between two small shopping centers in the eastern part of the city. The people had been beaten, and their hands were bound.

The bodies of two beheaded men were found wrapped in blankets on a road elsewhere in the city, according to the Baja California state Attorney General's Office. The heads were in black plastic bags nearby.

A piece of cardboard left by the bodies read: "These are the bricklayer's people." On Monday, a message found with 12 bodies next to a Tijuana (http://topics.cnn.com/topics/Tijuana) elementary school threatened "all of those who are with 'The Engineer.' "
State prosecutor Rommel Moreno has blamed the violence on warring leaders within the Arellano Felix drug gang. More than 400 people have been killed in drug-related (http://topics.cnn.com/topics/Drug_Trafficking) violence in the city across from San Diego, California, this year, including at least 49 this week.

On Friday night, two men were found shot to death in the same empty lot near the elementary school where the 12 bodies were found Monday.

Execution-style killings, beheadings and shootouts have soared across Mexico since the army and federal police intensified their fight against the drug trade nearly two years ago.

In the southern city of Oaxaca, four banners purportedly signed by the Gulf Cartel blamed another drug gang, La Familia, for a September 15 grenade attack that killed eight people during Independence Day celebrations in another Mexican state capital, Morelia.

Police arrested three alleged Gulf Cartel hit men accused of throwing the grenades into crowds of revelers. Messages in the name of La Familia have blamed the Gulf Cartel for the attack.

Police quickly took down the banners. Oaxaca state police commissioner Jorge Quezadas said they were handed over to federal prosecutors for investigation.

© 2008 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (http://www.cnn.com/tbs/index.html) All Rights Reserved.

October 9th, 2008, 01:41 PM

November 4th, 2008, 11:07 AM
US military: 40 tons of Afghan dope destroyed

KABUL (AP): (http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/003200811031750.htm) Coalition and Afghan troops hunting for Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan discovered a drug lab and destroyed more than 40 tons of hashish on Monday, officials said.

The joint force discovered the drug facility in Kandahar province's Spin Boldak district, which borders Pakistan, the U.S. military said in a statement.

``Today's discovery clearly demonstrated the links between the Taliban and drug trafficking,'' said Col. Greg Julian, the spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

``The huge amount of drugs destroyed today will greatly hinder the Taliban's ability to fund their ongoing, hopeless struggle to subjugate the Afghan people,'' Julian said in a statement.

Gen. Abdul Raziq, the border police commander for southern Afghanistan, said the drugs were found in the basement of a compound in Nawa Kili village. He said American military helicopters were used during the raid.

The area where the drugs were discovered is littered with small drug labs. Drug runners transporting Afghanistan's major cash crop _ opium _ over the border with Pakistan use the region as a staging ground.

Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium, the main ingredient for the production of heroin. But the country also grows large quantities of cannabis, the plant used to produce hashish and marijuana.

U.S., U.N. and other Western officials allege that some of the proceeds from the multibillion dollar drug trade _ perhaps as much as $100 million a year _ go to fund the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan. But some government officials are believed to be involved in the lucrative trade as well.

U.S. Gen. David McKiernan, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, said last month that the NATO-led military in Afghanistan can attack drug labs or drug runners when a link can be established between the narcotics trafficker and the insurgency. He called the approach a ``force protection issue.''

``That should send a very strong message to those involved in the narcotics system in Afghanistan, that where they have relations with the insurgency, that will not be acceptable and we will treat that as a security issue,'' McKiernan said.

November 4th, 2008, 12:28 PM
Legalize the dope and you won't have to worry about it being a funding source.

It is one of the least harmful of any controlled substance out there and our boys should not be spending their time "weeding" it out (and standing downwind from where it is being destroyed...)

November 16th, 2008, 03:56 PM
Dutch politician questions UN about the efficacy of cannabis prohibition as a method of reducing consumption.

Video [5:48] (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DemFLn-tjzs)

December 4th, 2008, 04:43 PM
Mexico Drug Cartels Send A Message of Chaos, Death

By William Booth
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, December 4, 2008; Page A01 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/03/AR2008120303953.html?hpid=topnews)

[excerpted below, for full story see above link]

MEXICO CITY -- The death squads of the drug cartels are killing in spectacularly gruesome ways, using the violence as a language to deliver a message to society.

Increasingly, bodies show unmistakable signs of torture. Videos of executions are posted on the Internet, as taunts, as warnings. Corpses are dumped on playgrounds, with neatly printed notes beside them. And very often, the heads have been removed.

As competing drug cartels and their fragmented cells fight the police, the Mexican army and one another for control of billion-dollar smuggling corridors into the U.S. drug market, the violence unleashed by President Felipe Calderón's war against the traffickers grows more sensational.

An estimated 4,500 people have been killed in drug-related violence since 2007, when Calderón flooded the border and other drug hot zones with 20,000 Mexican troops and thousands of federal agents. November was the bloodiest month so far, with at least 700 killings, according to tallies kept by Mexican newspapers. Some victims had no connection to the drug trade, police say.

Walters said Calderón and his troops are destabilizing the cartels, arresting and extraditing their leaders, sowing chaos among the ranks, which is one reason the violence is so extreme. "Terror is evidence of weakness," he said. "If you have power in other ways, you don't do this."

In the past, many drug lords sought to be portrayed as tough-guy Robin Hoods, as godfather mafia dons who donated soccer balls and coloring books to schoolchildren and paid for the beer and bands at town fiestas. Now the cartels and their enforcers, who include former police and military deserters, are marketing themselves as dealers of chaos and death.

Law enforcement officials in Mexico and the United States say the spasm of violence is born of overlapping struggles. The cartels, and the cells within them, are fighting each other, dealing with traitors inside the organization and competitors outside, which in many cases may include crooked cops who work for the cartels. The traffickers are also fighting the police and military.

"It is three-dimensional chess," said Bruce Bagley, a drug trade expert and a professor at the University of Miami. "Where an amazingly lucrative drug trade fuels this brutality, that serves multiple functions -- for payback, for revenge, to send messages, to scare the hell out of the public and, of course, to win. Remember, these guys will do anything to win."

"Mexico is a strange country of truths and untruths, where reality and conspiracy blend together," said Tony Payan, the author of two books on the Mexican drug trade and a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, across the river from Ciudad Juarez.


So if we stopped the drug war these crazed murdering thugs would take over? We'd all be at their mercy?

The drug war did not create this situation... just keep telling yourself that we need to outlaw guns in the US (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/28/AR2007102801654.html) to stop the violence problem.

December 4th, 2008, 04:58 PM
A Border Under Siege
American military training and Texas guns are helping boost drug-war violence.

Feature: Wednesday, December 03, 2008
By PETER GORMAN (http://www.fwweekly.com/content.asp?article=7338)

The sun is shining on the low rolling hills covered in Texas short grass and dotted with cattle along the southern end of I-35, the road that stretches from Duluth, Minn., to the Texas-Mexico border at Laredo. Little interrupts the bucolic scene for miles in any direction except for electric towers strung together like alien giants on a forced march across the vast plains. Towns that are little more than gas-stops appear and disappear beside the highway. On the other side of the Rio Grande, the countryside looks to be more of the same.

At the border, one way to cross is via a footbridge over the river. Last spring, a banner hung on the Mexican side of the bridge turned out to be a recruiting poster for the Zetas, a murderous drug cartel that had recently taken over much of Nuevo Laredo.

At the end of I-35, Laredo and Nuevo Laredo face each other across that shallow river. It’s a famously porous international border that, given the shared culture of people on the two sides, has always seemed seriously smudged.

And yet few countries could be as different as the United States and Mexico these days. The critical nature of that difference takes hold as soon as a southbound traveler sets a foot — and it had better be a cautious foot — past the border formalities. In Nuevo Laredo, the walls of many homes and government buildings are pockmarked with bullet holes. Some have high concrete walls, four inches thick, in front of their property — protection against grenades and assault weapons. Nuevo Laredo hasn’t had a police chief in two years. The last one quit in fear of his life after only three months in office. The one before that was shot and killed in broad daylight after seven hours on the job.

Up the river in Juarez, across from El Paso, about 1,200 people have been murdered thus far this year, and the total could hit 1,500. The brutality of many of the murders is stunning. Newspaper headlines announce decapitations, people being burned alive or tortured to death, mass murders. In early November, a headless body was hung from an overpass over the city’s main road.

The story is the same, with variations, all along the U.S.-Mexico border, as various Mexican drug cartels fight each other and the government: This is no longer the drug war that has chugged along for decades along this border, where there was always violence, to be sure, but where headlines were more likely to be about the size of drug shipments seized or the latest local Customs or Border Patrol agent found to be in cahoots with the smugglers. Nor is American involvement any longer limited simply (and profoundly) to providing the market for drugs that makes the whole narcotrafficking world possible, or to low-level corruption of the occasional border cop.

Interviews with agents in numerous federal and local law enforcement agencies, border residents, and drug-war journalists paint a picture of a war beyond anything anyone has ever seen here before, an epidemic of murder and sadistic violence that’s being waged with American weapons and aided by American government dollars, led by forces trained by the American military. The level of power of the Mexican drug cartels is completely out of control, and nothing the U.S. and Mexican governments are doing seems to be working to slow it down.

Instead, the money generated by the sale of drugs in this country is so impossibly vast that corruption in local Mexican police forces, the Mexican military, and even the federal government is at the saturation point — and many times more lucrative, not to mention healthier, than staying honest. The drug gangs are now recruiting and killing people on the U.S. side of the border, and murders and corruption are on the rise in towns from El Paso to Brownsville. Unless something changes quickly, it looks as though things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. Already, the Mexican side of the border has become such a horror show that many Americans will find it difficult to comprehend, no matter how many movies about it they have seen. The transformation of Mexico into a drugocracy is nearly complete, with no institution completely free from its influence, including the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

Thousands of Mexicans have paid dearly to have tracking chips embedded under their skin, so that they can be located if they are kidnapped. More Mexican citizens than ever are showing up in hospitals on the U.S. side to be treated for gunshot wounds — because there’s less chance in the United States of their attackers following them to a hospital ward to finish the job. And record numbers of Mexicans are fleeing to Canada to seek political asylum.

The firepower of the cartels is as frightening as their ruthlessness. Where do they get their weapons? From Texas and other border states, where the gun lobbies have kept the gun laws weak. Texas is considered to be the number-one supplier of weapons to the cartels.

But their artillery goes beyond anything found at your local gun shop. The cartels have M-16s, hand grenades, grenade launchers — that is, U.S. military weapons, by the truckload.

Many of the most murderous units of the drug armies know very well how to use those weapons because they were taught by the U.S. military — on the assumption that they were going to fight against the cartels. Now they fight for the cartels — or control them. What’s more, American corporations are getting into the act, working under contract with the Mexican and U.S. governments to train specialized soldiers, including in torture techniques, and to act as private security agents on both sides of the border, a prospect that is as chilling to some as the drug lords themselves.

A recent government report said one Mexican cartel, angered at raids in the U.S. that targeted their people (including in North Texas) has threatened retaliation. The cartel is calling on the American gangs that are its business partners to “confront U.S. law enforcement agencies.” One cartel boss allegedly has ordered reinforcements to Reynosa, the report said, “armed with assault rifles, bulletproof vests, and grenades and … occupying safe houses throughout the McAllen area.”

What’s more, the sign on the bridge was just one example of the cartel’s new practice of brazenly advertising for foot soldiers. In Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo, their fliers were plastered everywhere recently.

The banner on the bridge echoed the words of the old U.S. military recruiting poster, and it specifically targeted members of the military: “The Zetas operations group wants you, soldier or ex-soldier,” it read. “We offer you a good salary, food, and attention for your family. Don’t suffer hunger and abuse any more.” It listed a cell phone number to call to sign up.

In Nuevo Laredo, things are much quieter now than they were two years ago, when gunfights broke out almost daily. But even now, entering Mexico at Laredo is intimidating because the town is still tense with the memory of those battles. Stores are boarded up, international medical and dental clinics that used to cater to Texans have for-rent signs on their doors, and it’s not a safe place to wander around. The relative peace is not the result of any law enforcement victory over the drug traffickers, far from it. The warring cartels have simply reached a détente.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon came to power in 2006 vowing to eliminate the drug scourge and its attendant violence. George W. Bush’s administration handed over hundreds of millions to help with that quest. But all that’s happened since Calderon took office, despite his efforts, is that the violence and corruption have increased. It’s not just the death toll that’s up; robberies, extortions, and kidnappings are on the rise as well.

The next-to-last Nuevo Laredo police chief was murdered because he promised to crack down on drug violence, which claimed 170 lives in that city in 2005 alone, not to mention dozens of kidnappings or the assassinations carried out on the U.S. side.

“It’s a war zone,” Webb County Sheriff Rick Flores told ABC News at the time. “We’ve got level-three body armor; they’ve got level-four. We’ve got cell phones; they’ve got satellite cell phones that we can’t tap into. … We’re being outgunned.”

In the fight against drug-based corruption, there has been no détente. In the last five months, 35 agents with the Mexican federal prosecutor’s office were arrested for corruption. According to Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora, each was being paid between $150,000 and $450,000 monthly by the cartels. In late October, two high-ranking officials with Mexico’s Office on Organized Crime, part of the attorney general’s office, were arrested for supplying a Sinaloa-based cartel with information on possible drug seizures. Each was being paid $400,000 per month. An Interpol agent working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration at the American embassy in Mexico City, caught supplying the same cartel with inside information last month, was thought to have been earning $30,000 monthly.

The current rash of violence in Mexico, as well as the violence that erupted in Nuevo Laredo a couple of years ago, can be traced to Calderon’s policy of going after cartel leaders. His belief was that the cartels would be destroyed with their capos gone. So he sent 32,000 federal soldiers out across Mexico with orders to bring the peace by eliminating cartel bosses. Dozens were captured or killed, including many who have since been extradited to the U.S. for prosecution. But the push also had two negative side effects: First, the cartels were able to corrupt large segments of those military forces sent out against them, and secondly, the removal of the bosses created a power vacuum that’s led to the current violence among those seeking to become the new cartel leaders.

In many ways, it’s a repeat of what happened in Colombia in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the Medellin and Cali cartel leaders were eliminated. Violence in that country escalated to brutal heights. But interestingly, the victor in those internecine wars turned out not to be any of the Colombian cartel lieutenants, but the drug bosses in Mexico, who moved up from being middle men to running the cartels themselves.

The campaigns then didn’t stop corruption or even slow it down, and the same has been true of Calderon’s efforts thus far. Much of the violence in Nuevo Laredo was carried out by municipal police, including gun battles between them and federal officers. Eventually more than half of Nuevo Laredo’s 700-man police force was fired for corruption. In June 2007, Calderon purged 284 federal police commanders from all 31 Mexican states and the Mexico City federal district. All that did, one DEA source said, was to raise the cost of monthly payments to corrupt federal agents and prosecutors.

U.S. drug agents estimate that, every day, $10 million worth of drugs crosses over the Laredo bridges — not to mention the rest of the 2,000-mile long U.S.–Mexico border — and heads up I-35. It’s enough to pay for a lot of corruption and a lot of weaponry. Unfortunately for their victims, the drug lords don’t have to go far to do their gun-shopping.

The Texas-Mexico frontier has always been a smuggler’s paradise, and through the decades, the trade — in whatever goods were in demand at the moment — has gone both ways. These days, although the drugs traveling north grab most of the headlines, there’s an equally deadly trade, in weapons, going into Mexico, since that country has no arms manufacturing industry. According to U.S. officials, nearly all of Mexico’s drug-war violence is done with U.S.-manufactured weapons. The worst-offending states are Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, all of which permit almost anyone to purchase and own as many pistols, machine pistols, rifles, and assault rifles as they want, with no waiting time and no record of the sale going beyond the gun dealers’ files.

In those states, only an instant background check is done. According to Stephen Fischer, a spokesman for the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, anyone who sells a gun in this country — with a major and troublesome exception — must notify NICS. “The buyer is required to fill out a form, and the dealer then calls an 800 number, enters the buyer’s information, and either gets an OK or a “red light.” If it’s the latter, Fischer said, “the information will get transferred to the FBI, and we’ll make a decision whether the transaction can go through or not.”

A would-be buyer can be turned down for things as simple as not having gotten a new driver’s license after a move or as serious as being in this country illegally or having a felony criminal record. But Fischer noted that the form does not include the number of weapons being purchased, “So in theory a person could buy 100 or more at a time if they want.”

He also said that information on green-lighted purchasers is purged within 24 hours. Red-lighted forms are kept until the FBI determines the cause of the warning flag.

One Texas gun owner, a former NASA engineer who asked not to be identified, said he sees the problem with a system that doesn’t flag purchases of multiple guns. “Maybe something should be in place even in Texas that would call that sale into question,” he said. “I mean, how many AK-47s does a person need to have fun target shooting?”

He himself owns an Uzi, a semi-automatic bought over the counter at a gun store. “But you go to any gun show, and it doesn’t take long to find someone who’ll offer to take your semi-automatic and turn it into a fully automatic weapon,” he said.

Mexican authorities have repeatedly called on the U.S. to pass laws to stop or slow the estimated 2,000-weapon-a-day pace of gun sales into Mexico. But gun restrictions are extremely unpopular in Texas and other border states, an easy way for any politician to get unelected.

“Texas is probably the biggest supplier of guns that make their way into Mexico,” said Tom Crowley, special agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. “That’s both because of that long border they share and the number of gun dealers in the state.” BATF’s job is to handle the investigation of illegal gun and arms sales, as well as to trace guns that have been used in criminal activity.

“Now let’s say I’m a Mexican cartel member or illegal gun dealer, and I want to get my hands on some weapons,” Crowley said. “I’ll get a friend to purchase the guns I want and have him deliver them to me in Mexico. That’s called a straw-man purchase, and it’s illegal, but it’s done. And until one of those weapons is recovered at a crime scene, no one is going to know about it. Of course, that’s where BATF comes in: If the Mexican government provides us with that gun — and they’ve been more and more cooperative — we can trace it back to the manufacturer. They’ll tell us to which gun dealer it was shipped, and that gun dealer had better have kept the paperwork. ... And with that, we’ll be coming after you, to ask what the heck a gun you purchased is doing in Mexico in the hands of someone in a cartel gun battle.”

The system is flawed, Crowley admitted, both because of people obliterating serial numbers and because of the “gun show loophole.” The exception allows individuals to sell their own weapons at a gun show, such as the regular events held in large coliseums in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. No NICS check is done, and often no names are exchanged. If the gun later turns up to have been used in a multiple murder in Juarez and gets traced back to the legitimate owner, he can just say he sold it at a gun show to a stranger. And that’s the end of the case.

But Celerino Castillo, the former DEA agent who blew the whistle on the U.S.-backed Contras’ arms-for-drugs deals during the Nicaraguan civil war in the mid-1980s, said the problem isn’t limited to weapons being sold legally by individuals and then being resold to the cartels. The author of Powderburns, an account of the cocaine-for-arms scandal, Castillo worked undercover with the DEA for 12 years, mostly in Central and South America, including Mexico.

“The majority of the weapons being used by the cartels these days are U.S. military weapons and explosives,” he said. “They’ve got M-16s, hand grenades, grenade launchers. Even in Texas you can’t buy those. Those are U.S. military weapons. Last year an 18-wheeler full of M-16s was stopped headed to Matamoros, a border town controlled by the Gulf Cartel. Our U.S. military is either supplying the Mexican military with that weaponry, and corrupt elements in the Mexican military are selling it to the cartels, or someone in the U.S. military is supplying them. Either way, those are U.S. military guns being used in very violent cartel rivalries.

“So the responsibility still lies with the U.S., whether it’s military or gun shop owners,” Castillo said. “Without the guns, there would be less violence.”

Whatever version of corruption or bad policy is responsible for massive amounts of American military weapons ending up in the hands of the cartel, there is little mystery about the more routine forms of drug-money corruption being practiced, another longstanding border tradition. In October, FBI agents arrested a South Texas sheriff and charged him with “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana” among several other offenses. Starr County Sheriff Reymundo Guerra, who faces life imprisonment, follows in the footsteps of his predecessor, Sheriff Eugenio Falcon, who pleaded guilty to non-drug-related conspiracy charges in 1998. Among many other law enforcement officers caught dealing with the cartels, in 2005 former Cameron County Sheriff Conrado Cantu was sentenced to 24 years in prison for running a criminal enterprise out of his office.

The corruption extends as far as the drug supply lines themselves. In September, 175 people thought to have ties to the Gulf Cartel were arrested in several U.S. states, including 22 in north Texas. The raids netted $1 million in cash, 400 pounds of methamphetamine, and 300 kilograms of cocaine — and drew the anger of drug bosses.

The Gulf Cartel isn’t exactly subtle in its recruitment of the military and others to its ranks. The Gulf Cartel has been plastering signs all over Reynosa and at times in Nuevo Laredo and elsewhere, asking soldiers and police officers to desert their posts and join the Zetas. One sign posted recently in Tampico asked soldiers and ex-soldiers to “Join the ranks of the Gulf Cartel. We offer benefits, life insurance, a house for your family and children. Stop living in the slums and riding the bus. A new car or truck, your choice.”

In Juarez, the war between cartels is still going full bore.

“What we have are factions of the old Juarez Cartel that were followers of Amado Carrillo Fuentes fighting it out with followers of Joaquin Guzman Loera, known as El Chapo, head of the Sinaloa Cartel. And it is hell there,” said Diana Washington Valdez, a reporter with the El Paso Times. Juarez has been the site of some of the most horrific killings along the border.

“Our paper won’t even let us go across into Juarez for stories anymore because they have no way to protect us. The U.S. Army at Fort Bliss here has warned their troops to stay out of Juarez,” Valdez said. According to news reports, one of the 1,200 or so people killed this year in Juarez in the internecine drug war was an American living in Juarez who was assassinated in October after he posted a sign asking the cartels not to leave any dead bodies in front of his house.

“You’ve got to understand that these guys are hitting night clubs, burning tourist clubs, kidnapping people, targeting payroll trucks,” Valdez said. “People who are not involved at all with the cartels are getting caught in the crossfire. That’s what makes it all so dangerous. … If you’re in a club they’re going to burn down … well, that’s just that.”

Whoever can flee is doing so, she said. “Here in El Paso we’ve got a lot of people coming over to stay with relatives, but we’ve also got a lot of people just wandering around the bus station with nowhere to go, just to avoid being in Juarez.”

Along the California-Mexico stretch of the border, similar death tolls are being rung up in Tijuana, where the Arellano-Felix Cartel — headed by Fernando Sanchez Arellano, known as “The Engineer” — is being challenged by several other cartels. In all, more than 3,500 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico in 2008. Included in that number are several Mexican journalists who were killed in reprisal for writing about the drug wars or cartel activities. The most recent was Armando Rodriguez, a crime reporter for Juarez’ El Diario, who was shot numerous times while sitting in his car in front of his home three weeks ago. These days, many newspapers, radio shows, and television stations in Mexico won’t cover drug issues at all, for fear of deadly reprisals.

The violence associated with the cartel wars is spreading north of the Rio Grande in different ways than in the past. In April 2007, Gabriel Cardona, then 18, pleaded guilty to five murders carried out in or near Laredo at the behest of then-Gulf Cartel leader Miguel Trevino Morales. Cardona was part of a group of teens who acted as cartel hitmen on the U.S. side of the border. Among Cardona’s hits was the kidnapping and murder of a former Laredo police officer. Rosario Reta, a Cardona associate, was recently convicted of a separate murder committed in Laredo in 2006.

U.S. drug officials have suggested that Cardona and Reta were part of a group known as the Zetitas, or Little Zetas, recruited from street gangs in Laredo and trained by the paramilitary group that calls itself the Zetas. Cardona and Reta both allegedly began working for the Gulf Cartel by delivering weapons from Laredo to Nuevo Laredo, and were subsequently singled out for hitman training.

Javier Sambrano, the El Paso police department’s public information officer, said there is no such spillover happening in his city. “There has been no spillover [of the violence from Juarez] at all,” he said. “Those individuals on the Mexican side of the border committing those atrocities have no incentive to come here and commit those sorts of crimes.” It’s true that some murders in El Paso are linked to drugs, he said, “but we have solved them, which is further discouragement to people imagining they could come here and commit them” without getting caught.

That might be good public relations for El Paso, but it’s also nonsense, said one border-area journalist who asked not to be named — and who pointed out that members of an El Paso gang called the Aztecas have recently been found operating in Juarez as hitmen for the Juarez cartel. The gang started in an El Paso prison, with the idea of protecting prisoners of Mexican descent, but has been suspected of cartel ties for years, particularly in connection with drug distribution and weapons smuggling. “We’ve long suspected the tie between the cartel and the Aztecas from El Paso,” the reporter said, “but now that some of them are on trial, we’ve got it in testimony being given in federal court.”

In November, El Paso children on their way to school found the body of a man tied to window bars, his feet dangling just above the ground. He was wearing a pig’s mask. A sign above his head said: “This is going to happen to all Aztecas.”

Another sign of the spillover, the reporter said, are the number of people who’ve been shot in Mexico but brought to the U.S. for treatment: “The Thomason Hospital here in El Paso has received more than 30 people this year who have been shot in Juarez. They get shot there and brought here, because if those people were targets, the gangs will go into the hospitals [in Mexico] and make sure they’re dead.”

The rumor is that federal agents are allowing Mexican cartel victims to be brought to El Paso for treatment “because they want a chance to interview them,” the reporter said. “On the other hand, a lot of people here in El Paso are worried that they might be followed into Thomason Hospital and killed.”

Two days after the reporter spoke to Fort Worth Weekly, the El Paso Times carried a story about a wounded man whose attackers followed him into a Juarez hospital and finished the job.

If the paramilitaries in the Mexican drug trade are recruiting killers from American streets, one could say they are only returning a favor.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, the United States began to train Special Forces for the Mexican government, called the Zetas, to enable them to better confront the emerging Mexican drug cartels. Earlier, in the mid-70s, the U.S. also undertook to train another Special-Forces group, in Guatemala, which then was in the midst of a civil war. That group specialized in guerilla warfare and counter-insurgency tactics.

In both cases, the American military training backfired. Many of the specially trained units defected from the Mexican and Guatemalan armies and went to work for the cartels. Then they became the cartels.

“A lot of Zetas broke away from the Mexican military in the 1990s,” said Castillo, the former DEA agent. The Zetas, he said, “began working as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel, which controlled Mexico’s Caribbean coast and several inland border cities.” The Zetas were ruthless and fearless. “They were some of the best-trained Special Forces anywhere,” Castillo said. “Well now it’s gotten to the point where they pretty much control the cartels.”

When stories first broke about the Zetas working for the cartels, the Mexican government denied it. But in recent reports, Castillo said, Mexican officials have finally admitted that there is a “paramilitary arm in the Mexican military,” meaning that some members of the military are also active paramilitaries with the cartels.

And, he said, “don’t forget the Kaibiles” — although there are probably a lot of people in the U.S. government and military who would like to. The Kaibiles, named after a Guatemalan indigenous leader who fought the Conquistadors, were the Special-Forces unit the U.S. trained in Guatemala, many of whose members also went over to the drug lords, for much higher wages.

“The Kaibiles started working for the cartels, but they are now working for the Zetas, and they’re the ones responsible for the beheadings,” Castillo said. “That’s their trademark.” In one case last year, several human heads were tossed onto a dance floor in Michoacan. In October of this year, four heads in an ice chest were sent to the Juarez police headquarters.

The Zetas, Castillo said, have now realigned with corrupt elements in the Mexican army, a marriage that is spreading the infection in the military, particularly among the 32,000 troops Calderon sent into nine Mexican states specifically to stamp out the cartels. “And so the military is sort of running the whole show down there,” said Castillo. “You’ve got thousands of military put all over the country, a lot of them corrupt, a lot of them also working as paramilitaries. They’re operating under the guise of stamping out drugs when they’re actually moving [the drugs] and stamping out rivals for the drug trade.”

Calderon’s strategy of fanning out the army to try to regain some semblance of control from the cartels in those states has worked about as well as the U.S. Special-Forces training. Rather than restoring government control, in many areas the military has wreaked havoc with the citizenry, prompting calls for Calderon to remove them.

Bill Weinberg, an award-winning journalist who specializes in Latin American and drug-war issues, said the situation is incomprehensible for many Americans. “You’ve got to understand that the military and the cartels overlap, so the military isn’t necessarily worse than the cartels; they are the cartels,” he said. “Then you have the police, who in some places, like Reynosa — across the border from McAllen — have been completely co-opted.”

Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission issued a report in July about four particularly grave cases of recent military abuse in different Mexican states, Weinberg said. “All of those cases involved torture of civilians, some of it very brutal, [including] electric shock and rape. … In Michoacan, soldiers at a roadblock shot up a car and killed some kids.”

The human rights commission called on the Mexican defense secretary to punish those who violate human rights. “Up until now, those recommendations have been ignored,” Weinberg said, “and so the abuses keep occurring.”

Human rights groups fear that another set of new players in the drug war won’t help that situation, companies like Blackwater and DynCorp that carry their own bloody baggage.

Blackwater USA, the American private security firm already accused of atrocities in Iraq, is negotiating with Calderon’s government to train specialized soldiers in the Mexican army and to also act as a private security force.

“But you know they’re going to be all over everything, doing a little busting of people, doing a little dirty work for people … . It’s what they do,” Castillo said.

Made up primarily of former members of the U.S. Special Forces, Blackwater, like DynCorp and several other private companies, has been used extensively by the U.S. Department of Defense in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to provide security and other services. Blackwater came under intense media scrutiny in September 2007 when several of its contractors opened fire on unarmed civilians in Iraq, killing 17 people. Nonetheless, with former CIA higher-ups in its ranks, the company continues to get lucrative federal contracts.

Blackwater will soon have a large presence on the U.S.-Mexican border: An 824-acre training complex in California, just 45 miles from Mexico, should be open soon. The company already has a contract with the U.S. government to train Border Patrol agents, and there is speculation that once their presence is established there, they will vie for contracts to work border security alongside U.S. government agents.

The Mexico Plan, or Merida Initiative, recently signed by President Bush, may ratchet up the use of mercenaries. It promises an immediate $400 million to Calderon to help fight drugs in Mexico, with an additional $1.1 billion in the next two years.

The plan includes an unspecified amount of money for contracts to U.S. private security companies. A year ago, the Army Times reported that the Defense Department had just given Blackwater a sizable chunk of a grant that, over time, could total $15 billion, “to deploy surveillance techniques, train foreign security forces, and provide logistical and operational support” for drug-war initiatives.

That could mean the U.S. government is already funding a mercenary force of former U.S. Special Forces soldiers operating on both sides of the border but not accountable to anyone in Mexico. Blackwater already employs 1,200 Chileans, former members of ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet’s military, some of whom are thought to be working in Mexico.

“You have to be very wary of mercenary soldiers in a democracy, which is more fragile than people think,” U.S. Rep. Bob Filner told Salon.com last year. “You don’t want armies around who will sell out to the highest bidder.”

At least one other U.S.-based security firm is already operating in Mexico. In July, the day after Bush signed the Mexico Plan, two different videos of a torture training session for police in the city of Leon, Guanajuato, were released by the local paper El Heraldo de Leon. The tapes showed graphic images of torture techniques (as practiced on police volunteers), including images of one volunteer having his head forced into a pit of rats and feces, and another being dragged through his own vomit after he was beaten.

Kristin Bricker, an investigative reporter with NarcoNews.com, subsequently uncovered evidence that the trainers in the video were from Risks, Incorporated, a Miami-based private security outfit that specializes in, among other things, teaching psychological torture techniques.

“There is no question that the U.S. is involved in every aspect of the drug war in Mexico,” Castillo said. And if you don’t believe the author and former DEA undercover agent, how about the departing U.S. ambassador to Mexico? Tony Garza is now saying that they United States must accept responsibility for the gun trade and for providing the market for Mexican drugs. The Dallas Morning News reported last week that Garza said in a recent speech that Mexico “would not be the center of cartel activity or be experiencing this level of violence, were the United States not the largest consumer of illegal drugs and the main supplier of weapons to the cartels.”

But Castillo has an even darker vision of what sustains the drug war. In essence, he said, the economy of Mexico is addicted to drug money, and no one, not even Calderon, would completely shut off that spigot, even if it were possible. Castillo’s judgment of the United States is similar: The war on drugs provides a huge boost to the economy, via private prisons, the gun industry, and the federal forces arrayed against it.

Calderon “absolutely would not” stop the drug trade if he could, Castillo said. “Mexico’s economy depends too heavily on drug money.”

On a beautiful fall afternoon in Nuevo Laredo, sun sparkles off the pastel-colored walls. The streets are quiet. At an open-air taqueria not far from a border crossing, the staff is smoking meats and vegetables on flat grills, getting ready for a busy night.

The proprietor, Maria (she asked that her last name not be used), said she was lucky: The taqueria came through the violence of a year or two ago unscathed. But she worried when members of one cartel or the other would occasionally come in to eat, for fear that her staff and other customers could get caught in the crossfire.

“It was not good. Gunfights. Dead people. Crying mothers. It was having a war in your own house,” she said. “Wars are cleaner when they happen somewhere else.”

A customer at a nearby grocery store was equally glad the shooting war had quieted down on his stretch of the border for the moment.

“It’s much better that they stopped the gun battles,” he said. “Now everybody can get back to making money with the drugs instead of dying over them.”

December 5th, 2008, 09:42 AM
75 Years Ago Prohibition Was Repealed

Lew Rockwell interviews Dr. Mark Thornton [podcast 12:49] (http://www.lewrockwell.com/podcast/?p=episode&name=2008-12-04_078_75_years_ago_prohibition_was_repealed.mp3)

He discusses the misallocation of resources (law enforcement, judicial, correctional) to enforce prohibition as well as the opportunity cost of possible tax, licensing, and excise revenues.

Mark Thornton wrote The Economics of Prohibition (http://www.mises.org/store/Economics-of-Prohibition-The-P380C0.aspx?AFID=14). *50% off today!!*

December 5th, 2008, 01:17 PM
Let's End Drug Prohibition

Most Americans agreed that alcohol suppression was worse than alcohol consumption.

Celebrating the end of alcohol prohibition, Dec. 5, 1933.

By ETHAN A. NADELMANN (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122843683581681375.html?mod=googlenews_wsj)

Today is the 75th anniversary of that blessed day in 1933 when Utah became the 36th and deciding state to ratify the 21st amendment, thereby repealing the 18th amendment. This ended the nation's disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition.

It's already shaping up as a day of celebration, with parties planned, bars prepping for recession-defying rounds of drinks, and newspapers set to publish cocktail recipes concocted especially for the day.

But let's hope it also serves as a day of reflection. We should consider why our forebears rejoiced at the relegalization of a powerful drug long associated with bountiful pleasure and pain, and consider too the lessons for our time.

The Americans who voted in 1933 to repeal prohibition differed greatly in their reasons for overturning the system. But almost all agreed that the evils of failed suppression far outweighed the evils of alcohol consumption.

The change from just 15 years earlier, when most Americans saw alcohol as the root of the problem and voted to ban it, was dramatic. Prohibition's failure to create an Alcohol Free Society sank in quickly. Booze flowed as readily as before, but now it was illicit, filling criminal coffers at taxpayer expense.

Some opponents of prohibition pointed to Al Capone and increasing crime, violence and corruption. Others were troubled by the labeling of tens of millions of Americans as criminals, overflowing prisons, and the consequent broadening of disrespect for the law. Americans were disquieted by dangerous expansions of federal police powers, encroachments on individual liberties, increasing government expenditure devoted to enforcing the prohibition laws, and the billions in forgone tax revenues. And still others were disturbed by the specter of so many citizens blinded, paralyzed and killed by poisonous moonshine and industrial alcohol.

Supporters of prohibition blamed the consumers, and some went so far as to argue that those who violated the laws deserved whatever ills befell them. But by 1933, most Americans blamed prohibition itself.

When repeal came, it was not just with the support of those with a taste for alcohol, but also those who disliked and even hated it but could no longer ignore the dreadful consequences of a failed prohibition. They saw what most Americans still fail to see today: That a failed drug prohibition can cause greater harm than the drug it was intended to banish.

Consider the consequences of drug prohibition today: 500,000 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails for nonviolent drug-law violations; 1.8 million drug arrests last year; tens of billions of taxpayer dollars expended annually to fund a drug war that 76% of Americans say has failed; millions now marked for life as former drug felons; many thousands dying each year from drug overdoses that have more to do with prohibitionist policies than the drugs themselves, and tens of thousands more needlessly infected with AIDS and Hepatitis C because those same policies undermine and block responsible public-health policies.

And look abroad. At Afghanistan, where a third or more of the national economy is both beneficiary and victim of the failed global drug prohibition regime. At Mexico, which makes Chicago under Al Capone look like a day in the park. And elsewhere in Latin America, where prohibition-related crime, violence and corruption undermine civil authority and public safety, and mindless drug eradication campaigns wreak environmental havoc.

All this, and much more, are the consequences not of drugs per se but of prohibitionist policies that have failed for too long and that can never succeed in an open society, given the lessons of history. Perhaps a totalitarian American could do better, but at what cost to our most fundamental values?

Why did our forebears wise up so quickly while Americans today still struggle with sorting out the consequences of drug misuse from those of drug prohibition?

It's not because alcohol is any less dangerous than the drugs that are banned today. Marijuana, by comparison, is relatively harmless: little association with violent behavior, no chance of dying from an overdose, and not nearly as dangerous as alcohol if one misuses it or becomes addicted. Most of heroin's dangers are more a consequence of its prohibition than the drug's distinctive properties. That's why 70% of Swiss voters approved a referendum this past weekend endorsing the government's provision of pharmaceutical heroin to addicts who could not quit their addictions by other means. It is also why a growing number of other countries, including Canada, are doing likewise.

Yes, the speedy drugs -- cocaine, methamphetamine and other illicit stimulants -- present more of a problem. But not to the extent that their prohibition is justifiable while alcohol's is not. The real difference is that alcohol is the devil we know, while these others are the devils we don't. Most Americans in 1933 could recall a time before prohibition, which tempered their fears. But few Americans now can recall the decades when the illicit drugs of today were sold and consumed legally. If they could, a post-prohibition future might prove less alarming.

But there's nothing like a depression, or maybe even a full-blown recession, to make taxpayers question the price of their prejudices. That's what ultimately hastened prohibition's repeal, and it's why we're sure to see a more vigorous debate than ever before about ending marijuana prohibition, rolling back other drug war excesses, and even contemplating far-reaching alternatives to drug prohibition.

Perhaps the greatest reassurance for those who quake at the prospect of repealing contemporary drug prohibitions can be found in the era of prohibition outside of America. Other nations, including Britain, Australia and the Netherlands, were equally concerned with the problems of drink and eager for solutions. However, most opted against prohibition and for strict controls that kept alcohol legal but restricted its availability, taxed it heavily, and otherwise discouraged its use. The results included ample revenues for government coffers, criminals frustrated by the lack of easy profits, and declines in the consumption and misuse of alcohol that compared favorably with trends in the United States.

Is President-elect Barack Obama going to commemorate Repeal Day today? I'm not holding my breath. Nor do I expect him to do much to reform the nation's drug laws apart from making good on a few of the commitments he made during the campaign: repealing the harshest drug sentences, removing federal bans on funding needle-exchange programs to reduce AIDS, giving medical marijuana a fair chance to prove itself, and supporting treatment alternatives for low-level drug offenders.

But there's one more thing he can do: Promote vigorous and informed debate in this domain as in all others. The worst prohibition, after all, is a prohibition on thinking.

Mr. Nadelmann is the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (http://www.drugpolicy.org/homepage.cfm).

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum (http://forums.wsj.com/viewtopic.php?t=4678).

December 5th, 2008, 02:46 PM
I am all for the rollback on MJ, but Heroin is a difficult one in that it is very addictive and destructive in its effects. Ignoring things like AIDS or infections, the simple degeneration of the body because of prolonged use is a serious issue.

Now, prescribing it? Maybe. That is still a tough one though.

As for teh speedies like coke and meth. They are also a bit too destructive for open market, and maybe easier to focus on if we roll back our restrictions on the less destructive substances (how truly dangerous is absinthe?).

Maybe the key here is for society to start taking up the mantle of responsibility towards users, but the only problem with that is, do you seriously see a labor company having any difficulty with a crew that can work 18 hours a day without getting tired? Would that be fair to those that would not use those stimulants? How could you compete as a lawyer or broker if you NEED 8 hours of sleep a night and they don't?

Maybe you will last longer, but it takes many years to see a true burnout, and sometimes that still does not get those that do not use into the places they want.

Lastly, what about the otehr drugs. The halucinogens? Is it wise to legalize some of the stronger substances that can seriously mess with a persons perspective? Are there ones that are less warping and more "perception enhansing" as many call them?

I thin the guy is right in saying we are a bit draconian in our restrictions, but it is difficult to draw a line. Maybe the line should be drawn at any naturally occuring substance? Anything that requires actual synthing or purification should have restrictions? (Coca leaves vs cocaine).

What do you think? How far do you think the law can be rolled back that would achieve a balance point that would not be destructive?

December 5th, 2008, 03:31 PM
First define "destructive".

Then balance that against the current destruction of lives, liberty, wealth, opportunities, and lost revenue -- offset of course for such societal and cultural riches as the exploding prison industry, FBI and DEA surveillance infrastructure, and federal tax dollars funneled into local policing decreasing their autonomy and local accountability, (and don't forget the Fox TV show [COPS]).

Then explain how your speculative suppositions about future drug use, loss in productivity, and rehabilitation costs would be more "destructive" than what is currently borne by this country and the many others who are largely the battlefield for this 'war'.

The real point is for people to realize that PROHIBITION AS A CONCEPT AND AS A PRACTICE IS UNTENABLE AND NECESSARILY RELIES ON FREEDOM CRUSHING MILITANT AUTHORITARIANISM which is incompatible with the principles of our society.

Happy Repeal Day! :)


December 5th, 2008, 05:45 PM
First define "destructive".

Rhetorical question. I am referring to the collapsed veins and the ruined social context that many of the addicts "enjoy" when not even pressed into a lost cause like disease or infection.

Reducing the cost may lengthen this from happening (getting a "cleaner" batch) but how would this enable anyone to maintain a productive lifestyle? How inexpensive would it have to be to give an addict with no job the ability to pay for it?

Are we saying that we not only have to legalize it, but GIVE addicts what is "ailing" them?

Then balance that against the current destruction of lives, liberty, wealth, opportunities, and lost revenue -- offset of course for such societal and cultural riches as the exploding prison industry, FBI and DEA surveillance infrastructure, and federal tax dollars funneled into local policing decreasing their autonomy and local accountability, (and don't forget the Fox TV show [COPS]).

Subtract what is spent on things like MJ or some other less destructive chemicals.

The problem with this "war" is that it is taking on too much to be of any good whatsoever. Including things that can be grown naturally, copiously and in short term does not make it any easier.

You are saying that forbidding PCP has cost the community too much, but I say there has to be a line. They just made the line too big to be enforced.

Then explain how your speculative suppositions about future drug use, loss in productivity, and rehabilitation costs would be more "destructive" than what is currently borne by this country and the many others who are largely the battlefield for this 'war'.

Explain how it wouldn't. You are throwing out more rhetoricals on a subject that is hard to bring any real numbers to because it has never been documented properly and you know it.

Tell me, how many people would become addicted to Coke or Heroin if it was readily available. And by readily, I do not mean by your definition of finding a dealer on teh street and purchasing something you KNOW to be illegal.

If it was not illegal, and there was NO RISK, how many more do you think would try it "just once"?

That is where all of our numbers fall apart. Somehow thinking that society will be responsible about anything and that legalization of a substance that has been proven to have a substantially negative effect on social contact and productivity can somehow be better because of how much death and destruction its prohibition has brought, with no real link to how many people have been hurt in direct correlation to that substance in particular, is not, and has never been a valid argument.

I know what you are saying. I am not putting devils horns on an inanimate substance, nor denyingthe cost of its prohibition, but absolute release from this regulation is not a productive solution.

The real point is for people to realize that PROHIBITION AS A CONCEPT AND AS A PRACTICE IS UNTENABLE AND NECESSARILY RELIES ON FREEDOM CRUSHING MILITANT AUTHORITARIANISM which is incompatible with the principles of our society.

Even if it saves lives? If they did a study and found out that the prohibition of Heroin saved more lives than it cost, and saved more money in preserved productivity than what it cost in its enforcement, would you still call the process draconic?

I think you simply resent its prohibition, or anyone telling you what you can or cannot do. I can sympathize strongly with you on that (as a pedestrian barrier jumper myself, I am fine with someone asking me to please do something, but telling me to do something and trying me to prent me from doing so irritates me. Ironic, is it not? ;))

But some things, like gun control, do help society. Should we make guns legal? How about allowing minors to purchase firearms? Automatic weapons?

I mean, they are needed for protection, right? The sale of illegal weapons has funded many an organization and has cost so many lives, why do we prevent them from being sold freely?

Granted, guns are a bit more directly lethal than drugs, but I hope the point is expressed.

Question is, what REALISTIC method of distribution/allowance would you support? Even Alcohol has rules (involving age of consumption, licensing for distribution and production, and even "drunk and disorderly" statutes).

So, in memory of:

Happy Repeal Day! :)

How would you regulate these chemicals, especially those with the worst track records?

December 11th, 2008, 01:16 PM
From The Top 10 Stories You Missed in 2008 (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/top10-2008/index.html)

2 Colombian Coca Production Increases

Coca [prohibition] is a serious destabilizer—keeping Colombia’s rebels armed and the country’s progress in check. But after almost a decade, U.S.-assisted efforts to reduce the crop’s production in Colombia haven’t just failed; they’ve been downright counterproductive. Plan Colombia was meant to improve security, stamp out drug cultivation, and improve law and order after a decades-long conflict with leftist militants. But coca cultivation rose 15 percent between 2000 and 2006, an October 2008 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study found. A separate U.N. study found that in 2007 alone, the area of land hosting coca crops rose 27 percent. To put it mildly, something is not working.

Coca, the base crop for cocaine, has funded the operations of various paramilitaries and the rebel group FARC for decades. Although Colombian military operations have severely hampered FARC’s activities during the last several years, the drug trade continues apace. Aerial spraying and manual eradication have had temporary effects, but coca farmers tend to grow the lucrative crop again because there’s rarely an equally profitable alternative. The GAO reckons that many farmers have moved to more remote areas to avoid the eradication efforts. Meanwhile, the market value of coca rose by roughly $450 per kilogram in 2007 to more than $2,000.

The United States has spent $6 billion on Plan Colombia, but Colombia still supplies 90 percent of U.S. cocaine. Time for a rethink on the drug war?

December 17th, 2008, 09:54 AM
Innocents Die in the Drug War

Roni Bowers and her infant daughter Charity (seated
second from right).

By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY | DECEMBER 15, 2008 (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122930087794405393.html?mod=googlenews_wsj)

Of all the casualties claimed by the U.S. "war on drugs" in Latin America, perhaps none so fully captures its senselessness and injustice as the 2001 CIA-directed killing of Christian missionary Veronica Bowers and her daughter Charity in Peru.

No one is suggesting that the CIA intentionally killed Mrs. Bowers and her baby. It was an accident. But according to Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R., Mich.), it was an accident waiting to happen because of the way in which the CIA operated the drug interdiction plan in Peru known as the Airbridge Denial Program. Mr. Hoekstra says the goods to prove his charge are in a classified report from the CIA Inspector General that he received in October.

Under the program, initiated by President Clinton, the CIA was charged with identifying small civilian aircraft suspected of carrying cocaine over Peru on a path to Colombia, and directing the Peruvian military to force them down.

Strict procedures were put in place to minimize the risks to innocents. But after viewing the IG report, Mr. Hoekstra -- the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee -- says that it is clear that those procedures had gone out the window long before the April 20, 2001 tragedy.

On that day the Bowers family was flying in a single-engine plane over the Amazon toward their home in Iquitos. Mrs. Bowers was holding the infant on her lap when a bullet fired by the Peruvian Air Force, under direction of the CIA, hit the aircraft, traveled through her back and into Charity's skull. The plane crash-landed on the Amazon River. Mr. Bowers, his young son and the pilot survived. Neither the plane nor its passengers were found to be involved in any way in the drug business and initial reports said that the mistaken attack was a tragic one-time error.

The IG report looked at the Airbridge Denial Program from its inception in 1995 until its termination in 2001 and took seven years to complete. In statements to the press last month Mr. Hoekstra said it demonstrates every one of the 15 "shootdowns" that the CIA participated in over the life of the program had "violations of required procedures." He also said that the report "found that CIA officers knew of and condoned the violations, fostering an environment of negligence and disregard for the procedures."

Equally troubling, the congressman says, is the IG finding that after the tragedy there was an attempt to cover up what had been going on in Peru. He has also said that the IG report finds that there were "unauthorized modifications" made to "the presidentially mandated intercept procedures by people who had no authority to do so" and that "there was effectively no legal oversight of the program." He further charges that "there is evidence that CIA officials made false or misleading statements to Congress," and that "the CIA denied Congress, the NSC [National Security Council] and the Department of Justice access to key findings of internal reviews that established and documented the sustained and significant violations of the required procedures."

"It was a rogue operation," he told me by telephone on Tuesday. "They knew they weren't following the rules, and they never did anything about it. They were callous about it." When I asked him to explain further, he said: "My take on this is that they became obsessed with the mission."

The CIA says that director Michael Hayden has "recognized the seriousness of [the report's] findings" and "is absolutely committed to a process looking at systemic issues and accountability that is as thorough and fair as possible." The office of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D., Texas) won't comment on the report. But Mr. Hoekstra is calling for more of it to be declassified and for the Justice Department to review "whether further criminal investigation is warranted."

Yet to honor the memory of Mrs. Bowers and her daughter and spare innocent lives in the future, a broader discussion in Congress about U.S. drug policy in the region is needed.

Consider the fact that Mr. Clinton's justification for the Airbridge Denial Program was that drug trafficking was a threat to Peruvian national security. Of course it was: Prohibition naturally produces powerful criminal networks that undermine the rule of law. But as a 2001 Senate Intelligence Committee report found, the drug runners learned to avoid detection by altering their routes via Brazil. It also found that while Peru's coca business shrank, Colombia's took off.

Since then, U.S. interdiction has put the pressure on Colombia and the problem is now resurging in Peru. The latest reports are that Mexican cartels are teaming up with remnants of the Shining Path terror network to rebuild the business, proving once again the futility of the supply-side attack as a way of minimizing drug use in the U.S.

Write to O'Grady@wsj.com

[Video] (http://online.wsj.com/video/peruvian-drug-wars/83DB5BAA-52EA-4F24-A5B9-7AE8B5BDF205.html) Mary Anastasia O'Grady talks to Kelsey Hubbard about the collateral damage caused by the CIA's fight against drug trafficking.

December 20th, 2008, 02:35 AM
Judge James P. Gray discusses prohibition. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzeb4btJT30)

December 20th, 2008, 09:51 PM
Legalizing marijuana is one of the changes Obama should be promoting.

January 5th, 2009, 11:55 PM
Time to End the Second Prohibition

Posted by Charles Glass on January 04, 2009 (http://www.takimag.com/blogs/article/time_to_end_the_second_prohibition/)


Salvation was in the air. Repeal, also, was in the air. Two weeks before, the lame-duck Congress had turned a somersault and voted the amendment to the Constitution ending Prohibition. The wets were making merry with applejack, bathtub gin and prohibition hooch. “Beer by Easter,” they cried. Forty-one legislatures were in session for the chance to approve the wet amendment and to slap taxes on beer and liquor to save their empty treasuries… The country, the states, the towns needed money – something to tax. And liquor was the richest target. “Revenue,” said one commentator, “unlocked the gates for Gambrinus and his foaming steed.”

[B]~John T. Flynn, writing about the eve of Franklin Roosevelt’s inauguration in March 1933 in The Roosevelt Myth (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0930073282/taksmag-20).

America’s First Prohibition, on alcohol, ended in 1933, not because it failed—although it most certainly had. Not because the murder rate in America’s cities doubled during 13 years of the “noble experiment.” Not because the enforcement of a law that attempted to prevent people from doing what they went on doing anyway had corrupted the police, courts, legislatures and businesses of the nation. Not because Prohibition handed a share of the economy to a criminal underworld that grew richer than U.S. Steel without paying a penny in tax. Nor because the federal prison population swelled by more than five hundred per cent to accommodate all those who were caught (a small percentage of the offending total) producing, importing, selling and drinking the devil’s liquid.

No, it ended because the Great Crash of 1929, the banking crisis that followed, the loss of tax revenues from business that had gone bust and millions of workers without jobs made it too expensive. The Great Depression killed Prohibition, because the United States just couldn’t afford it.

When Barack Hussein Obama assumes office on January 20th, he should remember the precedent his party set in 1933 and end the Second Prohibition, on drugs. This will create an immediate tax windfall to give the Treasury back more than it lost on Iraq, the bank bailouts and the annual subsidy to Israel. It would also relieve the American taxpayer of the burden of enforcing laws that Pew Center on the States’ Public Performance Project estimated [pdf] (http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/One%20in%20100.pdf) cost federal and state governments $20 billion a year. Not a bad savings, when times are tough, especially when the so-called “war on drugs” is failing as surely as the crusade against alcohol did 80 years ago.

The architects of both Prohibitions made sweeping claims for the good they would bring to the American public—an end to the addiction and penury associated with alcohol and narcotics. Both promised to reduce crime on the premise that, once the country had rid itself of chemical self-harm, no more drunks or junkies would commit crimes while in a state of inebriation. That isn’t quite how it worked, however. Crime went up, as criminal killed one another and innocent civilians to control the illegal market. Corruption increased as criminals used their vast wealth to buy judges, prosecutors, cops, city councilmen and the occasional senator. Most American politicians now admit having smoked marijuana in their youth, but that has not stopped them from passing more laws to put the next generation of children into prison. This was no different during the first Prohibition. H. L. Mencken wrote that every city hosting a Republican or Democratic national convention during the 1920s saw its alcohol consumption rise by several hundred per cent for that week. The lawmakers didn’t respect the law, and the usually law-abiding public followed their example.

The great Chicago columnist Mike Royko wrote in 1973 about Swastek’s Tavern, which stayed open throughout Prohibition. Stanley Swastek told Royko how his father, John, stayed in business with the help of Captain Daniel (Tubbo) Gilbert, “a political badge who became known as the world’s richest cop”: “In those days, he was in charge of the district station. He’d come in here and if we took in $10, he figured his share was $20. No wonder he was the world’s richest cop. He could have retired on what he took from us.” Tubbo was not the only one shaking down the saloon keepers, and there are many cops today who take money to look the other way when the goods arrive from Bolivia, Columbia, Mexico, and the hash fields of northern California. Why should that money go to crooked cops rather than to the Treasury, which could spend some of it on drug rehabilitation, education and medical care? Why should narcotics be sold from the backseats of Cadillacs rather than under license from pharmacies?

Legalizing marijuana, heroin, cocaine and other modern equivalents of 1920s gin would not only bring in revenue, it would save billions. The United States has the largest prison population on earth with 2.3 million souls behind bars. Admittedly, things could be worse. If everyone who took a drug illegally were caught and put away, there would be thirty-five million of us doing hard time. Prisons already cost $50 billion a year, but 100% enforcement would raise that to something like $750 billion. And the taxpayer, even in good times, cannot afford that. Instead enforcement has been as selective as the choice of lynchee at a Ku Klux Klan jamboree: white Americans may represent 72% of the drug-taking public, but black Americans comprise 37% of those arrested—and a staggering 42% of federal penitentiary population there for drug crimes.

Repealing the Second Prohibition would save a lot of time and money for the prison service. It might even leave them time for the usually unpracticed remit to rehabilitate. (The US has the highest rate of prison re-admissions in the world.) But other government agencies would benefit as well: U.S. Customs, the Coast Guard, the Drug Enforcement Agency (which could be dissolved), the U.S. Army in South America, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (which might do something about kidnapping, extortion and bribery instead), every local police force in the 50 states and the Treasury’s own police would no longer waste time and resources hunting for bags of weed and powder.

How much longer will the American taxpayer, who is already paying for Goldman Sachs, the chicanery of Bernie Madoff and the ineptitude of Detroit, afford to subsidize a crusade against his fellow citizens who don’t care whether taking drugs is approved by Washington’s elite or not? Joe Taxpayer would be a lot richer if his government gave the Fabulous Freak Brothers the same break it gives Joe Sixpack.

This time, stupid, it is the economy.

January 7th, 2009, 08:33 PM
Sanjay Gupta would be no fan of marijuana policy reform as Surgeon General
January 7, 12:45 PM
by J.D. Tuccille, Civil Liberties Examiner (http://www.examiner.com/x-536-Civil-Liberties-Examiner~y2009m1d7-Sanjay-Gupta-would-be-no-fan-of-marijuana-policy-reform-as-Surgeon-General)

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is no fan of drug-policy reform. CNN's Sanjay Gupta hasn't yet been officially named as Barack Obama's pick for Surgeon General, but the TV talking head and Emory University neurosurgeon has been approached (http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/06/gupta.surgeon.general/?iref=mpstoryview) about the job and reportedly is more than a little interested (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/06/AR2009010603503.html?hpid=topnews) in becoming the nation's chief scold. In that role, he would almost certainly continue the government's tradition of nagging the public about its choice of intoxicants.

You can expect a Surgeon General Gupta to take a relatively hard line on marijuana, for one thing. In Time magazine in 2006, Gupta wrote (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1552034,00.html) "Why I would vote no on pot":

"Maybe it's because I was born a couple of months after Woodstock and wasn't around when marijuana was as common as iPods are today, but I'm constantly amazed that after all these years--and all the wars on drugs and all the public-service announcements--nearly 15 million Americans still use marijuana at least once a month. ...

The Nevada and Colorado marijuana initiatives have gained support from unlikely places. More than 33 religious leaders in Nevada have endorsed the measure, arguing that permissive legalization, accompanied by stringent regulations and penalties, can cut down on illegal drug trafficking and make communities safer.

Perhaps. But I'm here to tell you, as a doctor, that despite all the talk about the medical benefits of marijuana, smoking the stuff is not going to do your health any good. And if you get high before climbing behind the wheel of a car, you will be putting yourself and those around you in danger."

Gupta's take is certainly less strident than that of some advocates of Prohibition. He's willing to actually discuss the issue, rather than treat the war on drugs as some sort of religious crusade. Ultimately, though, he wants to keep in place laws that threaten people with legal penalties for ingesting substances of which he disapproves.

It's hard to predict whether Dr. Sanjay Gupta would make a good Surgeon General -- it depends on how convincing he is about wagging his finger, which is the job's main responsibility. But Gupta would certainly not represent any new direction for the Obama administration in terms of drug policy.

January 7th, 2009, 09:35 PM
And if you get high before climbing behind the wheel of a car, you will be putting yourself and those around you in danger."
Not as bad as getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking .....yet we are still allowed to legally consume alcohol :cool:

January 13th, 2009, 06:26 PM
Feds have plan if Mexico drug violence spills over

By ALICIA A. CALDWELL and EILEEN SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writers – Sat Jan 10, 9:16 am ET (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090110/ap_on_re_us/border_violence)

EL PASO, Texas – If Mexican drug violence spills across the U.S. border, Homeland Security officials say they have a contingency plan to assist border areas that includes bringing in the military.

"It's a common sense extension of our continued work with our state, local, and tribal partners in securing the southwest border," DHS spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said Friday.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who described the contingency plan in an interview with The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/us/08chertoff.html?scp=3&sq=chertoff&st=cse) this week, said he ordered specific plans to be drawn up this summer as violence in Mexico continued to mount.

The plan includes federal homeland security agents helping local authorities and maybe even military assistance from the Department of Defense, possibly including aircraft, armored vehicles and special teams to go to areas overwhelmed with violence, authorities said.

Kudwa would not give specifics on the so-called "surge" plan, but said it does not create any new authorities.

In the last year, more than 5,000 people have been killed and police and military officials have become common targets for violent drug cartels who are fighting with each other and the government for control of lucrative drug and human smuggling routes across Mexico.

More than one-fifth of the deaths have occurred in Ciudad Juarez, the hardscrabble border city just across the Rio Grande from El Paso.

Officials in Mexico reported about 1,600 homicides in Juarez in 2007 and at least 20 people have been killed in the first nine days of this year.

To date, there has been no significant violent spillover from the drug war in Mexico, but U.S. authorities have spent a tense year watching and waiting.

In October, Hidalgo County officials issued fully automatic weapons to deputies patrolling the river in the Rio Grande Valley. Sheriff Lupe Trevino also authorized his deputies to return fire across the border if smugglers or other criminals took aim at them.

In El Paso, the country's largest border community and one of the safest metropolitan areas in the nation, Sheriff Richard Wiles said that while he doesn't anticipate the city or county being overwhelmed by border violence he applauded the DHS plan to quickly respond if the worst should happen.

"I think it's appropriate for the federal government to have a contingency plan all the way up to the worst case scenario," Wiles said.

The contingency plan was news to most border states.

"At this point, DHS has not contacted the California National Guard to bring any forces ... to support first responders, i.e. (U.S.) Border Patrol, at the border in California," California National Guard spokesman Jonathan Guibord said Friday.

He said National Guard officials in California know only "what's been publicized" about the plan, but added that state military officials routinely train and prepare to respond to any order from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger or the president.

Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, said Texas officials were briefed on the plan but were not consulted beforehand about a plan to fight Mexican drug cartels on the 2,000-mile U.S. border, more than half of which is in Texas.

Cesinger said the state has its own specific security plans for each area of the Texas border should violence from Mexico become an issue. She declined to give specifics of those plans.

Officials with New Mexico's Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said they are in constant contact with federal Homeland Security officials but weren't aware of any specific security plan that could include Department of Defense assets.

"We haven't seen a specific operational plan for a specific region or specific threat. The use of Defense Department resources ... would have to be an extreme situation," said Tim Manning, the New Mexico Homeland Security director.

Homeland Security officials did not respond to questions about which local or state agencies were notified about the surge plan.
Associated Press writer Eileen Sullivan in Washington contributed

January 14th, 2009, 11:50 AM
Wouldn't it just be easier to firebomb the entire border periodically to ensure a "buffer zone"? :rolleyes:

The problem is only going to get worse. Regulation does more to stifle distribution than prohibition, but they still don't seem to get it.

January 26th, 2009, 09:27 AM
Top Mexico cops charged with favoring drug cartel

By MARK STEVENSON – 1 day ago (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i5GXVIBL1GEBesTknonOTwjsgo-gD95TM59G0)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — President Felipe Calderon's war on drug trafficking has led to his own doorstep, with the arrest of a dozen high-ranking officials with alleged ties to Mexico's most powerful drug gang, the Sinaloa Cartel.

The U.S. praises Calderon for rooting out corruption at the top. But critics say the arrests reveal nothing more than a timeworn government tactic of protecting one cartel and cracking down on others.

Operation Clean House comes just as the U.S. is giving Mexico its first installment of $400 million in equipment and technology to fight drugs. Most will go to a beefed-up federal police agency run by the same people whose top aides have been arrested as alleged Sinaloa spies.

"If there is anything worse than a corrupt and ill-equipped cop, it is a corrupt and well-equipped cop," said criminal justice expert Jorge Chabat, who studies the drug trade.

U.S. drug enforcement agents say they have no qualms about sending support to Mexico.

"We've been working with the Mexican government for decades at the DEA," said Garrison Courtney, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. "Obviously, we ensure that the individuals we work with are vetted."

Agents who conduct raids have long suspected Mexican government ties to Sinaloa, and rival drug gangs have advertised the alleged connection in banners hung from freeways. While raids against the rival Gulf cartel have netted suspects, those against Sinaloa almost always came up empty — or worse, said Agent Oscar Granados Salero of the Federal Investigative Agency, Mexico's equivalent of the FBI.

"Whenever we were trying to serve arrest warrants, they were already waiting for us, and a lot of colleagues lost their lives that way," Salero said.

The U.S. government estimates that the cartels smuggle $15 billion to $20 billion in drug money across the border each year.

Over the last five months, officials from the Mexican Attorney General's office, the federal police and even Mexico's representatives to Interpol have been detained on suspicion of acting as spies for Sinaloa or its one-time ally, the Beltran Leyva gang. An officer who served in Calderon's presidential guard was detained in December on suspicion of spying for Beltran Leyva.

Gerardo Garay, formerly the acting federal police chief, is accused of protecting the Beltran Leyva brothers and stealing money from a mansion during an October drug raid. Former drug czar Noe Ramirez, who was supposed to serve as point man in Calderon's anti-drug fight, is accused of taking $450,000 from Sinaloa.

Most of such tips are coming from a Mexican federal agent who infiltrated the U.S. embassy for the Beltran Leyva drug cartel. No such infiltrators have been found for the Gulf cartel, which controls most drug shipments in eastern Mexico and Central America. Sinaloa controls Pacific and western routes.

The DEA's Courtney agrees that there has been a greater crackdown on the Gulf Cartel in both the U.S. and Mexico, with more than 600 members of the gang arrested in September. But he declined to answer questions about Mexico favoring Sinaloa.

Calderon has long acknowledged corruption as an obstacle to his offensive, which involved sending more than 20,000 soldiers to battle drug trafficking throughout the country. The U.S. aid plan includes technology aimed at improving the way Mexico vets and supervises police.

The president vows to create a "new generation of police," consolidating agencies under Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna, who heads all federal law enforcement.

That's what worries Granados Salero and other agents. So many of Garcia Luna's associates are under suspicion of Sinaloa ties that many wonder how he could not have known.

Calderon has publicly backed Garcia Luna, calling him "a man of great capacity."

"Obviously, if there was any doubt about his honesty, or any evidence that would call into question his honesty, he would certainly no longer be the secretary of public safety," the president said recently.

But some see the alleged Sinaloa ties with Garcia Luna's lieutenants as an old tactic used widely under the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years with a tight fist. Officials in the past preferred to deal with one strong cartel rather than many warring gangs — what Calderon faces now. More than 5,300 people died in drug-related slayings in 2008.

"I fear that Secretary Garcia Luna ... is working on the idea that once one cartel consolidates itself as the winner, that is, Sinaloa, the violence is going to drop," said organized crime expert Edgardo Buscaglia, who tracks federal police arrests and has studied law enforcement agencies' written reports.

Garcia Luna has denied being involved in corruption. He has acknowledged that authorities in the past chose the path of managing cartels. But in an interview with the newspaper El Sol, he said that approach only strengthens the gangs in the long run.

Others say the high number of Sinaloa infiltrators is a reflection of the two cartels' very different styles.

The Gulf cartel is led by military-trained hit men so violent that they reportedly planned to attack even U.S. law enforcement agencies.

"They don't necessarily try to build networks of corruption. They prefer networks of intimidation," said Monte Alejandro Rubido, who leads Mexico's multi-agency National Security System.

Sinaloa, on the other hand, appears to use bribery and infiltration at least as much as its gunmen. Cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman bribed his way out of a Mexican prison in 2001, provoking suspicions the government was on his side.

Many Mexicans worry about giving so much money and power to a still corrupt force. Of more than 56,000 local and state police officers evaluated between January and October last year, fewer than half met the recommended qualifications, Calderon reported to Congress in early December. No similar numbers are available for federal police.

Agents like Granados Salero wonder who is in charge of police integrity.

"We agents find out about a lot of things," he said, "but who can we turn to?"

Associated Press Writer Lara Jakes Jordan in Washington contributed to this report.

January 30th, 2009, 12:31 PM
NATO Chief Slams ‘Unacceptable’ Leak of Craddock’s Position
Investigation Vowed Into Leaking of Craddock's Call to Kill Drug Dealers

Compiled by Jason Ditz January 29, 2009 (http://news.antiwar.com/2009/01/29/nato-chief-slams-unacceptable-leak-of-craddocks-position/)

Yesterday we reported (http://news.antiwar.com/2009/01/29/2009/01/28/top-nato-commander-orders-troops-to-kill-all-opium-dealers/) on the “guidance” of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Europe General John Craddock, which ordered NATO soldiers in Afghanistan to kill anyone involved in the drug industry, even if there was no evidence they were insurgents.

The story has caused no shortage of outrage since the German magazine Der Spiegel initially broke it (http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,604183,00.html). NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is riled up too, but not in the way you’d figure. He’s not so much upset at the general for ordering troops which are already losing ground to the insurgency to waste their time killing random opium dealers: he’s mad at whoever leaked the report.

“The secretary-general considers it is unacceptable that confidential documents have been leaked (http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=19983),” according to spokesman James Appathurai, “he is calling for an immediate investigation into the matter, which will be pursued vigorously.”


What's next, NATO on the US Mexico border?

February 12th, 2009, 12:11 PM
Latin America ex-leaders urge reform of US drug war

Stuart Grudgings
Reuters North American News Service
Feb 11, 2009 15:33 EST (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Latin_American_exleaders_urge_legalization_of_0212 .html)

RIO DE JANEIRO, (Reuters) - The war against drugs is failing and the U.S. government should break with "prohibition" policies that have achieved little more than cram its prisons and stoke violence, three former Latin American presidents said Wednesday.

The respected former presidents urged the United States and Latin American governments to move away from jailing drug users to debate the legalization of marijuana and place more emphasis on the treatment of addicts.

Former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria said there was no meaningful debate over drugs policy in the United States, despite a broad consensus that current policies had failed.

"The problem today in the U.S. is that narco-trafficking is a crime and so any politician is fearful of talking about narco-trafficking or talking about policies because they will be called soft," he said.

Gaviria has joined with former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo to try to change the debate on drugs in Latin America, where trafficking gangs have killed tens of thousands of people and weakened democracies through corruption.

From Mexico's gang wars to the drug-funded FARC guerrilla group in Colombia and daily shoot-outs between gangs and police in Rio de Janeiro's shantytowns, much of the region is scarred by drug violence and many believe U.S. policies have failed.

A United Nations meeting in Vienna next month will frame international drugs policy for the next 10 years, and the three former presidents, whose group is called the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, said it is time for change.

They pointed to falling street prices for cocaine and still high levels of consumption in the United States despite decades of policies focused on punishing users and cutting supplies from Latin American countries such as Colombia.


The presidents' commission released a report calling on governments to refocus policies toward treating users, move toward decriminalizing marijuana, and invest more in education campaigns. It said current policies were rooted in "prejudices, fears and ideological visions" that inhibited debate.

Even as the group met in Rio on Wednesday, police arrested 51 people in a major operation in the city and other states against a suspected drug smuggling ring that sent cocaine to Europe and brought back synthetic drugs like Ecstasy.

Organized crime has flourished around drugs and is now threatening the stability of Mexico, where a spiraling war between rival gangs killed more than 5,700 people last year.

Cardoso, one of Latin America's most respected figures, said U.S. leadership was essential to break the cycle of drug-related crime and violence. "It will be almost impossible to solve Mexico's problems and other countries' problems without a more ample, comprehensive set of policies from the U.S. government," he said.

Despite winning power on broad promises of change, drugs policy featured little in U.S. President Barack Obama's election campaign and there are few indications that he will embark on a major overhaul.

Gaviria said Washington appeared increasingly isolated in its repressive approach as Latin America and Europe move toward treating drug abuse as a health problem rather than a crime.

(Editing by Raymond Colitt and Kieran Murray)

February 12th, 2009, 01:43 PM
Maybe they should enact a policy allowing the transport of raw ingredients to some of these things, and tax them accordingly.

Allow shipment of Poppy seeds and Coca leaves, but do not allow Heroin or Opium.

Allow the sale and trafficking of these substances, but prohibit the refinement and concentration of them. Make it too easy and too cheap to get coca leaves to try and risk setting up shop to produce mass quantities of cocaine.

Or that home shops, which would still be illegal, could produce it easily and cheaply enough to make people not want to risk being caught for purchasing the refined product from someone else.

You would still have regulation and control, but the profit would go right out the window. That and you would also have another taxable commodity.

Geez, what the hell else is Afghanistan going to export? Rocks?

February 23rd, 2009, 11:22 AM
Druggie types have always been resourceful (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/02/23/us/AP-Meth-Motels.html?_r=1). These guys are the new Insurgents in the War on Drugs.

February 27th, 2009, 06:07 PM
I pretty much called this one... sadly.


Interventionism: A Failed and Dangerous Paradigm

by Jacob G. Hornberger | Thursday, February 26, 2009 (http://www.fff.org/blog/jghblog2009-02-26.asp)

For the last several months, we have witnessed one of the core principles of interventionism in economic affairs — that one government intervention inevitably leads to more interventions to deal with the crises and chaos that the previous intervention produces. What begins as a free-market economy — that is, one that is free of government control — ends up with socialism, where government owns and controls everything and everybody. That, of course, is what nationalization is all about.

But it’s not only in economics that we see this phenomenon. Foreign policy is another good example. The government engages in a pro-empire, pro-interventionist policy that includes killing and humiliating people overseas. For a while, the victims put up with the killing and the humiliation. But finally, anger and rage spill over, with some of the victims retaliating with terrorist attacks. Rather than ending the foreign policy that produced the anger and rage in the first place, federal officials use the terrorist blowback as the justification to do more of what they were doing before, which keeps the whole process going. Equally bad, they use the blowback as the excuse to suspend civil liberties and to increase government spending.

This week, we see another example of interventionism, this time in the areas of the drug war and gun control. Attorney General Eric Holder has announced (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=6960824&page=1) that the Obama administration intends to seek a new assault-weapons ban. Guess what Holder is using as one of his rationales: the heavy violence along the Mexican border arising from the drug war. The idea is that the Mexican drug cartels are getting their weapons from the United States and, therefore, an assault-weapons ban in the United States will supposedly quell violence in Mexico.

What better example of how interventionism works than that? We start out with the fact that some people in society wish to ingest what others consider to be harmful substances. The busybodies in the government decide that people simply do not have the right to do bad things to themselves. Viewing government as a daddy and the citizenry as adult-children, the government intervenes with a law that punishes the possession of illicit drugs.

Alas, however, people don’t voluntarily comply with the dictate, especially since many of them don’t believe that what they ingest is any business of government. That drives the busybodies crazy, which means a series of ever-increasing interventions, such as unreasonable searches and seizures, asset-forfeiture laws, more DEA agents, higher punishments, mandatory-minimum sentences, and so forth.

While the interventions fail to stem the ingesting, they generate an increasingly violent environment. The perfect example is Mexico, where for years U.S. officials have urged Mexican officials to ramp up the drug war. And ramp it up they have, including with the use of the Mexican military. The result? Ever-increasing violence, including gang wars, kidnappings, torture, and killings of government officials, not to mention the tremendous infringement on civil liberties. The harsher the interventions become, the worse the result.

So, Holder proposes what he and Obama feel is the next logical step — gun control.

And it gets worse. Texas Governor Mark Perry, a Republican, is now suggesting (http://www.newspapertree.com/news/3498-perry-texas-is-the-anvil-mexico-the-hammer-now-send-troops) that he would welcome the federal government’s sending trained military troops into Texas to deal with the drug-war violence. He says that the violence “could be put to bed quickly” if the U.S. government were to fight the drug war as it’s fought the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, how about that? A remarkable confluence of interventions — drug war, gun control, and the war on terrorism. Just think: U.S. troops along the U.S. border doing what they’re doing in Iraq and Afghanistan: barging into people’s homes without warrants, indefinite detentions, denial of due process, torture and other cruel and unusual punishments, enemy combatants, military tribunals, and, of course, confiscating people’s guns.

Of course, there is an alternative to all this violence and chaos that is available to the American people: freedom and free markets, which would entail a rejection of the philosophy of interventionism. In the economics sphere, that would entail a repeal of the welfare-state, regulated-economy way of life. In the foreign-policy sphere, it would entail a dismantling of the U.S. government’s overseas military empire. And in the drug-war/gun-control sphere, it would entail the legalization of drugs and respecting people’s fundamental and inherent right to keep and bear arms.


I'm sure this won't turn out badly. :rolleyes:

February 27th, 2009, 07:43 PM
Arizona AG: Marijuana legalization could curb Mexican drug cartel warfare

David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
Published: Friday February 27, 2009 (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Arizona_AG_Marijuana_legalization_possible_way_022 7.html)

When President Bush vowed to "smoke 'em out" in the chase for Osama bin Laden -- who his administration claimed to be America's greatest enemy -- he meant it in the Wild West sense, not the California sense.

Who'd have thought that by the time his predecessor took office, otherwise conservative officials would be considering another way of smoking out a new and growing threat to American's safety: Mexican drug cartels, whose profits are largely derived from the illegal smuggling and sale of marijuana.

On Friday, Democrat Terry Goddard, Arizona's Attorney General, said that while he's not in favor or legalizing marijuana, he thinks it should be debated as a way of curbing violence in the increasingly deadly clashes between Mexico's gangs.

Speaking to CNN's Kiran Chetry about the firearms trade between the US and Mexico, he noted that almost all the guns seized in Mexico's drug war came from the US.

"This is the source," he said. "This is the gun store for a great deal of the world."

"What's the answer?" asked Chetry.

"There'd have to be a variety of answers," he said. "But one of 'em would be to enforce our laws more aggressively."

Goddard said he believes new firearm purchasing requirements could be key in helping stop what's called "straw buying," or purchasing a weapon with no intent of actually owning it and instead turning it over to a criminal for a fee.

"If we could isolate those, we'd find a lot of the criminals," he suggested.

"The entire trade, of course, is fueled by the selling and buying of drugs," said Chetry. "There are some who make the case, including a former deputy foreign minister of Mexico who now works for the Brookings Institution -- somebody by the name of Andres Rosenthal -- who says maybe we need to rethink our drug laws."

Rosenthal is one of a growing chorus of former Latin American leaders who have voiced support (http://www.rawstory.com/news/2008/Latin_American_exleaders_urge_legalization_of_0212 .html) for the legalization of marijuana.

"He says, 'As with the repeal of prohibition, the US must follow a common-sense approach by thinking the unthinkable: The gradual legalization of some drugs. The US must realize that all drugs are not created equal,'" said Chetry. "They go on to say that marijuana, maybe some methamphetamines, do not have the same harmful effects and legalization might make a difference. Do you agree?"

"Well, I don't," said Goddard. "But I do think the debate needs to go forward. We need to find a better way to handle ... Right now, the item that's fueling the violent cartels, the murders in Mexico, the cartel wars that are going on right now that have resulted in over 1,000 deaths this year, I think we need to take a very aggressive stand on that and marijuana is the number one producer for the cartels. Sixty to 70 percent of their gross profits comes from marijuana. So, I think we need to look very hard at something we haven't looked at for years."

"So, that lends some credence to the argument ... Of legalization," said Chetry.

"It's certainly is a strong argument for getting that debate front and center and finding whatever options we might have to cut off the detestation in Mexico," said Goddard. "What we fear here on the Arizona border is the cartel on cartel battle is going to end up spreading across the border.

"If we can't stop it in Mexico, we're gonna end up with violence in the United States and none of us want that," he concluded.

A recent Zogby poll found 44 percent of Americans (http://blog.writch.com/2009/02/zogby-poll-nearly-6-in-10-on-west-coast-favor-marijuana-legalization.html) support the legalization of marijuana. That figure is up from 34 percent in 2001, according to a USA Today-CNN-Gallup poll (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2001/08/23/marijuana-full.htm).

On Tuesday, President Obama's Attorney General announced that the federal government would not conduct police raids on marijuana dispensaries (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Justice_Department_will_stop_medical_marijuana_022 6.html) in states which have approved cannabis for medicinal purposes.

This video (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Arizona_AG_Marijuana_legalization_possible_way_022 7.html) is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast Feb. 27, 2009.

April 7th, 2009, 07:32 PM
Drug Decriminalization in Portugal

Friday, April 3, 2009
POLICY FORUM [VIDEO] (http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=5887)

Featuring Glenn Greenwald, Attorney and Best-selling Author; with comments by Peter Reuter, Department of Criminology, University of Maryland; moderated by Tim Lynch, Director, Project on Criminal Justice, Cato Institute.

In 2001, Portugal began a remarkable policy experiment, decriminalizing all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Some predicted disastrous results—that drug addiction rates would soar and the country would become a haven for "drug tourists." Now that several years have passed, policy experts can study the results. In a new paper (http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=10080) for the Cato Institute, attorney and author Glenn Greenwald closely examines the Portugal experiment and concludes that the doomsayers were wrong. There is now a widespread consensus in Portugal that decriminalization has been a success. The debate in Portugal has shifted rather dramatically to minor adjustments in the existing arrangement. There is no real debate about whether drugs should once again be criminalized. Glenn Greenwald presents the results of his field research in Portugal and what lessons his findings may hold for drug policies in other countries.

April 24th, 2009, 08:12 AM
^ Regarding the above, here is an interview of Greenwald video [9:00] (http://reason.tv/video/show/755.html).


Sen. Webb puts marijuana legalization 'on the table'

http://www.change.org/photos/wordpress_copies/webb440x289.jpg (http://criminaljustice.change.org/blog?keyword=webb)

David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
Published: Thursday April 23, 2009
(http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Sen._Webb_puts_marijuana_legalization_on_0423.html )
Speaking to CNN on Thursday morning in an effort to whip up political support for his prison reform proposals, Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) insisted that marijuana legalization should be "on the table."

His [National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009 S.714] (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:s.00714:) bill, introduced late March, aims to establish a presidential commission to study prison reforms and drug criminalization and make recommendations to Congress after 18 months.

http://blog.lehighvalleylive.com/tony-rhodin_impact/2008/08/large_specter-in-dc.jpg (http://blog.norml.org/tag/arlen-specter/)

Senator Webb's bill is backed by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and has reportedly received (http://hamptonroads.com/2009/03/webb-takes-next-challenge-nations-prison-system) "quiet encouragement from President Barack Obama."

Some other stated supporters of Sen. Webb's reform proposals "include the current Judiciary panel head, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois," noted the Times-Dispatch (http://www.timesdispatch.com/rtd/news/local/article/WEBBGATER26_20090326-121604/241536/).

http://drogriporter.hu/files/drogriporter/leap_billboard.jpg (http://www.detnews.com/article/20090423/OPINION01/904230325/1008/America+tried+a+war+like+this+before)

Advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition has also posted an electronic petition form (http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5663/t/4571/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=797) in support of the Webb commission.

"With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world, there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different--and vastly counterproductive," wrote Sen. Webb in a March 29 editorial in Parade (http://www.parade.com/news/2009/03/why-we-must-fix-our-prisons.html). "Obviously, the answer is the latter."

As a means of addressing the "national disgrace" -- as Webb says -- that is the US prison system, initial reports on the bill indicated that its authors intended for drug criminalization to be part of the study.

"Would you support perhaps legalizing marijuana?" asked CNN's Kiran Chetry on Thursday morning.

"I think what we need to do is to put all the issues on the table," said Sen. Webb. "You're correct: if you go back to 1980 as a starting point, I think we had 40,000 people in prison on drug charges and today we have about a half a million of them. A great majority of those are non-violent crimes, possession crimes or minor sales.

http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/graphic/2005/06/16/GR2005061600053.gif (http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1893147,00.html?iid=tsmodule)

"At the same time, we've got a situation with Mexican drug cartels conducting violence along the border, operating in 230 American cities, and we aren't getting our arms around that in a proper way so, we need to put it on the table. That's why we need a presidential commission to look at these things -- people who have high stature in these career areas -- and to report to the Congress on the best way to go forward. But, nothing should be off the table."

"And that includes, as you were saying, possibly looking at legalization?" asked Chetry.

"Well, I think they should examine every aspect of drug policy to see what's working and what's not working ..." said Sen. Webb.

This video (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Sen._Webb_puts_marijuana_legalization_on_0423.html ) is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast Apr. 23, 2009.

(Click images above for more.)

June 13th, 2009, 06:23 PM
Cocaine study that got up the nose of the US

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian, Saturday 13 June 2009 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/13/bad-science-cocaine-study)

In areas of moral and political conflict people will always behave badly with evidence, so the war on drugs is a consistent source of entertainment. We have already seen how cannabis being "25 times stronger (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/cannabis-an-apology-440730.html)" was a fantasy (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/debunked-politicians-excuse-that-cannabis-has-become-stronger-458113.html), how drugs- related deaths were quietly dropped from the measures for drugs policy, and how a trivial pile of poppies was presented by the government as a serious dent in the Taliban's heroin revenue.

The Commons home affairs select committee is looking at the best way to deal with cocaine. You may wonder why they're bothering. When the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs looked at the evidence on the reclassification of cannabis it was ignored. When Professor David Nutt, the new head of the advisory council, wrote a scientific paper on the relatively modest risks of MDMA (the active ingredient in the club drug ecstasy) he was attacked by the home secretary, Jacqui Smith .

In the case of cocaine there is an even more striking precedent for evidence being ignored: the World Health Organisation (WHO) conducted what is probably the largest ever study of global use. In March 1995 they released a briefing kit which summarised their conclusions, with some tantalising bullet points.

"Health problems from the use of legal substances, particularly alcohol and tobacco, are greater than health problems from cocaine use," they said. "Cocaine-related problems are widely perceived to be more common and more severe for intensive, high-dosage users and very rare and much less severe for occasional, low-dosage users."

The full report – which has never been published – was extremely critical of most US policies. It suggested that supply reduction and law enforcement strategies have failed, and that options such as decriminalisation might be explored, flagging up such programmes in Australia, Bolivia, Canada and Colombia. "Approaches which over-emphasise punitive drug control measures may actually contribute to the development of heath-related problems," it said, before committing heresy by recommending research into the adverse consequences of prohibition, and discussing "harm reduction" strategies.

"An increase in the adoption of responses such as education, treatment and rehabilitation programmes," it said, "is a desirable counterbalance to the over-reliance on law enforcement."

It singled out anti-drug adverts based on fear. "Most programmes do not prevent myths, but perpetuate stereotypes and misinform the general public.

"Such programmes rely on sensationalised, exaggerated statements about cocaine which misinform about patterns of use, stigmatise users, and destroy the educator's credibility."

It also dared to challenge the prevailing policy view that all drug use is harmful misuse. "An enormous variety was found in the types of people who use cocaine, the amount of drug used, the frequency of use, the duration and intensity of use, the reasons for using and any associated problems."

Experimental and occasional use were by far the most common types of use, it said, and compulsive or dysfunctional use, though worthy of close attention, were much less common.

It then descended into outright heresy. "Occasional cocaine use does not typically lead to severe or even minor physical or social problems … a minority of people … use casually for a short or long period, and suffer little or no negative consequences."

And finally: "Use of coca leaves appears to have no negative health effects and has positive, therapeutic, sacred and social functions for indigenous Andean populations."

At the point where mild cocaine use was described in positive tones the Americans presumably blew some kind of outrage fuse. This report was never published because the US representative to the WHO threatened to withdraw US funding for all its research projects and interventions unless the organisation "dissociated itself from the study" and cancelled publication. According to the WHO this document does not exist, (although you can read a leaked copy at www.tdpf.org.uk/WHOleaked.pdf).

Drugs show the classic problem for evidence-based social policy. It may well be that prohibition, and distribution of drugs by criminals, gives worse results for the outcomes we think are important, such as harm to the user and to communities through crime. But equally, we may tolerate these outcomes, because we decide it is more important that we declare ourselves to disapprove of drug use. It's okay to do that. You can have policies that go against your stated outcomes, for moral or political reasons: but that doesn't mean you can hide the evidence.

September 12th, 2009, 04:49 AM
:D and :mad: at the same time. The "War on Drugs" is futile.

Reefer Randomness: Pot Plants in Municipal Flower Baskets


Residents of Millville, New Jersey, a small town an hour from Atlantic City, are mystified as to how marijuana started growing in a parks department flower basket hanging from lamp posts on (heh) High Street. On Tuesday afternoon some square spotted the leafy pot stalks sticking out above a patch of flowers in one of the baskets and dutifully notified the authorities. Cops rushed to the scene, mounted a ladder, and removed the proscribed plants. One officer involved in the plant removal theorized that marijuana seeds may have been thrown out of an apartment window above the street. See, if the cops had just let those seeds grow, the people of Millville could have climbed that magical pot stalk to the clouds and be smoking a giant blunt by now. But if the seeds weren't tossed there accidentally, how on earth did they get there? Bystander Pam Elliot had no answers, though she did tell the Press of Atlantic City, "We watch the guys every day, faithfully come out and water and fertilize every basket. That fertilizer is so good." Yep, it's a mystery!


September 12th, 2009, 04:56 AM
^ A case in point.

SNAFU indeed.

Family Freaked by Heavy Drug Raid on Wrong Apartment

48-year-old Calixta Guerrero was in her underwear in her Washington Heights apartment around 6 a.m. yesterday when police started pounding on the door. She told them she needed a moment to cover up, but cops shouted, "Open the f-----g door, right now!" So Guerrero complied, and was promptly forced to the floor and handcuffed. Good morning!

DEA agents, backed by a federal search warrant to raid the apartment, believed that it was the home of Carlos Ruiz, a boss in the Trinitarios gang. While cops and agents were tossing Guerro's apartment, Ruiz was actually being arrested at the same time, just a quarter mile away, by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Guerrero's 19-year-old daughter Suriel was home at the time; she tells the Daily News, "They had big guns in front of our faces, and I'm screaming, 'It's just me and my mom. We don't know this guy.'" The snafu is probably explained by the fact that Ruiz used to live just a few doors down from Guerrero in the same building, according to his lawyer.

While tossing the apartment (which got pretty trashed, as seen in the News photo), cops reportedly took the time to laugh and leer at photos of Guerrero and her daughter in bikinis, found stored on their computer. But hey, at least "when they left, they said they were sorry," Suriel says.


September 14th, 2009, 08:55 AM

"Sorry" don't cut it.

January 22nd, 2010, 05:53 PM
Lawyer: North Andover police checkpoint death a homicide

By Associated Press
Friday, January 22, 2010 - Updated 1h ago (http://news.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1227467)

NORTH ANDOVER — A lawyer for the family of a man who died after his arrest at a police sobriety road block in North Andover says the medical examiner has ruled the death a homicide.

Attorney Frances King tells The Eagle-Tribune the medical examiner determined that 45-year-old Kenneth Howe of Worcester died of blunt force trauma to the head, face and chest.

King alleges that "10 to 20" officers beat Howe at the checkpoint the day before Thanksgiving. Authorities say Howe was taken into custody for striking a trooper and trying to flee. Another passenger in the vehicle said Howe was trying to extinguish a marijuana cigarette.

A spokesman for the Essex district attorney’s office notes that the medical examiner’s report also says Howe had heart disease. The investigation into the death is ongoing.


This proves it -- driving while smoking weed can lead to a horrible death... (even though smoking or possessing 1 oz. or less isn't criminal in MA (http://www.mpp.org/states/massachusetts/alerts/voters-marijuana.html) - even if driving - provided you can pass a sobriety test).

Probably the pot 'caused him to become violent'... :rolleyes:

September 27th, 2012, 12:42 AM
MDMA may help treat depression and PTSD, Channel 4 study suggests

Research hints at therapeutic uses for MDMA – but the taboo surrounding psychoactive drugs prevents similar studies

THE GUARDIAN (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/sep/26/mdma-depression-ptsd-channel-4-study)
By Amanda Feilding
26 September 2012

I was amused by Conal Urquhart's description in the Observer (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/sep/16/mdma-drug-experiment-channel-4) of the novelist Lionel Shriver being sucked into an MRI brain scanner "that resembles a giant washing machine". I see her tumbling around with the rest of the laundry, including actor Keith Allen and former MP Evan Harris, to emerge bright and uplifted.

The three of them were participants in a brain imaging study into the effects of MDMA ("ecstasy") on brain function, parts of which will be televised on Channel 4 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/channel4)'s Drugs Live (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/drugs-live-the-ecstasy-trial) documentary on Wednesday and Thursday night.

Harris, who is also a doctor, said the trial could "pave the way to further research into potential therapeutic uses of MDMA, such as in the treatment of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/post-traumatic-stress-disorder)]". But others have raised doubts. Urquhart quoted a Home Office spokesman as saying that "televising the use of illegal drugs (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/drugs) risks trivialising a serious issue".

Surely, though, developing improved treatments for severe health problems is also a serious issue?

Readers may remember my article earlier this year about a similar brain-imaging study on psilocybin (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/feb/06/magic-mushrooms-law-war-drugs), the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. The research formed part of the Beckley Foundation/Imperial College Psychopharmacological Research Programme, a collaboration between the Beckley Foundation (http://www.beckleyfoundation.org/), which I founded and direct, and Professor David Nutt's (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/david-nutt) group at Imperial College. The MDMA study featured in Channel 4's Drugs Live is a continuation of that programme.

Contrary to expectations, psilocybin decreased cerebral blood flow, particularly to brain regions that act as "connector hubs" responsible for filtering and co-ordinating the flow of information through the brain. These hubs impose a top-down control on our awareness, integrating sensory inputs and prior expectations into a coherent, organised and censored experience of the world. By reducing blood supply to the hubs, and thereby decreasing their activity, psilocybin allows a freer, less constrained state of awareness to emerge.

This finding provides a neuroscientific underpinning for the metaphor of the brain as a "reducing valve" whose censoring activity is turned down by psychedelics – an idea popularised by the novelist Aldous Huxley in his 1954 essay The Doors of Perception (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Doors_of_Perception).

Besides providing insights into consciousness and brain function, the results from our psilocybin studies highlight important new therapeutic possibilities. One of the hubs throttled back by psilocybin is known to be chronically overactive in depression (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/depression). By lowering the activity of this region, psilocybin may allow the unremitting ruminative thought patterns that underlie depression to be reset (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jan/23/magic-mushrooms-psilocybin-depression-drug). On the back of this finding, the Medical Research (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/medical-research) Council has awarded a major grant for a study of psilocybin in the treatment of severely depressed patients, which has just begun.

Psilocybin reduces the blood supply and activity of another "connector hub", which is overactive in cluster headaches. Cluster, nicknamed the "suicide headache" because it is so agonising, is notoriously difficult to treat – though anecdotal evidence suggests that psilocybin and LSD provide relief. Unfortunately, patients currently have to obtain these substances illegally, without the benefit of medical advice and supervision.

As these results prove, brain imaging research can add invaluable insights to knowledge gained from other scientific and clinical fields. The new MDMA research aims to do just that ...

September 27th, 2012, 10:03 AM
So, let me get this strait....

It is OK to make a drug through a pharmaceutical company and get it approved and sell it (where it is then abused by many privileged individuals), but to take an existing chemical and test it, document it to see what it could do if taken in a controlled manner rather than casual, un-monitored and un-prescribed recreational manner, is wrong?

As has been said many times, Aspirin would never have been approved by todays FDA.....

November 8th, 2012, 10:39 PM
Were the votes in Colorado and Washington a turning point?

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/nytlogo153x23.gif (http://www.nytimes.com/)

November 7, 2012

Voters Ease Marijuana Laws in 2 States, but Legal Questions Remain

By JACK HEALY (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/jack_healy/index.html)

DENVER — For supporters of legalizing marijuana (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/m/marijuana/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier), it was a historic moment, one that drew comparisons to the end of Prohibition: On Tuesday, voters in Colorado and Washington State made it legal to smoke pot recreationally, without any prescription or medical excuse.

But as Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado cautioned voters on Tuesday night: “Don’t break out the Cheetos or the Goldfish too quickly.”

For one thing, it will be a month before the measures are officially on the books, and longer still before state officials write the rules, tax codes and other regulations creating new state-licensed retail marijuana shops. But the larger, looming problem is a clash with the federal government, which still views marijuana as a Schedule I prohibited substance and has cracked down on states, like California and Montana, that have voted to allow medical marijuana.

In a statement on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Agency said the Justice Department was reviewing the ballot measures and declined to comment directly on how officials would respond to them. But he said the agency’s enforcement of federal drug laws “remains unchanged.” The United States attorneys (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/u/united_states_attorneys/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) in Denver and Seattle responded with nearly identical statements, offering no clue on whether they would sue to block the measures from being put into effect.

It is a murky landscape now, one that potentially pits voters who supported President Obama and legalization against the president’s own Justice Department. In 2010, weeks before California voted on an unsuccessful initiative to legalize marijuana, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that authorities would still aggressively prosecute marijuana laws.

But that has not always been the case. In Colorado, the federal government has largely allowed the state-regulated medical-marijuana industry to operate, and supporters said they hoped the government would take a similar laissez-faire stance as the new laws took effect.

“I don’t see D.E.A. agents sweeping into Colorado and Washington and enforcing drug laws that were previously enforced by local agencies,” said Norm Stamper, a former Seattle police chief who campaigned for the Washington measure despite a personal preference for dry martinis over pot brownies. “It would be extremely poor politics. The will of the people has been expressed.”
Although elected officials, parents’ groups and top law enforcement figures opposed the measures, they nevertheless won support with voters who saw little harm with regulating marijuana similarly to the way alcohol is. Colorado’s marijuana law passed with 54 percent support, and Washington’s with 55 percent.

Colorado and Washington are among 18 states with medical marijuana laws, but they become the first in the nation to approve the use for recreational purposes. A similar measure in Oregon failed on Tuesday.

As soon as the laws are certified, it will be legal under Colorado and Washington law for adults 21 years and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. In Colorado, people will be able to grow as many as six plants. In Washington, users will have to buy their marijuana from state-licensed providers.

“They can’t arrest you for it, and they can’t seize it,” Mr. Stamper said. “It’s yours.”

The measures will also set up regulations for industrial hemp, a fibrous plant that contains traces of the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana.

The laws do not allow people to light up in public, and cities and counties will be able to block marijuana retailers, in much the same way that blue laws have restricted alcohol sales for decades. And it remains illegal to drive a motor vehicle while high on the drug.

Supporters say the laws will end thousands of small-scale drug arrests while freeing law enforcement to focus on larger crimes. They estimate that taxing marijuana will bring in millions of dollars of new revenue for governments, and will save court systems and police departments additional millions.

Opponents warned that the law — despite its 21-year age minimum — would set Colorado and Washington on a collision course with the federal government and encourage teenagers to use marijuana.

It is still unclear how much will change. The streets here in Denver and across Colorado are already lined with shops, their windows decorated with green crosses and pot leaves, advertising all-natural plant treatments and herbal health aids.

“Coloradans are accustomed to having this stuff above ground, supervised by state authorities and having it regulated,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which supported legalization.

To advocates, the real power of the measures’ passage may be that they signal a change in the way voters think about drugs and drug policy in the United States.
Brian Vicente, a leading campaigner for the Colorado initiative, summed it up this way: “It’s a historic one, man.”

November 13th, 2012, 11:06 AM
SO long as they "keep it small", I have no problem with the US government using the laws to stop major traffickers. The difficulty comes in when they start targeting back-yard gardens and dime-bag tokers. Too little of a "problem" and too much money to "enforce".

The easiest way to imprison a true pot-head is to give them a bit more and enough goodies to satisfy the munchies. They ain't goin' nowhere! ;)

June 17th, 2013, 11:57 PM
Hear, hear. The "war on drugs" is unwinnable. The advantages of legalisation HUGELY outweigh any disadvantages. There are always casualties in any "war", no matter what the strategy. Get over it, get on with it (we have to start somewhere) and move on (also applies to homosexuality, prostitution, abortion...).

How to End the War on Drugs

by Matthew Cooke

Call me crazy but I find it absurd to claim we're a free country while our government dictates what adults can or can not do in the privacy of our own homes. We've accepted a massive blow to a fundamental expression of individual freedom if our own minds and bodies are off-limits to personal exploration. I say this not as a drug taking enthusiast -- but as a true believer in freedom and non-violence.

Now let's talk social responsibility. I experimented with a few drugs over the years. But I don't do drugs today. That choice has nothing to do with the law. I don't need a court or a SWAT team to keep me from pulling out my teeth or hitting myself in the head with a hammer. A little education, self-love and real world experience is a much better motivator. Maybe once or twice a year I hit myself in the head with a hammer... but that's my own business. And I digress...

Drug war supporters think Americans might tear apart the fabric of society if we were legally allowed to consume whatever plants or chemicals we chose. This is not based in fact. We don't need to outlaw STDs for the public to see the benefit in avoiding them. We just need sex education. So why do we have laws against drug use? The only answer is fear -- and a deeply ensconced tradition.

The history of the laws are nightmarish. All drugs used to be legal. Until 100 years ago when America's first drug tsar said this:

There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.

Similar arguments were made against heroin and cocaine (mostly consumed by middle class white women at the time). And that was the "science" upon which we can thank for today's war on drugs.

From the standpoint of social responsibility, the war on drugs has in fact created a crisis of epic proportions not just in the United States but across the planet.

Here in the States, we know that drug arrests and convictions are profoundly racist and classist in their application today. And just imagine the damage to millions of working families for generations when Mom or Dad gets convicted for possession and has a felony on their record. Imagine the psychological damage on children whose homes are raided by a SWAT team for a small amount of marijuana. And picture the impact this policy has in the hearts and souls of our police officers.

We know that the U.S. today jails far more people than any other nation while simultaneously leading the world in demand for illegal drugs. And we know that as long as there is such strong demand for illegal drugs, the youth, the economically challenged and the opportunistic will rise to the occasion to fill the void with a violent unregulated black-market that spans the globe.

In the last six years alone, Mexico has lost over 50,000 people to drug war murders, bombings, torture and assassination all for the cause of supplying the United States (more than anyone else) its fix. In sum, this is truly an unacceptable human failure of global proportion -- and it is the drug laws themselves that tear apart the fabric of this nation. If we want to save lives we need to end the war on drugs. We know this. So how do we do it?

I recognize that many libertarians will shudder at my plan, but let's start the conversation. I am open minded. My baseline is this: all drug sales, possession, and use are hereby no longer criminal nor jail-able offenses. Period.

Now let's split some hairs. I personally do not support total legalization without regulation. In other words, I don't want to see Coca Cola corporation marketing black tar heroin to today's youth with catchy advertising. That may sound obvious but remember that America is one of only two countries in the world that allow pharmaceutical advertising. So don't put it past us! Moving on...
My recommendation would be to allow pharmacies to sell recreational drugs to adults-only, along with plenty of warning information. We regulate and cap the prices at cost -- so they're viewed as cheap and the black-market incentive is eliminated along with the tendency for corruption.

Oh man, I can hear the capitalists screaming at me already for taking away their profit potential, but you know what? I don't personally believe everything out there needs a financial motive. I know -- it sounds like Satan talking but consider for a moment that not every aspect of the market-place is best served by personal greed. Public health being one in particular where the rewards of a healthy population reap a greater return than immediate sales on medicines.

Next -- I would outlaw advertising for recreational drugs. That shouldn't be a problem because I haven't met anyone out there desperate for more commercials (other than ad agency execs). The reason for the this is that nothing screws up the natural demand in a market place than marketing.

And most important of all, I would take a few of the Billions of dollars we spend on a SWAT team and military approach to asocial and medical problem and put it toward independent research for addiction treatment and rehabilitation clinics for the Americans who need help and have nowhere to turn today. With the remaining Billions I'd recommend a better social safety net for the unemployed Americans who one way or another will have to find a means to put food on the table.

You may have other ideas. I'd love to hear them.

While we discuss those, remember that we're strongest when we stand together. So let's join and support the fantastic activist organizations doing the ground work. I have three recommendations.

1) The DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE is a fantastic organization with tons of information, resources and easy action steps on contacting congress-people. (http://www.drugpolicy.org)

2) LAW ENFORCEMENT AGAINST PROHIBITION is an inspired group of former and current police officers, judges and prison guards who are calling for legalization of all drugs to save lives. (http://www.leap.cc)

3) MARIJUANA MAJORITY while focused solely on marijuana is a great coalition of famous names who are joining forces to help spread the word that indeed 72 percent of the nation already agrees "no jail time for marijuana". We're making progress! (http:// www.marijuanamajority.com (http://%20www.marijuanamajority.com))

Looking forward to your thoughts.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post to mark the theatrical and on-demand release of "How To Make Money Selling Drugs," a new documentary by Matthew Cooke that examines the drug trade from a variety of angles. For more info on the film, click here. (https://m.facebook.com/howtomakemoneysellingdrugs)


June 18th, 2013, 03:51 PM
The biggest advocates for the continuation on the "War on Drugs" are the companies that comprise the Prison Industial Complex, including privatized prisons run by private companies (outsourced from Federal, State, and Municiple Govt entities) and the private sector infrastucture (food companies etc ...) that support them

These groups stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and commerce if movements designed to reduce the prison population succeed. The War on Drugs is the most significant of these movements

Don't kid yourself. They spend huge money lobbying Congress for the continuation of criminalizing drug sale and consumption policies.

June 19th, 2013, 01:35 AM
Don't kid yourself.

I wasn't. I'm already painfully aware of the effects of privatising the prison system.

June 19th, 2013, 10:00 PM
I think there is a story there. At the risk of being presumptuous, I am sorry for you and yours.

June 20th, 2013, 03:04 AM
What?! Very presumptuous. And no, no story.

And I live in Oz, so the U.S. prison system, thank god, will never affect me.

It "pains" me that the system is so abhorrent.

It isn't perfect here, either.


G4S explains its ethos (http://www.au.g4s.com/what-we-do/?content=care) as one of “respect for human rights and the personal dignity of the people entrusted to our care,” and in “going the extra mile and getting it right the first time every time.”


June 20th, 2013, 08:53 AM


November 9th, 2013, 01:34 AM
Oh, god.

Today's Drug War Outrage: Man Dies In Jail Cell After Misdemeanor Pot Offense

By Radley Balko

Today's story is part drug war, part police indifference and callousness, part police cover-up. It comes by way of a lawsuit filed by the family of Michael Saffioti.

Saffioti failed to make a court date on a misdemeanor charge for pot possession. In July of last year, he surrendered himself to Snohomish County, Washington authorities, who promptly jailed him. (The streets of Snohomish County were a little safer that day.) When it came time for breakfast the following morning, Saffioti is seen on video having a conversation with a guard while holding his tray. Presumably, he was inquiring about any dairy products in the meal. Saffioti had a severe allergy. He's then seen taking a few bites of some oatmeal. (You can watch the video here (http://www.kirotv.com/videos/news/video-video-shows-man-dying-inside-jail-of-food/vCHS2x/).)

The awfulness that followed is detailed by KIRO TV.

Within a few minutes, Saffioti was back at the guard desk, using his inhaler.

According to the legal claim, he asked to see a nurse.

Instead, he was sent to his cell.

Over the next half hour, the video shows other inmates looking in Saffioti's cell as he jumped up and down.

The legal claim says he pressed his call button and was ignored.

It also alleges that the guards told him he was "faking."

About 35 minutes after he ate, a guard found Saffioti unconscious in his cell. The guard called for help and Saffioti was dragged out.

Nurses arrived and performed CPR. Everett firefighters took over and rushed Saffioti to the hospital where he was pronounced dead a half hour later.

Then the coverup began. County officials stonewalled Saffioti's mother's attempts to obtain video of the events leading to her son's death, first by denying its existence. After Saffioti's family discovered the police had lied about that, they turned over only non-incriminating portions of the video. The family was eventually able to force them to hand over the entire thing. So far, attorneys for the family have also been barred from interviewing jail staff or responding medical personnel.

This is the eighth death in the Snohomish jail in three years. Johnathin Vankin reports (http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/drug-law/video-shows-michael-saffioti-dying-food-allergies-washington-jail-guards#) that "a recent investigation (http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Report-says-Snohomish-Co-Jail-is-seriously-understaffed-230601221.html) by the National Institute of Corrections found that the jail’s health department is seriously understaffed and that overcrowding in the jail has caused serious safety hazards."

But New York criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield points out that this is about more than just staffing and funding.

This young man’s death reflects the toxic mix of dehumanization, neglect and deceit. Inmates complain constantly about nearly every aspect of life in jail. The accommodations don’t suit many, and there isn’t much reason not to complain. The product is that complaints are ignored.

After all, to the guards, these aren’t people, but inmates. That’s what inmates do, complain. Do something about the complaints and they’ll just be back complaining about something else tomorrow. Ignore them and they’ll still be back, but it’s easier to just ignore them again tomorrow.

The problem is that every once in a while, a complaint, like a life-threatening food allergy, is real. Not just real, but brutally real. To take the time to listen, to hear, to take seriously, a complaint is more than a guard can bear. Jails are all about routine, and routine applies to everyone. To expect CO’s to treat inmates like people, to take the time to distinguish between real complaints and the typical noise is to expect them to be caring, intelligent people. That’s not part of the routine.

Saffioti's food allergies were apparently so severe that he was sometimes called "bubble boy." His condition required constant attention. According to his mother, the knowledge that the smallest break in vigilance could result in his death caused Saffioti a lot of anxiety. Understandably so. She says he smoked pot to help relieve that anxiety. As both Greenfield and Vankin point out, the cruel irony here is that four months after Saffioti's death, recreational pot was legalized in Washington state.

The story is reminiscent of the Jonathan Magbie tragedy (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10798-2004Oct29.html). Magbie was a quadriplegic who was allowed to die in a Washington, D.C. jail cell while serving a 10-day sentence for possession of pot. He was jailed despite no prior convictions, and in spite of his need of constant care to stay alive. According to his mother (http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/special/2005/magbie1104.html), Magbie smoked pot to treat the effects of his paralyzation. Medical pot is now legal in D.C., and the city looks poised to at least decriminalize pot (http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/dc-poised-for-giant-leap-toward-legalizing-marijuana/2013/10/24/db183fb0-3cbe-11e3-b6a9-da62c264f40e_story.html)for recreational use, if not legalize it outright.


November 12th, 2013, 09:44 AM
What a disgrace.

November 13th, 2013, 03:55 PM
That one strikes me more as bad jail procedures than a war on drugs issue. Yes, I know the ball started rolling from a pot bust. But it could have been an unpaid parking ticket just as easily.

November 13th, 2013, 07:09 PM
Unpaid tickets usually lead to the issuance of bench warrant, than you are sent home.

Unless of course you live in Texas, like this poor woman, who was arrested and stripped searched after being 60 days late paying for a traffic ticket.

Welcome to Texas. As I have mentioned before, we should let them secede.

Woman Forced To Strip And Serve Jail Time For Overdue Ticket

Boaz’ expected trip to work Wednesday morning never happened. Because of her unpaid ticket, the Richland Hills City Marshal was waiting at her house with a warrant for her arrest. “I’m like, nobody puts out a bench warrant after 60 days. Why would you do that? You wouldn’t do that.”
Even when Boaz arrived at the jail, in handcuffs, she still didn’t think it was real. Then a female officer started giving her instructions. She remembered the officer saying, “’I’m going to need you to undress. I’m going to need you to stand against the wall. Please don’t step in front of this white box, or I’ll take that’… aggressive toward me. Obviously I am going to jail.”


November 20th, 2013, 09:17 PM
Rookie Rep Trey Radel (R FL) was recently charged with misdemeanor possession of cocaine (http://www.politico.com/story/2013/11/trey-radel-cocaine-possession-100075.html). I don't think this is such a big deal in itself; people struggling with drug addiction should be cut a little slack.

What makes this different is that Radel voted yes on a House farm bill that contained a provision (http://www.politico.com/story/2013/11/trey-radel-arrest-food-stamps-100138.html) granting states the option to require that food stamp recipients submit to drug tests.

Such hypocrisy merits unemployment.

November 21st, 2013, 01:41 PM
^I would consider that likely to happen, although not based on the hypocrisy per se, but on the drug use itself.

September 25th, 2014, 03:39 AM
Another "words fail me" moment :rolleyes:.

Gerald Lee Wolters
The NY Judges, prosecutors and police are so addicted to taking money off of people for nothing they just can't help themselves anymore. They need to have these decisions taken from them, they can't implement the Seattle plan while still addicted.

^Mmmm...yeah, could be.

New York Plan Misses The Whole Point Of Drug Policy Reform

by Saki Knafo

Three years ago, police officers in Seattle took a chance on a radical and unprecedented approach (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/28/seattle-lead-program_n_5697660.html) to the city's drug problem: They stopped automatically locking up everyone arrested for drugs and, instead, began referring addicted people to social workers, who provided them with free apartments, referrals to psychiatrists and anything else they needed to get off the streets and off drugs.

This week, New York City announced a plan to adopt (http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/acco/2014/ph-diversion-center.pdf) a similar strategy -- a change that could have huge reverberations around the country, proponents of Seattle's approach say. New York, after all, is the nation's media capital and home to more than 10 times as many people as Seattle.

But after news of the plan broke on Monday (http://nypost.com/2014/09/22/de-blasio-plans-treatment-instead-of-jail-for-low-level-lawbreakers/), supporters of the Seattle program noticed that the New York plan lacks many of the key attributes that made the original experiment so innovative.
Gabriel Sayegh, director of the New York state office of the national Drug Policy Alliance, said that if the city program turns out to be as limited as it appears, "that would not be a step forward for New York. It would be an incredible step backward."

The main difference is that Seattle offers its program to people arrested for heroin, crack and all other drugs, while New York will apparently offer its version only to those facing what are known as "violation infractions."

Hanging out in a park after closing time qualifies as a violation infraction. So does drinking beer on a stoop or grilling on a sidewalk. Heroin possession does not, however. Neither does crack possession, smoking marijuana in public or any other crime involving illegal drugs, with one exception -- possessing pot "in private," an act that, by its very nature, rarely attracts the attention of the authorities.

"You can get arrested for it, but it takes a lot of work and planning," said New York defense attorney Ron Kuby of the latter crime. "You pretty much have to light up a joint inside of the bar that's hosting the inspector's retirement party."

A spokeswoman for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which is overseeing the plan, said no one was available for an interview, but she confirmed that New York is only "targeting individuals facing violation infractions."

That's sure to disappoint anyone who hopes that Mayor Bill de Blasio, a progressive leader with a national profile, will finally end the city's practice of throwing people in jail for low-level drug offenses. More than 50,000 people were arrested for drugs in New York last year, most of them for acts involving marijuana.

"The de Blasio folks have these interesting ideas about how to try to move away from get-tough law enforcement, but this is a pretty weak step," said Alex Vitale, a sociology professor at Brooklyn College who studies the city's police practices.

Critics point to another key difference between the New York and Seattle programs: In Seattle, drug offenders face a harsh alternative if they don't sign up for the program -- three weeks in jail on average, according to an analysis by the county government.

By contrast, New Yorkers arrested for drinking on the stoop and other violation infractions currently face only about a day in jail -- and that's if they lack ID or provide the police with some other justification for keeping them off the streets. In fact, the police don't have to arrest people for these offenses at all. As long as someone isn't causing a public disturbance, the cops will often just write up a ticket.

"There's an easy way for police to keep these people out of jail," said Sayegh, "and that's not to make that arrest."

Although there's no conclusive data yet on the Seattle program's effectiveness, the effort has helped dozens gain access to services that can temper the effects of addiction, according to records provided by the program for an in-depth Huffington Post investigation (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/28/seattle-lead-program_n_5697660.html). Santa Fe, New Mexico, now offers a version to people arrested for opiates, and many other cities, from Houston to Denver, have sent representatives to Seattle to take notes.

It's unclear whether New York plans to start small and expand its own version later. Such a move could do much to quiet the critics, but for now, reformers are scratching their heads over why the city doesn't intend to offer this "incarceration alternative" to people actually facing incarceration, especially those arrested for drug crimes.
"None of this actually makes any sense," Kuby said.


September 25th, 2014, 04:05 AM
$50 billion :eek: :confused:!!! A lot of things could be fixed with that.

How Should Our Society Deal With People Who Use Drugs?

By Tony Newman

The war on drugs is a cruel joke. The U.S. spends more than $50 billion a year on the "war on drugs" with the goal of creating a "drug-free society" -- yet there has never been a "drug-free society" in the history of civilization. Virtually all of us take drugs every single day. Caffeine, sugar, alcohol, marijuana, Prozac, Ritalin, opiates and nicotine are just some of the substances that Americans use on a regular basis.

Drugs are so popular because people use them for both pleasure and for pain. Drugs can be fun. How many of us enjoy having some drinks and going out dancing? How many of us enjoy a little smoke after a nice dinner with friends? Many people bond with others or find inspiration alone while under the influence of drugs. On the flip side, many people self-medicate to try to ease the pain in their lives. How many of us have had too much to drink to drown our sorrows over a breakup or some other painful event? How many of us smoke cigarettes or take prescription drugs to deal with anxiety or stress? Throughout recorded history, people have inevitably altered their consciousness to fall asleep, wake up, deal with stress, and for creative and spiritual purposes.

The vast majority of Americans agree that the drug war is not working. So how should our society deal with people who use drugs? I propose three simple solutions: 1) Offer treatment and compassion to people who want help for their drug problems; 2) leave people alone who don't want or need treatment; and 3) continue to hold people responsible for crimes that harm others.

1) Offer treatment and compassion to people who have drug problems. While our society gives lip-service to helping people struggling with drug misuse or addiction, 90 percent of folks who want treatment can't get it. Meanwhile, thousands of people are forced into treatment every year simply because they were arrested for drug possession, even though many of them don't meet the diagnostic criteria for substance dependence.

We should have free treatment on demand. We should remove barriers to entering treatment, which is far less expensive than criminalization. We need to reduce overdose deaths by getting the overdose reversal drug Naloxone into the hands of people who use opiates and their family members. We need laws that allow people to call 911 when witnessing an overdose without fear of arrest. We should make methadone and replacement therapy available to those who want it. We should acknowledge that relapse happens and not kick people out of treatment who slip up.

2) Leave alone people who don't want or need treatment. Many people are surprised to learn that the vast majority of people who use drugs don't have problems from their use. As Columbia neuroscientist Dr. Carl Hart often points out (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtcltD8mOPw), the federal government's own data shows the overwhelming majority (80-90 percent) of all drug use is not problematic or indicative of addiction.

More than 1.5 million people are arrested every year in the U.S. simply for drug possession. Young people -- especially those who are black and Latino -- feel the brunt of drug enforcement (http://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/drug-war-mass-incarceration-and-race).

Despite similar rates of use, African Americans are 13 times more likely to be incarcerated for drug use. The majority of these people don't have drug problems and yet we are handcuffing them and saddling them with criminal records that will severely limit their opportunities in life.

3) Continue to hold people responsible for crimes that harm others. People who harm others, whether on drugs or not, need to be held responsible. Simply using or possession drugs should not be cause for arrest, but if someone gets behind the wheel while impaired, or commits a predatory or violent crime against someone, they should continue to be held accountable.

The war on drugs is really a war on us. It is time to stop arresting people simply for using or possessing drugs. Let's help people with drug problems, leave in peace those without a problem, and hold responsible those who harm others.

Tony Newman is the director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance(www.drugpolicy.org (http://www.drugpolicy.org/))

This first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance Blog: http://www.drugpolicy.org/blog/how-should-our-society-deal-people-who-use-drugs


September 25th, 2014, 07:00 AM

Wobert Wedford
September 25th, 2014, 11:31 AM
Surely the nub of the problem is to break the connection between drugs supply and organised criminal gangs. How? Legalise.

September 25th, 2014, 06:06 PM
I've come to the same conclusion. The prohibition hasn't worked. It's time to give it up.

Legalize drugs. Actually regulate price and quality, to keep it fairly cheap, cheaper than it would cost to smuggle in and sell illegally. Just don't allow any advertising. The legal sellers would be allow some very discrete ways for users to find out where they are, but the sellers could not do anything that would be considered advertising, marketing, or promotion. I would not allow this to become another alcohol or tobacco type industry.

I'd also put into place non-judicial sanctions against the users.

Surely the nub of the problem is to break the connection between drugs supply and organised criminal gangs. How? Legalise.

September 26th, 2014, 12:23 PM
I've come to the same conclusion. The prohibition hasn't worked. It's time to give it up.

Legalize drugs. Actually regulate price and quality, to keep it fairly cheap, cheaper than it would cost to smuggle in and sell illegally. Just don't allow any advertising. The legal sellers would be allow some very discrete ways for users to find out where they are, but the sellers could not do anything that would be considered advertising, marketing, or promotion. I would not allow this to become another alcohol or tobacco type industry.

I'd also put into place non-judicial sanctions against the users.

I am inclined to say the same thing but how do we temper the crimes associated with drug "intake" (not "distribution") as may of these agents impair judgement and normal human psychology??

In the normal person, alcohol deters with hangover commissions the next day. Some of these agents that have not day after effects are much easier to abuse.

September 26th, 2014, 11:53 PM
The benefits of legalisation far outweigh any disadvantages, either perceived or real. Legalisation would be the best way to deal with it, not a solution.

It's not as if everyone would start taking drugs just because they're legal.

September 27th, 2014, 03:49 PM
The issue is not how a society with legalized drugs would compare with some theoretical drug free utopia, but how it would compare to what we have now. What I'm hoping is that if the price of legal drugs could significantly undercut what the black market dealers can sell for, they'll be forced out of business. But if the legal operations are not allowed to market themselves in such a way as to draw in new users (which the black market dealers WILL do), the size of the over all drug using population will tend to drift down. Even if the population stays the same, the elimination of the black market will be a benefit to society.

I am inclined to say the same thing but how do we temper the crimes associated with drug "intake" (not "distribution") as may of these agents impair judgement and normal human psychology??

In the normal person, alcohol deters with hangover commissions the next day. Some of these agents that have not day after effects are much easier to abuse.

September 28th, 2014, 05:11 PM
I mostly agree with you. My question however is if you are truly a libertarian, why are you concerned with driving the "drug using population" down? The vast majority of adult recreational drug users are not addicts and are otherwise law abiding.

I do agree that through the free market, a price competitive industry will emerge that will crowd out the black market.

In my estimation, the most compelling arguments for legalizing drugs came from William Buckley and Pat Buchanan.