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Thread: War On Drugs

  1. #61

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    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

  2. #62

    Default DHS: Urge to Surge

    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

    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 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

  3. #63
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Wouldn't it just be easier to firebomb the entire border periodically to ensure a "buffer zone"?

    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.

  4. #64

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    Top Mexico cops charged with favoring drug cartel

    By MARK STEVENSON – 1 day ago

    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.

  5. #65

    Default Creating Drug Trade Violence Official NATO Policy

    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

    Yesterday we reported 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. 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,” 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?

  6. #66

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    Latin America ex-leaders urge reform of US drug war

    Stuart Grudgings
    Reuters North American News Service
    Feb 11, 2009 15:33 EST


    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.

    'PREJUDICES, FEARS'

    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)

  7. #67
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    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?

  8. #68
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Druggie types have always been resourceful. These guys are the new Insurgents in the War on Drugs.

  9. #69

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    I pretty much called this one... sadly.

    *****

    Interventionism: A Failed and Dangerous Paradigm

    by Jacob G. Hornberger | Thursday, February 26, 2009

    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 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 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.

  10. #70

    Default For real?!

    Arizona AG: Marijuana legalization could curb Mexican drug cartel warfare

    David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
    Published: Friday February 27, 2009


    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 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 support the legalization of marijuana. That figure is up from 34 percent in 2001, according to a USA Today-CNN-Gallup poll.

    On Tuesday, President Obama's Attorney General announced that the federal government would not conduct police raids on marijuana dispensaries in states which have approved cannabis for medicinal purposes.

    This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast Feb. 27, 2009.

  11. #71

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    Drug Decriminalization in Portugal

    Friday, April 3, 2009
    POLICY FORUM [VIDEO]


    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 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.

  12. #72

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    ^ Regarding the above, here is an interview of Greenwald video [9:00] .

    *****

    Sen. Webb puts marijuana legalization 'on the table'



    David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
    Published: Thursday April 23, 2009

    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] 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.



    Senator Webb's bill is backed by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and has reportedly received "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.



    Advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition has also posted an electronic petition form 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. "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.



    "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 is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast Apr. 23, 2009.

    (Click images above for more.)

  13. #73

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    Cocaine study that got up the nose of the US

    Ben Goldacre
    The Guardian, Saturday 13 June 2009


    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" was a fantasy, 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.

  14. #74
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    and 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!

    http://gothamist.com/2009/09/11/pot_...cipal_flow.php

  15. #75
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    ^ 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.

    http://gothamist.com/2009/09/11/fami...nse_drug_r.php

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