The Speakeasy Blog
Nearly one in six teens (17%) who got into serious fights at school or work in the past year report using drugs;Always skeptical, Pete used his research skills to put these numbers in perspective:
…if you look at the 2007 Monitoring the Future report, you see that the percentages of any teens who used drugs in the past year are: 8th grade (14.8%), 10th grade (28.7%), and 12th grade (36.5%). So to say that 17% of teens who got into serious fights report using drugs is not a particularly alarming thing. (In fact, it appears by these numbers that teens who use drugs are actually less likely to get into serious fights.)
It might be necessary to explain that Monitoring the Future is government data, frequently cited by ONDCP when it suits their agenda. Of course, we wouldn't go around issuing reports about how drug users are less violent than everybody else (even though that seems likely to be true). The point here is that ONDCP's insinuations about the relationship between drug use and youth violence reflect the precise opposite of what the data actually show. And this predictably proves to be the case virtually every time a report such as this is issued by that office.
One need only examine the sprawling media coverage they've generated this week to see why ONDCP has every incentive to continue issuing meaningless announcements like this as often as possible. Some news outlets did include a reform viewpoint, but that's insufficient since the headline does most of the damage and since the report's intellectual value is null to begin with.
A media that is dutifully skeptical of self-serving claims by government officials would quickly discover the treasure trove of nonsense and incoherence contained in every such announcement from ONDCP. Unfortunately, we don't have one of those. Therefore, journalists, I beg you, if you receive a press release that begins, "John P. Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy, today released a new Special Report showing that..." please understand that there are almost certainly several potent ironies and contradictions contained therein, which deserve to be noted in your reporting. If necessary, I will point them out to you with or without being credited.
Otherwise, understand that if you publish a story merely passing along claims made by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the likelihood that you've authored something inaccurate, incorrect, and/or incomplete will be extraordinarily high.
I've just been informed that the Rhode Island House has passed medical marijuana again, this time making the law permanent.
RI Gov. Donald Carcieri has twice vetoed this bill, and now looks doubly foolish. Not only has he attempted to stand between deserving patients and their medicine, but he has failed dramatically and repeatedly.
This great victory is testament to the wisdom and compassion of the Rhode Island House and Senate, as well as the hard work of countless patients, activists, and organizations who fought and won this unnecessarily drawn-out battle.
The political future of medical marijuana remains bright as ever before.
Update: Jon Perri at DARE Generation Diary credits the major players.
The other guy indicted in the case seems to be the dealer. Ravenel seems to have been one of his customers, who bought cocaine in quantity to share with friends. Under federal law, there's no crime of selling drugs; the crime is "distribution," which includes giving the stuff away.(Talking Points Memo, linking to Kleiman, observes that Ravenel would have been buying for "what was probably going to be a pretty big bash".) Ravenel should be considered innocent until proven guilty, of course, and Kleiman points out what I think is a pretty good reason why:
The most likely scenario here: The state cops nailed the dealer (he was already in custody on state charges when the indictment was handed up yesterday), and the dealer gave them a prominent customer in order to buy himself some consideration at sentencing time.As a legalizer, I have to have some sympathy for anyone caught up in the drug war's headlights. Still, Ravenel was a political official at the highest levels in a state that has some real "tough on drugs" policies in place. Unless he was actively involved in working for serious drug policy reform -- and I'm not aware that he was -- and assuming the accusations made against him are accurate, there's a hypocrisy angle here. Furthermore, the candidate he was involved in trying to elect as president, Rudy Giuliani, is a drug warrior who increased arrests in New York when he was mayor, who tried to shut down methadone maintenance in the city, and who opposes needle exchange and medical marijuana. It's especially hypocritical for a drug user to chair a state campaign for a drug warrior trying to be president, who would presumably continue to be a drug warrior if elected president. Then again, maybe Ravenel intended to quietly lobby Giuliani to shift his views/policies on drugs. I tend to doubt it, but I don't know the guy so I can't say for sure. As for Giuliani, did he have no idea about his friend's (alleged) drug proclivities, or no one who could inform him about them? I've heard from a knowledgeable source that when Giuliani was the US Attorney in New York, the safest place to sell drugs was in front of City Hall. Bottom line: If you're a top-level state official, it's probably not a good idea to organize all-out (all night?) cocaine fests. But if you are in the habit of organizing cocaine fests, speak out against the war on drugs too, so at least people won't think you're a hypocrite if you get caught. Actually, speak out against the drug war in any case. (This blog post was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)
ONDCP's effort to link marijuana with violence and gang membership is ironic for another important reason I failed to address in my previous post.
If there is one thing that overwhelmingly creates and sustains gang activity in the U.S. and around the world, it is the massive black market created by drug prohibition. Indeed, so long as recreational drugs are available exclusively from criminals, these organizations will continue to be empowered and sustained.
Interestingly, the study from which ONDCP draws its misleading link between early marijuana use and gang membership notes that it isn't just the use of marijuana, but also the availability of marijuana that indicates a heightened risk of gang activity.
In other words, the neighborhoods which are overrun with black market drug activity inevitably become recruitment camps for young people to become involved in the drug trade. Drug prohibition facilitates youth access to marijuana and other drugs by creating an economy in which they are welcome participants.
The idea that marijuana's pharmacological effects cause violence is patently absurd, but the revelation that many young people in America are sucked into a cycle of violence, drug use, and other crime should come as no surprise to any of us.
ONDCP has often pointed out that young people who reach adulthood without experimenting with drugs are less likely to develop problems with drug abuse. Yet nothing could better facilitate youth access and participation in the drug market than the anarchic system our communities must endure at their continued peril and which ONDCP so vigorously defends.
More than anything else, ONDCP's new report paints a vivid picture of how drug prohibition has failed us at every level, up to and including the corruption of the precious young lives this fraudulent war supposedly protects. If you don't believe me, just pull up a chair, wave your Drug War Flag, and gaze in horror as your worst fears about youth, drugs, and violence are reborn again and again before your eyes.
First, ONDCP announced that marijuana causes extreme lethargy, via the ironic "Pete's Couch" ad in which marijuana is called the "safest thing in the world" because it keeps you from ever leaving home.
Now, ONDCP wants everyone to know that marijuana is linked to violence and gang membership, via a self-produced study, which cherry-picks and manipulates various statistics in an effort to portray marijuana users as violent criminals.
So which is it? Are some marijuana users driven to violence while others are incapacitated by laziness? In reality, gang members and lazy people both enjoy marijuana, as do a great number of people who are neither lethargic nor dangerous. People like pot, and there are countless subgroups of users whose lifestyle can be falsely attributed to marijuana if one is willing to ignore the scientific method.
The blatant contradiction inherent in ONDCP's anti-pot messages is best illustrated in their blog, where they brag about Slate Magazine's praise for their new line of softer ads, then announce in the very next post that marijuana is linked to youth violence.
Maybe it just depends on your definition of the word "gang." What do you call a group of teenagers who get together and commit crimes on Pete's couch?
"It's easy to do ads about drugs like heroin and meth, and the awful consequences that manifest," says Tom Riley, director of public affairs at the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "It's harder to make ads about marijuana. 'Marijuana's gonna melt your face off' isn't really a credible thing to say to teens." [Slate]The first problem here is that ONDCP really did make an ad quite recently in which a girl melts from smoking marijuana. You can watch it here. Nice try, Tom Riley. You should know better than to attempt an example of something your office wouldn't say about marijuana.
The second problem is that these supposedly easy-to-make ads about heroin and meth are not being made. Marijuana users have been portrayed by ONDCP as supporting terrorism, getting pregnant at a party, shooting a friend accidentally, running over a toddler, getting a fist stuck in their mouth, and on and on, but there are no ONDCP ads about heroin or meth.
Perplexing as it may be, Riley's statement perfectly captures the mindset of our marijuana-obsessed federal drug war establishment. He basically admits here that his office takes for granted the understanding that heroin and meth are harmful. It would be wasteful to tell the public what it already knows, particularly since smaller user populations make for bland statistical shifts even if you're successful. The drug war must be fed if it is to survive, and there just aren't enough heroin and meth users to sustain it.
The only downside is that some people will say you're a charlatan if kids are dying from heroin while you're busy making ads about chick-magnet space aliens that don't smoke weed.
David, Saw your piece… The arrangement with China never was intended to mandate or magnify their death penalty -- they are choosing their own enforcement tools, which as so many human rights abuses in China are excessive. The arrangement—and I was there and organized the news conference with US (including Gen. McCaffrey) and Chinese officials—was simply to get them to agree with us in enforcing international drug laws and treaties. What we saw there, including thousands of people in treatment factories but not getting real treatment, and the unbridled flow of methamphetamine and opium, was unconscionable.
Grade: A. This is very possibly the most effective, and least offensive, anti-marijuana campaign ever created. I know that ONDCP, and the Partnership for a Drug Free America, are cautiously thrilled with it. I expect it will be the model for years to come.
I'm not going to beat Stevenson up over this. He shares my belief that these ads shouldn't be offensive, and I agree that this is obviously tame by ONDCP standards. But what on earth does it mean to say that ONDCP is "cautiously thrilled" with this?
When has ONDCP ever been less than thrilled with their advertisements? They've vigorously defended their media campaign throughout its numerous incarnations, never once finding fault, even as a growing mountain of evidence depicts their public outreach efforts as an undeniable failure. Could it be that they were more candid with Seth Stevenson than the U.S. Congress?
Stevenson's analysis is fair enough, at least insofar as this ad is concerned. But, dude, before you go gushing anymore about truth in advertising at ONDCP, you might wanna check out "Stoners in the Mist."
Radley Balko has posted a Flash-video interview he recorded with drug war victim Regina Kelly, one of the 27 black residents of Hearne, Texas, who were arrested in a Tulia-like incident involving an "informant" of the most scurrilous variety. Kelly, like most of the victims, was later exonerated. Balko and Kelly were both speakers at an ACLU conference in Seattle last weekend.
Seattle is a beautiful city -- with great drug reformers -- as I commented two weekends ago while the NORML Legal Seminar was convening in Aspen, "wish I were there..."
Brendlin was seized because no reasonable person in his position when the car was stopped would have believed himself free to "terminate the encounter" between the police and himself. Bostick, supra, at 436. Any reasonable passenger would have understood the officers to be exercising control to the point that no one in the car was free to depart without police permission.Sad that the California Supreme Court bought the argument, though. Read more about the case here.
The authors assume that the ‘Dianarc’ will be useful for clinical and forensic medical practice, as well as for staff selection to enforcement and guard entities, for issue of driver’s licenses and weapon permissions.Or to block recreational drug users from getting or keeping a job. Or to punish high school students who smoked a joint over summer vacation. Or to more assiduously punish probationers or parolees. Or, in states that have those draconian "internal possession" laws, to extend the period of potential liability for arrest of occasional drug users from days to months. I have to wonder about the mind-set of researchers busily trying to find new and improved ways to conduct internal surveillance on us. I also have to wonder about researchers who see someone taking drugs on an occasional basis only as an addict in the making. As the German newsletter noted:
Specialists of the Institute of Physiologically Active Substances, Russian Academy of Sciences, and of the Moscow Narcological Clinical Hospital #17 have developed a technique called “Dianarc” that allows to discover drug addicts at the very early stage, when they take narcotics occasionally.There is something flawed here. I can understand that they want to intervene early, but the underlying premise is rotten. How can you discover a drug addict before he is a drug addict? A person who "takes narcotics occasionally" is, by definition, not a drug addict. And a person who "takes narcotics occasionally" actually describes the vast majority of drug users. So what the good Dr. Myagkova and her good colleagues have developed is a technique that doesn't spot addicts early, but identifies occasional drug users. If you think this innovation is going to be used to help people, I have some nice waterfront property here in South Dakota for sale. Back in the good old days, when a Dr. Frankenstein created a monstrosity, the peasants burned down his castle. Now, she gets an award from the UN.
woman who was immediately executed
with three other people on drugs charges.
(UN International Anti-Drugs Day, 6/26/03)
www.sina.com.cn via AI web site) One of the sick annual rituals in the global drug war has been China's annual round of executions of supposed drug offenders marking the occasion of the UN's "International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking," held June 26th of every year. We wrote about this last year and in most previous years. I wrote an editorial about it in 2000, which went over some of the highly troubling information Amnesty International has published about China's drug death penalties, and in which I criticized then-drug czar Barry McCaffrey for putting in place an arrangement with China for cooperation in drug enforcement between our two countries, and the UN for holding this international event year after year even though they obviously are aware that it continues to prompt such carnage. I believe that handing over criminal defendants to totalitarian regimes with limited due process rights and draconian death sentences for nonviolent offenses is immoral, and makes us complicit in the human rights abuses that those nations may commit against people we wind up sending into their clutches. But the UN's annual Day doesn't even have a law enforcement justification. We have a statement from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon about the upcoming Day online here. I'm posting a few examples from Amnesty that illustrate why I really feel this is an important human rights issue that we as taxpayers should not be indirectly supporting, even if that puts some obstacles in the way of global policing efforts or puts a crimp in the UN's promotion of prevention and treatment programs: The Death Penalty in China: Breaking Records, Breaking Rules, August 1997 AI report:
In a case that is illustrative of many more, a young woman, returning to Guangzhou province from her honeymoon in Kunming in January 1996, agreed to take a package for an acquaintance in return for some money. Acting as a courier in this manner is common practice in China. It was reported that during the train journey she became suspicious about the contents of the package and tried to open it. When she found she couldn’t open it she began to realize it was drugs. She then allegedly became so nervous and agitated that the ticket checker on train became suspicious and discovered the package. She was sentenced to death on 26 June 1996 by Guangxi High People’s Court.AI 1998 Annual Report on China:
Ji Xiaowei, a Hong Kong citizen sentenced to death in southern China for alleged drug-trafficking, claimed on appeal that he had confessed under torture during police interrogation. The appeal court ignored his claim and confirmed the death sentence. He was executed on 18 July.AI Report 2005:
Ma Weihua, a woman facing the death penalty on drugs charges, was reportedly forced to undergo an abortion in police custody in February, apparently so that she could be put to death "legally" as Chinese law prevents the execution of pregnant women. She had been detained in January in possession of 1.6kg of heroin. Her trial, which began in July, was suspended after her lawyer provided details of the forced abortion. She was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment in November.There has been some talk in China recently of making the use of the death penalty more transparent and reducing its use, and that is welcome. Reportedly there has been about a 10% drop. But China is still the world leader in this. So is anyone interested in an international campaign to get the UN to cancel International Anti-Drugs Day and to subject global law enforcement cooperation to human rights standards? China is by no means the only country executing people for drug offenses. Write me through the site or send me an email. I'd appreciate any links you have to especially important articles or web sites dealing with this topic. Lastly, we have a topical archive on the site for the Death Penalty, here and also available via RSS.
*HEADLINE:* DRUG ABUSE CAN BE PREVENTED, TREATED, CONTROLLED WITH POLITICAL LEADERSHIP, SUFFICIENT RESOURCES, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL IN INTERNATIONAL DAY MESSAGE *DATELINE:* NEW YORK *BODY:* The following information was released by the United Nations: Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message for the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, observed on 26 June: Drug abuse is a problem that can be prevented, treated and controlled. While efforts must be stepped up to reduce supply -- by helping growers of illicit crops find viable licit alternatives, and ensuring that law enforcement agencies continue their good work in seizing drugs -- the greatest challenge in global drug control is reducing demand. With less demand, there would be less need for supply, and fewer incentives for criminals to traffic drugs. Combating drug abuse is a collective effort. It requires political leadership and sufficient resources -- particularly for more and better treatment facilities. It requires the engagement of parents and teachers, as well as health care and social workers. It requires the media and criminal justice officials to play their part. All walks of life must join forces and devote special attention to the vulnerable: to those who are vulnerable to taking drugs because of their personal or family situation, and to those who are vulnerable because they take drugs. Our mission is to enable them to take control of their lives, rather than allowing their lives to be controlled by drugs. That means giving young people sound guidance, employment opportunities, and the chance to be involved in activities that help organize life and give it meaning and value. It means supporting parents' efforts to provide love and leadership. It means reaching out to marginalized groups and ensuring they receive the care they need to cope with behavioural, psychological or medical problems. It means providing reasons to hope. For those who are grappling with addiction, effective treatment is essential. Drug abuse is a disease that must be treated on the basis of evidence, not ideology. I urge Member States to devote more attention to early detection; to do more to prevent the spread of disease -- particularly HIV and hepatitis -- through drug use; to treat all forms of addiction; and to integrate drug treatment into the mainstream of public health and social services. Drug abuse brings anguish and torment to individuals and their loved ones. It eats away at the fabric of the human being, of the family, of society. It is a subject all of us must take personally. On this International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, let us ensure there is no place for drugs in our lives or our communities.
"I'm a very strong believer in the First Amendment and the right of people to speak and to write," [...] "I would be reluctant to support restrictions on what people could say." [...] "it's very dangerous for the government to restrict speech."View pictures from the March demonstration outside the Court here.
"Stoners in the Mist" is a fake documentary from AboveTheInfluence.com in which "Dr. Barnard Puck," clad in safari clothes, observes stoners and performs various experiments on them.
This is worth discussing only because it perfectly illustrates the lack of seriousness that still dominates the marijuana debate. I don’t know how anyone could watch this and conclude that the people who made it are a credible source of information about the effects of marijuana.
Among the highlights:
* A practically comatose stoner fails to notice when a tracking collar is placed around his neck
* Unable to move, two stoners sit on the same couch for 72 hours
* A stoned girl forgets her friend's name and has brownies in her hair
* Despite repeated attempts, a stoner is unable to grasp objects tossed to him at close range
* Categorical statements such as "we have learned through our intensive research that both male and female stoners tend to lack the motivation to maintain proper hygiene" are made.
At the risk of increasing their traffic, you have to watch it to appreciate how far-fetched and derogatory this video really is. It reminded me immediately of D.W. Griffith's racist classic The Birth of a Nation, which glorifies the Ku Klux Klan and depicts African Americans as incoherent slobbering rapists.
So yesterday, when an ONDCP staffer called SSDP and basically threatened to increase the childishness of his office's activities, we just laughed because there's really no lower level of discourse available to them. Two weeks ago, I witnessed ONDCP's David Murray indignantly challenge the seriousness of his critics, yet it is Murray himself who lobbies for more funding to produce utterly banal and sophomoric nonsense like "Stoners in the Mist."
So if the Responsible and Serious Youth Advocates at ONDCP can't figure out why they've alienated everyone, let me spell it out: it's because you're having your own made-up conversation about marijuana that no one else can participate in because it is completely fictitious and insane.
No, this is not a video about the effects of marijuana. It is a parting shot from an entrenched clan of spiteful, sniveling spin-doctors who continue to sling mud in desperation even as their puddle dries up.
Brian D. Kelly didn't think he was doing anything illegal when he used his videocamera to record a Carlisle police officer during a traffic stop. Making movies is one of his hobbies, he said, and the stop was just another interesting event to film. Now he's worried about going to prison or being burdened with a criminal record. Kelly, 18, of Carlisle, was arrested on a felony wiretapping charge, with a penalty of up to 7 years in state prison. His camera and film were seized by police during the May 24 stop, he said, and he spent 26 hours in Cumberland County Prison until his mother posted her house as security for his $2,500 bail. Kelly is charged under a state law that bars the intentional interception or recording of anyone's oral conversation without their consent. The criminal case relates to the sound, not the pictures, that his camera picked up.Yes, that's right. Apparently, operating a video camera is a crime in Pennsylvania. Who knew? I'm not aware of mass busts of video camera operators at weddings, in parks, at concerts, at family reunions, or any of the thousand and one other places they are commonly used. I haven't seen the Pennsyvlania cops rounding up media camera operators, either, come to think of it. Oh, and the police have an exemption. They can videotape you, but you can't videotape them. Funny how that works.
Medical marijuana has allowed me to live a productive, fruitful life despite having multiple sclerosis. Many thousands of others all over this country -- less well-known than me but whose stories are just as real -- have experienced the same thing.Now it's up to Gov. Rell to show if she is a reasonable, compassionate leader, or a heartless political hack. Montel at a 2005 press conference with Rep. Maurice Hinchey
"I'm talking also about going to Colombia and doing whatever it takes to end the cocaine trade. It's killing this country. It's killing all the countries that coke goes into…And I think that's a form of terrorism as well." [UGO]Yikes! Fortunately, Bruce has been reading some books or something, because he's come all the way around on this:
Bruce Willis has hit out at America's war on drugs, insisting it would be more productive for politicians to tackle the social problems that lead people to take narcotics in the first place.Maybe he could start Celebrities for Sensible Drug Policy. Of course, CSDP is already taken.
"We fight it the wrong way. The war on drugs is a joke." [Star Pulse News]
Peterson, the author of this ironic typo, accused Tom of being childish and threatened to respond with similar tactics. Incredulous, Tom replied "so does that mean you guys are going to start mentioning us in your blog?" Peterson declined.
Now I've got to admit to some sympathy for the other side here. This was a simple mistake, the severity of which pales in comparison to numerous things ONDCP does deliberately. Tom has previously humiliated the federal government with FOIA requests, so the idea of scrupulously drafting responses to perceived harassment from him must surely frustrate and distract these busy bureaucrats from their book-cooking.
Unfortunately for ONDCP, the unintentional irony of the error makes for good fun in the blogosphere. Stalling, you see, has become a trademark of the federal drug war; a necessary tactic whenever facts come in conflict with the status quo. We've seen this with regards to ASA's Data Quality Act lawsuit, MAPS's marijuana research lawsuit, sentencing reform, needle exchange and marijuana rescheduling. Heck the entire federal drug war is really just a few agencies constantly stalling in the hopes that we'll eventually stop asking so many questions and learn to live with false promises and fake progress.
So when Daniel Peterson tells SSDP that he'll respond to their FOIA appeal in 200 years, it's a perfect Freudian slip. Once again, ONDCP's most truthful and candid remarks occur entirely by accident.