Victory, At Least for Now: Lafayette City Council Withdraws Harsh Marijuana Ordinance Pending Further Study
Seriously, just don't. Because if you mention drugs to children for any purpose other than to terrify them, you'll make national news for being a bastard.
That's exactly what happened to a high school teacher in New Mexico who mentioned meth on a math test. From KOB-TV.com:
Teacher Will Klundt’s question reads: “Smoky J. sells meth. Smoky’s source says he has to sell a G’s worth of meth by the end of the month. If Smoky sold $245 the first week and $532 the second week, how much money must Smoky still make if he wants to avoid the beat down from his connection?”...[Moriarty High School Principal] Marshall refused to discuss what, if any, disciplinary action will be or has been taken against Klundt.
Could this be because there isn't yet a rule against innocuous acknowledgements that drug dealers exist? Surely the school board must now convene to determine the appropriate sanction for teachers who mention drugs without adding, in the same breath, that they'll turn you into a walking freak show. This is necessary, because the hippies that pass for teachers these days aren’t worth the aluminum it takes to roll 'em out of town in a trashcan.
Meanwhile, the American Medical Association thinks that movies should be rated 'R' if they depict smoking. They got the idea from a study showing that kids who watch movies are more likely to smoke, or some such nonsense. I don't know. I refuse to even read that crap.
You could write a book about how stupid this is, consisting mostly of long chapters listing activities more dangerous than smoking that are allowed in 'PG' movies. But it's preferable to censorship for those of us old enough to watch whatever movies we want. I'd rather watch I Love Lucy on the Playboy Channel than have to explain to a child why Ricky Ricardo's hand is blurry all the time.
The 'slippery slope' problem presents itself here, but this level of hysteria is typically reserved for drugs, sex, and trans fats. To its credit, NPR gave airtime this morning to the idea that excessive eating is just as deserving of an 'R' rating as cigarette smoking. I grinned for a moment, but then paused to wonder if maybe they should shut up about that.
Press Release from Judge Leonard I. Frieling on His Resignation in Protest of Harsh Marijuana Ordinance
Mexican President Felipe Calderon's government wants to decriminalize first-time possession of small amounts of drugs in a move likely to draw criticism from U.S. anti-narcotics officials.A similar proposal last spring from Mexico's then-President Vicente Fox dropped jaws at the U.S. State Department, culminating in frantic diplomacy and a last minute veto. Since the bill had emerged from Fox's office, his subsequent veto under U.S. pressure was a pathetic reversal. If Vicente Fox got a new iPod out of the deal, I guess Felipe Calderon wants one too.
Under the proposed legislation, users found for the first time with 2 grams (0.07 ounces) or less of marijuana and small amounts of other drugs ranging from cocaine to methamphetamine would not be prosecuted.
The fun part here is that Calderon has recently enjoyed gushing praise from the drug war peanut gallery for his unwavering campaign against the cartels. So I won't be the first to pass a napkin when the smug Robert J. Caldwell at Human Events spits coffee on his monitor. Or Karen Tandy, for that matter.
What do you say when the man who's been quenching your insatiable appetite for massive drug war demolition says he wants to pardon the cannon fodder? Some might sympathize with Calderon's explanation that he aims to conserve resources for the bigger battles, but an underlying principle behind the American drug war holds that people who use drugs are unforgivable bastards. No, this won't play well in Washington.
If the bill becomes law, will frustrated U.S. officials commence lobbying Mexico to divert resources from their cartel wars back towards the fruitless endeavor of busting drug users for dime bags? That would be quite revealing.
As civil libertarians have struggled to explain, consenting to a search makes the search legal and destroys your chances in court if anything is found. It's deeply troubling that Cooper is targeting marijuana users with this reckless and shortsighted advice.
His only rationale is that a well-hidden stash could evade detection during the search, yet Cooper completely ignores the consequences of consent for those whose stash is discovered. And discovery is likely since Cooper's stash spots aren't very secret anymore. Asserting your rights is an indispensable skill during a police encounter and Cooper's failure to address this would be laughable if it weren't so destructive.
Flex Your Rights details the numerous threats posed by Cooper's ill-conceived advice.
Please help us counter this dangerous message. Waiving your rights in the war on drugs is never the answer.
The story itself is definitely worth reading, but this side-column is priceless:
Ryan Grim, who wrote today's story on the anti-drug campaign program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), previously worked for the Marijuana Policy Project, which lobbies to legalize marijuana. Grim worked at the project from June 2004 until May 2005, a fact that has been on his official bio since he joined Politico.com.
Grim called the ONDCP for comment for his story early Wednesday. Instead of returning Grim's call, Tom Riley, the agency's spokesman, called The Politico's senior publisher and editor, Martin Tolchin, to point out Grim's previous work with the Marijuana Policy Project. He then threatened to complain to Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz about a conflict of interest.
The ONDCP did not return Grim's call Wednesday.
This is a rare glimpse into the frustrated mind of a drug warrior scorned. In Riley's world, Ryan Grim's association with drug policy reform is some sort of dark secret; a mental defect that clouds his judgment, rendering him incapable of reasoned analysis. Grim's superiors should be warned, lest he should poison impressionable minds with his mischievous pen.
Riley's McCarthian finger-pointing is typical drug warrior subterfuge, but it's usually done publicly in an effort to discredit contradictory sources. In this case, however, Riley acted surreptitiously in what can only be described as an attempt to undermine an opponent's employment status.
The best part is that Riley obviously believed his ploy would work. That his complaint would provoke amusement and find its way into the paper never entered his mind.
Further hilarity will ensue when Riley tries to rat out those hippies at the GAO.
We're told that the judge wasn't thrilled about the sentence. Unfortunately, even judges become helpless bystanders when the Justice Department uses federal law to target medical providers operating legally under California's Proposition 215.
Costa's prosecution signals a return to the Justice Department's controversial practice of lying to jurors and painting medical providers as common street dealers.
Are you watching this, Dennis Kucinich?
But a select few propose escalation, and their ideas range from crazy to…well, crazier.
Expert: War on drugs should shift focus from the Press & Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton, NY gives a voice to former DEA agent Michael Levine, who I don't think will be joining LEAP anytime soon. He's written a book called Fight Back that doesn't sound very good.
According to Levine, the reason the drug war is failing is because we've been wasting our time chasing the dealers when we should be trying to arrest all the users. He's serious:
It is the druggie who is victimizing us. It is he -- not the drug dealer, the smuggler, the Medellin Cartel, or all the Manuel Noriegas of this world -- who is responsible for the spread of drug abuse.
He thinks we should turn to China and Japan for guidance:
They succeeded in getting the situation under control because they targeted the users, forcing them into rehabilitation. They realized "that they did not have a drug epidemic; they had an epidemic of druggies."
For starters, we must begin teaching children the truth about drugs:
Levine says druggies should be depicted "convulsing and vomiting on themselves in detoxification wards; or staring vacant eyed on the benches of intake centers and emergency wards. That is what being a druggie is really all about, and that is what we should want our kids to see and understand."
Of course, no such rant would be complete without this:
Give me one community -- the worse the better -- where the citizens, the media and the police are willing to work together in following the step-by-step plan of Fight Back and I guarantee the end of the drug problem within one year."
I think the first step towards solving our drug problem is to be more selective in our use of the term "expert."
Monson plans to raise hemp on only 10 acres at first, a demonstration crop, but under federal regulations, the acreage still must be completely fenced and reported by GPS coordinates. All hemp sales also must be reported.
"That’s a per-acre cost of about $400, and that would be prohibitive," Monson said.
So basically the DEA hasn't decided for sure, but in case they do allow hemp cultivation, they've created roadblocks to make it unprofitable.
Here's ONDCP's Tom Riley explaining the logic of this:
Growers could hide pot plants in hemp fields, complicating agents’ efforts to find them, said Tom Riley, of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy.
"You have legitimate farmers who want to experiment with a new crop," Riley said. "But you have another group, very enthusiastic, who want to allow cultivation of hemp because they believe it will lead to a de facto legalization of marijuana.
"The last thing law enforcement people need is for the cultivation of marijuana-looking plants to spread," he said. "Are we going to ask them to go through row by row, field by field, to distinguish between legal hemp and marijuana?"
After being humiliated in The New York Times, it's impressive that they still have the nerve to raise this backwards argument. Cross-pollination would decimate any commercial marijuana in proximity to a hemp field. You can't mix them, Tom Riley. Stop saying that. Seriously, stop.
For a period of time, I assumed that they were simply ignorant of the cross-pollination issue. Perhaps upon coming to understand it, they would endorse hemp cultivation, which more or less ensures the absence of commercial marijuana growing in its vicinity. But now that this issue has been exposed in The Times, it seems much more likely that they're willfully ignoring it and proceeding with their usual nonsense.
The question, therefore, is why? They have one argument against industrial hemp, and it makes absolutely no sense. It's been proven to be comically wrong, and they have no other anti-hemp talking points to fall back on. When legitimate farmers with no interest in the drug culture ask for permission to grow hemp as an agricultural commodity, why do ONDCP and DEA grasp in desperation for even the most pitiful justifications to oppose them?
The answer is that for decades they've arbitrarily denied American farmers the right to participate in a multi-billion dollar industry. They are drug warriors waging battle against economic activities over which they hold no constitutional authority. As with so many other colossal drug war errors, to stop now would be to acknowledge the childish stubbornness and rank incompetance that have motivated their actions from the beginning.
Just another thing we shouldn't even be arguing about. It's not even a goddamn drug.
Newsweek: Is there a risk that kids who test positive for drugs will be stigmatized?
Madras: The thing that I have heard is that everyone knows who's using drugs; there are no surprises amongst the kids. Kids know who are the users, their friends know, so when a kid is not engaged in sports for one game, nobody is surprised. I've been a parent all my life, and I knew which one of the kids I didn't want my kids near.
This level of incoherence is an ONDCP specialty. Leaving aside the matter of whether Madras already had kids when she was born, there's still a lot of good stuff here.
Madras claims to know which kids use drugs, which basically undermines her whole point throughout the debate. If this information is widely available, who needs a urine collection program? Why waste precious educational resources to confirm what super-mom Bertha Madras already knows?
Obviously, she delights in stigma rather than refuting it. She admits to having a very negative impression of certain kids, and encourages her children to avoid them rather than offer support. Her statement is an endorsement of stigma and an unambiguous admission that singling out students is part of her agenda.
What a coward. Bertha Madras is as yellow as the urine she wants to collect from innocent children.
A counter-narcotics war popularly disparaged as a chronic loser, yet vital to the national interests of both Mexico and the United States, is producing its biggest victories ever.
Heck, let's give it to him. Biggest drug war victory ever! If there's such a thing, this has got to be it. We've made "an enormous leap forward" Karen Tandy proudly exclaimed from atop the first rung of her towering ladder to the moon.
This glowing triumph will provide a great opportunity to see if the drug war actually works. Maybe the Biggest Victory Ever will lead to a rock shortage down on crack street. But if it doesn't (and it so totally won't), then this grand achievement will serve only to illustrate that top priorities of the international drug war still don't bring us a day closer to the fairytale ending our drug warriors daydream about.
Indeed, the black market is a dragon with a thousand heads that regenerate if you cut one off. We can battle it for generations, but the beast will only grow stronger until we stop feeding it.
Singletary was known for chasing drug dealers off his property, but when he emerged with a gun and threatened two undercover officers lurking in his yard, they promptly took him down. It was Jacksonville, Florida's third fatal police shooting in 3 weeks.
An investigation is pending, but the police chief sounds confident (predictably) that the shooting was justified. From News4Jax.com:
"You don't expect somebody to come pointing a gun at you, and once they do that, the officers will tell them to drop the gun," JSO Chief Dwain Senterfitt said. "We're still investigating what statements were made, but obviously, at that point, the officers' lives were in danger."
I fail to understand what's so surprising about someone defending their property from unknown trespassers in a high-crime neighborhood. If the officers were surprised to be confronted, they shouldn't have been. They were out of uniform on private property.
It seems likely that both parties involved in this tragedy could have handled it better. Hindsight is 20/20. But the drug war is blind. Prohibition would still be a nightmare if police could enforce it without killing innocent people. Unfortunately, they can't.
Rest in peace, Isaac Singletary. And all the others.
As with any controversial subject, NIDA's wikipedia page has frequently included links to sources that expose NIDA's penchant for quackery and junk science. Of course, wikipedia is a user-maintained encyclopedia that permits readers to add relevant information at their discretion. NIDA's attempted censorship reveals a failure to comprehend the spirit of wikipedia or the tenacity of its users.
DrugWarRant has links to the various disputed wiki pages. And my terrifying encounter with NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow is detailed here.
Ultimately, this is just another case of bizarre drug warrior behavior that, though vexing, is preferable to what they'd otherwise be doing with their time. Indeed, I'd rather they occupy themselves vandalizing wikipedia than vandalizing the scientific method.
Predictably, this latest attempt at drug war censorship has utterly backfired.
Flash-bang burns drug raid suspect January 24, 2007 By LORI CALDWELL Post-Tribune With a little help from the Gary police S.W.A.T. team, Darrell Newburn had a most appropriate name Monday. Newburn, 31, is hospitalized with a new, serious burn on his back caused by a flash-bang that hit his back before officers stormed his Glen Park home Monday afternoon. "How it happened, I'm not certain," Sgt. John Jelks, drug unit commander said a day later. "It's normal practice for them to throw the distraction device in first." Detectives from the Narcotics-Vice Unit obtained a search warrant for Newburn's home at 4433 Delaware St. after making a series of undercover buys from him there. Police surrounded the house and a member of the S.W.A.T. team, led by Cmdr. Anthony Stanley, tossed in the grenade-like device that explodes with a loud bang and bright light. Newburn was hit in the back and suffered a burn about 12 inches in diameter. He is being held under police guard at Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus.A few minutes ago I sent a letter to the reporter. I'll let you know if I get any response. Here's the letter:
Dear Ms. Caldwell: I write to protest the flippancy of your lead sentence in the January 24 story, “Flash-Bang Burns Drug Suspect.” Let me get this straight: A man, who is presumed innocent, is severely burned in an unprovoked assault during a drug raid, and you lead with an unfunny pun on his name? Instead of looking for cheap yuks, a good reporter might be asking the police some questions, such as: Why is it standard procedure to use paramilitary SWAT-style teams on small-time drug raids? Why is it standard procedure to throw military-style explosives into the homes of suspects? SWAT teams were originally designed to be used in hostage and other extremely dangerous situations, but there aren’t really that many of those. Give the police a SWAT team, and they will find a way to use it. But is it really appropriate for police to treat a small-time criminal infraction as if they were raiding an insurgent stronghold in Baghdad? I refer you to a recent report about the massive increase in the use of SWAT-style teams, especially in policing the drug war, by Cato Institute analyst Radley Balko. It’s called “Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Policing in America.” Here’s the link: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6476 In it, you will find incident after incident of raids gone bad, innocent people killed, and police endangering themselves and others. It’s worth a look. A good reporter might also want to ask the police just what they have accomplished with 40 years of drug raids, and whether there might be another, more reasonable way to deal with drug use. I don’t mean to attack you, only to suggest that there are stories left undiscovered if you rely merely on police and their press releases and don’t ask them the hard questions. I do hope you’ll keep this letter in mind next time you write one of those drug raid stories. Sincerely, Phillip Smith Editor, Drug War Chronicle www.stopthedrugwar.org P.S. If you have any interest in pursuing this, I can put you in touch with a number of current and former police officers (including former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper) who are harshly critical of this gung-ho, paramilitary-style drug war policing and who challenge the whole notion of drug prohibition altogether.
Before sentencing Weissert [the convicted murderer], Hicks addressed what he called a series of "urban myths." "Urban myth number one" is that "drug use is a victimless crime," Hicks said from the bench. "Here we have orphaned children, devastated families." Myth number two: " 'It's only marijuana,' " Hicks said. "Marijuana is as evil as the rest of this stuff. ... Marijuana indirectly caused all the carnage." The third myth is that drugs are only a "downtown" problem. "It's a problem everywhere -- in the suburbs, in rural areas," the judge said. And fourth: "The urban myth that you can stay in control of this." Although Sibson never intended it, his drug dealing "exposed his family to danger," Hicks said.Let's take these one by one. Judge Hicks claims that this murder disproves the notion that "drug use is a victimless crime." Of course, it does nothing of the sort. The murder had nothing to do with drug use, but was the result of an attempted armed robbery, plain and simple. The robbers went after the marijuana dealer because there were valuable items they could take. Would the judge have railed against alcohol if someone had been murdered in a liquor store robbery? Next, Judge Hicks derides the notion that marijuana is a soft drug, not as dangerous as other drugs like cocaine, speed, or heroin. Marijuana is "as evil" as those other drugs and "indirectly caused all that carnage." Sorry, judge, pot is not "evil," nor are other drugs. Evilness does not inhere to plants or chemical compounds, but to human behavior. What is evil is breaking into someone's home and killing them because they have something valuable you want. I wonder if the judge would call cold, hard cash "evil" because someone robbed an armored car to steal some. Next, Judge Hicks decries the myth that drugs are only a "downtown" (read: black) problem, saying that "it's a problem everywhere." Well, yes, drug use knows no geographic boundaries, and the problems associated with drug use don't, either. But I suspect that the judge is thinking about the crime and violence associated with drug use and sales under prohibition, like, for instance, the murder case in front of him. To blame that killing on drugs in general and marijuana in particular is just plain stupid. The judge might want to get his head out of his ass and look around at what drug prohibition—not drugs—has wrought. He doubtless sees it every day in his courtroom. Finally, Judge Hicks attacks the victim. The dead man "exposed his family to danger" because he dealt in valuable marijuana. If I'm out riding in my new Cadillac with my family and we get carjacked by some envious punk, does that mean I exposed my family to danger by having something valuable that some criminal wants? It was not the murder victim but the prohibition laws routinely applied by Judge Hicks and his criminal justice system colleagues that created the situation where a bunch of dead plant material is assigned so much value that people are willing to rob and kill for it. It must be nice for armed robbers to know their victims are unlikely to seek protection from the police. Justice may be blind, but judges shouldn't be. Judge Hicks has clearly shown that he has an extreme case of tunnel vision. This guy doesn’t deserve to sit on the bench.