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They Only Have One Argument Against Hemp…And Its Wrong

The Columbia Tribune reports on the ongoing challenges faced by North Dakota farmers seeking to grow industrial hemp. Though the state of North Dakota has passed legislation authorizing hemp cultivation, farmers must obtain approval from DEA, which isn't exactly fast-tracking this.

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.

United States

Parents Say The Darndest Things

Here's ONDCP's Bertha Madras from an online debate over student drug testing:

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.

United States

Industrial hemp producer? Plan riles feds' suspicions

Osnabrock, ND
United States
The Kansas City Star

Afghan government won't spray poppies

Canadian Press

Is the Bush Administration Getting Nervous About Afghan Opium Licensing Schemes?

When the European drug policy and defense think-tank the Senlis Council in late 2005 unveiled its proposal to deal with illicit Afghan opium by licensing growers and diverting production to the global legal medicinal market for opioid pain medications, just about nobody thought the idea had a chance of going anywhere. Since then, as opium production there has continued to increase—Afghanistan now accounts for 90% of the global illicit opium supply—and Taliban insurgents have gathered strength, the licensing scheme has picked up support from politicians in Canada, England, and Italy, but still remains a long-shot. This week, as I will report in the Chronicle on Friday, the licensing notion gained new support, as the British Medical Association is suggesting that Afghan opium be used to produce medicinal diamorphine (heroin) for use in the National Health Service. The licensing idea also made it to the op-ed pages of the Washington Post last week, when columnist Anne Applebaum wrote a piece, "Ending an Opium War; Poppies and Afghan Recovery Can Both Bloom, arguing that the US should do in Afghanistan now what it did so successfully in Turkey under President Nixon. Then, faced with an influx of Turkish heroin (the stuff of the infamous French Connection), the US worked with the Turkish government and farmers to regulate poppy production. Now, Turkey is the main supplier of medicinal narcotics to the US. The current US administration, however, is adamantly opposed to any such effort in Afghanistan. Instead, drug war extremists in Washington are pushing the Afghans to make stronger efforts to eradicate the poppy crop and are even trying to push herbicidal eradication down the throat of the Karzai government. That idea has little support in Afghanistan or even among our NATO allies. Both groups fear a sustained attack on the country's economic mainstay will lead to political upheaval and end up benefiting the Taliban, a not unreasonable worry. But it seems like the Bush administration is starting to worry that the licensing scheme is gaining too much ground. Or, at least, it has bestirred itself to attack the notion. In a letter from James O'Gara, the drug czars deputy for supply reduction in today's Washington Post, the administration tried to fight back:
The Wrong Plan for Afghanistan's Opium Anne Applebaum's proposal to foster legal Afghan opium ["Ending an Opium War; Poppies and Afghan Recovery Can Both Bloom," op-ed, Jan. 16] is based on a misdiagnosis of the problem. First, there is no licit demand for Afghanistan's enormous supply of opium, currently more than 90 percent of the world's illicit market and almost double the world's entire licit production requirement. The United Nations reports a current global oversupply of opium-based products from existing licit producers. Pouring vastly more legal opium into the world system would cause prices to plummet, making the illicit trade that much more attractive to farmers. Second, Afghanistan produces opium because some regions remain under attack and lack security, to say nothing of the controls that are a prerequisite for any legal trade in narcotics. In the absence of such institutional controls, the distinction between legal and illicit opium is meaningless. Afghanistan needs peace, a flourishing economy and the rule of law. Each of these conditions is undone by narcotics production. Nowhere in the world do narco-warlords willingly relinquish their stranglehold on poor opium farmers, and nowhere in the world do such farmers become rich. The opium trade must be broken, not fostered, before it undoes the rest of Afghanistan.
O'Gara first claims there is no global need for more opioid pain relievers, citing the International Narcotics Control Board. That claim is debatable. In its proposal, the Senlis Council begged to differ, citing serious undersupplies, especially in the underdeveloped world. Second, O'Gara suggests that opium is being grown in Afghanistan only because of a lack of security and an effective national state. But the US government's insistence on attacking the poppy crop is precisely what contributes greatly to continued insecurity and political conflict within the country. Does he really think an all-out assault on the poppies is going to bring peace and tranquility? Whether the idea of licensing Afghan opium production is a good idea is open for debate. It is certainly as reasonable a response to the problem as heavy-handed repression efforts, and is much less likely to incite peasant resistance and support for the Taliban. But what is really interesting about all this is the fact that the drug czar's office feels a need to attack supporters of the idea. That suggests the idea is getting enough traction to pose a threat to the drug war as usual. We'll be staying tuned to this debate.
United States

If You Smoke Pot, An Alien Could Steal Your Girlfriend

That's the central message of this new Above The Influence ad. There's another new one about how smoking pot is the same as putting leeches all over yourself.

Well shucks, it was fun while it lasted. See you all at Marijuana Anonymous.

United States

More drug violence expected after 15 extradited to U.S.

McAllen, TX
United States
The Monitor (TX)

Feds Congratulate Themselves For Persecuting Sick People

From the Fresno Bee:

In a ceremony today, the White House drug czar is honoring the state, local and federal officers who took down Modesto's California Healthcare Collective. Officials charge the ostensibly nonprofit collective with fronting for big-time marijuana dealers.

Walters' grandstanding is particularly galling in light of widespread public condemnation of the DEA's recent activity in California. Indeed, raiding dispensaries that openly provide medicine to sick people in accordance with state law is one of the lamest and least helpful things police can possibly do with our tax dollars.

Every problem associated with medical marijuana distribution could be solved if the federal government rescheduled the drug and brought it inside the law where it belongs.

Instead, the Drug Czar and his army of federally-subsidized task forces continue to gorge themselves on confiscated proceeds and negative publicity. Perhaps recognizing the absurdity of it all, they bend over backwards to paint their targets as gangsters and criminals:

"Most health-care providers wear white coats and carry stethoscopes," said Bill Ruzzamenti, director of the Fresno-based Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. "In this particular case, they wore bulletproof vests [and] carried a gun."

Of course, it's actually the police who are playing doctor at gunpoint. And you can't blame dispensary owners for arming themselves when they have nowhere to turn for protection. The suggestion that these people are dangerous is a joke and should serve to remind us that truly dangerous people are the beneficiaries when police resources are wasted in a fraudulent political war against medical marijuana.

Are you watching this, Dennis Kucinich?

United States

Huge News: Dennis Kucinich To Chair Subcommittee Overseeing ONDCP

It ain't Ethan Nadelmann as Drug Czar, but I'll take it.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich has been named chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Government Reform Committee, giving him jurisdiction over the Drug Czar's office. Oversight of ONDCP was previously conducted by the non-defunct Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources Subcommittee, chaired by rabid drug warrior Mark Souder.

In short, the responsibility of overseeing ONDCP has effectively been transferred from Congress' most reckless drug warrior to its most outspoken drug policy reformer.

Kucinich's agenda remains unknown at this point, but it's clear that he sought this particular appointment deliberately. From GovExec.com:

As the [National Security] panel's presumed chairman in the Democratic-led 110th Congress, he had a ready platform to advance his antiwar agenda.

But Kucinich said in a brief interview that he might wield more influence as chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee, which will have jurisdiction over all domestic issues and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

If Drug Czar John Walters is now wondering what's in store for him, he might begin by reading what Kucinich has to say about the war on drugs:

I have studied the issue for decades and recognize that our "War on Drugs" has failed. In fact, because our War on Drugs drives up the price, it encourages violence. Prohibition simply doesn't work. It only creates thousands and thousands of Al Capones. Prison should be for people who hurt other people, not themselves. We don't jail people for merely drinking. We jail people when they drink and drive or hurt another human.

The supporters of the drug war have only one solution to this debacle -- more money for law enforcement, more people, more power, more prisons -- with no end in sight. Of course, these happy drug warriors who justify their living hunting down drug users come on TV and promise us that they see light at the end of the tunnel. They promised us a drug-free America by 1995, and instead we see new and more exotic drugs constantly being added to the mix.

The shredding of our rights to privacy and property promoted by the Drug War is inconsistent with a free society. Criminalization of private or self-destructive behavior is not acceptable in a free nation.

The racism evident in the Drug War, and the clearly preferential treatment for offenders with connections, undermine our concept of a just society. Draconian prison sentences that dwarf those for violent crimes, like murder and rape, destroy respect for our laws.

It is time for an honest dialogue on this issue. Time to stop the documented lies, half-truths, and propaganda that got us into this mess in the first place. It is time to face the facts.

With due caution, I must say this is a great day for reform. That the man who spoke these words could even be considered for such a position is a tremendously positive sign. Dennis Kucinich is on our side. He showed up at an SSDP awards dinner for starters.

Stay tuned. This is going to be interesting to say the least.

Dennis Kucinich with SSDP staff, 2004
United States

Former Narcs Say Drug War is Futile

United States
Fox News

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