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Drug Truth 03/12/09

The Unvarnished Truth About the Drug War From the Drug Truth Network NOTE: NEW DAY/TIME for CENTURY of LIES ! Cultural Baggage for 03/11/09, 29:00 Charles Lynch, cannabis dispensary operator aligned with the mayor and chamber of commerce now facing 5 years in federal prison & Cheryl Aichele, ally of Mr. Lynch + Doug McVay with Drug War Facts, Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition & a DTN Editorial LINK: http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/?q=node/2330 Century of Lies for 03/10/09, 29:00 Time For YOU To Get Involved: Bruce Mirken of Marijuana Policy Project, Matt Simon of New Hampshire medical marijuana effort, Stephen Betzer of Texas' effort, editorial from Coleen McCool, UK's Guardian on Colombian coca & report on Australia's chopper raids on marijuana LINK: http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/?q=node/2329 Next - Century of Lies on Sunday, Cutural Baggage on Wed, listen online at www.kpft.org: - Cultural Baggage 12:30 PM ET, 11:30 AM CT, 10:30 AM MT & 9:30 AM PT: Guest TBD - Century of Lies 8 PM ET, 7 PM CT, 6 PM MT & 5 PM PT: Russ Jones of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Hundreds of our programs are available online at www.drugtruth.net, www.audioport.org We have potcasts, searchability, CMS, XML, sorts by guest name and by organization. We provide the "unvarnished truth about the drug war" to scores of broadcast affiliates in the US, Canada and Now Australia! Programs produced at Pacifica Radio Station KPFT in Houston.www.kpft.org Check out our latest videos via www.youtube.com/fdbecker Please become part of the solution, visit our website: www.endprohibition.org for links to the best of reform. "Prohibition is evil." - Reverend Dean Becker, Drug Truth Network Producer Dean Becker 713-849-6869 www.drugtruth.net

Marijuana: Pot Prohibition Causes Harm While Not Achieving Goals, Report Finds

Marijuana prohibition has not achieved its goals, but has inflicted significant costs on society and individuals, a pair of University of Washington researchers concluded in a report released last week. And all for naught, they suggest, because decriminalizing pot or deprioritizing marijuana law enforcement does not appear to lead to higher levels of marijuana use.

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marijuana plants (photo from US Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikimedia)
The report, The Consequences and Costs of Marijuana Prohibition, was written by sociologist Katherine Beckett and geographer Steve Herbert, both associate professors in the University of Washington's Law, Societies, and Justice Program. Using data analysis and in-depth interviews, they compared the fiscal, public safety, and human costs of marijuana prohibition.

The scholarly duo found that the domestic portion of the federal drug control budget more than doubled in the 1990s, to more than $9.5 billion in 2001, with marijuana arrests accounting for nearly all the increase in drug arrests in that decade. With some 28,000 people imprisoned on marijuana charges in state or federal prison, that's an additional $600 million a year in incarceration costs borne by state and federal governments.

Despite the spike in marijuana arrests in recent years -- now more than 800,000 a year -- marijuana prohibition has signally failed to produce the desired results. Instead, the researchers found, the price of pot has dropped, the average potency has increased, as has availability, and use rates have often increased despite escalating enforcement.

"The report finds that the 'war on marijuana' is quite costly in both financial and human terms, and the prohibition of marijuana has not measurably reduced its use. This is a clear call for us to reconsider our laws and policies on marijuana," said Alison Holcomb, ACLU of Washington drug policy director.

What does not cause marijuana use rates to increase, said the researchers, are reformist policies. Areas that have decriminalized simple possession, deprioritized marijuana law enforcement, or that allow for medical marijuana have not seen increases in use rates, they found.

Sentencing: New York Senate to Address Rockefeller Drug Law Reform in Budget -- Meanwhile, Another Damning Study Appears

The New York Assembly passed a Rockefeller drug law reform bill last Wednesday, with the state Senate expected to take action shortly. But last Friday, the Senate's Democratic leaders decided to fold their version of the bill into their larger budget proposals, which will be taken up later this month.

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June 2003 ''Countdown to Fairness'' rally against the Rockefeller drug laws, NYC (courtesy 15yearstolife.com)
According to the Albany Times-Union, Senate Democrats, who control the chamber by a margin of 32 to 30, want to avoid being tagged as "soft on crime" by their Republican counterparts. With the Senate version of the Rockefeller reform bill submerged within the broader budget bills, senators will not have to actually stand up and vote for the reforms, just for the overall budget package.

"Our position is these bills should be taken up on the merits and not folded into a budget bill," said Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif, whose party would like to see Democrats forced to vote for "freeing drug dealers."

"It's clear that it's as much of a budget issue as it is a sentencing issue," said Senate Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran, noting that imprisoning people or subjecting them to drug treatment both have financial costs. He denied that Democrats took this route because they lacked the votes to pass Rockefeller reform on its own.

While the politicians in Albany are dancing around each other, yet another report has been released demonstrating the disastrous impact more than three decades of Rockefeller drug laws has had on the state. The report, "Rockefeller Drug Laws: Unjust, Irrational, Ineffective," was produced by the New York Civil Liberties Union and examines the economic and social impact of the Rockefeller laws on the state as a whole and on its largest cities: Albany, Buffalo, New York City, Rochester and Syracuse.

In a demographic analysis of who is sent to prison and for what in New York, the report found huge racial and geographic disparities. In New York City, for example, neighborhoods with just 4% of the city's adult population accounted for 25% of those sent to prison. More than half of those sent up the river went on drug charges, and 97% were non-white. Similar numbers come in for other big Empire State cities.

"New York's drug sentencing laws are the Jim Crow laws of the 21st Century," said Robert Perry, NYCLU legislative director and the report's lead author. "Prosecution of drug offenses has sent hundreds of thousands to prison, most of whom were charged with low-level, nonviolent offenses. The Rockefeller drug laws have been a driving force in incarcerating a prison population that is almost exclusively black and brown."

"The Rockefeller drug laws have failed by every measure. They tear apart families, waste tax dollars and create shocking racial disparities," said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU executive director. "Yet, after 36 years of failure, our state continues locking up the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Justice and common sense require comprehensive reform."

The report makes several recommendations for reform, including:

  • Reduce sentences for those convicted of drug-related crimes.
  • Restore judicial discretion and end mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.
  • Develop and invest in a statewide alternative to incarceration model to provide supervised treatment, education and employment training for those who would be better served by diversion than by prison.
  • Provide retroactive sentencing relief for those already incarcerated under the Rockefeller drug laws.

"Faced with a major recession and a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, New York cannot afford to waste hundreds of millions of dollars locking up nonviolent drug offenders," Lieberman said. "Money saved through reforming the drug-sentencing laws could be spent helping struggling New Yorkers get back on their feet."

The Assembly has done its duty. Now it is up to the state Senate and Gov. David Patterson (D) to come up with a real reform bill at least as good as the Assembly's.

Marijuana: US Rep. Loretta Sanchez Ponders "Pilot Program" for Pot Regulation

US Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) suggested Thursday that the time may be right for a "pilot program" of marijuana regulation. The congresswoman's comments came as she was interviewed live on CNN to discuss a congressional hearing on the prohibition-related violence taking place in Mexico. Sanchez is chair of the House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism.

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Loretta Sanchez
Citing a recent Zogby poll commissioned by NORML that found majority support for taxed and regulated marijuana use and sales on the West Coast, Sanchez was responding to her host's question about the whole notion of drug legalization. California's receptiveness toward less restrictive marijuana laws would make it a good place to experiment, she said.

"Well, certainly, I have seen in my own state of California people over and over voting a big majority the whole issue of marijuana and possession of that," Sanchez said. "So maybe it would be a good pilot program to see how that regulation of marijuana might happen in California since the populace, the majority of Californians believe maybe that should happen."

Sanchez compared marijuana prohibition to the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s. "Well, certainly there is one drug -- it's called alcohol -- that we prohibited in the United States and had such a problem with as far as underground economy and cartels of that sort that we ended up actually regulating it and taxing it," she said. "And so there has always been this thought that maybe if we do that with drugs, it would lower the profits in it and make some of this go away."

Sanchez's comments came two weeks after California state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced the first marijuana legalization bill in state history and one week after the Obama administration announced it would no longer persecute medical marijuana providers in the state.

With staunch Republican anti-prohibitionist Rep. Ron Paul and liberal Democrat and federal decriminalization bill author Rep. Barney Frank as possible strange bedfellow allies, the question now becomes: Is it time for a marijuana legalization caucus in the House of Representatives?

Police Officer in Cowboy Hat Talks Drug Legalization on Al Jazeera

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition's Howard Wooldridge is commonly known on Capitol Hill as "the guy with the hat." Howard debated drug legalization on the Al Jazeera network this week -- check it out below:

Are Republicans Turning Against the Drug War?

Everyone knows Republicans love the drug war and Democrats are hippies who want to legalize pot. Right? Not necessarily.

Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley are probably the best-known republicans to oppose the war on drugs, and they did so with eloquence that's seldom been matched across the political spectrum. Both men have passed however, and it's often assumed that the party of limited government and state's rights would remain strangely, yet steadfastly invested in the infinitely costly and oppressive war on drugs.

It's not that there aren’t notable exceptions; Ron Paul's rapid rise to national fame in 2008 demonstrated the vigor of libertarian-leaning conservatives who craved an opportunity to cast a vote for drug reform in the republican primaries. In addition to Paul, prominent conservatives Grover Norquist and Tucker Carlson have been strong supporters of reform (watch Carlson TKO drug warrior Mark Souder on MSNBC, for example). But the GOP's reputation as the party of braindead drug war demagoguery nonetheless remains cemented in the public consciousness thanks to the anti-drug posturing of party leaders like Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Recent weeks have brought some encouraging signs that the drug policy reform argument is gaining ground with conservatives. FOX News' Glenn Beck recently interviewed Marijuana Policy Project's Rob Kampia and then came out in support of marijuana legalization a week later. Beck articulated the role of marijuana prohibition in subsidizing Mexican drug war violence in a segment that came off as remarkably pro-reform for FOX News. Proving it's not a fluke, we also saw LEAP's Norm Stamper on FOX News' Red Eye program delivering a superb indictment of the war on drugs that had host Greg Gutfeld nodding in agreement.

Meanwhile, conservative commentator and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan penned a column last week quoting Milton Friedman and questioning the very foundations of the war on drugs. Though not thrilled about the idea of legalizing drugs, Buchanan suggests that Mexico's survival may depend on ending the drug war. Like Glenn Beck, Buchanan had not been previously known to support reform and seems to be getting the message now that the failure of prohibition in Mexico is becoming a threat to our own national security.

Obviously, much work remains to be done towards generating mainstream political support for drug policy reform among conservatives (and liberals, for that matter). Still, there can be no question that the tone of the conversation is shifting and new voices are entering the discussion. An economic crisis and an unstable border may provide focal points for an evolving dialogue, but there's more to it than just that. Consider, for instance, that the new administration recently pledged to end medical marijuana raids and it's just about the only thing Obama's done that hasn’t provoked attacks from republicans.

The political landscape with regards to drug policy reform is shifting in a subtle, yet powerful way. In many cases, our greatest obstacle hasn't always been pure political opposition, but rather a partisan political climate in which our issue is viewed as unstable terrain. The moment public opinion tips far enough – as with medical marijuana – the fear of political attacks evaporates because your opponents can’t use popular positions against you. Once it becomes clear that certain reforms carry no political risk, our infinitely feisty political culture focuses its hostility elsewhere and it becomes possible to do things like end medical marijuana raids without anyone saying a damn thing.

More importantly, as our political culture finally begins to embrace the need for an open and mature discussion about reforming drug policy, we'll begin to hear what influential people actual believe, instead of what they've been taught to say.

The Politics and Science of Medical Marijuana

The Cato Institute invites you to a Policy Forum: "The Politics and Science of Medical Marijuana" featuring: Donald Abrams, M.D. Director of Clinical Programs, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California Robert DuPont, M.D. President, Institute for Behavior and Health and Rob Kampia Executive Director, Marijuana Policy Project moderated by: Tim Lynch Director, Project on Criminal Justice, Cato Institute Ten years ago, on March 17, 1999, an important government study was released regarding certain patients’ use of marijuana as prescribed by their doctors. The Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, issued what was then the most comprehensive analysis of the scientific and medical literature about marijuana. The report stated, “The accumulated data indicate a potential therapeutic value for cannabinoid drugs, particularly for symptoms such as pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation.” Many medical experts continue to caution about harms that may result from smoking marijuana, though those harms need to be weighed against other harms that particular patients may be facing. In the political realm, the debate over the legal status of medical marijuana continues to rage. Since 1996, 12 states have legalized marijuana for medical use. What have medical scientists learned about marijuana over the past 10 years? And how have the politics on this contentious issue shifted at the federal and state level? Join us for a lively discussion of the science and politics of medical marijuana. (Luncheon to follow) Cato Policy Forums and luncheons are free of charge. To register, visit www.cato.org, e-mail events@cato.org, fax (202) 371-0841, or call (202) 789-5229 by 12:00 p.m. Monday, March 16. News media inquiries only (no registrations), please call (202) 789-5200. If you can't make it to the Cato Institute, watch this Forum live online at www.cato.org.
Date: 
Tue, 03/17/2009 - 12:00pm
Location: 
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

420 Drug War News 03/09/09

Today Marks 36,546 Days of DRUG WAR! 4:20 Drug War NEWS from 90.1 FM in Houston 60+ radio affiliates in the US, Canada and Australia & at www.kpft.org. 4:20 Drug War NEWS 03/09/09 to 03/15/09 now online (3:00 ea:) Select online at www.drugtruth.net Sun - Russell Jones of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition 2/2 Sat - Judge Michael McSpadden 3/3 Fri - Russell Jones of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Thu - Judge Michael McSpadden 2/3 Wed - Judge Michael McSpadden, one of 16 Houston area judges calling for a new direction in the drug war 1/3 Tue - Terry Nelson headed to Vienna to speak to UN for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Mon - Doug McVay with Drug War Facts + Abolitionist Moment Next - Century of Lies on Tues, Cutural Baggage on Wed: - Cultural Baggage 12:30 PM ET, 11:30 AM CT, 10:30 AM MT & 9:30 AM PT: Charles Lynch, facing Federal prison for MMJ - Century of Lies 12:30 PM ET, 11:30 AM CT, 10:30 AM MT, 9:30 AM PT: Bruce Mirken of Marijuana Policy Project NOTE: Starting March 15, Century of Lies will move to Sundays at 7 PM Hundreds of our programs are available online at www.drugtruth.net, and www.audioport.org Check out our latest videos via www.youtube.com/fdbecker Please become part of the solution, visit our website: www.endprohibition.org for links to the best of reform. "Prohibition is evil." - Reverend Dean Becker, Drug Truth Network Producer Dean Becker 713-849-6869 www.drugtruth.net

U.S.-Mexico Futures Forum: After the War on Drugs in the Americas

U.S.-Mexico Futures Forum The goal of the U.S.-MEXICO FUTURES FORUM is to generate fresh perspectives on a critical set of issues that will be important for each country and central to their relationship. In collaboration with the International Studies Department at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), we will bring together scholars as well as social and political actors who will be shaping policies, ideas and U.S. Mexican relations in the future. Ethan Nadelmann -- “After the War on Drugs in the Americas” The last century has witnessed the construction of a global drug prohibition regime, promoted by the U.S., which relies heavily on the criminal justice system and other coercive institutions and mechanisms to try to reduce the use of forbidden substances. In the last few years, however, Europeans and Latin Americans have proposed reforming drug policy in ways that are more consistent with health, human rights and science. Nadelmann will discuss possibilities for international drug control policy that focus on reducing the harmful effects of both drug misuse and failed prohibitionist policies, with their often violent consequences.
Date: 
Thu, 03/12/2009 - 4:00pm
Location: 
Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall
Berkeley, CA
United States

Contemplating Marijuana Legalization

guest column by Dr. Douglas Young, Prof. of Pol. Sci. & History at Gainesville College, Gainesville, GA The news of Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps smoking pot should re-energize the marijuana legalization debate because America should be a free marketplace of ideas where ALL perspectives joust. Yet to even consider legalization is often unacceptable in polite company. But, because all public policy should be rationally debated, let's at least look at some legalization arguments. I wish no one used any recreational drug (and I avoid them all). But if we must outlaw everything potentially dangerous, then we need a federal 30 mph speed limit and a ban on fatty foods greasing the obesity epidemic killing over 300,000 Americans annually (CBS News). Somehow we survived legal marijuana until 1937. It actually helped finance our revolution, clothe the Continental Army, and provide the paper for our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Washington and Jefferson grew it, and the latter even risked smuggling it out of Europe. In fact, before 1870, hemp oil ranked second only to whale oil in creating light around the world. During World War II, the feds pushed hemp production to make rope for the war effort. Dope got banned because federal cops wanted to keep their jobs (alcohol prohibition was repealed in 1933), cotton farmers wanted to end hemp competition, and whites linked pot to Mexican immigrants and black jazz musicians. Louis Armstrong never performed without it, and a later user, Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, still calls joints "herbal jazz cigarettes." But Caucasians feared white girls would "go crazy" on dope and become intimate with minority males. So, to avert "Reefer Madness," the weed got outlawed instead of the cancer sticks, liver poison, and "Mother's Little Helper" pills preferred by the ruling class. Today over 12 percent of federal and state inmates are doing time for pot, costing taxpayers over $1 billion annually (In These Times). A record 872,000 Americans were arrested for it in 2007 alone -- 89 percent just for possession (the FBI). In fact, an attorney on "The O'Reilly Factor" revealed a few years back that there were more lifers in California prisons for pot than for murder, rape, and kidnapping combined. So pot-smokers get locked up with and brutalized by our most violent felons. How's that for "rehabilitation"? Then their criminal records deny them student loans, good jobs, and even voting rights. Does our abuse of drug-users resemble how we used to mistreat the mentally ill? The medical evidence shows drug addicts are unwisely self-medicating a dopamine deficiency in the brain. They need treatment, not an 8 x 10 cell. How do you think future generations will judge us? William F. Buckley, Jr. noted that 400,000 police can't go after violent crimes and theft due to the endless "War on Drugs." There's also epidemic vice squad corruption with drugs since their price is so inflated precisely because they're illegal. Psst: The folks most against legalization -- are drug dealers! Why not tax our biggest cash crop and let cops chase violent felons? Doesn't prohibition fuel the forbidden fruit syndrome? The 1920s' alcohol ban criminalized a huge percentage of decent Americans, created organized crime in the US, and corrupted thousands of police and officials (even President Warren Harding and Chief Justice William Taft secretly drank). Though none is healthy, is pot remotely as bad as alcohol or cigarettes? CBS News reported that half of US hospital beds are filled by folks with alcohol-related problems, and we have 110,000 alcohol-lubricated deaths every year. Also, the Justice Department admits that alcohol was the only drug found in 36 percent of all convicted criminals and is a factor in over 40 percent of murders. Cigarettes are as addictive as heroin (former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop), do far more bodily harm than any opiate (addiction medicine specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky), and kill 430,000 Americans a year (CDC). My hygienist says they can even cause teeth to fall out in your thirties. Though pot is psychologically addictive for some, no one ever overdosed, got cancer, or died from marijuana. Nor do people get violent on it (as Bill Maher says, "Forgetting to kill your wife on pot, okay"). Also, studies show most pot-smokers do not graduate to harder illegal drugs. Legalization doesn't mean more pot smoking. In Holland, where marijuana is tolerated, just 12 percent of Dutch aged 15-24 said they used pot in 2005. But, in nearby France, where it's illegal, 24 percent of French youths admitted smoking it that year. And, in the U.S., almost 28 percent of Americans 18-25 said they used marijuana in 2004-5. Yet, with effective health classes and ad campaigns, U.S. tobacco and alcohol consumption have gone way down in recent years. Better education can lower pot use as well. Though 12 states have passed referenda liberalizing marijuana laws, the feds keep vetoing our constitutional democratic states' rights. Ultimately, either we're for less government or we're not. Is it really state business what consenting adults do in their own home? Must we have a national nanny state with Big Brother jailing citizens for a weed? And wouldn't our libertarian Founding Fathers be appalled at this gross encroachment on our privacy rights? Let's at least debate returning to our roots and finally standing up for freedom for a change. Exactly why not?

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