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Bill Bennett Blames 'Weeds' for Increasing Marijuana Use

Michael Whitney at FDL points out the latest crazy rant from former drug czar Bill Bennett, who co-authored a CNN piece today blaming drug use on everything and everyone except the people who choose to consume intoxicants.What begins, predictably, with an attack on the Obama Administration for failing to obsess over the latest drug use statistics soon nosedives into an absurd attack against popular television for failing to depict all drug use as profoundly unpleasant:

As for the popular culture, the message has been even more damaging. Where once television shows actively promoted the dangers of drug use, several of our more popular shows, from "Weeds" to "Entourage" to "Mad Men," make drug use a laugh line.

Back when our country was making a serious assault on drug abuse, a show like "Weeds" would never be aired. Today it is promoted in full page ads in our nation's most popular magazines. This, for a comedy about the life and times of a marijuana-growing and -dealing family.

With all this, it should be no real surprise the drug numbers are on the increase. Our national leaders are silent, our culture makes laugh lines of drug use and serious numbers of serious people are advocating further legalization.

So what then shall we do about all these "serious people" hell-bent on drugging American culture into oblivion? Clearly, this is a job for Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers:

We should see public service announcements and ads from the likes of Beyonce, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, the Jonas Brothers; from the likes of the Williams Sisters and the Manning brothers; from Jimmy Johnson and Danika Patrick.

Sadly, 90% of the work that went to into drafting the op-ed was spent identifying this embarrassingly short list of allegedly drug-free celebrities, and they still somehow forgot to include Stephen Baldwin. I would also caution against the potential consequences of suggesting to young people that avoiding pot could cause them be more like the Jonas Brothers.

Anti-Prohibitionist Candidates Challenge New York Status Quo (FEATURE)

An unlikely pair of anti-prohibitionist insurgents are running statewide campaigns in New York designed to challenge the political status quo. Randy Credico, a comedian turned activist turned senatorial candidate, is challenging incumbent Charles Schumer for the Democratic Party senatorial nomination, while hedge fund manager turned madam turned convict Kristin Davis is running for governor on the Anti-Prohibition party ticket.

http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/files/randycredico2010.jpg
Randy Credico
Credico is familiar to the activist community as a relentless organizer against the Rockefeller drug laws from his post at the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, while Davis's notoriety comes from her prosecution and four-month imprisonment as a "Manhattan Madam" who procured prostitutes for deposed former Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Both are proving adept at milking the media for all it's worth in a bid to bring their anti-prohibitionist messages to the public eye.

By all accounts, neither has a chance of winning outright. In the latest Siena Poll of New York politics, Credico was pulling 11% against Schumer, up from 9% last fall, but still hardly a close race. Davis has not figured in any polls, but is running as a third party candidate in a year when Democrat Andrew Cuomo appears to be a shoo-in in November.

Still, both are committed to doing all they can to bolster their campaigns and get the spotlight focused on their issues. Last week, the Credico campaign handed in signatures in a bid to qualify for the Democratic primary, while the Davis campaign is in the midst of a signature drive of its own.

"I'm exhausted, I just spent 38 days on the petitioning drive," said Credico on the way back from Albany after handing in signatures. "I'm sick. I have some bronchial problem. If Paterson signs the medical marijuana bill, I might be able to get some relief. We have enough signatures to get on the ballot. Now we have to wait to see if Schumer challenges us," Credico said.

That may be unnecessary, given that the state Democratic Party chair Jay Jacobs told the New York Daily News Sunday that Credico and his allies had not turned in enough signatures to make the party ballot. But whether he makes the Democratic ballot or not, Credico will be in the race. He is also on the ticket for both the Libertarian Party and Davis's Anti-Prohibitionist Party.

"Randy submitted 7,000 signatures himself, and one running mate submitted 6,500, and the third guy was supposed to submit 9,000, but only handed in 500," said Roger Stone, a Republican political operative who is friends with Credico and is advising Davis. "The next morning, the Democratic state committee was peddling the story that Randy had fallen short. I think the third guy was working with Chuck Schumer in a Nixon-style dirty tricks operation. Why does Chuck Schumer fear competition? Why deny people a vote?"

Stone might know a thing or two about political tricksters. He has a long history of political shenanigans, most notably a role in the infamous "Brooks Brothers riots" in Florida in the disputed 2000 presidential election, where mobs of angry Republicans rushed election offices as officials scrutinized chads. He denies any involvement in that.

"I'm a libertarian Republican, not a religious right or Moral Majority Republican," Stone said. "I'm pro-freedom, I favor gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana, casino gambling, and prostitution. The only way to get the pimps and drugs out of it is to regulate it. It's a $10 billion industry -- let's legalize it and run out the mob, the pimps, the guys who exploit women, let's empower women."

He is also critical of New York's drug laws. "The Rockefeller laws were racist," Stone said bluntly. "If you were a rich white kid, you could get a break. I think there's a difference between cocaine and marijuana, and I'm not for the legalization of heroin, but until someone can convince me marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, I say legalize it. It's a harmless herb that grows from the earth, and the idea it's a gateway drug is horseshit. New York has millions of marijuana users and they didn't all turn into heroin addicts."

Whatever Stone's motives, he is pushing both anti-prohibitionist campaigns and played a key role in getting Davis into the governor's race. "I met Roger Stone on a Sirius radio show, and afterward, I approached him about lobbying for the legalization of prostitution," said Davis, whose blonde bombshell looks belie a keen intellect. "That was right after a woman who had worked for me was killed by the Craig's List killer in Boston. I feel very strongly she would still be alive if prostitution were legal. If one of his earlier victims had felt comfortable calling the police, he might have been caught before he killed," she said.

http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/files/kristindavis2010.jpg
Kristin Davis
"My platform is pro-freedom," said Davis, adding that some of her issues are getting more play than others. "We've sort of moved into being most vocal on marijuana and gay marriage," she said. "These are the two issues that resonate most with people. New York is broke, deeply in debt, so we're looking at marijuana not so much as a social issue, but as an economic one."

Davis acknowledged that actually winning the governorship was unlikely, to say the least, but said her campaign was more about getting the issues addressed and getting enough votes to get the Anti-Prohibitionist Party official status in New York. "People say you can't expect to win, but that depends on your definition of winning," she said. "Andrew Cuomo has approval ratings over 60% and $23 million in campaign funds, but voting for me sends a clear message to the career politicians that these issues need to be heard. If we can get 50,000 votes for the party, then we're officially recognized and can lobby for our issues. Every single vote matters. Every vote for me shows the career politicians that New Yorkers care about these issues, that they want legal marijuana."

The anti-prohibitionist tag team has been doing some joint appearances, Davis said. "Randy is on my Anti-Prohibitionist Party petition as the Senate nominee. We just did an event over the weekend. It was a signature drive kickoff slash birthday party for me," she said. "There were maybe 300 people there."

Davis's notoriety has both helped and hindered her campaign, the former madam said. "It's a double-edged sword. Compared to sex, people by and large are not so interested in politics," she explained. "Sex gets people interested, and I'm an interesting character, but on the other hand, the mainstream media has been skeptical. The Post and New York One have not covered the campaign at all. I hope that once we're on the ballot, and they see this isn't a hoax, they'll start taking us a little more seriously."

"She's been able to use the celebrity that came out of her brush with Eliot Spitzer to her advantage to continue to point out the inequities of the criminal justice system," Stone said. "She went to prison, and he went back to his town house."

If politics makes strange bedfellows, anti-drug war politics makes even stranger ones. Stone is a libertarian Republican, Davis describes herself as a libertarian, but Credico comes out of a left-leaning social justice perspective. They don't agree on everything. For instance, Credico has come out in favor of allowing a mosque to be built near the former World Trade Center site, while Davis opposes it. Similarly, Credico touts an anti-war, anti-interventionist foreign policy, while Davis doesn't touch those issues.

"In the end," said Stone, "Credico and Davis become running mates and are on the same side. The drug war is one of the issues that motivates them both."

Whether he makes the Democratic ballot or not, Credico isn't going away. "We're going to start a war of attrition against Schumer," the activist/comedian turned candidate vowed. "We'll be making inroads in the black, latino, lesbian and gay communities, we'll be making inroads with people upstate concerned about their mortgages and credit cards. "I know Schumer is not happy I'm in the race," said Credico. "I'm the last person he wants challenging him. I have a show biz background, I have charisma."

But he also has street cred dating back to his days agitating against the Rockefeller drug laws. "I worked with the families of prisoners, I worked with the African-American community. That's what helped get me over the top. Women whose kids were incarcerated came out and canvassed for me. Schumer has nothing to offer them," Credico said.

Credico compares and contrasts his career with Schumer's and finds the incumbent fares badly. "I ran a civil rights organization, and he conducted himself as someone opposed to civil rights, as manifested by his support of the Patriot Act, the drug war, ID cards, the wall on the border, and other repressive measures. He's anti-civil rights, not for constitutional or civil rights for most Americans."

The Schumer campaign did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

"I'm for civil rights, human rights, a clean environment, and pulling out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Colombia," Credico elaborated. "Schumer was going to waltz right in there without having to talk about this, and New Yorkers deserve better. Why is he an avid supporter of the drug war? Why isn't he as progressive as [Republican senators] Sessions and Hatch on the crack/powder sentencing disparity?" the long-time activist asked.

"I'm for legalization of marijuana," Credico continued. "We should be able to grow marijuana here, without taxing it. Let's not give the government any more layers of power. Prohibition has to be abolished. We have to talk about this. The drug war is a Trojan horse to incarcerate people of color for social control."

The Republicans and Democrats in New York have shown little taste for challenging drug war orthodoxy, but insurgent candidates Credico and Davis are determined to hold their feet to the fire when it comes to justifying prohibitionist policies. Let the games begin!

(This article 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.)

O'Reilly Attacks Sting Over Legalization Comments

This new DPA video featuring Sting was more than enough to drive Bill O'Reilly over the edge yet again:


As usual, every single "fact" presented here by O'Reilly is completely made up, as demonstrated in this fact-check from Jacob Sullum. But if Bill O'Reilly wants to spend his time on TV lying and complaining about drug policy reform in front of millions of people, I'm totally ok with it. Every stupid word he says about the drug war serves only to further legitimize the debate. People like O'Reilly are the reason we're winning, so the last thing we want from them is silence.

This Week's Dumbest Drug War Quote

Kurt Schlichter at Big Hollywood is overcome with fury at this DPA video, featuring Sting. His entire pro-drug-war rant is an impressive exhibit in mindless prohibitionist arrogance, but if anything stands out, it's this:

Of course, there’s also the perennial "America imprisons more people than anywhere else in the world!" meme.  In fact, the only drug incarceration problem in America is that too few drug dealers are incarcerated.

Listen dude, I don't think you understand how this works. Putting drug dealers in prison doesn't change the number of drug dealers on the street. It never has, and never will. If you want to put more of them in jail out of spite, that's one thing, but I hope you don't seriously still believe we can arrest our way out the drug problem. Even the drug czar is beginning to doubt that.

It's one thing to daydream in smug self-righteousness of that magical day when every single drug offender is locked away forever. But even the idiots who say these sorts of things would be miserable if it actually happened. Why? Because the cost of doing that comes out of all our pockets, including Kurt Schlichter's. Unless you'd like to spend half your earnings every year keeping some guy in a cage and paying for all his food and clothing, then do us a favor and keep your mass incarceration fantasies to yourself.

Pete Guither and Tony Newman have more.

Medical Treatment or Conspiracy? The Physician's Dilemma in Treating

Medical Treatment or Conspiracy? The Physician's Dilemma in Treating Celebrities Description From 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, 42 West 44th Street (between 5th and 6th Aves.). This symposium will cover the criminal and civil liability and ethical dilemmas facing doctors when treating the affluent, influential or famous patient. With a case loosely based upon recent celebrity deaths due to overdose, a panel of medical & legal experts will engage in a town hall type discussion about how and why doctors find themselves in trouble with the law, and what their best defense might be. Moderator: MARGARET MAYO, Gaffin & Mayo, P.C. Speakers: ANNE PRUNTY, Assistant District Attorney, New York County; ROY NEMERSON, Deputy Counsel, New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct; MICHAEL KELTON, Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Greenberg, Formato & Einiger, LLP; ALFREDO MENDEZ, Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Greenberg, Formato & Einiger, LLP; WILLIAM HUNTER, M.D., Attending Psychiatrist, Woodhull Medical Center of New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation; Russell K. Portenoy, M.D., Chairman, Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York; Kenneth Prager, M.D., Professor of Clinical Medicine, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Director, Clinical Ethics, Chairman, Medical Ethics Committee, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center Sponsored by: Committee on Drugs & the Law, Susan J. Guercio, Chair; Committee on Bioethical Issues, Beverly J. Jones, Chair Please register online here: https://www.nycbar.org/EventsCalendar/register/?event=1398&price=1081
Date: 
Wed, 05/26/2010 - 7:30pm - 9:30pm
Location: 
42 West 44th Street
New York, NY
United States

Jack Herer Has Died

Jack Herer, author of "The Emperor Wears No Clothes," died this morning in Eugene, Oregon. He had been in ill health since suffering a heart attack at the Portland Hempstock Festival last Fall. Here's the report from the Salem News:
The Hemperor, Jack Herer has Died (SALEM, Ore.) - The sad news has been confirmed. Jack Herer, author of Emperor Wears No Clothes and renowned around the world for hemp activism, has died at 11:17 a.m. today, in Eugene, Oregon. Jack Herer suffered a heart attack last September just after speaking on stage at the Portland HempStalk festival. The last seven months have proven to be a huge challenge to the man, with several health issues making his recovery complicated. Jack Herer's health has been poor lately, this last week there have been reports of the severity, and an outpouring of prayers on his behalf. "It's shocking news, even after these last seven, trying months," said Paul Stanford, THCF Executive Director. "Jack Herer has been a good friend and associate of mine for over 30 years. I was there when he had the heart attack at our Hempstalk festival and I know he wouldn’t appreciate the quality of life he's endured these last months. Still he will be greatly missed. I honor his memory." "No other single person has done more to educate people all across the world about industrial hemp and marijuana as Jack Herer. His book is translated into a dozen different languages, it's a bestseller in Germany," added Stanford. "The Hempstalk stage will forever be the Jack Herer Memorial stage. And, a Memorial is planned to be built where he fell that day," Stanford said. "His legacy will continue to inspire and encourage for generations to come."

Dr. Drew Endorses Planting Evidence on Drug Users to Get Them Locked Up

Celebrity addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky is someone I used to respect as a teenager. Too bad he sold-out and became a dangerous quack who'll say anything to make headlines:

While Lindsay Lohan continues to party until the wee hours of the morning, and her family and friends grow increasingly concerned for her, Dr. Drew Pinsky, who is not treating Lohan, has some candid advice for the people closest to her.

The board certified addiction specialist tells RadarOnline.com, "If she were my daughter, I would pack her car full with illegal substances, send her on her way, call the police, and make sure she was arrested. I would make sure she was not allowed to get out of jail. I would then go to the judge  and make sure she was ordered to a minimum of a three year sobriety program." [Radar]

You see, Dr. Drew is really concerned about her safety:

"I absolutely wish no harm to her, but I just have a feeling that something awful is going to happen to her, like she is going to lose a limb. I hope Lindsay gets help before something terrible happens."

Something terrible? Like getting framed for a carload of drugs by your own family!? Maybe they don't cover this in medical school, Dr. Drew, but you should really make yourself aware of the fact that many people have been accidentally shot by drug cops, sexually assaulted in jail, and otherwise mercilessly screwed over by the criminal justice system in ways that you and your massive ego don't have the luxury of predicting.

Planting drugs on anyone is a serious crime that could go wrong in more ways than you can possibly imagine. Anyone who endorses screwing around like this has no business practicing medicine, parenthood or friendship. You can get people killed with this sort of idiocy, and as much as it would reveal about the stupidity of the war on drugs, "Hollywood Starlet Shot in Face by SWAT Team" is a story no drug policy blogger wants to write.

There is a real drug war going on in America and the men and women who come to save you from your "illness" don't wear white coats; they come in body armor bearing machine guns with the safety off. So when you sell Beverly Hills addiction therapy as pop-culture entertainment media, you forget that those same rules don't apply in Ohio and any parent taking Dr. Drew's reckless advice is putting their family in the drug war's deadly crossfire.

When drug cops start making their own rules, it's time to take away their badge and gun. When celebrity addiction doctors do the same, it's time to take away their license and, more importantly, their microphone.

Has Jay Leno Ever Heard of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries?

Here's Jay Leno and Bill Maher discussing the effort to legalize marijuana in California:


Of course, it's a win just to have these kinds of conversations on The Tonight Show, and you can't look for perfect messaging from entertainers. But seriously, what the hell was Leno talking about with this:

Leno: Well, here's my thing, here's my thing. California, they spend all this money trying to get things on ballots. But federal law trumps state law.

Maher: Oh, Jay you're such a buzzkill.

Leno: Well, it's true. No matter what the state says, the federal government goes "sorry, it's a federal law. You lose."

Really, Jay? I wonder how far you'd have to walk from your studio in Los Angeles to find a dispensary selling marijuana in violation of federal law. Come on, man. We've moved way beyond that nonsense, and you don't have to be constitutional scholar to understand that state-level marijuana policies can be reformed dramatically by popular vote. All you have to do is read the LA Times any day of the week.

If the drug czar doesn’t even know what the hell the feds would do about this, I can't fathom why Jay Leno thinks he's got it figured out.

Since When do Rockstars Know Anything About Drugs?

Sting's call for an end to the war on drugs is getting some good press, and it sounds like the drug warriors aren't too pleased about it:

"Sting should stick to singing and not meddle in matters he doesn't understand. We do not need pop stars coming out and making irresponsible statements like that," said a spokesperson for DARE, which teaches schoolchildren about the dangers of drug use. [Daily News & Analysis]

How classy. I think it's pretty telling that Sting, an A-list international celebrity, was proud to associate himself with this cause, while the DARE spokesperson who chides him for it chose to do so anonymously. It's obvious who is more embarrassed by their viewpoint.

Note to anti-drug zealots: if your argument sounds ridiculous even to you, to such an extent that you don't even want your name attached to it, then just don't talk to the media. I know it sucks to see the political climate changing before your eyes. I know you can’t bear the thought that mainstream entertainers can now come out against the drug war and get nothing but positive press. But your stupid ideas are what got you into this mess in the first place, so opening your mouth right now isn't going help at all.

DARE's only accomplishment here was to erase any doubt about whether Sting's announcement is a big deal.

Sting Says End the Drug War

Our friends at the Drug Policy Alliance have persuaded A-list rockstar Sting to join the drug policy reform movement. I'm not exactly gonna leap out of my seat every time a celebrity says the drug war sucks, but Sting is a big name and it was fun getting a mass email from him today telling me lots of things I agree with.

Hopefully we'll be seeing some more press on this, or better yet a wave of rockstars joining the cause and rocking out for justice. And can we please do one of those PSA-type ads where like 8 famous people take turns looking concerned and saying why some issue is important, except this time the issue is legalizing marijuana in California and the famous people are all super famous and not just cast members from various shows on whatever network you're watching?

If we can get Bono and Bill Clinton, we'll win with leaflets left over.

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