Futile Pursuits

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World Record Marijuana Crop Gets Blown Up By Fighter Jets

What do you do if you find the world's largest marijuana stash? Call in the airforce!

The crack teams discovered 236.8 tons of cannabis buried in vast trenches in the desert. The drugs had a minimum street value of £225 million, and weighed more than 30 double-decker buses, officials said.

Lieutenant General Abdul Hadi Khalid, Afghanistan's deputy interior minister, said: "This is a new world record in the global war on drugs."

British fighter jets were called in from nearby Kandahar Airfield to smash open the underground stores. A Nato spokesman said the planes dropped three 1,000lb bombs on the trenches, before troops from the commando unit known as 333 doused the wreckage with petrol and set them alight. [scotsman.com]

There's something tragically ironic about using fighter jets to launch air strikes on a plant that's never killed anyone in the history of the world. Are you having fun yet, brave desert drug soldiers? Someone get these guys some volleyball nets before they nuke a poppy field.

News Release: Will SDSU Drug Bust Coverage Raise the Critical Questions?

Will SDSU's Drug Bust Reduce Drug Availability on Campus in the Future? Advocates Urge Media to Look Beyond the Surface, Ask Critical Questions About Raid's Long-Term Implications for Drug Trade (or Lack Thereof) In the wake of a major drug bust at San Diego State University, in which 96 people including 75 students were arrested on drug charges as part of "Operation Sudden Fall," advocates are asking media outlets to go beyond the surface to probe whether drug laws and enforcement actually reduce the availability of drugs. "Cocaine was banned in 1914, and marijuana in 1937," said David Borden, executive director of StoptheDrugWar.org, "and yet these drugs are so widely available almost a century later that college students can be hauled away 75 at a time for them. That is the very definition of policy failure." Borden, who is also executive editor of Drug War Chronicle, a major weekly online publication, continued: "Since 1980, when the drug war really started escalating under the Reagan administration, the average street price of cocaine has dropped by a factor of five, when adjusted for purity and inflation. (1) Given that the strategy was to increase drug prices, in order to then reduce the demand, that failure has to be called spectacular." Drug arrests in the US number close to 1.5 million per year, but to little evident effect as such data suggests. Ironically, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis painted a compelling picture of the drug war's failure in her own quote given to the Los Angeles Times: "This operation shows how accessible and pervasive illegal drugs continue to be on our college campuses and how common it is for students to be selling to other students." "While SDSU's future drug sellers will probably avoid sending such explicit text messages as the accused in this case did, it's doubtful that they will avoid the campus for very long," Borden said. "In fact the replacements are undoubtedly already preparing to take up the slack. By September if not sooner, the only remaining evidence that 'Operation Sudden Fall' ever happened will be the court cases and the absence of certain people from the campus." "Instead of throwing away money and law enforcement time on a policy that doesn't work, ruining lives in the process, Congress should repeal drug prohibition and allow states to create sensible regulations to govern drugs' lawful distribution and use. At a minimum, the focus should be taken off enforcement," said Borden. — END — 1. Data from DEA STRIDE drug price collection program, adjusted for inflation using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index figures. Further information is available upon request.

Africa: Marijuana "Tries to Destroy Our Society," Nigerian Head Narc Says

Ahmadu Giade, head of Nigeria's National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), used a ceremony where seized marijuana was burned last weekend to declare war on pot as part of his agency's effort to "provide a drug-free society for all." His comments came as 100,000 pounds of what Nigerians commonly refer to as Indian hemp went up in smoke. The ceremonial burning would "spite drug barons" and demonstrate the superiority of law enforcement over drug dealers, he said.

While the Lagos newspaper The Day, which reported on the event, described the drugs as "narcotics" and "hard drugs," it appears that it was really describing Nigerian-grown marijuana.

Head narc Giade suffered from the same terminological confusion. "The threat of narcotic drugs is palpable," he said. "It is difficult to ignore this peril staring at us in the face. Cannabis control constitutes the biggest drug challenge in Nigeria and Africa. This is because it grows effortlessly in the country. This drug has the propensity to destroy our society but we equally have the capacity to subdue it."

Well, not so far, anyway. According to the US State Department's 2007 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, "Sale and local consumption of marijuana is on the increase. The rise in marijuana use domestically in Nigeria is evinced by the increased quantities seized, the number and size of illicit plots discovered and destroyed, and numbers of arrests made."

Lamar Alexander Acknowledges the Futility of the Drug War

Sen. Lamar Alexander, Republican from Tennessee, obliquely acknowledged the futility of the drug war in comments made supporting a bill to combat illegal logging of which he is a cosponsor, on Tuesday of last week:
The Senator from Oregon [Ron Wyden (D)] made a point that is maybe the central point here when he compared our efforts to stop illegal logging to our efforts to stop the bringing of illegal drugs into the United States. We all know the tremendous amount of effort we go to, for example, to keep cocaine out of the United States. We send millions of dollars to Colombia and to other countries and we try to stop that. But the real problem we have is we are a big, rich country, and there is a big demand for cocaine here. So no matter what we do in the other countries, the cocaine still keeps coming in, and the same with other illegal drugs. Here we have a chance to make a much bigger difference than we can with illegal drugs. We still are creating the demand problem. This is a country that accounts for 25 percent of all the wealth in the world. It is a country that perhaps buys a huge volume of illegal timber from around the world. Well, we can stop that. This is not a drug addiction, this is a business practice, and it is a practice we can stop according to the laws of this country. When we stop it, we will make an enormous difference for our country and for the other countries.
So what is the next logical step in this line of reasoning? Visit the Thomas web site and find page S13967 in the Congressional Record to see it in print. Thanks to DPA's Grant Smith for the tip.
United States

The great and costly drug-war fraud

Victoria Times Colonist (Canada)

"Snow Fall" Atlantic Monthly article articulates the sheer futility of the supply-side drug war

There's an interesting article by Ken Dermota in the latest issue of Atlantic Monthly, "Snow Fall," a discussion of the failure of interdiction and source country efforts to drive up the US street price of cocaine. Dermota points out the two sides of prohibition's price dynamic:
[P]olicing has a big impact on cocaine prices: On the streets of Bogota, a gram of cocaine can be had for under $2. Recreational users in America, on the other hand, typically pay upward of $50 a gram... Yet over time, cocaine prices per pure gram in the United States have steadily fallen, from $600 in the early 1980s to less than $200 by the mid-1990s.
The government's stated purpose for engaging in supply-side drug enforcement measures is to drive up the price, in order to reduce use. Given that prices have fallen so dramatically, it is safe to say that the supply-side strategy of increase prices has not decreased use (because the price increases never happened). Prohibition itself drives up the price of drugs (with calamitous effects on the people who are addicted to the drugs, indeed driving many of them to commit crimes that affect the rest of us, but that's a separate issue), but supply-side enforcement appears to have failed completely by its own measures. The period of time Dermota cited is about a quarter century, by the way, enough time to conduct a pretty conclusive test, IMHO. Dermota explains why the seizures of illicit drugs that government officials like to hype so much may actually illustrate failure, not success:
In March, the US Coast Guard intercepted a freighter off Panama laden with 20 tons of cocaine, in the largest maritime bust ever. That was followed in April by Colombian authorities' seizure of a 15-ton cache most likely awaiting shipment to Mexico... Of course, the good news is soured by the fact that cocaine production remains robust enough to allow shipment in 20-ton batches.
Drug policy reformer Judge James P. Gray of Santa Ana County in California has made this point as well. He should know -- as a prosecutor prior to joining the Superior Court he was involved in a seizure of heroin that at the time set the quantity record. When he delivered the speech that the link above points to in 1994, that record had long been dwarfed. (I helped to organize that conference, by the way, at Harvard Law School with the Civil Liberties Union of Mass., early during my activist career when I was still a volunteer. Afterwards I guided Judge Gray, former NORML director Dick Cowan and actor Michael Moriarty to the bed-and-breakfast where we put them up.) Dermota may be a legalizer, though not an optimistic one, and he doesn't directly say he is:
Sea changes in policy, such as decriminalization or legalization of drugs, look politically untenable.
Unfortunately, the link above to the article only gets you the beginning, you need to be a subscriber to see the whole thing, or get a hold of a copy of the magazine. Anyway, there's at least one good drug reporter in the country. :) Besides DRCNet's Phil Smith, that is. :) Thanks to Steve Heath for the heads-up.
United States

Group claims prohibition, war on drugs is a failure

United States
The Daily Vidette (IL)

In Mexico, a brutal week in a year already full of bloodshed

Mexico City
The Dallas Morning News

Laws change way users get their drug of choice

United States
Tri-City Herald (WA)

The folly of prohibition

Winnepeg Sun (Canada)

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