Editorial: Time for Congress to Get Real 7/9/04

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David Borden
David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected]

Two pieces of news this week serve to highlight the extraordinary stupidity inherent in aspects of US anti-drug policy:

  • On Wednesday, the House of Representatives rejected, for a second time, an amendment originally offered last year by Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) that would have forbid the Department of Justice (DOJ) from using its resources to undermine state medical marijuana laws.
  • On Thursday, the Bush administration announced that Bin Laden is organizing to attack the United States again, this year.

I'm not in a position to evaluate the Bin Laden claim, but it is certainly plausible. So why would Congress vote down the Hinchey amendment? If they're serious about protecting the nation, they should be shifting as many of their agents to that task as they possibly can. As drug reform elder statesman Arnold Trebach pointed out in an interview given to this newsletter last month, "It is absolutely obscene to think we are wasting one second of law enforcement time on drugs" while there are dangerous people in the world who are determined to kill Americans on our own soil and who have a track record for doing so.

Not that all conventional law enforcement can be scrapped, of course. But the drug fight was lost before it began. Seventy-three years ago this Tuesday, governments of the world convened the "Convention for Limiting the Manufacture and Regulating the Distribution of Narcotic Drugs," purportedly attempting to stop the non-medical use and abuse of drugs through global prohibition. Yet three score and thirteen years later, estimates for the annual flow of money through the illicit global drug trade range from $150-$400 billion per year.

Those who allow themselves to think outside the box on this issue understand that these vast funds fuel the criminal underground because of prohibition, not in spite of it or for lack of enough of it. How much crime and violence, how much disorder, how much corruption flows from this warping of the global economy? Though the government's "drugs fund terrorism" ads are fundamentally flawed, they do point to a scary truth: The unregulated profits generated by drug prohibition provide an easy source of revenue for terrorist organizations, some experts think perhaps as much as a third of their money -- another reason that the terrorism problem cries out for a move to some form of legalization of drugs as one part of a strategy to address it.

How much more extremely do these reasons apply to medical marijuana patients and their providers, in states that consider medical marijuana legal under their own laws no less? And with at least one court just one step under the Supreme Court's level, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, considering federal prohibition of medical marijuana to be unconstitutional and therefore illegal?

Such concerns didn't stop DOJ from sending numerous personnel to raid one of California's well-known medical marijuana coops less than two weeks after September 11th. Nice timing! Congress did nothing to address that bizarre and offensive misallocation of resources. So it's not surprising, even in the face of overwhelming public support for medical marijuana, that they would again opt to allow the feds to waste resources attacking sick people who need to use it and disrupting their supply systems.

Any member of Congress who voted against the Hinchey amendment must not be truly serious about security or public safety -- or the Constitution.

-- END --
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Issue #345, 7/9/04 Editorial: Time for Congress to Get Real | In the Wake of Blakely: Federal Sentencing Chaos as Defense Attorneys, Prosecutors, Lawmakers Ponder How to Respond | House Votes Down Medical Marijuana Bill -- Election Year Politics, Organized Opposition Cited | International AIDS Conference Puts Focus on Thai War on Drugs | Making it Official: More Initiatives Move Toward November Ballot | ALERT: "Thank or Spank" Your Congressman for This Week's Medical Marijuana Vote | Newsbrief: Rep. Ron Paul Brings Pain Doctor Prosecution Issue to House | Newsbrief: US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Rejects DEA Motion for New Hemp Hearing | Newsbrief: Kansas Supreme Court Says Cut Methamphetamine Sentences | Newsbrief: Tommy Chong Walks Out of Prison | Newsbrief: Iranians Protest US, UK Blind Eye to Afghan Opium Crop | Newsbrief: United Arab Emirates Ponders First Step Toward Harm Reduction | Newsbrief: Head of National Drug Intelligence Center Fired | Newsbrief: Prohibition as a Marketing Tool -- Camel Ad Campaign Touts "Forbidden Fruit" Appeal | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: California Prisons "Dysfunctional," State Report Concludes | Movie Opening: Maria Full of Grace | Media Scan: New CSDP Ad -- Richard Paey and Rush Limbaugh | This Week in History | Psilocybin Cancer Research Study Still Seeking Participants | The Reformer's Calendar

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