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Reformers Raid Cato Institute

Radley Balko and Norm Stamper spoke at the Cato Institute yesterday about Balko’s new report Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America.

It was a powerful presentation, and though I’m familiar with the topic, I was moved nonetheless. Balko began by summarizing his research and went on to propose solutions. Retired Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper followed with a forceful and credible endorsement of Balko’s research and recommendations.

“Soldiers follow orders. Police make decisions,” Stamper observed, illustrating perfectly the fundamental flaw in a militarized approach to policing. I’ve seen Chief Stamper speak before, but I found him particularly effective yesterday. He’s been a strong voice for reform ever since the release of his book Breaking Rank, but he’s getting better, which ought to intimidate the drug war establishment.

Chief Stamper addressed immediate reforms that can help mitigate the problem and smartly waited until the end to make the point we knew was coming: the best way to prevent innocent people from being killed in botched raids is to end the drug war immediately. A burst of applause from the audience demonstrated that more than a few reformers were in attendance.

You can watch the whole thing here.

Humorous side note: Dave Guard and I sat next to a woman who asked what we do and became skeptical upon learning that we work to legalize drugs. She had some questions for us, and though she wasn't hostile, she seemed not to fully grasp the issue. When it became clear that we couldn’t be debated on policy, she switched over to political feasibility, asking “fine, but how will you ever convince conservatives like the Cato Institute?”

In tandem, Dave and I chuckled and quipped that we hardly needed to explain drug policy to the Cato Institute.

Moments later, Cato’s Timothy Lynch began introductions, noting the Institute's support for drug policy reform almost immediately. It may be a sign of progress that this lady can walk into a room full of reformers without even realizing it. We can't be profiled.

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I wish the woman had been

I wish the woman had been identified. Such as what organization(s) she may be a member of. To show as much...(trying to be charitable, here) ignorance she had revealed in asking the question, I'd be tempted to think she was a media representative of some sort. - kaptinemo

Welcome, Kaptinemo!

I believe she was a friend of someone else there. Not media I don't think, but that's a really good guess.

It was a cute little moment, but I don't fault her. It's our job to take this message to audiences that aren't expecting it. This nice lady got a heavy dose of reality in one sitting and I bet it did her some good.


There is a definate reason that our military and police are to be kept seperate. I can't believe that since the drug war and later 9/11 we have allowed our fears to guide us in our decisions about policing our communities. By allowing our government to take a paramilitary stance on policing we have moved ourselves closer to the Orwellian state predicted in 1984. With the inception of the Patriot Act for example we have pushed those boundaries even further. Law enforcement (and the Feds in particular) have lost sight of what and who they are protecting.

As a legal med patient of marijuana living in the state of Oregon I can speak from the front lines. I have had the pleasure of dealing with the local law enforcement on the issue with no problems. My only concern is whether the Feds are going to put enough pressure on local law enforcement or just over step their bounds and come on in themselves to stop me or fellow patients from receiving the medication we need. We need to be united standing up against the short sightedness of our government... you know the government that was designed to protect us from these kinds of abuses...

bloodhounds & pfizer?

we used bloodhounds in this country for many years. i believe that it was to differentiate us from the nazis. bloodhounds hunt and only hunt. they aren't vicious attackers like the nazi shepherd.
the change to shepherds was and is i believe, a change in mindset of police and gov't in general. it's a sign of aggression towards the people of the u.s. by the powers that be and unfortunately that are elected. along with that came totalitarian control type laws. there aren't many general laws passed in the past 20 years that don't challenge the constitution.
we are at war but it's not against drugs. it's against flagwaving fascists. the drug and terrorists laws attack americans. these laws can be used against anyone. no matter what "class" you are in. if you make an enemy with a neighbor and/or elected official or cop or he is a gov't agent of any sort you can bet you will be attacked with these laws.
God forbid that you catch one of them breaking the law as i did and end up hunted and terrorized by the whole police dept.
unfortunately the gov't has done such a good job brainwashing the general public that, even the people i love,the ones that know me best, deny my warnings and have fallen victim to their lies.
i am a bible believing christian and i believe from scripture that when God said on the sixth day that it was ALL good...he meant it. "nothing is evil of itself" and that he gave us "every green herb for meat" and "medicine" so, don't forget that you have wise christians on your side too. the holy rollers are full of hot air. read the bible and you will find many references to green herbs as food and medicine.
we must unite for the common cause of freedom and put aside prejudices to defeat evil in "high places". one of the best ways to do that is contact your leaders. especially the ones you vote for. they are so affraid of being demonized and losing their lifetime benefits because they believe the majority is against legalization. show them they are wrong.
i tell you this. every single medical smoker i know is a conservative christian. i'm talking jerry falwell and billy graham followers. they have to hide from condemation too. they look the look and talk the talk and walk the walk but, they smoke for medical relief from bothced spinal fusions to fibromyalgia to gout and arthritis to joint/back injuries.
it's God's medicine. not pfizer's or merck's. their medicine addicts and destroys livers and lives. so does their politics. remember it was pfizer that brought us the recent supreme court ruling on eminent domain. ironic isn't it? not really. they're all bedfellows the gov't and drug companies just as the gov't and oil companies. that's what you get for electing business men instead of joe citizen. God bless America.

drug companies

Your last comment about drug companies is close, but may not be quite accurate. Many chronic pain patients are treated with opiods without the development of addiction. Many people also get Marinol for a myriad of problems. Since these new prescriptions can cost over $500 a month, it makes me see another scriptual problem. "The love of money is the root of all evil"! With costs like this, you know they are making a bundle on THC and opiod products, that could very well be available, in their raw form as marijuana and opium, at a dirt cheap price!

Their companies, being public, stock providing, companies, are at an obligation to the stock-holders to make a profit! They have no social responsibility to make affordable medications available to the sick! We people have to take back our country!

And of those "businessmen" that are elected, aren't most of them lawyers??? I too, am a conservative Christian. It is refreshing to see someone who knows what the Bible has to say about these "illegal drugs"!

drugs and the forfeiture laws

Why don't they take away the cars and houses of child molestors and killers, like they do with "illegal" drugs?

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