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Drug Czar's Office Re-evaluating Marijuana Policy: "We're trying to base stuff on the facts"

There's a new spokesman at the drug czar's office and I'm kinda liking him so far:

Doug Richardson, a spokesman for the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the office is in the process of re-evaluating its policies on marijuana and other drugs.

Richardson said the office under Obama was pursuing a "more comprehensive" approach than the previous administration, with emphasis on prevention and treatment as well as law enforcement.

"We're trying to base stuff on the facts, the evidence and the science," he said, "not some particular prejudice somebody brings to the table." [AP]

Yeah, yeah, I know, it's all a bunch of feel-good political pandering that means little if anything in terms of actual meaningful policy change. But think about the fact that the drug czar's office is now constantly and rather blatantly pandering to people who don't like the drug war. That's the target audience for this kind of language and it's awfully refreshing to finally find them on the defensive.

Really, all this talk about basing everything on science from now on is a rather huge rebuke of the people who ran the office during the Bush Administration. The current ONDCP is going around basically suggesting that our drug policy wasn't based on facts before. To even suggest such a thing raises rather fundamental questions surrounding the legitimacy of every drug war strategy that was employed prior to 2009. Surely, that's not what they mean, but I'd love to hear a reporter follow up on this and ask for examples of non-science-based drug policy for the sake of comparison.

No matter how you interpret it, this sort of rhetoric from the drug czar's office is yet another powerful testament to the progress of our movement. We've made the issue so controversial that the new drug warriors are afraid to be associated with the old ones.
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If they're serious about following facts evidence and science

regarding cannabis, then it's all over but the shouting, there will still be a lot of that before liberation day. If the drug czar intends to still defend cannabis prohibition, he needs to clearly say why cannabis users deserve to be treated so extremely differently from alcohol users. Never gonna happen. Because the facts evidence and science are indisputable that alcohol is responsible for far, far, far more deaths and serious injuries than cannabis. He doesn't have a prayer of coming up with anything about cannabis that could begin to overcome the demerits alcohol earns for the way some people act under its influence. So what public good is being served by "driving people to drink"?

Time will tell

Pittily, there is a prohibitonistic "based on sciene"-approach practiced over here in Europe. The arguing being structured as follows:

1. Cannabis consumption might be harmful derived from the fact that it may trigger shizophrenia, development of addictive behaviours or cancer.
2. The scientifc data on how dangerous it is, is inconsistent.
3. Thus, more research is needed until a consistent evaluation of dangers is possible.
4. As there are some studies finding that Cannabis is very dangerous keeping status quo until aid consistency is achieved is the right politics.

And since said some weird studies finding that Cannabis is very dangerous will never vanish, inconsistency of scientific data remains and the status quo is kept for ever.

1. Science; 2. Peace; 3. Trade-offs

1. "The evidence and the science"-- no voices are now heard seriously disputing the evidence that hot burning overdose 700-mg. nicotine $igarettes now kill 5.4 million persons a year (WHO, Feb. 7, 2008) or will kill 6 million (ding, dong, everybody, the magic number! -- American Cancer Society) in 2010. The challenge to science, i.e. to the researchers and institutions who claim to be perpetrating it, is to find ways to put an end to this deja vu all over again every year holocaust, one of them being to permit not only medical patients but children attracted to smoking, and other population groups, to try some different herb(s) than addictive nicotine genocide tobackgo.

2. Pres. Obama says he regards the Nobel Prize as an encouragement for the United States and all its citizens to take the leadership in pursuing peace. History: maybe it was believed to be in the service of making the world safe for democracy, but $igarette consumption in the US doubled between 1913 and 1918. The leader of US forces in the then greatest war in history, General Pershing, said tobackgo was our country's best "soldier". Famous and beloved Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the Under-Secretary of the Navy, was among ladies passing out free $igarettes to any and all wounded boys in the Naval hospitals in 1918. Solzhenitzyn listed burning the skin with $igarettes twelfth on a list of torchery methods used in the Gulag already by 1926. An October 2009 Time Magazine containing a big article about the WAR in Afghanistan has a cover picture of an obese baldheaded GI with the stub of a $igarette in his mouth.

Anyone seriously interested in the science, or engineering of peace will be interested in reducing teenage recruitment into the worldwide #1 weapon of mass destruction, hot burning overdose nicotine $igarettes. Like the good gorilla in the room this time, now there's the potential of cannabis to (a) substitute for tobackgo as herb for kids to experiment with, (b) teach users ("one-toke herb") to moderate their consumption, drastically reduce carbon monoxide exposure etc. by using long-stemmed one-hitters, e-cigarette with THC loaded in the cartridge, plug-in vaporizers and other equipment the public today is afraid to own because the federal government only approves of tax-paying hot-burning overdose and a rogue cop might confiscate and destroy your $600 Volcano on the pretext that it is used for illegal "drugs".

3. Aside from all prejudice, any "harm" which can result from using cannabis (a) can be reduced or eliminated by using one-hitters, vaporizer etc. instead of hot-burning $igarette papers, and (b) must be measured against the 6-million/year $igarette mortality, plus the hazards of medical treatments which may fail or go awry trying to treat illnesses which were caused by tobackgo overdosing anyway. (Hospital treatments and prescribed medications are now credited with 100,000 deaths yearly in the US alone.) Realistic assessments should be made of the trade-offs arrived at should cannabis be widely adopted as a means of preventing or reducing $igarette addiction as well as other illnesses now treated with possibly far more hazardous medications.

Facts Are A Good Thing

If Gil Kerlikowske is really serious, and if he can pull it off, this means the ONDCP has spewed its last bit of crap.

The final battleground of prohibition will be one that respects the scientific method.  If it happens, two things will be achieved.

First, the drug law reform lobby will have a common language with which to engage the opposition—the language of science.  No more ooga-booga from the government.  Reality-ville reigns.  A drug war dialogue existing on a single communications platform is a quantum leap for civilization.

Second, using numbers, logic, reason and science (AKA facts—they’re all connected) finally gives everyone a way to come to conclusions and responses that we can all identify with and therefore live with.  The hype, superstitions, moralizing and other assorted trash of drug prohibition will be gone.

Had there been a serious scientific dialogue on the drug war at the level of government, instead of the drug profanity of the Nixon-Reagan-Bush eras, we would by now have reduced the drug war to one among many sordid lessons of history.  Sadly, by choosing a drug war instead of a drug peace, there’s been an incalculable loss of time, money and lives.


More of the same?

Unfortunately, the ONDCP and the "Drug Czar" have used what they have considered to be "facts and science" for many years. Given the Obama administration has either lied and done the opposite of what they promised, or even advanced further the Bush-era doctrines, I give little credence to any claims that state they will be looking to science.

Just the facts

If they are going to base stuff on facts, it will be a first. It is getting difficult to tell people, pot will make you crazy, or that you will jump out of a window, or try to kill yourself or someone else. I really can't see how they will lie their way out of this one. Maybe they will realize it's getting hard to make a case against pot.

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