The Other Side

RSS Feed for this category

Drug Czar Visits Two States to Slam Pro-Pot Initiatives

United States
Washington Times

Fight to Legalize Marijuana Escalates War of Words

Las Vegas, NV
United States
KLAS-TV Las Vegas

More Silliness from the Drug Czar

When the paranoid family values fanatics at Focus on the Family write news stories based on quotes from John Walters, you know what you’re gonna get:

Colorado ’s initiative would allow adults to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana. That might not seem like much, but, in reality it makes between 30 and 60 joints.

Whatever. An ounce is the same amount regardless of how many joints you intend to roll, and it’s not that much. If you’re rolling 60 joints out of an ounce, try smoking two or three of them. But watch out; large joints are two to three times more dangerous than small ones.

US Drug Czar John Walters says legalization will inundate our drug treatment centers.

No, it won’t. Most marijuana users who enter treatment programs are forced to do so by the criminal justice system. Ending misdemeanor marijuana arrests will dramatically reduce the number of people entering treatment for marijuana. And to the extent that fear of arrest is a primary motivation for some who decide to quit, legalization could reduce voluntary admissions as well.

On the other hand, as my colleague Tom Angell pointed out in conversation, legalized marijuana will carry less stigma and could lead to more voluntary admissions from people who are finally comfortable admitting they’re having problems. If Tom is correct, we’ll end up with more people in treatment for marijuana who want and need it, and less people forced into treatment based on arbitrary criteria such as an arrest. Sounds good to me.

It’s an interesting discussion, but one that John Walters can’t participate in because he’s busy misinterpreting various data:

“We have more teens in treatment nationwide for marijuana dependency and abuse as teens than for all other illegal drugs combined. We have more teens seeking treatment for marijuana dependency than for alcoholism.”

This one’s actually true, but it’s his fault. Thanks to prohibition, marijuana sellers don’t have to check ID, making it the easiest drug to get if you’re underage.

I just keep telling myself that this crap can’t go on forever. Whether we win in Nevada or Colorado next month, or somewhere else down the road, the war on marijuana is an ugly swelling pimple that’s almost ready to pop. Get it over with already. You know you want to.

United States

From SAFER Colorado: Marijuana Initiative Campaign to Unveil Billboard Highlighting Drug Czar's Ad Calling Marijuana Use the "Safest Thing in the World"

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 10, 2006 On the same day the nation's Drug Czar is in town... Marijuana Initiative Campaign to Unveil Billboard Highlighting Drug Czar's Ad Calling Marijuana Use the "Safest Thing in the World" Amendment 44 proponents welcome the Drug Czar to town with hope that he will continue valuable education campaign Amendment 44 proponents to hold events in Colorado Springs (9:30 a.m.) and Denver (12:30 p.m.) to coincide with Drug Czar's visit Contact: Mason Tvert, SAFER campaign director, 720-255-4340 DENVER - On Wednesday, October 11, the proponents of Amendment 44, the initiative to make marijuana possession legal for adults in Colorado, will hold press conferences in Colorado Springs and Denver to unveil its first billboard of the campaign. These events will coincide with appearances by the nation's Drug Czar, John Walters (officially the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)). This billboard will feature a quote from a new ad that is part of the Drug Czar's National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. The quoted ad - which is designed to discourage teen marijuana use - is called "Pete's Couch" and refers to using marijuana and hanging out as the "safest thing in the world." One can watch the ad on this site - - and the transcript of the ad is pasted at the bottom of this release. The press conference in Colorado Springs - which will feature a large banner replica of the Denver billboard - will take place outside of 2 N. Cascade Ave at 9:30 a.m. The press conference in Denver will be held beneath the new billboard in the lot of Family Trucks and Vans (2468 S. Broadway, on the NE corner of Broadway and Harvard). "Our campaign is not calling marijuana the 'safest thing in the world.,'" said SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert. "These are the drug czar's words. But it is important to highlight this phrase to counter the claims of our opponents - including the drug czar himself, ironically - that marijuana is a 'very dangerous' and 'addictive' substance. Clearly, the drug czar has recognized at some level that exaggerated claims about the harms of marijuana are an ineffective means of reducing teen use. The dramatic phrase in the Pete's Couch ad is far closer to the truth." "Now that the drug czar is being more honest with teens, we invite him to share this newfound honesty with adults in Colorado," continued Tvert. "Our only point in this campaign is that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and, thus, it does not make sense to punish adults for using the safer substance. It seems like he agrees about the relative harms of the two substances. Now he just needs to get over his desire to punish adults for using a substance less harmful than alcohol. If he can do so, we welcome him to join us on the campaign trail." The Drug Czar will be holding an event of his own at South High School in Denver (1700 East Louisiana Avenue) at 11 a.m. This is just 2.5 miles from where the billboard will be unveiled at 12:30 p.m. "When the Drug Czar is done with his event," added Tvert. "We hope that he will come to the site of the billboard to discuss his motivation behind the new tone of the media campaign and his seemingly inconsistent desire to spend taxpayer dollars to travel to Colorado to spread age-old myths about marijuana's supposed harms." MEDIA EVENTS - Details Colorado Springs *** Photo opportunity - large banner replica of Denver billboard *** What: Amendment 44 press conference When: Wednesday, October 11, 2006, at 9:30 a.m. Where: In front of 2 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs Who: Mason Tvert, lead proponent for Amendment 44 Denver What: Amendment 44 press conference to unveil new billboard When: Wednesday, October 11, 2006, at 12:30 p.m. Where: 2468 S. Broadway, on the NE corner of Broadway and Harvard (in the lot of Family Trucks and Vans) Who: Mason Tvert, lead proponent for Amendment 44 ================== Transcript of Pete's Couch ad (Provided by ONDCP at (Scene opens with a guy sitting on the couch talking directly to the camera) I smoked weed and nobody died. I didn't get into a car accident, I didn't O.D. on heroin the next day, nothing happened. (Shot widens to show the guy with two friends sitting on the couch) We sat on Pete's couch for 11 hours. Now what's going to happen on Pete's couch? Nothing. (Shot now shows the guys on the couch in the middle of the woods with some mountain bikers riding by. Then to a basketball court. Then an ice rink.) You have a better shot of dying out there in the real world, driving hard to the rim, ice skating with a girl. No, you wanna keep yourself alive, go over to Pete's and sit on his couch til you're 86. Safest thing in the world. (Shot now shows the guys on the couch outside a movie theater. The guy talking gets up from the couch and walks into the theater) Me? I'll take my chances out there. Call me reckless. ( logo appears)
United States

US Worries Opium From Afghanistan Will Enter US Market

United States
Voice of America

A Failure Cake with Poison Icing

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

JALALABAD, Afghanistan -- With profits from this spring's record opium crop fueling a broad Taliban offensive, Afghan authorities say they are considering a once unthinkable way to deal with the scourge: spraying poppy fields with herbicide.

Apparently Karzai is opposed to the idea…

But U.S. officials in Kabul and Washington are pushing for it. And on Thursday the country's top drug enforcement official said he would contemplate spraying opium crops - even with airborne crop-dusters - if other efforts fail to cut the size of the coming year's crop.

So if these “other efforts” that have never worked in the history of the world don’t suddenly start working this year, we’ll be pouring poison on the problem. It’s an idea so bad it could cost us two wars at once.

But former Drug Czar and herbicide evangelist Barry McCaffrey is all for it:

We know exactly where these fields are. They're absolutely vulnerable to eradication. And it is immeasurably more effective to do it with an airplane," McCaffrey said by telephone from Virginia. "I've been telling the Pentagon, if you don't take on drug production you're going to get run out of Afghanistan."

But Lt. Gen. Mohammed Daoud Daoud points out that Afghanistan’s biggest opium producing region might be hard to hit:

"They have rockets," the bearded general said, fingering a string of prayer beads. "We can't spray there."

We’ll see about that. General Daoud might be underestimating us if he thinks our leaders are afraid to risk American lives in order to spray chemicals on poor farmers in a foreign country. We’ve done it before, and we seriously don’t care who gets hurt or whether it works at all.

United States

Panel Advises Cutting Salaries at Agency (ONDCP)

Washington, DC
United States
Associated Press

ONCDP Media Campaign: Drug Czar's Anti-Drug Ads a Flop, GAO Says

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that the $1.4 billion anti-drug advertising campaign aimed at youth and managed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the drug czar's office, ONDCP) doesn’t work. The title of the GAO report, "ONDCP Media Campaign: Contractor's National Evaluation Did Not Find That the Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign Was Effective in Reducing Youth Drug Use, pretty much says it all.
evidently doesn't work...
The GAO report is at least the third to criticize the program in the past three years. In 2003, the White House Office of Management and Budget qualified the program as "non-performing" and lacking any demonstrable results. In 2005, Westat, Inc. and the University of Pennsylvania did a $43 million federally-funded study that again found the campaign didn’t work. That evaluation found that kids and parents remembered the ads and their messages, but that the ads did not change kids' attitudes toward drugs. It also suggested that reported drops in teen drug use came not from the ad campaign but from a range of other factors.

The GAO study released last Friday evaluated Westat's evaluation of the ad campaign and found it credible. "GAO’s review of Westat’s evaluation reports and associated documentation leads to the conclusion that the evaluation provides credible evidence that the campaign was not effective in reducing youth drug use, either during the entire period of the campaign or during the period from 2002 to 2004 when the campaign was redirected and focused on marijuana use," GAO said in its executive summary.

ONDCP has, unsurprisingly, attacked the GAO report. Spokesman Tom Riley told USA Today the report is "irrelevant to us. It's based on ads from 2 ½ years ago, and they were effective, too. Drug use has been going down dramatically. Cutting the program now would imperil its progress."

Drug czar John Walters also complained that Westat wanted proof of an actual link between the ads and figures suggesting lower drug use among teens. "Establishing a causal relationship between exposure and outcomes is something major marketers rarely attempt because it is virtually impossible to do," Walters said in a letter. "This is one reason why the 'Truth' anti-tobacco advertising campaign, acclaimed as a successful initiative in view of the significant declines we've seen in teen smoking, did not claim to prove a causal relationship between campaign exposure and smoking outcomes, reporting instead that the campaign was associated with substantial declines in youth smoking."

Unlike Walters, Congress may want to see some sort of causal relationship between the ad campaign and drug use figures before it funds it for another year. The Bush administration wants another $120 million for fiscal year 2007, but the GAO said that absent a better plan from Walters, funding should be cut. Congress will consider the issue this fall.

Higher Education Act Reform Campaign

Since 1998 DRCNet has campaigned for repeal of the drug provision of the Higher Education Act (also known as the "Aid Elimination Penalty,") a 1998 law that delays or denies federal financial aid to people convicted of state or federal drug offenses -- since taking effect in the fall of 2000, nearly 200,000 students have been denied aid under this law. The major component of this effort has been our coordination of the Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform (CHEAR), a coalition including some of the nation's leading religious, criminal justice, drug treatment, education, civil rights and health organizations which seeks to repeal the drug provision. Ten members of Congress spoke at our May 2002 press conference, a record in drug policy reform.

The campaign scored a major victory in February 2006, when the drug provision was scaled back to apply only to people whose drug offenses were committed while they were in school and receiving federal aid.

Also in February, DRCNet issued our first major report, published under the auspices of CHEAR, "Falling Through the Cracks: Loss of State-Based Financial Aid Eligibility for Students Affected by the Federal Higher Education Act Drug Provision," finding that a majority of states deny state financial aid to applicants because of drug convictions, even though few of them have laws on the books directing them to do so. Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez of Maryland offered legislation in the state's 2006 session to address that situation, and efforts underway in states around the country to take on the issue at that level.

Speakers appearing in this photo include Rep. Bobby Rush (at the podium), with Rep. Tammy Baldwin, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Rep. Robert Andrews, drug provision victim Caton Volk, Jo'ie Taylor of the United States Student Association, Students for Sensible Drug Policy national director Shawn Heller and Legal Action Center representative Jennifer Collier.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School