Environmental Harm

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Law Enforcement: Utah "Meth Cops" Lose Out on Health Claims

More than 50 Utah law enforcement officers have filed workers compensation claims over ailments they believe were caused by exposure to methamphetamine labs, but none have been approved, and most have been dismissed for lack of evidence or because officers sought dismissal in a bid to come up with evidence. Only five cases are still pending.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/methlab4.jpg
meth lab
"They have to have enough evidence to justify the claims," said Carla Rush, adjudication manager for the Utah Labor Commission, which handles the claims. "Preferably a doctor saying they have been injured in a work-related exposure to meth. That would be the best evidence."

Scores of Utah police officers participated in breaking down clandestine meth labs in the 1980s and 1990s, wearing only standard police-issue uniforms. That was before they understood the caustic nature of some of the chemicals involved in cooking meth. Now, officers on meth lab duty wear air tanks and hazmat suits.

Those officers from the old days began filing claims asserting that a variety of physical ailments they were suffering were the result of meth lab exposure. By 2006, the Utah legislature commissioned a half-million dollar study to explore the issue. But that study, which was meant to establish a causal link between meth exposure and everything from cancer to nerve damage, was inconclusive.

The state has also paid out tens of thousands of dollars to the Utah Meth Cops Project for a scientifically unsupported detox regime backed by the Church of Scientology. But toxicologists say that toxins would have left the officers' bodies long ago, and the detox program is little more than quackery.

How about a study of legalization, to eliminate the meth lab problem once and for all -- followed by a detox from the consequences of prohibition?

Are Cocaine Users Killing the Rainforest?

The argument that cocaine users are destroying the environment is rapidly leading its proponents into a spiraling abyss of irony and incoherence:

If you're into charlie, snow, or a few lines of snort, Colombia's Vice President Francisco Santos Calderón has a message for you: your cocaine use is a "predator of the rain forest" and a serious threat to human life.

"Cocaine use requires a disposable income and during the week many users drive hybrid cars and recycle. Then, on the weekend, he or she destroys everything they believe in," Calderón said. [Huffington Post]

Wait, what!? Did he just say that cocaine users are successful and well-educated? Shall police start profiling Prius drivers for drug searches? I remember the good old days when cocaine was supposed to make you steal things and kill people.

I can’t even begin to imagine why you’d argue that cocaine is part of a healthy lifestyle if your goal is to make people stop doing it. If all this is true, then we can conclude rather easily that the problem with cocaine is how it’s produced and sold (which can be changed) rather than what happens when people use it (which cannot).

The two options are 1) illicit cocaine cultivation in the rainforest, or 2) regulated cultivation somewhere else. There is no third option in which everyone agrees not to do coke. If you wait for that to happen while the rainforests burn, you’re a bigger part of the problem than the party people who drive Priuses.

Press Release: Reformers Call For New Policy to Protect Forests From Marijuana Farms

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
OCTOBER 14, 2008

Reformers Call For New Policy to Protect Forests From Marijuana Farms
New Approach Needed to Curb Environmental Damage, Advocates Say

CONTACT: Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications ............... 415-668-6403 or 202-215-4205

SAN FRANCISCO -- Recent alarming reports of environmental damage caused by illegal marijuana farms in national forests and wilderness areas in California and elsewhere show that an entirely new approach is needed in order to solve the problem, officials of the Marijuana Policy Project said today.

    "Year after year we hear from law enforcement and U.S. Forest Service officials about growing environmental damage caused by these criminal operations, even as law enforcement seizures of marijuana plants set new records every year," said Bruce Mirken, MPP's California-based director of communications. "What we've been doing is plainly not working and has actually caused the problem in the first place. It's time to get off the treadmill and try a new approach."

    An Oct. 13 Associated Press story quoted Forest Service agent Ron Pugh describing the problem as "a crisis at every level."

    "California is a world-leading producer of two popular psychoactive drugs -- marijuana and wine," Mirken said. "California's wine industry is a huge asset to our state's economy and reputation, generating tax revenue, tourism and prestige, with no meaningful environmental problems. There is no reason marijuana should be different. They're both agricultural products, and there is nothing inherently dangerous about marijuana cultivation. The difference is that wine is legally regulated, while we consign marijuana -- the state's leading cash crop, based on government figures -- to the criminal underground where it is completely unregulated and untaxed, while all the profits go to criminals. In the process, we've effectively invited the violence from the Mexican drug trade over our borders. The problem isn't marijuana, the problem is dumb policy."

    "Last year the number of Americans who have used marijuana reached an all-time record of over 100 million. It's time to stop imagining that we can make this industry go away and time to start bringing it under responsible regulation just like our wine industry."

    With more than 25,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

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Location: 
CA
United States

Save the Rainforest From the Drug War

U.S.-sponsored efforts to fumigate Colombian coca crops have utterly failed to prevent cocaine production. But they have been very effective at destroying Colombia's national parks:
Leftist rebels, right-wing paramilitaries, and narcos that control the billion-dollar cocaine trade have invaded the 2.5-million-acre Macarena, laying waste to much of it to plant coca. Most of Colombia's 48 other national parks and nature reserves are suffering similar fates. Chased from more accessible sites by U.S.-sponsored aerial fumigation, coca growers relentlessly clear forests knowing that they are beyond the reach of the U.S.-Colombian fleet of planes because spraying of the parks is prohibited by law. [Los Angeles Times]
So what's next? Are we gonna spray crop killers on this precious irreplaceable ecosystem? Doing that will just force the drug lords to burrow deeper, leaving an ever-expanding trail of flaming destruction in their tracks.

Let's face it, rainforests are awesome. They are filled with jaguars, anacondas, and large spiders that eat chickens. I don't know what kinds of animals live in Colombian forests specifically, but I'm sure there are some wicked cool creatures in there that are worth saving.

Unfortunately, there's nothing in this entire LA Times article that even vaguely resembles a plan for stopping drug traffickers from completely destroying everything. The Colombians' best idea is literally to ask that people please stop doing cocaine, a plan so useless it isn't worth the trees that died to print it out. We are on an irreversible trajectory towards the total permanent destruction of many of the world's most unique natural resources as long as current efforts to thwart illicit drug production continue. That is just a fact.

This would all be a terrible price to pay to get rid of cocaine, except that we haven't even come close to accomplishing that and we never will. Invaluable natural resources are being destroyed for nothing. Only by ending the drug war immediately can we even begin to address this rapidly expanding ecological crisis.
Location: 
United States

Marijuana: Drug Czar Calls Pot Growers Dangerous Terrorists

In a bout of rhetorical excess unusual even for the nation's drug czar, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) head John Walters called California marijuana growers "violent criminals" and "terrorists" who wouldn't think twice about helping foreign terrorists enter the country to cause mass casualties. Walters made his remarks at a June 12 press conference in Redding, California as he lauded paramilitarized teams of law enforcement personnel conducting raids on marijuana grows on public lands in Shasta County.

People need to get over their "reefer blindness" and realize that drugs "fund terror and violence," Walters said in remarks reported by the Redding Record-Searchlight. As for pot growers tending crops on public land in the area: "These people are armed, they're dangerous," Walters said, calling them "violent criminal terrorists."

Upon reflection, the ONDCP noted the following day in its blog that Walter's comments were all good. "Do you have Reefer Blindness?" the blog post asked, qualifying the Redding Record-Searchlight story as "a good story" and displaying no second thoughts about Walters' incendiary rhetoric.

Unfortunately, no reporters present at the Walters press event challenged him on the role of marijuana prohibition in promoting violence or pushing marijuana growers onto public lands. Nor did anyone challenge him to present the least scintilla of evidence for his claim that marijuana growers would happily aid and abet Al Qaeda-style terrorists in attacking their fellow citizens. That is a good thing for Walters, because there simply isn't any.

Meth production down in state, but use is not

Location: 
SC
United States
Publication/Source: 
Spartanburg Herald Journal (SC)
URL: 
http://www.goupstate.com/article/20070707/NEWS/707070324/-1/BUSINESS

Why Does DEA Teach Meth-Cooking to the Public?

This is just bizarre. I swear, every time I think I'm on the verge of understanding what motivates these people, they find increasingly strange ways to waste our money:

Cooking methamphetamine takes only a few hours and requires simple household ingredients, like striker plates from matchbooks, the guts of lithium batteries, drain cleaner.

"It's pretty gross," said Matt Leland, who works in career services at the University of Northern Colorado and who recently helped cook the drug in a lab. "If someone was truly interested in manufacturing meth, it would not be that hard."

The Drug Enforcement Administration invited Leland and other citizens - such as software engineers, a teacher, a pastor and a school principal - to make methamphetamine last week in a lab at Metropolitan State College of Denver. [Denver Post]

Ok. We understand that DEA is teaching private citizens how to manufacture meth, but why? Why the hell would they do that?

The class was held as part of the DEA's first Citizens Academy in order to give the public a close-up view of what the agency does to keep drugs off the street.

That's interesting, and I'm eager to attend, but it doesn't answer the question because cooking meth isn’t part of DEA's job at all. Their job is, of course, to stop people from cooking meth, which has now become the precise opposite of what they're doing.

The whole thing is mindlessly indulgent when you consider that no one really needs a chemistry lesson to infer that the constant explosions at their crazy neighbor's house might explain why he has so many strange visitors.

If you're gonna teach meth-cooking, teach it to immigrant store clerks before you arrest them for naively selling household items to undercover narcs.

Location: 
United States

Can You Smell the Meth?

This story might take first prize in a week already marred by frivolous lawsuits and other stupid drug-related news:
A deputy U.S. marshal based in Charleston is suing the makers of the popular cold remedy Zicam over his lost sense of smell, which he says has put him in danger of being unknowingly exposed to methamphetamine labs.


As a federal law enforcement officer, he said his duties sometimes expose him to methamphetamine labs, which are considered dangerous to be in contact with. [Charleston Daily Observer]
Come to think of it, I too am deeply concerned about being exposed to highly-toxic meth labs. Who shall I sue? Perhaps the shortsighted legislators who've created a black market and ensured the continued illicit production of methamphetamine in our communities.

And before we get too excited about this cool drug that prevents cops from smelling things, note that Zicam's manufacturer says this is nonsense. They claim that allegations of smelling-loss occur because Zicam is a cold medicine popular among people with horrible pre-existing respiratory problems.

Sounds plausible enough, but good luck explaining "correlation is not causation" to a drug warrior.

Location: 
United States

New species of hummingbird discovered in Colombia, endangered by drugs industry

Location: 
Bogota
Colombia
Publication/Source: 
Portsmouth Herald News (NH)
URL: 
http://www.seacoastonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070515/NEWS/70515003

The Coveted ONDCP Hiking Award

Any police officer who's ever risked life and limb in the line of duty should be enraged. The Drug Czar is giving out awards to officers who hike around California forests pulling up marijuana plants. From The Willits News in Mendocino:
The Mendocino National Forest Law Enforcement team has received a national Director's Award from the President's Office of National Drug Control Policy for its outstanding service to the nation in combating marijuana trafficking on the national forest last year.


"More marijuana was taken by this team than any other group within the Forest Service in 2006," the citation from Director Walters reads. "In honor and appreciation to the individuals whose outstanding accomplishments greatly enhanced the results of the National Marijuana Eradication Initiative your remarkable efforts have helped protect America from crime, drugs and violence," the award continues.

That's simply not true. I don't recall hearing about a marijuana shortage last autumn. There's no evidence that this activity has prevented anyone from using marijuana, just as there's no evidence that stopping people from using marijuana would be beneficial even if it were possible. What we've got here are a bunch of well-meaning, highly-trained public servants whose talents are being wasted on a glorified easter-egg hunt. The only reason we don't send boyscouts to do this is that they can't be trusted.

Now to be fair, the task does involve rappelling from helicopters, which can get a bit dicey. But that's not the danger that tends be emphasized here. More typically, we're told that grow sites are booby-trapped (which is actually to thwart thieves), and that 22-caliber rifles are commonly found (which are to shoot rodents and other pests). In short, the real heroes of the forest are fire-fighters, which we could have more of if we ended drug prohibition.

Still, while I vehemently deny that there's any significant danger associated with marijuana eradication in national forests, I am prepared to acknowledge that there's a certain amount of skill involved in actually locating the plants. I've spent a considerable amount of time hiking myself, and despite my best efforts, I've never discovered a massive secret marijuana garden.

Location: 
United States

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