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March 2015
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Why do they call them “Jolly” Ranchers?

Over at the Watch, Radley has a partial list of substances that have tested positive for illegal drugs with field testing kits.

  • Sage
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Motor oil
  • Spearmint
  • Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap
  • Tortilla dough
  • Deodorant
  • Billiards chalk
  • Patchouli
  • Flour
  • Eucalyptus
  • Breath mints
  • Loose-leaf tea
  • Jolly Ranchers

Go to the story for links on each.

Just a warning to all you home cooks, mechanics, pool sharks, and odor-conscious humans out there.

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Crack babies from marijuana smoke

The Fox News Medical A-Team: Fox News doctor: ‘Crack babies’ come from women ‘smoking this whole marijuana business’

“We’re seeing in Colorado that we had 13 kids that came to the emergency [room] and ended up in the ICU as a result of overdose from marijuana,” Samadi said. “Now we have crack babies coming in because pregnant women are smoking this whole marijuana business.”

For those who were wondering, “Now we have crack babies coming in because pregnant women are smoking this whole marijuana business” is apparently some kind of official medical jargon.

Mr. T would pity this fool.

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Washington, DC. February 26, 2015

whitehouse

Oh, wait…

No, that was Washington, DC in 1814. Sorry.

My bad.

Ah, here we go.

idDay

Um… no.

That’s from the fictional movie “Independence Day.”

Hmmm…

Where are all the scenes of destruction from today’s cataclysm?

DC Legalizes Pot, Ignoring House Republicans

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Comparing drugs

A number of people have been talking about this article: How scientists rank drugs from most to least dangerous — and why the rankings are flawed.

I understand the concerns about rankings. Certainly, there are a lot of different ways to make comparisons, and broad charts of relative dangers are not scientifically exhaustive in their detail.

I would, however, argue for more use of rankings and broad comparisons, for the purpose of helping consumers put things in proper perspective.

Too often, government officials and other prohibition-enablers have avoided comparisons in order to mislead the public about the dangers of specific drugs.

For example, every thing that the government has ever said about marijuana and driving would sound completely different if they were required to put it in perspective as a comparison with alcohol.

We know full well that if you really want to, you can make anything sound dangerous. (See Dihydrogen Monoxide.) Especially with the push of such agencies as NIDA, you can find a study about any specific drug that will say something “scary.”

Our government bombards the public with all sorts of scary stuff about specific drugs, and consumers don’t know what to believe. Context is essential.

Let’s have more comparisons, even though they may be imperfect, not fewer.

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Posse Comitatus as an argument against marijuana legalizers?

Mark Kleiman delivers what may be his most tortured and convoluted attack on marijuana legalization to date.

Over at “About News,” where they ironically credit Kleiman as their “Marijuana Legalization Expert,” he writes: Racism and Reefer Madness

He starts by mentioning that Johann Hari’s book talks about the racist origins of marijuana prohibition (“it’s a staple of the anti-prohibition literature” Mark says), and then he goes off the rails.

The Posse Comitatus Act forbids the use of the U.S. military in civilian law enforcement. Sounds like a pretty good idea, right? We want our soldiers fighting foreign enemies, not arresting random bad guys. The example of Mexico shows us that, in particular, we don’t want our military engaged in fighting the “drug war.”

But – as Lt. Colombo would have said – there’s just one thing. The Posse Comitatus Act was passed in 1878 as the consummation of the corrupt bargain in which the Republicans were allowed to steal the Presidency for Rutherford B. Hayes in return for ending all attempts to protect the rights of black people to vote in the South. The passage of the act marked the transition from Reconstruction to the Jim Crow era and the acknowledgement of white racial hegemony. There could hardly have been a more racist piece of legislation: not just in effect but in intent. (When President Eisenhower sent troops to enforce school desegregation the South in the 1950s, he had to invent a legal way around Posse Comitatus.)

Does the racial background behind the passage of the Posse Comitatus Act mean that we should now repeal it, and allow the military to arrest civilians for ordinary crimes? Of course not. But then why are we supposed to believe that the racial animus that motivated Harry Anslinger most of a century ago has some sort of direct relevance to the question of how to change the drug laws now?

Really?

Apparently because one good law came about, according to him, as an indirect result of racism, that weakens the argument for legalizing cannabis.

That’s just the most bizarre thing ever.

Now, if the only thing wrong with cannabis prohibition was its racist origins, and it otherwise was good policy, that might be a logical argument. But no legalizer has ever made that claim.

No. Legalizers have a massive list of things wrong with cannabis prohibition. The racist origin aspect is primarily a counter to the completely untrue notion (often put forward by prohibitionists) that criminalization came about due to scientific reasons. Talking about the racist origins of cannabis prohibitions also sheds light on the fact that enforcement is hugely racist in its impact today (something Mark clearly doesn’t want to discuss, and it’s hardly touched on in his “Marijuana Legalization” book).

But Kleiman has used this kind of anti-legalizing argument in the past – attacking one legalization argument at a time (amount of tax revenue likely to be generated, amount of impact on cartels, etc) as being imperfect in some way by itself, thereby supposedly negating the entire argument against criminalization.

The fact is, there is a huge list of reasons for ending prohibition, and countering legalization requires addressing the whole.

And his counter to legalization, in my view, is clearly insufficient:
1. The notion that legalization, unless we follow policies his way, will “increase the number of minors who damage their life-chances by spending too many teenage hours stoned, or to increase the prevalence of diagnosable Cannabis Use Disorder,” (with no proof of this supposed apocalypse) and
2. His ‘Mark knows best’ nanny-state approach is the only way to conduct reform.

Because Mark does consider himself a reformer. He says that the laws as they exist are bad. And yet he finds it necessary to attack legalization advocates whenever he can with completely nonsensical arguments (because he doesn’t have any good ones?), as if that will somehow bolster his position.

Mark, if you truly believe that your approach is right, then show it, prove it, or convince people to try it. But using this kind of dishonest approach to tearing others down really cheapens everything you have to say.

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The sometimes painfully slow growth of activist memes.

Reading my Facebook feed this morning, I saw a number of references to John Legend’s acceptance speech at the Oscars last night: Oscars 2015: John Legend Makes Slavery Comparison in Acceptance Speech

“We live in the most incarcerated country in the world,” Legend said. “There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850.”

And PolitiFact was on Twitter, verifying that it was, in fact, true.

And there was a part of me inside screaming, “Yes! Those of us in drug policy reform have been trying to tell you things like this for years! Haven’t you been listening?”

It was a similar internal reaction to when there was massive public response to the police shooting (and subsequent police overreaction) in Ferguson, Missouri.

But I think it’s important to understand that moving a public discussion in a population of hundreds of millions with entrenched views and self-interests is like placing pebbles in the path of a glacier. It can be a painfully slow process at times, but it is essential to get that process started.

Sometimes it can seem like you’re making no progress at all. Yet those of us who have been working on it for years can see the dramatic difference if we step back and view the entire picture — how significantly our overall mass trajectory has been altered.

And that makes it worthwhile (while also pointing out that we cannot stop our efforts).

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Coalition for Public Safety

Unlikely Cause Unites the Left and the Right: Justice Reform

Usually bitter adversaries, Koch Industries and the Center for American Progress have found at least one thing they can agree on: The nation’s criminal justice system is broken.

Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by the conservative Koch brothers, and the center, a Washington-based liberal issues group, are coming together to back a new organization called the Coalition for Public Safety. The coalition plans a multimillion-dollar campaign on behalf of emerging proposals to reduce prison populations, overhaul sentencing, reduce recidivism and take on similar initiatives. Other groups from both the left and right — the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, the Tea Party-oriented FreedomWorks — are also part of the coalition, reflecting its unusually bipartisan approach.

This is pretty huge. Getting such diverse players from all parts of the political spectrum, including groups that normally hate each other, all working together for criminal justice reform, that gives it a lot of weight.

In the past, reform efforts have often been hamstrung because of politicians afraid of being targeted for “soft on crime” ads, but with institutional political support on both sides of the aisle, that’s less likely to happen.

Here’s their website: The Coalition for Public Safety

It’s not going to do everything that needs to be done, but it sure could help get us moving in the right direction.

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Another idiotic lawsuit against Colorado

Safe Streets: Our Lawsuit to Block the Legalization of Marajuana

Yep, that’s how they spelled it.

Safe Streets Lawsuit to Block the Legalization of Marajuana

Together with several of its members and others who have been injured by the commercial marijuana industry in Colorado, Safe Streets filed suit in federal court to vindicate the federal marijuana laws. The suit alleges that state and local officials in Colorado are violating federal law by promoting the commercialization of marijuana. Safe Streets is asking the federal courts to order Colorado officials to comply with federal law and stop issuing state licenses to deal illegal drugs.

In addition to suing Colorado officials for giving comfort to the marijuana industry, Safe Streets and the other plaintiffs are also directly suing several prominent participants in the industry itself. Federal racketeering laws give private plaintiffs injured by the operations of a commercial drug conspiracy the right to an injunction, treble damages, and attorney’s fees. In addition to shutting down the operations targeted in its suit, Safe Streets hopes that its use of the federal racketeering laws will serve as a model for other business and property owners who have been injured by the rise of the commercial marijuana industry.

What are they doing? Suing on behalf of the Mexican drug-trafficking-organizations? Seems to me that they (and others who profit from prohibition) are the only ones being harmed by legalization.

And, of course, love the beginning:

“America is Committed to Being Drug Free”

and the side-bar

“Commitment to Drug Free Youth”

Um, no. America has never been drug free, and never will be drug free. That’s just a nonsensical proposition, like saying that America is Committed to Being Sugar Free, or Bug Free, or Oxygen Free, or Clothes Free.

In fact, American is pretty firmly committed to drugs – lots of them. We buy a third of a trillion dollars worth of legal prescription drugs each year. (yes, that’s with a “T”), over 100 billion on alcohol, and over 80 billion on tobacco. And, while the numbers for the next fact are from 2007-2008, one out of every five children reported using at least one prescription drug in the month prior to being surveyed.

So peddle your drug-free somewhere else. It’s not welcome here.

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Guidelines for an afternoon ritual

Vanity Fair has a pleasant piece by Micah Nathan: A Nice Bowl of Weed

When I think about my experiences with cannabis, I find no fewer than 10 outstanding rules for enjoying the perfect bowl of weed. Orwell had 11 rules for his cup of tea, and he claimed at least four were controversial; I have no comparison. Controversy, as one would expect among marijuana enthusiasts, is soon lost in a warm, smoky haze. Or vapor, if I’m being literal.

The guidelines seem quite appropriate, to me. You may have differing opinions…

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Open Thread

Interesting approachpolice

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