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September 2003



*Jack Ryan for Senate? No.*

Jack Ryan for Senate? No. I’ve got to admit I haven’t started looking over the Illinois Senatorial candidates yet, so I really don’t know anything about them. I plan at a later date to do a little research on their views regarding the drug war. However… I’m ready to make my first elimination, based totally […]

*Lucrative New Markets*

Lucrative New Markets This New York Times article via Hit and Run (in case you didn’t know, New York has high cigarette taxes):

“A lot of people who were selling pot or heroin are now selling cigarettes,” said a 25-year-old struggling actor from East Harlem who said that he needs to dabble in cigarette dealing […]

*Luize Altenhofen*

Luize Altenhofen I want to give a warm welcome and thanks to the folks from FSU’s Warchant, where there were some very nice comments about this blog (including my favorite: “That blog is definitely most excellent, dude.”). I have never gotten a review that was displayed in such an appealing way (see screenshot). Sorry, guys, […]

*The battle continues…*

The battle continues… Judges Seek Repeal of Law on Sentencing. The 27 judges who make policy for the federal courts voted unanimously to ask Congress to repeal a new law that curbs judges’ discretion over criminal sentences. By Linda Greenhouse. [New York Times: Politics]

*Education and Drugs*

Education and Drugs
It’s worth checking out: “In Search of the Anti-Drug” by Elizabeth Armstrong of the Christian Science Monitor. This is probably the most honest mainstream article on the subject of drug education I’ve seen.
While I don’t agree with everything in the article, Armstrong understands the problems with the traditional “Just say no” approach to teaching children about drugs. She discusses the failure of everything from “Reefer Madness” to “Brain on Drugs” to D.A.R.E. And she points out:

But what happens when they don’t want to say no? What happens when the reason isn’t peer pressure or what they have or haven’t learned, but curiosity?…Just when many children are beginning to wonder what drugs feel like, they are learning little more than how to avoid them.

Kids also are smarter than most drug education programs credit, and become very skeptical when burned with misinformation, lies, or exaggerations.

“Teenage disbelief and suspicion of drug prevention programs is rooted in scare tactics,” [Meredith Maran] says. “When I was 16 and started reading stories about drugs I was taking, and compared my reality to that, I said ‘that’s that.’ To this day I don’t trust anything from those sources.”

While I am firmly in favor of legalization and ending the costly and failed prohibition policies, I recognize the importance of limiting drug use by children. There will, of course, always be curiosity and experimentation by young people. Having some drugs illegal does not change that (when I was a kid, I knew two boys who died from sniffing gasoline). So what are some good approaches?

Legalization. It is now easier for most kids to get illegal drugs than alcohol. (When’s the last time you heard about a Bacardi or Philip Morris salesman pushing his drug in the schoolyard?) The fact that some drugs are illegal can also add to the allure. Legalize and regulate.
Reality-based and science-based education. No more lies. It will take a while to get kids to believe anything you say again, but work at it. Discuss the difference between use and abuse (acknowledge that there is a distinction).
Positive alternatives. Encourage and fund extra-curricular activities (sports, music, theatre, chess club, etc.). Job opportunities.
Respect. Kids won’t trust the message if you’re making them pee in a cup or sending drug dogs through their classrooms.

Of course, this won’t be easy. The failed methods have too much momentum and investment. As Armstrong notes, even though its failures are well documented, “D.A.R.E. remains the program of choice in 80 percent of US public school systems – and the curriculum has yet to be replaced or improved upon.”

*Phone Slam!*

Phone Slam! Make a telephone call today for medical marijuana. Today is the Cheryl Miller Memorial Project phone slam.

On Tuesday, September 23, 2003, as patients and supporters visit congressional offices in Washington, medical marijuana supporters across the U.S. will be calling those same offices to thank supporters and lobby others to cosponsor HR 2233, […]

*This just makes me mad*

This just makes me mad John Ashcroft is at it again. Ashcroft not only wants to be your Attorney General. He wants to be your prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner. The latest is a memo to all federal prosecutors requiring them to seek the greatest possible sentence in all cases, including any sentencing enhancements that […]

*Pot doesn’t kill*

Pot doesn’t kill An editorial in September 20th British Medical Journal: “Comparing cannabis with tobacco — again: Link between cannabis and mortality is still not established” This editorial examined two large studies in the United States and Sweden, and determined:

“…published data do not support the characterisation of cannabis as a risk factor for mortality”


*Around the Web*

Around the Web
A nice OpEd in the Harvard Crimson, by Dr. Lester Grinspoon:

I was concerned that so many young people were using the terribly dangerous drug marijuana, so I decided to review the medical and scientific literature on the substance and write a reasonably objective and scientifically sound paper on its dangers. Young people were ignoring the warnings of the government, but perhaps some would seriously consider a well-documented review of the available data. As I began to explore the literature, I discovered, to my astonishment, that I had to seriously question my own understanding. What I thought I knew was based largely on myths, old and new. I realized how little my training in science and medicine had protected me against this misinformation. I had become not just a victim of a disinformation campaign, but because I am a physician, one of its agents as well.

You thought we had it bad? Singapore is relenting to pressure and is decriminalizing chewing gum (as long as you have a doctor’s prescription).

Until recently, the penalty for being caught with a stick of gum in Singapore was $6,000 and 12 months in jail.

Singapore is a great example of the kind of society you get with law and order taken to the extreme.
This week’s Drug War Chronicle has some good stuff. Check out the corrupt cop of the week and current action alerts.
Speaking of corrupt cops, nine Illinois officers arrested for ripping off drug dealers, via TalkLeft, which also notes that Tommy Chong may appeal his sentence on the grounds that the judge based the sentence on “the character he played and not the person he is.” TalkLeft also points out this interesting item which indicates that MADD may have stepped beyond its original mission into prohibition activities (Walter in Denver has more.)
Last One Speaks continues with some nice pieces on bad science, bad economics, and bad foreign policy in the drug war.
Desert Cat explains how an evangelical Christian can be against marijuana prohibition.
Matrix Masters gives us more on the ecstasy study retractions. Also, be sure to check out this comprehensive page on the issue at MAPS, which provides tons of articles and letters and a full chronology.
DrugSense has a wonderful opportunity to have your donation to their cause matched dollar for dollar. This would be a great way to give a little in the cause against the drug war. DrugSense and MAP provide an extraordinarily important service — the MAP archives themselves are an indispensable tool for those of us fighting the drug war cheerleaders.
Drug Policy Alliance releases a new State of the States report detailing drug reform activities in the states, including over 150 changes in state legislation from 1996-2002.

*Dare to Suck!* Had a…

Dare to Suck! Had a great time last night delivering one of my drug war rants at Theatre of Ted, and I’d like to welcome the Ted fans to Drug WarRant. One of the issues that came up from another participant was the potential loss of financial aid due to a marijuana conviction. If you’re […]