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October 2003



Drugstore Cowboys

An excellent article in the American Prospect:
“Drugstore Cowboys –
How America’s wrongheaded war on drugs brought down Bolivia’s president”
by Christopher Hayes

…imagine, for a moment, how Paris would have reacted if, during Prohibition, Calvin Coolidge had begun paying the French government huge sums of money to burn its country’s vineyards. It seems a safe assumption that the hypothetical French prime minister who collaborated with such a policy wouldn’t have lasted long in office.

Burning Prohibition-era French vineyards may seem like a ludicrous scenario, but it’s more or less analogous to the current U.S. policy of coca eradication in Latin America. So it should come as little surprise that Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada resigned earlier this month amid growing popular opposition to his support of American eradication efforts in his country.

For Bolivia’s indigenous majority, coca is not just another plant. People have been chewing coca leaves on the altiplano — the windswept Andean plateau that stretches through the eastern third of Bolivia and parts of Peru — for about 4,000 years, and to this day coca occupies an incredibly central role in indigenous culture. “Coca leaves are used in everyday interactions in Aymara and Quechua culture as gestures of friendship, like exchanging a cigarette or a cup of coffee,” says University of Illinois anthropologist Andrew Orta, who studies the region. Aside from being chewed, the coca leaf is used in tea, rubbed on cuts and employed during ritual offerings to local deities. Because coca is grown and chewed mostly by the country’s indigenous majority, it has also become an expression of identity. Across Bolivia, graffiti, signs and T-shirts proclaim, “The Coca Leaf is Not A Drug!”

The entire article is worth reading. It shows just how out of touch our foreign policy is related to the drug war. Our drug eradication policies destroy the economies of countries and increase violence and instability, and despite all that, the net flow of drugs to the United States is not significantly reduced.
Update: Another good article on the subject in the Miami Herald by Jeffrey D. Sachs, professor of economics and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University: Another U.S. Foreign-Policy Failure.

When the preceding Bolivian government faced U.S. demands to destroy the coca crop, I advised it to insist on adequate aid to finance economic development benefiting the hundreds of thousands of displaced peasant farmers and their dependents. Desperate for any assistance at all, Bolivia’s government ultimately uprooted thousands of hectares of peasant crops — and got almost nothing in return but phony slogans about alternative development.

La Anti Droga

Wednesday release from the Drug Czar’s office: White House Drug Czar, Surgeon General, and Partner Organizations to Address Drug Use Among Hispanic Youth

“Marijuana use is a serious problem for all young people, but we are particularly concerned about the high usage rates among Hispanic eighth graders, who are using this harmful drug at […]

Winning the War on Drugs

I realized today that I missed something from the government’s most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Of course, they distributed the results they wanted known widely through press releases — lots of statistics about various changes in drug use patterns, and […]

Help reduce the number of those !#^$%#* TV Commercials!

In my in-box today from the Drug Policy Alliance:

If you could slash the amount of your tax money being spent on absurd TV ads comparing marijuana smokers to terrorists, would you act right now?

Is the pope catholic? Does a bear shit in the woods? Is the Drug Czar an unethical taxpayer-funded lobbyist?


You look nervous…

Again, via TalkLeft (as always on top of everything and incredibly prolific), the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that nervousness alone cannot support a vehicle search when police stop the car for a traffic violation. The court invalidated a consent to search that was obtained during the stop.

Noting that innocent people are frequently nervous when confronted by a law enforcement officer — a phenomenon Judge Rosemary Barkett said is shared by lawyers presenting cases to appellate judges the court said more is necessary to change a traffic stop into a drug search.


Via TalkLeft and NORML:

Pot Smokers Arrested In America At A Rate Of One Every 45 Seconds Washington, DC: Police arrested an estimated 697,082 persons for marijuana violations in 2002, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report, released yesterday afternoon. The total is among the highest ever recorded by the […]

What are they smoking?

Via Vice Squad, this article by Deroy Murdock at NRO

All seriousness aside, as funnyman Steve Allen often said, federal drug warriors keep embarrassing themselves by enforcing pointless, oppressive policies that merely ignite tax dollars as if with a Zippo lighter. Like every White House since Nixon’s, the Bush administration continues the collective, bipartisan […]

Drug WarRant Merchandise now available!

I decided to open up a store at CafeShops with Drug WarRant T-shirts, mugs, underwear, and more. Here’s a few of the designs available on Drug WarRant products:

A tribute to the pharmaceutical industry.

My own response to the Drug Czar’s annoying commercials!

OK, I really don’t know who will want to walk around […]

Odds and Ends

Welcome to the folks from Matthew’s Are You Outraged? blog. It’s always great when another blogger opposed to the drug war stops by. You can get a feel for his posts by checking out The evil of Ashcroft and the DEA knows no bounds

Caring is a very long way down the list of the things the DEA does.

DRCNet is offering a new instructional
video, “BUSTED: The Citizen’s Guide to Surviving Police
Encounters,” as their new premium gift to members donating at the
$35 level or above. Produced by the Flex Your Rights Foundation
and narrated by retired ACLU executive director Ira Glasser,
BUSTED realistically depicts the pressure and confusion of
common police encounters.

Kate Scannell in the Oakland Tribune:

As a doctor, I am stunned by the intensity of the Bush administration’s obsession with medical marijuana. It boggles my mind to think that our government officials are spending so much time and money to obstruct the use of a medication that might actually help cancer patients tolerate their chemotherapy, AIDS patients gain a little weight, glaucoma patients suffer less.

Via TalkLeft: Anyone wishing to write to Tommy Chong may do so through this address:

Thomas Kin Chong
Taft CI
PO Box 7001
1500 Cadet Road
Taft, CA 93268

Clearly at the Odd end:

Cops in Bogota, Colombia, are accustomed to finding drugs stashed on planes bound for the United States, but were surprised to find a cache of cocaine on a jet inbound from Miami.

U.S.A. Track and Field runs the wrong direction…

In USATF announces “Zero Tolerance” anti-doping plan, the organization is looking to step up efforts to stop athlete cheating and the use of performance enhancing drugs. But… … they’ve proposed a summit of major U.S. sports leagues be hosted by the Drug Czar’s office! Big mistake. Get John Walters involved and you can bet […]