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January 2004
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It’s a New Year with the same old Drug War

I had a great time the past week plus, visiting relatives. These were wonderful times with people I love who, by the way, are now almost unanimously behind drug war policy reform — I feel that I’ve had some impact there over the years.
I’m very proud of my Dad for recently asking the question of whether it’s time to look at non-criminal solutions to the drug problem when a judge was speaking at Kiwanis club (I think that was it).
So I continued to do my work informally, but now I’m back, and there’s a ton of stuff going on. It’ll take me a while to get completely caught up. Feel free to let me know if I’m missing anything major.
Here’s a few things to start with that have been reported well elsewhere.
“bullet” TalkLeft notes that cancer causes a change in Wisconsin politician Gregg Underheim‘s views of medical pot.
“bullet”TalkLeft reports on NORML’s 2003: The Year in Review for the top ten marijuana events of 2003.
The Austin Texas Chronical also had a Top 10 (or 8) Drug War Moments that were very interesting.
“bullet” Talkleft and Walter in Denver both had excellent comments on the ongoing controversy over the return of confiscated pot in Colorado. The judge has ordered it returned, the DEA refuses. A very interesting conflict, typical of the arrogance of the feds.
“bullet” The new Drug Sense Weekly has a number of items including:
There is a transcript available of John Walters’ brief appearance on CNN a couple of weeks ago. While it was primarily a puff piece, kudos to Catherine Callaway for catching the Drug Czar when he tried to lie and say that his own survey was the only one that counted.
“bullet” The new Drug War Chronicle issue, with loads of good articles, including the excellent:
In Farewell Report, Syracuse Auditor Examines Drug War, Finds It Wanting

The report had not started out as an indictment of the drug war, said Lewis. But as the numbers came in, they showed twice as many arrests for drug crimes as for any other offense — nearly one-third of them on marijuana charges. “We started looking at statistics for the Police Department because public safety is so important,” Lewis said. “But we were surprised to learn that twice as many people are arrested for drug-related incidents than for any other violation, and the violence in our neighborhoods is worse every year.”

The report did not just rely on statistics, Lewis said. “I went to many neighborhood meetings and I listened to people and talked to people,” Lewis said, “and they universally said they weren’t that concerned about others using drugs at home. It was the violence associated with drug sales on street corners that concerned them. If we made those drugs available in some other fashion, well, I don’t think we’d be spending $34 million a year to prevent people from smoking pot in their living rooms. Our policy today may be contributing to the violence, just as prohibition did for the last generation,” Lewis said.

“The police are a little concerned, but this is not an attack on the police,” Lewis clarified. “This is a question of public policy, and somebody has to ask the fundamental question: Why are these drugs illegal? When we talk about how we deal with this illegal drug or that one, we are dancing around the real question. We need to decriminalize drugs, and by that I don’t mean legalizing them but dealing with them from the medical approach, not the criminal justice approach. We need to be talking about treatment on demand, and maybe making some drugs available through harm reduction programs. We need a different approach than locking people up.”

The full report is supposed to be available soon at ReconsiDer.

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