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October 2004



Tulia, Texas Two?

Via Scott at Grits for Breakfast is what appears to be another Tulia-style outrage, foisted upon us by the ever-corrupt drug task force process. Following a two year investigation by local, state, and federal law enforcement, there has been a massive bust in Anderson County, Texas netting 72 defendents (56 in state court and 16 […]

Good News in Afghanistan?

Vin Suprynowicz Las Vegas Review-Journal properly ridicules the government’s drug war, focusing on the problems (or interpretation thereof), in Afghanistan:

A huge problem for — and with — the gang in charge in Washington these days is that they define many of their successes as problems, requiring ever more onerous applications of force and looted tax dollars to “solve” what’s already going fine.

In addition, they describe many of their real problems as “insoluble,” when the solutions are right in front of their eyes.

No, we’re not succeeding in creating a modern nation-state. But there is good news in Afghanistan: The State Department reports the country is on pace to produce a record opium poppy crop this year.

Yep. Good news. A thriving industry able to support the common worker.

Opium, of course, is one of God’s major gifts to man. The first book of the Bible tells us that God gave man every flower- and seed-bearing plant for his use, and few have proved more useful that the poppy, whose sap can be made into codeine and morphine, which ( along with that other Godsend, cocaine ) have relieved the pain and suffering of millions.

So how do the folks in Washington respond to the fact that happy Afghan farmers are once again making an honest living producing a crop which is a Godsend to mankind? …

Needless to say, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was first into the breach, announcing last month that “coalition forces” in Afghanistan will soon have another task to distract them from tracking down Osama bin Laden — burning poppy fields. Imagine how Americans would respond if helicopters full of Afghan warriors descended on Virginia and Kentucky, burning our tobacco crops. ( Tobacco is more toxic and slightly more addictive than the opiates, according to Dr. Andrew Weil of the University of Arizona, who studies such stuff. )

But of course, we have determined that certain drugs are arbitrarily termed “evil” and must be eradicated regardless of whether that’s possible or economically viable, or whether the eradication causes more problems.

Legalize all opium products, allow the Afghans to ship through normal channels at reasonable profits, and the criminals will lose their control over the trade and the farmers, both.

It would then make no more sense for terrorists and underworld figures to try and finance their truly evil enterprises through the opium trade than it would for them to go into the business of manufacturing and smuggling aspirin — a product which our fine German friends at Farben-Fabriken Bayer delayed introducing until 1899, the year after they introduced heroin, since their chemists at the time considered aspirin the more dangerous of the two formulations.

Legalize the poppy. Problem solved.

Excellent article. Common sense. Impossible for politicians to accept.

Under the influence

Dan Forbes — one of the very best investigative journalists to take on the drug war — sent me an invitation to a book event. Not just any book event — this could be the most unusual and entertaining book event I’ve ever encountered. And yes, it’s been made clear that all my readers are invited to the party.

So, you’re invited to an East Village book bash — no stuffy readings, buy the damn book and read it yourself once you repossess your faculties — to celebrate publication of Disinformation’s latest well-schooled rant: Under the Influence: The Disinformation Guide to Drugs.

That’s you and whatever emoluments you have at hand, Thursday, October 21, 9pm to 4am at swank-deluxe Uncle Ming’s, in the heart of it all at 225 Avenue B (that’s at 13th St. for you schmoes). Yeah, it’s free. The drinks ain’t, but they’re cheap.

Forget the modest number of immodest go-go dancers, the syncopation from renowned Slipper Room vinyl spinner, DJ Ness, the no-doubt dissolute air rubbing shoulders (let’s say) with strangers similarly possessed of a certain moral casualness. Come, rather, seeking proof of the cruelties, absurdities, malfeasance & propaganda promulgated by your government to prop up an ever shakier War on Some Drugs.

Yep. I sure wish I was in New York this week.

DisInfo and editor Preston Peet have corralled the top writers on drugs (verily) for a volume chockablock with the sort of truth-to-power rarely found between soft covers:

Libertarian big-foot Jacob Sullum, of the usually eponymous Reason magazine and author of Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use (Tarcher/Putnam); New York Press columnist, author and irasciblist Paul Krassner; Daniel Pinchbeck, author of Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism (Broadway Books); bona fide contemporary shaman, Rick Doblin, who’s actually buffaloed the feds into approving his investigations of post-trauma, therapeutic Ecstasy; and ex-Village Voice columnist, Cynthia Cotts.

Not to mention Ethan Nadelmann, avatar of the Drug Policy Alliance and many state drug-reform ballot initiatives; China Syndrome screenwriter, Mike Gray, whose seminal drug policy books include Drug Crazy (Random House); Lonny Shavelson, author of Hooked: Five Addicts Challenge our Misguided Drug Rehab System (The New Press); rock star and ex-High Timeser Steven Wishnia, author of Cannabis Companion (Running Press); our beloved editor, High Timeser Preston Peet, who also edits; and Daniel Forbes, a feckless freelancer who engendered four congressional hearings and testified at two after revealing that the Clinton White House steered $22 million to the TV networks for government-approved anti-drug TV scripts and has perpetrated numerous stone-down-a-well scoops ever since. And many others too worthy to begin to try to encapsulate in an e-mail.

If you can go to the party, drop me a line afterward. I’d love to hear about it. I’ll talk about the book more some time in the future.

Attorneys General Assert States’ Rights

This article in the SFGate notes that

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer sided with two medical marijuana patients Wednesday in their U.S. Supreme Court battle with the Bush administration, arguing that patients who use locally grown marijuana in states that allow it should be protected from federal drug enforcement.

“The federal government has limited authority to interfere with state legislation enacted for the protection of citizen health, safety and welfare, ” Lockyer’s office said in papers filed with the court on behalf of California, Maryland and Washington, three of the 11 states with medical marijuana laws.

This is good news.
Perhaps a little more surprising, however, is the support that has come from other quarters, demonstrating that the ramifications of this case could be huge.
The states of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi have also filed briefs against the government. Are you trying to remember when those states passed medical marijuana laws? Don’t strain yourself. They haven’t, and aren’t likely to do so anytime soon.

“This is not a case about drug-control policy or (patients’) fundamental rights,” said lawyers from the Alabama attorney general’s office. “The point is that, as a sovereign member of the federal union, California is entitled to make for itself the tough policy choices that affect its citizens.”

Strong words, but it’s important to remember that there is an essential element to federalism that must not be lost. As Justice Brandeis said:

…to stay experimentation in things social and economic is a grave responsibility. Denial of theright to experiment may be fraught with serious consequences to the nation. It is one of the happyincidents of the federal system that a single courageousstate may, if its citizens choose, serve as alaboratory, and try novel social and economicexperiments without risk to the rest of the country.

[Thanks to Scott, again]

Scott Burns moves his lips

Scott knows I love it when the Drug Czar’s office gets trashed, so he sent me this gem from the Missoula Independent.

Everyone has heard the joke about how you can tell when operatives from the Bush administration are lying — their lips are moving. …

Moving his lips, [deputy drug czar Scott] Burns got […]

Being part of the problem

TalkLeft notes that Edwards Calls for Crackdown on Meth Labs.

Edwards said he and presidential nominee John Kerry would propose legislation to limit consumers to two standard packages per day of cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, an ingredient used in Sudafed and other drugs. Bulk sales of cold medicines would be more closely monitored to […]

No arrest

Well, Loretta failed to get arrested today, but she had an interesting discussion with a marshall:

While I was standing there waiting on Kev to get back and hating cops in general a Federal Marshal walks over to me and smiles politely and says hello. I returned his gesture and greeting all the while wondering what was about to happen and bracing for a head cracking or some such brutality.

Shockingly though, he began to tell me that he was the Marshal who was in charge of transporting Jonathan Magbie to the jail. He said he was called to the courthouse to pick him up and was expecting just another regular person convicted for smoking pot to be there waiting on him.

He said when he saw Magbie and his condition he was shocked and upset that a person like that could be sent to jail. He said he felt like the lowest piece of scum on earth for having to drive him to jail and that he felt deep down that something horrible might happen.

He told me when he read the story in the Post a few days later he broke down and cried like a baby.

He said he felt responsible to a degree but that as a federal marshal he had to do what he was told. …

He then told me that pot should be legal and that most people even on the federal side as well as regular civilian police officers felt that way as well from what he could tell.

I told him of my plans to enter Judge Retchins courtroom and unfurl my banner at 2 pm and asked him what I could expect from the Marshals. He said that I would be escorted out if I didnt get too rowdy and the charge would be disrupting court. He said that if I refused to leave the courtroom or resisted then I would be charged with contempt and arrested.

He said if he were assigned to that courtroom today that he would see that I was handled gently and treated with respect. …

He smiled, thanked me for having the courage to speak out and said with a wink If anyone asks I told you to move on.

The judge was gone for the day, so she’s going to try again tomorrow.


Young Jonathan Magbie in 1982 (paralyzed from the chin down), meeting President Reagan during the proclamation of National Respiratory Therapy Week. Last month, he was sentenced to jail for marijuana possession. It turned out to be a death sentence. Loretta Nall has been protesting outside the courthouse. She writes: “Tomorrow I plan to get […]

When Laws Go Bad, or Doing the Right Thing

I’ve posted a couple of times now about Jonathan Magbie, paralyzed from the chin down and needing a respirator to breath at night, who was arrested for possession of marijuana and sentenced to 10 days in jail where he died without proper breathing equipment There’s more at D’Alliance, and a new article in the Washington […]

Presidential Candidates Arrested at Debate Last Night

No, it wasn’t Kerry or Bush. Libertarian Candidate Michael Badnarik and Green Candidate David Cobb were arrested trying to enter the debates. Badnarik was carrying an Order to Show Cause, which he intended to serve the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). This is newsworthy on this blog, because Badnarik and Cobb recently held their own […]