Send comments, tips,
and suggestions to:
Join us on Pete's couch.
couch, the longest running single-issue blog devoted to drug policy, is published by the Prohibition Isn't Free Foundation
December 2007



Ooh, scary drugs!

Whenever the Drug Czar links favorably to some news report, I pretty much expect that it’ll be pretty amazingly stupid.

Bertha Madras said drug use and abuse are associated with all kinds of problems. Madras, deputy director of demand reduction in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, mentioned that drugs can cause […]

Odds and Ends

… and another open thread, as I continue my vacation in the snowy wilds of Iowa.
“bullet” Via Scott at Grits for Breakfast… Apparently, the U.S. government is not only running cocaine, but providing loans to Mexican drug cartels.
Well, the loans were supposed to be to help trade with Mexico, so I guess that works.
“bullet” OpEd by Rob Kampia: If Tobacco Regulation Works, Why Not for Marijuana?
“bullet” Fortunately, she wasn’t home… Drug Police Smash Down Front Door of Innocent Gran in Cannabis Search

DRUG-busting police smashed down the front door of a grandmother’s house in a hunt for a cannabis farm.
Anne Mayor was stunned when she returned to her small home in Aintree to discover six officers had broken in and scoured it for drugs. […]
“The officer apologised, but I don’t want an apology. It’s not good enough.”

“bullet” OpEd by Paul Armentano: Ending America’s Domestic Quagmire: No-Knock, You’re Dead
“bullet” OpEd by Sanho Tree: What Darwin Teaches Us About the Drug War

As politicians intensified the drug war decade after decade, an unintended consequence began to appear. These ‹get toughŠ policies have caused the drug economy to evolve under Darwinian principles (i.e., survival of the fittest). Indeed, the drug war has stimulated this economy to grow and innovate at a frightening pace.
By escalating the drug war, the kinds of people the police typically capture are the ones who are dumb enough to get caught. These criminal networks are occasionally taken down when people within the organization get careless. Thus, law enforcement tends to apprehend the most inept and least efficient traffickers.

“bullet” Greg Francisco at LEAP: Making Criminals Out of People Who Are Not
“bullet” Need a job? Search under way for new drug war czar (No, it’s not Walters’ job, just a HDTA task force executive director position.
“bullet” “drcnet”

Open Thread

Still on the road visiting family. Finally getting some internet access at my mom’s place in Iowa. Pretty strange to move one state over to Iowa and suddenly there is a massive Presidential campaign going on! Yard signs, endless TV ads, and more. Yet in Illinois, relative silence. What a dysfunctional electoral system. “bullet” In […]

NPR says Drug Czar’s claims full of holes

Holes Found in U.S. Claims of a Drug-War Win

For the past few months, the federal government has been celebrating the fact that U.S. cities are experiencing “an unprecedented cocaine shortage” due to increased law enforcement in the southwestern United States and Mexico. But fact-checking by NPR reveals that while there are indeed spot shortages […]

Open Thread

I’m going to be on the road for the next week visiting family. My online access will be spotty, but I’ll be stopping in now and then adding some more posts when I can. For those of you traveling – be safe. And I wish all of you a wonderful Christmas. “bullet” Just a Girl […]

Oakland’s Mayor Speaks Out

Via MPP – a statement from Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums

‹As the mayor of a city that believes in compassionate care, we support Medical Cannabis Dispensaries. We are discouraged to learn of the DEA‰s actions that appear to be in opposition to the will of the residents of this city. Rep. Conyers, Chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, expressed deep concern over the DEA landlord threats and other efforts to undermine California law, and committed to sharply questioning these tactics as part of the committee‰s oversight efforts. I am grateful for and supportive of Rep. Conyers‰ concerns.Š

He’s also sent a letter to Conyers, urging hearings

The DEA’s recent surge tactics, such as the dissemination of threatening letters to property owners and unrelenting raids that continue to place citizens in harm’s way, undermine state and local authority, and jeopardize the integrity of state law. We urge the House Judiciary Committee to expeditiously hold hearings and examine this very important issue.

Supply Side Economics

They’re So Scared They Put 20 Tons on One Ship! by Jacob Sullum at Hit and Run

Is a rising seizure total a sign of success or a sign that the volume crossing the border has increased? Is an increase in large-volume seizures a sign of smugglers’ desperation or a sign that smugglers are not […]

L.A. cops complain about law enforcement

Due to rampant/Rampart abuse by Los Angeles police in the past, a federal plea bargain required that officers in gang and narcotics divisions sign disclosure agreements documenting their finances, starting in 2001 (to ensure that they weren’t skimming). It’s just now finally starting to be enforced, and the officers are threatening to quit or file […]

Plan Mexico and fundamental economic principles

From the Council on Hemispheric Affairs comes a detailed discussion of Plan Mexico: Does the Merida Initiative Represent a New Direction for U.S.-Mexico Relations, or Does It Simply Refocus the Issue Elsewhere? by Laura Starr and Maria Delle Donne.
The article does a good job of looking at the entire picture, including the controversy over the secret nature of the negotiations, and some of the real concerns that the Merida Initiative is intended to address.
What’s most important comes near the end of the article. The authors clearly understand simple, incontrovertible facts regarding the nature of economics and drugs that seem to escape our political leaders (or are intentionally ignored by them).

While Merida may witness an increase in border security and thus, logically, the number of seizures occurring, it is unlikely that it will be able, in its present form, to inhibit the overall trafficking of drugs. The continuance of such anti-drug aid simply encourages traffickers to seek other alternatives because as long as there is demand, traffickers will ensure the same for an adequate supply. Therefore, prices will be driven up as drastic measures are taken to ensure delivery, as referred to by Bill Piper, director of The Drug Policy Alliance: “Supply-side strategies have failed for cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and virtually every drug to which they have been appliedÖincluding alcohol during Prohibition.”
Fundamental economic principles demonstrate why: as long as a strong demand for drugs exists, there will be a supply to meet it. There are always newly organized cartels ready to step into someone’s place should he or she be arrested or made to flee. […]
The Merida Initiative may appear on the surface to strengthen United States-Mexican relations. However, it may not go far in averting drug traffickers’ intentions as they seek borders and routes elsewhere. Meanwhile, drug consumption will remain high, and traffickers will readily be able to sell drugs while purchasing any number of weapons necessary to get the job done.

Open Thread

“bullet” You know they’re going to get coal in their stockings… Santa Claus shot at by drug dealers while flying south. “bullet” Ethan Brown: Big Easy offers only tough choices for America’s drug war in the Guardian “bullet” Jacob Sullum: The Dose Makes the Poison, Even for Marijuana Smoke. Sullum clears up mis-information about a […]