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
March 2008
« Feb   Apr »



Oh look! Guinea Pig bedding!

Earlier this month, I thoroughly ridiculed, some upcoming Reefer Madness-style sensationalism from Nicky Taylor and the BBC. Well, it’s happened. Nicky Taylor discovered first-hand the horrifying effects of smoking marijuana and is sharing her terrifying ordeal with the rest of the world…

“I felt absolutely terrified,” recalls Nicky, a divorced mother-of-three, thinking back to her […]

ONDCP’s Scott Burns has very tiny joints

Scott Morgan takes it to the drug czar’s office with A False and Embarrassing Press Release from the Deputy Drug Czar Deputy Drug Czar Scott Burns tries to go after the decriminalization bill in New Hampshire and ends up getting it wrong big time, so much so that apparently lawmakers are passing it around for […]

More SWAT teams

“bullet” Ottawa, Illinois, population 18,307, now has their own SWAT team “bullet” Arcata, California (population 17,294) is considering it.

Glorifying the Drug War for Entertainment and Profit

The Huffington Post has given some of it space to an infomercial by DEA flack Mary Irene Cooper, who gushes about Al Roker’s new DEA unreality series on Spike TV: Inside The Real Drug War Cooper who makes her living propagandizing the drug war and getting excited about the DEA Museum, is practically wetting her […]

Stuff keeps happening

“bullet” Reports that a recent military raid by Colombia into Ecuador may have been assisted by the United States Manta air base in Ecuador that is only supposed to be used for counter drug operations. “bullet” Are federal agents intimidating patients in order to go after the Pain Relief Network? “bullet” Via Crooks and Liars, […]

A child’s game

Peru sees cocaine making a comeback

Calling B.S. on the Idea of ‘Marijuana Addiction’

at Alternet

Earlier this month, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse announced plans to spend $4 million to establish the nation’s first-ever “Center on Cannabis Addiction,” which will be based in La Jolla, Calif. The goal of the center, according to NIDA’s press release, is to “develop novel approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and […]

and some more

I’m going to my Dad’s for Easter, so probably no more posts until Monday. Here are a few other things to check out if you haven’t already… “bullet” Travel Pro Steves to Challenge Futile U.S. Drug War by Joel Connelly in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. More here “bullet” A 10-year-old girl with brain cancer would like […]

Open Thread

The Drug War Chronicle’s lead story this week is an important one: Drug Overdoses Deaths Are Going Through the Roof — Is Anybody Watching?

According to a little noticed January report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), drug overdoses killed more than 33,000 people in 2005, the last year for which firm data are […]

No Bad Drugs

Jacob Sullum has a must-read article over at Reason in which he discusses “High Society: How Substance Abuse Ravages America and What to Do About It,” by Joseph A. Califano Jr, and “The Cult of Pharmacology: How America Became the World‰s Most Troubled Drug Culture,” by Richard DeGrandpre.
Califano and his organization CASA has been discussed here numerous times (without much good to say). Jacob also rips him apart…

Although it is not always easy to decipher Califano‰s meaning in this overwrought, carelessly written, weakly documented, self-contradictory, and deeply misleading anti-drug screed […] That claim, like many Califano makes, is unverifiable, and it does not seem very plausible. […] Already I have put more thought into the alleged connection between faithlessness and drug use than Califano did. And so it is with the rest of the book. A proper debunking would require more than the 186 pages of text […] Although CASA brags about its affiliation with Columbia University, the school has less cause to be proud of that relationship, given the center‰s sloppy research and hyperbolic rhetoric.

You get the idea.
Here’s one of the key pieces:

What Califano fails to understand is that every drug, regardless of its current legal status, is potentially an angel or a demon. DeGrandpre builds upon the insights of the alternative medicine guru Andrew Weil, who first made his name with books about drugs and altered states of consciousness. ‹Any drug can be used successfully, no matter how bad its reputation, and any drug can be abused, no matter how accepted it is,Š Weil wrote in his 1983 book From Chocolate to Morphine (co-authored by Winifred Rosen). ‹There are no good or bad drugs; there are only good and bad relationships with drugs.Š

It’s a good article throughout, but I also got sidetracked at one point when Sullum called Califano a “leading exemplar” of “moralistic pseudoscience.”
Moralistic pseudoscience — what a beautiful phrase. And very apropos. I’m a bit of a word-lover, so I enjoy these things. And it got me thinking about a new word we discussed here at Drug WarRant some time ago when talking about Califano. The word was “shocktoid.”
And sure enough, it is now an accepted word in the Urban Dictionary (although Brian Bennett should be getting credit for the word instead of me).
And it really does fit Califano. Shocktoids indeed.
By the way, we have another word accepted by the Urban Dictionary: Sadomoralist.
But back to Sullum’s article. Let’s end with this incredibly bizarre behavior (yet oddly normal for Califano).

Other Califano claims are absurd on their face. In his lexicon, if a single teenager reports seeing a fellow student buy, use, or possess alcohol or other drugs at his school, that is enough to render the school ‹drug-infested.Š In a 1999 report CASA said ‹teens who smoke marijuana are playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette,Š an activity in which there is a one-in-six chance of instant death on each turn. Three years later it likened underage drinking to ‹a deadly round of Russian roulette.Š
In High Society, Califano trots out the metaphor for another purpose. ‹Russian roulette is not a game anyone should play,Š he informs readers, just in case they were considering it as an alternative to checkers. ‹Legalizing drugs not only is playing Russian roulette with children; it is also slipping a couple of extra bullets into the chamber.Š Meaning that if drug prohibition were repealed, half of America‰s children would die?

Remember, there are no bad drugs. There are merely good and bad relationships with drugs. There are, however, idiots. And that’s where Califano comes in.