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December 2008



Why do we keep falling behind in privacy rights?

An interesting decision in Canada:

A judge in St. John’s recently decided that a man found with 14 grams of cocaine, 62 ecstasy pills and $11,000 in cash had an expectation of privacy when he checked his luggage prior to a flight in 2006. […] Crown prosecutors argued Mr. Crisby gave up all his privacy […]

Preemptive opposition to Ramstad as Drug Czar

Reported at Politico

A coalition of advocacy and nonprofit organizations, including the National Black Police Association, sent a letter today to President-elect Barack Obama preemptively pushing back against the nomination of Rep. James Ramstad (R-Minn.) to be head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, or “Drug Czar.”
Ramstad has not been nominated for the position, but his name has been mentioned in Democratic circles and he has expressed gratification at the prospect of his consideration.
“While we applaud Representative Ramstad for his courageous and steady support for expanding drug treatment access and improving addiction awareness, and honor his own personal and very public triumph over addiction, we have strong reservations about his candidacy for the drug czar position,” reads the letter.
The coalition, which includes civic and drug-policy reform organizations, cites his past opposition to medical marijuana, needle exchange and sentencing reform as reasons for concern.

The list of signers is impressive, as is the letter:

While we applaud Representative Ramstad for his courageous and steady support for expanding drug treatment access and improving addiction awareness, and honor his own personal and very public triumph over addiction, we have strong reservations about his candidacy for the drug czar position. In his twenty-eight years in the U.S. House, Representative Ramstad has consistently opposed policies that seek to reduce drug-related harm and create common ground on polarizing issues. […]

We urge you to nominate for drug czar someone with a public health background, who is committed to reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other infectious diseases, open to systematic drug policy reform, and able to show strong leadership on the issues you believe in.

Matthew DeLong, at the Washington Independent also picked up on it:

Admittedly, I know almost nothing about Ramstad. If the letter accurately states his positions, he‰s probably a poor choice to direct the new administration‰s drug control policy.
However, if Obama is determined to put a bipartisan face on his anti-drug efforts, reformers may have several reasons to remain optimistic. […]
Finally, and most important, there is this comment Obama made Monday at a press conference in which he named his foreign policy team:

“I will be setting policy as president. I will be responsible for the vision that this team carries out, and I expect them to implement that vision once decisions are made. As Harry Truman said, ‹The buck will stop with me.Š

Presumably, this will apply to all aspects of the new administration‰s domestic and foreign policy, including drug control.

Related to this, the SSDP petition to President-elect Obama (making a similar request) is up to around 9,000 signatures already.

Repeal Prohibition – We can do it again

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition held a press conference yesterday to tie the 75th Anniversary of the repeal of prohibition (Friday) to today’s equally damaging prohibition, and to show how legalizing drugs could boost the economy.
They’re also rolling out the website: Check it out and get involved.
It’s early to tell if they get a lot of press from it, but they already got one outstanding OpEd from Reuters’ Bernd Debusmann: Einstein, insanity and the war on drugs

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. His definition fits America‰s war on drugs, a multi-billion dollar, four-decade exercise in futility.
The war on drugs has helped turn the United States into the country with the world‰s largest prison population. (Noteworthy statistic: The U.S. has 5 percent of the world‰s population and around 25 percent of the world‰s prisoners). Keen demand for illicit drugs in America, the world‰s biggest market, helped spawn global criminal enterprises that use extreme violence in the pursuit of equally extreme profits.
Over the years, the war on drugs has spurred repeated calls from social scientists and economists (including three Nobel prize winners) to seriously rethink a strategy that ignores the laws of supply and demand.

And the connection between Capone and today’s prohibition is an obvious one:

‹In the 20s and 30s, we had Al Capone and his gangsters getting rich and shooting up our streets,Š said Nelson, who spent a 32-year government career fighting drugs in the U.S. and Latin America. ‹Today we have criminal gangs, cartels, Taliban and al-Qaeda profiting from the prohibition of drug sales and wreaking havoc all over the world. The correlation is obvious.Š
The before-and-after sequence is so obvious that the U.S. Congress passed a resolution in September noting that the 1933 repeal of alcohol prohibition had replaced a ‹dramatic increaseŠ in organized crime with ‹a transparent and accountable system of distribution and salesŠ that generated billions of dollars in tax revenues and boosted the sick economy.
That‰s where advocates of drug legalization want to go now, and some of them hope that the similarities between today‰s deep economic crisis and the Great Depression will result in a more receptive audience for their pro-legalization arguments among lawmakers and government leaders.

It’s a great article — go join in the comments.

Keep studying, Ben

Ben Kubic, a junior government and politics and operations management major at the University of Maryland, attempt to apply his studies to drug policy (as a response to the recent SSDP conference hosted at U of MD) and fails miserably.

Ms. Alexander argues marijuana is absolutely harmless, a ploy by the government to hold down […]

Medical Marijuana Debate Tonight at Georgetown Law

The Georgetown chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy is hosting a debate between Marijuana Policy Project assistant director of communications Dan Bernath and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy chief counsel Ed Jurith at 6:30 p.m. tonight – Wednesday, December 3. The debate will take place at The Georgetown University Law Center […]