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June 2009
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Help inform the Yankee Sailor

Here’s a good opportunity to flex your skills. The Yankee Sailor has asked:

So for those of you that are in favor of legalization, I have some questions. As anyone who paid attention in history class knows, organized crime in America really took off trading in alcohol during prohibition. Did the mobsters just disappear when prohibition was ended? I‰d say no. Organized crime is made up of people willing to do anything to accumulate power and wealth, and to suggest they will just disappear with the legalization of drugs is foolish. For every drug that is legalized, the criminals will be working hard to come up with new drugs to traffic or looking for other criminal enterprises to feed their greed.

Be polite and help the guy out.

Worst excuse ever

Covered by both Radley and Jacob…

Officers were trying to serve a warrant for a man wanted on drug charges. The address listed on the paperwork was 4042. The Minton‰s home is 4048, with both house numbers clearly marked.
But Major Mark Robinett of the Marion County Sheriff‰s Department, who is in charge of warrant sweeps, said he was told that officers had a difficult time reading the addresses because of overcast skies. [emphasis added]

Overcast skies? Good thing it wasn’t raining, or the sun wasn’t in their eyes, or it wasn’t… dark. I believe Major Mark Robinett actually just called his officers worthless idiots, who are unable to do the basic job of a pizza delivery driver. How else can you read that statement?
If they’re unable to read a house number because it’s overcast, it makes you wonder how they’ll see the difference between the dog and the owner so they know which one to shoot.

Inside the mind of a prohibitionist

Once again today, we analyze the torturous mental processes involved in being a prohibition advocate.
Today’s subject: Steve Francis: Debunking call to legalize marijuana: Marijuana usage is a social ill that needs to be fought against – not legalized. in the San Diego News Network. Steve is a former candidate for Mayor and a former Assemblyman.
He starts out with a analyzing specific poll results regarding marijuana legalization and complaining about their bias. Fine. Polls are notorious for providing different results based on the question asked (which is why you look at patterns in polling and don’t just use one (and the pattern on marijuana polling has been consistently moving toward legalization). And while people may be additionally influenced toward supporting a question of legalizing and taxing marijuana because the state is out of money, that doesn’t negate their opinion that marijuana is OK to legalize.
Once he gets past the polling, Francis really gets lost.

Surrendering to drug dealers and the billion-dollar international drug trade is not the fiscally conservative, tough-on-crime solution – quite the opposite. More crimes will be committed with legalized marijuana, just as more related crimes are committed in firearm and alcohol friendly nations than those that are not.

Surrendering? How is taking away the entire business from drug dealers and the billion-dollar international drug trade surrendering? Is this some new meaning of the word?
If I’m negotiating with Coca-Cola for exclusive distribution rights in my stadium, and I don’t like what I’m seeing, so I switch and go exclusively with Pepsi, have I just surrendered to Coke? No. I told them to take a hike! Surrendering to Coke would be if I decided that I didn’t like the current system, but I’d go ahead with it anyway.
And “More crimes will be committed with legalized marijuana”? In what fantasy world is this? And I don’t know about the firearm and alcohol “friendly” nations and crime rates, but what does that have to do with marijuana? How is pot like an AK-47? You do realize that shotgunning marijuana smoke is just a metaphor, right? And why aren’t you comparing crime rates in tobacco-friendly countries to those that are not? Or crime rates in caffeine-friendly countries to those that are not? Those are certainly more apt comparisons to marijuana.
Now check out the contradiction in this next part:

Furthermore, consider that all controlled substances in our county (alcohol, tobacco, firearms, etc.) have grown to develop powerful legal, lobbying and political divisions that seek to reduce corporate liability, weaken regulations and influence public elections to increase profits and market share. Grievous harm and criminal acts inflicted under the influence of controlled substances occur without corporate accountability. Are Golden State citizens to expect anything less from a legitimized marijuana industry?
Taxing pot is not a feasible proposition. Legalization advocates must answer the fundamental question: how would taxes be realistically collected from a controlled substance that is – at its essence – a modicum of soil, a planter, and a weed?

There’s no separation there, no ellipsis showing that I brought those paragraphs from two separate parts of the article. They were right there next to each other. Apparently legalized marijuana will be this massive corporate business, but it won’t be able to be taxed because it’ll only be grown in people’s back yards. That’s the kind of mental disconnect it takes to be a prohibitionist. You have to be able to not know what you just wrote in your previous sentence.
Then he goes on to talk about how the taxes wouldn’t be helpful because…

According to a report released by the Marin Institute last summer, the total economic cost of alcohol use is $38 billion annually, with $8.3 billion shouldered by government agencies for health care treatment of alcohol-caused illnesses and injuries, crime costs, traffic incidents, and reduced worker productivity.

And this relates to marijuana… how?

As recent reports indicated, Los Angeles, which has enforced Proposition 215 for over a decade, now has more dispensaries (600+) than Starbucks coffee shops and McDonald‰s restaurants. If this could happen in lax LA, then why not San Diego?

Who cares?

Our state shouldn‰t consider changes in drug policy when we are unable to treat the drug addicts we already have.

Maybe that’s a good reason to consider changes in drug policy.

According to a recent poll of 505 California adults commissioned by KeepComingBack.com, 45 percent of state residents have tried marijuana, and of those who have abused drugs in the past year, nearly half (42 percent) stated they were not ready to stop using.

What? How does that sentence make any sense at all? Is the second part of the sentence about marijuana?

Our limited public health dollars are better spent upon bringing these addicts into treatment.

Better spent than what? Legalizing and taxing marijuana? How is that costing tax dollars? It is, in fact, increasing tax dollars which you can use for addicts if you’d like.

False restrictions on legalized pot use, such as a minimum smoking age, won‰t deter teenagers and other young people from dangerously experimenting with the drug; the KeepComingBack.com poll found that of those state residents that have tried marijuana, 51% first experimented before they turned eighteen years of age.

What does “dangerously experimenting with the drug” mean? Smoking while standing on railroad tracks? And didn’t that 51% that experimented before they turned 18 do so while the drug was illegal?

Legalizing marijuana is a solution to a problem that doesn‰t exist.

That just baffles me. What is it that doesn’t exist? Marijuana? Marijuana laws? The black market? Corruption? Our fiscal crisis? Maybe Francis didn’t know what he said in the first half of the sentence when he wrote the second half?
This has been another public service in understanding the mind of the prohibitionist.

New York Times: Marijuana and UFOs

I used to believe that the ONDCP’s Media Campaign ads didn’t work (in fact, with youth they actually work the ‘wrong’ way). But apparently the New York Times’ Saul Hansell actually was strangely influenced by them.

At least, that’s the only way I can figure out why he lumps marijuana legalization in with UFOs.

Well, the people have spoken. But many of them are not sticking to the topics at hand.
The White House made its first major entree into government by the people last month when it set up an online forum to ask ordinary people for their ideas on how to carry out the president‰s open-government pledge. It got an earful Ö on legalizing marijuana, revealing U.F.O. secrets and verifying Mr. Obama‰s birth certificate to prove he was really born in the United States and thus eligible to be president.
‹Please, as fellow human beings of this great planet Earth, disclose all known information on space/UFO‰s because the world needs to know,Š wrote sprinter5160 on the site, whitehouse.gov/open, which attracted thousands of similar comments on fringe topics.

Saul, marijuana legalization is not fringe. And marijuana doesn’t have anything to do with aliens and UFOs. It’s been here quite naturally for thousands of years.

Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Dept clears itself of wrongdoing, pats self on back for killing dogs

Radley Balko covers the story.

…the Prince George‰s County Sheriff‰s Department announced that its internal review found that its officers did nothing wrong in the SWAT raid on Berwyn Heights, Maryland Mayor Cheye Calvo‰s home.

As Radley notes, the comments by Sherrif Michael Jackson were particularly outrageous, including:

‹I‰m sorry for the loss of their family pets,Š Jackson said. ‹But this is the unfortunate result of the scourge of drugs in our community. Lost in this whole incident was the criminal element. . . . In the sense that we kept these drugs from reaching our streets, this operation was a success.Š

First of all, the police intercepted the package at the warehouse. At that point, they had already kept the marijuana inside from ‹reaching the streets.Š Everything that happened next was at the discretion of the officers who carried out the investigation and raid well after the marijuana had already been confiscated, which means they and they alone own the results of the raid.
Second, what happened to Calvo isn‰t the ‹unfortunate result of the scourge of drugs in our community,Š it‰s the result of a bumbling, overly aggressive, wholly incompetent police department. And it‰s the result of a drug warrior mentality that believes invading someone‰s home with guns and filling their pets with bullets is an appopriate response to a possible violation of state marijuana laws.

Do these people have any sense of how ridiculous they look when they try to justify their war? Just check out the comments on the Washington Post Article. I haven’t found a single one yet supporting the sheriff. [correction: one, out of 112 comments, supported the sheriff, and it was pretty stupid]

Patients Against Ignorance and Discrimination on Cannabis

In response to ‘Leave me the hell alone‰
Medical marijuana user wants to know why police raided his home, comes this:

[Thanks, Tim]

Need Blogging Software Advice

I’ve just learned that Radio Userland and Salon Blogs, which have hosted Drug WarRant since it started in 2003, are shutting down for good in December. That means I will lose all prior comments (which were hosted on their server), and I will lose all the ‘blogs.salon.com’ addressing scheme (which really affects popular pages like […]

Open Thread

“bullet” Interesting perspective from Bruce Mirken: How Does It Feel To Be On the Losing Side of History?”

Now I think I know what it must have been like to be, say, the last premier of East Germany, standing guard over the fading embers of an empire in irreversible decline. It‰s a little sad. Like them, the Terrence Farleys of this world no longer have a real case to make or a reason to justify their existence. They just cling to what they do because, well, it‰s what they do and they don‰t know anything else.

“bullet” Sasha Abramsky in The Nation: The War Againg the ‘War on Drugs’

The state with the toughest three-strikes law in the land and a prison population of more than 150,000 is facing the real possibility of having to release tens of thousands of inmates early in order to pare its $10 billion annual correctional budget.
At the same time, an increasing number of the state’s political figures are challenging the basic tenets of the “war on drugs,” the culprit most responsible for the spike in prison populations over the past thirty years; they argue that the country’s harsh drug policies are not financially viable and no longer command majority support among the voting public.
Similar stories are unfolding around the country; in Washington, federal officials are talking about drug-policy reform and, more generally, sentencing reform in a way that has not been heard in the halls of power for more than a generation.

“bullet” Protecting medical marijuana shops a tricky task for police… Hmm… you know what would make it easier? Legalize.
“bullet” Some media starting to pick up the WHO report bombshell that Transform reported last week: Suppressed report raises questions about drug policy
“bullet” Massachusetts Suspends Pentagon Giveaways to Local Police Departments. Good job by the Boston Globe (and Radley, of course) in bringing this issue out in the open.
“bullet” DrugSense Weekly
“bullet” “drcnet”

Action Alert

Support the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2009 This act, introduced by Barney Frank, would eliminate federal penalties for possession of up to 3.5 ounces of marijuana. It’s a start. Go to MPP to send a form letter, or contact your Representative directly.

This Weiner’s arguments are flaccid

Former White House Spokesman Robert Weiner wrote a letter to the New York Times… and then released a press release stating that he had done so: Drug Legalization Would Be ‘Catastrophe’, Says Ex-White House Drug Spokesman Bob Weiner; Drugs Have Not ‘Won The War’; Op-ed Letter in New York Times Today

Former White House Drug […]