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July 2010
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I have some simple answers...

Still on the road, but hoped to have more wifi access by now. Unfortunately, the friends I’m staying with in Chicago have temporarily lost their wifi, so I’m finally blogging in the lobby of the theatre before my show.

bullet image Norm Stamper comes to the rescue of California NAACP with this strong OpEd in the Huffington Post: The Politics of Cannabis and Color

But she was promptly pounced upon, smeared by a collection of out-of-touch, fear-mongering detractors, including “more than 20 African American religious and community leaders” headed by one Bishop Ron Allen.

Mr. Allen’s statement was illogical, and insulting and condescending to the multitudes of African American civic leaders, including law enforcement officers and members of the clergy, who are working to end a drug war that has had devastating effects on communities of color. […]

As Huffman points out, ending the drug war — or, more modestly, bringing a halt to the indisputable madness of marijuana prohibition — is imperative if we are to help halt the institutionalized denial of civil rights and civil liberties in African American communities.

Yet, speaking as “President and CEO” of the “International Faith-Based Coalition,” a pro-drug war organization that seems to have sprung up out of nowhere to combat Proposition 19, Bishop Allen addressed a news conference on the steps of the state capital. “Why would the NAACP advocate for blacks to stay high?” he said. “It’s going to cause crime to go up,” he said. “There will be more drug babies,” he said. Huffman “must resign,” he said.

Stop and think, Mr. Allen: Huffman was hardly urging blacks to “stay high,” or even to pick up a single joint; marijuana legalization will cause crime to go down, not up; and there will be fewer drug babies.

You can sign a petition to support the California NAACP here.

bullet image It seems unlikely that Illinois State Representative Jim Stacia is going to vote in favor of medical marijuana.

Medical Marijuana is a cruel hoax. Supporters oppose the use of purified chemical components of marijuana smoke and insist on “smoked dope” or nothing. That should be the first clue that this is nothing but a “sham”. You can’t deliver medicine safely by smoking it.

Marijuana potency is nearly three times more than it was in 1983, and when it’s smoked, its potency is uncontrolled. In 2006 there were 33,854 admissions to treatment centers here in Illinois for marijuana addiction and there is little doubt that marijuana is a gateway drug to cocaine and heroin.

Many have e-mailed me that I better support this “or else”. Not only will I not support it, I will speak passionately against it.

bullet image Easy answers to stupid questions. No.

The question? Could a $1.50 marijuana joint doom Prop. 19 in California?

bullet image Easy answers to stupid questions, part 2. No.

The question? Legalizing Pot in California: Users Could Double, Are There Health Risks?

[Thanks, Tom]

This is an open thread

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23 comments to I have some simple answers…

  • Paul

    Been reading polls that show MJ legalization is behind in CA 44 to 48. 🙁

    Since I’m already in a crabby mood from too much beer last night and today’s sorry poll results, I would also like to wish Rep Jim Stacia gets his “or else” and finds himself unemployed come November. Then he can shout passionately against MJ at his TV set from home. Grrr.

  • Servetus

    The National Geographic Channel is doing Drugs, Inc., Sunday, July 11, at 8:00 PM Eastern and 9:00 PM Pacific.

  • claygooding

    When someone uses the health risks ploy the only information I retort with is “where are the health costs now,since marijuana use is already with us now,where are the added health costs from marijuana?

    Tobacco-Related Health Costs: $800; Booze-Related Health Costs: $165; Pot-Related Health Costs: $20 — Any Questions?
    http://blog.norml.org/2009/11/17/do-the-math-tobacco-related-health-costs-800-booze-related-health-costs-165-pot-related-health-costs-20-any-questions/

  • claygooding

    When your prohibitionists come back with anything about
    addiction treatment,just remind them that 90% of all marijuana drug treatment is judicial,employer required treatment or family intervention.

  • Just me.

    Rep Stacia just spews out stats without true facts to back them. How many of that 33,854 that were in “Treatment” were there just to stay out of jail, how bout some real stats on how addicting Cannabis REALLY is.

    Oh wait, thats that truth thing again.Politicians ..

  • ezrydn

    The additional usage idea is the same as we saw with the “New Coke” (the drink). Everyone just had to try it but it vanished because no one liked it. It would be the same with cannabis. Many would try it but I seriously doubt they’d all stay with it. As with the New Coke, many just don’t like the taste and that would give them cause to walk away. We’ve all seen it before and understand it. Whenvever a new, loudly talked about product hits the market, everyone buys. Not everyone returns, though.

    At 65, I don’t listen to polls. I’ve seen them be wrong too many times in my life. Polls are another way to detract you from your objective. Without focusing on it at this time, one has to remember there’s a bill setting in the Legislature, awaiting renewal if Prop. 19 fails. It’s called “having a backup plan.”

    I just received my Magic Flight . You gotta get one! Tell Santa to bring ya one but get one! It’s fantastic and simple. My wife verifies there’s no noticable odor, unlike other vaps I’ve had.

  • Scott

    “‘Why would the NAACP advocate for blacks to stay high?’ he said. ‘It’s going to cause crime to go up,’ he said. ‘There will be more drug babies,’ he said. Huffman ‘must resign,’ he said.”

    Here was the perfect chance to put a prohibitionist on the spot by challenging him to finally back up the ‘there will be disaster’ claim with actual evidence, given the roughly 30 prior reductions in the toughness of drug laws in various places around the world.

    Portugal decriminalized all drugs almost a decade ago, The Netherlands has tolerated soft drugs since the mid-70’s, and in our nation there are 13 states with legalized medical marijuana (CA over a decade ago), and another 14 states that decriminalized marijuana (AK way back in the 70’s).

    Where is the solid evidence proving the disaster we were warned about prior to each reduction in drug law toughness, prohibitionists?

    Instead we got:

    “Stop and think, Mr. Allen: Huffman was hardly urging blacks to ‘stay high,’ or even to pick up a single joint; marijuana legalization will cause crime to go down, not up; and there will be fewer drug babies.”

    The same old defensive counter, as if we have equal credibility in the eyes of the public majority (his word versus our word, with no evidence to back any of it up, as far as those unfamiliar with our movement are concerned).

    If we had equal credibility in those eyes, there would be no Controlled Substances Act.

    We do not have equal credibility in those eyes, and that is why it is critical that we get the prohibitionists to verbally discredit themselves in the media, especially at the mainstream level.

    We must go on the offensive.

    We must get the prohibitionists to prove their policy works.

    We must casually mock them when they offer up the same old spin in the form of weak, easily-manipulated statistics and such.

    Think about it this way, what is more convincing when it comes to confirming guilt in front of a jury?

    Having the prosecutor claim a criminal is guilty while his defense claims he is innocent?

    Or…

    Putting the criminal on the witness stand and exposing his guilt by going on the offensive, asking the right questions, and finally effectively forcing the criminal to confess the crime we know for sure he committed?

    It is time we put prohibitionists on the witness stand in the court of public opinion.

    Offensive positioning makes us look stronger, and gives us the “high ground” by putting the burden of proof on the prohibitionists’ shoulders to prove their policy works, knowing when they fail, there is no longer any need for the CSA (we celebrate our victory).

    We know the prohibitionists will flounder when asked the tough questions.

    Given the CSA’s continued existence, it is safe to say that not enough of the public knows that yet.

    It is our job to educate the public.

    We can continue to pretend the part of the public we need to persuade sees us as credible, or we show the public who the real dopes are by having those dopes in the guise of credible community leaders reveal it for us, regardless of our credibility.

  • the most important thing to do when someone starts making claims about the “damages” of marijuana use is to simply point out how incredibly small a percentage of marijuana users actually suffers from whatever “damages” of using pot that may ensue.

    naturally, it is also paramount to point out that the single biggest detrimental effect (according to the government’s own data, mind you) is being caught with it. and that fate too is only suffered by an extremely small minority of pot users.

  • claygooding

    Top 10 Things Overheard in the White House During Obama’s First Term
    Blog by Leigh Patrick

    10. “What should I do next, Senior Chavez?”

    9. “You mean BP doesn’t stand for Boston Pizza?”

    8.”Honestly, Barack! A teleprompter in the bedroom?”

    7. “I’m not sure a Che Guevara wall flag in the Oval Office is a good idea, Mr. President.”

    6. “Heads, we take over the auto industry. Tails, we nationalize the oil industry.”

    5. “Apology list: Iraq –check. Saudi Arabia – check. Palestine – check. Syria…”

    4. “Canada’s health care system is a perpetual money-sucking vortex that has resulted in bloated bureaucracy, demanding unions, longer wait times, and a steady exodus of their best and brightest professionals out of the country. Finally we’ve found the perfect template for Obamacare!”

    3. “Sean Penn, line two.”

    2. “Have they chosen someone to play me in the movie yet?”

    1. “Damn Bush keeps calling, laughing, and hanging-up.”

  • Duncan

    The US Census 2009 pegs Illinois population at 12,910,409.
    http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/17000.html
    That means that 33,854 in ‘treatment’ represent 0.262% of the population.

    Christ, it’s not even impressive when you include the court ordered and the intervened.
    ——————————————-
    @Paul the only hope that Prop 19 has is if enough ‘unlikely’ voters turn out. It’s unlikely, but not impossible since a considerably large % of the people who would support this are ‘unlikely’ voters.
    ——————————————-
    @ezrydn there’s substantial support for your claim that a lot of people will go out and try cannabis because of the novelty, but will decide it isn’t for them. One of the favorite statistics that the propagandists like to cite is that ‘lifetime’ use tripled in Holland when they allowed the coffee shops to open. It’s a true statistic as far as it goes, but I admit I’m stumped why someone who tries cannabis and decides not to make it a habit gets counted as a user.
    ——————————————-
    @Scott let’s not forget the fact that when the cannabis fad caught on in this country cannabis possession was a felony with a stiff prison term in every state of the union. I often recall an interview I read in the mid 1970s with a man who was doing a 20 year sentence in the CA penitentiary because he lit up a joint on the steps of City Hall in San Francisco. 20 years for possession of a single joint in San Francisco.
    ——————————————-
    @brian bennett I pointed out the ratio of those in treatment to the population above. Since there is no accurate baseline to determine the number of cannabis users in Illinois I’d have to go with ~500,000 which would be consistent with the estimate of 15 million countrywide. That would mean that 33,854 represents about 6.77% of users somehow end up in a reeducation program. I have a really hard time using the numbers that come from the annual household survey as I believe that they seriously understate adult usage and overal numbers, and seriously overstate the percentage of youthful users. I believe that youngsters think it’s cool to lie and say they’ve done stuff they haven’t, and older people are more inclined to lie and say they don’t.

  • Jon Doe

    “I believe that youngsters think it’s cool to lie and say they’ve done stuff they haven’t”

    I know I did. Back in my senior year of high they had us fill out a supposedly anonymous survey concerning our drug use. I, little shit that I was, listed that I was a habitual user of every drug under the sun. I hadn’t even taken a sip of alcohol yet. I knew a few others who did the same. We all thought it was pretty funny, lying about something the adults were so uptight about.

  • Shap

    Read those poll results about the marijuana initiative. Most fucked up thing about them: “The measure did best among white non-Hispanic voters and younger voters. All other ethnic groups broken out in the survey — Latinos, African Americans and Asian Americans — are strongly opposed to the measure.” So Latinos, and “African Americans” aka people of color, were most strongly opposed to the measure even though the drug war disproportionately impacts these groups. Are you fucking kidding me? I’m glad that the reason I care about this issue is not to promote racial justice because if it was, I would have given up caring for this at this moment. Blacks will come out to vote in droves for the half-black Presidential candidate but they are “strongly opposed” to a measure that will keep black men out of jail if they are caught with a harmless plant. Maybe since Barack won’t be on the ballot, the blacks who are so strongly opposed to this will just stay the fuck home and hopefully all the Latinos they spoke to in this poll are illegals who don’t have the right to vote.

  • claygooding

    With each black in prison is a family that put up bonds,helped pay lawyer fees and are possibly caring for the prisoners family while they are locked up. All they can think of is how much marijuana has already cost them
    and until it sinks in that the shredding of their families will stop with legalization,many will not want to support legalization. I believe that if the National NAACP officers come out in support of prop 19 many more will support it.
    Right now with many religious leaders spewing propaganda and slandering the CA president,many don’t know who they should believe. Support from National will at least make them look closer at the issue and possibly change their vote.

  • Scott

    “I have a really hard time using the numbers that come from the annual household survey as I believe that they seriously understate adult usage and overal numbers, and seriously overstate the percentage of youthful users.”

    You are not alone in being skeptical about the accuracy of the U.S. National Drug Use & Health Survey.

    However, those results are consistent year after year going back to 2002, and since they are produced by SAMHSA, our government hub for substance abuse, and proponents of the CSA, it is a solid information tool for our cause.

    Only 8% of the American citizenry use illicit drugs, with 73% of that overwhelming minority using marijuana, consistently according to that survey.

    I listened to Republicans mock the ‘jobs saved’ statistic offered by the Obama administration early in his term, and mock the recent ‘we saved the economy from being much worse with a 12-13% unemployment rate’ claim by the same administration.

    If prohibitionists want to continue to rely on the ‘92% prevented’ statistic, Republicans (like the rest of us) should get a laugh there too.

    “One of the favorite statistics that the propagandists like to cite is that ‘lifetime’ use tripled in Holland when they allowed the coffee shops to open.”

    What they do not like to cite is the additional statement from the report where they got that statistic:

    “We conclude that Dutch rates now are comparable to that of the United States…” – Interpreting Dutch Cannabis Policy – Reason by Analogy in the Legalization Debate

    In other words, a nation in which marijuana is effectively legal from a consumer viewpoint has comparable usage rates to our nation with prohibition.

    Put it all together (including all world usage rates showing no correlation between the toughness of drug laws and usage) and the 8% is more likely indicative of market saturation.

    By the most conservative figure, “We the people” are spending a little over $10,000,000,000 annually to deal with 8% of the public (estimated $150,000,000,000 annually, according to at least some people in our movement, I believe).

    That money is for the fight against only 6% of our population using a plant well proven to be safer than alcohol.

    The result of that major taxpayer expense is marijuana is America’s number one cash crop, if the ABC News report a couple of years ago remains accurate (I see no reason why it would not).

    As for the remaining 2%, who knows how much of that drug use leads to actual harm (you know, that whole rights-infringement thing that our nation is obligated to respect), but I am willing to bet it is the vast minority of such use, especially if the Institute of Medicine’s dependency rates are any indication (e.g. 23% for heroin).

  • TrebleBass

    With a 150% increase in marijuana use, we would be talking about a considerably different substance use culture, which could possibly include a significant drop in alcohol use and/or a significant drop in prescription drug use.

  • ezrydn

    I agree, Treble. It’s another “follow the money” scenario.

  • claygooding

    I believe the drug warriors don’t want us to know how many marijuana users there really are. Since we know that they juggle statistics to make themselves sound more successful
    with their policies,it is not too much of a stretch for them to hide the actual number of users.

  • Duncan

    Oh for the love of gawd…Feds raid store for selling ersatz cannabis and subsequently freeze the store owners deposit accounts. They had so much fun doing so they decided to do it again 4 months later.

    http://tinyurl.com/2c53nk3

    We are behind the looking glass.

  • Ed Dunkle

    That National Geographic show on meth was certainly underwhelming. I didn’t learn one new fact from it. And there was a “thanks” to the Dept. of Homeland Security in the credits. I wonder if some government entity signed off on this. The cops came off as saints, of course. No mention of screwed up drug raids or itchy trigger fingers. A large segment was devoted to the arrest of people who buy cold tablets. (Talk about going for the low hanging fruit!) Never once was there any questioning of U.S drug policy, or its associated costs and lack of efficacy.

  • claygooding

    True about making the cops look like they were just trying to save America. But the message I got was the futility of it all and the dangers that are caused by the meth being produced anywhere. I would not do meth now because it is made with crap. Could you imagine anyone making their own meth if it was produced by a reputable manufacturer using the photography chemicals that are now prohibited because they made such good meth and it being regulated and sold in retail outlets?

  • Ed Dunkle

    The main reason I wouldn’t do meth is because it creates holes in your brain. Instant dementia!

    The piece of data I’m always curious about and which is never offered is what percentage of people who try a given drug become addicted? I guess it’s pretty high for meth, but I’d still like to know. Oh, RAND…

    Meth is a horrible drug, and pretty much impossible to defend, but I thought Nat Geo was using a lot of scare tactics: the long disgusting close ups of meth mouth and the graphic shots of operations and burn victims.

  • @duncan — yes, i know that the numbers are not reflecting reality. however, we all need to use those numbers because they are the ones being used by the government to “justify” waging the drug war.

    when you consider that the actual use rates are even higher than indicated it makes the damage ratios even smaller.

    thus, one of the things we all need to focus on is painting the picture that shows how minuscule the “damages” of drug use actually are.