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Butterflies

Jonathan Hari has a powerful OpEd in The Independent, the latest of the publications to do a series on the drug war and legalization.

Violence breeds violence. The only thing drug gangs fear is legalisation

To many people, the “war on drugs” sounds like a metaphor, like the “war on poverty”. It is not. It is being fought with tanks and sub-machine guns and hand grenades, funded in part by your taxes, and it has killed 28,000 people under the current Mexican President alone. The death toll in Tijuana – one of the front lines of this war – is now higher than in Baghdad. Yesterday, another pile of 72 mutilated corpses was found near San Fernando – an event that no longer shocks the country. […]

Like Capone, the drug gangs love the policy of prohibition. Michael Levine, who had a 30-year career as one of America’s most distinguished federal narcotics agents, penetrated to the very top of the Mafia Cruenza, one of the biggest drug-dealing gangs in the world in the 1980s.

Its leaders told him “that not only did they not fear our war on drugs, they actually counted on it… On one undercover tape-recorded conversation, a top cartel chief, Jorge Roman, expressed his gratitude for the drug war, calling it ‘a sham put on the American tax-payer’ that was ‘actually good for business’.”

Strong stuff that we need to spread far and wide.

And it’s happening.

This article gets mentioned in a tweet by Glenn Greenwald and catches the attention of Peter Dao, who seems to have had little interest in legalization, but is now perhaps encouraged to look at it in a new light…

My objection to drug use is this: of the various ways we can trigger a transcendent state, imbibing or injecting a substance is more addictive and less durable than trance-inducing music, meditation, dance, nature, and physical activity.

This is a roundabout way of approaching that-which-cannot-be-discussed, namely, drug legalization. I raise it because of the unmitigated carnage in Mexico, where dumping severed heads on the side of a road or finding seventy bodies in a mine shaft is now seen as commonplace. It strikes me as an inevitable question: what would happen in Mexico if drugs were legal?

The legalization debate takes place largely out of the spotlight, since few politicians want to broach it. But there are thoughtful arguments on both sides and this one, linked to by Glenn Greenwald, is worth reading:

And so change happens.

Kaptinemo once wrote in comments:

…as a character from a favorite TV of mine show put it, “When the avalanche begins, it’s too late for the pebbles to vote.” An ‘avalanche’ of drug law reform has just started, and is picking up speed.

Nice analogy. And I believe it’s true. This Independent OpEd is just one tiny part of a whole lot of avalanche that’s happening. No, we probably won’t be able to track any kind of specific success to this article. That’s not how it works.

There is rarely one event that causes a significant change in direction (especially when the drug war has had such momentum). It’s more like the butterfly effect — this OpEd will combine with other articles, which will combine with the Just Say Now campaign, and my Why Is Marijuana Illegal and Drug War Victims articles, and Malcolm Kyle’s tireless comments at online articles everywhere, and Kirk Muse’s letters in newspapers, and a speech made by a LEAP member at a Kiwanis Club, and a host of other things.

And at a dinner table somewhere, someone speaks up and says “You know, I was talking to someone at work today and he mentioned an article about the drug war that made a lot of sense. I hadn’t really thought about it that way before.”

And that’s how we win.

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11 comments to Butterflies

  • Just me.

    It’s more like the butterfly effect

    And at a dinner table somewhere, someone speaks up and says “You know, I was talking to someone at work today and he mentioned an article about the drug war that made a lot of sense. I hadn’t really thought about it that way before.”

    And that’s how we win.

    That exactly how it IS working.

    The death of my father and the notion that cannabis”MIGHT” be able to treat or cure cancer threw me in this fight and have spawned realisation of the many facets of our government and elitist (or cartel) and how they work.

    On this site and many others,many times I have done my best to express how this war on drugs(and many other wars) and lack of respect for the people by government has enraged me. Sometimes what I have said lights a spark in others, sometimes not.Sometimes angers some.

    Thanks Pete for all you do. Without sites like this…the fight wouldnt have advanced this far.

    Keep spreading the word my friends.

  • This:

    “My objection to drug use is this: of the various ways we can trigger a transcendent state, imbibing or injecting a substance is more addictive and less durable than trance-inducing music, meditation, dance, nature, and physical activity.”

    is demonstrably false. Triggering a transcendent state with a psychedelic drug can be less addictive and more durable than any other method:

    http://www.erowid.org/plants/mushrooms/mushrooms_journal2.pdf

    A full 50% of subjects who received psilocybin during a religious ceremony had persisting positive changes in attitude and behavior. Psilocybin is not addictive, and appears to be therapeutic across a wide range of potential applications, including chronic pain, end of life anxiety, ocd, autism, etc. Thus psilocybin is less addictive, more durable, and effective across a broader variety of situations than many alternatives. Because he doesn’t differentiate substances with wildly different effects, Peter Dao gets it wrong, and there is scientific literature to prove it.

    • SpGNo, I included that part of Dao’s post to show that even someone with an unfavorable predisposition against “drugs” (and an overgeneralized notion of them) can be encouraged to look at the drug war in a different light.

      But thanks for the erowid link — I’ve always found that interesting.

  • malcolmkyle

    That was really sweet of you to mention me Pete!

    My main but humble objective has always been to get folks used to seeing the word Prohibition, and to focus on it’s engendered ills rather than getting bogged down in debating the dangers or merits of individual drugs.

    BTW. I’m sure I speek for all of us here in saying that your mind-bogglingly enormous contribution has been humongously inspiring!

  • you need more adjectives in Pete’s description there Malcolm…

    I love having that quote from the cartel boss on hand, it’s a keeper!

  • claygooding

    It is getting where every major paper has an article supporting change of our drug policies. They may not support legalization outright but they all agree it is time to do something different.
    And there is so much news about marijuana every day that you can get high reading them all.

  • Maria

    “I hadn’t really thought about it that way before.”

    That’s the magic isn’t it? When someone genuinly thinks that thought. It’s also a magical feeling to be the one thinking it. Refreshing, scary, exhilarating.

    It’s not about convincing the other that you are right. That never works. It’s about opening a window just a little bit to get a gust of fresh air in. If they decided to close the window or swing it open is after all, their choice.

  • the bad news is that around 20% or so of the population will never experience that “aha!” moment. the good news is that they are outnumbered by the other 80%

  • malcolmkyle

    “you need more adjectives in Pete’s description there Malcolm…”

    It’s true; overstating things has never been my forte ;>)

  • Duncan

    “…And there is so much news about marijuana every day that you can get high reading them all.”

    Or you might end up with no time for other activities, oh say, shaving and showering for example. It really is a good thing for your olfactory senses that we meet in the virtual world. -grin-
    ———————————————————
    “And that’s how we win.”

    Frankly I hate casting it as an us vs them competition, with a winner and a loser. I think a more objective analysis would cast society as the winner or loser. We all win, or we all lose. That might be because right now the idiots are winning and I just don’t want to face that. Regardless, we’re in the 9th inning.