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June 2011
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Open thread

Lots going on this week, including observances of the 40th Anniversary of Nixon’s declaration of drug war.


bullet image ‘The Wire’ Creator David Simon Has a Counteroffer for Eric Holder

Responding to Attorney General Holder’s expressed wish for another season of The Wire.

The Attorney-General’s kind remarks are noted and appreciated. I’ve spoken to Ed Burns and we are prepared to go to work on season six of The Wire if the Department of Justice is equally ready to reconsider and address its continuing prosecution of our misguided, destructive and dehumanising drug prohibition.


bullet image The GOP’s Odd Man Out

Gary Johnson, the popular two-term governor of New Mexico, is running for president. He has a stellar economic record and the most progressive drug policies of any Republican in the race. So why did CNN expel from last night’s debate while showcasing the party’s most rabid stars?


bullet image How Cops Turn ‘Stop and Frisk’ Into ‘Stop and Arrest’

Advocates of drug and juvenile-justice reform have launched a campaign against what they contend are the New York Police Department’s illegal “stop and frisks” and the disproportionate number of arrests of black and brown young men for possessing allowable amounts of marijuana.

Educating people about their rights is such an important first step.


bullet image Sigh.. Thanks to Steve Clay in comments there.


bullet image Drug Policies Must Be Rooted in Science

The drug czar complains that the Global Commission report needs to be rooted in science, and then proceeds to invent his own science.

Our National Drug Control Strategy is science-based. And science shows that illegal drug use is associated with specialty treatment admissions, fatal drugged driving accidents, mental illness, and emergency room admissions.


bullet image True cost of drugs: More than half of inmates currently in U.S. federal prisons were convicted of narcotics offences

More than 50 per cent on inmates in U.S. federal prisons were jailed for drug offences, shocking new figures show.

The statistics from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, reveal that out of a total inmate population of 215,888, 102,391 (that’s 50.8 per cent) were jailed for drug offences.

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20 comments to Open thread

  • gravyrug

    Umm, according to my calculator, 50.8% of 215,888 is 125,215. If the numbers are right, it’s 48% of inmates jailed for drug offences. Still awful, and not a huge error, but it’s something that prohibitionists will point to.

    • Yeah, I meant to point out that it’s the Mail, and anything written in the Mail should be taken with a huge grain of salt.

  • Paul

    I think I have a pretty clear understanding of CNN’s mindset and why they excluded Johnson. Their official excuse for keeping Johnson out is that he fell below a certain threshold for familiarity in the polls.

    But the real reason is pretty simple. The biases of CNN are well known, and since Johnson stands opposite to pretty much everything they hold dear, they are exercising their power to ignore him to the fullest. There is a small but real chance of his candidacy catching fire, so you can’t be too careful.

    Paul is also diametrically opposed to everything CNN believes in, but he is too big to ignore and their coverage has already put him in the crazy box, so they’re pretty safe with him.

    The remaining Republican candidates are distasteful to CNN, but they have to cover SOMEBODY, so they give attention to the boring moderates and the rabid social conservatives.

    The boring moderates are pretty safe because they are, well, boring and not likely to truly fire up the Republican base. Even if something went wrong and one of the moderates got elected, their timid spending cuts and feeble tax reductions are no threat to the Establishment. The moderates will just carry on the existing wars and are certainly not going to do anything radical like end the war on drugs.

    Rabid social conservatives would indeed be a catastrophe if they were elected, but that’s OK since they are highly unelectable. Including them in the debate helps to showcase their madness and reflects poorly on the Republican party, so the more Rick Santorums on stage, the better.

  • ActivistCat

    Tell your Congressional Representatives –
    It is time to “Change the Schedule of Cannabis, Cannabis Laws, and Drug Czar Laws”
    Read and Sign the petition at

    http://www.change.org/petitions/change-the-schedule-of-cannabis-cannabis-laws-and-drug-czar-laws

    After you sign the petition, email your friendlies, share on facebook, or twitter from the petition page. If you have a website grab the widget so your vistitors can sign it without leaving your website.

    Though the petition is a babystep to ending the war on cannabis, with each step the baby gets further down the road. Since the start (May11th) of the petition, 3 new Bills were introduced in the House. While the DPA worked with the Legislators to draw up the Bills, this petition gave them the timing to introduce the Bills. Help get them passed by signing the petition. Each signature sends an email to the Congressional Representatives of the signer. Let Congress know It is time to end the war!

  • palemalemarcher

    I don’t know where Rep. Weiner stands on genuine reform but why should it be appropriate to expose ones self for employment? Where are those DNC honchos and gop sky-pilots!?

    • leonard junior

      The real issue is that his PR department screwed him by guiding him incorrectly. If he had admitted it in the first place it might have blown over as weekend news. But his legislative record is pretty good in his district from what I’ve read.

  • failed collapsing system

    Voting republicrat or demopublican won’t change anything. If voting changed anything it would be illegal.

  • The reverse onus of proof for drug possession is incompatible with the rule of law and is therefore unconstitutional in all jurisdictions.

    More: The universally unconstitutional war on drugs.

  • darkcycle

    I find it telling that Kleiman cannot even bring himself to acknowledge that U.K. Transform’s Blueprint even EXISTS. He knows it’s out there, he’s probably read it….yet he INSISTS it’s not there, and won’t even address it when it’s brought up repeatedly, by different posters, on his own blog!

  • That interview w/ Johnson is spot on, props to the Fix.

  • Malcolm Kyle

    The last time I posted this on one of Mark’s threads he removed it. Let’s see how long it lasts this time:

    Mark, you state that it’s not possible to find out how much drug abuse current policies actually prevent. But that’s simply not true; we have expert eye-witness accounts from our last failed experiment with alcohol prohibition that usage rates not only exploded but people started drinking much younger and much harder after Prohibition was implemented. If, as you claim, you are an expert in the field of substance use/abuse/addiction, then why are you not familiar with the Senate Hearings of 1926?

    Here is part of the testimony of Judge Alfred J Talley,

    “For the first time in our history, full faith and confidence in and respect for the hitherto sacred Constitution of the United States has been weakened and impaired because this terrifying invasion of natural rights has been engrafted upon the fundamental law of our land, and experience has shown that it is being wantonly and derisively violated in every State, city, and hamlet in the country.”

    “It has made potential drunkards of the youth of the land, not because intoxicating liquor appeals to their taste or disposition, but because it is a forbidden thing, and because it is forbidden makes an irresistible appeal to the unformed and immature. It has brought into our midst the intemperate woman, the most fearsome and menacing thing for the future of our national life.”

    “It has brought the sickening slime of corruption, dishonor, and disgrace into every group of employees and officials in city, State, and Federal departments that have been charged with the enforcement of this odious law.”

    http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/HISTORY/e1920/senj1926/judgetalley.htm

    And the following paragraphs are from WALTER E. EDGE’s testimony, a Senator from New Jersey:

    “Any law that brings in its wake such wide corruption in the public service, increased alcoholic insanity, and deaths, increased arrests for drunkenness, home barrooms, and development among young boys and young women of the use of the flask never heard of before prohibition can not be successfully defended.”

    “I unhesitatingly contend that those who recognize existing evils and sincerely endeavor to correct them are contributing more toward temperance than those who stubbornly refuse to admit the facts.”

    “The opposition always proceeds on the theory that give them time and they will stop the habit of indulging in intoxicating beverages. This can not be accomplished. We should recognize our problem is not to persist in the impossible, but to recognize a situation and bring about common-sense temperance through reason.”

    “This is not a campaign to bring back intoxicating liquor, as is so often claimed by the fanatical dry. Intoxicating liquor is with us to-day and practically as accessible as it ever was. The difference mainly because of its illegality, is its greater destructive power, as evidenced on every hand. The sincere advocates of prohibition welcome efforts for real temperance rather than a continuation of the present bluff.”

    http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/HISTORY/e1920/senj1926/walteredge.htm

    And here is Julien Codman’s testimony, who was a member of the Massachusetts bar.

    “we will produce additional evidence on this point, that it is not appropriate legislation to enforce the eighteenth amendment; that it has done incredible harm instead of good; that as a temperance measure it has been a pitiable failure; that it as failed to prevent drinking; that it has failed to decrease crime; that, as a matter of fact, it has increased both; that it has promoted bootlegging and smuggling to an extent never known before”

    “We believe that the time has come for definite action, but it is impossible to lay before Congress any one bill which, while clearly within the provisions of the Constitution, will be a panacea for the evils that the Volstead Act has caused. We must not be vain enough to believe, as the prohibitionists do, that the age-old question of the regulation of alcohol can be settled forever by the passage of a single law. With the experience of the Volstead law as a warning, it behooves us to proceed with caution, one step at a time, to climb out of the legislative well into which we have been pushed.”

    “If you gentlemen are satisfied, after hearing the evidence supplemented by the broad general knowledge which each of you already possesses, that the remedy that will tend most quickly to correct the wretched social conditions that now exist, to promote temperance, find to allay the discontent and unrest that the Volstead Act has caused, is to be found in the passage of one of the proposed bills legalizing the production of beer of an alcoholic content of 4 per cent or less. We do not claim that it will do away with all the evils produced by attempted prohibition, but it would be a step in the right direction.”

    http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/HISTORY/e1920/senj1926/codman.htm

    It sure would be nice if you gave us an honest answer on this, Mark.
    http://www.samefacts.com/2011/06/drug-policy/what-does-a-drug-peace-look-like-2/#comment-70479

  • denmark

    The political process can be likened to Groundhog Day. The archaic way we are still forced to vote is worn-out.
    Changing to the Popular Vote, you know, that silly notion that the majority vote rules, would go a long way in sending this country in the right direction.
    Now if the other countries that are striving for a “Democracy” could just see that and not make the same mistake.

  • vickyvampire

    The GOP’s Odd man out, Gary Johnson, heard some conservatives call Gary a nut confusing when he last talked, saying that’s and low ratings are why he did not make debate cut.

    Well the conservatives will be going nuts and be confused when Pres, Obama wins another term.

  • a well done summary on Mexico and the Merida Initiative (“Plan Mexico”) from the Guardian (UK):

    UK: Mexicans Are Uneasy About America’s Outsourced War On Drugs

  • denmark

    Haven’t had time to check it out yet Pete. Sounds interesting. Have been super sick with a bad cold that won’t go away.

    http://www.copblock.org/

  • DdC

    Pot’s critics run out of excuses

    Buzz Words Are ‘Local Control’
    North County Times (Escondido, CA)
    Most recently, the city again has prevailed in court in keeping storefronts from opening.

    40th Anniversary of the “War on Drugs”
    Marking the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s declaration of a “war on drugs” on June 17, 1971, today LEAP released a report detailing the ongoing carnage of this unwinnable war.

    Please visit http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com/40years to read the report and find out what happened when LEAP’s cops attempted to hand-deliver a copy to Obama administration drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, himself a former police chief.

    And please, if you haven’t done so already, stand with LEAP by taking a moment to send an email to President Obama telling him 40 years is enough!

    Thank you,
    Major Neill Franklin (Ret.)
    Executive Director

    War On Drugs = $1 Trillion Wasted!
    Ethan Nadelmann, DPA” actionfeedback@drugpolicy.org
    June 15, 2011
    Two days from now marks the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s declaration of the war on drugs – a war that’s destroyed countless lives and cost the American public more than $1 trillion.

    We’re fed up with these disastrous policies – Congress MUST finally end this shockingly wasteful, counterproductive war. To make sure they get the message, we’ve designed a trillion dollar bill to symbolize this staggering waste of money.

    On Friday, we will hand deliver a trillion dollar bill to each member of Congress and we want to include at least 25,000 letters of support. Please sign our letter now to make sure your name is included!

    We need your help to flood Congress with demands to end the war on drugs – and we need it now, during this anniversary week. So please write your representative right away, then forward this message to friends and family, and make sure to spread the word on Facebook and Twitter!

    Tonight, more than 500,000 people across America will have to sleep behind bars for violating a nonviolent drug offense. That’s more than all of western Europe locks up for ALL offenses. This national disgrace is a fiscal and moral nightmare for all of us who care about freedom, responsibility and accountable government. Think about this: locking up one inmate costs about $30,000 per year – more than twice the average cost for annual tuition, including room and board, at an American public college.

    Write your representative today and tell them you’re sick of spending over $51 billion every year on drug policies that don’t work! Then forward this message to your friends and family, and spread the word on Facebook and Twitter!

    If Congress is going to cut budgets, let’s make sure the drug war budget is first on the chopping block. That’s why we’re sending Congress these $1 trillion bills – and that’s why we need you to tell your representative that you want drug policies grounded in science, compassion and human rights – not drug war ideology. If we reach 25,000 letters to Congress, Drug Policy Alliance staff will hand deliver your letter to your representative on Capitol Hill on June 17th!

    We need to flood the halls of Congress in the next two days! Please forward this message to your friends, and spread the word on Facebook and Twitter today.

    Thank you again for all your help.

    Sincerely,
    Ethan Nadelmann
    Executive Director
    Drug Policy Alliance

  • DdC

    Oh No It Ain’t Fascism…

    I used to like Tennessee…
    If the Neocon idiots don’t even know it’s UnConstitutional I think Tennessee has a bigger problem than controversial pictures.

    Dear Lawmakers in Tennessee,
    You don’t have to look at the pics and you can pass the posts by or you can download them, print them and then shove them up your ass…
    DdC

    New Tennessee law makes “offensive” online pictures illegal
    In an attempt to keep up with the changing times, lawmakers in Tennessee have created and passed a new bill that makes it illegal to spread “emotionally distressing images,” if its determined you should reasonably know that the picture would cause distress. Like this one maybe?

    Censorship: Bong Hits 4 Jesus

    More stupid human tricks…

    DEA Wary Banks Back Away from MMJ Operations
    Operators and supporters of marijuana dispensaries say banks are turning away their business because they risk falling afoul of anti-money-laundering and drug-trafficking laws.