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October 2011
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Open Thread

bullet image California Medical Assn. calls for legalization of marijuana

The group acknowledges some health risk associated with marijuana use and proposes that it be regulated along the lines of alcohol and tobacco. But it says the consequences of criminalization outweigh the hazards.

Lyman says current laws have “proven to be a failed public health policy.” He cited increased prison costs, the effect on families when marijuana users are imprisoned and racial inequalities in drug-sentencing cases.


bullet image DEA Global Holy Warriors Take On Iran – Jeralyn Merritt takes on the DEA

The DEA has become a menace. Someone needs to rein them in. A good starting point would be for Congress to start cutting their budget. They are supposed to be addressing drug crime in the U.S. not policing the world and creating international crime and terror plots. […]

It’s time someone put the brakes on the DEA’s global holy wars.


Some reactions to the latest multi-pronged crackdown by the feds.

bullet image Barack Obama, drug warrior by Debra Saunders at SFGate.

Nadelmann cannot understand why the Obama Justice Department is willing to alienate real estate agents, property owners, gun owners and the Democratic base. “Typically, as an advocate,” he said, “your best opportunities emerge when the other side overreaches.”

Bingo.

I’ve talked to folks in law enforcement who stew over medical marijuana businesses serving as fronts for criminal enterprises. But now the administration is threatening to go after cancer patients who own guns and small businesses that rent to marijuana shops. They are going after people whom they do not consider to be criminals.

That’s why some states decided to pass medical marijuana laws in the first place. They do not want the heavy boot of federal law enforcement stomping on the wrong people.

It’s a good point. This over-reach could very well be a tipping point.

bullet image James P. Gray: Going backward in drug war

Not only will this program be as hopeless as its predecessors, it is yet another continuing example of the arrogance, hypocrisy and bullying of the federal government in this area. […]

Thus, calling marijuana a “controlled substance” is the biggest oxymoron of our day. Prohibition leaves governments with no controls whatsoever over things like age restrictions, quality, quantity or place of sale. Those important issues are left in the complete control of Mexican drug cartels, juvenile street gangs and other thugs, which is where most of the customers will go once the dispensaries are closed down.

bullet image Here’s a ridiculous reaction from the Christian Science Monitor: Fed crackdown on California medical marijuana: Does Obama mean it?

A year ago, Californians voted against legalizing marijuana, and last week the Obama administration decided to help them mean it. […]

The Obama administration – after appearing soft on marijuana two years ago – is doing what state law enforcement refuses to do. And the Justice Department is being smart about it by going after large-scale growers, landlords who rent to large pot dispensaries, or banks that finance growers. […]

Keeping a lid on marijuana isn’t like Prohibition, as PBS documentary filmmaker Ken Burns points out. Alcohol has long been too widely consumed to ban completely. Pot smokers are a small minority. They are containable…

The big question now is whether President Obama will buckle to political pressure from pro-pot forces and ease up the federal pressure on California’s pot industry. A short-term clampdown won’t dampen the momentum of the pro-legalization crowd that uses almost any ruse on the public.


bullet image Marijuana may help PTSD. Why won’t the government find out for sure?

If this were any other drug, the researchers would probably be organizing or conducting trials now. But this isn’t a new chemical compound dreamed up by a pharmaceutical company. It’s marijuana, and the anti-marijuana forces in the federal government are powerful. […]

It is time for government officials to take this nation’s veterans off the medical marijuana battlefield. NIDA should grant the researchers’ request to purchase marijuana and allow the FDA-approved PTSD study of veterans to move forward. These brave men and women don’t have decades to wait for relief.

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24 comments to Open Thread

  • Tony Aroma

    Obama may have gone too far with his latest escalation of the drug war. First threatening gun owners and now the media. Seems like they are the last groups that he would want to alienate and/or piss off. Unlike dispensary owners and terminal patients, they are both are fully capable of fighting back.

    The media have always loved and supported the drug war, but I think as soon as they become casualties rather than just observers they might change their tune. Then who’s the government going to use to spread their propaganda?

    On the bright side, there aren’t too many more people left that the president hasn’t pissed off or alienated, so it should be all smooth sailing from here.

  • claygooding

    It is the search and seize tactics,,born to fight major criminal enterprise and money laundering,morphed into first our state police,then into even our sheriff’s dept and local police as a tool to use on every occasion,that rivals any other damage done to our society by the war on drugs.
    Millions arrested,millions imprisoned,trillions spent and the only legacy the drug warriors really have is that they have managed to take America’s police from “Protect and Serve” to “Search and Seize”.

  • Jon Doe

    Did Ken Burns actually say that? I can’t imagine a man as well versed in history as Mr. Burns making such a stupid statement. And I watched the whole of the Prohibition doc a few days ago and not once was any other drug referenced (other than one small mention of cocaine use at speakeasies). There was a whole lot of talk about “you can’t legislate morality” coming from most of the commentators though.

      • Jon Doe

        Yep, that’s him. Damn, it’s disheartening to hear those words come out his mouth.

        • kaptinemo

          So the man proves himself a fool by opening his biscuit trap and blathering nonsense as this. In effect, even though he has to know better, he’s putting his imprimatur of maintaining prohibition. A sad thing, but as a result, he’s made it easy for me; I know that, unless he publicly changes his mind, I won’t be watching another of his programs, ever again. Nor will I be availing myself of any of his sponsor’s products. And I’ll be suggesting the same to my cannabist friends.

    • Christy

      It doesn’t surprise me. He works for PBS funded by the Federal Government. He more than likely funded his doc by grants from federal government as well as So & So Foundations.

  • Sukoi

    For those who have DirecTV, the AUD channel (CH239) is airing ‘Marijuana Wars’ parts 1,2 & 3. I’m not sure if I’ve seen it befor or not, so I don’t know how old it is – I guess that I’ll find out in a minute…

  • claygooding

    New Slogan for Occupy Wall Street group
    “”Prohibit the DEA,,save billions!!

    Gallery: 80 Occupy Wall Street cartoons/photos

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/wall-322086-cartoons-street.html?pic=1

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .
    It’s amazing how much mileage the Know Nothings are getting from the “defeat” by a (landslide) margin of 53.5-46.5

    It’s amusing how they round 53.5 to 54 but 46.5 to 46.

    It’s a pile of meadow muffins that they characterize the results as “California” rejecting re-legalization. Truth be told the registered voters of California gave the victory to “don’t really give a shit” as ~6,600,000 didn’t bother to vote.

    No: 5,333,230
    Yes: 4,643,592

    Another way to express the results would be to say that ~11.2 million of California voters didn’t vote No.

    When the heck did a 3.5% margin of victory become categorized as a mandate? Does everyone recall a couple of weeks ago when an opinion poll was published showed that 51% of Californians were against re-legalization. I read at least two different articles about that poll where that 51% was called “decisive” by one and “compelling” by another. A 1% majority in a poll with a 3.5% margin of error is hardly decisive.

    These people really are doing their utmost to get me to reconsider my opinion that the phrase “in denial” is the most meaningless phrase in the English language.

  • the statement included in the CSM article about alcohol:

    Alcohol has long been too widely consumed to ban completely.

    And what’s ganja – chopped liver? Consumed world wide, a history of use that dates back thousands of years… and even though prohibited is the number 2 substance choice of consumption and the nation’s number 1 agricultural commodity. That’s hardly insignificant.

    Besides, it intrinsically makes sense that humans first experienced intoxication through the sampling of their environment (see McKenna’s Food of the Gods). Just a bit of digging around in the literature shows that we used datura (jimson weed), psilocybin/amanita, opium and cannabis in multiple locations around the globe (along with many, many other substances)(and how else to explain the brew of ayahuasca other than that we were once intimate to the nth degree with the world around us and it would take such a relationship to develop such a recipe).

    And again, these aren’t reasons they posit, they are assumptions, excuses (for a bad and failed policy) and opinions. Cannabis use is probably on a par historically with alcohol. Using the logic that cannabis isn’t as popular as alcohol is kind of like saying we never should have ended discrimination because blacks are a minority.

    How do I file a PTSD claim against the WOD? I swear it’s driving (already driven?) me crazy…

    And while I applaud the CA Med Assoc for this strong stand is it necessary really to fling the “folk medicine” barb? Really? Folk medicines are based on reality, which I suppose could be why the majority of medicines are derived from naturally occurring substances (think aspirin and white willow bark).

    Which raises another hackle… rrr… point. Why is one of the newest medical philosophies on the planet the dominant and close to only choice? Modern doctors only learned a century and a half ago they needed to was their hands before surgery. I mean high falootin’ is one thing but shoved down our throats is another. And do these dweebs forget that the AMA spoke against prohibiting pot when this whole charade began.

    A WO(s)D PTSD claim… hmmm…

  • I’ve never bought a copy of the New Yorker but might have to now:

    Portugal decriminalized drugs a decade ago. What have we learned?
    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/10/17/111017fa_fact_specter

    by Michael Specter
    October 17, 2011

    ABSTRACT: A REPORTER AT LARGE about the decriminalization of drug use. By the nineteen-eighties, drug abuse had become a serious problem in Portugal. The Lisbon government responded in the usual way—increasing sentences for convictions and spending more money on investigations and prosecutions. Matters only grew worse. In 1999, nearly one per cent of the population—a hundred thousand people—were heroin addicts, and Portugal reported the highest rate of drug-related AIDS deaths in the European Union. In 2001, Portuguese leaders, flailing about and desperate for change, took an unlikely gamble: they passed a law that made Portugal the first country to fully decriminalize personal drug use. (Other nations, such as Italy and the Netherlands, rarely prosecute minor drug offenses, but none have laws that so explicitly declare drugs to be “decriminalized.”) “We were out of options,” said João Goulão, the president of the Institute on Drugs and Drug Addiction, a department of the Ministry of Health that oversees Portuguese drug laws and policy. For people caught with no more than a ten-day supply of marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, or crystal methamphetamine—anything, really—there would be no arrests, no prosecutions, no prison sentences. Dealers are still sent to prison, or fined, or both, but, for the past decade, Portugal has treated drug abuse solely as a public-health issue. That doesn’t mean drugs are legal in Portugal. When caught, people are summoned before an administrative body called the Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction. Each panel consists of three members—usually a lawyer or a judge, a doctor, and a psychologist or a social worker. The commissioners have three options: recommend treatment, levy a small fine, or do nothing. In most respects, the law seems to have worked: serious drug use is down significantly, particularly among young people; the burden on the criminal-justice system has eased; the number of people seeking treatment has grown; and the rates of drug-related deaths and cases of infectious diseases have fallen. Surprisingly, political opposition has been tepid and there has never been a concerted repeal effort. Yet there is much to debate about the Portuguese approach to drug addiction. Does it help people to quit, or does it transform them into more docile drug addicts, wards of an indulgent state, with little genuine incentive to alter their behavior? By removing the fear of prosecution, does the government actually encourage addicts to seek treatment? Unfortunately, nothing about substance abuse is simple. For instance, although many people maintain that addiction would decline if drugs were legal in the United States, the misuse of legally sold prescription medications has become a bigger health problem than the sale of narcotics or cocaine. There are questions not only about the best way to address addiction but also about how far any society should go, morally, philosophically, and economically, to placate drug addicts.

    The complete article is viewable only by subscription or purchase.

    • Emma

      The New Yorker article will be online eventually. Reading the abstract and press release I am a bit skeptical. Seems to be focusing on claims of decreased drug abuse in Portugal and conflating problems of drug abuse with problems of drug prohibition. (Prohibitionists like to say “there are no simple solutions” to drug abuse, as though that is relevant when discussing the clear harms of prohibition.)

      Last line of the abstract: “There are questions not only about the best way to address addiction but also about how far any society should go, morally, philosophically, and economically, to placate drug addicts.” — So providing common sense public health services and not arresting people who use drugs is “placating” them?

      From the press release: “Francisco Chaves, a psychologist who runs the Centro de Acolhimento, in Lisbon, a short-term residency for drug addicts who need a place to re-start their lives, admits to mixed feelings about Portugal’s approach to drug addition. “This law takes away all pressure to stop using drugs,” Chaves says. “Nobody stops without pressure. That’s not the way humans are built. . . . are we not simply creating a society that is completely socially dependent?”” — So there are no reasons to stop using addictive drugs besides threat of arrest and punishment? Don’t most people stop abusing drugs without professional assistance because they realize that it is physically/socially harmful and that they have better things to do?

      Also from the press release: “Specter talks to Thomas McLellan, a longtime expert on addiction who served two years as the deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Obama Administration. “If you imagine that addiction is the willful act of an antisocial person who needs to learn his lesson, you ought to lock him up. But we have tried that and I don’t see many people learning their lesson,” McLellan says. Nonetheless, he does not favor a Portuguese approach for the United States. “Anything like legalizing drugs is preposterous,” he says. “No less ridiculous than trying to lock up every offender.” As evidence, McLellan cites the epidemic of prescription-drug abuse. “These drugs are created, controlled, and distributed in the most careful possible way,” he says. “It doesn’t prevent abuse.”” — OMG, no comment on McLellan.

  • Ed Dunkle

    How sad that Ken Burns sees only superficial similarities between Prohibition and the War on Drugs. One more reason to not give any money to PBS.

    • undrgrndgirl

      obviously ken doesn’t know enough about the matter…after watching “prohibition” i thought in most instances you could replace “alcohol” with “cannabis” and get a pretty accurate picture of what’s going on today…the only differences being that cannabis has never had the widespread use alcohol has had and it does not cause the violence alcohol does; and that the prohibition of cannabis has lasted 8x as long and is FAR worse.

  • vickyvampire

    Yeah who hasn’t Obama threatened your right Tony this like a waking up and being trapped on a bad acid trip grab your guns,then it eighties lets threaten publications who advertise Dispensaries this is Reagan Administration stuff is it not hell then,the before IRS,Shut Dispensaries, Oh Thank God for small favors are those doctors sort of came out in support of Cannabis Well its about Fucking time Yeah thanks Is Obama going to threaten Doctors to.I can’t stomach this moron anymore. The Huffington Post has a ton of comments on the Doctors support story.
    Yeah OVERREACH its the state of things latly

  • JDV

    What we have now is actually far worse than prohibition if you consider the international scale of the drug war. The mob didn’t usually go after innocent people (why bother?) and it didn’t turn vast swathes of the country into a battlefield, like Mexico. The cartels of today make the bootleggers of the 20’s look like polished gentlemen.

    • undrgrndgirl

      prohibition of cannabis is written into u.s. and u.n. trade agreements and treaties as well as other “global” documents …i ran across several incidents of it when i was doing some academic research on the history of medical cannabis in the u.s.; it was an avenue i would have liked to continue pursuing, but i ended up going after an unrelated post grad degree and haven’t gotten back to it. (i found a dutch report on afghani opium not too long after the u.s. invaded wich contained a paragraph about cannabis sort of thrown in for “good measure”…it had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the report)

      • Duncan20903

        .
        .
        It’s irrelevant. All of the international treaties and documents were written that way at the behest of the United States and include an exit clause that can be invoked at our government’s whim. If we decide to withdraw no one’s going to complain. By and large other countries only participate in the charade of the war on (some) drugs because the United States bribes them to do so. Hmm, some claim “foreign aid” is the more accurate phrase than “bribe.”

  • undrgrndgirl

    “Marijuana may help PTSD. Why won’t the government find out for sure?”

    …that’s easy. the answer is in the prelude to the question…every time the government studies cannabis it doesn’t go the way they want…

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .
    Slowly I turned…step by step…centimeter by centimeter…

    http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/17/record-high-50-of-americans-favor-legalizing-marijuana-use/

    Record-high 50% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana use

    By Frank Newport, Gallup

    PRINCETON, NJ – A record-high 50% of Americans now say the use of marijuana should be made legal, up from 46% last year. Forty-six percent say marijuana use should remain illegal.

    When Gallup first asked about legalizing marijuana, in 1969, 12% of Americans favored it, while 84% were opposed. Support remained in the mid-20s in Gallup measures from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, but has crept up since, passing 30% in 2000 and 40% in 2009 before reaching the 50% level in this year’s Oct. 6-9 annual Crime survey.
    /snip/

  • DdC

    Yawn! Get Over It Scott…

    Obama Must Explain His Broken Promise on Medical Marijuana, and Soon
    Scott MorganAssociate Editor, StoptheDrugWar.org 10/20/11

    Ah Bullshit! No Fraud Just Illiterates…

    Obombo is a Neocon appeaser, same as Clinton.
    Never said he was going to let states sell pot.
    Only said he wouldn’t bust people following state law.
    No state authorizes sales, and if they did it would be governed by the Feds under the Commerce Ax, granted by the Supreme Court in Gonzo vs Raich. Prop 215 is the Compassionate Use Act for anyone for any reason. Individuals growing for themselves have not been busted, because its not Commerce. Twist reality anyway you want. Bash Obombo for mass murdering civilians with drones or by continuing the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and probably Uganda in the near future. But don’t come off like Obombo had sympathy for stoners or even patients. He never did. He has been a dung worrier from the campaign. He picked RAVE Ax Biden as VP for christ sakes. He sides with the moneysluts of Wall St. Totally sponsoring and perpetuating this Ganjawar for their own profits. If you want to sell pot. Or make it convenient for seniors and conservatives without connections. Then the only way is to overturn the Controlled Substance Act by petitioning Congress or by Continental Convention. Which will probably fail. States having the authority over individuals can be a duel edged sword. States without laws on the books can make draconian laws that make the DEA seem like stoners. Just like they did with civil rights and Jim Crow. So time is on their side. As it stands states will be divided and a patchwork of red and green states will emerge imho. But its not Obombo and blaming him is a diversion from reality just the way they like it.

    Obama Says Drug Users Must Be Treated as Criminals
    Scott Morgan Associate Editor, StoptheDrugWar.org

    Cannabis is legal for some Individuals

    Meet the New Boss…