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March 2012
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Open thread

bullet image Mother of College Student Who Smoked Synthetic Marijuana,Then Crashed His Car and Died, Says Rand Paul “has blood on his hands”.

Once again, grieving parents send blame in the wrong direction. Making drugs illegal has never increased their safety or reduced their availability. In fact, just like alcohol prohibition, banning drugs tends to encourage the production of more dangerous drugs.


bullet image More of this please. Mandatory Minimums Distort Justice System Discussion of the dangerously unchecked power of prosecutors.


bullet image There are police and there are police from Cop in the Hood.

Why are some departments so committed to prevention over apprehension or meaningless patrol? Why are some departments so committed to protecting the civil rights of everyone with whom they are in contact, and others so flagrant in their violation of them? Why are some individual police officers so thoughtless, and others so thoughtful? Why do some agencies handle protests in ways that protect the right of protesters, and others almost guaranteed to provoke conflict?


bullet image Guatemalan president leads drug legalization debate

Discussions occurring. With or without the U.S.

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36 comments to Open thread

  • Matthew Meyer

    The trope of bereaved parents crusading against drug promoters goes back at least to Art Linkletter, who hounded Leary publicly after his daughter committed suicide after taking acid (though not, I think, while she was high on it).

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      Did you know that Mr. Linkletter subsequently recanted and blaming grief for causing an error in judgment?

      Also remember at that time that people believed in acid flashbacks so it really didn’t matter that the coroner ruled that drugs hadn’t played a role in her death. I could easily post a link so that you could see & hear Joe Friday explaining acid flashbacks. search Youtube for “blue boy” +LSD if you are interested in watching.

      He also endorsed the re-legalization of cannabis in 1972. I wonder if the Shafer Report influenced that decision.

      …in 1972, he announced that he had changed his position on marijuana. After much thought and study he had concluded that the drug was relatively harmless and that law-enforcement officials should spend their time concentrating on hard drugs.

      • Matthew Meyer

        Duncan, thanks a lot. That’s new info to me. (Tho I saw the “Blue Boy” episode, so comical…)

        Kudos to Linkletter for coming back to reality. Perhaps this mom needs to know his story?

  • rita

    “There are police” — Oh, yes, there are, aren’t there? I’d be curious to know just what field this professor is “prominent” in. Not logic, I’d bet, or he wouldn’t have wasted his time and yours comparing his happy memories with today’s reality. Every cop in America today came of age during the drug war. They’re not peace officers, they’re soldiers; soldiers willing to kill but not to die in a war against a mostly unarmed populace. If you want to understand police, try imagining what kind of person deliberately chooses a career brutalizing people who can’t fight back.

    • claygooding

      And much of this is thanks too tactics and strategies handed down from the DEA for use in your local police force,,no matter how small or large it is,,they have a tactical team plan.

      Add the bonus monies for drug arrests and busts(provide funding to buy that nifty equipment)plus the available corruption money and you have the ingredients of today,,it is all about the dollar.

  • Duncan20903

    This one belongs in the “Homer Simpson moment” category.

    COVINGTON — A Covington man was arrested after he accidentally pocket-dialed 9-1-1, allowing police to overhear a conversation about smoking marijuana.
    /snip/

  • claygooding

    So far the legalization talks in CA look more like a five card stud game than actual event.

    ONDCP cut every one of the countries funding in this years budget,,Guatemala was hit the hardest with 60% cut from their drug war funding,,,Joe bumped the ante with a “promise” of $173 million dollars as soon as he can borrow it from the Chinese/congress.

    That’s how I see it Vern.

  • Servetus

    The logical fallacy in the Dobner case is of course post hoc ergo propter hoc, meaning ‘after this, therefore because of this’.

    I knew a girl in my high school who walked into the path of an oncoming vehicle on a curved road. The car hit and killed her. Witnesses said she saw the vehicle and froze rather than trying to get out of its way. Because she had smoked marijuana sometime beforehand, the victim’s mother and the police automatically assumed marijuana was to blame for her daughter’s hesitation when it came to getting clear of the danger.

    The mother’s assumption was totally at odds with the fact that most people will momentarily hesitate when presented with an imminent danger; the exceptions being those trained in the martial arts and various contact sports that teach people to react without thinking. What is natural and dangerous often gets blamed on anything nearby that is tangible and may possess a stigma, like a black cat crossing one’s path, or smoking marijuana.

    I suspect there is more to the story of Ms. Dobner’s teenage son than just smoking synthetic marijuana. The question that has to be asked is how many other people smoke synthetic marijuana, flip out, and then drive their car at 100mph? Probably none. I would say the Dobner case is unique, and that no general conclusions can be drawn from it.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      The car is just as implicated as the cause as the synthetic cannabis. If he hadn’t gone out driving, he wouldn’t be dead.

      Had you heard about the boy who smoked synthetic cannabis, his lungs collapsed and he required a double lung transplant? His body rejected the transplanted lungs and he died within a few months. When they use this one as a danger of synthetic cannabis they never seem impressed by the fact that he used a PEZ dispenser as his pipe.

      Such is the nature of hysterical rhetoric.

  • The Placebo Syndrome

    Unintended consequences in the spiffy drug war…kids can’t find any cannabis sativa or are afraid to and end up using some synthetic crap.

    • DannyDarvasa

      .

      .

      Marijuana to skunk, to dangerous synthetic concoctions – such as spice or bath salts.
      Poppies to morphine, to heroine, to krokodil.
      Coca to cocaine, to crack.
      Ephedra to ephedrine, to speed, to methamphetamine.
      Mushrooms to ecstasy, to 2CB/designers.

  • Francis

    I was trying to figure out how many deaths “synthetic pot” has actually caused. I found this story from a few months back: New drugs fuel wave of violence and death. A “wave of violence and death”? With a headline like that, I assumed the numbers would be pretty staggering, but that doesn’t mean I was prepared for this…

    Synthetic drugs have been linked or suspected in more than 20 deaths nationally in the past year.

    Linked or suspected. More than 20. My God, we haven’t seen carnage on this scale since the grisly “Summer of the Shark”! (Keep up the good work, mainstream media!)

    There’s an interesting-looking book on Amazon about how absolutely terrible humans are at evaluating risk and why we tend to worry about the wrong things: How Risky Is It, Really? Here’s an excerpt from one of the reviews that seems relevant:

    To me, the central feature is a list of 13 factors which can make a risk seem more threatening or less threatening than it really is (Trust; Risk vs benefit; Control; Choice; Natural vs human-made; Pain and suffering; Uncertainty; Catastrophic vs chronic; Can it happen to me? New vs familiar? Risks to children; Personification; Fairness). Also noteworthy is his discussion of the role of the media in making the world seem scarier than it really is — a well-informed discussion, because the author worked as a TV reporter for 20+ years.

    Around twenty people in the U.S. may have been killed last year as a result of bath salts. Each year in the U.S., there are an estimated 435,000 tobacco-related deaths and around 85,000 alcohol-related deaths. And many of those booze-related deaths are violent. But do you think that the THOUSANDS of ethanol-fueled homicides that occur in the U.S. each year get the same kind of media treatment as a single homicide that’s allegedly the result of a bath-salt-induced psychosis? Here’s a study from a few years back: Media Rarely Notes when Alcohol Plays Role in Violent Crimes and Accidents.

    Estimates suggest alcohol plays a role in 31 percent of homicides*, but it is mentioned in only 2.6 percent of television reports, 7.3 percent of newspaper accounts, and 5.6 percent of magazine reports of violent crime, with even lower percentages in the reporting of homicides.

    *That 31 percent is low. From Marijuana is Safer: “The U.S. government estimates that alcohol contributes to 25 to 30 percent of all violent crime in the America, including 30 percent of homicides and 22.5 percent of sexual assaults. However, the approach federal researchers used to calculate these figures attributes the use of alcohol as a primary cause of violent behavior in only 50 percent of the cases where the perpetrator had been drinking. Yes, you read that correctly. In order to be conservative with their estimates, researchers only consider booze to be a contributing factor in half of the cases in which alcohol was actually involved. This means that in reality alcohol was involved in some manner in 60 percent of homicides and almost half of all sexual assaults.”

    There were 14,748 murders in the U.S. in 2010. That means that there were around 8,848 murders where the perpetrator had been drinking. But yeah, let’s run hysterical scare stories about the “wave of violence and death” being fueled by synthetic pot and pass some “emergency legislation” to ban it. The incompetence of our media and political classes is criminal.

    • Matthew Meyer

      Remember, Francis: we made a “cultural decision” to use alcohol.

      • Francis

        Well, “we” must have been blackout drunk at the time we made that decision because I don’t remember it. Maybe we should sober up and allow adults to make some safer choices.

  • claygooding

    I suppose it depends on which reporter or editor is pushing the story:

    Benedict condemns ‘evil’ drug war

    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2012/03/23/Benedict-condemns-evil-drug-war/UPI-83741332489600/

    In this article the pope is calling for change!!!!!

    He is recommending that the countries effected by the “lies” of the drug cartels and the prohibitionists must be ignored and a new model must be brought forward,,that speaks legalization or decriminalization.

  • claygooding

    I just watched a commercial for GE turbine mfg,,,it reports that without GE turbines producing the power there would be no Bud.

    I don’t know if GE owns part of AB,,but the double meaning is there.

  • WishI'dWrittenThisOne

    Amakudari| 3.24.12 @ 1:24AM|#

    Here’s a solution for her that may get at the root of the problem: criminalize just this once the kind of parenting that gets their pretty-much-grown son to think it’s okay to alter his consciousness then drive a car at 100 mph through a neighborhood. As a bonus, she has more of a connection to her son than Rand Paul. If only she had instilled some semblance of personal responsibility in her son, he’d be alive today. Now everyone’s happy. She gets her neo-prohibitionist fucknuttery and the rest of us get a free society.

    And I’m done having sympathy for drug war crusaders. They’ve been doing this “for the children” shit for decades now.

  • Maria

    I swear they are calling all these smoke-able herbal/chemical crap mixtures in a baggie “synthetic marijuana” on purpose just to muddy the waters.

  • Duncan20903

    I’m highly annoyed with the Schaeffer Drug Library.

    When and why was marijuana outlawed?

    California, 1913 The first state marijuana prohibition law was passed in California in 1913.
    /snip/

    That is incorrect. Massachusetts in 1911 is the correct answer. This means that not only have I been posting incorrect boilerplate for months and months, it also means that I missed the 100th anniversary of the idiotic prohibition of cannabis.

    Even more annoying is that the source cited has it correct:
    The Forgotten Origins of Cannabis Prohibition in California (PDF)

    • Matthew Meyer

      I think Bonnie and Whitebread say CA 1913 was the first, I never heard MA. Their thesis has to do with Mexican workers, which helps explain the laws in the west. But why MA in 1911?!?

  • Duncan20903

    Michigan CPS has father shot dead for smoking pot in front of 3 year old.

    What about the children indeed.

    • Matthew Meyer

      That is really, really disgusting. I live near Butte County, CA (yeah, I also grew up there, in Chico), and they have been doing a lot of CPS harassment there. Google Daisy Bram savemybabies.org if you want to learn more about that and how people have responded. So far no one has been killed (damn, it’s crazy to even write that).

      • Duncan20903

        .
        .

        If you want to get really picky technical DC was first in 1906. But it isn’t a State and in that day Congress was directly in charge of their laws.

        Why Massachusetts in 1911? Because that’s when they decided to do it I guess.
        A century of systemic idiocy

        There’s actually some debate about whether California criminalized in 1913 or 1915. It seems that the 1913 law was either not enforceable or just not meant to be enforced. Regardless, the legislature rewrote the law in 1915.

        Yesterday I learned that it’s a felony in Maryland to bring more than 2 packs of cigarettes into the State. Felony possession of tobacco. Who’da thunk it? Lots and lots of felonies being perpetrated in this part of Maryland. Cigarette taxes cause a $20 to $25 higher price on a carton vs the same brand in Virginia and I’m sure people here are smoking an awful lot of cigarettes that were purchased in Virginia. I’m not talking about bought to be resold, I mean local tobacco addicts who own a car. I’d really like to know why cigarette prohibition was abandoned. They had it criminalized in more than 1/3 of the States but it seems like they just lost interest.

        I’m not so annoyed with the Schaeffer Library anymore. Finding out about this has led to a full afternoon of reading up on the history of prohibition in this Country. Did you know that until 1913 when Congress passed the Webb-Kenyon Act a “dry” State wasn’t allowed to prevent residents from receiving shipments of drinking alcohol from other States?

  • Peter

    A very patronizing article from Mike Riggs at Reason. He gives no examples of “effective” arguments for regulation/legalization:

    http://reason.com/archives/2012/03/23/the-three-worst-arguments-for-legalizing#commentcontainer

    • Francis

      Yeah, I saw that and thought it was pretty obnoxious. Here are the “Three Worst Arguments For Legalizing Marijuana”:

      Legalizing Marijuana Will End Cartel Violence in Northern Mexico

      Yeah, that’s a pretty bad argument. It’s also one that essentially no one is making. It’s a “perfect solution fallacy” straw-man. Will marijuana re-legalization “end cartel violence”? No, but it WILL stop fueling violence in the cannabis trade and it WILL deprive organized crime of a substantial source of their income and power. (But yes, we can argue about exactly how much it will hurt them.)

      Marijuana should be taxed and regulated because it is America’s largest cash crop.

      That’s an odd way of phrasing it, but this appears to be a reference to the “revenue” argument. Legalizing and taxing cannabis WILL raise billions of dollars in revenue. And we’ll also stop squandering billions on a failed program. Will it single-handedly solve our debt crisis? No, but it’ll be a good start. Sorry, I guess I’m not seeing why this is one of the “worst” arguments for reform.

      Marijuana should be legal because it’s medicine.

      Marijuana is medicine. And educating people about its medical benefits HAS won people over to our side by changing how they see the plant. I tend to think that arguments that convince people are “good” arguments, but maybe that’s just me.

      • Peter

        i get the feeling hes a prohib in reformers clothing

      • rita

        All drugs should be legalized because it’s nobody else’s damn business what I do to, or with, my own body. The relative dangers vs benefits of individual drugs is just as irrelevant to legalization as it is to prohibition.

  • Jeff Trigg

    Cook County Board President just discussed decriminalization publicly.

    The discussion starts at the 11:30 mark. Interesting notes from the discussion.

    92% of the people who receive jail time in Chicago/Cook for low-level marijuana possession are black.

    Cook County spends $500 million per year on its jail, at least $78 million of it for marijuana arrests.

    84,000 police man hours are devoted to marijuana arrests in Chicago/Cook.

    Cook County Board President said she talked to Mayor Rahm Emanuel about ticketing instead of arrest for marijuana possession back in January but has had no further progress.

    http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2012/03/weeks-in-review-3.html#comments

  • Servetus

    Trayvon Martin is being demonized because his school suspension is linked to an empty baggie that school officials believe at one time contained marijuana:

    http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/26/10872124-trayvon-martin-school-suspension-linked-to-pot

  • Jake

    Saw this http://imgur.com/rOYDj, summarises prohibition quite nicely:

    “Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it

  • rita

    “Rand Paul has blood on his hands” — I wonder, had the college student graduated with honors and become rich and famous, if his mother would have given Rand Paul credit for his success.

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .

    Something that seems to have been forgotten about “synthetic merrywanna” is that today’s formulation is not the same as that of yesterday’s. It puzzled me for a while that for perhaps almost a decade that synthetic merrywanna traded freely with no particular harm until the prohibitionists discovered its existence in 2010. What I missed was that subsequently that formulation was put on Federal schedule I by the DEA and criminalized in many local and State jurisdiction. In response the producers simply changed to using different synthetic cannabinoids in order to skirt the law, and that’s when we started seeing reports of significant harm coming from the use of “synthetic merrywanna.”

    Like I’ve said before I haven’t paid much attention to this particular issue. Most press reports also just refer to “synthetic merrywanna” without detailing the actual chemicals involved. Yesterday I read a report about a gas station attendant getting busted for selling synthetic merrywanna which included the actual cannabinoid involved. Having never heard of that particular chemical it suddenly struck me that it’s the reformulation that’s likely responsible for the reported mayhem. Of course we can thank our legislators who claimed to be trying to “keep people safe from harm” for the harm we’re now seeing.