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May 2012
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Open Thread

Drug War under fire

bullet image Student’s ordeal: How was Daniel Chong lost in DEA detention?. This absolutely appalling incident by the DEA is getting the national attention it should and hopefully the student will get a fat paycheck from the lawsuit. Importantly, the national attention (as demonstrated in this article) is also focusing on the notion that this isn’t just an isolated incident, but rather an inevitable incident given the mass production of drug war that we are experiencing.

“A typical characterization from authorities when things go wrong is that it was unacceptable what happened, but the rare exception,” said Borden. “In my opinion this misses the central point. In the past few decades we have escalated the drug war and the criminal justice system generally, to the point where we are running huge numbers of people through it, the system becoming incapable of reliably carrying out its basic responsibilities as a result.”

Kevin Sabet seems to be making a career out of providing quotes to media in support of the drug war, and is quoted in this article for no apparent reason.


President Obama has been having a rough couple of months of getting publicly attacked for his drug policies (his own fault, of course, but I doubt his campaign committee expected this fly in the ointment). First, the entire western hemisphere leadership revolts over the drug war and, despite VP Biden’s trip to placate with cash handouts, ends up making the Summit of the Americas about drug policy.

Then he discovers that he’s going to have to answer questions about marijuana as he tries to increase his public visibility for campaign purposes.

Now, just as he wants the party to come together behind him, Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi attacks federal crackdowns on medical marijuana

“Access to medicinal marijuana for individuals who are ill or enduring difficult and painful therapies is both a medical and a states’ rights issue. Sixteen states, including our home state of California, and the District of Columbia have adopted medicinal marijuana laws – most by a vote of the people.

“I have strong concerns about the recent actions by the federal government that threaten the safe access of medicinal marijuana to alleviate the suffering of patients in California, and undermine a policy that has been in place under which the federal government did not pursue individuals whose actions complied with state laws providing for medicinal marijuana.

Good for Congresswoman Pelosi!


We don’t need no stinkin’ science! …

It always amuses me when Keith Humphreys or one of the other prohibition apologists makes some crack about legalizers not being interested in dealing with the facts or the science, when the truth is so clearly the opposite.

The absolutely largest repository of lies and distortions regarding drug policy and the related science is located in the federal government, centered in the ONDCP.

bullet image The Drug Czar’s False Statement About Marijuana and Hemp Should Be a Bigger Scandal – nice job by Scott Morgan explaining just how asininely ridiculous was the drug czar’s response to the petition about hemp.

Eric Steenstra follows up:

bullet image The Obama Administration Is Wrong to Deny American Farmers a Profitable Crop

I have met with senior ONDCP officials, and they have made clear they understand that industrial hemp is a non-drug crop, not marijuana. The administration should know that one cannot use hemp for drug purposes any more than one can use a poppy seed bagel even though it contains trace opiates. The response proves beyond any doubt that ideological interests and predetermined prohibition of hemp trump science and reason in the Obama White House.

And the Blanks Slate brings us:

bullet image Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug Czar Speeches


The story in the mainstream media may be that it’s down to Romney and Obama for President, but there are other things still going on that can’t be ignored.

bullet image Ron Paul Roundup: The World Gazes on His Delegate Strategy in Wild Wonder – fascinating piece by Brian Doherty on the delegate hunt and how the Ron Paul movement has taken advantage of the features of Republic to put Paul in position to make quite a splash in the Convention.

bullet image It’s Johnson vs Wrights in the LP debate – Gary Johnson and Lee Wrights debate tonight for the Libertarian Party nomination.


bullet image Why Legalizing Drugs is a Bad Idea – John Walters’ ignorant and anti-American rant is at Opposing Views and there’s a comments section…

bullet image Puppycide in Fulton, MO — just another in a long line of dead dogs resulting from a small marijuana bust.

bullet image Interesting video on how prime-time TV dramas depict the war on drugs. Apparently, they’re doing a fair job of representing the public’s ambivalence.

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38 comments to Open Thread

  • Anonymous

    Dude, you’re obsessed with Kevin Sabet. Makes you look bad.

    Hotly Debated Thumb up 0 Thumb down 17

    • darkcycle

      LOLS, LMAO. EVERY time the Sabet’s name gets mentioned… whatever the context. The “Poor Kevin” Troll rides again!

      Well-liked Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

      • Cannabis

        Yes, as Kevin’s the only guy we know who actually wants to be the drug czar and has been working for it his whole life.

        Well-liked Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

      • claygooding

        Kevin Sabet makes Kevin Sabet look bad,,all he knows how to do is speak ONDCP double-speak,meaning he can find no actual harm in marijuana so every time he says anything about marijuana’s harms,he has to lump other more dangerous drugs in with it too imply that marijuana causes the same level of harms,,which everyone but him is learning is just another form of a lie.

        Well-liked Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • Duncan20903

      More accurately, Mr. Sabet is obsessed with us.

      Well-liked Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

    • Wow. Another Sabet troll! Do you think they’re different people, or does Kevin do them all himself?

      Well-liked Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  • Connecticut is the 17th medical mj state! (It’s passed the General Assembly and Governor Malloy has already announced that he intends to sign it.)

    Massachusetts will have it on the ballot this November, which means passage is guaranteed. If New Hampshire can round up the three Senate votes needed for a veto override, mmj will be legal in all 6 New England states :)

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/connecticut/articles/2012/05/05/conn_senate_passes_medical_marijuana_bill/?

    Well-liked Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  • Francis

    “The DEA rightfully put out a pretty forceful apology and said they will review procedures … and that is appropriate,” said Kevin Sabet, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Florida and a former senior policy adviser to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. “This was an extraordinary situation and, as far as we know, an isolated incident.”

    Kev’s got a point. We lock HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of non-violent people in cages every year on suspicion of drug “crimes,” and in the vast majority of cases, those suspects are provided with food and water — and not abandoned to die an agonizing death of dehydration amidst their own filth. Nobody bats a thousand. If anything, this story represents an opportunity to celebrate the DEA’s professionalism and how frequently they get it right. Plus, Chong didn’t die. And on top of that, the DEA has issued a “pretty forceful” (according to Kev) apology (obviously, no need to overdo things there). Bottom line: no harm, no foul, right?

    Well-liked Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  • Francis

    Speaking of Ron Paul, here’s an excellent column by Robin Koerner: Paradigm Lost: Why the rEVOLution Has Not Been Televised. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but here’s a good excerpt:

    As Goethe said, “We see only what we know.”

    So what do we know about American politics? We “know” that there are two opposing ideologies, Left and Right. We know they are largely staked out by two established parties, Democrats and Republicans. We know that all political positions that are “reasonable” or “mainstream” are represented by them. The trends in American politics can be identified by listening just to them: other views are held by so few that they can be ignored because they can have no significant impact.

    All this “knowledge” is false, but it comprises the prevailing paradigm, so we know it nonetheless.

    Any paradigm worthy of the name — such as this American political paradigm — lasts for a long time and is hard to unlearn.

    But when it is about to collapse, a few things happen.

    A) Most people ignore or try to “explain away” the data that threaten the old paradigm. B) The old paradigm becomes stretched in increasingly artificial ways to fit all the threatening data. This is called, “saving the phenomenon.” C) More parochially, people with a career interest in the old paradigm fight for it with increasing dogmatism.

    Well-liked Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  • It would be great to hear the entire drug reform chorus demanding Obama fire Michele Leonhart right now over this Daniel Chong scandal. Have any DEA heads rolled yet because of this blatant disregard for human life, or are they still in cover up mode? Someone should have been fired by now, or at least suspended while union protection proceedings get started. That nothing has happened yet, besides a non-apology, lays squarely at the feet of Leonhart.

    Obama, Fire Michele Leonhart Now! If not, we will fire you.

    Well-liked Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  • primus

    It will be truly interesting to see how the actual convention goes. Once the delegates realise that the ONLY candidate who stands a snowball’s chance in hell of defeating Obama is RP they might just switch to him. If they select Mitt they don’t want to win this time. Again.

    Well-liked Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    • claygooding

      It is my contention that the Republicans don’t want too win this election,,they hope the Democrats will fix what they destroyed during Bush and build it back up enough to steal it again.

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • I had the privilege of being a Nevada state delegate at the convention this weekend (14 hours on saturday, 4 on sunday), and helped Ron Paul bitch-slap Wrongney. We got 22 out of 25 delegates. Haven’t seen this on MSM yet, though I did submit it to the neocon shill Drudge.

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  • Peter

    what do you make of john walters illustrating his article with a picture of a swat team breaking in a door? or perhaps its an editor with a sense of irony

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  • I disagree with Sabet when he suggests this was an isolated incident. It happens more often than people realize. Here is how it can occur: When a drug warrant is executed, sometimes there are more suspects on site than expected. So now the agency is transporting nine or ten people to the cell block of a nearby law enforcment detachment. The jail staff might be used to processing one or two arrests at a time. Now they get slammed with ten. So they put some of them in temporary holding cells or interview rooms.

    Some of these rooms might be rarely used and / or not monitored. They might be in a different area or even a different floor of the building. And usually the people forgotten about are the ones who are not getting charged (ie. individuals whom the investigating officer was planning to release from custody). The ones who are being charged go through a formal intake process so it is more difficult to lose track of them.

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  • Bamboo Face Pipe with Coffee Can Bowl

    We don’t need no stinkin’ science! I lul’d. One day the money will run out on the drug war failure and if some poor guy can get a check for inhuman treatment than that is more money pulled from the drug war well.

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • Estonia now has its own small-scale incident of drug enforcement officers possibly overstepping their bounds. The incident is now called “the humiliation scandal” and has gained enough attention for the minister of interior affairs to speak up. (He says he’ll have to wait for the results of internal police investigation to comment on the isse.)

    I’ll make a quick overview in English (as there probably aren’t many Estonian-speaking people here, although if there are, the news piece can be found here).

    The victim Alexandra claims she was forced to strip naked and squat three times, was not allowed to go to the toilet or drink water, and was called “a whore” by the police officers. The police were apparently looking for her former husband, a drug criminal pronounced dead in Russia (apparently they don’t believe he’s actually dead, as an Estonian driver’s licence was issued to him post mortem), when they rang the bell of the home of Alexandra’s parents-in-law whom she was visiting together with her five-year-old child. When the door opened, one of the officers pressed the 75-year-old grandfather against the wall with a riot shield for the duration of the search (the man had had heart surgery two months before). Six fully-geared drug enforcement officers crowded into the house, shouting and making threats, with six more standing outside. When the 5-year-old had hysterics, Alexandra picked her up, so she couldn’t obey immediately when she was told to move a coffee table, which prompted one of the officers to call her a whore and to shut up. According to her the residents were not told the reason for the raid on the spot.

    Alexandra was apprehended and taken to a police station. The police told her that her lawyer could not be reached. (The lawyer later pointed out that he was never called.) The police offered her their own attorney, claiming that the lawyer Alexandra had told them to call doesn’t even exist. Then she was forced to strip totally naked and squat several times, so that her behind touched the dirty floor (this happened under the watchful eye of one policewoman, not the whole squad, though.) A few hours later she was transferred to another station where the whole procedure was repeated. She was then locked in a cell with no toilet and no water and her cries for both were left unheeded for hours.

    When her attorney finally arrived, she was allowed a drink of water from a tap. After the lawyer left, she was again locked in a tiny room, told to change her testimony and repeatedly threatened that if she doesn’t comply, her 5-year old child will be taken in for questioning next.

    A police major called Priit Pärkna commented on the incident thusly: “An arrest and accompanying procedures do infringe on a person’s basic civil rights, but are necessary. We search apprehended people in order to make sure they are not carrying illicit substances or objects, including those that the suspect might hurt themselves with. In all drug cases the control procedures are very thorough and understandably quite unpleasant. Still, female strip searches occur only under the supervision of a female officers, and squatting is unfortunately the most efficient way of checking for objects hidden in cavities of the lower body.”

    I presume it’s needless to say the police found no drugs.

    Well-liked Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • P.S. Sorry for any language mistakes and also for possible OT, although the incident is somewhat reminiscent of D. Chong’s plight and also rather recent.

      Well-liked Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • Matthew Meyer

      Has this really happened more than once? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysian_lock-up_detainee_abuse_scandal

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • darkcycle

        Matthew, at least for losing prisoners, it happens more than they’d like to admit, that’s for sure. I remember a case at the county jail where I used to work (as a psychologist). While the person involved was not neglected, his paperwork from booking was lost and he spent two months or so in population as non-person. Family couldn’t locate him, and his requests for phone calls and to contact an attorney were ignored (normally, by the time a person has been booked out of holding and into the jail at large, that stuff has already occurred). He was “lost” but he talked to guards and other prisoners every day. The abuse? Remember that poor guy who was sodomized with a toilet plunger while in custody in New York?

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        • Matthew Meyer

          Hey dc, I meant the ear-squat scandal, not the losing prisoners aspect.

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  • Cl7.&

    Pete is getting too hunky/doory for me…everything is great in your eyes as a teacher that doesnt have to worry about drugtests/etc. must be nice nice to take trips under the guise of learning with over-inflated tuition prices that a lot of students wont pay down the line. Like ive said before, the drugwar is just a tool for control and it wont change. Same ol arguements, same ol shit, it wont change till the other 5 percent wake up…namely pete and company who are muppets in the charade to make people feel better. Sick. And to go on with life with seemingly no worries is as disgusting as it is disingenuous to say the least. Have u been in the system? Jail for more than 2 days? Pathetic. U want to be famous for having a blog? Fuk it all….just a fish towards the top that really doesnt give a shit about the pitiful affairs that is part of the system. This is much larger than u aknowledge…more than u can comprehend lest uve been there…enjoy the fuking hunky doory life u lead….blind one.

    Hotly Debated Thumb up 0 Thumb down 14

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      It’s a crying shame that there are people who go through life without the benefit of a working brain.

      Tell me Cl7.&, why is it that defeatists bother to post that nothing’s ever going to change? Don’t you know no one’s going to listen to you anyway? Even if we did, nothing is going to change anyway. I’d advise you to commit suicide. After all, there’s no point in staying alive in such a suck ass world.

      Toodles!

      Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • darkcycle

      Pretty arrogant for a quasi-literate moron, don’t ya think?

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    • fffffftttttttt!

      CIJ, ever considered premature reincarnation?

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Matthew Meyer

      Sabet on a bender?

      Well-liked Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  • Duncan20903

    John Walters roasted on an open fire.

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  • Chris

    Daniel Chong deserves an audience with the president himself. Who else could ask why these policies still exist and walk away with anything other than a non-answer?

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    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      Well sure, they could discuss it over a beer.

      Well-liked Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    • Peter

      obamas little smirks and giggles when ever the subject of cannabis is raised is a classic sign of embarrassment and cognitive dissonance. he is desparTe to change the subject. meanwhile joe biden is desparately trying to shift the focus onto gay marriage on which he has fully “evolved” unlike the president, to placate the democrat base now hopelessly alienated over prohibition. the great drug warrior has learnt the art of using the gay marriage wedge wedge issue to divide and conquor and to distract from what they dont want to talk about.

      Well-liked Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  • Peter

    eric holder on michigan radio this am wringing his hands over “young black crime” in detroit and promising to reduce it. no mention of course of the real cause of said crime, prohibition.

    Well-liked Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    • Matthew Meyer

      Prohibition is a make-work program for the inner city. Instead of real education and opportunity, you can become a drug dealer. Philippe Bourgois’s ethnography of crack dealing in New York makes this clear: people are looking to fulfill their version of the American Dream, and for many folks, drugs are the best chance.

      “Some people got hopes and dreams / Some people got ways and means.”

      Well-liked Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  • claygooding

    Gary Johnson wins Libertarian Party presidential nomination

    http://www.ketknbc.com/news/decision-2012/gary-johnson-wins-libertarian-party-presidential-nomination

    Even if he has no chance of winning the Libertarian party should keep the war on some drugs as a topic at every debate,,if they let them in.

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  • claygooding

    If the Libertarian party picks up a record breaking number of supporters,,drawing votes away from both parties,,how far will Hominy and Osama go to get them back?

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  • Duncan20903

    .
    .

    The police discuss Nancy Pelosi.

    Med marijuana in my opinion is bullshit. Pelosi in my opinion is a Dumbass. My opinion. Legalization in my opinion is going to be a grievous mistake.

    “is going to be”…

    …not “would be”

    Lately it seems all but the people who think that the future will be identical to today because those making a profit are totally in control of reality accept that it’s going to happen.
    ———-
    Exciting news people! Drugstore.com has horny goat weed on sale for 30% off! (AKA Rowdy Lamb Herb, Barrenwort, Bishop’s Hat, Fairy Wings, or 淫羊藿)

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