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December 2012
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Open Thread

bullet image Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke by Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone

bullet image Patrick Leahy Floats Legalizing Marijuana Possession At Federal Level For Pro-Pot States – nice progress to get that kind of gesture from a senator like Leahy, even if it’s of little worth practically.

bullet image Nick Clegg: Time to rethink drugs — major move from Deputy Prime Minister

bullet image The Real Problem with Fox31 Denver’s Alarmist Reporting About Pot-Impaired Drivers

bullet image The ONDCP has been bragging about getting a “Promise Kept” award from Politifact. That is now being seriously questioned. Politifact Wrong About Obama’s Drug War Record

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29 comments to Open Thread

  • Duncan20903

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    Mr. Leahy is head of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I’m not sure that we can say that his support is incidental. I’ve actually met Mr. Leahy at his staff Christmas party one year about 7 or 8 years ago. That happened because one of my brothers-in-law was in charge of his office IT. I know it means nothing substantive but my BiL thought that the man had good character and didn’t play the quid pro quo back room political games so commonly played on Capitol Hill. My BiL is no political ass kisser either. It’s fun to listen to him rant about the Senators’ dirty little backroom games. So we can at least hope that Mr. Leahy’s statement is a genuine reflection of his position on this issue. We can confidently say that without his support that we don’t have a prayer that any cannabis law reform at the Federal level can happen. He’s the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. So what is in the purview of the Judiciary Committee?

    Committee Jurisdiction

    In addition to its critical role in providing oversight of the Department of Justice and the agencies under the Department’s jurisdiction, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security, the Judiciary Committee plays an important role in the consideration of nominations and pending legislation.

    Executive nominations for positions in the Department of Justice, Office of National Drug Control Policy, the United States Parole Commission, the United States Sentencing Commission, and the State Justice Institute, as well as select nominations for the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Commerce are referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
    /snip/
    .
    .
    .
    Apportionment of Representatives
    Bankruptcy, mutiny, espionage, and counterfeiting
    Civil liberties
    Constitutional amendments
    Federal courts and judges
    Government information
    Holidays and celebrations
    Immigration and naturalization
    Interstate compacts generally
    Judicial proceedings, civil and criminal, generally
    Local courts in territories and possessions
    Measures relating to claims against the United States
    National penitentiaries
    Patent Office
    Patents, copyrights, and trademarks
    Protection of trade and commerce against unlawful restraints and monopolies
    Revision and codification of the statutes of the United States
    State and territorial boundary lines

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    • claygooding

      Duncan,,I thought the Judiciary Committee along with the DOJ could determine when a law is ineffective as written causing the federal prosecutors ability to get a guilty verdict doubtful,,as when a jury panel is made up of voters that legalized the activity the feds were prosecuting.

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      • Duncan20903

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        I can’t really speak to that point. I’ve never even heard about that power so I sure don’t know which committee has that one on its list of tasks. Perhaps it’s included in Revision and codification of the statutes of the United States? That’s second to last.

        Those lists did come from the Judiciary Committee’s home page. I thought it interesting since Committee Chair person can stop a bill dead in its tracks and it’s really hard if not impossible to get the bill up for consideration and a vote if they decide to let the bill languish. When I look at that list I see a whole bunch of stuff that relates to any potential cannabis law reform.

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        • claygooding

          I remember the discussion on it from Freedom Watch but it wasn’t about marijuana laws,it was a few years back when the congress was enacting terrorist protection laws and it came up over one of those new laws not being prosecutable as written.
          I wish I did have a photographic memory instead of the sketch pad I was dealt.

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  • The Commission have now examined all the evidence before them regarding the effects attributed to hemp drugs. It will be well to summarize briefly the conclusions to which they come. It has been clearly established that the occasional use or hemp in moderate doses may be beneficial; but this use may be regarded as medicinal in character. It is rather to the popular and common use of the drugs that the Commission will now confine their attention. It is convenient to consider the effects separately as affecting the physical, mental, or moral nature.

    Physical Effects

    In regard to the physical effects, the Commission have come to the conclusion that the moderate use of hemp drugs is practically attended by no evil results at all. There may be exceptional cases in which, owing to idiosyncrasies of constitution, the drugs in even moderate use may be injurious. There is probably nothing the use of which may not possibly be injurious in cases of exceptional intolerance. There are also many cases where in tracts with a specially malarious climate, or in circumstances of hard work and exposure, the people attribute beneficial effects to the habitual moderate use of these drugs; and there is evidence to show that the popular impression may have some basis in fact. Speaking generally, the Commission are of opinion that the moderate use of hemp drugs appears to cause no appreciable physical injury of any kind. The excessive use does cause injury. As in the case of other intoxicants, excessive use tends to weaken the constitution and to render the consumer more susceptible to disease. In respect to the particular diseases which according to a considerable number of witnesses should be associated directly with hemp drugs, it appears to be reasonably established that the excessive use of these drugs does not cause asthma; that it may indirectly cause dysentery by weakening the constitution as above indicated; and that it may cause bronchitis mainly through the action of the inhaled smoke on the bronchial tubes (1:263-4).

    Mental Effects

    In respect to the alleged mental effects of the drugs, the Commission have come to the conclusion that the moderate use of hemp drugs produces no injurious effects on the mind. It may indeed be accepted that in the case of specially marked neurotic diathesis, even the moderate use may produce mental injury. For the slightest mental stimulation or excitement may have that effect in such cases. But putting aside these quite exceptional cases, the moderate use of these drugs produces no mental injury. It is otherwise with the excessive use. Excessive use indicates and intensifies mental instability (1:264).

    – Indian Hemp Commission, 1894

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    • There is a report ahead of its time, Allan.

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    • Duncan20903

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      Prohibitionist parasites — diligently not letting the facts get in the way of hysterical rhetoric for over 118 years. Hate them as much as you can but that’s remarkable. Particularly when we factor in the utter stupidity of a not insignificant percentage of their dogma. In no particular order and including, but not limited to: white women miscegenating with Negroes, growing man teats, axe murdering/pacifism, withdrawal symptoms, playing the piano at hyper speed, and denial of the medicinal utility of cannabis.

      I guess you really can fool some of the people all of the time. It doesn’t take much effort to do so either.

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      • Freeman

        playing the piano at hyper speed

        LOL! It’s been a long time since I’ve watched Reefer Madness. That little tidbit brought back hilarious memories!

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  • I just ran into this and I was unaware that Mark Kleiman had a legalization scheme:

    /snip/

    Mark Kleiman, a professor at the UCLA School of Public Affairs, has proposed a legalization scheme that would permit responsible adult users to obtain more than enough to satisfy their needs, but with built-in safeguards against glamorization or abuse of cannabis. Under Kleiman’s Optimal Marijuana Control Regime plan, legal cannabis sales would be restricted to “state stores” similar to those that arose after alcohol prohibition and still exist in some places today. Adults could easily obtain an individual license bearing the same number as their driver’s license or other state-issued ID. They could purchase a generous amount of marijuana at reasonable intervals, but a record of their purchases would be kept by a central registry, just as purchases of narcotics such as Vicodin or Percocet are currently monitored, to curtail abuse. Users convicted of marijuana-related offenses, such as driving under its influence or selling to minors, would face loss of their cannabis license. Kleiman acknowledges that he has found few enthusiasts for his proposal, but “compared to prohibition,” he notes, “it represents a considerable liberalization, while creating much less serious threats than virtually unrestricted commerce.”

    /snip/

    http://tinyurl.com/burpdjx

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    • Byddaf yn egluro:

      I left them this:

      “That’s what we have now!
      “Unrestricted commerce” is exactly what Prohibition is!
      With wide available even in schools and prisons.”

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    • Freeman

      Kleiman’s scheme is unpopular for good reason. If we should take such measures, shouldn’t we prioritize by public hazard? How about a revocable license to purchase alcohol, and monitoring of everyone’s purchases thereof? Next we can do caffeine, chocolate, and sugar (and large soft drinks in NYC). Once we have the truly dangerous stuff in the firm grip of the central scrutinizers, and build the record of successes which will obviously flow from such measures, THEN we can debate whether or not to apply them to abusable yet otherwise beneficial substances of lesser public hazard. </snark>

      M.A.R.K. seems to have issues with the concept of individual liberties. He favors legalization of home-growing and personal possession of small amounts of cannabis, but opposes allowing commercial growing, advertising, and retail sales except through strictly-monitored government sales outlets. He would also ban cigarettes if he had his way, and try to wean addicts on e-cigs. In true “Reality Based Community” fashion, his position on nicotine is incoherent with his position on other drugs, in that he doesn’t “think we should wait until someone has done the clinical trials. We know plenty about the health damage from nicotine alone, and the numbers aren’t impressive. And the e-cigarette delivers nicotine alone. Seems to me it’s up to those who claim it might be harmful enough to worry about to come up with some data.” What happened to all that concern for uncertainty, Mark?

      He’s “filled with fear” that a truly free marijuana market would cause usage to explode, though I can’t recall any cogent argument from him about how, if that turned out to be true, it would be a bigger problem than prohibition’s unwanted side-effects. (Brett Belmore fans should check out his astute comments at that link. Our very own Duncan left an excellent comment there as well). But the fact is, despite prohibition, pretty much everybody who might try it has had ample opportunity, and the market is fairly well saturated already. Even if you advertised it daily on prime-time TV and gave it away for free at every convenience store in the nation, there would be a huge number of people who still wouldn’t have anything to do with it, and a lot of current users whose usage wouldn’t change much.

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      • Thanks for that info, Freeman. And to add… yes, Mark has suggested a revokable license for drinking similar to a driving license.

        You’re right. Mark doesn’t seem to put much interest in individual liberties and has a lot of faith in the nanny-state.

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        • stlgonzo

          “And to add… yes, Mark has suggested a revokable license for drinking similar to a driving license.”

          And I didn’t think I could think any less of him then I already did. Lesson learned.

          Can we just refer to him as Caty Stanton?

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        • Freeman

          Yep, I’ve seen Mark and Keith both suggest alcohol consumption licensing. But even they had to concede the low likelihood of imposing such policies explicitly. They do support de-facto methods of revoking the implied license to consume once one reaches legal age for those who run afoul of the law. In certain cases I have little if any objection to that, but their giddiness with the successes of HOPE and 24/7 Sobriety has them advocating expansion of their application beyond my comfort zone.

          My biggest objection to Kleiman’s drug policy proposals is that he assigns so much weight to the real problems of drug abuse that they somehow outweigh the real problems (which he does not deny) with expanded black markets controlled by violent criminals and the escalating violence of prohibition enforcement. So much so that he advocates exorbitant taxes on cigarettes in spite of rampant black-market trafficking already taking place where taxes are high, and publicized selective enforcement on black-market trafficking targeting the most openly-violent cartels while giving the rest a de-facto green light.

          He cites the externalities of drug abuse as a justification without much evidence that he has made any attempt to accurately weigh those against the externalities of both prohibition and the black market, beyond mere acknowledgement of their existence. And yet he is so damn sure that drug abuse is SUCH a big problem that he is willing to impose restrictions which violate the self-evident inalienable right to self-determination on the 80% whose drug use does not generate negative externalities beyond most any other normal human activity (and yes, recreational moderate intoxication is a normal human activity) while acknowledging that those restrictions have disproportionately far lesser effect on the determination of abusers to imbibe.

          If any of that made sense to me, I could respectfully agree to disagree with him and move on to other topics of discussion, but these policies fail on rational, economic, and libertarian analyses, and I just can’t seem to let that go. Thanks for providing a forum in which to vent frustration at these absurdities and propose more rational action, and more importantly, thanks for being a voice of calm rationality in a sea of fear-induced hysteria who actually gets occasional attention beyond these comment-section back pages.

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  • Peter

    of course being the murdoch sun their agenda is made clear by including two mothers at the end blaming their sons’ schizophrenia and anti social behavior on “skunk”. as usual not a shred of evidence that this was caused by cannabis

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  • Byddaf yn egluro:

    Things are beginning to get rather interesting in Hidalgo County:

    They are fed up with what they call widespread corruption in Hidalgo County after several law enforcement officers were taken down by the FBI.

    The armed group of veterans say they’re taking action to fight corruption in the Rio Grande Valley.

    We’re not afraid of anybody!

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    • Byddaf yn egluro:

      .

      Sheriff Lupe Treviño, a Democrat who has been sheriff in Hidalgo County since 2004, leads an effort that systematically distorts and downplay the extent and nature of criminal activity in the county, which sits on the border between Texas and Mexico. In that report, one deputy alleges that Sheriff Treviño turns a blind eye to Mexican drug cartel activity in his county. Treviño manipulates the statistics and keeps deputies from proactively fighting crime, the deputy says, so that the county appears to be safer than it really is, and so Treviño can claim to have reduced crime in the county, which sits on the border between Texas and Mexico. Hidden-camera video captured a sheriff’s department crime analyst admitting that Sheriff Treviño personally orders the statistical manipulation. The Obama administration uses statistics from Hidalgo County and other border communities to tell the American people that the U.S.-Mexico border is safer than ever before.

      caught-on-tape-corrupt-county-sheriff-

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    • I suspect the commenter Mike Jones is mi amigo and former LEAPster J Michael Jones ( http://mapinc.org/author/Jones+Michael+J ). Another one of those ex-cop/police chiefs standing on our side. Good to see him still poking and prodding. (of course as common as the names Mike and Jones is I could be wrong, but given the topic and region… I’m prolly right)

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    • stlgonzo

      Said something and nothing all @ the same time.

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      • Duncan20903

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        So what else is new? Washington D.C. is by far the largest producer of hot air in the world. It’s why D.C. is so far out in front of the 50 States in their per capita contribution to GDP. Did you know that they’re better than double the nearest State on that score? You could have knocked me over with a feather right after I learned that factoid.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_GDP

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        • stlgonzo

          Well, that is what happens when government is allowed to run rough-shot over us. The best part is they make the most money, but they don’t actually make anything.

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    • claygooding

      Yhank you for your opinion Mr Obama,but it is after all,just an opinion and we,the people will decide this one ourselves.

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  • The Matt Taibbi piece is excellent, recommended read for sure. It’s good to see him taking a big hammer to the WO(s)D Wall. He expresses outrage and indignation and that is real good to see. Especially in a major tome like the Rolling Stone.

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  • Duncan20903

    This one is from the “isn’t that just precious” category:

    linky
    According to the rules of 64, a doctor, dentist, barber or airline pilot can easily smoke a joint in a legal setting (e.g., car parked at home or on their private lot near hospital, etc.), then perform their tasks while impaired. To all the effing idiots who pushed for 64, would you like a dentist, who just had a joint, to drill out your cavity?
    /snip/

    Oh no! Not my barber!! If my barber is high I’ll end up looking like a ding dang hippie!!!

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    • stlgonzo

      Is that even true? Can a doctor drink a cocktail and then operate on a patient? Although the dentist thing wouldn’t bother me as long as prescribed be some MM for the pain instead of the Vicodin.

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      • claygooding

        I don’t know if they make them anymore but I was fond of percodans(sp) after an extraction,,2 or 3 of those and a beer and you could whip King Kong,,in your mind.

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  • The HSBC settlement is easily understood….the penalties meted out were consistent with protecting the identities of the real masterminds, which are the elected politicians. Their identities would have most surely been revealed in anything that resembled an actual criminal probe.

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