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February 2014
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Drug Policy is Conservation Policy

There’s absolutely no doubt that illicit drug production threatens the environment in a number of ways. Prohibitionists, over the years, have tried to dishonestly coopt this basic truth as being an argument against drugs, as opposed to an argument against drug prohibition.

Things are changing and now those who care about conservation are realizing that they need to care about drug policy.

Narco-Deforestation: Linking Drug Policy and Forest Conservation

A new article published in the journal Science, co-authored by United Nations University researcher Dr. David Wrathall, provides compelling evidence that flows of drugs through the Americas are directly related to deforestation rates in North America’s most biodiverse and biosensitive region. The article, “Drug Policy as Conservation Policy: Narco-Deforestation” is the result of collaboration between researchers at the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and four US universities: The Ohio State University, Northern Arizona University, the University of Denver and the University of Idaho. […]

The fact that drug crop eradication policies can push growers further into sensitive ecosystems is well documented. But the article references a parallel (but less-investigated) effect from drug trafficking interdiction programmes, which are deflecting drug traffickers, and their ecological impact, to new forest areas — a reminder to the international conservation community that “drug policy is conservation policy” and that continued protection of these ecosystems depends on an alternative policy approach to drug flows. […]

The article concludes that while “drug policy innovations alone will never end deforestation in Central America … rethinking the war on drugs could yield important ecological benefits”.

Drug warriors have a lot of explaining to do. It’s getting harder and harder for them to do their thing unchallenged. And the challenges are coming from a variety of interests.

One of the things that has constantly annoyed me is the heavy use of the perfect solution fallacy (which is also a straw man) by prohibitionists and their apologists. You’re always hearing them say things like “legalization of marijuana won’t destroy the cartels” with the implication being that there is no benefit since the actual current criminals in those positions will likely still exist and still be evil.

Yes, we know that it’ll take more than marijuana to significantly dismantle the operations (and we hope to get there with regulated legalization of all drugs), but in the meantime, every bit of income we deny the drug trafficking organizations means they have a tougher time recruiting new members, bribing government officials, and having the economic power to do their will upon a variety of things (including the environment) unchecked.

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31 comments to Drug Policy is Conservation Policy

  • claygooding

    Pete if they ended prohibition in the morning it will take decades getting our citizens to ever trust the government much less repair the damages too,,some day some body is going to remind them that cannabis eats more carbon than any other plant,,with new advances in technologies someday somebody is going to try that new 3 dimensional printer using a hemp based mix they “print” with and make a house we can make 24″ X 24″ beams as long as we want them and quit using those forests,,houses in America are still 80% wood,,right now America could plant hemp in between the lanes on freeways and all that acreage at each exit and exceed the target we promised to reduce our carbon footprint and in couple of decades our atmosphere would clear up and global warming could be averted..right now all the coal smoke and other toxic chemical are turning the upper atmosphere into a magnifying glass and we are the bugs under it.

  • kaptinemo

    I don’t normally do this, but it bears repeating

    The prohibs are so desperate they’re trying to con environmentalists…who know the prohibs are giving the Amazon, the ‘lungs of the planet’, a case of emphysema with their ‘fumigation’ efforts, dropping tens of thousands of gallons of the highly toxic herbicide RoundUp on the flora, fauna and Humans that live there, in the vain hope of ‘eradicating’ coca production, while just driving it deeper into even more ecologically sensitive areas. with predictable results. The Amazon Basin gets trashed. With the prohib’s monomaniacal zeal to blame.

    Con men, amoral mercs, thieves and hypocrites. The composition of the engineering crew that paves the Road To Hell. And the closer you get, the more you suffer from the heat and become delirious, and delusional. Recall New Gingrich’;s promise of a ‘drug-free America’ by 1995? Then he backed it up tom 1998. Then 2001. (Significant glsnce at calendar.) Nope. not by a long shot. And you’d have to be nuts to make such a prognostication to begin with.

    Delusioinal. They’re delusional. Loons running policy. And the more they’re questioned in Congress, the loopier they get.

    Squeeze a loon, it honks louder and more frantically. Same goes for the Human variety. As we’re witnessing. Congress should do more squeezing. It’s fun to watch.

  • Locks don’t stop burglars, and legalizing marijuana won’t destroy cartels. But its a bigger dent in cartel business than 40 years of interdiction methods could muster.

    I still lock my doors at night. Does Kevin?

    I fail to see how chasing these guys around new stretches of rainforest does any good for anyone. Its whack-a-mole with the worlds environment. You would think world governments would be happy to control the drugs, the money, and the environment. Provide help instead of targeting their indigenous populations for jails and prisons.

    The better plan in someone’s eyes:
    – sell the danger, sell them weapons and personnel, infiltrate their governments with CIA and DEA and advisers, make lots of guns and helicopters, and steal the cartels money either there or back home. Environment? don’t worry. There is still plenty left.

    • allan

      war is good business. It pays to keep people fighting.

      I forget who or when but back in the day I wrote about the impact of spraying Colombia’s cocaine crop and I thought it of relevant note that while we agent oranged about 10% of Vietnam we had exceeded that percentage in Colombia (sprayed with glyphosate) significantly “eradicating” coca. I wondered then about where the heck are the enviro orgs?

  • CarolDuhart2

    The argument to me, “legalization won’t end the violence” is a shallow one. Just what are cartels fighting over except the profits and the access to them? Fewer profits, less to fight over, and the stakes are lower. While some may stay in and try to get into other rackets, those spots are already taken up by long-termers. Try and break into an old racket when you are a stranger and have to start all over again.

    Under such circumstances, a more casual dealer may simply drop out or just be the guy that buys for the whole group at a cheaper price than legal. Like the older guy that buys for a younger group. In any case, he/she is no longer having to resort to extreme means to protect themselves, defend a particular piece of turf, or use violence to collect debts.

    And ending the violence inherent in enforcement means that crops get grown on land already available for agriculture which is near cities and towns instead of having to be grown in more ecologically sensitive areas. I think a few struggling farmers would gladly make the switch to a crop that is in more consistent demand and that has less need for expensive fertilizers.

    • CarolDuhart2

      By the way, Al Capone’s own history belies the message by prohibitionists. As long as alcohol prohibition was in full force, he and his associates practically ruled Chicago. Nobody could touch him, let alone arrest him. Once booze was legal, and the conspiracy of silence ended, he ended up in Federal Prison and died there. Other bootleggers went to run illegal gambling resorts in Vegas (you know the rest of the story-bet their grandkids are happy about that). A few became like Cindy McCain’s father, legitimate distributors.

      The speakeasies went away, the gun battles in the streets went away, and neighborhoods went quiet once more.

      • darkcycle

        Don’t mean to be nit-picky, but Al Capone was arrested in 1931 on income tax evasion charges. Prohibition wasn’t repealed ’till 1933.

        • Duncan20903

          .
          .

          Tsk tsk DC, you’re splitting hairs. The Chicago speakeasies didn’t go away just because Al did. It’s not even certain that he wasn’t still in charge.

          Now you’ve gone and ruined my tongue in cheek post from a few minutes ago. Shame on you!

        • CarolDuhart2

          Okay, so I was wrong about the dates. But he certainly didn’t leave much of an empire behind in the long run, did he? Who’s running the illegal alcohol business now? And the momentum for repeal was already going on when he was arrested. And legalization meant there was really nothing for him to go back to even if he managed to get out of jail.

      • Duncan20903

        .
        .

        I frequently admit that I might be wrong about my predictions for the future. I offer to meet prohibitionists for a friendly discussion over a glass of bathtub gin at their local Capone’s Speakeasy. To date none have accepted my offer. Do you think I should propose meeting at a competitor’s establishment? I only picked Capone’s because their so ubiquitous. Since I don’t use drinking alcohol perhaps it’s the bathtub gin that’s putting them off? Do they sell other kinds of drinks at modern speakeasies? I’d appreciate some advice from people familiar with the business practices of the rum runners. TIA!

      • Jean Valjean

        It’s worth mentioning that the proliferation of the Mafia, if not Capone himself, after the era of alcohol prohibition was due to the government handily provided them with another monopoly in the shape of a prohibition on drugs.

      • darkcycle

        I fully support and heartily agree with all your points, Ma’am. Just wanted to help with the particulars. You can rest assured that the prohibitionists would not be so kind about such factual errors.

  • primus

    As I understand it, the powders piggyback on the weed; in other words, a truckload of weed and 40 lbs of it is powder. Take away the main load and the economy of scale is shot to hell; the bribes, transportation costs, manpower costs etc. must be borne by the small quantity of powder. In addition, the profits must pay for all the guns and other costs to maintain the cartel. There won’t be the need for as many people to handle logistics, there won’t be as much money left after the bribes are paid to throw around and live large. They won’t have money to buy good will with the locals by paying for community needs. Life will get tougher for these guys. In addition, they won’t have as much for bribes within Mexico, so their protection won’t be as airtight. It all adds up to much smaller cartels with less power and less overall bloodshed. Of course it won’t happen overnight, but happen it will. Take away 60% of anyone’s business and they go out of business right quick.

  • DdC

    How The International Drug War Is Helping To Warm The Planet

    We’re living in a land of mind numbing ignorance. What is a cannibal that eats themselves? These freaky whacky pot paranoid drug worriers would watch their family get and suffer with diseases, famine and war riding their lies perpetuating the Ganjawar. Cutting down forests for less cellulose and tensile strength yield than Hemp. All while killing a prime source of oxygen and fresh water as they remove CO2. But only until they are killed for bird cage liners. Hemp can replace the need for industrial trees, the chemicals and forest devastation just getting to the ones to cut down. Timber roads and blocking tributaries. Same with fossil fools crud while hemp can replace many environmentally unsound practices. Coal, tar-sands and wars are unnecessary and kids dying for a few war brokers and investors is too high a price. Remove cannabis as a controlled substance and let the people do what we do. Cage the liars, free the weed.

    Hemplastic
    or Fossil Fools Crud

    Henry Ford was fond of saying, “Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down if we can get the equivalent of forests and mineral products from the annual growth of the fields?” Henry Ford built his car. Since then, we have cut down half of the worlds forests, a primary source of clean air. Only 3 percent of the U.S. original forests still remain. Much of Australia’s old-growth forests are being cut down for wood chips. If we dont start using hemp to help build our societies, what will we use?

    Wood made from hemp – YouTube

    HempCrete Strongest Building material in Nature

    Hemp Homes – Eartheasy.com
    Hemp Homes could be the future
    Hemp is a versatile material used for paper, health food supplements, fabric and comparable wood products, 2×4’s, lightweight concrete substitutes…

    Cannabis Fiber for Construction and Industry
    Practical, inexpensive fire-resistant construction material, with excellent thermal and sound-insulating qualities, is made by heating and compressing plant fibers to create strong construction paneling, replacing dry wall and plywood. William B. Conde of Condes Redwood Lumber, Inc. near Eugene, Oregon, in conjunction with Washington State University (1991-1993), has demonstrated the superior strength, flexibility, and economy of hemp composite building materials compared to wood fiber…

    • claygooding

      DdC,,I know they are having problems with the hempcrete not holding up well if it sits in moisture,,what if they run the first 3 runs from the standard concrete blocks to avoid the problem of standing in moisture,,stucco houses had a problem with ground moisture warping the wooden frames and instead of pouring thick concrete floors they kept the wooden frame dry by digging out trenches and formed the foundation 18″ above ground level on the outer walls and any load bearing wall to avoid the wooden frames warping.

      • DdC

        ♞ I think hempcrete coated with a non-biodegradable sealer would still reduce weight and extend structural integrity.

        ♞ see isochanvre… one factor often not mentioned is that isochanvre petrifies as it ages, become more structurally solid and longer lasting.

        ♞ Still haven’t heard anything. Bridges still standing since the 1400’s. Any ref would be helpful explaining it to others. ✔ here I found some links on a previous post with nothing about moisture problems.But as an alternative to deforestation or as construction wood from trees. Cardboard from hemp. Fossil fools reduction couldn’t hurt. That is a major reason why prohibition exists. Obamer needs to act like an adult and do the right thing.

        Step 1 Remove it as a controlled substance.

        Step 2. Get the hell out of the way.

        • primus

          The most important point is, where would we be with hemp based construction materials, auto parts, fuels, medicines, fabrics etc. etc. etc. if not for prohibition? If hemp and its cousins would have been legal over the past 100 years, as our abilities in chemistry, physics, manufacturing, material sciences etc. advanced, it is unknowable what the world would have looked like today. From that point of view, prohibition has been even more evil than we already know. To stifle human advancement on this level has only been accomplished once before, when the catholic church created the dark ages by stifling innovation and logical thought. Evil is as evil does. Both the dark ages, and our current dark ages are examples of evil.

  • DdC

    Drug warriors have a lot of explaining to do.

    That’s disgusting, hock pooey. Should be drug worriers. Maybe dung warriors. These are no warriors keeping kids from medicine and caging seniors and productive citizens. For doing the public a service they ask for. Stopping a viable alternative to resources that are making us sick. They lie, stall, oh hell they are modern witch hunters and aim to do as much harm to Americans choosing a safer alternative to their corporate poisons as they can get away with.

    Do they ever get any message from history. They seem to be ok with not demonizing the politically correct, but miss the point of not demonizing. No bully’s. Fair trade and No lies in policy. That should be a corporal punishment. Flogging on CNN. Victims physically harmed by drug worrier lies. Are the same as the physically harmed in car wrecks or combat or mugging victims. Physically harmed. Teaching kids to bully kids learning about cannabis. Chastise kids who have parents believing in science studies over paid propagandists. Replacing the previous chosen ones to degrade and humiliate. Military indoctrination d.a.r.e. Painting some Americans as subhuman. Tax grants for the father of swat teaching kids lies about pot.

    Funded with tax grants. Justifying ways of extracting testimony when the defendant clearly has the right to remain silent. Until they demand piss to play in school. Or work or drive or share the same water fountains and bathrooms? How can any kid learn a damn thing with drug dogs in the hall and memories of someone’s face getting torn off. Random urine tests, more false readings and the cost. Paranoid or just lazy teachers or maybe too stupid to tell if a kid is loaded. All ends justifying means for the better good crap.

    Now vindication from a chosen Surgeon General, Deputy Drug Czar and the President, all testifying that it should not be a scheduled substance. That stoners were right and those who sold out wasted 40 years not toking. One might say. Yet these false prophets of doom and gloom to save their gravy train with no regards for anyone. Persist in influencing judges and school boards and no one is stopping their funding. Privately through Philanthropy Round Tables tax shelters and grants. All taking tax money from the peoples needs.

    For what logical reason we have been asking 4 decades and now its time to demand some authority. To stop this circumventing the Constitution in the name of safety. No more drug warriors. Cowards hiding behind some children and standing in front of other children, blocking remedies. Drug Worriers should be tried on Treason, International Human Rights violations, war crimes, harassment, Fascism, Perjury and Assessory to Homocide. They just dont get it, this America thing.

    MOM IN DV DRUG-TESTING CASE SPEAKS OUT ABOUT RECENT RULING

    “Students do not have a choice at Delaware Valley. They have to choose between their constitutional rights and participating in activities,” Kiederer said.

    Random drug testing of students who drive to school or wish to be involved in extracurricular activities has been the district’s policy since 1996. But it was banned from practicing it after Pike County Judge Joseph Kameen issued a temporary injunction in July 2011.

    Kameen vacated the injunction Jan. 21 and ruled that Delaware Valley’s drug testing policy is constitutional and now may continue.

    The injunction came at the request of the ACLU of Pennsylvania on behalf of Glenn and Kathy Kiederer of Milford, who objected when their then-12-year-old daughter was required to be tested for drugs to join the school scrapbooking club. The family believed it was a violation of their civil rights.

    Kinkykerli’s back and wants to taste more of your piss…

  • Freeman

    One of the things that has constantly annoyed me is the heavy use of the perfect solution fallacy (which is also a straw man) by prohibitionists and their apologists. You’re always hearing them say things like “legalization of marijuana won’t destroy the cartels” with the implication being that there is no benefit since the actual current criminals in those positions will likely still exist and still be evil.

    You’ll see a lot of that from folks like Keith Harrumphreys and other present and former ONDCP “Senior Policy Propaganda Advisors”:

    recent historical experience also does not support the idea that reduced drug trafficking revenues will pacify the Mexican cartels. U.S. cocaine consumption has fallen dramatically since 2006 and cocaine is a far more lucrative drug for the Mexican cartels than is marijuana. Yet the period in which the U.S. cocaine consumption decline was hitting the cartels in the pocketbook coincided with the great surge of cartel-related violence in Mexico.

    These realities force honest analysts to return to the basic principle that there is no inherent connection between illegal markets and violence. Whether those who engage in transactional crimes are also violent and/or directly challenge the state varies based on the context, time and place.

    So you see, the “honest analyst” is “forced” to “return” to the “basic principle” that Al Capone was simply a product of his context, time, and place, which of course had NOTHING AT ALL TO DO with alcohol Prohibition. Whereas the “not-insane analyst” is “free” to “conclude” that cartel-related violence might be expected to rise temporarily as they fight to retain revenues and sort out control over artificially excessively lucrative (due solely and directly to prohibition) but shrinking (due to other factors, as there was no significant change in prohibition policy that this can be attributed to) markets (as well as consider other contributing factors such as escalation of violence on the government side of the drug-war).

    As Kaptinemo is fond of pointing out, the prohibitionist arguments are trending dumber and more insane out of the sheer frustration of attempting to persuade more skeptical generations having more practical experience on the subject with worn-out fallacies that only managed to persuade generations which were more gullible to stupid and insane arguments relating to subjects the bulk of them knew little to nothing about. Harrumphreys dresses his argument up in “serious scientific analysis” sheep’s clothing, but the wolf underneath is as easy to spot now as Dr James Munch’s “after two puffs on a marijuana cigarette, I was turned into a bat” is in hindsight.

    • strayan

      Wow, that is something else.

      No wonder he disabled comments.

    • Jean Valjean

      Humphreys quotes from a Mexican blog: ” Even if drug trafficking might very well decline in the future, in the absence of stronger [State] institutions, something equally nefarious will replace it…”
      Can we expect to see nefarious cartel chiefs on street corners selling bootleg DVDs out of suitcases?

    • DdC

      Al Capone was simply a product of his context, time, and place, which of course had NOTHING AT ALL TO DO with alcohol Prohibition.

      Damn straight. Same bait and switch as removing Hemp and Ganja. The only thing that changed after the repeal other than Capone having syphilis. Is the farmers could no longer distill their own tractor fuel. They were given a discount and their fuel has dye to distinguish it from regular cars and trucks. The decade of prohibition let Rockefeller build his gasoline station infrastructure. Hearst had an about face and was now against prohibition for the damage it caused was greater than what booze caused, especially to kids. Didn’t last very long because 4 years later he was at it again against the heathen devil weed with more demonizing headlines to create the second great experiment in bilking the public. Booze prohibition also stopped Ford from producing his car from the ground up. Like the Model T it ran on three fuels, one was ethanol. As with Watergate. A two bit bungled burglary to obtain what? Campaign fliers. But it did allow the CSA to get whisk through Congress and signed into law without a wimpier. Fascism folk’s. It can happen here. No one was ever arrested for drinking during the entire prohibition. Something they fixed with cannabis, now the leading cause for arrest is simple possession. Speak Easy’s were trashed, distribution was busted as well as manufacturing but not the customers. Now isn’t that speeeecial.

      Al Capone and Watergate

    • Viggo Piggsko Flatmark

      Maybe they have other markets not just US?

  • claygooding

    Has anyone heard of a pot smoker kicking in a narcs door and shooting his dog or throwing a flash bomb on a child?

    Next time any law enforcement/rehab/anti-marijuana org claims violence surrounding marijuana is caused marijuana users reply with “the only violence is being caused by criminals trying to protect their turf and the police searching for funding,,pot heads don’t get aggressive like alcoholic cops protecting their funding source:

    http://us-government-grants.net/law-enforcement-grants/

    And marijuana is the lowest hanging fruit on the tree.

    • claygooding

      http://www.drugs.com/pro/marinol.html

      ADVERSE EFFECTS

      Adverse experiences information summarized in the tables below was derived from well-controlled clinical trials conducted in the US and US territories involving 474 patients exposed to Marinol Capsules. Studies of AIDS-related weight loss included 157 patients receiving dronabinol at a dose of 2.5 mg twice daily and 67 receiving placebo. Studies of different durations were combined by considering the first occurrence of events during the first 28 days. Studies of nausea and vomiting related to cancer chemotherapy included 317 patients receiving dronabinol and 68 receiving placebo.

      A cannabinoid dose-related “high” (easy laughing, elation and heightened awareness) has been reported by patients receiving Marinol Capsules in both the antiemetic (24%) and the lower dose appetite stimulant clinical trials (8%). (See Clinical Trials. )

      The most frequently reported adverse experiences in patients with AIDS during placebo-controlled clinical trials involved the CNS and were reported by 33% of patients receiving Marinol Capsules. About 25% of patients reported a minor CNS adverse event during the first 2 weeks and about 4% reported such an event each week for the next 6 weeks thereafter.

      These were clinical trials on 100% synthetic THC,,how can cannabis with 5% to 28% THC cause any of the possible harms the NIH and its agencies claims it does?

    • DdC

      I totally agree with your assessment of pot users and non violence compared to alcohol and pill’s. Also true the cops get grant funding and forfeitures and confiscations and pocket lots of cash. Trouble is now with the money comes the thugs who probably never toked a joint or don’t use it. Protecting their investments totally due to prohibition. But like raising statistic numbers using non psychoactive ditchweed in the same heap as Ganja. Prohibitches lump in all violence as caused by using rather than protecting the money. People need to realize this is a trillion dollar business at stake and even more jeopardized for wall st corporations in competition with natural food, fuel and fiber and an alternative to the white powders and booze. So as we see the money changers get into it we also see their violence. Same as the Free Mexican Air Force is now seen as the dreaded Drug Cartels.

      Texas Grand Jury Declines to Indict Pot Grower
      Who Shot and Killed a Cop During an Early-Morning Raid
      Jacob Sullum|Feb. 7, 2014

      Newsbrief: Four Canadian Mounties Killed Raiding Marijuana Grow 3/4/05

      Marijuana grower killed — and nearly decapitated — by booby trap he set to protect plants

      The Free Mexican Air Force

      NFL’s Buzzkill

      ☮Fans Too Relaxed for Fights
      ☮Basketball Riots in L.A., Soccer Thugs in Europe
      ☮Euro 2000 Soccer Violence Could Vanish in a Puff
      ☮Aggression and Violence in Sport
      ☮Cannabis Helps Keep Fans Calm
      Police also claimed that the availability of cannabis in the Netherlands probably helped to defuse any violence. Scores of ticketless England fans gathered in coffee shops in Eindhoven, where cannabis is sold and smoked, to watch the game, greeting the defeat with mild disappointment and unusually, gentle applause. “It (cannabis) may have helped relax them,” Mr Beelan added. “Even the hooligans enjoyed the party – and they told our officers. There were lots of things for fans to do and everybody had a good time.”

  • NorCalNative

    The cool thing about living in a so-called medical marijuana state, is that you get to cut the cartel out of the picture in regard to cannabis.

    If I’m honest, consumer choice and better quality compelled me to go the medical route, but knowing that my cash would stay local was a smart move all around.

    • claygooding

      True to a point,,that is if there are no dispensaries selling their version of MMJ,,I have bought buds,trimmed and not bricked but had random seeds,,probably why they were selling it in TX for $$400 a quarter lb.

  • War Vet

    MDMA: Ecstasy comes from a tree in Cambodia and this tree is in danger of being cut down by people who can chop up the wood and get its oil out of it and then ship the oil to clandestine labs made into X.

    I’m sure all the meth floating around in Asia and Africa have negative environmental impacts, especially Yabba.

  • Servetus

    Drug legalization might not entirely stop all the crime cartels, but there is a particular type of crime cartel operating in the United States and other countries that would be greatly affected. That cartel operates within the law enforcement community and commits virtually every crime imaginable related to drugs and drug enforcement: bribery, torture, cash and drug-haul skimming, perjury, evidence tampering, human rights violations, you name it. Once the public drug enforcement cartel is stopped by legalizing drugs, the private cartels in Central and South America can be better addressed.

  • DdC

    The Constitution is temporarily out of order due to the drug war.