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Odds and Ends

A few things I’ve found interesting recently…

Canada will legalize pot, after arresting a bunch of people for pot offences first:
Why? Our ministers can’t really explain
by Neil MacDonald

Why the government cannot simply decide to invoke prosecutorial and police discretion, and cease enforcing the cannabis laws it considers unjust, was not explained. Why that would necessarily be a “free for all” also went unexplained.

And Goodale went even further. All those Canadians who were prosecuted successfully in the past for this trifling, minor, non-violent offence will continue to bear the burden of a criminal record, even though this government says such prosecutions were wrong and is moving, albeit slowly, to strike down the law.

Goodale was explicit: there will be no blanket pardon. Again, no explanation. He was too busy administering stern warnings about continued enforcement, and, of course, “strictly regulating and restricting access” once the law is finally changed.

All of this is to satisfy conservative Canadians who, even though they probably can’t explain it, continue to believe smoking pot should be a crime.


Ashley Halsey III continues to stink up the pages of the Washington Post by unhelpfully amplifying the misleading press statements of drug warriors.

Drugged driving eclipses drunken driving in tests of motorists killed in crashes

The number of drivers who tested positive for drugs after dying in a crash rose from almost 28 percent in 2005 to 43 percent in 2015, the latest year for which data is available.

Though the dates when each state passed a law vary, that period coincided with more-permissive laws covering the use of marijuana. […]

Counterbalancing that assessment of crash risk is this stark statistic: In Colorado, marijuana-related traffic deaths increased by 48 percent after the state legalized recreational use of the drug.

Ah yes, the ever-meaningless “marijuana-related” phrase pops up again as if it actually implied causation.

[Thanks, Tom]

This delightfully confusing mash-up from Tom Angell and the Marijuana Majority April Newsletter:

More mixed signals from the Trump administration.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed a Justice Department task force to make recommendations for changes to federal marijuana enforcement policy by late July. But he also told Colorado’s governor in a meeting that the Obama-era memo that lets states implement their cannabis laws largely without federal interference is “not too far from good policy.” The Justice Department issued a memo reminding bankruptcy officials that they can’t liquidate or restructure marijuana businesses.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said that marijuana is “not a factor in the drug war” but a few days later added that it is “a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs.”

The Transportation Security Administration posted on its website that medical cannabis is allowed on airplanes. But after the media noticed it soon added a caveat that while its agents don’t search for marijuana, when it is found they refer the matter to law enforcement. If the local cops determine that the traveler is a legal patient, they’re then allowed to fly with their medicine.

The U.S. Postal Service refused to let an Alaska marijuana business mail its state tax payments.

And it was leaked that President Trump apparently intends to nominate Congressman Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, an ardent marijuana law reform opponent, as White House drug czar.

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13 comments to Odds and Ends

  • jean valjean

    Josie Wilson-Raybould: that’s her story and she’s sticking to it, no matter how imbecilic. I wonder if she’s buddies with that other great “liberal” Debbie Washerman-Shultz?

  • Hope

    Strangely, it makes sense to Prohibitionists.

    All of the widespread war on drugs of the last few decades has made little to no sense to me and I can’t see how it does to Prohibitionists, either.

    I could never understand how people could be so willing to do so much harm to others in retaliation for so little. It’s all been stunning, outrageous, and awful, to see. Prohibitionists, especially the war like ones, seem to me to be illogical, irrational, unmerciful, and unwise. Very dangerously so.

    We’ve seen some awful things done in the name of this substance prohibition and fits of misplaced self-righteousness.

    • jean valjean

      You’ve summed up the madness of prohibition perfectly. To make matters even worse this Twilight Zone of U.S. domestic policy has been exported/imposed on almost every other country in the world with the exception of North Korea. No wonder our madman in chief wants to nuke ’em. Trump is a character from Monty Python without the humor.

  • DdC

    Finally a logical solution. that’ll fix it. Red Stickers!
    Plus they can still make them stoners repent!

    Utah launches campaign to fight opioid abuse, overdoses
    Utah pharmacists will start putting red stickers on bottles of opioids that warn patients about the risk of overdose and addiction as part of a new awareness campaign to combat painkiller abuses and deaths.

    Ignorant Jeff.
    Miner’s Lullaby
    Drug Overdoses & MMJ

  • WalStMonky

    .
    .

    No need to read “How to Lie with Statistics” by Darrell Huff when you can peruse the GHSA’s “Drug Impaired Driving: A Guide For States”

    /snip/
    In 2015 nationwide, in the FARS annual report file, 57.0% of the fatally-injured drivers were tested for drugs. Of those tested, no drugs were detected in 55.4%, a drug in the FARS list was found in 34.3%, some other drug in 7.4%, and test results were unknown for 2.9%. Over one-third – 36.5% – of the identified drugs were marijuana in some form, followed by amphetamine at 9.3% (FARS, 2016).

    Now what brain addled prohibitionist wouldn’t read that as 36.5% of all the drivers tested were positive for “merrywanna”? It’s 36.5% of the 43% or 15.695%. Also, f you look to the right of page 7 from where the quote above is found the graphic says it was 35.6% which would be 15.308%.

    Interestingly the report is not entirely dishonest: E.g.:

    /snip/
    The FARS marijuana codes do not distinguish clearly between the active impairing component THC and various inactive and non-impairing metabolites (Grondel, 2015). And FARS records only drug presence, not drug concentrations analogous to BAC levels for alcohol. Finally, the number of drivers with positive drug or alcohol test results likely will increase slightly in the final 2015 FARS file because some test results may not have been included in the annual report file. For these and other reasons, FARS drug data should be interpreted with caution.

    It’s a crying shame that so many of the sycophants of prohibition rarely read beyond the headline.

  • WalStMonky

    .
    .

    Q) How do you raise Federal income tax rates in the blue States and not the red without running afoul of the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment?

    A) Eliminate the deduction for State income taxes paid.

    Gosh the POTUS really does like the old bait and switch. He does it remarkably well. Can anyone argue against the assertion that he’s a master bait and switcher? I think not!

  • Mr_Alex

    @DdC, are you aware a former Straight Inc staff member by the name of Richard Mullinax committed suicide after he admitted his part in partaking in the abuse at Straight Inc last year, the effect on him was horrendous, it tore apart his family and everything he had, also a Straight Inc survivor is now asking where is their apology:

    http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/straight-inc-victim-where-our-apology

    In this month of legislative apology for atrocities done to child victims, there’s a forgotten group of survivors out there. And they’re asking, “What about us? Where is our apology?”

    “This is something I can’t get my head around,” said Kristy Fuss, 41-year-old survivor of STRAIGHT Inc.

    “I’m happy to see so much attention given to the Dozier reform school victims and the ‘Groveland Four.’ Nothing could be more important for their families and their memory than this recognition and closure. But why don’t we count?”

    Said Fuss, “This year the Legislature has actually made our suffering worse.”

    The irony of the Legislature’s blind faith in Mel and Betty Sembler is like rubbing salt in STRAIGHT victims’ wounds.

    These victims weren’t only left off this year’s apology list, they have to watch as the Semblers, creators of the notorious “tough love” program the ACLU calls “a concentration camp for throwaway kids” — are welcomed into the Florida Capitol as heroes.

    The last I saw, the Legislature has $3 million in the budget so Drug Free America Foundation can run a marijuana education program. Fuss had heard, and that’s why she phoned Sunshine State News. “Can you imagine how small and unimportant that makes us feel?”

    From 1976 through 1985, Mel and Betty Sembler’s program was known as STRAIGHT, Inc. It had a reputation that wouldn’t quit for abusing kids as a drug rehabilitation program. In 1985 it changed its name to the Straight Foundation, Inc. in order to protect its money and its principals from civil suits. And in 1995 it was changed again to Drug Free America Foundation. Today, DFAF exists as a national and international drug policy think tank.

    As many as 50,000 kids were in the STRAIGHT program. The Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network also calls STRAIGHT Inc. “the biggest violator of human rights and civil liberties that the USA has ever seen.”

    “There are thousands of us out here,” Fuss said. “We all still suffer, we live with unimaginable emotional scars.”

    More than 40 former STRAIGHT clients have committed suicide, and those are only the cases the state admits to. At various times in the program all were beaten by their peers, humiliated, deprived of food and water, refused basic medical care and kept too scared to complain on parent days.

    Nevertheless, every Republican president since Jimmy Carter has bestowed “gifts” upon the donation-generous Semblers — mostly ambassadorships and the understanding that they were safe from prosecution, even when the criminal behavior at STRAIGHT facilities in Orlando, St. Petersburg, Sarasota and elsewhere was exposed.

    n 2000 Gov. Jeb Bush declared Aug. 8 Betty Sembler Day in all of Florida for her work at STRAIGHT — affectionately calling her “Ms. Ambassadorable.” Betty Sembler was Jeb’s finance co-chairman. In return, Ms. Ambassadorable named him to the advisory board of STRAIGHT under its current name, Drug Free America Foundation.

    On Jan. 5, 2009, Gov. Charlie Crist inducted Betty Sembler into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame for her work at Straight, Inc. and for her service on the board of the Florida Governor’s Mansion Foundation.

    Also, Betty’s son Brent, vice chairman of the Sembler Company, was finance co-chairman for the campaign of state Sen. Charlie Crist. He also served on committees for the election of Charlie Crist for Florida Education Commissioner, for Crist’s bid for Florida attorney general and for Crist’s gubernatorial campaign.

    Most STRAIGHT victims talk about their “time in hell” only to each other, on their own website — or they don’t talk at all, suppressing the worst of it. Two victims told me they could tell me what happened to them in the program, but so haunting were their stories, they didn’t want to see them in print.

    Kristy Fuss, on the other hand, who still lives in rural Middleburg, in unincorporated Clay County where her STRAIGHT experience began, told me she’s been inspired to talk more about her nine months in the program since she connected with Cyndy Etler.

    Etler, another STRAIGHT survivor, is the author of a book about the program published just last month and available through Amazon, called “The Dead Inside.”

    Says the bookcover, “To the public, STRAIGHT Inc. was a place of recovery. But behind closed doors, the program used bizarre and intimidating methods to ‘treat’ its patients. In her raw and fearless memoir, Cyndy Etler recounts her sixteen months in the living nightmare that STRAIGHT Inc. considered ‘healing.'”

    “I had to walk away after two chapters,” Fuss told me. “That’s how real it is, how much it captures what I saw and felt at the time, and what I still have nightmares about.”

    Fuss said at 12, she hadn’t even smoked a cigarette, let alone taken drugs. “My parents put me in STRAIGHT because my father had started to abuse me sexually, and I told on him. His way of saving himself was telling people I was on drugs and that’s why I would say such a thing. He even convinced my mother.”

    The next weekend, her parents drove her to Orlando and left her at STRAIGHT.

    “It was June 9, 1989. I’ll never forget it. When I got to the place, which was in the middle of cracktown, a couple of teenage girls took me and dropped me in the corner of a small room and identified me as ‘definitely a drug addict.’

    “They dragged me down the hallway into an empty room and stripped all of my clothes off me, then did a jail-type body search on me.

    “For nine months, I was tortured, always by other kids in the program — that’s what they did, they made clients torture other clients. You couldn’t get released unless you did that.

    “During those nine months I was deprived of food, sleep, even fluids. I was even slammed on the floor. But the worst came when I needed major surgery and they told the doctor that because I was already a drug addict, I wasn’t allowed to have any proper anesthetics.”

    Fuss says she’s been diagnosed with PTSD, and she’s had such severe nightmares and flashbacks that she’s sometimes a problem for her husband to deal with. “Luckily he’s a good man. I married my high school sweetheart,” she says.

    All Fuss wants now is acknowledgement from the state, which was slow to close STRAIGHT clinics. And she wants Florida leaders to know they are enabling two people who got rich off the suffering and sometimes death of children, and who should be behind bars.

    It looks to me like an uphill battle. The Semblers aren’t the Bushes. But when it comes to Florida’s Republican royalty, they’re pretty close.

    Which is why this multi-millionaire couple, who still live in St. Petersburg, could mess up the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of teenagers in the Sunshine State, and still walk on water.

    Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

  • WalStMonky

    .
    .

    Apparently the budget rider prohibiting the Feds from spending money to enforce Federal law against State level medicinal cannabis laws has been renewed. My only question is “wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to list the States which are excluded?”

    Congress Gives Jeff Sessions $0 To Go After Medical Marijuana Laws

    /snip/
    None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, or with respect to the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico, to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

    • claygooding

      That leaves it up to the ONDCP to either divert funds from other agencies programs or give up on stopping MMJ.

      Diverting funding from other agencies could backfire on them and cause discord and in-house fighting over the funds lost which can only help reform efforts..

      • WalStMonky

        .
        .

        The ONDCP is a purveyor of propaganda. Despite the somber patina of authority these particular bureaucrats attempt to palm off the ONDCP acts in the finest tradition of inside the Beltway politics because the agency produces nothing but hot air. Believe me, there’s a very good reason why we chase all the politicians out of here in August.

  • DdC

    Happy May Day!

    46 years ago today I opened my horse choker 4 fingered lid I got for 12 bucks at the May Day Demonstrations 1971. Dude with a duffle bag full of lids, out of a sawed off school bus with a pile of duffle bags. Watching the Beach Boys and collecting fliers to take back to my High School to barter for an extra credit report instead of a 3 day suspension for skipping school to get their and back. The first two were odd at the time, after hitch hiking down from the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Fuck Ma Bell. Ok, who is she? The next was Free Angela Davis, again OK, who is she? I met her a few years ago at a local grocery when she was teaching at UCSC. The week end ended in drizzling rain. As the DC cops were herding the protesters out of the city I discovered later. To me the Lincoln Memorial was the perfect place to unroll my sleeping bag and stay dry. Not to the DC cop who grabbed my bag and me and dragged us across the marble floor as I saw old Abe just sit there and his liberty words engraved on the wall must have been for the tourists. Into the rain where maybe the term was coined as dozens of kids tried staying dry hugging the trees until daylight. So Happy May Day!

    May Day protests, celebrations around the globe