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October 2014
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Helping to prevent overdowds

New at the pot shop: Milder marijuana for novices

I’m very happy to see this trend.

Recreational marijuana sellers are reaching out to novice cannabis users with a raft of edible products that impart a milder buzz and make it easy for inexperienced customers to find a dose they won’t regret taking.

In many ways, the marketing shift is the pot-industry equivalent of selling beer and wine alongside higher-alcohol options such as whiskey and vodka.

“No one buys a handle of Jim Beam and thinks they should drink all of that in one sitting,” said Tim Cullen, owner of two Denver-area marijuana dispensaries. “But people do want to eat an entire cookie, an entire piece of chocolate. So these products allow you to do that and not have a miserable experience.”

I’m also loving the fact that we’re seeing use of the term “overdowd” (named after Maureen Dowd) as a way of referring to the panicky paranoid reaction by newbies who don’t understand edibles and consume too much at once.

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The arrogant lawlessness of drug enforcers

This story has already been discussed here a bit in comments, but it’s worth highlighting:

Once you’ve dehumanized drug offenders, it’s easy to steal their identities by Radley Balko

Consider what the federal government is arguing here. It’s arguing that if you’re arrested for a drug crime, including a crime unserious enough to merit a sentence of probation, the government retains the power to (a) steal your identity, (b) use that identity for drug policing, thus making your name and face known to potentially dangerous criminals, (c) interact with those criminals while posing as you, which could subject you to reprisals from those criminals, (d) expose photos of your family, including children, to those criminals, and (e) do all of this without your consent, and with no regard for your safety or public reputation.

The mindset that would allow government officials to not only engage in this sort of behavior, but to then fight in court to preserve their power to continue it is the same mindset that, for example, allows drug cops to compel juveniles and young women to become drug informants, with little regard for their safety — and to then make no apologies when those informants are murdered.

The list of atrocities and indignities routinely conducted in the name of the drug war is extraordinarily long.

The only true solution is to end it.

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John Oliver on Civil Asset Forfeiture

Oliver nails it with one of the most powerful and entertaining pieces to inform the public about this travesty.

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Another drug war victim

Via Radley Balko and Philip Smith: Meet 59-year-old David Hooks, the latest drug fatality

This has all the classic features. With just a modicum of investigation, police could have learned that Hooks “was a successful businessman who ran a construction company that, among other things, did work on US military bases. Hooks had passed background checks and had a security clearance.”

Instead, the took the word of a burglar.

And, if the police had possessed an ounce of intelligence, they would have considered that someone who just had their place burglarized would not be thinking “police” when…

His wife, Teresa, was upstairs in her craft room when she heard a car drive fast up the driveway, and she looked out the window.

“She saw several men all in black and camo with hoods on,” Shook said. “She ran downstairs, woke David and said, ‘The burglars are back.’ ”

Hooks retrieved a gun and headed out of the bedroom as the officers broke down the back door.

And now he’s dead.

Police apparently searched for 44 hours and failed to find any drugs.

I can just imagine the conversations that were going on by police radio… “But Chief, there’s nothing here.”…”Keep searching until you find something.”

Again, this case (while we admittedly don’t know everything yet) appears to show so many problems with the system — problems in the law, in policy, in decision-making, in judicial oversight, and in training.

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Monday Thread

I’m back from the north woods and thrilled to have reliable wifi again. It’ll take me a while to catch up with the news. Thanks to everyone for your good wishes and concern for my family with my brother-in-law’s death. My sister is doing well, and we’re trying to get her out from under. If anyone is interested in a 4,100 square foot beautiful log house on 10-40 acres of land in gorgeous country away from civilization, we’ve got a great deal for you. She can’t stay there, so the price has been dropped to rock bottom.

bullet imageEric Holder Was the First Attorney General to Hint that it’s Time for the Government to Stop Lying About Marijuana by Paul Armentano

“I think it’s certainly a question that we need to ask ourselves — whether or not marijuana is as serious a drug as is heroin,” Holder said. “[T]he question of whether or not they should be in the same category is something that I think we need to ask ourselves, and use science as the basis for making that determination.”

In reality, the question of whether the available science is consistent with cannabis’ schedule I status has been posed repeatedly over the past four decades. And the answer, to virtually everyone but the US federal government, is now all but self-evident.

bullet image Russ Bellville discovered something

Interesting… when you donate to @KevinSabet’s Project SAM, it is handled thru a email… [Donation Acknowledgement image]

Not sure why that would be done that way, but it does raise more questions about the way S.A.M. was constructed.

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Open Thread

I’m out of town this week to be with my sister following the death of her husband. Way up in the north woods of Wisconsin, and with limited WiFi access.

Not able to do much posting or keeping up with news for a couple of days, so feel free to point out things of interest here.

Here are a couple pictures I took in the area.




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Odds and Ends

bullet image A tale of two Eric Holders

I suspect that they’re both right, depending on where you place the comparative benchmarks.

bullet image The War on Drugs and The War on Terror.

Many times over the years we’ve talked here about the parallels between the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, and the misguided public policy principles (as well as outright self-interest) that align with both.

Paul Kendrick at TPM Cafe has an interesting piece comparing the storyline of the fictional drug policy TV series “The Wire” with our misguided history in Iraq.

How ‘The Wire’ Explains America’s Fight Against ISIS

The allegory reaches its peak when one dealer and enforcer says to his boss Avon, doubting the wisdom of continuing to battle their rivals: “It don’t matter who did what to whom. Fact is, we went to war and now there ain’t no going back … If it’s a lie, then we fight on the lie. But we gotta fight.”

By the end of the season, Avon is headed to prison and Stringer is gone forever. Though it is not shown to the viewer, the final episode of the season was entitled, “Mission Accomplished.” The demand for drugs is unchanged, and the police inadvertently created a power vacuum. That status will not stand, and, shades of ISIS stepping into the turmoil of a new Iraq, that vacuum will soon be filled by someone far worse than the police ever dreamed of: Marlo.

Kendrick concludes with a seemingly obligatory applauding of President Obama’s approach which, in my opinion, is unwarranted given Obama’s overall record in the wars. Otherwise, I think it’s a good, solid analogy that works in describing why both “war” policies are doomed to failure.

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Oh, Cliff… you’re so entertaining.

Haven’t had a bizarro anti-legalization post from Cliff Kincaid linked here in a while. I think you’ll find this one quite entertaining.

The Potheads in Our Dopey Media

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A little early for Halloween

A ghoulish shade from the past has come forth to haunt us once again. Yes, it’s John P. Walters! [cue: cheesy scary music]

Former ‘drug czar’ warns against marijuana use

Walters, the former Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2001 to 2009, gave a presentation titled “Pot: Hot or Not? The Young, American Democracy, and the Drug Problem,” addressing the effects of marijuana and illicit drugs and their potential legalization.

As usual, he has this wonderful way of taking one of the destructive elements of prohibition and pretending it’s a feature:

“The use of court-mandated treatment has helped get people the care they need,” Walters said.

Walters presented statistics that showed the the criminal justice system is the largest reason people enter treatment.

“It would be nice if people could be educated by family members or friends, but ultimately the single greatest source of intervention and treatment begins with the criminal justice system,” Walters said.

You see, the criminal justice system is simply helping people. They should be grateful when they’re arrested and put in jail.

Yes, the criminal justice system is the largest reason people enter treatment, but that’s because it sweeps up a whole lot of people who don’t need treatment.

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Open Thread

I’m playing the piano this week for a production of Noël Coward’s high-farce-comedy-of-manners Hay Fever at Illinois State University, and having a delightful time. Pre-show, intermission, and a few things directly involved in the show, playing music from the 1910′s and 1920′s. Kept me a bit busy.

I did get a chance to see a little bit of the new show “Gotham,” and was struck by a quote in it. Mob boss Carmine Falcone is explaining to young detective Jim Gordon why he “supports” the work of the police.

“You can’t have organized crime without law and order.”

I found that telling, and it connects in so many ways to this terrible drug war, where we’ve often seen either an intentional or unintentional symbiotic relationship between the black market and law enforcement.

That doesn’t mean that law and order is bad, but that, usually through bad policy or laws, it can be co-opted to help criminal enterprise (often without its own officers realizing their role).

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