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DrugWarRant.com, the longest running single-issue blog devoted to drug policy, is published by the Prohibition Isn't Free Foundation
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July 2019
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Plan Colombia is a Fraud

Prohibitionists make themselves useful to governments by enabling drug geopolitics to influence weaker governments and cultures on behalf of more aggressive and dominating groups.

Illustrating the tactic, human rights activist John Lindsey-Poland, author of Plan Colombia, U.S. Ally Atrocities and Community Activism, reveals the drug war in Colombia to be a scam, a vehicle linking its legitimacy to countering drug trafficking. Its purpose is to support US and international corporate interests operating in Colombia. It uses DEA personnel, taxpayer funding, and US materials to achieve its goal, while drug enforcement is made a sideshow:

The Andean Initiative announced by President George H. W. Bush in August 1989 was followed quickly by a $65 million emergency delivery of equipment that included tens of thousands of weapons, warheads, and mortars, part of $127 million in U.S. nominally counterdrug assistance to Colombia that year. Although the military openly acknowledged that its missions were not focused on counterdrug operations, which were carried out by police, more than three-quarters of the package went to the military. [Kindle 873]

As the 1990s progressed, debate heated up among policy makers about the purposes of the U.S. role in Colombia. Official policy dictated that U.S. activities were restricted to fighting the production and trafficking of narcotics, particularly cocaine, and were not to cross the line into counterinsurgency. Some leaders saw the drug war as better terrain on which to establish the legitimacy of a U.S. role than fighting guerrillas, which politically had gone poorly in both Vietnam and, to a lesser extent, Central America. This official line met with increased resistance from counterinsurgency hawks, especially military officers, both U.S. and Colombian. [Kindle 948]

“We need to find a mechanism,” former ambassador Morris Busby told Congress in 1997, “which will permit us to express our extreme displeasure with the political leadership of a country such as Colombia … but at the same time permit us to go forward with assistance to gentlemen like Generals [Harold] Bedoya [army commander] and Serrano [police chief].” [Kindle 958]

Such an outlook did not require proving that the United States had ulterior motives to fight a drug war. Instead, it measured the negative impact of escalating war, as well as the results of counternarcotics operations, which were ineffective by any meaningful measure (such as the ease of buying and street price of narcotics and the relative efficacy of treatment). [Kindle 983]

The indigenous people of Colombia were targeted as guerrillas or supporters of FARC by corrupt military and paramilitary units eager to produce an abundant body-count favored by military leaders. Meeting the quotas was rewarded with cash bonuses and holiday perks. Between 1990 and 2010 US funded and trained soldiers occasionally raided remote villages using machetes to slaughter its inhabitants, men, women and children, scenes vividly described by the author who interviewed witnesses. The innocent victims were dismissed as “false positives.”

The 1997 Leahy Amendment, the 2011 to 2017 updated Foreign Assistance Acts, and an impressive worldwide human rights public relations campaign directed at Colombia curtailed the attacks and led to the arrests of 4000 Colombian military personnel.

Partial justice for Colombians is not why some US politicians claim Plan Colombia is successful. Drug interdiction was a failure. Coca growers continued production by relocating into larger territories and reducing the size of their plots to escape aerial detection. The success was measured in developing and testing policies and strategies for intervening in countries such as Colombia, Mexico, or Afghanistan to combat communists, insurgents, socialists, journalists, witnesses, critics, and any others deemed threatening to business interests. Colombia has since become the US training center for foreign military operatives in the tradition of the infamous School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. Prohibited drugs filled their traditional roles as scapegoats and a means of foreign and domestic social exploitation.

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The latest addition to the Democratic field may be the worst

Joe Biden threw his hat in the ring today, and Kyle Jaeger at Marijuana Moment has done an outstanding job of detailing Biden’s history of positions with regard to marijuana and drug policy.

Where Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Stands On Marijuana

Former Vice President Joe Biden is making another run for the White House, he announced on Thursday. The former senator, who served as chair of the influential Judiciary Committee that helped shape U.S. drug policy during an era of heightened scaremongering and criminalization, was among the most prominent Democratic drug warriors in Congress for decades.

And while many 2020 Democratic candidates have evolved significantly on drug policy—and particularly marijuana reform—over the years, Biden has barely budged.

It includes the video of Biden bragging about adding death penalties for drug crimes.

There are plenty of Democratic candidates in the field and all of them are better on drug policy than Joe Biden.

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Drug War Increases Teen Delinquency

Despite reports in recent years that teen delinquency has been on the decline, stop-and-frisks in New York City and similar police encounters in US drug enforcement operations appear to partly counter the reductions.

Publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, lead author Juan Del Toro explains the significance of his research team’s results:

April 8, 2018 — Four waves of longitudinal survey data demonstrate that contact with law enforcement predicts increases in black and Latino adolescents’ self-reported criminal behaviors 6, 12, and 18 months later. These results are partially mediated by psychological distress. The younger boys are when stopped for the first time, the stronger these relationships. Boys’ race and prior engagement in delinquent behaviors did not moderate the effect. These findings fill a gap in the research literature on labeling, life course, general strain, and deterrence theories. To our knowledge, the relationships among police contact, psychological strain, and subsequent criminal behavior for young boys had not been tested quantitatively before. These findings raise policy questions about the influence of proactive policing on the trajectory of children.

Teenage resentment increases with their treatment as criminals, irrespective of skin color. A similar resentment suffered by adults can spark a revolution, as it did in 1776 in relation to British Writs of Assistance. The good news is that in states with legal cannabis, police searches drop dramatically. A drop in delinquent behaviors can be expected to follow.

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Acetaminophen crisis bigger than opioid epidemic?

Acetaminophen, the main active ingredient in certain non-NSAID pain medications, available to adults and children without a prescription in neighborhood stores throughout the United States, is suspected by Ohio University researchers of causing its users to experience an acute psychological reaction: to lose positive empathy during the time they medicate with the drug. That would make acetaminophen the yin to MDMA’s yang.

It might also be an instigator of many social and international problems. A quarter of all US adults consume a drug containing acetaminophen every week.

In a time when scientific research is making great strides in understanding the biological origins of emotions and behavior, the emergence of strange scientific phenomena is guaranteed to offset various presumptions and the industries or governments that thrive upon them. Some call it creative destruction. Others have more derogatory names.

How the US government and the news media handles the acetaminophen revelations will reveal much about their respective priorities and whose side they’re on when it comes to drug enforcement. This should be interesting.

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Surprise! The war on drugs doesn’t work

The United States’ ‘War on Drugs’ Really Did Make Things Worse, New Research Finds

After five decades of intense and expensive policing, the United States’ so-called ‘war on drugs’ has only created a bigger problem, a new study has found.

The research is based on a unique geographic model, called NarcoLogic, that was designed to figure out how cocaine smuggling networks have adapted to US drug interception over the years. […]

The updated model now suggests that drug traffickers are actively adapting and adjusting their routes, exploiting new locations to get around US drug control. This essentially means that the very presence of law enforcement has only made drug trafficking more widespread and harder to eradicate.

As a result, between 1996 and 2017, the space that drug traffickers use has spread from roughly 5 million square kilometres (2 million square miles) to over 18 million square kilometres (7 million square miles) – a 3.5-fold increase that will only make future enforcement more difficult and expensive.

“In other words, narco-trafficking is as widespread and difficult to eradicate as it is because of interdiction, and increased interdiction will continue to spread traffickers into new areas, allowing them to continue to move drugs north,” the authors write.

A detailed new study confirms what the basic laws of economics were telling us decades ago.

Will the U.S. care?

Of course, we’re dealing with science and facts here, which haven’t really been all that popular within the drug war apparatus.

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More mail

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It’s nice to know that DrugWarRant is finally getting recognized for its ground-breaking research on sleeping with your pets while doing scary hitler drugs.

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Infographics and scams

I get inundated by emails from people wanting to write an article for my site (with just a couple of text links to their company), or offering “wonderful” infographics for me to share with you, which are also linked to a particular website.

These are just blatant attempts to use the good google ranking of Drug WarRant to push up their ranking so they can scam more families of drug addicts to use their referral service, or whatever.

I ignore most of them.

However, this latest was from Grace at “Teens4Safety.”

Hi Pete,

I wanted to see if you’re interested in sharing this resource on the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana: [infographic link at an auto insurance broker site]

Driving with marijuana in your system increases the likelihood of crashing by 300%. Please help us make the road a little safer for everyone.

Thank you!
Grace

Teens4Safety

OK, clearly this was an attempt to get me to link to the auto insurance broker, and I should have ignored it, but the 300% figure got me, and I had to look at the infographic to see what their “science” was.

Here’s the entire paragraph where they mention the 300%:

Naturally, because of the impact of marijuana on the brain, driving functions are also inhibited by marijuana usage. Although studies into this are relatively limited, particularly when it comes to longitudinal studies, legislation has been based on the following assumptions, which are extrapolated from studies into the general usage of THC as well as expanding existing legislation pertaining to the use of alcohol when driving. For example, driving under the influence of cannabis increases the likelihood of crashing by 300%.

Wow. I’m speechless.

I gave Grace an “F” and sent back her paper to be re-written.

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Must-haves in legalization bills

Some good advice from Shaleen Title, Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commissioner:

Top Ten Equity Must-Haves in Any Legalization Bill

  1. Homegrow. Allow consumers to grow a limited number of their own plants at home (in MA, it’s 6 per adult with max of 12 per residence, see law for details) and gift a limited amount to other adults (in MA, it’s one ounce). This serves as a check on monopolies, delays, and more.
  2. Automatic expungement for cannabis convictions, in the same law at the same time as legalization. Period.
  3. Ensure as a non-negotiable, never-expiring statutory requirement that people from disproportionately harmed communities are represented at the very top of the regulating agency. (Yes, there are plenty who are qualified.)
  4. Ensure that the regulating agency is diverse, independent, subject to full transparency, and appointed by different people. This is something I’m incredibly proud of in MA and I recommend adopting it. Brand new agencies take time/resources to start up, but it’s worth it.
  5. Dedicate tax revenue to be reinvested into disproportionately harmed communities. Give it teeth; do not allow that revenue to be “subject to appropriation” and do not require bureaucratic application processes that only privileged communities will be able to tap into. Sidenote: the Minority Cannabis Business Association model state bill, which I worked on before becoming a commissioner, creates an Office of Justice Reinvestment to fairly distribute such revenue.
  6. Separate from that reinvestment, invest a specific percentage of tax revenue into technical assistance, hiring programs and interest-free loans for disproportionately affected communities with a funding mechanism for initial programming and outreach as soon as the law passes. It is very important that you specify the agency(ies) in charge with specified deadlines and consequences for missing the deadlines. I think every existing equity program thus far, including the one I designed, underestimated the need for IMMEDIATE outreach and education.
  7. Require state regulators and localities to ensure diversity in the industry at ownership and employee levels, and to enforce limits, with goals, measurement, and accountability for the regulators (it may be best for them to design their own goals rather than specifying them).
  8. Institute a statutory requirement that tax revenue only flows to municipalities that have honored these mandates. Leave it up to the municipalities to figure out how to make their local laws and processes inclusive to disproportionately harmed communities BEFORE receiving any local taxes. Sidenote: my recommendation to anyone seeking an equitable cannabis program would be to not compromise an inch on this one. It could easily undermine all the rest. There are good and bad local examples throughout MA and CA.
  9. Require every business to contribute to these goals in addition to (*BUT NOT INSTEAD OF*) the government’s role. One option is to require diversity plans and positive impact plans as requirements for licensure and renewal, as in MA, but there are many ways to accomplish this.
  10. Lastly, require the regulating agency to collect data on each of these items, report the data regularly, and take remedial measures when the data is not satisfactory. Give the regulating agency broad flexibility and authority to accomplish this.

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Finally, figuring out how to convince people to support legalization

Marijuana Use Before Sex Leads To More Satisfying Orgasms, Study Finds

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Drug War Corruption Affects Young Voters

Drug enforcement frauds and scandals have political consequences. In recent years it’s been far more difficult for Democratic or Republican lawmakers to gain political stardom by promoting corrupt and punitive drug policies. Millions have suffered personal damage or died needlessly due to drug laws that were predictably flawed and destructive. And according to researchers at Bocconi University in Milan, corruption indefinitely influences choices made by first-time voters:

8-Nov-2018—Research finds that political corruption has a long-term scarring effect on trust in democratic institutions and on voters’ behavior and that such an effect differs according to one’s age cohort, with first-time voters at the time of corruption revelation still being affected 25 years later.

In particular, Bocconi University’s Arnstein Aassve, Gianmarco Daniele, and Marco Le Moglie focus on the Italian Clean Hands scandal that, between 1992 and 1994, revealed widespread corruption among Italian politicians. […]

The effect is stronger for less educated individuals and for people more exposed to TV news in the areas most affected by the corruption scandal. …the age of the first-time voters … entails an unprecedented exposure to politics and political news. […]

First-time voters at the time of the scandal also report harsher attitudes towards immigrants and refugees in 2018…suggesting…a fascinating spill-over effect, whereby the detrimental effects of corruption might not be limited to trust and voting, but they might extend to policies supported by populist parties.

Politically corrupt drug enforcement plays a pivotal role in deliberately misleading the public about drugs and consumers. Its corruption increases drug ODs and the diseases transmitted by opiate addictions. It turns drug enforcement into a weapon that inflicts racist policies, culls rebellious teenagers, eliminates the poor, or boosts nationalist, cultural or religious hegemonies.

As public scrutiny of drug policies increases, Republican and Democratic party leaders still have several options left. A solution to the drug war crisis can be achieved either of two ways. End the drug war and the corruption ends. Or what may be easier and more expedient, end the lies and corruption and the drug war will likewise fade away.

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