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March 2017
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It’s Drug War Rant, we don’t serve warrants

When I first started this blog (now over 13 years ago) and I was coming up with a name/URL, I hit upon — in part, because it was the same spelling as drug warrant, and might send some traffic my way as I was starting out.

One of the side-effects of that decision has been emails like this one:

Hello Pete,

I know people that’s in the state of [state name] that has been trafficking marijuana between [state name] and [state name]. I don’t know their real name but I know their facbook name. I don’t know how else to report these people. I’m very against drugs. I wanna make sure these type of people are stopped. What kind of information do you need to put a stop to these dangerous people? There’s a night club in [state name] that only open few days a week but they were to pull in a lot of money, more than what the business should be making.

I have people who write to tell me about their neighbors who smoke pot, somehow thinking there’s something I could do about it. Or that I’d want to.

I’m not sure how their thinking works. How do they have the brain cells to come up with the phrase “drug warrant,” and look it up on Google, and yet not be able to actually view this site and figure out what’s going on here?

However, just in case you’re reading this and want to inform on your friends and neighbors, go ahead and email me. I’ll be sure to actively give it all the attention it deserves… by moving it to my trash folder.

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10 Euros

Via Twitter, a thoughtful skit attributed to Mark Adam Harold, a City Councillor in Vinius, Lithuania:

We stand around a table. A guy from the mafia stands with us. You take out your wallet. While we are discussing legalisation of marijuana, you have to give the mafia guy ten euros. We keep going. The only way to end the discussion is to agree to legalise marijuana, then the mafia guy has to leave the room and you don’t have to give him money any more. Then, you can put your money in a box called “schools and hospitals.” Then, maybe you will understand why you should stop defending the mafia and start arguing for legalization and taxation.

It’s not so hard to understand.

And yet, we still get the moronic argument that it is up to the drug user to “stop the mafia,” such as in this piece last week by Mario Berlanga in the NY Times: Want to Make Ethical Purchases? Stop Buying Illegal Drugs

That’s why Americans must recognize that every time they buy illegal drugs they reward the cartels. […] We can shatter the misconception that recreational drug use is a victimless crime. We must put an end to the hypocrisy that allows people to make purchases based on their concerns about the environment, workers’ rights or animals — but not about killing people in Mexico.

Tom Angell responded to that piece with a letter in today’s Times:

There’s no doubt that much of the money spent in the illegal drug market goes into the pockets of very dangerous people and organizations, as Mr. Berlanga effectively argues. But trying to shame users into quitting, as the government has done in the decades-long failed war on drugs, hasn’t ever been an effective way to diminish the drug trade.

Only legalizing and regulating drugs can strip drug profits from organized crime, just as ending Prohibition took the booze market out of the hands of the gangsters who controlled the trade for part of the last century.

A growing number of states are legalizing marijuana and putting sales into the hands of responsible, regulated businesses that create jobs and pay taxes. Changing laws and supply chains in this way is a much more realistic solution to the problems Mr. Berlanga points out than persuading millions of Americans to abstain from using drugs.

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Smart approaches to heroin problems talked about in mainstream media?

This Time article really gets it almost entirely right. Nice to see in a mainstream media piece.

6 Ways to Fight America’s Heroin Epidemic

Law enforcement has responded by cracking down on drug traffickers to cut off supplies of heroin and synthetics. But beyond the typical law-and-order response, some areas are taking unique approaches to battle drug addiction. Here’s a look at what cities are trying across the U.S. and beyond:

And the six things listed are:

  1. Safe-injection sites
  2. Prescribe heroin
  3. Medication-assisted treatment
  4. Naloxone for all
  5. Marijuana as medicine
  6. Don’t arrest addicts, treat them

I also liked the fact that the article referred to “heroin-related overdoses” rather than “heroin overdoses.”

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Do Not Resist

Bradley Balko has a review: ‘Do Not Resist’: A chilling look at the normalization of warrior cops

Of course, this issue is right up Radley’s alley. And it looks like a must-see.

What makes this movie so powerful is its terrifying portrayal of the mundanities of modern policing. I watched the movie weeks ago, but there are scenes that still flicker in my head. We all remember the clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson. We’ve seen the photos. We saw the anger and the animus exchanged across the protest lines. What we didn’t see were the hours and hours before and after those moments. We didn’t see the MRAPs and other armored vehicles roll in, one at a time, slowly transforming an American town into a war zone. We didn’t hear the clomp of combat boots on asphalt in the quiet hours of the early morning, interrupted only by fuzzy dispatches over police radio. […]

The striking thing about the footage is, again, the utter mundanity of the raid. A family was just violently raided over an immeasurable amount of pot. A man was arrested over that pot. The money he needed for his business was taken from him. Yet there’s no shame or embarrassment from the officers. There’s no panic that the whole thing was captured on video. That’s when it hits you. They don’t think they’ve made a mistake. This is what they do.

Definitely on my list. Not sure when that’s going to be able to happen, though as the distribution is limited at this point.

Here’s the trailer.

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Home again

The end of an epic road trip that lasted close to 6 weeks. We drove an astounding 7,487 miles. Other than Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan (which were just pass-through states) the states and provinces we explored included New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Québec, and Ontario. We rode two passenger ferries, two car ferries, and two funiculars. And we drove across an 8-mile-long bridge. For the most part, we avoided shops and tourists and found some incredible beauty. We camped 11 of the 38 nights (in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Nova Scotia, and Ontario) and stayed in a variety of inexpensive motels and hotels the rest of the time. We spent time on the Atlantic Ocean, the Bay of Fundy, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and more rivers, bays, waterfalls and lakes than we can count. We crossed international borders 4 times (and they let me!). We drove to the top of Mount Washington (6,288 feet) and many other mountains. We hiked on everything from easy boardwalks to challenging trails. We saw lots of wildlife and took thousands of photos. We also enjoyed the local culinary specialties as we ate pastrami and bagels in New York, whole belly clams in Rhode Island, chowder in Massachusetts, maple syrup and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in Vermont, lobsters and wild blueberries in Maine, dulse in New Brunswick, single malt whiskey in Nova Scotia, mussels, potatoes, and black currants on Prince Edward Island, poutine in Québec, peameal bacon in Ontario, and much more.
We managed to mostly avoid watching or reading the news the entire time.

Consider this another open thread until I have time to catch up and post something drug-war-related.

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Another Open Thread

Our trip has continued, taking us beyond Acadia National Park up to Mount Katahdin in Maine, and then into New Brunswick. Saint John and the Bay of Fundy, staying in a refurbished caboose at the Train Station Inn in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, and then to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park on Cape Breton Island. In a couple days, we’ll head to Prince Edward Island and then on to Quebec City.

With limited WiFi and avoiding international data charges, I’ve been fairly blissfully unaware of what’s going on in the world.

Keep each other informed here. I’ll be back eventually.

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Odds and Ends

George Soros’ quiet overhaul of the U.S. justice system

While America’s political kingmakers inject their millions into high-profile presidential and congressional contests, Democratic mega-donor George Soros has directed his wealth into an under-the-radar 2016 campaign to advance one of the progressive movement’s core goals — reshaping the American justice system.

The billionaire financier has channeled more than $3 million into seven local district-attorney campaigns in six states over the past year — a sum that exceeds the total spent on the 2016 presidential campaign by all but a handful of rival super-donors.

His money has supported African-American and Hispanic candidates for these powerful local roles, all of whom ran on platforms sharing major goals of Soros’, like reducing racial disparities in sentencing and directing some drug offenders to diversion programs instead of to trial. It is by far the most tangible action in a progressive push to find, prepare and finance criminal justice reform-oriented candidates for jobs that have been held by longtime incumbents and serve as pipelines to the federal courts — and it has inspired fury among opponents angry about the outside influence in local elections.

500 legal experts launch bid to reform drug policies

Demanding wholesale reform of Argentine narcotics legislation yesterday, over 500 respected legal voices commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark “Bazterrica” ruling and called for an end to the so-called “War on Drugs.”
The experts, who spoke in a room at the National Congress, said the landmark ruling by the land’s top court — which in 1986 declared the unconstitutionality of prosecuting individuals for possessing narcotics intended for personal consumption — had paved the way for change.

“The current law prosecutes the most vulnerable sectors of our society. There must be a sincere answer from the Argentine system, so as to judge what needs to be judged and to give users the healthcare and assistance they need,” said Judge Ángela Ledesma.
Introducing a declaration endorsed by 250 magistrates and 300 other signatories at the National Congress’ Blue Room, the Association of Penal Thinking (APP) — an NGO dealing with criminal law — filed a petition asking for a modification to National Drugs Law 23,737, which criminalizes the possession of narcotics for personal consumption.

Ledesma argued that the “War on Drugs” was failing and said that decriminalization is the only way forward.

The war on drugs failed. What now?

A Christian publication takes a hard look at the need for a new view on dealing with drug problems.

Americans have a long history of viewing drug use as a moral weakness and drug users as criminals who need to be punished. But the failure of the war on drugs, and the evident success of other approaches, is changing minds. A fundamental shift in policy is under way—a shift toward a more humane and hopeful policy. For millions of drug users and their families, it can’t happen soon enough.

Note: I’m still on my extended road trip vacation. Started in Wisconsin, and headed to Ontario, Niagara Falls, the Hudson River, Manhattan, the Connecticut coast, Rhode Island harbors, Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod National Seashore, the scenic roads of Vermont’s Green Mountain Forest, Stowe, New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest and the top of Mount Washington, the Lakes and Mountains region of Maine, Ogunquit, Vinalhaven Island, and tomorrow head for Acadia National Park. Will soon be heading into easter Canada.

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Open Thread

Presented for your perusal without my comment, because I’m on vacation… Drug Policy Wonks Propose Two Pathways For Legal Marijuana. “As a handful of states gear up for marijuana legalization ballot initiatives in November, drug policy experts Mark Kleiman and John Hudak explain how laws can be easily reformed.”

“Forty years from now we will know if cannabis legalization was a good thing or not,” says Kleiman. “There are too many effects, too many long-term things, too many cross interactions, too many unknowns. Everyone in the world says they know if cannabis legalization is a good thing or bad thing, except for the six of us who study it for a living.”

Don’t get me started…

Trump, in answer to police chiefs, says there is ‘no noticeable partnership’ between feds and local police

In response to a question from the International Association of Chiefs of Police about improving the “important” partnership between federal and local law enforcement, Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump recently wrote that, “Currently, there is no noticeable partnership between the federal government and state and local law enforcement.” He then added, “That will dramatically change in a Trump administration.” […]

Asked about their number one law enforcement and criminal justice priority, Trump wrote that his administration “will be focused on restoring the rule of law in the United States. Selective enforcement of laws has led to a more dangerous society and the vilification of local law enforcement must come to an end.” Asked about plans to lower crime, Trump wrote, “the law of the land will be enforced, starting with federal statutes that encompass illegal immigration, drug trafficking and human trafficking.”

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New York State of Mind

Just spent the day enjoying the beauty of the Hudson River, on the beginning of a month-long road trip through the NorthEast. I started in Wisconsin, and after New York, will be heading into Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and eastern Canada.

Consider this an open thread.

Facing Tough Primary, DNC Chair Endorses Marijuana Decriminalization. Yep, the tremendously unpopular Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is having to switch to supporting marijuana decriminalization in order to avoid being primaried.

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Take re-scheduling to Congress

Clearly, the DEA has a lot of vested interest in keeping marijuana in schedule 1, and there’s absolutely no chance that change will happen through that agency. This means that it must happen from another direction, which means Congress.

The good news is that there are finally members of Congress who also believe this needs to be changed, so there’s actually some reason to start working on that normally backwards body. (Quotes via Tom Angell at

“There are Americans who can realize real medical benefits if this treatment option is brought out of the shadows, and choosing to ignore the medical value of marijuana defies common sense and the scientific evidence.” – Sen. Cory Booker

“Bad news: @DEAHQ refused to reschedule marijuana. This has wide implications for med research, law enforcement & business. … I’ll keep pushing our federal agencies to reschedule marijuana as part of crafting a rational research & public health strategy.” – Sen. Elizabeth Warren

“Time for #DEA to remove marijuana from Sched 1 to expand #medicalmarijuana research & ensure families in need get legal access to treatment.” – Sen. Kirsten Gellibrand

“It’s well past time for us to take marijuana off the federal government’s list of outlawed drugs. …Keeping marijuana in the same category as heroin is absurd. The time is long overdue for us to remove the federal prohibition on marijuana. … If we are serious about criminal justice reform, we must remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act. – Sen. Bernie Sanders

“Disappointed by @DEAHQ. We must act to allow access to banking for marijuana biz in states with legalized marijuana” – Sen. Jeff Merkley

“The @DEAHQ is keeping federal law on marijuana behind the times. Will continue to press for rescheduling.” – Sen. Ron Wyden

So perhaps this is a good time to get the Senate to start moving on re de-scheduling. Go here to easily write your Senator.

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