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October 2004



Good News in Afghanistan?

Vin Suprynowicz Las Vegas Review-Journal properly ridicules the government’s drug war, focusing on the problems (or interpretation thereof), in Afghanistan:

A huge problem for — and with — the gang in charge in Washington these days is that they define many of their successes as problems, requiring ever more onerous applications of force and looted tax dollars to “solve” what’s already going fine.

In addition, they describe many of their real problems as “insoluble,” when the solutions are right in front of their eyes.

No, we’re not succeeding in creating a modern nation-state.و But there is good news in Afghanistan: The State Department reports the country is on pace to produce a record opium poppy crop this year.

Yep. Good news. A thriving industry able to support the common worker.

Opium, of course, is one of God’s major gifts to man.و The first book of the Bible tells us that God gave man every flower- and seed-bearing plant for his use, and few have proved more useful that the poppy, whose sap can be made into codeine and morphine, which ( along with that other Godsend, cocaine ) have relieved the pain and suffering of millions.

So how do the folks in Washington respond to the fact that happy Afghan farmers are once again making an honest living producing a crop which is a Godsend to mankind? …

Needless to say, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was first into the breach, announcing last month that “coalition forces” in Afghanistan will soon have another task to distract them from tracking down Osama bin Laden — burning poppy fields.و Imagine how Americans would respond if helicopters full of Afghan warriors descended on Virginia and Kentucky, burning our tobacco crops.و ( Tobacco is more toxic and slightly more addictive than the opiates, according to Dr.و Andrew Weil of the University of Arizona, who studies such stuff.و )

But of course, we have determined that certain drugs are arbitrarily termed “evil” and must be eradicated regardless of whether that’s possible or economically viable, or whether the eradication causes more problems.

Legalize all opium products, allow the Afghans to ship through normal channels at reasonable profits, and the criminals will lose their control over the trade and the farmers, both.

It would then make no more sense for terrorists and underworld figures to try and finance their truly evil enterprises through the opium trade than it would for them to go into the business of manufacturing and smuggling aspirin — a product which our fine German friends at Farben-Fabriken Bayer delayed introducing until 1899, the year after they introduced heroin, since their chemists at the time considered aspirin the more dangerous of the two formulations.

Legalize the poppy.و Problem solved.

Excellent article. Common sense. Impossible for politicians to accept.

Under the influence

Dan Forbes — one of the very best investigative journalists to take on the drug war — sent me an invitation to a book event. Not just any book event — this could be the most unusual and entertaining book event I’ve ever encountered. And yes, it’s been made clear that all my readers are invited to the party.

So, you’re invited to an East Village book bash — no stuffy readings, buy the damn book and read it yourself once you repossess your faculties — to celebrate publication of Disinformation’s latest well-schooled rant: Under the Influence: The Disinformation Guide to Drugs.

وووووو That’s you and whatever emoluments you have at hand, Thursday, October 21, 9pm to 4am at swank-deluxe Uncle Ming’s, in the heart of it all at 225 Avenue B (that’s at 13th St. for you schmoes). Yeah, it’s free. The drinks ain’t, but they’re cheap.

وووووو Forget the modest number of immodest go-go dancers, the syncopation from renowned Slipper Room vinyl spinner, DJ Ness, the no-doubt dissolute air rubbing shoulders (let’s say) with strangers similarly possessed of a certain moral casualness. Come, rather, seeking proof of the cruelties, absurdities, malfeasance & propaganda promulgated by your government to prop up an ever shakier War on Some Drugs.

Yep. I sure wish I was in New York this week.

وووووو DisInfo and editor Preston Peet have corralled the top writers on drugs (verily) for a volume chockablock with the sort of truth-to-power rarely found between soft covers:

وووووو Libertarian big-foot Jacob Sullum, of the usually eponymous Reason magazine and author of Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use (Tarcher/Putnam); New York Press columnist, author and irasciblist Paul Krassner; Daniel Pinchbeck, author of Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism (Broadway Books); bona fide contemporary shaman, Rick Doblin, who’s actually buffaloed the feds into approving his investigations of post-trauma, therapeutic Ecstasy; and ex-Village Voice columnist, Cynthia Cotts.

وووووو Not to mention Ethan Nadelmann, avatar of the Drug Policy Alliance and many state drug-reform ballot initiatives; China Syndrome screenwriter, Mike Gray, whose seminal drug policy books include Drug Crazy (Random House); Lonny Shavelson, author of Hooked: Five Addicts Challenge our Misguided Drug Rehab System (The New Press); rock star and ex-High Timeser Steven Wishnia, author of Cannabis Companion (Running Press); our beloved editor, High Timeser Preston Peet, who also edits; and Daniel Forbes, a feckless freelancer who engendered four congressional hearings and testified at two after revealing that the Clinton White House steered $22 million to the TV networks for government-approved anti-drug TV scripts and has perpetrated numerous stone-down-a-well scoops ever since. And many others too worthy to begin to try to encapsulate in an e-mail.

If you can go to the party, drop me a line afterward. I’d love to hear about it. I’ll talk about the book more some time in the future.