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December 2006



Washington and Colombia becoming… isolated?

This is an incredible article by Mike Caesar in the Christian Science Monitor: New coca spat leaves Colombia flying solo. It really paints a picture of how much we’ve screwed up things in Latin America.

A decision by Colombia’s conservative President Ťlvaro Uribe to restart the country’s aerial fumigation of coca leaf plantations near the border with Ecuador appears to have further isolated him in a region increasingly unfriendly to Washington’s war on drugs.
Last week’s move has sparked a diplomatic row, with Ecuador recalling its ambassador to Colombia and vowing to file an official complaint to both the Organization of American States and the United Nations. Ecuador’s leftist president-elect Rafael Correa, a close friend of Venezuela’s anti-American president, Hugo Ch˝vez, has even started recruiting other Latin leaders to oppose aerial fumigation.
“It’s simply unacceptable that they continue spraying from the air with glysophate,” Mr. Correa said this week, referring to the herbicide used, a more concentrated version of Monsanto’s Round-Up. “It kills legal crops on the Ecuadorean side and, apparently, also kills farmers.”
Ecuador has activated its air defense system to monitor the fumigation planes, many of which are piloted by Americans.
Correa has also said he opposes the presence of the US military base at the Ecuadorean port of Manta – a key support for the US drug war in neighboring Colombia.
All of this leaves Uribe – and Washington – increasingly isolated. Many Latin Americans have long resented the US drug war, which they say forces them to bear the burden of America’s vices.
Shifter says that Latin American hostility toward the drug war shows “a growing dissatisfaction with a policy that has failed.”

Interesting times. Scary times.
There’s a big part of me that’s very anxious to get rid of the moronic drug warriors that are putting us and the rest of the world in such danger. But there’s a small part of me that almost wishes we could have Walters and Tandy, et al for another 4-6 years in the almost certain knowledge that they would make the drug war completely explode in their faces and trigger real revolution internationally.
From my perspective in the past few years, it seem to me that the drug policy reformers have made huge gains in the respectability, believability, breadth and permeation of our message. This has scared the piss out of the drug warriors and forced them into a pushing back mode, where they try to shove the genie back into the bottle through repressive actions and propaganda. This further alienates and arouses a formerly apathetic population, helping our side. The drug warriors could end up pushing themselves back into a corner.

Dealing with Meth

thehim has an excellent discussion going on about meth over at Blog Reload (Part one and Part two). The discussion centers around the role of meth in crime and the extent to which the crackdown on local meth production has increased crime levels (in part due to the fact that eliminating local labs brings in […]

More on Bob Barr and the drug war

Further information on the “conversion.” Bob Barr, interviewed by Charles Goyette on KFNX (Phoenix), on the drug war:

There‰s a lot of room to work on that issue. For example, on the issue of medical marijuana and the states‰ rights issues involving that. I‰m very supportive of states‰ rights. I am also very supportive the concept of legitimate testing for the use of medical marijuana and I‰m very disappointed that the government has stood in the way of that. So there‰s a lot of room there. I‰m working through some of those individual liberties issues…

And something that should be entertaining coming January 18 at Fordham Law School:

The Donald & Paula Smith Family Foundation Presents a debate: Medical Marijuana: Should the sick be able to smoke?
Bob Barr, Former Congressman, 21st Century Liberties Chair for Freedom and Privacy at the American Conservative Union
Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance

[Thanks, Kwix]

A new crime wave?

There are indications that we may be seeing an beginnings of an upswing in violent crime in the U.S. Pat at Left Independent blames the drug war. … and not just in the U.S.

A bad time for drug warriors

Have a nice Christmas thought for the poor drug warriors. They try to use the drug war to control other countries, but they’re not getting anything nice in their stockings for doing so. Maybe they should just take the rest of the year off. “bullet” Peru’s president recommends coca

Mr Garcia’s culinary suggestions did not […]

Open Thread

Here’s a few things worth checking out:
“bullet” Radley Balko does a really fine job explaining the meth “crisis” to the uninformed in his latest FOX news column: Government’s Drug War Fuels Meth Problem

So Americans’ access to cold medicine has been restricted, we’ve embarked on questionable sting operations that likely ensnare innocent people, and the FDA is allowing a useless medication to be sold to U.S. consumers. And to what end? Meth is more available and more potent than it ever was.
Typical drug war folly. This is probably the place to point out that drug war itself is the bad government policy gave us the crude form of methampehtamine that’s so popular today in the first place.

“bullet” Bruce Mirken has a good piece at AlterNet: Why Smoking Marijuana Doesn’t Make You a Junkie. He discusses the science that has put to rest the particular gateway theory that marijuana causes people to use other drugs.

The lie that marijuana somehow turns people into junkies is dead. Officials who insist on repeating it as a way of squelching discussion about common-sense reforms should be laughed off the stage.

“bullet” Economist David R. Henderson explains the economics of the drug war in South and Central America in ways that a Kindergartner could understand (but would be totally over the heads of most politicians) in How to Undercut Ch˝vez Peacefully With Less Military, Not More

The raw cocaine price in Colombia is only about 1 percent of its street price in the United States, because of the risk premium added on to prices at each stage of the distribution. Therefore, tripling the raw price would cause the U.S. street price to rise by 2 percent.
There’s a better way to go. The U.S. government should stop pressuring Colombia’s government to destroy its cocaine industry, and we the people should demand it. Then Colombia’s government can decide whether to do that or not, and I predict that it won’t. If, in the extreme, Colombia’s government legalized the cocaine trade, production would increase and the price would fall. But even if the Colombian price fell to zero, clearly impossible, the U.S. price would fall by only 1 percent. Meanwhile, the leftist insurgent’s funds would dry up š why pay for protection when you don’t need it? […]

“bullet” Transform Foundation Blog has good coverage of the recent discussion in England regarding the drug trade and the murder of prostitutes in Ipswich. The positive thing is that a real discussion is happening, and the notion of legalization as a form of harm reduction is getting serious play. Also nice to see articles like Prohibition: a crippling habit by Nick Davies:

There are really only two kinds of people who support the prohibition of drugs: those who know the truth and, for some political reason, refuse to admit it; and those who genuinely have no idea what they are talking about.

Libertarians and the Drug War

I’ve never really felt the need to explain the position that libertarians should have regarding the drug war. In fact, in my FAQ, all I say is:

Well, duh! If you need to ask, you’re probably not a libertarian.

One particular recent event, however, is muddying the waters… the conversion of Bob Barr to the […]

Corn, Soybean and Hay farmers — you’re so… small-time

Link (Via Hit and Run)

For years, activists in the marijuana legalization movement have claimed that cannabis is America’s biggest cash crop. Now they’re citing government statistics to prove it.
A report released today by a marijuana public policy analyst contends that the market value of pot produced in the U.S. exceeds $35 billion Ö far more than the crop value of such heartland staples as corn, soybeans and hay, which are the top three legal cash crops.

Now, first it should be noted that there are all sorts of problems with valuing illicit crops, including the methods of estimating quantity, the inclusion of non-viable crops, and the computation of street value. However, as an point of discussion, this report by Jon Gettman is probably as accurate as exists out there.
And his point is that with such a huge activity out there, clearly prohibition doesn’t work and can’t contain it, so it would make a whole lot more sense to bring it into the regulated market.
Naturally, the drug czar’s office was asked to weigh in…

Tom Riley, a spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, cited examples of foreign countries that have struggled with big crops used to produce cocaine and heroin. “Coca is Colombia’s largest cash crop and that hasn’t worked out for them, and opium poppies are Afghanistan’s largest crop, and that has worked out disastrously for them,” Riley said. “I don’t know why we would venture down that road.”

No, Tom, you ignorant slut. The whole point is that if it’s your biggest cash crop, it doesn’t make sense to give that over to criminal control. You should legalize, tax and regulate. You’re making our point for us.

Mother and Son, talking about drugs

On one thing the drug czar’s office is right — parents should talk to their teens about drugs. However, the drug czar will tell you that you should lie to them, search their rooms and drug test them on a regular basis. That is the most messed-up kind of parenting out there. However, there is […]

Mexico and the use of troops

I’ve got to admit that I was a bit puzzled earlier this week when Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon decided to send 7,000 soldiers, federal police and Navy forces to Michoacan to fight the drug war, and then expanded that to other states. Using troops in a so-called “drug war” is kind of like the British […]