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February 2007



The new Congress, Kucinich and the ONDCP

Check out this wonderfully fascinating article by Dean Kuipers in the L.A. City Beat: A Change in the Weather. Go and read the whole thing — it’s worth it.
No big surprises, but a lot of interesting material — most of it has to do with the fact that some of the most sympathetic people to drug policy reform in Congress are now in leadership positions, and the ONDCP is no longer going to get a free ride.
It’s not all great —

Sources close to the appointment, who asked not to be named, say that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the Democratic leadership have effectively embargoed major crime or drug policy legislation for the next two years, to avoid looking soft on crime in the 2008 election.

Boy, if that doesn’t describe Democrats… For once, I’d like them to understand that the policy of avoiding looking weak, makes them look… weak.
But Kucinich promises to have some fun.

‹We want to explore the federal government‰s policies and the Department of Justice‰s policies on medical marijuana, for example. We need to also look at the drug laws that have brought about mandatory minimum sentences that have put people in jail for long periods of time. […]
‹No, this committee does not have control of the budgets, but it does have control of the policy, and it can ask questions and get documents that others couldn‰t get.Š

[Thanks, Allan]

On those ‘victories’ in Mexico

According to Fred Rosen in the Mexico News, despite Calder÷n’s military-style crackdowns and the extradition of drug cartel leaders, things may not be going all that well for him, with an increase in the price of corn, and a decrease in the price of drugs.

Many people are significantly reducing their caloric intake. And many are blaming the government. Within a week of the onset of the corn shortage, Calder÷nĒs approval rating had dropped 20 points to 50 percent.
And now, the results of the drug-war incursions into the states of Michoac½n, Baja California and Guerrero are coming under question. Initially, it was announced that marijuana fields were burned; cocaine, heroin and synthetic drugs were confiscated; major capos were arrested and extradited; professional executioners were killed, arrested or forced to flee the states under siege; and a major dent was put into drug exports and domestic sales. Calder÷n said the operation had brought “peace and certainty” to Mexico.
But the press now reports that no cocaine (the number-one export to the United States) was seized in any of the raids and that many of Michoac½nĒs destroyed marijuana fields, having been planted with a pesticide-resistant strain of cannabis, are making a quick comeback.
And El UniversalĒs always-perceptive columnist Raymundo Riva Palacio reports that aside from the extradition of a half dozen drug barons, the cartels have not taken such a hard hit. “The cost of a joint of marijuana on the streets of Mexico City,” he reports, “is 15 pesos, compared to 25 pesos in December, while Ecstasy tabs, whose producers were also supposedly targets of the crackdowns, have fallen to half of the 50 pesos they cost at the end of the year.”
If the operations had been a success, reasons Riva Palacio, the logic of supply and demand would have produced a reverse effect. The low price suggests there are more drugs on the street than before the anti-drug operations began.