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July 2007



Drug Policy as destructive foreign policy

Foreign Policy in Focus’ Laura Carlsen has a fascinating piece: Militarizing Mexico: The New War on Drugs

The U.S. model not only served to bolster the presidency. It has also proven useful as a tool for geopolitical control abroad. By elevating drug trafficking to a matter of national security, the war on drugs model has led to U.S. intervention in the politics of both drug-producing and transit nations. It has been used to justify the militarization of whole regions of foreign nations (Colombia), invasions to oust inconvenient foreign leaders (Panama), and now the extension of the U.S. security agenda into a neighboring country (Mexico).
By exporting its ‹war on drugs,Š the United States has pressured other nations to embrace U.S. national security interests as their own. This has been true from the beginning.

It’s been clear to most educated observers (and a few foreign leaders), that U.S. drug control policy and its promotion of drug policy through international treaty and the U.N. has been less about drugs than it has been about control.

Another concern that has arisen from the Colombian experience is that the ‹war on drugsŠ has a disturbing tendency to morph into a ‹war on terrorismŠ that increases U.S. military reach into foreign lands. Recall the expansion of Plan Colombia‰s anti-narcotics model into counter-terrorism activities. Since the U.S. government‰s definition of ‹terrorismŠ is both broad and ambiguous, this tendency has led to mission creep and the use of U.S. military aid to attack internal dissidence. For Mexico, the equation of immigration with terrorist threats to promote the U.S. strategy of militarizing the northern border provides a case study in how U.S. counter-terrorism programs lead to militarization, loss of national sovereignty, and violations of human rights. The new drug war provides a dangerous stepping stone in that process.

Again, not much new in the article to those of us educated in drug policy reform, but it’s good to see it articulated.
For a more sadly humorous look at the Mexican drug war, check out this amazing piece in the Dallas Morning News: Drug case could backfire in Mexico
Part of Calderon’s popularity in the drug war came from the seizure of $200 million and the hopes of the people that it would serve a good use. But there has been quite a bit of concern that it would all evaporate in a frenzy of corruption. That fear has not been eased:

But recent video images of the home’s owner š the Mexican nationalized Chinese native Zhenli Ye Gon š strolling New York streets and accusing the ruling party of using him to hoard its illegal money now threatens to taint the spectacular DEA-assisted seizure. […]
The official investigation against him and testimony from employees and relatives, including his jailed wife, suggest cozy ties among the Chinese businessman, politicians and even members of the military. Anti-drug police allegedly extorted bribes from him but also warned him to leave the country before the raid on his house.
Opposition parties have called for a congressional investigation into possible links between the ruling National Action Party, or PAN, and Mr. Ye Gon. On Wedneday, PAN legislators joined opposition members in calling for an investigation into the Ye Gon case.
As a result, the public no longer sees a $205 million blow against the drug cartels but a cesspool of collusion among drug operatives, politicians and government officials, analysts said.

“Cesspool.” Good word.

Today’s Congressional hearing

David Murray has absolutely no shame. Get this from his prepared statement:

Funded by millions from those who want to legalize marijuana outright,
marijuana lobbyists have now been deployed to Capitol Hill and to States across the
Nation to employ their favored tactic of using Americans‰ natural compassion for the sick
to garner support for a far different agenda. These modern-day snake oil proponents cite
testimonialsÖnot scienceÖthat smoked marijuana helps patients suffering from AIDS,
cancer, and other painful diseases ‹feel better.Š Unfortunately for America‰s sick, the
same scenario our Nation dealt with a century ago has returned, and a number of states
have passed voter referenda or legislative actions making smoked marijuana available for
a variety of medical conditions upon a doctor’s recommendation under state law.

Let me explain it once again. Even if you forget all the myriad studies that demonstrate significant value from medicinal use of marijuana, the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is primarily used as a symptom reliever. This doesn’t just mean “feeling better.” It means reducing the pain so you can work or function. It means reducing the nausea so you can take the healing medicine. It means reducing the spasms so you can walk, or read, or hold a pencil. The only measurement of whether it works is… whether it works. If it relieves the symptom so you can function, then it’s effective. The only question is, then, whether it’s safe. And to that question I say: “Show me the bodies.” Marijuana is arguably the safest drug known to man. If a doctor and a patient agree that it’s the best course, then there is no moral or constitutional justification for David Murray’s job to exist.
And, of course, he pushes the “smoked” marijuana meme to hysterical lengths:

In light of these scientifically proven medicinal alternatives, the idea of telling suffering patients that the best we can do for them is to encourage them to inhale the hot smoke of a burning weed, of unknown dose and purity, seems medieval at best.

It would be simply ridiculous if his asshole approach wasn’t hurting so many people. How dare he? He is a despicable traitor to the human race.
And it gets worse. Check out these bizarre ‘reasons’ medical marijuana laws “do not work”

Medical marijuana laws lead to drug-related violence. […]

His reasoning? Because there have been thefts of the medical marijuana — more a result of the conflicting state and federal laws that prevent developing a secure system.

Medical marijuana laws protect drug dealers […]

No. Prohibition protects drug dealers.
Fortunately, while I have not yet seen the transcripts, it appears that the subcommittee may have been on the job (although this is a very limited report).
I’m anxious to get more information. I’ll probably be talking about this hearing for awhile.

Congressional hearings on the DEA and medicine this morning

Via Alexander DeLuca
“The DEA‰s Regulation of Medicine“
July 12, 2007 – 10:00 AM
2237 Rayburn House Office Building
House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security
There will be a live webcast of the hearings — 10 am Eastern.
Witness list:

Joseph T. Rannazzisi
Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Diversion Control United States Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Department of Justice Washington, DC
David Murray
Director of Counter Drug Technology, ONDCP, The White House Washington, DC
Edward J. Heiden Ph.D.
Heiden Associates Inc., Washington, DC
Valerie Corral
Founder of WAMM, Wo/Men‰s Alliance for Medical Marijuana Davenport, CA
Siobhan Reynolds
President, Pain Relief Network, Santa Fe, NM
John Flannery
Attorney, Campbell, Miller, Zimmerman, PC, and Author of Pain in America and How the Government Makes it Worse Leesburg, VA

[Thanks, J]

Update: Video feeds appear to not be working. Prepared testimony is available here (click on the witness’ name to read their testimony). I’ve glanced at Rannazzisi’s and Murray’s so far and they’re pretty horrible. Murray just talks about medical marijuana (smoked). I’ll be taking a closer look at his nonsense for you a little later.