Must reads

“bullet” Steve at Transform takes on the recent rash of media madness with More shoddy reefer madness reporting of cannabis risks

When you are in the midst of a fully fledged media cannabis panic, as we currently seem to be, you can be quite sure that any new research on the drug:

  • will be pounced upon by lazy journalists
  • will be trawled for any vaguely shocking sounding statistics (by non-scientists and non-statisticians)
  • will have these statistics spun into sexy ‘shock’ headlines
  • will have any negative findings, statistical ambiguity, commentary on confounding factors/ context / significance etc conveniently glossed over
  • will see politicians responding to the media coverage of the research rather than the research itself *insert daft quote from David Davis*

“bullet” Radley Balko: FBI to Congress: Murder, Wrongful Imprisonment May Be Necessary to Preserve Drug Investigations
Assistant Director of the FBI Directorate of Intelligence Wayne Murphy in testimony before Congress….

The context: Lundgren and Delahunt have cited incidents in the past in which the FBI has covered up evidence that its confidential drug informants have committed violent crimes (including murder) in order to protect their identities, so that they could continue providing the bureau with information. They’ve cited other incidents, including the case above, in which the FBI has hidden exculpatory evidence, and allowed innocent people to go to prison. Lundgren and Delahunt want Murphy to assure them that the FBI has instituted policies to ensure that these sorts of incidents won’t happen again–that murderers won’t be protected and innocent people sent to prison in order to preserve drug investigations.
Remarkably, Murphy refuses to make such assurances.

This kind of attitude on the part of public servants is the reason why the Stop Snitchin’ movement is gaining steam.
“bullet” In the context of the latest medical marijuana raids in California, Jacob Sullum explores the positions of the Presidential candidates in this area and finds the Republican field, for the most part, lacking: Spliff Split.
He has an interesting conclusion:

These partisan tendencies do not mean Democrats have greater respect for the division of powers between the federal government and the states. When it suits them, they’re happy to support federal involvement in policy areas the Constitution leaves to the states. It’s just that Democrats are, by and large, more comfortable with the therapeutic use of cannabis than Republicans are.
It’s hard to find a logical explanation for this split. Republicans, conservatives especially, are traditionally critical of overly cautious regulators who prevent people from using drugs that could relieve their suffering safely and effectively. They have a record of supporting the freedom to use herbal home remedies without unreasonable bureaucratic interference.
The prevailing Republican stance on medical marijuana, which is at odds with what most Americans tell pollsters they think about the issue, can be understood only in light of the connotations that cannabis acquired as a result of its accidental association with the 1960s counterculture. In fighting a symbol of their opponents’ principles, conservatives have sacrificed their own.

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