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July 2008




“bullet” Reason TV on the travesty in the Charlie Lynch trial. Owen Beck is silenced in the courtroom. More detail. “bullet” CNN video — Barney Frank talks about his pot decrim bill. “bullet” Trial of Sgt. Joseph Chavalia for shooting Tarika Wilson:

A woman shot and killed by a police officer during a drug raid […]

Another violent drug raid, more dead dogs. This time it’s the mayor.

Congressmen call for federal decrim of marijuana, scaring drug warriors into strange behavior

Nick Juliano at Raw Story has great coverage of today’s press conference with Rep. Barney Frank, who is introducing a marijuana federal decriminalization bill (not expected to pass, but intended to open a dialogue). The ONDCP apparently sent their big guns to immediately try to rebut, well, something else entirely.

ONDCP’s Dr. David Murray’s impassioned […]

Drug war doesn’t work? Who’d’a thunk it?

The BBC reports:

The UK Drug Policy Commission said despite the large sums of money spent tackling the problem, traditional police tactics were not working.

Uh, yep.

Tim McSweeney, one of the report’s authors, said: “We were struck by just how little evidence there is to show that the hundreds of millions of pounds spent on UK enforcement each year has made a sustainable impact.”
Former police chief constable David Blakey, of the UK Drug Policy Commission, said enforcement agencies tended to be judged by the amount they had managed to capture.
“This is a pity as it is very difficult to show that increasing drug seizures actually leads to less drug-related harm,” he added. […]
Brian Paddick, a former deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, told Today part of the problem was the performance targets set for police forces.
“There is no incentive at the moment for chief constables to tackle drug crime. All the performance indicators against which police forces are measured are based on reduction of acquisitive crime.”

This is actually pretty impressive to hear in major media outlet. And the Drug Policy Commission report has some useful data.
Of course, we already know this. It’s been obvious as the hand in front of your face (although the drug warriors won’t acknowledge it).
It’s very nice to hear them talk about the fact that police are using the wrong benchmarks for determining effectiveness. Number of arrests and number of seizures really means nothing. That’s something we need to be better at doing — pressuring for a different kind of accountability (although it won’t be easy).
The UK study went even further:

It went so far as to warn that police operations could have a negative effect on the problem.
They could threaten public safety and health by “altering the drug users’ behaviour and potentiallyá setting up violent drug gang conflicts as police move dealers from one area to another”, said our correspondent.

So how does the government respond to that?

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The government agrees that enforcement in isolation is not effective.”

Translation: We’ll keep doing it anyway, but by claiming (as we have been all along) that we’re doing it in conjunction with other efforts, it’ll magically make it all better, without us having to actually do anything about our failure.
(We here the same kind of thing from the ONDCP sometimes — usually they say that they’re working on a “balanced” program of enforcement and other methods.)
Wait. Wait. Yes, here it is, later in the article…

The Home Office said seizures were only part of the government’s approach, with intervention programmes getting 1,000 offenders into drug treatment each week.
“Many of the report’s recommendations are already being implemented,” the spokesperson added.
“Our drugs strategy encompasses enforcement, prevention, education and treatment.”

Ah, I feel so much better. They’re not just spending millions of pounds on a dangerous policy that doesn’t work and has negative consequences, but they’re doing other things as well. That makes it all good.


“bullet” Today is the beginning of the trial of Sgt. Joseph Chevalia for shooting and killing 26-year-old Tarika Wilson in a botched drug raid. An all-white jury will consider the misdemeanor charges. I hope he gets a fair trial. Unfortunately, there are others who should be on trial as well — who are perhaps […]

It’s been an amazing Five Years

I started Drug WarRant on Sunday, July 27, 2003 with a post about the Hinchey Amendment. I thought maybe I’d post once a week or so — mostly for myself, but if anyone happened to stop by… I discovered there was way too much to talk about, and people eager to read. In five years, […]

An interview with Scott Burns

There’s a fascinating interview with deputy drug czar Burns in The Arcata Eye. I believe the interview was conducted by Kevin Hoover.
The Arcata Eye is certainly not known for is support of the drug war, yet Burns agreed to a 25 minute interview in conjunction with some publicity-seeking busts. Hoover did a masterful job for the most part, starting off the interview as a standard media interview, but then gradually increasing the stakes. Burns was forced to scramble to keep up, thereby leaving some rather gaping holes in his answers.
Bruce Mirken at MPP blog has identified a couple of blatant lies by Burns in the interview, but those are by no means the only ones.
Some low-lights:

Eye: Do we know that? Is there enough research to indicate that it has no medical efficacy? I can bring you chemotherapy patients who would tell you that it is the only thing that suppresses their nausea and gives them an appetite. So is there nothing to what they‰re saying and feeling?
Burns: I‰m saying that maybe that, the… Anybody can say something makes me feel better anecdotally. And I hear that a lot. ‹Marijuana is the only thing that makes me feel good.Š I say you should try crack, because from what I hear, crack cocaine will make you feel really good as well. This is not about making people feel better, it‰s about as a country and the effects it will have on all of us, all 305 million of us. Because someone tells me that ‹smoking crack cocaine releases my nausea and allows me to have healthier appetite,Š does that mean that we legalize it nationwide, and that its available to kids in a greater number? We have to make those kind of policy decisions. And we ought not make them on people who say, ‹Me personally, it makes me feel better.Š

At one point the Eye mentions the argument that there hasn’t been enough formal study of marijuana as medicine, and Burns replies that there’s no need to study it — the fact that it’s smoked rules it out as serious medicine.
Later, the Eye asks about the Compassionate IND program, where the federal government supplies marijuana to grandfathered patients. Burns thinks he has a chance to score:

Burns: That goes back to the people that said, ‹You know what, we really oughta study that more.Š So we do, and we set up a program, and we give a small number of people marijuana, and I know most of them by name because they show up in every hearing that I go to and say, ‹I‰ve been smoking marijuana for years and the federal government gives me this marijuana.Š Well, that was an attempt to do what the critics said. Why don‰t we study it more?

Except, of course, that the federal government has refused to actually study those patients, because they already know what they’d find out and don’t want that public.
True colors:

Eye: Philosophically… you‰re a Constitutional law teacher, I believe?
Burns: A little bit.
Eye: …and the whole premise of America‰s freedom and self determination. How can we reconcile that with the government telling us what we can ingest and what we can‰t?
Burns: Well, I think, first of all we settled it Appomattox, the fact that we‰re gonna have this thing for the Supremacy Clause, and when push comes to shove we‰ll decide on certain issues who will prevail, the federal government or the state. And on many issues it‰s the states, and for the most part, I think most Americans would agree that it should be that way. But on some issues that affect all of us for the good of the order we have to come to some consensus. And not everybody‰s happy, are they? And every time we don‰t get to do what we want, I know there are states where they really really like to marry young girls, 12, 11, or 10 and they would argue to you, ‹How dare the federal government preclude us from engaging in certain activities?Š Well, in some instances we just say your, quote, ‹constitutional rightsŠ and your freedom to do certain things gets trumped by the rest of us who say, ‹You know that‰s just not a good idea.Š

Nothing like putting scare quotes around “constitutional rights” to make it clear what kind of American you are.

Taxpayer funded propaganda so outrageous even the DEA objects

Article by Ray Stern Did you know that 90% of drugs comes from south of the border? Neither did the DEA. So where did Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas get his “facts”? Robert Caldwell, who has a history of uninformed nonsense.

That hamster only has three legs

Maybe I’m an intellectual elitist, but sometimes I forget that they don’t require any literacy or intelligence tests to get on the internet tubes, and when reading some commenters on public fora, I find myself physically staggering from the sheer enormity of the black hole that sits right where their comprehension should be. At these […]

Must Read

Former Baltimore City police officer Peter Moskos in U.S. News and World Report today: Drugs Are Too Dangerous Not to RegulateÖWe Should Legalize Them
It’s a great piece with the right focus for a major national magazine.
On the other hand, the magazine is doing a point/counter-point on this and the other side is taken by former drug czar Lee P. Brown, who starts with the most inane, brain-dead statement imaginable.

Advocates of legalization argue that drug prohibition only makes things worse. They argue that crime, the spread of HIV, and violence are major consequences of drug prohibition. But these represent only part of the damage caused by drug use. Consider drug-exposed infants, drug-induced accidents, and loss of productivity and employment, not to mention the breakdown of families and the degeneration of drug-inflicted neighborhoods. These too are consequences of drugs.

Does he realize how stupid that is? Does he expect that the population is stupid enough to believe that paragraph makes any rational sense? Is he insulting our intelligence, or is his own simply that far gone?