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January 2009
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Open Thread

“bullet” Lee has completed his series on the Drug War at HA Seattle. Here’s the recap:

“bullet” Maia Szalavitz notes that progressive politicians are actually pushing Obama to make some good decisions regarding drug policy (at least in some areas)

with Bush holdovers trying to push the UN to drop support for needle exchange and other harm reduction programs in its document to set drug policy for the next ten years, I am beginning to lose hope.
Amazingly, however, progressives in Congress (!) are speaking out about the possible UN fiasco — sending a letter to our new UN Ambassador Susan Rice to protest the actions of these officials. Reps. Henry Waxman, Jose Serrano and Barbara Lee write:

Unfortunately, we understand that the U.S. delegation in Vienna has been actively blocking the efforts of some of our closest allies — including the European Union — to incorporate into the declaration reference to harm reduction measures such as needle exchange. We find it hard to understand how the U.S. delegation could object to language which would not obligate any country to adopt particular policies with which it disagrees.

“bullet” Jacob Sullum notes the absurdity of the paraphernalia laws with his helpful article You Can Put Your Weed in There — What to do after the last head shop closes. Got any ideas to add?
“bullet” The Last DEA Agent Leaves the United States Bolivia. Oh, well, I can dream. If Bolivia can do it, why can’t we? Meanwhile, the DEA sends me an email telling me that in honor of their 35th year, they have published “The Drug Enforcement Administration, A Tradition of Excellence 1973-2008.” The title is inspiring me to write an autobiography titled “Pete Guither, Millionaire Movie Star.”
“bullet” Grits for Breakfast: If Barack Obama wants bipartisanship, he should remove Byrne grants from the stimulus package
“bullet” Hey, Man. Where Have You Guys Been? – the New York Times does a little feature on Cheech and Chong.
“bullet” Bruce Schneier explains why the Supreme Court’s weakening of the exclusionary rule in Herring v. U.S.

Increasingly, data accuracy is vital to our personal safety and security. And if errors made by police databases aren’t held to the same legal standard as errors made by policemen, then more and more innocent Americans will find themselves the victims of incorrect data.

“bullet” State Budget Deficit May Aid Marijuana Reform Effort. Note to the basement stoners who agreed to be videotaped in the accompanying video: you’re not really helping.
“bullet” Glenn Greenwald notes that we have a two-tiered justice system

Our political class has embraced mandatory minimum sentencing schemes as a way to eliminate mercy and sentencing flexibility for ordinary people who break the law (as opposed to Bush officials who do). […]
But what makes it so much worse, so much more corrupted, is the fact that this “ignore-the-past-and-forget-retribution” rationale is invoked by our media elites only for a tiny, special class of people — our political leaders — while the exact opposite rationale (“ignore their lame excuses, lock them up and throw away the key”) is applied to everyone else.

“bullet” Editorial: Drugs Are Bad, But They’re Good Enough

Maybe we’re at a place where we can talk about the issue without shrillness or hyperbole, because everyone can admit something definitely isn’t right. […]
There’s no easy or good answer, to this or most things in life. Alcohol probably has an overall degenerative effect on our society. But, prohibition’s effect was worse, and we have rightly chosen the lesser evil, regulated and taxed it. Doing so hasn’t made the country a utopia or solved all problems in the criminal justice system, but a modern Al Capone can’t build an empire with alcohol, either.

“bullet” DrugSense Weekly
“bullet” “drcnet”

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