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couch, the longest running single-issue blog devoted to drug policy, is published by the Prohibition Isn't Free Foundation
May 2009




I just got back a few hours ago from Chicago, where I am rehearsing a new show – The Living Canvas: Nocturne – which opens July 3 at National Pastime Theater. We’ve got an incredible cast and production team and the show is going to be amazing. Early tomorrow morning, I leave for New York, […]

Open Thread

“bullet” Jacob Sullum dismantles the Birth of a Cocaine Factoid — the supposed 5,000 cocaine deaths in 1912 — a figure often used to show how much better off we are with prohibition. “bullet” Ryan Grim at Huffington Post: Drug Czar’s Pot-Potency Claims Go Up In Smoke. Turns out the media didn’t examine that report […]

Illinois medical marijuana bill fast-tracked

Illinois residents – call your State Representative now (as in this morning). After the Illinois Senate narrowly passed SB 1381, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, the House Human Services Committee voted in favor and immediately sent it out on the floor, so a House vote is likely to happen in the […]

Getting to know the new drug czar memes (and lies)

After 7+ years of John Walters, it’s been interesting to see what difference would come (in rhetoric, if nothing else) with a new drug czar. Kerlikowske hasn’t been on board that long, but some sense of the changes in emphasis are starting to show up. 1. Marijuana just isn’t part of the discussion. Not only […]

Medical marijuana passes Illinois Senate; head of drug task force thinks it’s a bad idea

Senate approves medical marijuana bill, sends it to House

A measure legalizing medical marijuana finally made it through the state Senate on Wednesday, but a major hurdle remains before it can become Illinois law. The Senate voted 30-28 for Senate Bill 1381, giving the measure right at the 30 ‘yes’ votes needed to pass. The […]

Democratic State Party passes resolution calling for legalization of marijuana.

Full report at Raw Story

The Democratic Party Committee Abroad, otherwise known as Democrats Abroad, passed a resolution on April 25 recommending the legalization of marijuana in all 50 states.
The news appears to have gone completely unnoticed by all mainstream outlets.
The Democrats Abroad are considered a state party by the Democratic National Committee, which affords them eight elected, voting members. They help U.S. citizens who are traveling and living outside the United States cast ballots in national elections.

So yes, this is a legitimate state party within the Democratic National Committee, now on record for the legalization of marijuana. Here’s the resolution.

The Obama Administration has wisely stopped Federal prosecution of marijuana sold for medical purposes in a manner compliant with state regulation, thus alleviating the suffering of cancer patients and others who would benefit from medical marijuana.
Only thirteen states regulate the sale of marijuana for medical purposes.
Criminalization of non-medical uses of marijuana continues to contribute needlessly to organized crime at home and abroad, illicit drug trade, overburdening of the criminal justice system, and diverts valuable criminal justice resources away from more serious crimes.
The Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy heavily criticized U.S. drug policy and called on the U.S. to decriminalize marijuana in a report coinciding with increased drug-trade violence in Mexico;
The dominant argument against liberalized marijuana regulation, the gateway theory, has been consistently disproven, most recently by a RAND Corporation study commissioned by the British Parliament;
According to a World Health Organization survey conducted in 2008, the United States of America has the highest rates of marijuana use in the world.
In the Netherlands, where adult possession and purchase of small amounts of marijuana are allowed under a regulated system, the rate of marijuana use by both teenagers and adults is lower than in the U.S.
55% of Americans believe possession of small amounts of marijuana should not be a criminal offense, according to a 2005 Gallup poll.
In the U.S., almost 90% of more than 9.5 million marijuana-related arrests since 1995 were for simple possession š not manufacture or distribution.
We praise the Obama administration for its bold step to make marijuana available for medical purposes,
We call upon states that do not yet provide the reasonable regulation of medical marijuana to do so as soon as possible, to alleviate suffering wherever possible.
We recommend replacing the current policy of marijuana prohibition with a taxed and regulated system modeled on how alcohol is treated in the U.S.

The AP continues to write articles with the main point missing

There are a number of versions of this AP article by David Crary article in the papers today around the country, but all of them seem to have the same defect.
They talk about American appetites for drugs, Mexican cartels profiting, and even about supply and demand, but never once mention prohibition as a factor.

The Mexican drug cartels battling viciously to expand and survive have a powerful financial incentive: Across the border to the north is a market for illegal drugs unsurpassed for its wealth, diversity and voraciousness.
Homeless heroin addicts in big cities, ”meth heads” in Midwest trailer parks, pop culture and sports stars, teens smoking marijuana with their baby boomer parents in Vermont Ö in all, 46 percent of Americans 12 and older have indulged in the often destructive national pastime of illicit drug use.
This array of consumers is providing a vast, recession-proof, apparently unending market for the Mexican gangs locked in a drug war that has killed more than 10,780 people since December 2006. No matter how much law enforcement or financial help the U.S. government provides Mexico, the basics of supply and demand prevent it from doing much good.
”The damage done by our insatiable demand for drugs is truly astounding,” said Lloyd Johnston, a University of Michigan researcher who oversees annual drug-use surveys.

Colorful writing with strong statements that lead… nowhere. And again, all of the pieces of the puzzle are there, they just fail to put it together.
For example:

”It’s a drug dealer’s dream Ö sell it in a place where he can make the most money for the risk taken,” said Dr. H. Westley Clark, director of the federal Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. […]
”When the U.S. government turns up the pressure a lot, then is when you see a return to the old formula of saying [to Americans], ‘You also have corruption, you consume the drugs, you’re the biggest drug consumer in the world,’ ” said Jose Luis Pineyro, a sociologist at Mexico’s Autonomous Metropolitan University. […]
”People say, ‘It’s easier for me to get pot than to buy a beer,’ ” said Barbara Cimaglio, deputy commissioner of the state Health Department’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs.

Hello??? Every part of this article points to prohibition, and yet prohibition is never mentioned, let alone what might happen if prohibition were changed or eliminated.
This is irresponsible reporting. Even worse, it’s stupid reporting.
Imagine a sports reporter covering a baseball game, say between the Cubs and the Cardinals, that ended up with the Cubs winning 35-2. He goes on about how each of the Cubs had at least 3 hits (including the pitcher) and how incredibly great they all are at hitting. But he never once mentions the Cardinals’ pitching (or the fact that none of the regular pitchers were even at the ball park having all come down with the flu). He’d probably lose his job as a sports reporter.
And yet, the major newswires do this all the time when it comes to reporting the drug war.

Supreme Court gets one right

In this case, the defendant purchased a misdemeanor amount of drugs and was arrested. But then the prosecutors decided to pile on — since he had used a cell phone to contact the seller, they charged him with facilitating the sale (a felony). That’s right, they charged him with facilitating his own purchase.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court saw that as just plain silly.
Departing Justice Souter noted:

Where a transaction like a sale necessarily presupposes two parties with specific roles, it would be odd to speak of one party as facilitating the conduct of the other. A buyer does not just make a sale easier; he makes the sale possible. No buyer, no sale; the buyer‰s part is already implied by the term ‹sale,Š and the word ‹facilitateŠ adds nothing. We would not say that the borrower facilitates the bank loan.

Thanks to The Criminal Lawyer, which does a nice job of discussing the decision and has more on it, including this scathing indictment of the prosecutors:

Judgment. It‰s something we require of our prosecutors. They have people‰s lives, liberty and reputations at stake. They have victims who need justice. They work within a system that relies on them to do the right thing. So it is imperative that they have the uncommon sense to do, not what is technically allowable, but what is actually appropriate.
Not every prosecutor lives up to the challenge, of course. But lately the feds have been showing a remarkable lack of judgment. This case is just one of many in recent years where federal prosecutors have committed forehead-smacking acts of WTF.
So we have to aská WTF? Seriously. Federal prosecutors have a well-deserved reputation for being bright, dedicated, hard-working and sensible. But in case after case lately, federal prosecutors have made colossal boners of bad judgment. What‰s going on? Did we change how we hire people? Did the pool of applicants change? Did the internal culture change? We‰d like to know.


Sonia Sotomayor is to be nominated to replace Justice Souter on the Supreme Court. As far as I can tell, she seems to be a very capable choice. She is intelligent, worked hard to achieve what she has, and she has been a prosecutor, private litigator, trial judge, and appellate judge. I do not, however, […]

Fighting for the Right to Chew Coca

Like any independent country should have to fight for that right… Time Magazine has a pretty good article about the battle between the INCB/UN/US and the Andean nations who have used a natural and healthful plant for thousands of years — coca.

The latest affront, they say, is a recommendation this month from the UN’s […]