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June 2009



Odds and Ends

Some good stuff that may have slipped through the cracks…
“bullet” An embarrassing interview with the drug czar — Scott Morgan

Rolling Stone‘s June issue takes an in-depth look at the evolving political climate surrounding drug policy (a portion is available online), including a deliciously embarrassing visit with drug czar Gil Kerlikowske. Remember Kerlikowske’s recent statement about not calling it a “war on drugs” anymore? Well, guess what he’s got in his office:

ádespite this sudden outbreak of sanity, rumors of the drug war’s death are greatly exaggerated. Visitors to the drug czar’s office in Washington — formally known as the Office of National Drug Control Policy — are greeted by the visage of Uncle Sam on a poster declaring, WE ARE AT WAR. ARE YOU DOING ALL YOU CAN?

You really couldn‰t ask for a better exhibit in the total incoherence and rank dishonesty of the drug czar’s claim that our drug policy isn‰t a war. I don’t blame him for trying and it’s certainly encouraging that we’ve reached a point at which the drug war is so controversial that they’re trying to change its name. But how could they possibly forget to take down the damn sign? I mean, really, did they forget that Rolling Stone was stopping by?

This really shows the total incoherence and dysfunction that is our federal drug policy.
“bullet” Take that, Governor. Rhode Island passed a bill to allow a small number of “compassion centers” — medical marijuana dispensaries — to give patients a legal means of purchasing their medicine. Governor Carcieri vetoed the bill. So the Senate voted to override the veto 35-3, and the House went 67-0.
That’s power. Rhode Island gets its dispensaries, and Carcieri looks weak for opposing them.
“bullet” Radley Balko is interviewed at The Atlantic on law and order, non-knock raids, etc. Part 1 — Part 2 — Part 3. (they’re very short – could easily have been done in one).
“bullet” Credit where credit is due. I have often taken the AP to task for their articles on marijuana and drug policy, but this one, which has been widely circulated in papers all across the country, is remarkably good!

What if God Smoked Cannabis

Bad Science

It’s remarkable how much truly bad science is related to marijuana research. The latest is this: Evaluation of the DNA damaging potential of cannabis cigarette smoke by the determination of acetaldehyde derived N2-ethyl-2′-deoxyguanosine adducts by Singh R, Sandhu J, Kaur B, Juren T, Steward WP, SegerbÉck D, Farmer PB
Now, some science monkey is likely to come along at this point and say “How dare you call it bad science? Do you know more than these researchers? Have you studied their work?” No. But it’s bad science. And I can tell by reading the final sentence of their abstract:

In conclusion, these results provide evidence for the DNA damaging potential of cannabis smoke, implying that the consumption of cannabis cigarettes may be detrimental to human health with the possibility to initiate cancer development.

The mere fact that they are implying negative possibilities about cannabis consumption in a scientific abstract makes it science by press release, which is, by definition, bad science.
They know, based on such a statement alone, that sensationalist media all over the world will give them publicity for their work without even looking at it.
They also know that they have absolutely no evidence that supports such conjectures — all they have is an interesting little datum of scientific trivia that says nothing, but may lead to further research. That, however, doesn’t get them in the papers.
Listen, I could conduct a study where I injected marijuana mixed with air into the bloodstream of rats causing all of them to die (from the injected air, of course), and end my abstract with a statement that this study implicates the possibility that THC in the bloodstream causes death. And Fox News would have a headline.
Just like they have today: Marijuana Not Only Gets You High, It Damages Your DNA

Researchers at the University of Leicester in England have found “convincing evidence” that pot smoke damages DNA in ways that could potentially increase the risk of cancer.

Paul Armentano does a nice job of taking down the Fox article.

Just for the record, in 2006, Tashkin led the largest population case-control study (yes, Dr. Tashkin actually performed research on humans, not ‘calf thymus DNA‰) ever to assess the use of marijuana and lung cancer risk. The study, which included more than 2,200 subjects (1,212 cases and 1,040 controls), reported that marijuana smoking was not positively associated with cancers of the lung or upper aerodigestive tract — even among individuals who reported smoking more than 22,000 joints during their lifetime.
Let the folks at Fox put that in their pipe and smoke it. [emphasis added]

It happens every time.
To be honest, it’s depressingly unrealistic to expect more of the media. They love this crap. But those who work in scientific fields must start holding their colleagues to some kind of standard of professionalism. This is intellectual dishonesty at its worst.

Another installment of ‘The Company You Keep’

It really does get interesting to see who comes out of the woodwork to defend prohibition. And more and more, they’re the real nut cases.
John English: The Drug War

Marijuana is a life and death issue for your children. Drug use is not a game! Users are thoroughly out of control! Their myopic mindset sees only it‰s hedonistic desire. They have come to hate law enforcement, those who respect it and would bring about the end of civilized society if let be.

English also wrote yesterday: Medical marijuana

The societal ills, attributable to marijuana, warrant keeping it illegal! The term, ‹Medical marijuanaŠ is a misnomer. Plain and simple, legalization is a dangerous scam and needs to be exposed as such! It‰s no more a medicine than is the elixir a snake-oil salesman sold off the back of his covered wagon — the one that mixed opium with alcohol! Marijuana has been intentionally misrepresented to be medicinal, by those who want to get high, without incurring the consequences.

Of course, this is not anyone of real significance, but he is the caliber of most of those today who write in favor of continued (or increased) prohibition.
See Ted Nugent: Ted Nugent: We could be winning war on drugs

Legalizing drugs would be like pouring gasoline on a blazing fire in hopes of extinguishing it.
We have all the laws we need to fight drugs. What America needs is the willpower and a renewed warrior spirit to crush evil and evil-doers. […]
Every American who smokes dope, manufactures, buys or sells meth or uses any illegal drug is aiding and abetting the enemies of America. Case closed.
This spiritual inbreeding and cannibalism must be identified, admitted and stopped immediately. America can and must do this. Good over evil. Next.

This is pure crazy.
When you look at these, and then read the statements of the supposedly ‘sane’ prohibitionists out there, you start to realize that there’s not really that much difference…
Kevin Sabet: The price of legalizing pot is too high

What is rarely discussed, however, is that the likely increase in marijuana prevalence resulting from legalization would probably increase the already high costs of marijuana use in society. Accidents would increase, healthcare costs would rise and productivity would suffer.

In sections, he at least sounds more reasonable than Ted Nugent, John English, or Stephen Baldwin (and has a better sense of grammar), yet when you analyze the content, the disconnect from reality (and lack of interest in facts) is palpable, and has little difference from the crazies.
Interestingly, in the Sabet article, you get the impression that he’s trying to line up with Caulkins and Kleiman. Make of that what you will.

Congressman wants to outlaw Koosh

Who could be against this fun little stress-relieving ball? Well, apparently, according to WGN ‘reporter’ Judie Garcia, that would be Illinois Representative Mark Kirk.

It also sells for more on the street, and on the street, it’s commonly known as “koosh.” “Koosh is a modified marijuana that delivers up to ten times the […]

MAPinc needs volunteer editors

This could be a great opportunity for some DrugWarRant readers with a little extra time. MAP is a great resource for the drug policy reform community, but can’t exist without the people who actually sort through all the incoming drug policy articles. Here’s a note from MAP’s Senior Editor Richard Lake:

As many of you […]

Drugs Won the War

That’s the title of Nicholas Kristof’s new column in the New York Times

This year marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon‰s start of the war on drugs, and it now appears that drugs have won. […]
Here in the United States, four decades of drug war have had three consequences:
First, we have vastly increased the proportion of our population in prisons. […]
Second, we have empowered criminals at home and terrorists abroad. […]
Third, we have squandered resources. […]

The movement to reform is unmistakable and unstoppable. It’s just a matter of when and how much dishonest interference the entrenched drug warriors can lay down.

[Thanks, Tom!]

Open Thread

“bullet” Must read: Ethan Nadelmann Hey Progressives: Why Don’t you Care About the ‘Drug War’ Like You Care About Other Issues? [Thanks, Jackl] “bullet” Charlie Lynch sentenced.

Charlie Lynch was sentenced to one year and one day in jail for operating a medical marijuana clinic that was legal under California state law. U.S. District […]

U.S. silenced World Health Organization report on cocaine

Transform has the story:

The largest ever study of cocaine use around the globe was carried out in the early 90’s by the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) and funded by the UN Inter-regional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), but under pressure from the US its publication was suppressed when it became clear the […]

Blog Recovery

I apologize for the lack of posts this past two weeks. In addition to my being extremely busy in New York last week, and in Aspen, Colorado this week, my computer suffered a nervous breakdown. I thought I was going to be able to solve it by re-installing the system software, but the problem was […]