Open Thread

bullet image Follow-up on the Ashley III Halsey story… As a reminder, Halsey reported, as the main point of his story, that a government study said something which it clearly did not. This is not a he-said-he-said situation, or something that’s open to interpretation. Either he was duped or he was lazy, but he clearly wrote something that was factually wrong, and then got angry when asked to correct it.

It appears now that the Washington Post ombudsman isn’t going to do anything to correct it. It’s a small thing in the big picture, but it would have been nice to hold a reporter accountable, if for no other reason than to get them to be more wary of being duped by the Drug Czar.

One additional story to give you a look into the world of the reporter… A friend of mine wrote Ashley and the Ombudsman about this whole thing, and instead of actually reading the study that he had reported on, Ashley defended himself in an email exchange by claiming (to Andy Anderson, the Ombudsman) to have gotten the information directly from the Drug Czar and by demonizing his critics as drug policy reformers.


Just so you know, Mr. Allured is a drug decriminalization advocate, former president of his college’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws and the Students for Sensible Drug Policy. It’s not clear to me whether he’s actually read the story or just the excerpt presented by a blogger who writes something called the “DrugRant.” In any case, as the story said, the 11 percent figure came from Gil Kerlikowske, the current Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, who spoke at the event I covered. Kerlikowske’s number actually was lower than the number contained in the report that Allured would have you read. Judging from a quick look at the writings of Allured and other advocates, there seems to be general agreement among them that figures presented by federal officials are distorted.
Below is a bit of background from Allured’s undergrad days.


He then included an old news story from 2005 about Ryan Allured helping organize a marijuana legalization event.

Ryan responded the only proper way.

Halsey is correct; I am an advocate of drug policy reform. However, this has nothing to do with my objections to the factual inaccuracies in his article. This is a classic example of an ad hominem fallacy. Instead of responding to my actual argument, he has done nothing but attack my character (if one subscribes to the fact that being a drug policy reform advocate is negative). My argument still stands. Halsey blatantly misrepresented the findings of the NHTSA report. If his primary source for the figure was the drug czar, then would it not be a good idea to check the facts behind the statement? I have always been under the impression that it is the responsibility of the media to check the government, rather than reporting their statements as absolute truths…

bullet image Good OpEd in the Sydney Morning Herald by Duncan Fine: Drug haze needs straight talking

Marijuana was legal in the United States until 1937. Meanwhile from 1920 to 1933 the sale of alcohol was banned under the US constitution.

Many people seem to take a good versus evil approach to illicit drugs. But then based on this quick history of drug use, how can they answer the question that I just know my son will ask me one day soon – how can a drug be evil one year and good the next?

And here’s another question I’m sure he’s going to ask me – if illicit drugs are such a scourge on society then why do so many seemingly respectable, intelligent people take them?

While you’re mulling over a response to that one, here’s another. Isn’t it hopelessly hypocritical to continue with the simplistic dichotomy of legal drugs good, illicit drugs bad, when out of the $40 billion economic costs of drug use, tobacco accounts for 60 per cent, alcohol 22 per cent, and illicit drugs merely 17 per cent?

The failure to come up with intelligent persuasive answers to these questions is the key reason the war on drugs has failed – because a smart 10-year-old boy can see it is totally disconnected with the reality of modern life.

bullet image Split Decision in N.J. Medical Marijuana Trial Good news, but with a nasty piece in it…

But any crack in the wall against medical marijuana does not go down well with many drug addiction experts. A block from the courthouse in Somerville, the feeling at the Somerset Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency is that medical marijuana may lead to increased recreational use of pot.
Executive Director Sharon Lutz quoted a recent study at the University of Michigan that draws that conclusion. “It’s(marijuana use) going to skyrocket once this occurs and you’ve seen it in other states that have passed it,” said Lutz. “There’s no way to monitor it and the message to the kids is ‘Yes, this is OK, it’s safe, it’s medically used, then I can do it,'” she added.

Another complete lie, this time promulgated by NIDA — there was nothing in that study that could possibly lead to that conclusion.

bullet image You Can’t Handle the Truth, by Mark Pothier in the Boston Globe. Worth reading.

bullet image Director Kerlikowske calls for “smarter” approach to address the Nation’s drug problems Unfortunately, it was unclear if the Drug Czar was listening, or actually understood the words Kerlikowske spoke.

bullet image DrugSense Weekly – a weekly review of the most interesting or relevant articles in the press and on the web related to drug policy reform.

bullet imageDrug War Chronicle – weekly update of drug war news and analysis from Stop the Drug

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23 Responses to Open Thread

  1. Mike R says:

    Headline: Debating Medical Marijuana Causes More Teens to Smoke Pot


    Debating Medical Marijuana Causes More Kids to Tell the Truth About Somking Pot

    Or, more simply

    Debating Medical Marijuana Results in More Accurate Surveys.

  2. MIKE says:


  3. Shap says:

    Read the Boston globe piece on Nutt. At many points in the article someone states that lists and scientists are great and all but at some point their opinions should be put aside. WTF, put aside. How about they should be considered on the same if not a higher level as other considerations. I’m sick of hearing how they’re opinions are somehow so theoretical and thus seriously lacking. As if what they believe is overly idealistic or fantasy. Fucking rediculous.

  4. daksya says:

    Pete, about this, “It appears now that the Washington Post ombudsman isn’t going to do anything to correct it.“: what did the ombudsman say to you?

  5. Tim says:

    The message is clear. Reformers should this lazy and dishonest reporter if he ever comes asking for a quote. His personal bias toward the reform movement shows and it appears that he’s too arrogant to look at the facts.

  6. Tim says:

    Another thing: do you think it’s likely that the ONDCP fed him that information? Is Kevin Sabet or some other underling of Gil’s developing detailed intelligence dossiers on reformers, in the style of opposition research, to discredit people? I wonder if a FOIA request for money spent on this type of activity is in order…

  7. nooseMygoose says:

    The whole thing hasn’t done Ashley’s CredRank a lot of good; it now stands at 46.98% Less than a week ago it was over 98%

    Don’t, whatever you do, lower it anymore or he’ll be very cross with us {:>)

  8. Kittentitties says:

    Just found something:
    “An Open Letter to Ashley Halsey III and the Washington Post Editorial Staff”

    seems like he makes a habit of it!

  9. malcolmkyle says:

    I’ve just sent Ashley a nice email:

    Your support for prohibition -A human rights and social justice atrocity- is perverse Mr Halsey, and your article titled, ‘Holiday Checkpoints’ published 2009-12-07 is a text book example of such perversion; the prejudices and fears that you exhibit bear scant relation to reality.
    How can you fail to see that Prohibition is a gross affront to basic human rights and human decency?
    How can you fail to understand that prohibition has created massive amounts of destruction to all aspects of society?
    How can you not desire a saner policy based on facts rather than reefer madness?
    How can you refuse to help undo the massive amounts of damage caused by this failed policy?
    Surely it’s not to late, for even you, to take that first step towards acknowledging the disastrous consequences of this current policy and the gross miss-information that you help to spread?
    It is time Mr Halsley to put the drug cartels out of business by ending prohibition, for to assist, like you do, with continuing this failed policy, is to plunge deeper into Loserville.

  10. Pete says:


    Andy (the Ombudsman) just sent me a note after I wrote him saying “Mr. Guither. Thanks. I’ll take a look.” After the three-way exchange with Ryan and Ashley, the Ombudsman dropped in a simple “Ashley, Thanks. Helpful.” He did not respond to Ryan’s follow-up note, and I haven’t followed up.

    I could be wrong, but with the time passing, I’m interpreting Andy’s terse reply as acceptance that Halsey had gotten information from the Drug Czar and passed it on and that was sufficient.

    By the way folks, while I agree that Halsey’s actions toward myself and towards Ryan were extremely unprofessional, and that he lacks integrity as a reporter, I’m not looking to turn this into some kind of vendetta. I think we’ve made our point.

    We’ll have plenty of other battles. And now Ashley knows that there are a whole bunch of fact-checkers out there in the drug policy reform community. He may just be a little more careful next time.

  11. stacks says:


    i am actually the writer of that article on UDotheDishes and wanted to thank you for pointing this info out to me. maybe another story is in order…

  12. SisterZombie says:

    Stacks; please do!

  13. DdC says:

    Here’s a sobering thought for the festive party season – alcohol is more dangerous than Ecstasy and LSD, and would be a class B drug if put forward for official approval today.

    Hundreds of Minnesota fishing guides, outfitters and tour operators are facing expensive safety regulations enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard that include, among other things, random drug testing.

    Beyond Prohibition Foundation by Jacob Hunter
    McGill Study shows no damage to adults from extreme marijuana use

    Adults that use marijuana daily face no brain damage or neuro-chemical changes a study from McGill University suggests. Researchers at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre gave daily doses of an extremely potent and highly concentrated synthetic cannabinoid agonist.

    Pot Legalization: An Idea No Self-Respecting Capitalist Can Resist?
    What with the deep divide between Democrats and Republicans on a range of issues these days, might the push to legalize marijuana galvanize erstwhile political opponents to rally behind the issue?

    Marijuana Grower With MS Guilty, Faces 5-10 Years
    John Ray Wilson was found guilty of manufacturing and possession and faces 5-10 years, but was found not guilty of a charge that carries a potential 20-year sentence.

  14. BruceM says:

    So Brittany Murphy, 32 year old actress, died today. How long before her death is blamed on drugs?

    (yeah it’s a trick question – the answer is “as long as it takes for the tox screen to come back). Even if no drugs are found in her system, SOMEONE will say they saw her using pot, taking a xanax, whatever… and tada – it becomes a drug related death and another “lesson” to make an example of.

    • Pete says:

      Bruce — who’s waiting for the tox screen?


      In a post on Twitter, Hilton writes: “Dear @LindsayLohan and Courtney Love, wake up!!!! Please go to rehab again and GET IT TOGETHER before it’s too late! R.I.P. Brittany Murphy.” In another tweet, Hilton simply states: “Drugs kill.” […]

      Questions are still surrounding Murphy death and a autopsy is scheduled for Monday. Many speculate that Murphy death is the result of her battle with diabetics while others feel that it is the result of what caused the deaths of many other stars this year…drugs.

      Did Brittany Murphy die because of drugs?

      Several years ago actress Brittany Murphy had been slated as the voice of Tinker Bell.
      When she lost the job, one of the reported reasons was rumored drug use. In addition after Ashton Kutcher ended their relationship she married a man who was embroiled in legal troubles.
      Because of her young age (32) and reports that she had been acting erratically at premieres, the question of whether drugs played a role in her untimely death is one that will undoubtedly be answered in the coming days.

      …. and lots more

  15. DdC says:

    I assumed Anorexia. Possibly blew up her heart with diet pharmaceuticals and Lo cal synthetic foods. Pot would have stimulated her appetite. Beanpole’s are hep in hairywood, The skeleton look’s all the rage. DEAth worriers have no issues with the plastic people injecting Botox, a neurotoxin to remove wrinkles. Something hemp oil does, a schedule#1 non-psychoactive narcotic. 98% of the “marihuana” eradications. Saveding the kiddies from burlap. Starlet’s plumping injections for their lips, OKay Dokay with Kinky Czar Kurly. Cadaver Fascia, Synthetics, Cow collagen, or your own collagen. Pro choice. Hylaform and Restylane, products that contain hyaluronic acid, a substance that is found in the body. Oh well then, that clinches it. But not cannabinoids? Aspartame fastracked by the Donald Rumsfeld, CEO Searle Pharmaceuticals. Years as a hazardous substance, bacteria shit, who’d a thunk it? Now added to the diet coca leaf cola’s, contributing to the war on drugs and terrorism. It’s sweet as Saccharin, made from coal tar by Monsanto, parent of Searle.

    Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. Many of these reactions are very serious including seizures and death. A few of the 90 different documented symptoms listed in the report as being caused by aspartame include: Headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain. The risk to infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly and persons with certain chronic health problems from excitotoxins are great. Great? Aspartic Acid is 40 percent of Aspartame. The damage that is caused by the ingestion of excessive aspartic acid from aspartame. Have been shown to be contributed to a few of the many chronic illnesses that include:

    Multiple sclerosis (MS) * ALS * Memory loss * Hormonal problems * Hearing loss * Epilepsy * Alzheimer’s disease * Parkinson’s disease * Hypoglycemia * AIDS * Dementia * Brain lesions * Neuroendocrine disorders

    Ganja has been attributed to possible lowering of shame levels, even laughing out loud in public. Stepping out of life stations. Questioning. Co-Mingling. Can cause foods to taste better and adds humility by the appreciation of a simple drink of cold water. Living simply buying locally. Slippery slope to full blown uppity. Then in some cases, Ideas. Individualism and in extreme cases, Independence…

    The dangers of aspartame poisoning
    have been a well guarded secret since the 1980s.

    The lack of dangers using Ganja,
    has been a well guarded secret since the 1930’s.

    Cannabis Shrinks Tumors: Government Knew in 74

    The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was a well guarded secret until the 90’s

    Multiple sclerosis (MS) patient faces 10 years. For self medicating with Ganja. 17 plants. Superior Court Judge Robert Reed had ruled that the validity of medical marijuana was a matter for the Legislature and inadmissible in court. 404 Protecting the jury from confusion.
    No Free Speech Beyond This Point. Silence – Order!
    Beware of the Healthy, they do not pay tribute!

  16. BruceM says:

    Pete: I guess that answers my question: instantly.

  17. malcolmkyle says:

    There are 3 comments posted on Ashley’s article at NewsCred:

    Michael Dempsey says:
    2009-12-12 16:44:25

    Ashley failed to fully investigate this article. The NHSTA (the organization responsible for overseeing our nation’s truck drivers) feels that residual evidence of marijuana use does not indicate current influence of that drug. Ashley has done his readers a remarkable disservice in publishing this poor level of journalism. Perhaps the Post would be a better venue for future work. Oh, BTW, I own a trucking company and am keenly aware of the risks associated with impaired driving. This is not a matter to be taken (or reported) lightly.

    bob wiley says:
    2009-12-15 11:05:38

    Ashley, trace presence of a drug is not a reliable method of measuring impairment. It only indicates that the substance was used sometime in the past. Please stop passing along the propaganda of the prohibition agents at ONDCP.

    Jesse Vetrone says:
    2009-12-16 05:45:30

    As stated, the drug czars office (ONDCP) habitually puts out skewed facts to trick journalists into writing scare stories like this one. You’ve been duped my friend, and I hope that feeling of “being used” leaves a lasting impression on you and how you view your responsibility as a journalist to truly research and present facts. people in this country are PISSED about the state of the media and if you’re not careful people will tear you apart. Best wishes, your friend, Jesse

  18. malcolmkyle says:

    and Ashley’s overal CredRank is now 41.91 -way too high by my reckoning!

  19. Ripmeupacuppa says:

    You guys really should learn how to show a poor hard working crooked journalist some mercy; you’ve bludgeoned Halsley’s CredRank down to 37.55%

    Still some way to go though:

  20. i read somewhere on the internet that long term consumption of Aspartame is not really good for the health. “::

  21. Adam Moore says:

    aspartame is known to cause cancer in laboratory animals so be careful’*”

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