Be the donut, not the hole

bullet image Candid police voices must be heard in drug debate, by Evan Wood.

Truth is often said to be the first casualty of war, and in many ways this is true of the war on drugs. There remain critical public health areas where the gap between scientific evidence and public policy persists.

But this disparity is most evident in the response to illicit drugs — in Victoria, in Canada and around the world.

For this reason, it is unfortunate that Victoria police Const. David Bratzer was recently ordered not to share his views at a city-sponsored forum on drug policy. As a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Bratzer is well-positioned to describe how the war on drugs has resulted in a number of severe, unintended consequences.

bullet image Cannabis and the Christian Science Monitor by Norm Stamper

While the Christian Science Monitor claims not to be an instrument of evangelizing, it does include a daily religious feature and it rejects drug advertising as well as images of smoking or drinking. It should come as no surprise then that in a March 12 editorial the Monitor showered praise on the nation’s drug czar for stepping up efforts in the administration’s holy war against cannabis legalization efforts. The paper’s editorial is heavy on moralizing, light on science.

bullet image Got your thinking caps on? — Danny Chapin, who did some guest posting here asking about marijuana addiction, now has a guest post at Morning Donut.

Check it out.

bullet image Off-topic.

As always, should you or any of your IM force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck, Jim.

Another open thread.

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34 Responses to Be the donut, not the hole

  1. mikekinseattle says:

    I’ve read in a number of online articles a reference to ‘Rand sponsored research’ that says that marijuana use went up 300 percent after commercialization in the Netherlands. While I’ve seen this study bandied about in prohibitionist articles, I can’t find the original study from which this statistic was extracted. Does anybody have the link to the source document or research paper?

  2. Ripmeupacuppa says:

    I’ve never been able to find that study either.

    The Netherlands decriminalized possession and allowed small scale sales of marijuana beginning in 1976. Yet, marijuana use in Holland is half the rate of use in the USA.

  3. Ripmeupacuppa says:

    And let’s not forget Portugal’s success with decriminalization:

    Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal’s drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.,8599,1893946,00.html

  4. kaptinemo says:

    In 1979, William White wrote a paper for NIDA titled Themes in Chemical Prohibition wherein he described the tactics used by drug prohibitionists of all stripes.

    The tactics are as follows:


    A review of chemical prohibitionist literature reveals eight themes which appear to emerge from the tactics of most such movements. The tactics utilized to produce these themes are as follows:

    1. The drug is associated with a hated subgroup of the society or a foreign enemy.

    2. The drug is identified as solely responsible for many problems in the culture, i.e., crime, violence, and insanity.

    3. The survival of the culture is pictured as being dependent on the prohibition of the drug.

    4. The concept of “controlled” usage is destroyed and replaced by a “domino theory” of chemical progression.

    5. The drug is associated with the corruption of young children, particularly their sexual corruption.

    6. Both the user and supplier of the drug are defined as fiends, always in search of new victims; usage of the drug is considered “contagious.”

    7. Policy options are presented as total prohibition or total access.

    8. Anyone questioning any of the above assumptions is bitterly attacked and characterized as part of the problem that needs to be eliminated.

    Constable Bratzer is presently on the receiving end of #8. He has not received the full force of the sanctions usually applied against ‘the troops in the trenches’ who speak out against the failed ‘drug control’ policies they are forced to implement, but…it’s only a matter of time, given the prohib’s tendencies to viciously attack anyone who challenges their ‘authority’…and their meal tickets.

  5. ezrydn says:

    I didn’t know Jim was “the Thing’s” brother!

  6. Pete says:

    Mikeinseattle —

    I assume you’re referring to references like this one by Kevin Sabet:

    Rand-sponsored research reveals that in the Netherlands, where the drug is sold openly at “coffee shops,” marijuana use among young adults increased almost 300 percent after a wave of commercialization.

    I’m pretty sure he’s referring to a paper in Science by Peter Reuter and Robert MacCoun: Interpreting Dutch Cannabis Policy: Reasoning by Analogy in the Legalization Debate.

    I haven’t got access to the full article, but it’s described here: Study looks at marijuana use after enforcement penalties are dropped by Kathleen Scalise

    The Dutch also allowed sales at coffee shops, which can maintain inventories of up to 500 grams. During the early years, these shops were scarce and kept a low profile. MacCoun and Reuter argue that this initial “depenalization era” had little if any detectable effect on levels of use.

    But in the 1980s, coffee shops grew in number — by at least tenfold in Amsterdam, for instance — and became more accessible. […]

    During this latter “de facto legalization” era, the report found that “the prevalence of cannabis in Holland increased consistently and sharply.” For example among 18-year-olds, those who admitted having used the drug climbed from 15 percent in 1984 to 44 percent in 1996.

    Of course, there’s a difference between a 300% increase in use and a 300% increase in the number of people in a particular group that had tried it.

    Naturally, the removal of criminal penalties will make it much more likely for people who have no more than mild curiosity about marijuana to try it. That doesn’t mean that they become regular users.

  7. allan420 says:

    Thanks for the linkage to the Donut Pete (like the headline!). I think Denny’s post might surprise some here. I was talking w/ him by email and I think he had an exposure to perspectives he coulda rec’d nowhere else. Way to go me hearties… aaaarrrr…

  8. mikekinseattle says:

    Yes, that must be the one. Thanks Pete. I was the Sabet article where I read it recently, and when I went googling, I could only find mention of the study, not the study itself. This happens in some topics, such as politics, where writers are lazy and don’t look up source material, relying instead on other articles. Of course, those other articles are also often written by lazy writers who also found their facts in other articles. Some ‘facts’ are nothing but urban legend.

    Per usual, the prohibitionists have distorted the facts to fit their point. Why am I not surprised?

  9. claygooding says:

    Mr. Chapin did us fairly,leaving the question of addiction unanswered though,or I missed any reference of his resulting opinion as to whether marijuana had an addiction problem.
    Thanks Kap for the link and 8 reasons for prohibition.
    The sad thing is that it looks like the government has read it and applied every one too marijuana prohibition.

  10. claygooding says:

    oops,,,,tactics,not reasons

  11. mikekinseattle says:

    You know, there is one thing about the ‘300% increase’ after commercialization that might have some relevance here in the US, and related to Mr. Chapin’s post at the Morning Donut: talk about commercialization of a legal drug, you don’t have to look any farther than the beer industry. They don’t spend all of that advertising money so that people drink less.

  12. Jon Doe says:

    No surprise, cannabis legalization got the top spot on’s “Ideas for Change” again this year:

  13. Jon Doe says:

    Oddly enough, one of the other in the top ten basically calls for the prohibition of tobacco. Why are we so fucking stupid as a nation?

  14. kaptinemo says:

    Clay, actually it was a Gub’mint study,. one of the very last of an era prior to the Reagan Administration’s ramping up of the Drugwar…with the predictably catastrophic results.

    Up to that time, there had at least been a half-way pretense of objectivity on the part of the anti-drug bureaucracy, rather than the Lysenkoization of drug policy in this country courtesy of pandering to NeoCon (as opposed to traditional ‘conservative’) sensibilities that took place with Ronnie’s tenure.

    After that, it was the Sue Rusches, the Calvina Fays, the ‘Keith’ Shuchards, the Peggy Manns, etc. who were on the forefront of intensifying drug prohibition and all its’ incredibly destructive baggage (rather than the doctors and academicians who should have been the ones to formulate policy) who remind me of the quote from the Yeats poem:

    “…The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.”

    It was their ‘passionate intensity’ untempered by scientific knowledge but bolstered by what could only be called ‘control freakism’ that saddled us with the Reagan phase of the DrugWar…from which we;’ve suffered enormously as a country ever since.

    The political naivete on the part of all but Calvina Fay allowed them to be first supported and then co-opted by the at-the-time contracting anti-drug bureaucracy as led by arch-opportunist Robert DuPont. The anti-drug hysteria whipped up by these ‘concerned parents’ served the bureaucrats very well indeed, and led to the burgeoning of anti-drug bureaucratic budgets….but the money involved never reached the ‘concerned parents’, who were condescendingly patted on the head by the now money-flush bureaucrats and LE organs and dismissed, for their usefulness had come to an end.

    (All this is covered by Dam Baum’s seminal work on the subject, Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure, and even though it’s dated, I still cannot recommend it enough from a sociological view of what was happening in society at that point in time, and how wrong-headed thinking on the part of those who were ‘passionately intense’ without understanding the actual problem doomed us to the horrific 30 years that followed.)

    Hard to believe, isn’t it? We used to do honest studies on illicit drugs whose results were incorporated into national policy, But from 1980 on, it was ignorance, hysteria, political grandstanding, fiscal bureaucratic opportunism and outright suppression of inconvenient scientific facts that became the hallmark of US drug policy. Disgusting, really.

  15. kaptinemo says:

    In an aside, I should also point out that our side was not entirely blameless. In no small part thanks to the shenanigans of two integral figures of early 1970’s drug law reform, the Carter White House, which had been a reluctant ally, saw a chance to break with drug law reformers because the antics of those two people, fueled by cocaine, had alienated the Carter Administration both professionally and personally. The story of that can be found here.

    It is why I keep re-iterating over and over again that the reform movement cannot afford to be led by those whose egos cause them to believe that they are irreplaceable and, therefore, their publicly antagonizing behavior can be overlooked. We have enough trouble with the prohibs trying to give us black eyes at every opportunity, we don’t need to do this to ourselves.

  16. denmark says:

    Not so odd with the tobacco prohibition rant, it does indeed show that the moral police, whether g’ment or civilian, are alive and well.
    The idea is and should continue to be a compassionate message to detour potential future tobacco user’s from starting. And to not continue on the “punish vein” those who are addicted now or have used tobacco for years.

    Looking for some opinions:
    What organization is the one that will be the most effective in ending prohibition?
    What single person is the most effective in ending prohibition and not connected with an organization?
    Would it be productive to send money to the taxcannabis group in California group?

  17. How about a ban on cigarettes with unlabled additives?

    Is is telling abouut the concept of criminal mercantilism, that cigaretes, alcoholic benevaregs and cosmetics are exempt from labeling requirments.

  18. Ed Dunkle says:

    Chomsky has said that he expects tobacco to be illegal in the future. Given that governments love to reduce the freedoms of the citizenry, I bet he’s right. I still think it would be a major miracle if pot is legalized in California this November.

  19. Just me says:

    If you think these people asking to ban cigs is nuts…I been seeing posts in my local paper asking for alcohol to be banned ! Do these people not read or are they just that dumb? Or both? Neither? I dont know. Maybe its just prohibs trying to make confusion.

    On the Cory Haim ordeal. My local rag also reported that Haim had illegal perscription drugs in his home but, no illegal drugs were found ! Duh hello !

    So I wonder how many that statement slipped by. Are we as a nation this dumb?

  20. Just me says:

    Oh and once again thanks Pete and Danny for the great discussion!

  21. denmark says:

    Well, I was serious in my request of “Looking for some opinions”. That doesn’t mean I’d follow the opinions!

    What is troubling me is I want to be able to send my donation to the reform group that is doing the most good. I’m upset with MPP because their legislation has been less that desirable in who and what can qualify for Medical mj. To me, one foot in the grave is what I think of the present medical mj requirements, minus California.

    What single person is also a concern because again we’d like to donate to that person. We’re interested in who’s doing the greatest good. Must be you Pete!

    And the third question would be a simple yes or no response, although we want to remember that the mormons squashed the gay’s in California because of their money and influence. Certainly hope the donation, if sent, doesn’t go to waste because of the mormons involvement again.

  22. Chris says:

    Jon Doe
    March 15th, 2010 at 12:24 pm
    Oddly enough, one of the other in the top ten basically calls for the prohibition of tobacco. Why are we so fucking stupid as a nation?

    • Increase the price of tobacco products, particularly through taxation, to discourage tobacco use
    • Eliminate the illicit trade of tobacco products

    having cake and eating it too, etc.

  23. ezrydn says:

    Were you aware that there is a Customs limitation on the number of cigarettes (200 ct) that can be brought into the US? Since ours is 15 to a pack and 15 packs to a carton, it’s fun to watch Customs “finger” it out.

  24. Bruce says:

    Theres simply no stopping a determined resistance. I have seen it with the mental patients. Locked up drugged lobotomized irradiated starved welfare chopped knuckles rapped and heaped with scorn, they still manage to collect ciggy butts and rolling papers, against all Kremlinian Dogmas and insurmountable odds..

  25. DdC says:

    Outspoken Washington Medical Pot Activist Shoots Robber
    A well-known Washington state medical marijuana activist traded gunfire with robbers who invaded his home early Monday, suffering minor shotgun pellet wounds and sending one intruder to the intensive care unit of a hospital.

    Harper Ignores Taxpayer-Funded Crime Research

    Boycott Walmart for Firing Medical Marijuana Cancer Patient
    Stop Walmart from firing cancer patients for using medical marijuana by boycotting the corporate giant.

    NORML Calls For A Greener, Cleaner and Safer St. Patrick’s Day

    Change it had to come. We knew it all along. We were liberated from the fall, that’s all. But the world looks just the same. And history ain’t changed. ‘Cause the banners, they all flown in the last war. For I know that the hypnotized never lie. Do ya?. There’s nothing in the street. Looks any different to me. And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye. And the parting on the right. Is now the parting on the left.
    And the beards have all grown longer overnight… Then I’ll get on my knees and pray. We don’t get fooled again.

    Meet the new boss.jpg
    Same as the old boss

    The Obama Admin’s Anti-Marijuana Manifesto (thread)

  26. DdC says:

    Canada’s Online Town Hall Dominated by Calls for Marijuana Legalization
    Stephen Harper’s “Talk Canada” online town hall results: Top 4 voted questions all demand marijuana legalization.

    Canadian Politicians Present Thousands of Signatures In Support of Marc Emery
    CANNABIS CULTURE – Members of Parliament from the Liberal, New Democratic, and Conservative Parties of Canada presented petitions today to the House of Commons with over 12,000 signatures asking the Minister of Justice to stop the extradition of marijuana activist Marc Emery.

    Marc Emery Stop-Extradition Petitions tabled by MPs from three parties youtube

    The Petition To Stop My Extradition
    Marc Emery
    I’m pleased that a petition opposing my extradition will be introduced in the House of Commons by MP’s Libby Davies (NDP), Ujjal Dosanjh (Liberal) and Scott Reid (Conservative) between 3 pm – 4 pm (eastern)/ noon – 1 pm (pacific). Shown live on

    Mandatory penalties, says the research digest, “undermine the legitimacy of the prosecution process by fostering circumventions that are wilful and subterranean. They undermine . . . equality before the law when they cause comparably culpable offenders to be treated radically differently.”

    In simpler language, people who can afford good lawyers cop backroom plea bargains to avoid harsh mandatory sentences, while the average Joe is hit hard.

    While the goal of the government-funded project is to “focus . . . on research that is policy relevant,” and provide a “general education” to those interested in criminal justice policy, the Harper government doesn’t appear to be listening.

  27. kaptinemo says:

    Once again, the past is prologue; tobacco prohibition had already been predicted, by Professor Whitebread. It’s almost at the very end when he says:

    “It starts with “You know, they shouldn’t smoke, they are killing themselves.” Then it turns, as it has — you see the ads out here — “They shouldn’t smoke, they are killing us.” And pretty soon, that class division will happen, we will have the legislatures full of tomorrow’s movers and kickers and they are going to say just what they are going to say any time now. “You know, this has just gotta stop, and we got an answer for it.” We are going to have a criminal statute that forbids the manufacture, sale, or possession of tobacco cigarettes, or tobacco products period….

    …Ready? What are we going to have? You know what we are going to have. One day — when’s it gonna happen, ten years, fifteen? — some legislator will get up and, just as though it had never been said before, “You know we gotta solve this smoking problem and I got a solution — a criminal prohibition against the manufacture, sale, or possession of tobacco cigarettes.” And then you know what happens. Then everybody who did want a cigarette here today, if there is anyone here who smokes, you are going to have to hide in the bathroom. And cigarettes are no longer going to be three dollars a pack, they are going to be three dollars a piece. And who’s going to sell them to you? Who will always sell them to you? The people who will sell you anything — organized crime. You got the concept, we will go through the whole darn thing again because I am telling you this country is hooked on the notion of prohibition.

    Yepper, that damnable urge to control, control, control…all for THEIR own good, of course. Whitebread’s Iron Law of Prohibition: Prohibitions are always enacted by US, to govern the conduct of THEM. But when THEY become US, as in our own children, then the laws get scrapped.

    That is, unless we let the bureaucracy that grows up around those laws get too big for it’s britches and it resists attempts to change,. Then an outside force (the economy) plays a role to break the stalemate…as is happening with lumbering slowness – until a major crunch comes, and then the whole rotten edifice will come tumbling down. That’s what we face. That’s what our opponents face. And time is on our side.

  28. denmark says:

    Sorry if I asked the wrong questions.

    • Pete says:

      I don’t think you’re asking the wrong questions at all, denmark. I think the readers just aren’t sure that they have the right answers for you.

      Who you give to is a very personal decision. Personally, I think that there are a lot of worthy groups in drug policy reform. I’m a big fan of what’s being done these days by LEAP and COPS and SSDP. As far as individuals go, I have a bit of a soft spot for myself, but I’m a huge fan of the critical work done by Radley Balko. Regarding the California referendum, I don’t know enough about the organization managing it to tell you if the money will be used properly, but I can say that it could be a huge victory if they’re successful.

      Does that help?

  29. denmark says:

    Yes it does help, thank you.
    We do belong to LEAP and recently contributed to COPS. Not sure about SSDP, have been mulling that one around.

    We’re so darn lucky to have some money to give. We’re not rich, just manage our income well.

  30. denmark says:

    HARTFORD, Conn. – In a Hollywood-style heist, thieves cut a hole in the roof of a warehouse, rappelled inside and scored one of the biggest hauls of its kind — not diamonds, gold bullion or Old World art, but about $75 million in antidepressants and other prescription drugs.

    The pills — stolen from the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. in quantities big enough to fill a tractor-trailer — are believed to be destined for the black market, perhaps overseas.

    It’s a yahoo news story.

  31. DdC says:

    What is troubling me is I want to be able to send my donation to the reform group that is doing the most good.

    Update from Jeannie Herer – 3/4/10
    I’m thrilled to tell you all, Jack finally came home yesterday! Thanks everybody for all your help. I’ll be super busy with him for a while, but will start updating more as things settle down. He’s already much more happy and relaxed.

    NOTE: To help with financial expenses, donations are accepted at all US Bank branches, make your deposit to:
    For more information, email

    Jack Herer Latest Video – Hempstalk 2009 U2b

    “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”

    Marijuana and right-wing politics get together
    Mason Tvert and Jon Caldara sign on to lawsuit about ballot petitions

    Medical Marijuana User Sues After Being Fired

  32. DdC says:

    And the bewildered herd is still believing
    Everything we’ve been told from our birth
    Hell they won’t lie to me
    Not on my own damn TV
    But how much is a liars word worth
    And What Ever Happened To Peace On Earth?
    ~Willie Nelson

    You’ve Got Mail: Marijuana Shipments Skyrocket
    Mar 17 2010
    ABC NEWS: According to U.S. government officials, more marijuana is now being shipped through the U.S. Mail than in recent memory. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, whose seizures of marijuana parcels have increased by more than 400 percent since 2007, says increased seizures almost always indicate a much larger crop being shipped.

    Marijuana Cultivation in Mexico Rises 35%
    Despite a bloody drug war, marijuana cultivation in Mexico increased 35% in 2008 and continues to grow.

    Prohibition Fails to Reduce Teen Pot Use
    Supposed increases in marijuana use by teens, if statistics from a new poll are correct, show that drug prohibition isn’t working.

    DEA Marijuana Seizures Nearly Double
    The total amount of marijuana seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration nearly doubled from 1,539 metric tons in fiscal 2008 to 2,980 metric tons in last year.

    Eradicated Marijuana Is 98 Percent Ditchweed (burlap)

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