Department of Justice: We have met the enemy, and he is us

The Department of Justice just released the National Drug Threat Assessment 2010 and reading it is a Kafkaesque experience.

I started with the ironically titled “Impact of Drugs on Society.” Ironically, because just about all of it was really about the impact of the drug war on society.

The Consequences of Illicit Drug Use

The consequences of illicit drug use are widespread, causing permanent physical and emotional damage to users and negatively impacting their families, coworkers, and many others with whom they have contact. […]

Colombian Cocaine Producers Increase Use of a Harmful Cutting Agent. Since late 2007, cocaine has increasingly contained levamisole, a pharmaceutical agent that typically is used for livestock deworming.

Reality check… That’s pretty clearly an example of damage caused by prohibition and unregulated drugs, and a good argument for legalization.

Impact on Crime and Criminal Justice Systems

The consequences of illicit drug use impact the entire criminal justice system, taxing resources at each stage of the arrest, adjudication, incarceration, and post-release supervision process.

Reality check…. Uh, how is drug use taxing the system? Are the drugs making you arrest people? Then stop taking them. Are you simply arresting too many people who use drugs? Then stop arresting them. It’s really pretty simple, and a good argument for legalization.

Impact on Productivity

There is a great loss of productivity associated with drug-related premature mortality. In 2005, 26,858 deaths were unintentional or undetermined-intent poisonings; in 2004, 95 percent of these poisonings were caused by drugs.

Reality check. Really? You’re counting the lost productivity of dead people. But wait—it gets better…

The approximately one-quarter of offenders in state and local correctional facilities and the more than half of offenders in federal facilities incarcerated on drug-related charges represent an estimated 620,000 individuals who are not in the workforce. The cost of their incarceration therefore has two components: keeping them behind bars and the results of their nonproductivity while they are there.

Reality check… Wow. They’re actually blaming the loss of productivity of drug war prisoners and the cost of prison itself on drugs. Amazing. And another good argument for legalization.

Impact on the Environment

The environmental impact of illicit drugs is largely the result of outdoor cannabis cultivation and methamphetamine production.

Reality check…. And why is that? Oh, yeah, because of prohibition. And yes, yet another good argument for legalization.

Some years back I was visiting an agrarian planet in the Delta Pavonis system, and they had an unusual policy that made being a redhead illegal. Whenever a ginger was spotted, they would send out government operatives to hit the person in the head with a glard (similar to a baseball bat but used for cooking). About once a year (7 earth months), the leaders would hold a special gathering of citizens and talk about the evils of redheads. This mostly involved stories of how their beatings wasted the time of government operatives, plus the problems of damaged glards, and the need to constantly clean up the scattered brain matter of glarded gingers.

None of them even considered the possibility of changing the policy, and when I tried to explain to them that their law made no sense, they sent for the glards, so I hoofed it out of there.

One month later, they were wiped out by a passing comet.

So, anyway, back to earth… just how is that drug war going according to the Department of Justice? Since they’ve been giving argument after argument for legalization, they must have some conclusion that shows that the drug war works. Right?

The growing strength and organization of criminal gangs, including their growing alliances with large Mexican DTOs, has changed the nature of midlevel and retail drug distribution in many local drug markets, even in suburban and rural areas. As a result, disrupting illicit drug availability and distribution will become increasingly difficult for state and local law enforcement agencies. In many of these markets, local independent dealers can no longer compete with national-level gangs that can undersell local drug distributors. Previously, state and local law enforcement agencies could disrupt drug availability in their areas, at least temporarily, by investigating and dismantling local distribution groups. But well-organized criminal gangs are able to maintain a stronger, more stable drug supply to local markets and to quickly replace distributors when individual gang members or entire distribution cells are arrested. Significantly disrupting drug distribution in smaller drug markets will increasingly require large-scale multijurisdictional investigations, most likely necessitating federal law enforcement support.

Without a significant increase in drug interdiction, seizures, arrests, and investigations that apply sustained pressure on major DTOs, availability of most drugs will increase in 2010, primarily because drug production in Mexico is increasing.

Congratulations to the U.S. Department of Justice. You are masters of self-delusion, completely oblivious to the obvious fact that you have met the enemy.

And he is you.

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23 Responses to Department of Justice: We have met the enemy, and he is us

  1. Bailey says:

    You think maybe the guy writing policy and the guy testing drug seizures is the same guy?

    How unfair of me, its the guy making the seizures, the guy selling drug testing kits, and the guy managing prisons.

    But that’s still unfair, in progressive 2010, one of those guys could well be a woman.

  2. Scott says:

    We get a similar result (prohibition does not work) from this report each year.

    It is self-condemning evidence that should be a strong focal point for drug law reformists in their public relations campaign.

    Apparently, drug prohibition exists only due to the perception of credibility.

    Based on the fact that drug prohibition still exists, that perception basically has two sides:

    Prohibitionists are believed by too many people to be credible enough to receive massive resources annually (which is what this report is designed to acquire).

    Drug law reformists are believed by too many people to lack credibility.

    Thankfully, the credibility on both sides is changing to our benefit, thanks in strong part to the persistence of Net communications undermining the mainstream media’s extreme bias regarding this issue, in combination with the fact that prohibitionists literally do not have a single sustainable point in their favor.

    I’m always a fan of using prohibitionist data against them (using their perceived credibility against them, bypassing our own perceived credibility problem), and this report is a great example of such data.

    Strong public relations is needed to correct our credibility problem, educating the public majority that we are the righteous ones working for a better, liberty-embracing society (not the prohibitionists).

    When you combine the ideas in those two last paragraphs to gain sufficient public support FIRST, and THEN use that support to pressure our elected officials (instead of essentially avoiding public relations in favor of allocating most reformist resources to lobbying, which is apparently what is happening — please correct me if I’m wrong on this), then we will have the strength to beat the incarceration lobby.

  3. Price says:

    Great piece..However, I almost had to go get my bong when you started the star wars entry…

  4. kaptinemo says:

    Joe Bageant has an excellent boots-on-the-ground critique of the DrugWar, which very closely mirrors my own. It’s worth a read.

    from the essay:

    “As for the real numbers in this miserable drama of national affairs, only the pointy heads care. For most of us, national numbers don’t mean much these days. Once the discussion soared off into the tens of trillions, average working folks lost any numerical moorings they might have had, which were never very good to begin with. So the numbers regarding the massive industries based on the War on Drugs simply get lost somewhere out there among the trillions. After all, what’s $50 billion a year spent for our narcotics cops?

    Well, $50 billion makes just chasing the dopers an industry the same size as the movie business, and slightly bigger than the telecom industry. Furthermore, the narco cop industry is joined at the hip with the American prison industry — the world’s largest — a $45 billion enterprise based on drug convictions. Which of course entails the court systems and billions to the syndicate of lawyers, the state’s officially recognized commissars of peasant conflicts. Standing in the wings are the rest of the commissariat, such as the drug rehabilitation professionals. With such a fat hog of public funds there for the cutting, it was only natural that the Department of Homeland Security would increasingly focus its 225,000 employees and $42 billion budget on the drug wars. As for the working slob who has never even seen a bag of weed, he gets his chance to contribute to the drug war industry too, through drug testing in the workplace (25 million tests per year at between $25 and $50 each). With America now panhandling on the global street corner for international loans, nobody is about to cut loose the domestic profits of the drug war industry — profits sustained, of course, by its dedicated lack of success.”

    Of course, the only people profiting from the DrugWar commercially (not counting the cartels) are the prison-for-profit companies he mentions, and that only because of slave wages paid to the captive (as in literally chained to a desk) workforce. All other expenditures on prosecuting the Drugwar are taxpayer-funded…which means a net loss as they produce no actual goods for sale but are instead sunk into enterprises that produce nothing but prisons and salaries for those who try to fill them. Financial black holes that we can no longer afford to continue throwing money at. And the pols are beginning to tumble to this fact…slowly, but they’re getting there.

  5. mikekinseattle says:

    I think Kafkaesque sums it up pretty well.

  6. Just me says:

    I need some help. Everyday I get up make coffe stir in some suger and cream but, everytime I drink I get a pain in one eye or the other. I just cant figure it out. Any ideas guys?
    Stupid DOJ people!

    “…beatings wasted the time of government operatives, plus the problems of damaged glards, and the need to constantly clean up the scattered brain matter of glarded gingers…”

    “… they sent for the glards, so I hoofed it out of there.”

    LOL thanks Pete! That cracked me up.

  7. Dante says:

    This article reminds me of an old saying, which I will attempt to paraphrase:

    It is virtually impossible to make a man understand something when his entire paycheck is derived from not understanding that very thing.

  8. Dante says:

    Just Me:

    Try removing the spoon before you drink.

  9. Cannabis says:

    National Drug Threat Assessment 2010 (HTML)
    PDF Version link hidden in upper left of page above (6.6 MB)

  10. allan420 says:

    aaah, none so blind as those who refuse to see…

    Out! Damn Spot…

  11. Cannabis says:

    Happy to help, Pete. Now, when’s the President’s National Drug Control Strategy for 2010 going to come out?

  12. Pete says:

    That’s a good question, Cannabis. It was postponed indefinitely. I would imagine it’s a matter of getting schedules together to get some bigwigs in front of the press. If anyone hears a new release date, or can get me a copy of the strategy, let me know.

  13. Buc says:

    ‘Those prisons are so pricy these days. If it weren’t for drugs, they wouldn’t be so overcrowded!’

    You can really tell in their minds that the concept of legalizing any currently illegal drugs is not even a possible answer.

  14. truthtechnician says:

    Since June of 2008, ASA has been receiving calls from legally operating dispensing collectives stating that their business accounts have been closed by a variety of banking institutions.

    These closures have occurred without explanation, and in many cases, without notice. One collective even received an un-signed form letter dated 6 days AFTER the account had already been closed!

    Beginning in April of 2009, ASA has confirmed more attempts to shut down accounts by numerous financial institutions. This is particularly concerning for us because this activity comes after the US Department of Justice disseminated its new policy re: Investigations and Prosecutions in States Authorizing the Medical Use of Marijuana.

    ASA is currently working with Members of Congress to investigate whether the US Department of Justice is involved. If you or someone you know has been a victim of this process, please share the details with ASA by replying to this message (

    Thanks –

    The ASA Team

  15. denmark says:

    Like the SciFi insert Pete.
    Off topic, sort of, however, was looking at your buy Pete a present link a few days past and saw the FireFly DVD’s. I’m a SciFi fan too and loved FireFly as well as Andromeda. Not much for the giant alligator, snake SciFi stuff. Caprica is turning out to be a good one too.

    Sorry, just wanted to get this in there.

  16. it is not publicly visible on their site yet pete — that won’t happen until the announcement is made.

  17. claygooding says:

    With the flood of press conferences coming out of the “spring break” summit,it is hard to pick through all the bullshit to find the shrooms. Every press conference has been adamant about “no legalization” and the budget requests for US law enforcement has not signaled any change of the way they are going to fight this,”lets don’t call it war” war.
    It does cause me worry about what they will do if Ca should legalize marijuana. I don’t think they are far from calling in the National Guard and going through Humboldt county like a dose of salt. They will wait till about July so the plants will be easier to spot,but I expect a push this summer like we have never seen.
    They will have to make some sort odf show for Calderon that the US is not going to remove the “green market” by legalizing in Ca.
    After the Secretary of the Interior opened that can of worms Tuesday when he said that California was important to Mexico’s continuing the fight with the cartels,it made it pretty clear that they plan on keeping the green market open and don’t want to lose such an important customer.

  18. Swooper420 says:

    I wonder how much cartel money will be donated to LE anti-initiative groups.

    Legalization (or regulation & taxation) will put a huge crimp in their operations – for a while. Maybe longer. They – the cartels – aren’t going to sit on their thumbs and do nothing to influence the election. With all the money they have available, 30 or 40 million dollars is a drop in the bucket.

    I hear the sponsor of the Calif. initiative plans on raising 20 million. Cartels (in conjunction with LE spending) could easily outspend us.

    PACs of all sorts will be formed with ‘clean’ front people, but the money will be coming from the cartels.

    Remember, corporations, including foreign corporations, can now spend all they want to influence an election, thanks to SCOTUS.

  19. Just me says:

    Remember, corporations, including foreign corporations, can now spend all they want to influence an election, thanks to SCOTUS.
    I hear the sponsor of the Calif. initiative plans on raising 20 million. Cartels (in conjunction with LE spending) could easily outspend us.

    Government bought and paid for was never more true.

  20. claygooding says:

    The buying of an election is harder to do than buying legislature. If this was a bill in California’s legislature,the Pac’s and special interests could buy enough votes to stop a bill or a veto,this is a vote by the people and the only thing they could do is buy peoples votes. While they can sneak around and but politicians,buying peoples votes will be much harder to do and probably more expensive.

  21. M. Simon says:

    The situation is akin to the death of the Soviet Union. They aren’t smoking anything. They know it is all lies. They just mouth the words in the hope that the war will go on until they retire.

    Just one more year. Please Dear God. Just. One. More. Year.

  22. M. Simon says:

    Cartel money? Hell. Humboldt County money.

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