Beginning of the end of this war that was lost long ago

bullet image In drug war, the beginning of the end? by Bernd Debusmann of Reuters. Excellent OpEd.

Between 1971, when Richard Nixon launched the war on drugs, and 2008, the latest year for which official figures are available, American law enforcement officials made more than 40 million drug arrests. That number roughly equals the population of California, or of the 33 biggest U.S. cities. […]

“Taking all this together, there is reason to believe that we are at the beginning of the end of the drug war as we know it,” says Aaron Houston, a veteran Washington lobbyist for marijuana policy reform.

Far-fetched? Perhaps. But how many people in the late 1920s, at the height of the government’s fight against the likes of Al Capone, would have foreseen that alcohol prohibition would end in just a few years? Prohibition lasted from 1920 to 1933 and is now considered a failed experiment in social engineering.

Alcohol and marijuana prohibition have much in common: both in effect handed production, sales and distribution of a commodity in high demand to criminal organizations, both filled the prisons (America’s population behind bars is now the world’s largest), both diverted the resources of law enforcement, and both created millions of scoff-laws.

bullet image Reconsidering addiction: a film about Bruce Alexander’s remarkable ‘rat park’ experiment. An interesting discussion, and one that makes clear that the simplistic view that “drugs,” in and of themslves, are “addictive” is not only wrong, but it’s dangerous.

bullet image This war was lost long ago by Michelle Teheux in the Pekin Daily Times. A surprisingly good OpEd by an editor of a local paper just down the road from where I live.

Many people living in pleasant neighborhoods like those in Pekin, Morton, East Peoria and Washington like to feel they are insulated from the drug trade, but that’s rot. Pay attention to arrest records and you’ll notice it’s not uncommon for a person living in a nice neighborhood in Tazewell County to travel to the south side of Peoria to buy drugs. This is not just a south side of Peoria issue. It affects all of us.

Drug users who go home to their nice safe neighborhoods to do the drugs they just picked up on the south side ought to know their patronage helps fuel the drug and gang war, both in Peoria and in Mexico.

As drug customers, they have the blood of thousands on their hands.

So the solution would seem to be to impose severe penalties for drug use and to throw billions of dollars at law enforcement to just stamp out this drug problem once and for all. Right?

Well, we tried that, and it worked even less well than Prohibition worked against alcohol use.

It’s time to try something new.

bullet image Apparently the notion of “legal Acapulco Gold” is just too much for some people. The headline of this article was “Legal Acapulco Gold Gets Calderon’s Consideration as Drug Killings Climb” but it’s been changed to “Legal Pot Gets Calderon Consideration as Deaths Mount.”

I liked the first headline better.

[Thanks, Tom]

bullet image Thomas D. Elias: Voters lying about legal pot? is an incoherent OpEd that wanders all over the place without quite lighting on anything.

bullet image Keith Humphrey’s discovers the notion that legal marijuana in California might lead to “drug tourism.” Duh. Anyone driving into Missouri and seeing all the Fireworks stores right by the border could have told you that. Yep, “at least some California communities would endure the externalities of drug tourism that the people of Maastricht are facing now.” A small price to pay, compared to all the death and destruction of prohibition.

bullet image Jeralyn and TalkLeft has some interesting reading about the Latest on Obama Administration and Medical Marijuana

bullet image It’s Stupid Press Release time!

From Nip It In The Bud: No on Prop. 19 – Opponent Questions Prop. 19 Flag-Bearer Richard Lee’s Silence: Is Richard Lee a Political Puppet for Marijuana Legalization in California?

Datig says, “I find it curious that Richard Lee, the proponent of Proposition 19 has not made public statements regarding his own measure. Instead we are seeing speakers-for-hire from the Drug Policy Alliance, members from L.E.A.P. such as Judge Gray, talking about issues that frequently do not relate to the measure. We are also hearing from Gary Johnson, the former Governor of New Mexico, who was unsuccessful in his own state with the legalization of marijuana and who now wants to meddle in California’s business. We are hearing legal opinions from former government officials, appointees and retired police officers who are no longer on the front lines, yet they support Prop. 19 while they seem to be completely out of touch with reality. They argue about history, about inflated, overblown and partial statistics, about industrialization and the so-called advantage Californians would have over the Mexican drug cartels if marijuana were legalized. Yet no one seems to be getting into what is in front of the voters except for those of us who oppose Proposition 19.”

Oh, yes. And then she lies. (no surprise, there)

Actually, I’ve never even heard of Alexandra Datig before, and all those cops and governors and judges seem to be pretty good spokespeople for voting yes on Proposition 19.

bullet image Oh, wait, here’s someone else speaking up FOR Proposition 19. Longshore Workers

The longshore workers have jumped aboard the pro-marijuana legalization bandwagon, as the 25,000-member Northern California District Council of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union say they are pro-Prop 19.

And why would that be?

“The ILWU NCDC supports Prop 19 for good reason,” sez the union’s official statement. “The continued prohibition of marijuana costs society too much. Billions of our tax dollars are wasted annually on the prosecution and incarceration of many, whose only crime is using, growing and selling marijuana.

“Peoples’ lives are ruined for a lifetime because of criminal records incurred from using a drug that is used recreationally by people from all walks of life. Those criminal records fall disproportionately on the backs of workers, poor people, and people of color,” says the ILWU NCDC.

bullet image Raid Victim Family May Hit Vegas Police with RICO Suit

Andre Lagomarsino, the attorney representing the estate of Trevon Cole and his fiancé, Sequoia Pearce, said today he is considering a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) lawsuit against the Las Vegas Police Metropolitan Department in the shooting death of Cole in a June drug raid at the apartment shared by Cole and Pearce. In addition to a possible RICO claim, the lawsuit would assert wrongful death, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It would also assert civil rights violations.

Coroner’s Inquest was held today. Verdict may come later this weekend, but only one police officer has been found criminally negligent in about 200 inquiries.

bullet image Wow. An actual bit of justice, here.

DA indicted over handouts from asset forfeiture fund

Grits for Breakfast notes:

“while the indictment says he misused more than $200,000, an audit done by his successor found that [Joe Frank] Garza had paid $1.2 million in drug seizure forfeitures to his three staff members and another $81,000 to himself between January of 2002 through the end of 2008.” That’s pretty darn brazen.

No kidding.

bullet image Rolling Stone is on the Just Say Now bandwagon.

Speaking of Just Say Now… If you haven’t already, get over to the Just Say Now campaign sponsored by Firedoglake and Students for Sensible Drug Policy and sign up.

This is an open thread

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11 Responses to Beginning of the end of this war that was lost long ago

  1. Servetus says:

    Alexandra Datig? According to the Rolling Stone article cited above, Ms. Datig is a promoter of Bishop Ron Allen. Furthermore, the Rolling Stone piece had this to say about Bishop Ron Allen and Alexandra Datig:

    Allen insists that backers of Prop 19 want to “legalize all drugs,” including crack and Ecstasy, even though such substances will remain illegal if the initiative passes. On his website, he claims that 4,100 congregations support his anti-marijuana position, but he refuses to make the list public. He also boasts of holding three doctorates from Sacramento Theological Seminary, including one in evangelism. He calls Huffman, a longtime civil rights leader in California, “Enemy No. 1 to the black church.”

    Allen owes his prominence to Alexandra Datig, a PR consultant and recovering addict in Los Angeles, who promoted him as a leading spokesman against legalization. The two met through Californians for Drug Free Youth, after Datig had quit her job as a high-profile prostitute for Heidi Fleiss and co-written a book, You’ll Never Make Love in This Town Again, chronicling her wild sexcapades with the likes of Jack Nicholson. These days she denounces drugs with the evangelical fervor of a born-again believer, renouncing Prop 19 as “un-American” and insisting that indoor marijuana cultivation will spread a killer fungus known as aspergillus.

  2. spanish castle magic says:

    ‘Failed experiment in social engineering’ exactly. When will blue nosed do gooders learn to leave people alone and let them live their life how they see fit.

  3. strayan says:

    If drug tourism is bad, why does the state celebrate the wine country splendor of the Sonoma, Napa, and Alexander Valleys?

  4. malcolmkyle says:

    The AP article also focuses on a new factor in Mexico — Blog del Narco, a Website which is both fueling the fire and giving an inside view of the raging drug war. In less than six months, it has become the go-to site for drug news …

  5. Servetus says:

    Bruce Alexander’s rat-park experiment is a great reminder of how prohibition works. No doubt the rats are stressed and use drugs to compensate. But what if the rats had been severely punished for using drugs in Rat Park, as humans are punished for using drugs? Wouldn’t the stress of additional punishment create even more drug use?

    Anyone who defies the legalize-and-regulate logic of drug control should at least consider the success rates of opiate maintenance programs. Success is measured in lowered crime rates by addicts who are in a better position to get on with their lives, get jobs, and so forth.

    In the latest legalize-and-regulate success story (linked below), the inducement to join the heroin maintenance program is free heroin given to proven addicts in Utrecht, the Netherlands:

  6. Just me. says:

    (Now for the wall shattering ‘KABOOM!’ !!)

  7. Duncan says:

    I made a response to and called out one of the know nothings commenting on the article in the Pekin Daily Times. I guess I’m wondering if any of the smart people here were inclined to play and put names to the countries in my post.
    Submitted as if it were factual by one of the know nothings: “Harsher penalties reduce drugs rate of consumption.”

    Country A which treats even the smallest possession of cannabis as a felony and handed out stiff prison time to anyone convicted. Perhaps even a 20 year term in prison for a single joint.

    Country B which has 3 different criminal levels of cannabis, with misdemeanor sentencing terms available to users. Level 1 might include fines and a wee bit of jail time, but just a wee bit. Level 2 contains some very stiff fines, but no jail time, and level 3 treats cannabis as a civil offense, and finds the victim a nominal sum, say $100 and court cost and for repeat offenders the judge has the bailiff whack their pee-pees as a sentencing enhancement.

    In less than a decade country A went from measuring its cannabis users by using the number of users per 100,000 citizens, to measuring number of cannabis users per hundred citizens in that country. Yes, rate of cannabis use rocketed in Country A from barely heard of to perhaps as much as 20 users per hundred citizens.

    Country B had the same use rates as country B. Realizing that it’s wrong to toss people in jail for cannabis use they cut down the penalties but it was politically impossible to actually legalize cannabis because there were just too many know nothings who bought the propaganda and were heavily bigoted against cannabis. Some of these know nothing extremists even went as far as supporting the death penalty for repeat offender There’s really there’s no use arguing with a crazy mind. In the following 20 years country B’s use rates were down a respectable 25-30% across the board.

    Of course country B didn’t get rid of the black market because a large cohort of citizens for some unexplained pathology can’t even entertain the idea of somebody earning ‘dirty’ money. But it was fine and dandy for cannabis purveyors to make money as long as the know nothings couldn’t tell if there was a profit made. It wasn’t that hard for the cannabis purveyors because the hard headed know nothings aren’t too bright. But still it was hit or miss and perhaps as many as 10% of the cannabis purveyors were sent to prison as well as having all their money and property stolen from them by the government. But black markets being what they are Country B still has some pretty severe problems because of so many of their citizens participating in the distribution chain which the government had ceded control of to organized crime syndicates.

    Tell me the names of both countries, and I’ll quit labeling you a know nothing in my mind. C’mon, your brain is sharp as a tack because of all the cannabis you haven’t smoked. Both countries are very well known and populated with hundreds of millions of people. They’re not some kind of banana republic or population 233,000 obscure little countries. I look forward to your answers.
    Yes it is a trick question. All the statistics and time frames are honest to the best of my ability, but still, the answer to the question is a trap.

  8. Ned says:

    Bruce Alexander’s work could easily be developed further. What he’s getting at is one of the most difficult and yet most important concepts to communicate to people. The culture that prohibition creates in society is the most powerful element working against the “success” of prohibition. Understanding that fully requires a deep understanding of human behavior and how drug use effects peoples lives. Most people just don’t have the unbiased overview to get it.

    The biggest benefit of ending prohibition is ending the culture created by it. Society will benefit enormously from ending it, the fact they argue legalizing pot with increase crime is an absolutely despicable lie. The thing is most of them are truly too blind to understand that.

  9. ezrydn says:

    Very good argument here:

    After years of trying to bolster Prohibition, I can understand why the Prohibitionists are going bonkers now that their valued lie is crumbling down around their shoulders.

    The above arguement should be sent to every Senator and Representative! It’s easy enough to rewrite it in your own words. It’s got a hellova kick to it!

  10. Chris says:

    Lots of bs from drug warriors in this article.

    They even bring back crack babies.

  11. i don’t know EZ, it looks like they fell on their own sword in saying “it is evident that Marijuana should not be classified or grouped together with drugs like heroin, cocaine or meth-amphetamines.

    cocaine and meth are already “more legal” under the CSA than marijuana is (they argue in effect that pot should not be lowered to schedule II).

    but the fundamental flaw of the CSA is the demand that intoxicants be required to pass any test as “medicine” in the first place — thus, it is the CSA itself that needs our attention, not the battle to prove that pot is “medicine.”

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