Open Thread

bullet image A Decade After 9/11, Police Departments Are Increasingly Militarized – Radley Balko with a must-read piece in the Huffington Post.

The problem with this mingling of domestic policing with military operations is that the two institutions have starkly different missions. The military’s job is to annihilate a foreign enemy. Cops are charged with keeping the peace, and with protecting the constitutional rights of American citizens and residents. It’s dangerous to conflate the two. As former Reagan administration official Lawrence Korb once put it, “Soldiers are trained to vaporize, not Mirandize.” That distinction is why the U.S. passed the Posse Comitatus Act more than 130 years ago, a law that explicitly forbids the use of military troops in domestic policing.

Over the last several decades Congress and administrations from both parties have continued to carve holes in that law, or at least find ways around it, mostly in the name of the drug war. And while the policies noted above established new ways to involve the military in domestic policing, the much more widespread and problematic trend has been to make our domestic police departments more like the military.

bullet image Viewpoint: Why Tough-Love Rehab Won’t Die by Maia Szalavitz at Time.

On Wednesday, reported on the phenomenon of “blood cashews,” nuts produced for export in Vietnamese drug-rehabilitation programs where addicts are forced to perform “labor therapy,” such as sewing clothes, making bricks or, most commonly, shelling cashews.

Last Sunday, the New York Times described Russia’s harsh new treatment camps, where addicts are locked up for as long as a month in “quarantine rooms” to endure withdrawal.

And last week a lawsuit was refiled against a Utah-based school for teens with drug or behavioral problems, with 350 former students alleging that the school engaged in abusive disciplinary tactics like locking students in outdoor dog cages overnight.
Yet, to date, there has been no evidence that the use of forced labor, public humiliation or generally brutal confrontation has ever been effective in rehabilitating people with drug problems — or any other kind of problem, for that matter. What’s more, when tough-love approaches are compared directly with kinder treatment alternatives for addiction, the studies find that compassionate strategies win by a large margin.

So why does the whip-’em-into-shape approach continue to get re-invented around the world?

bullet image Interview with Dr. Alex Wodak

We start recognizing that drug users are our brothers and sisters, our daughters and sons, our mothers and fathers, whether we know they are using or not. For that reason in the Netherlands the term they often use for drug users is ‘Dutch citizens who use drugs’ which is a pertinent reminder of the fact that they are still Dutch citizens. This term is used in policy statements. The Dutch are pragmatists and realize that it is always better to regulate the practice that the majority may not like but cannot stamp out. Whether it be gambling, prostitution etc. – if you can’t eradicate it then let it happen but with regulation.


A study was done comparing South Australia, which had just decriminalized cannabis, to Western Australia, where there were draconian penalties. The WA group were much more likely to have lost a job, accommodation or relationship. They were alienated and very angry. The SA group was much less likely to be in this position. The WA police were horrified and a WA Labor government then altered their policy. The current Barnett government has just gone back to Draconian penalties, even though cannabis use has been in decline.

It is also important to remember that money spent on prosecuting cannabis offenders is money that’s not available for prosecuting rapists, murders and perpetrators of violent crime. My view is that the police have an important role to play and I’d much rather they were solving violent crimes than doing a job in which they can never succeed, regarding illegal drugs.

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26 Responses to Open Thread

  1. Jake says:

    Amy Winehouse died from ‘excess detox’, claims father – Withdrawal from Alcohol can actually kill.. we should advertise it on TV and at sports events but continue to demonise Cannabis.. go figure..

    • Duncan20903 says:

      Jake, the problem with that theory is that she had a BAC at the time of death.

      Ms. Winehouse’ parents just aren’t a credible source of information regarding her death. I don’t say that to belittle them, it’s obvious they’re in a great deal of emotional pain and want nothing more than for things to be different. While that is very sad, that’s exactly why they’re not credible absent any significant evidence supporting their theory.

      Earlier I speculated that a combination of a benzodiazepine and drinking alcohol led to her death, noting that a benzodiazepine, particularly Librium, is the drug of choice of “addictionologists” with MDs for someone withdrawing from drinking alcohol addiction. Reading the story linked I can’t help but notice that in fact there was Librium in her system at the time of death. Of course it isn’t quite enough to declare my previous analysis based on nothing more than Ockham’s Razor correct, but I sure wouldn’t mind meeting someone with too much money to take the other side of the bet at this point. The coroner’s inquest is next month. Isn’t it quaint that they still do that in Great Britain?

      The alcoholic decides to quit, goes to the doctor, doctor says, here, take some of these Librium pills. ‘Make sure not to take any drinking alcohol with these in your system, it might kill you!’ If quitting were all that easy it wouldn’t be degenerate addiction. ‘God, just a couple of belts to make it a little easier, surely that and a few milligrams of Librium couldn’t kill me’, and RIP Amy. I find it quite annoying that MD’s will give alcoholics attempting to detox benzos outside of a closed, controlled environment. If Mom and Dad want someone to blame it would be appropriate to lay the blame squarely at the feet of the idiot doctor that gave her the script for Librium. Benzo/drinking alcohol fatal overdose are just to close to the therapeutic dose and degenerate addicts are famous for saying ‘it can’t happen to me’ especially when afflicted with a bad case of the fukkits. Do the British get to sue the NHS for malpractice? Probably not, but even if it were possible a script for Librium with a stern admonition that drinking alcohol on top of benzos are very likely to lead to brain death is probably within the protocol of the formal “standard of care”, so no malpractice regardless of the patient being deceased because of the doctor’s prescription.

      • Jake says:

        Duncan, you are of course right. In my simplification I was merely trying to state/show that a drug as widespread and accepted as Alcohol can kill (either from overdose or even from withdrawal) yet you never hear the know-nothings rant and rave about these facts to the same level that they talk up ‘correlations’ as ‘causations’ about Cannabis and certain harms. It was more the hypocrisy of the attitudes to one drug that is less harmful than another than the specifics of Amy’s tragic death.

        p.s. you can sue the NHS for malpractice but it happens far less than on your side of the pond (and the payout isn’t as high).

      • darkcycle says:

        If untreated, the “DT’s” are fatal in between 18-20% of cases, depending on who you ask.

        • Jake says:

          Just imagine if Cannabis ‘withdrawal’ could kill up to 20% of very heavy users… government logic would probably dictate that a higher ‘kill-rate’ is required before legalisation…

  2. Tony Aroma says:

    “So why does the whip-’em-into-shape approach continue to get re-invented around the world?”

    That’s easy. The drug war isn’t about prevention or treatment or harm reduction. It’s about punishment. People who use unauthorized drugs need to be punished, and these sorts of programs are hugely successful in that respect.

    • Emma says:

      Exactly, see the book “Drug Warriors and Their Prey”, by a scholar of the Nazi court system. Illict drugs are a scapegoat for everything bad in society.

  3. kant says:

    I have no idea where this quote originated but I first heard on battlestar galactics (yes, yes I know) and I can’t help but notice the relevance.

    There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.

  4. Duncan20903 says:

    Well here’s another grow bust that resulted from the growers being involved in a home/automobile collision. It still wasn’t as much bad luck as his roommate suffered as the roommate was killed by the collision. Smitten by the axe of god indeed.

  5. Duncan20903 says:

    On the subject of last week’s SAMHSA study which indicated that more people are comfortable telling agents of the Federal government that they enjoy cannabis in violation of Federal law…

    The primary danger that people risk from other people worrying about cannabis use is drowning in the hogwash. CBS published a list of 17 States with the highest incidence of cannabis use among teens. Why 17? I have no clue. Perhaps because it’s 1/3 of 51? Noticeably absent from the list were California, Oregon, Washington, and Michigan. (hey darkcycle, why the heck aren’t you doing your job? you’re supposed to turn the local schoolchildren into potheads, not get them hooked on phonics for crying out loud!);contentBody

    ***State name***(medicinal cannabis patient protection?)***

    1. New Mexico (yes)

    2. Massachusetts (technically yes, but no patients get any legal medicine)

    3. Rhode Island (yes)

    4. Delaware (yes but not until after the statistics were aggregated)

    5. New Hampshire (no)

    6. Colorado (yes)

    7. Vermont (yes)

    8. Arizona (yes but not until after the statistics were aggregated)

    9. Montana (yes)

    10. Alaska (yes, but almost no registered patients)

    11. Hawaii (yes)

    12. Maryland (yes, but lame)

    13. Connecticut (no)

    14. Florida (no way Jose)

    15. Illinois (no, doesn’t want to be like California)

    tie}16. Indiana (no)

    tie}16. New York (no, doesn’t want to be like California)

    Arizona, Florida, and Indiana are without doubt #1, 2, and 3 for draconian penalties for violations of State cannabis laws. In the future it’s very likely that Arizona relative draconianism will be bumped down the list because of Prop 203. First we have to see what Sheriff Joe decides will happen in Arpaio County. I’d be willing to wager dollars to dirt that Sheriff Joe can be convinced to look the other way as a quid pro quo for a large (ahem) “campaign contribution”. Cash only please, no consecutive serial numbers, no freshly minted bills, and only small denominations.

    You are correct that I have absolutely no respect for Sheriff Joe. What’s your point?

    I happen to know that teen use in Montana has decreased since they passed the patient protection law there. Montana also leads the United States in the incidence of drunken driving. Rhode Island is #2.

    Asked if they had used marijuana in the past month, 21 percent said yes. That was down 2 percent from two years ago and down 4 percent from 1999.

    So much for medicinal cannabis leading to increased youth use. Just the fact that the entire west coast is missing from the list published by CBS and linked above demonstrates there is no need or desire for facts in the office of the drug czar. I know the readers of this blog will find that shocking and unbelievable, but it is nevertheless true.

    • darkcycle says:

      I think the average age of a dispensary customer is around 45 here in Wa. The rate of adolescent use here (In Western Wa) is astonishingly low. May have something to do with good schools, lots of good air and recreational opportunities up the Yang. And the relatively high per-capita income doesn’t hurt. Especially here in the upper corner, we live in an isolated little bubble that can hardly be considered as representative of the United States, or even the West Coast as a whole. Unemployment is high, but real estate is still expensive….and selling! So we’re a little weird.

      • Duncan20903 says:

        It might have something to do with the medicinal cannabis distribution chain being limited to actual patients. I don’t know about Washington but I know when I moved to California in 2005 that there wasn’t anyone going to let me into a dispensary without a recommendation. Quite frankly it was the California DMV that was the obstacle that could have caused the most trouble but that was amazingly easy. It might have been different were my birth certificate not filed in Alameda County. I doubt the DMV is so easy nowadays as California subsequently adopted the “real ID” Federalization of State issued identification.

        One of the more annoying things about Montana’s idiotic SB-423 was that the State quit publishing the statistics of cardholders and to the best of my knowledge they were the only State to break out the patient rolls by age. With almost 3000 patients over age 61 including over 400 older than age 71 it still didn’t stop the Know Nothings from claiming that all the patients were between the ages of 0 and 25. Not even the 13 nonagenarian Montana cardholders. How many 90+ year old Montanans can there be? BTW when the last stats were published the average age was 41, and the median was pretty darn close to that with a short hair more than 50% of the patients older than age 41.

        The problem with just looking at whether or not a State with high teen use (npi) is that those States may be more likely to lighten up their laws. I.e. the laws are more lenient because of the percentage of State residents who either enjoy cannabis or use it for its medicinal utility, not vice versa.

        The Montana medicinal cannabis community has until September 30th to get SB-423 suspended and send it to a vote on Election Day 2012. I say we cede Montana to Canada if they can’t get the required signatures. They require less signatures than there were registered patients + caregivers to pull that off. I’ll note that I’ve no clue whether the registered caregivers were also registered patients. But even then they still only need several thousand more than there were registered patients.

  6. Duncan20903 says:

    Hogwash? Can anyone tell me why the heck a person would wash a hog? But I must admit that the new issue of California Pediatrician has made me happy as the proverbial pig in shit. Talk about right on time, it makes me wonder if they planned this.

    Adolescent use of recreational marijuana: One concern of parents and pediatricians is whether the legalization of medical marijuana for adults results in increased use of recreational marijuana by adolescents. This concern is based on the argument that legitimizing marijuana as a medication may lead adolescents to believe that marijuana is a safe drug whether prescribed or not. As an example, abuse of prescription drugs such as pain relievers, sedatives, tranquilizers, and stimulants, for non-medical purposes, is increasing among adolescents. A variety of data sources both nationally and state-by-state track adolescent marijuana (as well as tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs) use on a longitudinal basis.

    Usually three types of frequency data are collected:
    1) ever used in your lifetime (“Lifetime Use”);
    2) used at least once in the last 30 days (“Current Use”);
    3) used every day (“Daily Use”).

    Table 2 gives “current use” in 11th and 12th graders, both prior to medical marijuana legalization, and the most recent data available. Since marijuana (and tobacco, alcohol, and other drug) use tends to increase with age in school-age populations, i.e., 18 year-old use > 16 year-old use > 14 year-old use, Table 2 shows the highest use rates in school age populations. When all middle and high school grade data are combined for each state, the only medical marijuana state in which high-school age adolescents overall use of marijuana has increased in a statistically significant manner is Michigan, from 18% of all high school students’ pre-medical marijuana legalization in 2007, to 20.7% in 2008. In two states, New Mexico and Rhode Island, overall use is up but is within the margin of error (i.e., not statistically significant). In Montana, overall adolescent marijuana use has remained flat. In Hawaii, overall adolescent marijuana use is down but is within the margin of error.

    In all other medical marijuana states, including California, overall adolescent use of marijuana has declined significantly since the passage of medical marijuana laws. Thus the data are very reassuring that in almost all cases medical marijuana legalized for adults does not lead to an increase in recreational use of marijuana by adolescents.

    Well there’s one huge, glaring error in the quote above, that being that he missed the fact that the Michigan law wasn’t passed into law until Election Day 2008, and wasn’t implemented until 2009, so I guess I think that the 2008 rise in use sited happened previous to Michigan’s adoption of their State’s medicinal cannabis patient protection law. I did write an email to the editors notifying them of this mistake. Extras couldn’t hurt:

    This is also some excellent supporting evidence for the assertion that the war on (some) drugs is perverting reality in the extreme. There’s just no rational explanation for finding me reading and fascinated by the current issue of California Pediatrician at 2:30 AM on a Monday morning.

  7. vickyvampire says:

    Yeah that scandal on the Utah school based for teens is not getting much play yet,but endless stories today in my dingbat Utah state,Hookahs are banned by health department went into effect today,Oh all the kiddies are safe from tobacco now.

    Vox Day has short article on WND talking about our loss of Freedoms after 9-11 and mentions endless failed Drug War.

  8. DdC says:

    Our cities have turned into jungles.
    And corruption is stranglin’ the land.
    The police force is watching the people.
    And the people just can’t understand.
    We don’t know how to mind our own business.
    ‘Cause the whole worlds got to be just like us.
    Now we are fighting a war over there.
    No matter who’s the winner.
    We can’t pay the cost.
    ‘Cause there’s a monster on the loose.
    It’s got our heads into a noose.
    And it just sits there watching.
    ~ Steppenwolf


    Spoils of Drug War Forfeitures Prove Too Lucrative

    Seizures By Police Help Fund Drug War

    Cops Confiscation Maliciously Punished Amputee

    Rainbow Farm Massacre
    Tom Crosslin – Nov. 10, 1954 – Sept. 3, 2001
    Rollie Rohm – Dec. 27, 1972 – Sept. 4, 2001

    “Our friends worked boldly and passionately to change destructive, unjust laws and to inspire same; and in the end they rejected the authority of a court that had amply shown its bias. They refused to hide. They refused to run. They refused to bow down. And for that, the Police State ground them up in its gears.”

  9. Duncan20903 says:

    Wow, I thought the Montana authorities were total turds. Those guys don’t hold a candle to the Michigander Know Nothings.

    “Lansing marijuana give-away brings election law criminal charges”|head

    Christ on a crutch, talk about a full slate of corruption in the highest political offices in a State. No wonder Detroit is turning into a ghost town.

    • darkcycle says:

      Looks like Ms. Pena could have a significant (if undeserved) legal issue. Not surprising, though. Look at voter suppression efforts in Wisconsin and Indiana, the elections of 2000, 2004, and the Texas redistricting. Also witness that while those efforts have gone forward, the very people involved have gone after ACORN, and voter drives in poor/ethnic neighborhoods accusing fraud. My own vote was challenged in both 2000 and 2004, first because my signature did not EXACTLY match my voter card (I had included my middle initial on my card, and omitted it on my polling place signature) and then because my address changed after November, and they mailed my entire neighborhood cards, checking addresses post election. My old apt. manager got the notice to me in time. I lived in a heavily ethnic area of Seattle at the time. Either way, my vote was not counted until after the results of both elections had been finalized.

      • Duncan20903 says:

        I’m willing to bet that she gets acquitted presuming that she doesn’t knuckle under and take a plea. I looked up the Michigan law subsequent to posting the above and there’s no mention in the very detailed list that paying people to register to vote is a violation. The very comprehensive lists even includes paying people to not vote, or hiring transportation to take people to the polls (unless they’re unable to walk).

        The reward was specifically for registering to vote. It’s absolutely laughable to presume that one would have to pay people who frequent a dispensary to vote in their favor.

  10. jhelion says:

    “WellPoint and IBM Announce Agreement to Put Watson to Work in Health Care”

    I wonder if they will program anti-cannabis ideology into Watson’s diagnoses.

  11. Francis says:

    That’s weird. I always thought that “tough love” was a passive concept that simply indicated a refusal to help someone avoid the negative consequences of their poor choices. Apparently the term also applies to locking someone in a dog cage and/or forcing them to work as slave labor in your nut business.

  12. Duncan20903 says:

    Our friend Congressman Steve Cohen from Memphis, Tennessee is pestering the ONDCP again.

  13. Duncan20903 says:

    Wow, it’s a felony to transport more than 3 gallons of drinking alcohol into Tennessee.

  14. Servetus says:

    Sarah Palin is being assailed for her past drug use and other naughty behavior. From an excerpt:

    “…the [biography of Palin] describes Palin’s alleged drug use and sexual escapades. Among the explosive allegations: Palin smoked marijuana with a professor at Mat-Su College; she snorted cocaine off an oil drum; she had a one-night stand with NBA star Glen Rice, who reportedly confirmed the encounter to McGinniss; and she cheated on Todd with his snowmobile dealer and business partner.”

    As a potential presidential candidate, Sarah’s prior drug use fulfills the unwritten job requirement for the highest office in the land.

  15. Duncan20903 says:

    The ghost of William Randolph Hearst still stirring the shit:

    A role model family’: Teen from wealthy suburb bludgeoned his parents to death after they threw away his marijuana stash

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