Open Thread

bullet image A new drug policy organization was launched today: Drug Policy Institute at University of Florida. It’s headed up by Kevin Sabet, and includes such luminaries as Robert DuPont, Keith Humphreys, and Tom McLellan. The rest of the list includes a bunch of former and current hard-core drug warriors. So, you can be sure their work will be balanced and evidence-based.

They’ll be teaching an online course, hosting an annual conference, and developing one-page drug policy papers for legislators.

bullet image The Drug War is a National Scandal That’s Getting Worse by Charles Pierce in Esquire. The Boston crime lab and more.

bullet image A Failing Drug War, by Stephen Gain

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34 Responses to Open Thread

  1. free radical says:

    Let’s all tell Kev what we think. I’d recommend as politely as you can manage.

    • stevo says:

      I sent him this:

      Prohibition is a crime against humanity. It also fits the definition of a HATE crime. I consider YOU a criminal. Don’t you believe in Liberty and Justice for all?

      • Windy says:

        I sent him this:

        Prohibition and the so-called War on Drugs is not only unconstitutional, irrational and ineffective, it is barbaric, inhumane and a crime against humanity.

        Many people call the “drug war” a failure but, failure is when you do not meet your goal. The drug war is not a failure as much as a disaster. It has caused damage that would not have happened without it.

        The legitimacy of a law is determined by whether it hurts good people or not, this law DOES hurt good people, millions of good people, therefore, this law is illegitimate. Any law that criminalizes consensual, victimless behaviors, or imposes any restriction on even one person’s unalienable rights.

        “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.” -Thomas Jefferson

        The use of a so-called illicit drug does not rise to the Constitutional definition of a crime. No victim, no injury to others, no crime!

        Prohibition was introduced as a fraud; it has been nursed as a fraud. It is wrapped in the livery of Heaven, but it comes to serve the devil. It comes to regulate by law our appetites and our daily lives. It comes to tear down liberty and build up fanaticism, hypocrisy, and intolerance. It comes to confiscate by legislative decree the property of many of our fellow citizens. It comes to send spies, detectives, and informers into our homes; to have us arrested and carried before courts and condemned to fines and imprisonments. It comes to dissipate the sunlight of happiness, peace, and prosperity in which we are now living and to fill our land with alienations, estrangements, and bitterness. It comes to bring us evil– only evil– and that continually. Let us rise in our might as one and overwhelm it with such indignation that we shall never hear of it again as long as grass grows and water runs.” -Roger Q. Mills, 1887
        Just as descriptive of today’s version of prohibition — the “War on [pleasurable] drugs” as it was of the kind of prohibition he was describing.

        “It is indeed probable that more harm and misery have been caused by men determined to use coercion to stamp out a moral evil than by men intent on doing evil.” — Fredrich von Hayek, Nobel Laureate in Economics, from “The Constitution of Liberty”

        Currently the budget for the DEA is over 2 billion dollars and has a staff of almost 11,000. In 1972 when this agency was created their budget was 65.2 million and they had a staff of 2,775. This is a rogue agency that is just sucking our coffers dry. The DEA perpetrates and perpetuates injustices. What the DEA does to trash the lives, the jobs, the livelihoods, and the psyches of our own American citizens is a crime. Under the pretense of fighting drugs, the U.S. government spends billions of tax dollars surveiling, following, snooping, breaking and entering, tampering and stealing, harassing, haranguing, heckling, taunting, pestering, bullying and assaulting its own people. The DEA is a U.S. government agency whose mission is to destroy people’s lives. Every day, DEA agents ruin the reputations of innocent people via a circus of innuendo, slander, defamation, and character assassination, they ridicule and humiliate them with their family members, friends and coworkers. Strewn in their path of the 40 year failed war on Marijuana is a very sad history of Richard Nixon and his completely whacked world view towards protestors and the peace movement. Get rid of the DEA and farm them out to Iraq and Afghanistan where they can actually do something GOOD for a change, like help rebuild the infrastructure or just provide support services.

        When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty. -Thomas Jefferson.

        “However, let none of you become as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer OR AS A BUSYBODY IN OTHER PEOPLE’S AFFAIRS.” 1Peter 4:15

        “I, as a responsible adult human being, will never concede the power to anyone to regulate my choice of what I put into my body, or where I go with my mind. From the skin inwards is my jurisdiction, is it not? I choose what may or may not cross that border. Here I am the Customs Agent. I am the Coast guard. I am the sole legal and spiritual government of this territory, and only the laws I choose to enact within myself are applicable”
        ~ Alexander Shulgin, PhD, Chemist and author, at the DPF Conference, November 1996

        • divadab says:

          Wow, Windy – a million thumbs up!

          Prohibition is an offense against G-d and against Natural Law. It is a corrupt and illegitimate action against the people on behalf of monopoly capitalist interests.

          I mean, under current US federal law, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are criminals, subject to invasion of their property by militarised agents, their dogs assassinated, their families trussed up and humiliated, their property confiscated, and their children placed with strangers paid by the state. And their freedom and ability to make a living destroyed. All for daring to grow a plant that clothed the Continental Army, provided cordage and sailcloth and lubricating oil for the Navy, food for fowl, oil for lighting, paint, and so on – I could go on for hours listing all the uses of this beneficial plant, a gift of G-d to man.

          And prohibited by a government serving not G-d but someone else.

          Shameful, terrible, evil, unjust, unCOnstitutional, unAMerican. For the prohibitionists’ sake, I hope there is a hell.

  2. strayan says:

    Thanks for putting that list of drug war criminals together for us Kevin.

  3. Freeman says:

    Dr. Sabet a doctorate in public policy analysis from Oxford University (Marshall Scholar) with an emphasis on drug policy, drug prevention, drug enforcement, and legalization.

    Huh??? Never mind the missing word which should follow his name in the above sentence, but since when has Kev had anything to do with anything that has “an emphasis on [..] legalization”, except to say he’s 100% against it and attempt to raise as much fear, uncertainty, and doubt as possible about the issue? Not to mention that the word itself is a direct contradiction to the rest of the “emphasis” list. This sentence is a complete mess — kinda like his “drug policy”!

  4. primus says:

    Second linkee no workee

  5. Francis says:

    One of the prohibitionists’ more frequent (and dumber) verbal tics is to fret that we can’t legalize cannabis because it would supposedly “send the wrong message to our children.” A few thoughts on this recurring bit of stupidity:

    1) What a weird argument. The notion that kids take their primary cues from politicians is just absurd. (Duncan had a great comment on this point a while back.)

    2) The prohibitionists never say explicitly what they think that “wrong message” actually is. But presumably it’s that it’s ok for kids to smoke pot. Of course, since all legalization proposals that are being seriously discussed include age limits to prevent minors from buying marijuana, that’s actually one of the few messages that is explicitly NOT being sent.

    3) And if you still think the “message” is a problem, isn’t there an easy fix? Why not add a legislative statement to the legalization bill, e.g. “The Congress finds that marijuana is a terrible, dangerous, and evil drug that should not be used by anyone, ever. However, the Congress also finds that marijuana prohibition has caused more harm than good and is, in any event, incompatible with the principles of a free society….”?

    4) Why does it seem like this is the only issue where this “argument” comes up? Indefinite detention, secret kill lists, warrantless spying, endless undeclared wars of aggression, trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see — do any of those send the wrong message to our children?

    5) And why doesn’t anyone worry about the message that is sent by NOT legalizing? What does that say to our children? Well, it says that we’re hypocrites who tolerate and even celebrate the use of alcohol, an infinitely more dangerous drug, while treating people who make a safer choice like criminals. It says that we don’t live in a free country. It says that you shouldn’t learn from your mistakes. And it says that violence is the answer. Some message.

    • Liam says:

      Kevin’s zeal is based on his Bahá’í Faith, not logic.


      • Francis says:

        From the Bahá’í Faith wiki:

        Humanity is understood to be in a process of collective evolution, and the need of the present time is for the gradual establishment of peace, justice and unity on a global scale.

        Well, Kevin is certainly helping to keep society’s evolution towards “peace, justice and unity” a gradual process.

        Bahá’ís are forbidden to drink alcohol or to take drugs, unless prescribed by doctors.

        Hmm, that sounds like a personal obligation for followers of the faith. The wiki doesn’t mention anything about using violence to compel everyone to follow that lifestyle. Maybe Kevin thinks it’s implied?

        Fanaticism is forbidden.

        Yikes, I wonder how he rationalizes that one. Oh right, he’s a “moderate.”

        Abstaining from partisan politics is required.

        Well, that one’s easy. Thank God the drug war is a bipartisan train wreck!

        • Liam says:

          Of course, any belief system worth its salt allows its adherents to justify any moral contradiction, to say one thing and do another, to take a life, yet sleep the sleep of the innocent. It’s the nature of the beast.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Francis, this year’s most annoying thing happening to me but out of my control is that the goddam politicians have started leaving messages on our answering machine. The message that they leave is still “vote for me and send me money” but they’ve figured out hat they don’t actually have to talk to me directly to annoy me.

  6. claygooding says:

    We should take Sabet’s list and everyone research a possible war crime for each,,then Pete can post the full list and possible charges,,sending the list to the FBI for any crimes against the people.

    • Servetus says:

      Sabet’s list does indeed include a rogues gallery of drug war criminals. Perhaps the Southern Poverty Law Center will declare it a hate group, as they did with the American Family Association (AFA). Both the AFA and the Drug Policy Institute (DPI) are anti-drug and hateful of drug users, among other people.

  7. darkcycle says:

    Pardon me while I go and lose my breakfast.
    I have retyped this four times, but I still cannot come up with the proper form to express my thoughts at Sabet’s new “institute”. What University would lend them the credibility? Uh..never mind, we have that answer…
    I guess we’ll be seeing more of them. Can’t say I’m pleased, but I’m not surprised.
    I suppose there’s a bright side. The more we see Sabet in the press, the more we get to publicly destroy his work. Every time that happens, a little of his credibility slips away, never to return.

  8. Pete says:

    I’d like to find out more about the annual conference that they plan to host. Might be interesting to attend…

  9. ezrydn says:

    Maybe they’d let you open a booth, next to LEAP’s. LOL

  10. Peter says:

    This from the mission statement of U of F Academic Health Center:

    “Together we create unstoppable momentum”

    Sounds like a motto for drug war profiteers

  11. Duncan20903 says:

    This one is pulled from the “”All the world is queer save thee and me” category:

    Maria Solaun Wants To Warn Others Of Marijuana Dangers
    8:06 PM, Oct 5, 2012

    Maria cherishes the letters of gratitude and love written to her each mother’s day by Bijan.

    “I can’t say enough about how much I care about you and love you,” she reads, as she sniffs back tears.

    He wrote every mother’s day except the year she called 911 to have him arrested.

    “Bijan had put a fishing line from his top bedroom window, and on the bottom was a bag of marijuana,” Maria told us.

    • Peter says:

      according to Maria Solaun “Marijuana can kill. It puts you in bad places. With bad people. Marijuana can kill.”

      Like so many people influenced by prohibitionist propaganda, she is confusing the drug war with the drug. It’s as plain as day that her son was killed as a consequence of the black market in drugs caused by prohibition.

      • Duncan20903 says:


        There are a lot of people in this Country that would most certainly benefit from a remedial course in the relationship between cause and effect, no doubt.

        I can at least be a bit forgiving when it’s a parent that has lost a child. My nephew died at age 21 from a fatal overdose of Xanax so I got to see my sister’s parental grief up close and personal. From time to time I wonder if I shouldn’t have stuck my nose into the situation and made sure that my nephew knew that tolerance subsides but the LD-50 remains pretty constant. You would think that the 12 steppers would at least mention this to their new recruits. Lots and lots of fatal overdoses happen directly after quitting for whatever reason. A couple of months in jail, rehab, or just a strong desire to get out from under the monkey, the fatal error is taking a dose which had been tolerated before. My nephew had a little more than 60 days under his belt when he died.

        What really disgusts me is that these poor people are being used as fodder for the propaganda mill. I recall that in 2007 (give or take a year) there was a teenager from Colorado who committed suicide. John Walters really liked trotting out the boy’s father and blaming the youth’s choice to enjoy cannabis as the cause of that suicide. They never did seem able to recall that they had the boy in “treatment” with regular urine testing and the boy hadn’t touched cannabis in 6 months previous to his untimely death. Perhaps that’s just refusing to let the facts get in the way of disseminating an effective piece of hysterical rhetoric.

        Then again this woman lost her son in 2005. Even Art Linkletter had disassociated himself from the hysterical rhetoric in less than half that time.

        • Maria says:

          People need something to blame. They can’t publicly blame their god(s) (though they surely might in private). They can’t blame their loved ones. They can’t blame larger forces they hardly understand let alone seem able to acknowledge. So they blame the thing they are told to blame and cling to that belief as long as possible.

        • Duncan20903 says:

          How about blaming themselves? I think that’s the most likely thing that they’re trying to avoid.

  12. Francis says:

    We’ve had several recent threads that mentioned Kevin Sabet and not so much as a peep out of his anonymous defender … er, defenders (sorry, didn’t mean to blow your cover). Should we be worried?

    • darkcycle says:

      It seems that the “Sabetuer” only shows up when Pete mentions and links to one of Kevvie’s puff pieces (ha ha, you like that? I did). Otherwise, nada. I’m guessing Pete has to link to a current article.

  13. allan says:

    I wonder if they’ll add Rachel Hoffman to their in memory of list? And did they invite Richard Paey to join? He knows a bit about drugs and drug policy… that inside view might just give Kev-Kev’s little play group a different perspective.

    Or maybe they invited LEAP’s Jerry Cameron, he’s a Floridite… and Elvy is from Fluorida, she was once an anti-drug type. Oh, then there’s Steve from Clearwater, can’t forget to include that blue collar input…

    I’m just trying to help.

  14. Peter says:

    Re: Sabet’s anonymous supporters:
    Here’s the first comment on the thread about the PBS Debate on Marijuana Legalization (Oct 5, 2012) appearing on his own site (

    “cantwell gal 10/04/12
    sabet did a fantastic job … we never hear this side … sensible, science and factual based …

    who needs pot available at a store, it’s easy enough to get already.”

    Am I just a conspiracist or is the fact that the comment is dated BEFORE the debate significant?

  15. question says:

    Wasn’t David Musto more or less in favor of decriminalization? He wasn’t a blatant apologist for the status quo like, say, Inciardi.

    As I recall Musto certainly wasn’t a rabid prohibitionist like these guys using his name.

  16. Windy says:

    Looks like Kevin himself has visited this thread, being as there is a single down vote on almost every comment berating him, so far.

  17. Peter says:

    As Windy observes, there are a suspicious number of incongruous, solo, thumbs-downs on this thread. Couldn’t possibly be a new tactic by the “anonymous” Sabet-supporter? (Come on Kev, we won’t bite, you can come out of your troll closet)

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