The rhetorical end to the war

Jacob Sullum does a nice job with Obama Ends the War on Drugs… Again

Shepard, for example, considers this quote from Kerlikowske to be evidence of a real breakthrough: “Drug policy should be rooted in neuroscience, not political science.” […]

By describing drug use as a disease—as something that happens to people against their will, rather than something they choose to do—Obama and his underlings seek to persuade us that using violence to stop people from consuming certain substances does not interfere with liberty at all. To the contrary, such coercion promotes true liberty by freeing people from the slavery of their addictions. Seems pretty fucking political to me.

If Obama were as concerned about the racially disproportionate impact of draconian drug sentences as Shepard claims, wouldn’t he have managed by now, more than four years into his presidency, to have commuted more than one?

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23 Responses to The rhetorical end to the war

  1. claygooding says:

    “Shepard, for example, considers this quote from Kerlikowske to be evidence of a real breakthrough: “Drug policy should be rooted in neuroscience, not political science.” […]”

    Since we know he is speaking double-speak his intent to act like he is agreeing with our stance that drug policy should be based on any kind of science besides any studies done by NIDA.

    If he quit ignoring the studies NIDA has accidentally stumbled upon such as Tashkins pulmonary study that would be in direct conflict with his policy mandated by congress he is also going to ignore any neuroscience that finds positive benefits from marijuana.

    When he actually starts allowing medical studies on organic marijuana I will start listening to science quotes and results from any representative of our government.

  2. Jacob Sullum is right on.

  3. strayan says:

    This video of Dr. Nora Volkow from NIDA is on the ONDCP website:

    They believe that drug addiction robs people of their free will because drugs ‘hijack’ the brain which means you are doomed unless treated.

    This is, as Bruce Alexander puts it, a “a pharmacological version of the belief in “demon possession” that has entranced western culture for centuries.”

    Only these days, instead of burning you at the stake, they stick you in a cell or ‘treatment centre’ against your will and then voilà, freedom.

    • kaptinemo says:

      A long, long time ago, back when NIDA was actually doing studies worthy of the name, there was one in which the propaganda mechanisms behind prohibitions were examined.

      It was called Themes in Chemical Prohibition By William L. White From: Drugs in Perspective, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1979

      It neatly encapsulates the essence of DrugWar propaganda narratives:

      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.

      Needless to say, not much has changed since then. The terminology has morphed, but it’s still the same old foaming, mad-dog irrationality that guides policy. And that particular mental ‘disease’ continues to afflict the present Administration as it has all the previous ones. Obama’s Administration should recall the old advice of “Physician, heal thyself!” before it seeks to operate on society.

    • Opiophiliac says:

      If you like Bruce Alexander, Peter Cohen is also worth reading. Here’s the link to his critique of addiction as a neurological disease:

      Peter Cohen (2009), The Naked Empress. Modern neuro-science and the concept of addiction.

      My criticism of the work of neurologists or neuro pharmacologists in the field of addiction is organized along three axes.

      The first and basic axis is criticism of the concept of addiction itself. I will propose an alternative way of looking at behavior that is currently called addiction, seeing it as normal human potential, that of strong bonding. Bonding is an emotional process that creates ties that cannot be shed at will. Human bonding can take place with a large variety of objects, from food, drugs, ideas, people, places to musical instruments and animals. The stronger a bond the more an individual will value and defend it, even under conditions of (extremely) negative consequences. Bonds, also strong ones, should as a rule be respected and not made illegitimate. Bonding is a general and inescapable human propensity but the designation of some intensities (of feeling, of involvement) or some objects as deviant or ‘addiction’ is specific to a culture. I will use the concept of ‘phobia’ as a comparison, phobia being the negative counterpart of bonding, but nonetheless as inescapable and hard to free oneself from. Most bondings (liaisons) and phobias can be accepted and integrated into life, unless the individual (or society or both) decide they have become unbearable. Acceptance is a cultural and political process that can be increased or decreased. Medicalization and criminalization of an ‘addiction’ is a way of lowering the level of social acceptance of certain bonds, just like medicalization and criminalization of homosexuality.

      The second axis, related to the first but apart from it, is based in a more epistemological approach, analyzing the way conventional notions about addiction are translated into the jargon of neurology or the language of development in neurological knowledge. My thesis is that the human behavior summarized as ‘addiction’ is not studied by neurologists, that the cultural notions of addiction are taken as wholly self evident and then ‘confirmed’ in neurological description of the same. The notions of addiction transformed into the language of neurology as performed by authors like Volkov, Berridge, Gessa or De Vries are completely tautological.

      The third axis criticises some of the methods that underlie this tautological activity. I will show that evidence for the construction of understanding neurological process behind ‘addiction’ is nonexistent. Instead, all neurological process that is seen, recognized or ‘discovered’ is just as scientific as the work of Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909). Lombroso and people like him present a model of how historical notions of a concept (like crime, addiction, homosexuality) are projected onto quasi scientific biological characteristics and their measurement, ‘craniometry’ in Lombroso’s case. They create an illusion of empirical rigor, e.g. by presenting images and scans of brains, coloring them in a certain way, and decide that these (arbitrary) colorings represent ‘evidence’ of the pre-existing notions. No third party validation takes place at all, and the evidence is no more than some interpretation in the mind of the creators of these images. So, the empress appears to be naked. Also, people entering the addiction treatment system are never diagnosed via a scanner or any technique of neuro-imaging because it is simply impossible to diagnose ‘addiction’ that way. Neurology’s place in the field of addiction is purely post hoc. Neuro imaging offers a form of hocus pocus not geared towards better diagnosis but towards suggesting a scientific and medical foundation of the addiction concept.

  4. Francis says:

    The “Aiken formula” for ending an intractable and politically unpopular war is to “declare victory and go home.” The drug warriors appear to be attempting the reverse: essentially admitting that the drug war is unwinnable (e.g., “we can’t arrest our way out of the drug problem” / claiming to have “ended” the war on drugs) — but then continuing to fight it anyway. Great strategy, morons.

    But while the drug warriors’ rhetorical retreat is infuriating because of its brazen dishonesty, it should also be encouraging, because it is after all a retreat. And it won’t be their last.

    • claygooding says:

      As long as the ONDCP/DEA/DOJ continue paying bounty money for drug arrests the frontline troops(local LE)will continue the fight,,they are so eager to cure marijuana addicts that they will continue to pay LE to make sure they get rehab
      When they can get investors to build those pesky rehab centers required to handle 800,000 marijuana addicts per year plus a few hundred thousand other types of drug addicts arrested they will change over from incarceration to forced rehab,,in the meantime they are continuing filling the prisons which are already facing funding problems,,including the privatized prisons mostly because of health care costs for inmates growing rapidly because of overcrowding,under staffing and underfunded policies…
      The wall is trembling with all the costs and the drug war clock is burning it’s wheels off from spinning so fast. I love it.

      The GAO report that the ONDCP drug strategy has failed to establish the foundation for it’s plan has failed. no rehabs built

  5. Mr Ikasheeni says:

    Employers may discriminate against MMJ patients in a Colorado ruling. It is unknown if they’l be mandate 24/7 wages, even for testing lab employees. c yahoo news.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      This one is going to the State Supreme Court. The Appellate Court is enforcing Federal law in this decision and that just ain’t copasetic.

      Just as a point of information “Colorado’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities law protects workers being fired for legal behavior off the clock, citing cigarette smoking as a protected activity.” The petitioner, Brandon Coats, was fired for using medicinal cannabis when he wasn’t at work. Mr. Coates is a quadriplegic so it’s hardly arguable that he just “wants an excuse” to get high. Like one of my friend’s dear old dad used to say, he’d say “boy, never hit a man when he’s down. It’s much easier to kick him.”

      When did the Christian Science Monitor quit taking comments?

  6. The door is a jar says:


    Colorado marijuana-legalization backers say repeal effort is afoot

    I’m not too worried. Just because Brain Dead Colorado is promoting repeal doesn’t mean they’ll be taken seriously except the politicians who get their campaign contributions.

    It takes a lot more than a simple majority to repeal an Amendment to the Colorado State Contribution. “Because Amendment 64 is in the state’s constitution, any repeal of the measure would have to be constitutional, as well. Lawmakers must approve constitutional referred measures with two-thirds support in order for them to go to the ballot. And there are only 13 days left in the legislative session for lawmakers to pass anything.”

    For some unknown reason I’ve also got it stuck in my head that in Colorado the vote to repeal an amendment requires a 60% vote but that might not be correct.

  7. Servetus says:

    Contractors to the DEA are suing their boss agency alleging the improper use of polygraph testing on applicant employees. Polygraphs, procedures that are only partially reliable, are being implemented by the DEA as a security tool to make definitive decisions about a person’s contract employment status with the DEA.

    The lawsuit is ironic given that DEA agents are expected to lie on the witness stand, and the ONDCP is compelled by law to lie to the public, and that drug agents are otherwise expected to involve themselves in deceptive and illegal intelligence activities throughout the U.S. and abroad.

    The nature of the polygraph questions reveals much about the subculture in charge at the DEA. Multiple plaintiffs say they’re being rejected for employment based on questions such as have they cheated on their ex-wife, and intimate questions about their past relationships, families, and financial situations. They were asked if they had ever lied or cheated at school. The wrong response is a job disqualifier. The testing process is also alleged to be abusive.

    Apparently, cheating on a high school exam disqualifies a person from cheating an entire nation of people out of their human rights. Amazing.

  8. crut says:

    OT: New breathalyzer detects multiple drugs…

    So, can it detect impairment? Cause that would be actually, you know, useful…

    • claygooding says:

      I have not seen the article but if it is the one made by Philips(Motorola) it has failed miserably in Australia because of too many false positives. The Aussies tried it for a year and half and discontinued it’s use because costs of the equipment came out at appx $39k per ticket issued and most were beaten as false positives. Another brand met the same fate in Europe but can’t recall the mfr.

  9. BigBro Smackdown Looms says:

    Oakland on Lockdown. Door-To-Door Rapine goin-on. Just Sayin…

    • allan says:

      uh… are you offering that as a working example of “hyperbole”?

      One housing complex/neighborhood is not Oakland. And please, offer us a linky when you set off flares.

      The only thing I saw in a quick search was 300 OPD and FBI did a gang sweep in a housing complex. They didn’t necessarily do a good sweep, ya think w/ all that firepower they’d get more than a few suspects and handful of weapons.

  10. Crystal Ball says:

    Eye of Frog, Sprig of Hoot

    Flaming Helicopters, Falling
    Children Orphaned
    Adam and Steve Leave
    Large Fires Huge Fires
    One Giant Fire
    Banks Bulldozed

  11. allan says:

    Anyone near Pittsburgh, PA?

    NAACP Northeast Region Community Town Hall Forum – Ending the War On Drugs
    April 27th at 7:00 PM at the Community College of Allegheny College
    808 Ridge Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

  12. allan says:

    Nice to see dissension in the PharmaCorp ranks

    Doctors Denounce Cancer Drug Prices of $100,000 a Year

    Nice to see others using the word “profiteer”… too many making too much from the pain and suffering of others across too much of our landscape.

  13. thelbert says:

    somehow san diego elected a cool mayor. i live outside the city limits, but bob filner seems to be the real deal.

  14. War Vet says:

    A police officer came up to me today and said, “Hello Mr. (last name deleted), we’re going to go ahead and have these two fine gentlemen rape and kill your kids so this guy right here can go to a court ordered treatment center for his cocaine use . . . that guy right there can go to prison for making meth out in the middle of nowhere . . . and so that guy right there –Randal, drinking the beer, won’t have access to other legal life destroying drugs . . . Alcohol and tobacco are bad enough –God we don’t need anything else to be legal. Have a good day Mr. (last name deleted).”

    So, what about the rights of non-drug users? Don’t they deserve legalized drugs to help avoid rape and murder? Doesn’t my 19yr old female friend have the right to join the U.S. Army in peace time so she can get her free college and help her fellow citizens during times of major storms and flooding (the real role of the U.S. Military –not fighting Narco-Terror or intersecting dope)? Why is it necessary for her to go to war 11yrs after the fact . . . she was but a little girl when those buildings fell –me, I was 19 and it was my duty and obligation to join at that age because of my family history of killing Nazis and Redcoats. Hell, her father spent most of her childhood years locked up behind bars for selling pot, which would explain why the military is one of the few ways for American kids to have a future since parents and parenting are becoming extinct via court order. Of course, if I didn’t join the military, I’d be naive enough to think drug legalization or pot legalization was about people being able to use their drugs legally . . . my freedom to use whatever drug I want takes a backseat to someone’s right to not get raped or have blown off limbs –hence full blown drug legalization is next to Godliness . . . at least the cell doors open up after a few years or decades unlike coffins . . . in fact, I rather enjoyed by stay at my local redneck jail in comparison to my stay in Baghdad going up against drug money armed freedom fighters and drug money armed religious fanatics.

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