We must always watch out for the worst

Regardless of the advances we make in drug policy reform, there will always be those who have not only not learned from our tragic failures, but who are determined to bring them back with a vengeance.

The overdose crisis is bringing back one of the worst policies of the ‘war on drugs’

Last month, Republican Rep. Tom Reed of New York introduced legislation that harked back to what critics call one of the worst relics of the “war on drugs.”

The legislation would allow federal prosecutors to charge a drug dealer with life in prison or the death penalty when they can connect the dealer to an overdose death caused by heroin laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid painkiller with 50 times the strength of pure heroin.

And, just in case you’ve forgotten why this is a bad thing (and why we need to get rid of the laws that are still on the books that charge a dealer for the death of a user) remember how these laws end up getting enforced.

To charge someone with drug-induced homicide or a similar charge, the chain of causation that led from purchase to overdose needs to be very clear. Drug dealers with more sophisticated operations don’t tend to put themselves in the types of situations that make it feasible to prove that causation, Kathie Kane-Willis, the director of Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy, told The Southern Illinoisan earlier this year.

Addicts who sell to support their addiction and most often sell to friends or acquaintances do put themselves in those types of situations — like shooting up with the overdose victim.

“If our goal is to save lives, then these laws are counterproductive,” Kane-Willis told The Fix in January. “The majority of people charged under drug-induced homicide laws are drug-dependent folks who were using with a friend or loved one.”

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21 Responses to We must always watch out for the worst

  1. Servetus says:

    Exemplifying the worst drug policies, a 23-year-old-mother in Idaho has been arrested on misdemeanor charges for “injury to a child” after she gave cannabinoid-infused butter to one of her children who suffered “seizure-like symptoms” after the girl’s reaction to anti-psychotic medication. The cannabis worked like the miracle it is. However, the girl tested positive for marijuana at her doctor’s appointment, and the doctor contacted the child welfare department, which took away both of her two children.

    Governor “Butcher” Otter of Idaho previously vetoed a CBD bill that would have allowed its use in cases like those of Madyson’s, minus any legal harassment of her mother. Instead, Otter produced an executive order creating a special program that allowed up to 25 children to get CBD for persistent epilepsy, but no more than 25.

    What makes the Idaho CBD regulations ironic is that the state has what’s called a “faith-healing exemption” wherein a parent or guardian is allowed to use prayers or “spiritual means” as treatment, while rejecting the application of modern medical science and drug treatments. Idaho “remains one of six states with what amounts to a religious defense for child manslaughter, even capital murder, in its code.” The Idaho religious group engaging in these barbarous policies calls itself the Followers of Christ: “The literalist, Pentecostal sect has congregations in areas of Owyhee, Canyon, Ada and Twin Falls counties. Some say that more members have moved to Idaho from neighboring Oregon in the years since Idaho’s neighbor to the west eliminated faith-healing exemptions from its criminal statutes.”

    Adding more irony to this story is that part of the responsibility for the state faith healing exemptions in six states originated with the Nixon White House:

    The 1974 Child Abuse and Prevention and Treatment Act included a provision, reportedly added by Nixon White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, both Christian Scientists, requiring states to enact faith-healing or “spiritual treatment” exemptions to receive federal funds for anti-child abuse programs. Founded in 1879, the church has moderated from its onetime outright rejection of modern medicine and now is said to let members choose for themselves.

    Governor Otter is a strict Roman Catholic, so we can presume he’s no friend of cannabis, much like his church, which once burned men and women at the stake for providing herbal remedies used in healing the afflicted. The medieval popes believed that only the devil, and not a material substance, could bring about the observed healing effects, thereby thwarting the will of God who supposedly made the person (sinner) sick in the first place. Smallpox vaccinations in the early 19th century were rejected for the same reason by a number of Protestant clergymen.

    Except for the severity of persecutions and punishments for drug consumption, some things never change. The next time someone talks about protecting children from drugs, ask them about Idaho’s faith healers and their record of medical successes.




    • jean valjean says:

      Give me that old time religion
      Give me that old time religion
      Give me that old time religion
      It’s good enough for me

      Let us worship Zarathustra
      Just the way we used to
      I’m a Zarathustra booster
      He’s good enough for me

      Let us worship Aphrodite
      She’s beautiful but flighty
      She doesn’t wear a nightie
      But she’s good enough for me

    • jean valjean says:

      From Otter’s wiki page:
      “In August 1992, Otter was pulled over on Interstate 84 near Meridian for suspicion of driving under the influence. He claimed the arresting officer observed him swerving as he was reaching for his cowboy hat, which had been blown off by the wind in his open car. Otter offered several explanations for failing the field sobriety test including: his stocking feet were stung by weeds and gravel, he had run eight miles (13 km) and his knee hurt, he was hungry, and that he had soaked his chewing tobacco in Jack Daniel’s. A jury convicted Otter in March 1993, and he was sentenced to 72 hours of community service and 16 hours at an alcohol treatment program, fined $700, and had his license revoked.[30][31] He publicly admitted it could end his political career;[31] it likely forced him to abandon an anticipated run for governor in 1994 and instead seek re-election for lieutenant governor.”

      Here’s Elisha Figueroa, administrator of Otter’s Office of Drug Policy:

  2. JustOneHorse says:

    American Nurses Association Calls For Rescheduling of Cannabis

    ANA is vocal in calling out the hypocrisy of the scheduling, sharing that cannabis has been notoriously used for medicinal purposes throughout our history. In fact, cannabis was part of America’s Pharmocopeia before Prohibition. Now, the medical benefits of cannabis are being proven every day, and ANA was able to point out some of these proven uses. The statement reads, “Marijuana has been used for alleviating symptoms of nausea and vomiting; stimulating appetite in HIV patients; alleviating chronic pain; easing plasticity due to multiple sclerosis; decreasing symptoms of depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and psychosis; and reliving intraocular pressure from glaucoma.”

    Overall, the ANA believes patients and health care providers should be safe from federal prosecution regarding medical cannabis, and the nurses organization hopes to see further research and the rescheduling of cannabis in the near future.


  3. CJ says:

    It is the most horrible emotion a human can experience, giving dope to a friend then they OD. worse than any life sentence. I would know.

    • Matt says:

      Just for interest’s sake CJ, could you please give me your brief understanding of “OD” when there are opioids involved. So in other words, what happens to the person’s physical processes?

  4. Servetus says:

    Arch-prohibitionist and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has experienced a moral epiphany:

    Manila – 10-October-2016…[Duterte] has promised to God he won’t spew expletives again … especially when threatening to kill drugs dealers as part of his war on illegal drugs that has left thousands dead since he took office at the end of June.[…]

    He said that while flying home, he was looking at the sky while everyone was sound asleep and he heard a voice that said “‘if you don’t stop epithets, I will bring this plane down now.”

    “And I said, ‘Who is this?’ So, of course, ‘it’s God,'” he said.

    “So, I promise God to … not express slang, cuss words and everything. So you guys hear me right always because (a) promise to God is a promise to the Filipino people.”

    Duterte’s vow was met with applause, but he cautioned: “Don’t clap too much or else this may get derailed.”


    Not surprisingly, Duterte began his career as a prosecutor; according to Wiki : “Special Counsel at the City Prosecution Office in Davao City from 1977–79; Fourth Assistant City Prosecutor from 1979–81; Third Assistant City Prosecutor from 1981–83; and Second Assistant City Prosecutor from 1983–86.” As president, however, Duterte has been in trouble for some sick comments he made a few months ago in a rape case:

    On April 12, 2016, Duterte told supporters that, as Mayor, he thought he “should have been first” to rape Jacqueline Hamill, an Australian missionary who was gang-raped and killed during the 1989 Davao hostage crisis. He recalled examining her corpse: “When the bodies were brought out, they were wrapped. I looked at her face, son of a bitch, she looks like a beautiful American actress.”… After being condemned widely by many which include various women’s groups and the Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Duterte later apologized for the incident and acknowledged the comment as a “bad remark” saying he regretted his “gutter language” but would not apologize for being misinterpreted.

    The moral of the story is never give the tools of drug prohibition to a necrophiliac, serial killer, and whack-job such as Rodrigo Duterte. Prohibition is already a dangerous threat to humanity. It shouldn’t be made worse by making it a toy for the entertainment and profit of psychopaths, although that seems to be the historical trend.

  5. “The drug war’s most enthusiastic recruit: Hollywood”
    by Alyssa Rosenberg at The Washington Post

    … “Just as Jack Webb’s partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department on “Dragnet” and “Adam-12” benefited both Hollywood and the police, the drug war united pop culture and real law enforcement agencies in a new common purpose. The prospect of foreign drug traffickers invading American shores gave pop-culture cops a new and more dangerous enemy to fight, one that justified fast driving, explosive shootouts and all sorts of audience-thrilling rule-breaking. In return, Hollywood promoted the idea that drugs posed a grave threat that justified new, frightening police tactics and the erosion of basic rights.” …

    Watching out for the worse – and the misguided drama of an industry stuck on the abundant script material provided by the war on drugs.

  6. Keith says:

    The pols who propose these laws really don’t care whose lives they ruin. They see a rash of overdoses and think ‘how can I personally benefit from the situation?’ Acting tough on drugs is a sure fire way to garner support. For the children.

  7. Servetus says:

    As the war on drug users recedes, the war on overzealous drug prosecutors begins:

    In 2013, the Welton family of Mesa, Arizona finally found the right treatment for their 5-year-old son, Zander, who experienced violent seizures from the time he was a baby: medical marijuana extract.[…]

    Then, just as Zander’s health improved, Maricopa County’s top prosecutor, Bill Montgomery (AZ-R) threatened to prosecute the Welton family. The medical marijuana law passed in 2010 in Arizona, he said, did not include extracts. Fearing prosecution, Zander’s parents stopped the treatment, and the boy’s health regressed almost immediately.

    With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), they filed a lawsuit against the state, arguing that the law permitted medicinal use of extracts — a battle they ultimately won in 2014. But Montgomery’s enthusiasm for taking down marijuana users has never faltered, and his treatment of the Welton family perfectly exemplifies his fervor for prohibition.

    To this day, Montgomery remains a vocal opponent of marijuana, and aggressively prosecutes people who use it — comparing them to cartel members and enemies of God. Come Election Day in November, that unwavering stance could cost him his job.

    Montgomery is one of many district attorneys across the U.S. with “reefer madness,” meaning they treat pot — medical and otherwise — as a vile, destructive, and sinful substance. As public opinion shifts toward a more favorable view of marijuana, and lawmakers rethink tough-on-crime policies, reefer mad prosecutors could get the boot.

    Now, in the era of Black Lives Matter and the bipartisan push for criminal justice reform, people of color are mobilizing to unseat overzealous prosecutors. Marijuana advocacy groups are doing the same in several counties notorious for cracking down on marijuana offenses.

    Another marijuana prosecutor ousting attempt is happening in Houston, Texas:

    …advocates are trying to push out District Attorney Devon Anderson in Harris County, Texas, where drug possession is aggressively prosecuted.[…]

    Advocates say Harris County Jail, located in Houston, is “still bursting at the seams” with people arrested for possession.[…]

    Anderson has continued the policy, which her husband championed as D.A. before her, of broken windows policing — cracking down on minor offenses in an effort to preempt more serious crimes. “Just because you have marijuana doesn’t mean you’re going to commit crimes the next day,” Moreno said.

    As for Maricopa County, Arizona:

    …home of the Welton family, marijuana advocates are committed to dethroning prosecutor Bill Montgomery and legalizing recreational marijuana in the entire state of Arizona through the ballot initiative Proposition 205.

    Billionaire George Soros, a well-known supporter of marijuana reform, is now bankrolling local efforts to take down Montgomery and funneling money into the campaign of challenger Diego Rodriguez, a Democrat committed to ending mass incarceration. Soros also created a political action committee, Arizona Safety & Justice, to fight the incumbent.

    In the future, prosecuting the prosecutor, or merely kicking the bums out of office, will become a favored avenue of drug law reform.


  8. Servetus says:

    The City of Santa Ana, California, is $100,000 poorer today after being sued for police harassment of a marijuana dispensary and losing in court:

    The money comes from a lawsuit alleging police harassment of the marijuana dispensary, settled by the City of Santa Ana this week. Santa Ana has also agreed to drop charges against a dozen employees. […]

    It’s a good thing the cameras were on; the dispensary cameras, that is. Apparently, the cops hung around the establishment long after the raid occurred, playing darts and making demeaning comments about the staff. And once they got comfortable, they indulged in Sky High pot-laced edibles.

    The suit alleged that Mayor Miguel Pulido and other city employees favored certain dispensaries over others,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “It said the city put up a ballot proposal, Measure BB, for the November 2014 election, soliciting payments from collectives with the promise of winning a spot in an eventual marijuana permit lottery.”

    Three police officers were charged for petty theft and damaging security cameras when the case first surfaced.[…]


    The separate hidden cameras saved the day for the dispensary, as the cops believed they had completely disabled the dispensary’s only surveillance system. In ways such as this, technology has become the great equalizer among people and the police. As legalization proceeds, the game plan will be ‘spy vs. spy’ until the U.S. finally reigns in its drug squads.

    • WalStMonky says:


      The local Boston subsidiary of the object of our mutually loathed and disgust donated $850,000 to the campaign to defeat Massachusetts Question 4 on Election Day. Could this mean that the church has finally paid off all of the diddled kiddies judgments?

      Paranoia is a healthy state of mind when there really are people out to get you.

      • WalStMonky says:


        Just FYI I changed my screen name because the absolute prohibition of cannabis is going away. Duncan20903 was never meant to be permanent screen name. Neither did I dream that it might persist for more than a decade when I invented it.

        • darkcycle says:

          Well, Duncan, I’ll try to get used to it. Same holds for old DC. Never thought it would stick. I created darkcycle for the purpose of a single response here at DWR….I think it was 11 years ago…and here we both are. Don’t regret a single minute with the best bunch of amotivational, unreliable, forgetful stoners on the planet. (Yeah….the most driven, consistently hard working and intelligent group I have ever belonged to.)

        • JustOneHorse says:

          And I’m down to my last horse; Carl Jung strikes again!

      • Servetus says:

        How unfortunate our mutually loathed should waste $850K on a lost cause. I’d hoped that when they were a no-show at the United Nations UNGASS meeting they’d backed off from enforcing their peculiar health code.

        The ill-advised donation targeting Prop 4 means I’m forced to reveal more nasty things about them. Let’s start with the woman who went to a Catholic hospital to be treated for bleeding due to her dislodged IUD:

        It’s not even a slight exaggeration to say that when the Supreme Court decided that right-wing religious bigotry can take precedence above pretty much everything else, including common sense, they were setting some people up to die.

        28-year-old Melanie Jones, who lives near Chicago, didn’t die, but only because she was lucky. She made the mistake of visiting her doctor, one her healthcare plan wanted her to visit, when she began bleeding heavily because her IUD became dislodged. Her doctor refused to remove her IUD, even though something more dire could still happen, because the doctor was Catholic.

        “I think my first feeling was shock,” Jones told Rewire in an interview. “I thought that eventually they were going to recognize that my health was the top priority.”

        It wasn’t just her doctor. According to Jones and two complaints filed by the ACLU, the entire hospital couldn’t help Jones out because it was a Catholic hospital. In fact, no one in her entire insurance network could help her. She had no idea that she had signed up with a Catholic healthcare network (Blue Cross Blue Shield). [emphasis mine]


        Do people buying ‘Blue Shaft’ health insurance know about this? A boycott of Blue Cross Blue Shield is definitely needed. Speaking of shielding civilians from evil, the Vatican’s rogue rape squad is still decimating those parts of the world too poor or too frightened to confront its priestly child predators:

        20 September 2016 — The Catholic Church has acquitted an HIV-infected priest who has admitted to raping close to 30 young girls between the ages of five and 10 years old.

        According to a bombshell report, which appeared in the Spanish-language news site Urgente24.com, the priest, Jose Garcia Ataulfo, was absolved of any wrongdoing by the Archdiocese of Mexico.

        Ataulfo has admitted to sexually assaulting indigenous young girls from Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico known for its large indigenous population.

        The priest has yet to face any criminal charges, most likely due to the significant influence that the Catholic Church wields in Mexico, particularly in areas populated by indigenous ethnic groups.


      • Justin Auldphart says:

        Mother Church…standing in the way of progress and knowledge for 2000 years

  9. JustOneHorse says:

    Duterte returned from a visit to Japan late on Thursday and during a news conference waved a thick book he said contained names of officials suspected of drug links. The book contains about 3,000 names.

    It came as police shift tactics in the controversial war on drugs by focusing on politicians, government officials, celebrities and high-ranking army and police suspected of involvement in the trade. The new plan, called “Project Double Barrel Alpha”, was reported exclusively by Reuters on Monday and aims to increase arrests and reduce the bloodshed in a campaign that has claimed more than 2,300 lives since Duterte took office on June 30.

    Reduce the bloodshed?


  10. kaptinemo says:

    No matter how much you try to be reasonable about drug law reform, you always face the underlying motivations for drug prohibition and drug prohibitionists: the twin desires to control and punish. It’s in everything they do.

    HL Mencken noted this in his time during alcohol Prohibition in his (Downloadable PDF) Notes on Democracy, ca. 1925 Page 173:

    “The Prohibitionists, when they foisted their brummagem cure-all upon the country under cover of the war hysteria, gave out that their advocacy of it was based upon a Christian yearning to abate drunkenness, and so abolish crime, poverty and disease. They preached a millennium, and no doubt convinced hundreds of thousands of naive and sentimental persons, not themselves Puritans, nor even democrats.

    That millennium, as everyone knows, has failed to come in. Not only are crime, poverty and disease undiminished, but drunkenness itself, if the police statistics are to be believed, has greatly increased. The land rocks with the scandal. Prohibition has made the use of alcohol devilish and even fashionable, and so vastly augmented the number of users. The young of both sexes, mainly innocent of the cup under license, now take to it almost unanimously.

    In brief, Prohibition has not only failed to work the benefits that its proponents promised in 1917; it has brought in so many new evils that even the mob has turned against it.

    But do the Prohibitionists admit the fact frankly, and repudiate their original nonsense? They do not. On the contrary, they keep on demanding more and worse enforcement statutes — that is to say, more and worse devices for harassing and persecuting their opponents. The more obvious the failure becomes, the more shamelessly they exhibit their genuine motives. In plain words, what moves them is the psychological aberration called sadism. They lust to inflict inconvenience, discomfort, and, whenever possible, disgrace upon the persons they hate — which is to say, upon everyone who is free from their barbarous theological superstitions, and is having a better time in the world than they are.

    They cannot stop the use of alcohol, nor even appreciably diminish it, but they can badger and annoy everyone who seeks to use it decently, and they can fill the jails with men taken for purely artificial offenses, and they can get satisfaction thereby for the Puritan yearning to browbeat and injure, to torture and terrorize, to punish and humiliate all who show any sign of being happy. And all this they can do with a safe line of policemen and judges in front of them; always they can do it without personal risk.” (Emphasis mine – k.)

    I’ve said it before and will say it again: The main failure of drug law reform is not in communication; we excel at making our case on a rational basis. The main failure is that many in the drug law reform community are fundamentally incapable of understanding just how much they are hated by the opposition; the prohibitionists want people they don’t like to die. Which is why we keep seeing laws like the one detailed above being proposed time and again.

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