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couch, the longest running single-issue blog devoted to drug policy, is published by the Prohibition Isn't Free Foundation
May 2021



Really, Idaho?

Constitutional ban on legal pot advances in Idaho

State lawmakers on Friday moved forward with a proposed constitutional amendment that would bar the legalization of marijuana in Idaho in an attempt to keep the growing nationwide acceptance of the drug from seeping across its borders. [emphasis added]

That’s right. They’re proposing a constitutional amendment so they can ensure that it won’t be able to be passed through a referendum.

“You guys are so afraid of marijuana, you’re willing to blow up the state constitution,” [Bill Esbensen] told lawmakers.

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Finally, a better use for dog sniffing

Yes, please. Much better than sniffing for marijuana.

The Dogs Training to Sniff Out COVID-19

Promising early results from several studies have encouraged researchers around the world to develop and expand canine programs that may screen people for COVID-19 infection at places like airports, hospitals, or sports venues.

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HHS Counters the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Act

After 107 years of drug war-induced misery and futility, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finally reversed the legal remnants of the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Act that prohibited general medical practitioners from treating patients addicted to drugs for their addictions. The HHS made history recently by changing 21 U.S.C. § 823(g)(2) of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) so that physicians who want to prescribe buprenorphine to their patients for opioid use disorder (OUD) can do so without going to jail. The following restrictions must be met:

• The exemption only applies to physicians who may only treat patients who are located in the states in which they are authorized to practice medicine.
• Physicians utilizing this exemption will be limited to treating no more than 30 patients with buprenorphine for opioid use disorder at any one time (note: the 30 patient cap does not apply to hospital-based physicians, such as Emergency Department physicians).
• The exemption applies only to the prescription of drugs or formulations covered under the X-waiver of the CSA, such as buprenorphine, and does not apply to the prescription, dispensation, or use of methadone for the treatment of OUD.
• Physicians utilizing this exemption shall place an “X” on the prescription and clearly identify that the prescription is being written for opioid use disorders (along with the separate maintaining of charts for patients being treated for OUD).
• An interagency working group will be established to monitor the implementation and results of these practice guidelines, as well as the impact on diversion.

Under the new regulations, actual progress toward ending the drug war is achieved merely by engaging in a harm reduction-based approach that encourages medicinally-based therapies that see addictions as treatable illnesses. By allowing drug treatment to be administered by licensed and general medical practitioners, HHS sidestepped the NIMBY effect where people object to having a drug treatment center in their neighborhood or next to schools or businesses. Under U.S. medical privacy laws (HIPAA), the new regulations protect the privacy and dignity of the patient suffering from opioid addiction, making it more likely a person will seek treatment should they desire it.

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Drug lawfare funds death squads in Honduras

Lawfare turns laws into weapons. No better example of lawfare exists than the never-ending saga of the South American Drug War. Drug lawfare is waged by the DEA and the U.S. Congress to protect oil, gas, mineral, and timber extraction industries from irate villagers. The villagers are upset because the foreign extraction corporations operating in Latin America tend to take a colonialist approach to business, pillaging, and stealing indigenous property to gain access to rich natural resources. The blowback consists of cheated inhabitants who revolt in clever ways and who tend to enlist the aid of anyone willing to back them.

Congress decided it’s the DEA’s job to help counter these revolts and any democratic, socialist or communist political economy that might arise. Legislators legitimatized their tactic by making drug enforcement part of the national security apparatus. Because huge amounts of money can easily be allocated for drug enforcement—no questions asked—the U.S. taxpayer is tricked into funding corporate welfare schemes tied to financing death squads in Honduras and elsewhere. T. J. Coles is director of the Plymouth Institute for Peace Research and he describes the history and ongoing situation in Honduras:

The cover for setting up a military police force is countering narco- and human-traffickers, but the record shows that left-wing civilians are targeted for death and intimidation. To crush the pro-Zelaya, pro-democracy movements Operation Morazán, [created] the Military Police of Public Order (PMOP)…the PMOP consisted of 4,500 personnel in 10 battalions across every region of Honduras, and … murdered at least 21 street protestors [in 2018]. […]

Between 2010 and 2016, as U.S. “aid” and training continued to flow, over 120 environmental activists were murdered by hitmen, gangs, police, and the military for opposing illegal logging and mining. Others have been intimidated. In 2014, for instance, a year after the murder of three Matute people by gangs linked to a mining operation, the children of the indigenous Tolupan leader, Santos Córdoba, were threatened at gunpoint by the U.S.-trained, ex-Army General, Filánder Uclés, and his bodyguards…crimes against the peoples of the region increased…Lawfare is also used, with over 160 small farmers in the area subject to frivolous legal proceedings. […]

…The names and command structures of U.S.-backed military units in Honduras have changed over the last four decades, but their goal remains the same. […]

Ending the U.S. funded drug lawfare racket in Latin America would compel extraction industries to deal with their own political problems in ways that don’t bleed taxpayers. No longer able to hide behind the plausible disguises of drug enforcement, the need for corporate business and political security would encourage commercial operations to spend their own money to make peace with the locals and to cease using lawfare to rob, attack, or murder citizens, journalists, and political or environmental activists. As a bonus for those opposing corporate welfare handouts of any type, the drug war perfectly showcases the evils of corporate welfare when it’s left unchecked.

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DEA no longer allowed to run Mexico

Via Radley Balko: Mexico Lawmakers Reclaim Sovereignty From DEA

On December 15, Mexico lawmakers passed a law reining in the asymmetrical, imperialist influence of the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration within the country. Supporters hailed the move as a reclamation of national sovereignty. […]

This limits their activities in the country to information-gathering, eliminates their legal immunity and assigns them reporting obligations. Agents will no longer be able to unilaterally execute arrests and raids, and will have to seek authorization from the Mexican federal government for their weapons. Permission from a newly formed security panel is also now required of any Mexican state or municipal official meeting with them.

This is good news, and way overdue.

While it hasn’t been talked about as much in recent times as the emphasis has been on marijuana legalization, the DEA, which has often acted as if it operates outside the law, certainly hasn’t been stopped. They may be less able to focus on marijuana, but they’ve still been pushing the drug war.

Drug warriors invested in the global dominance of the DEA have denounced the legislation. A few days before the Senate passed the law, US Attorney William Barr stated he was “troubled” by the legislation…


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Drug policy wins

Whatever depression you may be experiencing regarding the election process in this country right now, you can at least take comfort in the voters coming through in drug policy reform.

Every Single Marijuana And Drug Policy Ballot Measure Passing On Election Day Bolsters Federal Reform Push

Five more states legalized cannabis in some form and Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapy and also more broadly decriminalize drug possession. Meanwhile, voters in Washington, D.C. also approved a measure to decriminalize psychedelics in the nation’s capital.

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Miss America, USPS, and the DEA solve our drug problems.

Why didn’t we think of this before?

Drug Free America Forever Stamp

‘Drug Free USA Forever’ Stamps Launched By DEA, Postal Service, And Miss America

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Beer and spiked wine jumpstarted civilization

Brian C. Muraresku’s just-released book Immortality Key: The Secret History of a Religion with No Name explores the history of how psychoactive substances shaped the development of Christianity and Western civilization.

Armed with the new science of archeological chemistry that accurately detects and analyzes residues found in ancient pottery and cave paintings, and combining it with a Jesuit education in the Classics and linguistics, Muraresku describes the accidental brewing of beer 13,000 years ago when the last ice age receded. Some lucky person added yeast from their hands to a mixture of wheat and water and let it sit until it fermented. With wheat beer later came ergot mold that spiked the brew that could produce an after-worldly glow without priests or charlatans intervening or getting in the way — a prospect that irritates certain members of the clergy and their followers to this day.

Variations on the spiked or fortified wine meme began in roughly 3000 BCE. The wine included additives from whatever was widely available at the time, the stuff of witches’ brews, like cannabis, psilocybin, henbane, and nightshade, as examples. A more recent and familiar example of a fortified vintage is the famous Vin Mariani that contained coca and was a preferred beverage of Pope Leo XIII, Pope Saint Pius X, and aficionados like Ulysses S. Grant and Thomas Edison. The list is long.

A Joe Rogan Experience interview of Brian Muraresku and Graham Hancock discusses the fantastic journey into the past undertaken by Muraresku in the footsteps of pioneers such as ethnomycologist Gordon Wasson, Carl A. P. Ruck, and chemist Albert Hofmann to bring us a highly detailed and scientific overview of our ancient ancestors who consumed scary drugs initially provided by female shamans. The drug war is revealed as a war waged by a reactionary clergy determined to retain their middle-man status between heaven and earth:

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The war on drugs complicity in the death of Breonna

Jacob Sullum does a great job of detailing the horrendous state of our criminal justice system that essentially encourages fatal confrontations.

The Legal Response to Breonna Taylor’s Death Shows How Drug Prohibition Transforms Murder Into Self-Defense

State prosecutors concluded that the two other officers were justified in returning fire after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot one of them in the leg. Yet local prosecutors decided not to pursue an attempted murder charge against Walker.

Those seemingly contradictory decisions reflect Kentucky’s standards for self-defense, which make it possible that Walker and the cops were both legally justified in using deadly force. But that puzzling situation also has to be understood in the context of the war on drugs, which frequently involves armed home invasions that invite potentially deadly confusion. That unjustified violence is the root of the problem highlighted by Taylor’s senseless death and the unsatisfying legal response to it.

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Taking bets

So, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, among other things.

It was scheduled for a vote next week.

According to NORML, it’s now been postponed until after the election.

Any bets on when or if this will actually happen?

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