Archive for July 17th, 2011

Obama to continue vigorous prosecution of marijuana users

| July 17, 2011 | 1 Reply
Obama to continue vigorous prosecution of marijuana users

LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) is disappointed that Barack Obama has reneged on his promise to turn over the enforcement of marijuana regulation to the states. Here’s the first paragraph of an email I received from LEAP today:

Previously, the Obama administration wanted the public to believe that they were going to respect how states decided to handle medical marijuana legalization and regulation. But a new memo released to the public today confirms that this president is simply continuing the harassment and interference policies of the Bush administration when it comes to actually providing patients with their doctor-recommended medicine.

Here’s the evidence that Barack Obama seeks only more wasteful and destructive prohibition.  As you can see, there is no sharp line protecting those who are using marijuana at the recommendation of their doctors.   Why not?

What are alternatives to prohibition? Travel Guru Rick Steves has become outspoken on this issue. Here’s his general philosophy:

Like my European friends, I believe we can adopt a pragmatic policy toward both marijuana and hard drugs, with a focus on harm reduction and public health, rather than tough-talking but counterproductive criminalization. The time has come to have an honest discussion about our drug laws and their effectiveness. When it comes to drug policy, you can be soft, hard…or smart.

I whole-heartedly agree with Rick Steves, and I admire him for taking this forthright stand, even when taking this could lose him some customers and fans.  Speaking of fans, I recently met two brave souls pushing for medical marijuana in front of Busch Stadium, where thousands of fans get high on liver-threatening beer.   While I discussed medical marijuana with them, they were jeered and scorned by several fans.  They described cancer patients they knew who would like to use marijuana in Missouri, but were afraid that they’d be arrested and thrown in jail.  Folks with similar situations are described in this recent NYT piece.

Every year authorities arrest more than 750,000 people each year for possessing or using an extremely safe drug that many people find pleasurable and others use because it relieves them of pain. This is more than the entire population of South Dakota, and these users include many people you know and respect.  I mentioned LEAP at the top of this article. LEAP consists of law enforcement officers who have seen first-hand that prohibition fails. LEAP’s approach is this:

We believe that drug prohibition is the true cause of much of the social and personal damage that has historically been attributed to drug use. It is prohibition that makes marijuana worth more than gold, and heroin worth more than uranium – while giving criminals a monopoly over their supply. Driven by the huge profits from this monopoly, criminal gangs bribe and kill each other, law enforcers, and children. Their trade is unregulated and they are, therefore, beyond our control.

History has shown that drug prohibition reduces neither use nor abuse. After a rapist is arrested, there are fewer rapes. After a drug dealer is arrested, however, neither the supply nor the demand for drugs is seriously changed. The arrest merely creates a job opening for an endless stream of drug entrepreneurs who will take huge risks for the sake of the enormous profits created by prohibition. Prohibition costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year, yet 40 years and some 40 million arrests later, drugs are cheaper, more potent and far more widely used than at the beginning of this futile crusade.

We believe that by eliminating prohibition of all drugs for adults and establishing appropriate regulation and standards for distribution and use, law enforcement could focus more on crimes of violence, such as rape, aggravated assault, child abuse and murder, making our communities much safer. We believe that sending parents to prison for non-violent personal drug use destroys families. We believe that in a regulated and controlled environment, drugs will be safer for adult use and less accessible to our children. And we believe that by placing drug abuse in the hands of medical professionals instead of the criminal justice system, we will reduce rates of addiction and overdose deaths.

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The problem with the test culture dominating education

| July 17, 2011 | 1 Reply
The problem with the test culture dominating education

In the June 24, 2011 issue of Science, Deborah Stipek, Dean of the Stanford University School of Education, spoke about against the dominant educational paradigm we impose on our children:

The film “Race to Nowhere,” which continues to receive attention since its release a year ago, documents the unhealthy consequences of the competitive “teach to the test” climate that many U.S. students experience. The film, in which I was interviewed, puts in clear relief the pressures that youth are under to amass large numbers of Advanced Placement (college-equivalent) classes, win science fairs, excel in the arts and sports, and in other ways distinguish themselves from the competition for admission into a few select universities that parents and schools believe are critical for future success. Research on motivation makes it clear that focusing attention entirely on performance, whether grades or test scores, destroys whatever intrinsic interest the subject matter might have had.

I suspect that there is no way to succinctly discuss education. “Race to Nowhere” features lots of highly motivated students, the kind of students that Stipek seem to have in mind. Here’s the trailer:

Compare “Race to Nowhere” to “Waiting for Superman,” featuring students desperate to get out of crappy schools. This is night and day, a completely different situation from that discussed by Stipek.

What’s really scary is that both of these situations are being characterized as failures by the respective documentaries.

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Glenn Greenwald exposes the lies of Wired

| July 17, 2011 | Reply
Glenn Greenwald exposes the lies of Wired

After more than a year, Wired has finally published most of the chat logs between Bradley Manning and government informant Adrian Lamo. As Salon’s Glenn Greenwald points out in his detailed analysis, Wired withheld this information as part of a cover-up:

[T]he controversy was over Wired’s obvious concealment of matters outside of the scope of Manning’s personal issues, ones that were plainly relevant to newsworthy matters and, in particular, to Lamo’s claims about what Manning told him. The concern was that Wired was concealing material to glorify and shield its source, Poulsen’s long-time associate Adrian Lamo, in a way that distorted the truth and, independently, denied the public important context for what happened here. Wired’s release of the full chat logs leaves no doubt that those concerns were justified, and that Wired was less than honest about what it was concealing.

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