RSSCategory: Drug laws

Why is Obama ramping up the war on marijuana?

April 12, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More
Why is Obama ramping up the war on marijuana?

The war on drugs, including the war on marijuana (i.e., prohibition) is extremely expensive and destructive, and a strong majority of Democrats now approves of medical marijuana. With that as the backdrop, why is Barack Obama cranking up the war on medical cannabis patients, providers and, in some cases, their advocates?

At Alternet, Paul Armentano reviews the draconian steps being taken by the Obama Administration and considered several possible explanations for reigniting the drug war with regard to marijuana. Is this the result of pressure put on the Administration by Big Pharma, which will soon market a cannabis-based drug? Is it pressure by drug-war hawks? Perhaps these are factors, but Armentano argues that Obama fears that Americans were starting to see the truth about about the hyped-up federal fear-mongering about marijuana:

While the passage and enactment of statewide medical marijuana laws – 16 states and the District of Columbia now have laws recognizing marijuana’s therapeutic use on the books – is not solely driving the public’s shift in support for broader legalization, it is arguably a major factor. Why? The answer is simple. Tens of millions of Americans residing in these states are learning, first hand, that they can coexist with marijuana being legal! And that is the lesson the federal government fears most. In states like California and Colorado, voters have largely become accustomed to the reality that there can be safe, secure, well-run businesses that deliver consistent, reliable, tested cannabis products. They have come to understand that well-regulated cannabis dispensaries can revitalize sagging economies, provide jobs, and contribute taxes to budget-starved localities. Most importantly, the public in these states and others are finally realizing that all the years of scaremongering by the government about what would happen if marijuana were legal, even for sick people, was nothing but hysterical propaganda. As a result, a majority of American voters are now for the first time asking their federal officials: ‘Why we don’t just legalize marijuana for everyone in a similarly responsible manner?’

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The joint evil of the War on Drugs and the Prison-Industrial-Complex

March 23, 2012 | By | Reply More
The joint evil of the War on Drugs and the Prison-Industrial-Complex

From
Fareed Zakaria’s comment at Time Magazine:

In 2009 alone, 1.66 million Americans were arrested on drug charges, more than were arrested on assault or larceny charges. And 4 of 5 of those arrests were simply for possession….[T]he money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education in the past 20 years. In 2011, California spent $9.6 billion on prisons vs. $5.7 billion on the UC system and state colleges. Since 1980, California has built one college campus and 21 prisons. A college student costs the state $8,667 per year; a prisoner costs it $45,006 a year.

The results are gruesome at every ­level. We are creating a vast prisoner under­class in this country at huge expense, increasingly unable to function in normal society, all in the name of a war we have already lost….

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Because Whitney Houston died from abusing alcohol, America shrugs.

February 19, 2012 | By | 4 Replies More
Because Whitney Houston died from abusing alcohol, America shrugs.

If Whitney Houston had died from the use of marijuana, politicians would have been screaming to enact even more vigorous anti-marijuana laws. Those who care about evidence know, however, that marijuana is an notably safe drug–it doesn’t cause people to die. Whitney Houston actually died after abusing alcohol, a drug that causes many people to die every year. Because it was alcohol rather than a scheduled substance, Americans treat it as a sad occurrence, without villainizing Houston. In modern-day America, despite the grave dangers of alcohol abuse, alcohol related deaths are given winks and nods by our politicians:

Because drinking is legal for adults, safe in moderation, the rightful font of epicurean reveries and the foundation of a multibillion-dollar industry with lobbyists galore, it gets something of a pass. . . . [H]eavy drinking is the third leading preventable cause of death in this country, after smoking and a combination of bad diet and inactivity. By conservative estimates, it’s directly related to about 80,000 deaths each year, an agent of — or co-conspirator in — cirrhosis, esophageal cancer, overdose, homicide and much, much more. It seeds and squires a broad range of diseases. Multiplies the effects of illicit and prescription drugs. Adds the twitch to a trigger finger. Puts the wobble in legs on a staircase or hands on a steering wheel. And while 8 percent of Americans ages 12 and over use illicit drugs, 34 percent are addicted to alcohol or indulge in what public health officials consider risky drinking . . . .

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Law Enforcement Against Prohibition continues the fight against insane drug laws.

February 14, 2012 | By | 3 Replies More
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition continues the fight against insane drug laws.

I just received an email from LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). LEAP is an organization consisting of thousands of law enforcement officers and other concerned citizens, all of them dedicated to taking the violence out of the illicit drug trade. Based on the following facts and links, I continue to agree with LEAP that the drug laws of the United States amount to prohibition and that they are insanely destructive.

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day and the bonds that bring people together, let us not forget the policies that tear them apart. The drug warriors have taken millions of nonviolent drug offender parents from their families for crimes no more morally offensive than those of the rum runners who managed to make ends meet during the last prohibition.

Between 1986 and 1999, the incarceration rate for women grew by 888%! From 1986 to 1996, the number of women in federal prison for drug “crimes” increased tenfold, from 2,400 to 24,000, and the number continues to increase. Many leave children behind. Today, more than 2.7 million American children have lost a parent to a prison sentence, and two thirds of those parents are nonviolent offenders.

In the name of the children, in the name of the family, the prohibitionists destroy both.

LEAP recently addressed the issue of legalization in YouTube’s annual online town hall meeting with President Obama. Although our question to the president received the highest number of votes among the video entries, it was not aired during the forum, leaving many wondering why the number one question would be passed over in favor of less pressing issues like favorite late night snacks or tennis. While the president may not be comfortable following up on last year’s YouTube question from LEAP, we will keep pushing decision makers to address this issue no matter how many times they avoid it or talk around it, because children of nonviolent drug offenders are getting left behind.

In 1980, one out of every 125 children had a parent behind bars. By 2008, that number had grown to 1 in every 28. Think of the average kindergarten class. Think of the child whose parent is missing. Connect the dots to the rest of that child’s life.

LEAP maintains an excellent website filled with resources for anyone who wants to take the violence out of the use of drugs. From the “About” page of LEAP we learn more of facts and figures demonstrating that the “war on drugs” is a failure:

For four decades the US has fueled its policy of a “war on drugs” with over a trillion tax dollars and increasingly punitive policies. More than 39 million arrests for nonviolent drug offenses have been made. The incarcerated population quadrupled over a 20-year period, making building prisons the nation’s fastest growing industry. More than 2.3 million US citizens are currently in prison or jail, far more per capita than any country in the world. The US has 4.6 percent of the population of the world but 22.5 percent of the world’s prisoners. Each year this war costs the US another 70 billion dollars. Despite all the lives destroyed and all the money so ill spent, today illicit drugs are cheaper, more potent, and much easier to access than they were at the beginning of the war on drugs, 40 years ago. Meanwhile, people continue dying on the streets while drug barons and terrorists continue to grow richer, more powerful, better armed.

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Assif Mandvi asks Florida politicians to pee into the cup

February 3, 2012 | By | Reply More
Assif Mandvi asks Florida politicians to pee into the cup

The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi turns the tables on Florida politicians who insist that in order to receive welfare payments, Florida residents must first take drug test:

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More evidence of the failed “war on drugs”

January 31, 2012 | By | Reply More
More evidence of the failed “war on drugs”

The following is from Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman:

As the Republican presidential candidates challenge President Obama with competing visions for how to improve the struggling U.S. economy, a new documentary questions the amount of money this country spends on the so-called “war on drugs.” Over the last 40 years, more than 45 million drug-related arrests have cost an estimated $1 trillion. Yet drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever. The documentary is called The House I Live In. It examines the economic, as well as the moral and practical, failures of the war on drugs and calls on the U.S. to approach drug abuse not as a war, but as a matter of public health.

The House I Live In won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary this past weekend at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, the largest independent film showcase in the country. Democracy Now! was there earlier in the week, and I spoke with the film’s director, Eugene Jarecki, along with one of his main characters in the film, Nannie Jeter, about what inspired him to look at the war on drugs.

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Proof that every American is a criminal

December 28, 2011 | By | 2 Replies More
Proof that every American is a criminal

Bad news from Scientific American: We all produce marijuana-like chemicals in our brains. Therefore, all of us need to turn ourselves in and spend time in prison.

[Marijuana] is also something everyone is familiar with, whether they know it or not. Everyone grows a form of the drug, regardless of their political leanings or recreational proclivities. That is because the brain makes its own marijuana, natural compounds called endocannabinoids (after the plant’s formal name, Cannabis sativa).

For some serious criticism of the alleged “war on drugs,” see this recent post.

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Race, class and drug use

December 27, 2011 | By | Reply More
Race, class and drug use

AT Huffpo, Ryan Grimm discusses the race and class entwined history of America’s attitudes toward drugs, including alcohol:

The reaction of the American government, and its people, to drug use was — and still is — a complex mix of factors, involving lobbying by the medical community, pharmaceutical companies, the alcohol industry, temperance advocates, and religious movements. Historically, the argument has played out — and continues to play out — amid a backdrop of racism and class antagonism. Racism and bigotry were generally not the drivers of prohibition movements, but instead were the weapons used by temperance advocates to achieve their ends. The movement to ban alcohol, for instance, gained its strongest adherents without resorting to bigotry, but when World War I broke out, the movement was quick to tie beer and booze to instantly despised German immigrants, pushing the effort over the Constitutional hump.

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Law enforcement officers dismissed for supporting decriminalization of marijuana

December 4, 2011 | By | Reply More
Law enforcement officers dismissed for supporting decriminalization of marijuana

The New York Times reports on the ill-consequences that law enforcement officers have suffered for speaking out on our ludicrous “war on drugs.” In the meantime, the membership of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) has grown to 48,000.

See here for more on LEAP.

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