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.
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.
I’m still stunned that President Obama has decided to crank up the federal drug war by clamping down on medical marijuana dispensaries. This has been yet another political about-face by Barack Obama. Don’t we have anything better to do with our tax dollars and energies than to throw people in prison for using a substance that makes them feel good, where that substance is far less dangerous than alcohol? And keep in mind that there are legally available pharmaceuticals that have comparable effects on one’s psyche, available only if the user is wealthy enough to afford the doctor appointment and the pharmaceutical.
But wait . . . the stories is even worse. As reported by Glenn Greenwald, there is is evidence to counter-balance the idea that currently illegal drugs are always destructive:
[T]he deceit at the heart of America’s barbaric drug policy — that these substances are such unadulterated evils that adults should be put in cages for voluntarily using them — is more glaring than ever. In light of his comments about LSD, it’s rather difficult to reconcile America’s adoration for Steve Jobs with its ongoing obsession with prosecuting and imprisoning millions of citizens (mostly poor and minorities) for doing what Jobs, Obama, George W. Bush, Michael Phelps and millions of others have done. Obviously, most of these banned substances — like alcohol, gambling, sex, junk food consumption, prescription drug use and a litany of other legal activities — can create harm to the individual and to others when abused (though America’s solution for drug users — prison — also creates rather substantial harm to the drug user and to others, including their spouses, parents and children: at least as much harm as, and usually substantially more than, the banned drugs themselves). But no rational person can doubt that these substances can also be used responsibly and constructively; just study Steve Jobs’ life if you doubt that. Jobs’ praise for his LSD use is what I kept returning to as I read about the Obama DOJ’s heinous new policy to use the full force of criminal prosecutions against medical marijuana dispensaries in California.
In the meantime, do you know how your local law enforcement officers are spending most of their time?
To make it clear: I’m not advocating drug use. I’m stating facts that make it undeniable that the “war on drugs” is much more dangerous to all of us than the use of those drugs.
There’s a drug-related arrest in the U.S. every 19 seconds. Consider, also, that 45 people are massacred in the U.S. every day thanks to our “drug war,” and that it is this “war” that causes the violence. This is a war that has failed at every one of its announced objectives. Many of our law enforcement officer have declared the “war on drugs” to be an immoral war. Consider this conservative judge’s harsh words toward the “Drug War.” The most harmful thing about marijuana, according to Judge John Gray, is jail. Here’s why: the “war on drugs” by the numbers. It’s time to take a deep breath and get over America’s obsession with imprisoning otherwise law-abiding citizens for partaking of a relatively harmless drug.
What the hell is wrong with us?
In the LA Times, Hanna Liebman Dershowitz points out the stupidity of not changing X because X is “the law.” The case of interest in California is legalizing marijuana. Federal and state authorities annually arrest more than 800,000 people for possessing marijuana. This is an immense and destructive waste of government resources. Liebman Dershowitz argues that California legalization would leave it to the feds to justify this atrocious policy of criminalizing marijuana (though not beer or tobacco – - I would add psycho-active prescription drugs):
Voter approval of Proposition 19 would shift to the feds the responsibility and burden of justifying marijuana prohibition in the first place. Now, the Washingtonians who have never questioned decades of anti-pot propaganda can explain to the people of California why we cannot be trusted to determine our state’s marijuana policies. Let them endorse the prohibition laws’ usefulness as a tool of oppressing minorities. Let them celebrate how minor marijuana violations cost people their jobs, their housing, custody of their kids, and entrap them permanently in vast criminal justice databases. Let them justify the utter hypocrisy of the legal treatment of alcohol and tobacco, as compared with the illegal treatment of marijuana. Let them tell us how many more people will have to be prosecuted and punished before marijuana is eradicated, how much that will cost, and where the money will come from.
The police recently raided this house in Columbia, Missouri. A large group of police officers with nothing better to do stormed into action, kicking down the door to protect the community from a guy who likes to smoke a bit of dope. The most poignant thing we learn is that this evil marijuana-user loved his dog, a point he passionately made after he learned that the storm-trooper cops shot it, and all for what?
And keep in mind that this is how the drug police act when they know that there is a video camera running. Make no mistake that these cops were on their best behavior — this was a sanitized version of a raid.
As I’ve argued many times, it’s time to put an end to our pointless and violent “war on drugs.” There are many better ways to deal with the urge of some adults to get high using substances other than prescription drugs and alcohol. It’s time to just say no to the “war on drugs.”
I’m fully aware that we need brave police to protect us from violence and to solve crimes that have hurt people. I admire those brave police officers. We need sophisticated law enforcement to storm the ledger books of Wall Street Banks, and we don’t have nearly enough of them. But this kind of “police protection” is pointless. It doesn’t stop drug use–it only makes drug use violent. This use of police is as pointless as the practice of having traffic cops park behind bushes and waiting to nab people going 38 in a 35. This post is not pro-police or anti-police. It is anti-this type of activity by police.
Sting has written a Huffpo article declaring the “war on drugs” to be a failure:
Everyone knows the War on Drugs has failed. It’s time to step out of our comfort zones, acknowledge the truth — and challenge our leaders … and ourselves … to change.
Consider the consequences of drug prohibition today: 500,000 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails for nonviolent drug-law violations; 1.8 million drug arrests last year; tens of billions of taxpayer dollars expended annually to fund a drug war that 76% of Americans say has failed; millions now marked for life as former drug felons; many thousands dying each year from drug overdoses that have more to do with prohibitionist policies than the drugs themselves, and tens of thousands more needlessly infected with AIDS and Hepatitis C because those same policies undermine and block responsible public-health policies.
Mexico is the biggest supplier of marijuana to the United States, and the illegal drug trade is tearing Mexico apart.
Mexico has been wracked by murders connected to the drug trade. Last year, it suffered more than 6,500 drug-related killings, triple the number in 2007. And 2010 looks worse. As of mid-March, more than 2,000 people have died in drug-related homicides – which puts Mexico on pace for more than 10,000 such deaths this year. That’s more than one every hour.
For the terrible numbers from Mexico at a glance, see here.
If your quest were to convince the people of your city to legalize a highly demonized drug which was entirely safe, how would you run your campaign? At the recently concluded True Spin Conference in Denver, I had the opportunity to listen to an animated yet highly focused Mason Tvert describing for the audience how he and his small and not-well-funded organization (“SAFER”) convinced the people of Denver to legalize marijuana in 2005, with 51% of the people voting in favor. He also spearheaded a 2006 campaign to legalize marijuana throughout Colorado. Although that latter measure failed, an astounding 41% of the people of Colorado voted in favor.
In case you’re thinking that I’m promoting the use of marijuana, I am not, but neither would I attempt to prohibit any other adult from using it. I’ve never used marijuana (even though I once worked as a musician and the opportunities were ubiquitous. Millions of gainfully employed and otherwise law abiding people do like to use marijuana, but they are paying dearly for their attempts to feel good and seek stress relief. I am for the legalization of marijuana because that our country arrests more than 750,000 people each year for possessing or using an extremely safe drug that successfully makes people feel good. This destructive and expensive waste of government law enforcement is absolutely shameful. The number of people arrested each year is more than the entire population of South Dakota. and these users include many people you know and respect.
There is rank hypocrisy in the air, given that marijuana inexpensively offers the harmless escape that most of us seek much of the time (in one way or another), without any serious side effects and without the expense of many other methods of escape. If there were no such thing as marijuana, when it was finally invented by a pharmaceutical company, we would hail it as a miracle drug (Big Pharma wouldn’t need to lie about its efficacy or safety, as it does for many other drugs). Governments would allow it to be sold at drugs stores and they would happily tax it.