International Drug Policy: Animated Report 2009

A new (March 2009) drug war video has been made available by George Soros’ Open Society Institute. The International Drug Policy: Animated Report 2009 uses animation to quickly look at some of the more ludicrous and damaging aspects of the global drug war.

The video’s description on YouTube:

  • Produced by an Oscar-winning studio for the Global Drug Policy Program of the Open Society Institute, International Drug Policy: Animated Report 2009 highlights some of the disastrous effects of drug policy in recent years and proposes solutions for a way forward.In the run-up to the March 2009 UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting—where the future path of international drug policy will be determined—this film seeks to show that pursuing a “drug-free world” can lead to more harm than good.

It begins with a needed examination of the UN’s idiotic and despotic 1999 assertion that a “drug-free” world could be attained in 10 years. The video quickly points out that 10 years later, opium production in Afghanistan has doubled and the price of cocaine in American city streets has dropped by half.  See the report at YouTube at International Drug Policy: Animated Report 2009.

See also the good drug policy work of the Open Society Institute.  Thanks George Soros, freedom fighter.

US Senate regulates cigarettes, America’s most lethal and addictive drug.

The drug that kills 1,200 Americans each day will finally be regulated in the USA. Tobacco cigarettes, perhaps the most addictive of all drugs, yet virtually unregulated as a consumer product, will come under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA. This will not result in prohibition, as the legislation provides for the continued sale of nicotine cigarettes. But several major things will change:

  • Cigarette companies must provide lists of ingredients in cigarettes. The drug cigarettes is a combination of tobacco with a great many additives to strengthen their nicotine kick and mellow their delivery.
  • The FDA will be able to regulate these additive drugs going into cigarettes.
  • More advertising, warning and other restrictions will apply. Graphic warning labels will cover half the cigarette pack.

During the last 40 years of the War on Drugs, those politicians and bureaucrats who most demonized drugs like cannabis were apologists for tobacco companies and loathe to even call cigarettes a drug. Even in today’s historic senate vote, Drug War mongers such as Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell voted against the legislation bringing cigarettes under control of the FDA. As reported by McClatchy, “Senators who opposed tobacco bill received top dollar from industry.” In addition to McConnell, North Carolina’s Jim Bunning and Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss, republicans all, tried to stop the bill. Tobacco state senator Jim Webb, D-Virgina voted for the legislation.

The progress made already in reducing use of the drug cigarettes by Americans has been remarkable. Increased taxation, eduction and smoking area restrictions have helped to greatly reduce the use of this drug, even though highly addictive.

  • During the same period as the War on Drugs (some drugs, that is, such as cannabis) which has had virtually no impact on drug use, cigarette addiction and consumption has dropped in the USA.
  • To win this great preventive health victory over cigarettes, no one had to go to jail, and no SWAT squads were sent to break down doors. The FDA regulation should help these encouraging non-smoking trends even more, without the ineffective and un-American brutality of the drug war.

Strangely, during these long decades when the drug cigarettes killed over 400,000 Americans each year, the drug war was aimed chiefly at a far less addictive drug that killed no one. Marijuana, or cannabis, was (and still is) listed as a Schedule I drug and controlled by the DEA.

  • If any drug fits the requirements for Schedule I, it would be nicotine-laden tobacco cigarettes. They are highly addictive and have no recognized medical use, the supposed requirement for Schedule I.
  • Cannabis, on the other hand, is far less addictive and has dozens of well documented medical uses.

As cigarettes now move to FDA regulation, cannabis should be removed from DEA schedules and restrictions and likewise regulated by the FDA.

LA crime rate plummets as medical marijuana booms!

Due to a glitch in an attempted moratorium on medical cannabis dispensaries in Los Angeles, the number these legal marijuana outlets recently flourished into hundreds. In parts of LA, such storefronts may indeed be more numerous than Starbucks. Confounding medical marijuana’s detractors, the LA crime rate during this same time dropped like a rock.

The LA Times report, “L.A.’s medical pot dispensary moratorium led to a boom instead.” is datelined June 3 2009. An exemption in a moratorium instead allowed hundreds of cannabis clinics to pop up in LA. The density is highest here, but across the state dispensaries flourish. The booming cannabis industry is growing as most other sectors of the California economy are swooning. Arguably, the medical marijuana industry is the single most vigorous new economic engine in the state.

  • New business storefronts are opening up when the general trend has seen stores being boarded up.
  • A major crop can arise from hiding to take its rightful place in California agriculture. Already the economies of several counties in the state’s north are powered by cannabis cultivation.
  • New careers are being forged in the 21st century education provided by institutions such as Oaksterdam University in Oakland (and now LA). Classes in medicinal cannabis educate students in the pain relief, anti-inflammation, anti-glaucoma, anti-nausea and other health properties of the cannabinoids in the plant substance.
  • Sales taxes are being generated that help financially prop up the not-so Golden State. For every one hundred dollars of medical cannabis sales, the state gets over 8 dollars for its empty coffers.

The benefits of medical cannabis are ubiquitous. Most people have conditions, including pain, at some point in their lives when they could benefit from treatment with, or including, the medical herb. The California law passed by Proposition 215 was wisely worded to legalize any prescribed use of cannabis. Tens of millions of Californians, then, either have or will sometime have health conditions from which they could benefit from legal medical cannabis. With so many people finding relief from pain and other maladies coming from a substance previously and cruelly banned from them, it is little wonder a new industry is thriving in California.

The drug warrior bureaucracy including DEA, prosecutors, SWAT squads, prison guards and urine testers have long warned that legalization of marijuana would result in a wave of crime. Well, marijuana has become de facto legalized in California, especially LA. At the same time LA street crime has dropped precipitously.

Just a week before the proliferating dispensaries article cited above, the LA Times’ Gregory Rodriquez reported:

Not exactly the Armageddon predicted by the drug war bureaucrats. This privileged class thrives on the taxpayer-funded war on marijuana. Their lavish benefits and pensions all ultimately derive from the caging of their countrymen and women.  A major budget problem for California stems from the quintupling of its prisoner population during the drug war of the the last 40 years, in good part in the behest of the state’s prison guard’s politically powerful union. This vast investment in negative social capital has grown far faster than funding for the positive social capital investment, education. And now, California is paying the price. The apparent inverse relationship between cannabis dispensary proliferation and crime belies the claims of those benefiting from the war on drugs.

With any notion of crime increase as cannabis is decriminalized has been debunks. There can be no reason not to end the tragic war on cannabis now!

Sonia Sotomayor and the Drug War Exemption to the Bill of Rights

During the last 40 years of the drug war, America’s three branches of government have sought and attained what many have called the Drug War Exemption to the Bill of Rights. Seemingly, the executive, legislative and judicial branches fought over themselves to be tough in the War on Drugs, at the expense of the Constitution, especially the Bill Of Rights. The hysteria has, in just one generation, transformed “the land of the free” into the nation imprisoning the most people in cages.

  • To restore America’s constitutional values, the country desperately needs fresh thinking at the Supreme Court. Big government right wingers Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have been joined by new neocons John Roberts and Sam Alito. Their decisions uniformly expand the role of the state, especially the executive, favor prosecution and incarceration while reducing the rights of the accused.

As a former drug war prosecutor, Sonia Sotomayor lacks this needed perspective. No ex-prosecutor should ever become a judge, much less supreme court justice. Prosecutors build their careers in good part on how much prison time is sentenced to those they prosecute. The war on drugs, with its “enhanced” sentencing and mandatory minimums, has been very, very good for the careers of prosecutors. Perhaps only urine tested have benefited more.

  • Proof of Sotomayor’s inability to tackle the festering mandatory minimum sentences congress rushed to impose during the height of the drug war is her support from Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. This ex-US Attorney is tragically perched high in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Interviewed by PBS Frontline for Snitch, Sessions reveils himself to be a rabid drug war hardliner. Like most in his party of small government, he is chiefly concerned in increasing the scope of government through intensive prosecutions and mandatory minimums.

As reported by Sam Stein, in 1997 Jeff Sessions grilled Sotomayor on the occasion of her appointment as United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. Of mandatory minimums, she testified to him, “I have no idea how the judges before me ever set a consistent standard by which to sentence individuals. The guidelines do provide that framework in a very helpful way.” Even so, Sessions voted against her appointment. Now he supports her Supreme court appointment. Be afraid, very afraid. Ex-prosecutor current Session’s satisfaction that ex-prosecutor Sotomayor will tow the line on mandatory minimums indicate that no voice of change will be heard on this crucial moral and practical issue.

  • Strict drug war sentencing and imprisonment are among many other evils of the war on drugs. The savaging of the Bill of Rights with drug war exemptions in the areas of personal privacy, search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment and mass incarceration are huge failures of American ideals.

America needs its Constitution back. We need repeal of the Drug War Exemptions to the Bill of Rights. Ex-prosecutor Sonia Sotomayor at the Supreme Court would likely do nothing to help.