USA tortures Canadian with solitary confinement for promoting cannabis.

Demonstrating a new moral low, the USA has scored a new political prisoner, Canadian entrepreneur Marc Emery. Almost immediately this outspoken voice ending cannabis prohibition suffered solitary confinement. This is a form of torture; as anyone who has suffered this social and sensory deprivation can testify. The Instanbul Statement, a definitive international declaration, calls on

  • States to limit the use of solitary confinement to very exceptional cases, for as short a time as possible, and only as a last resort.

How terribly twisted, then, that in 2010 in the United States of America, a citizen of Canada languishes in solitary confinement at Sea-Tac, in the state of Washington. The world’s largest jailing nation, the USA, gained one more prisoner to its 2,300,000 total when the federal government vindictively snagged this Vancouver BC, Canada entrepreneur.  Within days this political prisoner was plunged into solitary confinement. Not for a short a time as possible, but apparently as long a time as possible. And not as a last resort, but as a first resort.

Canadian citizen, American prisoner Marc Emery

Canadian citizen, American prisoner Marc Emery

Marc Emery’s story is quite well known and need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say his powerful entrepreneurial and philanthropic energies showed how prodigious cannabis consumption can correspond with enormous work accomplishment. He ran afoul of the DEA when his passions led him to work expose cannabis prohibitionist lies. When the ultimate prohibitionists, the DEA, finally arrested Marc Emery for selling seeds, Bush appointee Michele Leonhart gloatingly referenced his efforts at marijuana legalization. How tragic that Obama re-appointee (gag) Michele Leonhart may be responsible for Emery’s descent into the torture of sensory deprivation. He is one of the planet’s best people; she is one of the worst.

The War on Drugs has tragically wounded the USA. The land of the free, home of the brave now instead runs a massive prison gulag, boosting the careers and bloated pensions of drug war bureaucrats, cops, prosecutors, prison builders, jail guards and piss testers, while imprisoning more of its own people (by far) than any other country. As Senator Jim Webb has stated.

  • “With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world, there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different–and vastly counterproductive. Obviously, the answer is the latter.”

As if being the world’s most prolific incarceration nation were not bad enough, the American prison system routinely makes use of solitary confinement, a condition in which tens of thousands of people are languishing at this very moment across the USA. Solitary confinement cells maximize the profits of prison builders, of course, a key industry in the four decade’s old war on drugs. The fact that this deprivation technique drives people insane does not seem to be much of a consideration. Neither the American people nor the current neo-con Supreme Court care much about the condition of prisoners.  Both would care more if they could see the monetary costs and building dangers of such a system. One day, most of these people will walk out of prison and rejoin society.

Marc will do better than most in this deprivation regimen and hopefully will soon be out of solitary if not confinement. If he is required to serve his whole five years, then American taxpayers will have to borrow another quarter million dollars from China to pay for this Canadian’s imprisonment costs. Does not the USA have better things to do with its money, (borrowed and repayable by grandchildren), than to legally kidnap and and imprison citizens of Canada for selling seeds?

Hopefully, much sooner than that, Marc Emery will return to his wonderful wife Jodie Emery and his country of Canada. And hopefully, the USA will return to senses. The war on drugs wastes money, wastes minds, wastes lives and is totally anathema to the true American values of freedom, life and liberty. Free Marc Emery!

The drug war policy Barack Obama should have urged on the NAACP

President Obama spoke to the NAACP’s 100th convention, the first time the group has had a black president as speaker. The president’s speech was at times inspirational, but his talk ignored the elephant in the room at the NAACP, the drug war that has so devastated the black community. In fact, the president’s presence at the convention was due only to the fact that he himself, as a self confessed teenage cannabis user, was not ensnared by the same cruel laws and racially corrosive justice system that he now leaves unchallenged.

The NAACP did have debate on legalizing cannabis, as reported by Radical Russ Belville in Norml’s Daily Audio Stash. This debate, however, did not seem to recognize the drug war policies so devastating to the black community over the last 40 years. Ethan Nadelmann pointed out that of the yearly 800,000+ cannabis arrests in the USA, nearly 40% ensnare black and brown Americans. Often their first arrest, says Nadelmann, often for one joint. They are damaged not by the use of a mild drug, but damaged they are by arrest and prosecution.

Radical Russ summed up the issue:

A 2008 New York Times article, On Arrests, Demographics, and Marijuana, showed that in New York City arrested nearly 400,000 people for pot possession in the years 1998-2007. This is nearly 100 young lives daily scarred and compromised by a needless arrest. Citing the study, the NYT article pointed out:

The NAACP should be out on the streets in force, tearing down the un-American drug war. Current drug war policies and laws, along with their enforcement, are like an enormous, bloated tick, feeding upon the lives of American citizens, most of them brown and black. Shame on NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, normally a sensible man, for supporting such injustice.

The drug war policy Barack Obama should have urged on the NAACP was delivered by Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance.

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.

UN Anti-Drug Day Soon: Get your execution pay-per-view now!

Don’t miss out! It is less than a month away from the United Nations Anti-Drug Day, June 26. This international holiday is celebrated in China and several other countries with executions of drug criminals. Get your pay-per-view now! Help support the UN’s mission to eradicate from earth the medicinal drug plant, cannabis sativa ! According to the UN Wire, a decade ago China executed 71 drug law violators on June 26, 1999. They should be able to do better than that now!

  • Perhaps methods of execution should be enhanced to expand their appeal to a world wide television audience. The traditional Chinese method of a bullet to the back of the head is frankly, too quick for good TV. And frankly, too easy on these violators of international drug laws!

How about more of a spectacle? Condemned drug prisoners could be taken to the Shanghai zoo and turned over to hungry lions, always a great crowd-pleaser in ancient Rome. Of course, the Chinese are not without their quaint and colorful forms of execution, the Death of A Thousand Cuts comes to mind. Not only would these more punishing forms of execution help boost pay-per-view ratings, they more clearly demonstrate the dangers of drug abuse.

Chinese drug abuser minutes from death.
Chinese drug abuser minutes from death.

Another country bravely attacking the menace of drugs by killing offenders is Malaysia. Those violating laws against the evil plant cannabis are routinely hung in Kuala Lumpur. Perhaps a simultaneous drop of 10 cannabis violators could be added to the UN pay-per-view. Or even 20 hung at once; there are plenty of young Malaysian necks to be wrung, because a trafficing charge brings mandatory death penalty.

  • Remember, it is for a good cause, the UN’s mandate to cause the extinction of cannabis. The evil medicinal plant has been used by people around the globe for relief of pain for thousands of years, drug abusers all!  With the UN’s brave backing perhaps the weed can finally be made extinct, freeing humankind from the from the threat of the plant’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, pain-relieving, nausea-preventing, glaucoma-stopping properties.

Although drug executions in Saudi Arabia are over all too quickly, the beheadings of hashish users with enormous swords are always good for audience appeal.

The UN Wire 10 years ago celebrated the low level of opium production in Afghanistan. The Taliban were in power and they “dropped anti-drug leaflets over Kabul on Saturday, warning that those caught growing illegal narcotics would be punished severely.” Without drug violator executions by the Taliban, things have gone downhill. A decade later, opium productions is many times what is was under the Taliban, a new record set nearly each year. Now, though, those growing opium or cannabis can be considered valid military targets by the NATO forces in the country. Perhaps the execution videos could be supplemented by NATO air-strike footage. Footage of Hellfire missiles exploding into farmhouses near illegal crop fields will also help teach those villagers not to grow cannabis, as their ancestors have been doing for millenia.

The UN Drug Control Program came up with a new motto in 1998 when it developed the decade goal of total drug eradication. The motto for the decade just ended was “a drug-free world – we can do it.” Hard-line drug war policies, pushed by the USA, were enthusiastically adopted; harm reduction policies were rejected by the UN. In 2008, a decade later, the goal was unmet. Perhaps the UN should adopt a more attainable motto, such as “an un-free world – we can do it.”

  • For your pay-per-view June 26, 2009 UN Anti-Drug Day Live Executions of Evil Drug Law Violators dial 1-800-THE-UNDCP-SUCKS. Order Now!

Barack Obama’s 1st 100 Days: Drug Policy grade = D

As Barack Obama’s 1st 100 Days in office looms, many are assigning grades. In several aspects of his presidency he get high grades. But this blog is about drug policy. Obama’s drug policy grade = D. Not exactly the change we had hoped for.

Just a couple of bright spots elevate Obama’s grade:

  • The other main hopeful sign is the appointment of a drug czar with a very different and refreshing mindset from any we have had before. Of course, that is a pretty low bar. Gil Kerlikowske, expected to be confirmed as drug czar next month is more friendly to some harm reduction approaches to drug use.

Despite great hope, many of Obama’s appointments and policies are big drug policy reform disappointments. Hope for change dimmed with each of these appointments:

  1. Joe Biden. The vice president is one of the very worst drug war mongers in congress, with a history of supporting authoritarian drug war policies since the Reagan administration. Biden virtually invented the Drug Czar office. He has enthusiastically supported the bare-knuckle enforcement of draconian laws that has done much to quintuple the American prison population into the largest gulag on the planet. See No, Joe Biden, we don’t “know we needed tough laws.”
  2. Rahm Emanuel. Chief of Staff. Pugnacious anti-cannabis zealot. Helped engineer the short-lived policy in the Clinton administration to penalize California doctors who recommended cannabis after Prop 215 legalized its medical use in California in 1996. Luckily the courts would have none of the federal censoring of free speech of physicians. See Rahm Emanuel: Free Speech Hall of Shame.
  3. Eric Holder. A prosecutor with an icy heart, he encouraged the mandatory imprisonment of black youths for minor drug crimes when he served in Washington DC as US Attorney for Bill Clinton. Some of his comments about not persecuting medical cannabis dispensaries in California were encouraging. Other actions, though, show a darkly authoritarian streak.
  4. A telling non-appointment, DEA head. 100 days in office and no new DEA director. 100 days into his presidency, Barack Obama has left control and direction of the DEA in the hands of the lying Bush apparatchiks. They should have been frog-marched from the building by US marshals in the first hours of the new administration. The White House dog is firmly in place for weeks now, but these same thugs are still paid to commit drug war on their fellow Americans.

In addition to these appointments, other actions bring down Obama’s drug policy score:

  • In response to solicited ideas from citizens on how to improve government and the country, Barack Obama twice downplayed the obvious public support for changing marijuana laws. Looking for economic ideas, he dissed the popularity of the questions and said their is no place for cannabis reform in his economy. In reality, cannabis and drug policy could save the American economy tens of billions of dollars a year and provide for whole new areas of innovation that would grow the economy, such as basic materials, food, fuel and medications from hemp.
  • Although Obama promised during the campaign that federal laws would not be enforced against state legal medical marijuana operations, he has equivocated on the issue. The latest bad news was the apparent direction given to federal prosecutors in the case of Charles C. Lynch, the California medical dispensary operator who will be sentenced June 11. The trial judge had asked the justice department for direction in sentencing; by the demeanor of federal prosecutors in court last week a hard-line approach is apparently being taken by the attorney general.
  • Inclusion of the Byrne grants into the stimulus package. These so-called Justice Assistance Grants ramrod through more of the same get-tough drug war policies that have created our prison gulag. Instead of creating positive social capital, as in education or health, they create negative social capital, more Americans behind bars, more felons and ex-felons, more SWAT teams eager to war on their communities. One of George W. Bush’s best policies was to discourage this wasteful spending.
  • Michigan v. Jackson. Just last week, the Obama Solicitor General urged the supreme court to decide in a way that the AP report on the move describes it as “another stark example of the White House seeking to limit rather than expand rights.” The Obama administration policy on this case is nearly exactly what could have been expected from his predecessor Bush administration and attorney general Alberto Gonzales. As it turns out, the behest for initiating the Obama directive came from Bush-appointee neocon supreme court justice Sam Alito. Nauseating!

Although Barack Obama gets only a D grade in drug policy reform, most former drug war presidents fare worse.

  • George W. Bush also gets a D in drug policy. He did hideous things, like appoint mad-dog John Walters as head of the NODCP, the Drug Czar, given free reign and hundred of millions of taxpayer dollars to wage his personal war on cannabis. All to very little effect, thankfully. But George W. Bush pretty much ignored the drug issue. He had other wars to fight. In one of his few acts of controlling wasteful spending, he discouraged the Byrne grants which Obama has embraced.
  • The Bill Clinton administration also get a D, a D – actually, as the growth of the Justice Department, drug war arrests,  prosecutions and incarcerations rose at their highest rate.
  • The George W. H. Bush administration also gets a D-, probably should be an F. Focused on the war on drugs with specials from the White House where he fondled a bag of crack cocaine supposedly purchased near his residence. Expanded drug war by Invading Panama and arresting its leader.
  • Ronald Reagan gets an F. After espousing that big government is part of the problem with America, Reagan pushed through authoritarian, intrusive drug war policies that still have supposedly “freedom loving” Americans lining up to urinate into bottles, just to get or keep a job.

Barack Obama, raise 1st 100 days drug policy grade! Appoint a new DEA director now. Let his name be Norm Stamper.

Vastly Counterproductive: The American prison system. Jim Webb is a new American Hero

Freshman Senator Jim Webb, D-Virginia is providing a bold and much needed voice in congress. Jim Webb looks across the country and sees a vast gulag of 2.3 million prisoners. The USA, with 5% of the world’s population houses 25% of its prisoners. Like so many others, the senator finds this a troubling fact. He notes, in Parade Magazine cover story delivered with the last Sunday’s paper across the nation,

  • With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world, there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different–and vastly counterproductive. Obviously, the answer is the latter.

Senator Webb will energize his convictions with an 18 month Senate investigation of the American Criminal Justice system. His actions appear to have great bi-partisan support.

The American criminal justice system has been bloated and distorted over the past 3 decades by mindless legislation, dishonest drug laws and the drug war itself. Few voices have stood to counter this malignant tide and the result has swamped American justice. Senator Webb’s perceptions and actions come at a critical time when great change can take place.