Give “Drug Peace” a chance. Oh, never mind.

Rarely does this site quote from Forbes, as in Steve Forbes, but Doug Bandow has performed a great service with his current piece at Forbes.com, It’s Time To Declare Peace In The War Against Drugs.

The former special assistant to Ronald Reagan elegantly catalogs the malignacies of current drug policy. Concerning cannabis policy he writes,

  • “The Drug War also interferes with treatment of the sick and dying. Cannabis and other drugs can aid people suffering from a variety of maladies. Additional research would help determine how, in what form, and for what marijuana could be best used. Yet government effectively punishes vulnerable people in great pain, even agony.”

Author Bandow notes some of the ruinous wrongs ending the war on drugs would correct:

  • “Banning drugs raises their price, creates enormous profits for criminal entrepreneurs, thrusts even casual users into an illegal marketplace, encourages heavy users to commit property crimes to acquire higher-priced drugs, leaves violence the only means for dealers to resolve disputes, forces government to spend lavishly on enforcement, corrupts public officials and institutions, and undermines a free society. All of these effects are evident today and are reminiscent of Prohibition (of alcohol) in the early 20th Century.”

Bandow must have not been responsible for Ronald Reagan’s drug policies. This ‘small-government’ president’s worst hypocrisy and mistake was to “run up the battle flag on the war on drugs.” See Why 1984 WAS like 1984.

During this “Just Say No” era, bloated bureaucracies such as the DEA had money thrown at them, the Bill of Rights was disemboweled with the drug war exception, mandatory minimums were enacted. A quintupling of the US prison population began, now burdening the USA with the world’s highest number (and percentage) of caged citizens. Many of them are totally non-violent and no risk to society, ordinary Americans entrapped by draconian laws.

In late 2011, incredibly, the USA is again on the path of ramping up the drug war yet again, especially against cannabis, a medically beneficent natural substance that should never have been illegal, much less Schedule I. As long as it is Schedule I, self-serving Feds have everything they need to promote and expand their jobs and pensions with a renewed war on marijuana. Evidence of this new heavy hand of prohibition is everywhere.

  • Obama’s pathetic renomination of Bush-appointee and arch-medical cannabis nemesis Michele Leonhart to head DEA. The president’s ill thought appointment, and her gag-inducing Senate confirmation, allows this national police force to reinvigorate its war against Americans benefiting from medical marijuana.
  • The California dispensary system, conforming with state law, is about to be broken. One of the few positive aspects of the California economy just now, the dispensary system efficiently provides Californians their medicine, while generating employment, innovation and local and state tax revenue. Now the IRS and threats of ruinous property forfeitures are being used to close down these employers and tax payers.
  • Another crushing blow to any drug peace, was the Senate’s idiotic rejection of Jim Webb’s National Criminal Justice Commission Act (S. 306).  Crucial issues, such as grotesquely counterproductive laws, prosecutions, mandatory minimums and incarcerations could have been questioned in the light of day. Not going to happen.

It is preposterous that the USA, at this challenging point in its history can reinvigorate one of its most clearly failed policies, the federal war on marijuana. The country desperately needs to not be wasting its resources and attacking the rights, medical freedoms and lives of its citizens, but it is doing just that.

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!

Controlled Substances Act: 39 years of drug war tyranny.

Richard Nixon resigns in disgrace.

Richard Nixon resigns in disgrace, August 1974.

Thirty nine years ago this week an evil befell the USA.

President Richard Nixon, in cahoots with his fellow Watergate criminal (and Attorney General), John Mitchell, ramped up the war on drugs by prodding the misbegotten legislation, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This act crafted the schedule system for classifying the illegality of (some) drugs. In 1973 Nixon created the DEA to act as overseers of federal drug policy and enforcement.

Cannabis had actually been legal since a 1969 Supreme Court decision. Instigated by no less than Timothy Leary, the high court declared as unconstitutional the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 ended this short period of freedom, instituting a repressive, punishment-oriented approach. Because of Nixon’s direct actions, cannabis was classified as a Schedule I drug, the most restricted, illegal and penalized.

This draconian schedule for cannabis was purported to be just temporary, until a commission studied the question. This became the famous Shafer Commission. Kevin Zeese reported on the commission and Nixon’s attempts to declare marijuana dangerous. As Zeese reported, the commission took its task seriously and ended up having to conclude that marijuana is not very dangerous and does not justify harsh legal treatment of its users.

Nixon blew up, ranting (on tape) instead for laws that “tears the ass” out of marijuana users. He got his way. Even though Nixon had to resign in disgrace, the drug war he promoted has lived on. In the intervening 40 years, 20 million Americans have had their lives torn asunder in the form of needless and wasteful arrests, prosecutions and incarcerations for victimless cannabis “crimes.”

The CSA is is unconstitutional. An amendment to the US Constitution was required to prohibit alcohol. The same is true for marijuana and other drugs. Richard Nixon and the US congress ignored his requirement in passing the CSA. The courts, of course, should have quickly flagged this flagrant unconstitutionality. Instead the judiciary gave it a free pass under the “drug war exemption” to the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Subsequent generations of congressional drug warriors such as Joe Biden found even this legislation too timid and schemed at “enhanced penalties” and evils such as asset forfeiture.  Mandatory minimums were reinstated again in the drug war-crazed 1980s. See Why 1984 WAS like 1984. Member of both political parties fought to out-do each other with ever more repressive legislation, including the Controlled Substance Penalties Amendment Act of 1984 and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986.

International legislation, the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances soon codified schedules and penalties world wide.

Under the 39 year-old CSA the DEA is given authority to classify substances. It can at will, stubbornly stick to obviously incorrect schedules, e.g. Schedule I for cannabis. The classification of various drugs by the DEA is not based whatsoever upon the actual dangers of the drugs, but is based on bureaucratic and turf reasons.

  • The most dangerous drug, cigarettes, for example is not even under DEA enforcement. Nor was it regulated even by FDA, until a few months ago. But cannabis, a far safer drug, is degraded by the most draconian Schedule I classification and brutally enforced by the DEA.

Constitutionally the  US government has no business in the prohibition business. Practically such prohibitions have become an incarceration nightmare. We need to drug war collateral damage. Harsh penalties conceived to “tear the ass out” of hippies 40 years ago should not be mandating continuation of prison state and police state policies.

Vampire cops want to suck your blood

BOISE, Idaho – When police officer Darryll Dowell is on patrol in the southwestern Idaho city of Nampa, he’ll pull up at a stoplight and usually start casing the vehicle. Nowadays, his eyes will also focus on the driver’s arms, as he tries to search for a plump, bouncy vein.

“I was looking at people’s arms and hands, thinking, ‘I could draw from that,'” Dowell said.

OK, so the cops are not really vampires and they suck out your blood with a syringe, not with their mouths, but do we really want police officers sticking needles into the citizenry? Especially puncturing veins for the purpose of drawing out the blood of Americans for governmental analysis?

The reduction of drunk driving is a laudable goal. Very likely, however, the blood-sucking tactic will become yet another common and intrusive tool of the forever war, the war on drugs.

Seemingly the seizure and search of an American citizen’s very life blood would be a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution that prohibits unreasonable search and seizure.  But that’s right, the Fourth Amendment, along with several others, were done away with by the drug war exemption of the Bill of Rights.

Supreme Court of Argentina rules for personal liberty.

The Supreme Court of Argentina has freed the huge country’s citizens from possible imprisonment for possession of cannabis and other drugs. Ruling very rationally that the state has no business in the personal behaviors of its people that present no harm or danger to society. AP reports all seven judges agreed in “declaring the unconstitutionality of prison for private consumption.”

  • The court continued: “Each individual adult is responsible for making decisions freely about their desired lifestyle without state interference. Private conduct is allowed unless it constitutes a real danger or causes damage to property or the rights of others.”

Imagine that, adults — rather than the DEA — responsible for their own decisions.  Private conduct allowed! What quaint concepts, like Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Luckily for liberty in Argentina the country is not saddled with the likes of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In terms of personal freedoms, Scalia, who like to call himself an “originalist,” seems to rely less on the Constitution, more on the Witchs Hammer. The Nixon-appointee has ruled, without exception, for the “drug war exemption to the Bill of Rights.” He invariably adjudicates for the power of the state and for reduction of civil liberties of the citizens. With Scalia on the bench, along with other authoritarians Roberts, Alito and Thomas, Americans can give up any hope for reasoned judgements like that coming from the Supreme Court of Argentina. Cry for me, Argentina. Our Supreme Court does not believe in freedom.

It is ironic that Argentina, know for its “dirty war” of abduction, torture, child stealing and executions in the 1970’s and 1980s should be providing leadership to the USA in 2009 in this key issue of personal liberty and incarceration. The AP report quotes an Argentine leader’s analysis of how the drug war harm maximization evil began:

  • Cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez declared that the ruling brings an end to “the repressive politics invented by the Nixon administration” in the United States, and later adopted by Argentina’s dictators, to imprison drug users as if they were major traffickers.

There was a time, before the war on drugs, when personal liberty was a key American value. Forty years, 20 million cannabis arrests and a quintupling of the prison population later, punishment and incarceration have replaced those American values.

  • The war on drugs is the USA’s own dirty war.