Nobel Peace Prize winner still presides over war on his own citizens.

Barack Obama Free On the same day President Barack Obama received word of his Nobel Peace Prize, over 2,000 Americans were arrested for the “crime” of possessing plant residue. Obama reports he was humbled by word of the prize. The operative emotion for those arrested for cannabis “crimes” was closer to humiliation, with degradation, fury, fear and disgust thrown in.

The disgust was for their American government, supposedly dedicated to freedom and personal liberty, but instead warped by a malignant war on drugs. The drug war became a war by tax-payer funded interests against the personal liberty and freedom of American citizens who broke those arbitrary laws, especially those free thinkers who willfully ignored ignorant and draconian penalties against the medical plant, cannabis.

The fear was in being torn from family life and thrown into a cage with miscreants, knowing that they face absurdly harsh laws against cannabis. Depending on the whim of prosecutors eager to build reputations, prosecutions and incarcerations, they might be facing the possibility of years of your life ripped away, their families hammered by severe, even mandatory, sentencing.

In the 10 months of the Obama presidency, well over half a million Americans have had their lives and families needlessly devastated by cruel enforcement of these ignorant and misguided laws and penalties. The war on drugs has transformed the American prison system into a gargantuan gulag, incarcerating well over 2 million Americans, jailing far more of its people than any other nation on earth, including China with five times the population. As Senator Jim Webb, who probably should have received the prize instead, points out,

  • “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.”

Each of these imprisoned American citizens is every day getting worse in every way. Most will eventually be released back into society. The current system is harm-enhancement at its worst and endangers every American.

President Obama, you could easily have been one of those casualties, as you too broke the law with cannabis, but you escaped the hell that befalls two thousand of your fellow Americans each day. The absent damage from the arrest that you avoided allowed the USA to gain a remarkable man as our president. And even to win a Nobel Peace Prize! You now have the power and obligation to spare these daily 2,000 good Americans violating bad laws from life-damaging and family-wounding government persecution. You avoided the harm a marijuana arrest would have inflicted upon you. Act to prevent this needless, arbitrary arrest horror from closing the presidential or Nobel aspirations of thousand of (mostly) young Americans each day.

Yes, President Obama, let the Nobel Peace Prize inspire you to actually deserve it. Well, end the government’s war upon its own citizens. You could start very easily by directing the rescheduling of cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule V. Perhaps next year you might win the Nobel Prize for Medicine by helping free this remarkably medically useful plant medication from Schedule I persecution.

New York Times recycles Bush drug czar cannabis lies.

Supposedly one of America’s great newspapers, The New York Times fails its readers on a key issue of individual liberty and personal health.

This NY Times lapse occurs on-line at “Times Topics,” linked here.  Although Times articles linked at the this page are not terribly skewed in favor of continued prohibition of cannabis, the great error lies in the section below, the –

Drug war idiocy: 40 years of Operation Intercept

Forty years ago today, and 5 years before he resigned in disgrace, President Richard Nixon launched Operation Intercept. The operation, planned in part by future Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy, involved the intensification of searches at border crossing points from Mexico. The goals were stopping the smuggling of marijuana into the USA and reducing drug distribution channels in Mexico.

  • Four decades later, a half dozen powerful criminal cartels challenge even the Mexican government. They employ armies of paramilitary hit men and cause great carnage in Mexico. It is estimated that over half the financing of the powerful and violent cartels is from smuggling marijuana into the USA. The removal of this cartel gravy train would be but one of the benefits of ending marijuana prohibition.

In 1968, 80,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana possession, only 10% of last year’s total. In the intervening 40 years, nearly 20 million Americans have been arrested for cannabis “crimes”. America’s prison population has exploded to the world’s most bloated, with 2.3 million prisoners.

Cannabis is misplaced on Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act in good part due to the animosity nursed by Nixon towards the counterculture. He hated hippies. Nixon loathed the anti-war activists who protested his raining down death upon Vietnam.

Kevin Zeese in 2002 covered the events by which Nixon secured Schedule I draconian status in the CSA, despite the Shafer Commission he appointed to study the issue recommending just the opposite. Check out Zeese’s AlterNet article that discloses the content of Nixon’s famous tapes on the issue. Stunningly, Nixon compares the threat from marijuana, to that of “homosexuals, Jews and communists.”

The Shafer commission, after actually investigating marijuana, could not come up with a recommendation matching Nixon’s prejudices. Instead they concluded,

  • “Marihuana’s relative potential for harm to the vast majority of individual users and its actual impact on society does not justify a social policy designed to seek out and firmly punish those who use it.

The tapes show this science-based conclusion drove Nixon wild with anger. What he desired, in his own words, was a “goddamn strong statement about marijuana … that just tears the ass out of them.” Tragically, Nixon got his way. Marijuana was classified Schedule I, a draconian classification triggering major felony penalties and mandatory minimums. Tens of millions of Americans have had their ass torn from them by these laws and their zealous enforcement.

Cannabis remains Schedule I today, a cruel and wasteful fiction. This artifact of one of America’s worst presidents could be and should be easily reduced (say to Schedule V) by command from President Obama.

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.

Gateway drug to incarceration.

LA times offers a great OP-ED, The racism of marijuana prohibition. Authored by Stephen Gutwillig, the California state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the piece clarifies the terrible damage done, especially to blacks, by zealous enforcement of malignant marijuana laws.

Gutwillig writes:

  • An 18-year-old convicted of a felony is headed nowhere fast. In this sense at least, marijuana is indeed a gateway drug; it is a feeder for the criminal justice system, disproportionately for black kids.

The article points out how arrests for real crimes, such as rape and murder have fallen, as have rates for actually solving these violent crimes. Meanwhile, in California, arrests for possession of cannabis have soared. Last year, nearly 800,000 Americans and over 75,000 Californians were arrested for possessing pot. With the exception providing employment security to the police, prosecutors, jailers and urine testers, these arrests did nobody any good. In fact, such arrests represent a major investment of negative social capital. Instead of a positive investment such as educating a young American, arresting him or her for marijuana possession is instead a negative waste of resources.

  • Financially, education will enrich the youth. The increased taxes he or she will pay will increase the treasury. Financially, arrest will impoverish the youth. The decreased taxes he or she will pay will decrease the treasury.
  • Socially, during education the youth will develop important contacts for success throughout life. Socially, the young American’s arrest and incarceration will develop criminal contacts for success in a life of crime.
  • To the family, an educational degree, such as a high school and college diploma, is a huge asset to all and a unifying force. In the family, an arrest, especially a felony drug “crime”, is a horribly corrosive force, tearing the family bonds, separating all with iron bars.
  • Personally, any educational achievement is a key personal asset and widens potential contributions to society.
  • Personally, any marijuana arrest is a huge lifelong handicap, throwing up barriers to education and employment. The damage is done by the penalty, not the cannabis.

Law enforcement that is addicted to the gateway drug of marijuana prohibition. An American, mostly young and often black or Hispanic is arrested, on the average, every 38 seconds. With the severity built into the drug laws of the last 40 years of rabid drug war legislation, making felony marijuana arrests are far easier than actually protecting people and solving real crimes.

Rigid criminalization and draconian punishment for cannabis must end, for a dozen good reasons. Prohibition does not work, and ramming marijuana prohibition down the throats of Americans is un-American. It is also costly, cruel and counterproductive, building negative social capital, birthing the “incarceration nation.”

Tobacco will kill 6 million people next year; cannabis will kill zero.

The World Lung Foundation and the American Cancer Society have compiled in The Tobacco Atlas a damning list of morbidity and mortality inflicted by cigarettes on the world’s people. Cigarettes are powerful drugs, the most addicting and lethal of all drugs. Cigarettes kill far more people than all the illegal drugs combined. In the USA, at least 30 times as many people die from cigarettes than all illicit drugs.

The lists of damage from cigarettes to the health of the world’s people is lengthy:

  • Smoking cigarettes contributes to 6 of the 8 leading causes of death.
  • “Tobacco accounts for one out of every 10 deaths worldwide”
  • Cigarette smoking killed 100 million people during the last century; it may kill one billion during this century.
  • Tobacco kills one-third to one-half of those who smoke it. Smokers die, on the average, about 15 years before people who don’t smoke. Chewed tobacco is also often deadly dangerous.

The most popular illicit drug, cannabis, kills zero people. Marijuana does not have a lethal dose and is not associated with morbidity. Actually though, a few people are killed by association with cannabis, usually in SWAT raids. In Malaysia, about one person is hanged each month for cannabis possession. Cannabis smoke, like all smoke, does contain some toxins, but has not been shown to cause cancer. Elements specific to marijuana smoke, especially THC, may be providing protection against tumors. Medical cannabis is now commonly consumed via vaporizer, so all toxins are eliminated.

What if swine flu developed into great plague next year and death swept across the globe leaving behind six million corpses? The world’s people would tremble in fear. We would grimace in mourning and horror among the mountains of the dead. Yet when this mass death is delivered by the artificial plague of cigarettes, the terrible toll is dismissed with a shrug.

Instead, a world-wide crusade is underway, lead by the USA, with the goal of stamping out not cigarettes, but instead the other drugs. Although they cause are the cause one one death for every 30 from cigarettes (in the USA) these other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, even nearly harmless drugs such as cannabis, are labeled poisons. Those possessing them, at least in the USA and places like Malaysia, are treated with penalties harsher than for real criminals with actual victims.

In light of cigarettes deadly toll, should the USA and other countries prohibit cigarettes and add them to the list of illicit drugs, where they clearly belong? Clearly NOT. The prohibition approach has failed spectacularly, as it did alcohol prohibition in the USA of the 1920s. The difference is that with alcohol the mistake was realized. With the war on drugs, into its 5th decade and with the USA quintupling its prison population into the world’s largest, the prohibitionist, hard-line, lock-em-up stance continues with almost no critical examination.

This ineffective and wasteful prohibition/incarceration model has caused immense collateral damage to American society. As has worked so well in Portugal, drugs should be removed from the law enforcement, zero-tolerance model into a harm reduction approach.

Such an approach has actually worked very well for cigarettes in the USA over the last 20 years. With education, segregation of smoking and higher taxes on cigarettes to help pay for their health toll, smoking has lost much of its popularity. Cigarette consumption has markedly declined in the USA with no arrests or violations of civil liberties.

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.

Victory for hemp in Oregon!

With the signature of Governor Ted Kulongoski, Oregon has agreed to allow its citizens the freedom to farm and develop industrial hemp. Hemp is one of humankind’s oldest and most useful crops. It provides great value in thousands of uses. A century ago hemp was an important American crop. The renaissance of hemp cultivation in the USA could provide a major stimulus of true productivity to a country sorely in need of solutions. Hemp can help provide for the most elemental of human needs, by producing food to eat, fibers to wear and materials for building products and structures.

After passing with big majority in both of the house and senate in Oregon, and now signing by the state;s chief executive, Oregon has declared an independence from a smothering federal policy on industrial hemp. Oregon freedom fighter Sen. Floyd Prozanski was the sponsor of state Senate Bill 676. The state senator has sponsored similar bills going back to 1997.  Prozanski commented,

Unlike its pioneering bottle bill, Oregon was not the first state to free the production and use of hemp. Over a half dozen other American states now allow use of hemp for for fiber, food and fuel. The actual senate bill language hints at some of these productive uses:

Oregon’s law is different from most of the new state laws freeing up the farming of hemp in that it does not require a permit from the DEA. This unreasonable requirement by most of the states is a non-starter as the DEA would never grant such a permit. Oregon is also the first western state to begin to free this resource from the federal DEA bureaucracy.  The Beaver State is first in the west only because California governor Arnold Swartzenegger twice vetoed hemp freedom legislation that had passed California’s legislature.

The change in Oregon law, however, does nothing to change the asinine and cruel federal designation of cannabis sativa as a Schedule I drug with draconian restrictions on its cultivation. In the eyes of the DEA, it may be a capital crime to grow a field of hemp. Although hemp has very few of the cannabinoids that give other forms of cannabis their mild psychoactivity, the DEA could still persecute any large hemp grow as a grave federal crime. Just how hemp agriculture will get underway in Oregon (and other states) is unclear.

  • Any Oregon farmer brave enough to exercise his new state’s right to grow a hemp crop could be fairly certain he or she would be inviting a raid by dozens of armed, armored, jack-booted and masked government goons. Arrest at gunpoint while sprawled on the ground would quickly follow, then land forfeiture, months of prosecution and perhaps years of imprisonment.

A solution to the increasingly assertive voice of the American people demanding change on cannabis/hemp issues, changed gained through state initiatives or legislation, is to reschedule cannabis sativa. Changing it from Schedule I down to Schedule V would avoid catastrophic raids and persecutions. Americans could regain the productive resources from hemp, and curative medicines from cannabis, that they enjoyed a century ago.

In any case, Oregon’s actions help unleash Oregonian entrepreneurs wishing to develop hemp crops and products from their choke-hold by federal bureaucrats. Oregon’s governor and legislators, especially Senator Floyd Prozanski, deserve thanks and praises for this liberating legislation. Hopefully, federal changes will allow Oregonians to use hemp to provide people with food, clothing, shelter and fuel.

It was 72 years ago today: The Marijuana Tax Act begins seven decades of lies and repression by American bureaucrats.

America’s congress shamed itself 72 years ago today with the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act. Responding not to any actual need, but instead to yellow journalism and the efforts of prohibitionist Henry Anslinger, congress outlawed the possession of cannabis.

Forty years later on this same date, perhaps the only intelligent thing ever said by an American president about marijuana was uttered by Jimmy Carter. Four decades after Americans were denied their right to possess or use cannabis, President Carter said,

  • Penalties against a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana for personal use.”

Despite these words of wisdom, these same penalties were not only retained, but increased during the drug war escalation of the 1980s. Tragically, over three decades later, nearly 15 million Americans have had their lives mangled by needless and cruel arrest and prosecution by their own government for cannabis “crimes” with no victims.

Congress did not have in 1937 (nor constitutionally should it have now) the power to prohibit American citizens from possessing cannabis. Remember, an amendment to the constitution was needed to prohibit alcohol; and cannabis prohibition should require a similar change to the constitution. This requirement was avoided by Anslinger and congress in 1937 by forming the prohibitive legislation in the form of a stamp tax, for a stamp that could not actually be purchased. Such legal nonsense caused the US Supreme Court to overturn the act in 1969, pointing out that it calls for self-incrimination, a violation of the 5th Amendment. By the way, the legal challenge to this self-serving law was made by none other than activist Timothy Leary.

Unfortunately, cannabis was firmly prohibited in the 1970 Controlled Substance Act. Cannabis was classified as a Schedule I drug, incurring the most severe penalties against any banned drug. Over 800,000 Americans were arrested for possession of cannabis in 2007. Drug war bureaucrat extraordinaire Henry Anslinger’s toxic legacy continues unchecked.

Schwarzenegger ignores the low hanging fruit, harmful cannabis arrests and prosecutions.

As California crashes into the financial sea, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is ignoring easy money from simple changes in approach to drugs. California’s drug policy, like America’s, has always chosen a harm maximization approach. This most expensive drug policy option was modified and made more just and less expensive by California voters decriminalizing medical marijuana. Yet opportunities for saving money (and human anguish) surround Gov. Schwarzenegger like low hanging fruit. So far, he seems blind to them.

SF Gate reports Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has “outlined a plan to save $1.2 billion in prison spending by changing the criminal justice system so that fewer people are sent to prison and fewer parolees are sent back to prison.”

  • Some items on the governor’s list of reforms is greatly needed in a state bleeding money by incarcerating 167,000 of its citizens, in good part for the benefit of the prison guards’ union. Many of these reforms, however, involve crimes with actual victims. Car theft (for cheap cars, at least) would not be a felony, for example.
  • Instead of “reforming” laws for crimes with actual victims, the governor could do much better revamping enforcement of drug “crimes” where any crime is consensual, and, in any case, is really the business of the California citizen, not the business of self-serving state bureaucrats.
  • Crimes committed by people on drugs, should be enforced, but overwhelmingly crimes committed while on drugs center on the legal drug, alcohol.
  • On the recreational level, arrests for cannabis possession fuel alcohol consumption and abuse. Alcohol is a far more powerful drug than cannabis. Alcohol intoxication is often associated with belligerence and violence; a cannabis high is never the cause of violence. For California, as elsewhere, cannabis is a SAFER alternative to alcohol.

The current wasteful approach was well demonstrated last winter, when the California budget tsunami was on the horizon, police in northern California had the excess resources to waste on outlandishly lavish marijuana busts. Consider the utter stupidity and waste of sending 100 armored cops into 2 tiny northern California High School to arrest a few students for cannabis “crimes.” These drug cops should have to get real jobs doing real work, not padding the pensions with unwarranted but cinematic shows of force.

The governor should drop the current costly harm maximization approach approach to drug use in California and adopt more effective and far less costly harm minimization.

  • A rational harm minimization tactic would be to end all marijuana arrests.
  • Since cannabis is so blatantly misrepresented as a Schedule 1 drug, all the laws, regulations and mandatory minimums associated with Schedule 1 status should be thrown out the window.
  • California prisons should be emptied of those whose “crime” involved cannabis.

The state of California could save huge sums of money by not inflicting needless, useless arrests, prosecutions and incarceratons for cannabis “crimes” with no victims.