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July 10, 2006

Interesting Developments

As Proposition 215's tenth anniversary approaches, a recent spate of  coordinated moves by the DEA and California police have made it painfully clear that neither side of the medical marijuana 'debate' has learned much about youthful pot use, the distinctive historical phenomenon which had so clearly induced Richard Nixon to start a 'war' on drugs 37 years ago and then later forced him to ignore the unexpected recommendation of his own Presidential Commission that pot be decriminalized so its medical uses could be studied.

Because the drug war's survival as policy as has always depended on protecting it from objective evaluation,  federal disinterest was to be expected; however, the same shouldn't have been true of reformers, who- nevertheless- continue to reject data that could help them salvage some of the the promise implicit in Prop. 215 when it passed in 1996.

But don't hold your breath...

Some day, there may be an attempt to account for the lives destroyed and misery produced by Nixon's two critical drug policy decisions, but because he couldn't possibly have known the extent of the carnage, we probably shouldn't be too tough on him. However, what about the legions of 'true believers' and cravenly complicit functionaries who have allowed an improbable policy that was failing miserably at such high human and social cost, to avoid scrutiny year after year?

As if that weren't enough, the gyrations of the drug policy 'reform' movement in response to recent federal provocations suggest they are as clueless as ever. I've been monitoring their e-mail discussion lists since they were surprised by a series of raids coordinated with a  media campaign in San Diego last week.  I'm more amazed than ever at how little they gleaned from carefully worded posts in which I'd suggested that a federally inspired campaign  focused on youthful male users (ABYM) had been signalled by the rash of negative reports from 'Oaksterdam' two years ago; and how that campaign had since evolved into an effort to deny business licenses to 'dispensaries' all over the state.

There's a lot going on,  the dust is still settling, and there's at least some hope that recent government moves may hint at some federal insecurity in the background. For example; the otherwise  inexplicable 'historical' report by Professor Burnham of a June 17 dinner honoring six former drug czars at which they also claimed the war on drugs had been 'won.'  Why was there only one write up (in Burnham's home town newslaper on June 30)? Why no immedate interest from mainstream media? Who had gone to all the trouble to plan such an elaborate event and then let it pass almost unnoticed?

For that matter, why re the feds being so aggressive in San Diego? Do they simply assume the Medical Board of California will go along with their  demands that physicians be disciplined fot recommending pot? Don't they realize that following the Board's punishment of Dr. Mikuriya, such a strategy could involve risks for them?

What is most clear to me is that the feds have been forced to concoct a myth to justify their aggressive pot prohibition. As new information appears, the myth has required subtle amendments, which–– over time–– have made it considrably less than coherent. Reform has developed its own myth, which because it agrees with the main points of the federal fairy tale, has been a major factor in their own perennial failure to change policy.

Since it's also very clear is that neither side knows the truth about our modern pot market,  both may be terribly embarrassed if the public were to find out before they do...

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at July 10, 2006 05:46 AM