August 27, 2006
Craven Fear of an Absurd Policy
Considering only their domestic repercussions, criminal drug industries have provoked huge federal, state, and local law enforcement efforts to suppress them. For nearly four decades the support lavished on the drug war by both political parties, all sitting presidents, and every federal agency has been literally unprecedented . Both the budget and influence of the two brand new agencies (DEA and NIDA), created to fight the drug war have grown progressively; even as the Justice Department was devoting an ever larger fraction of its resources to drug prosecutions and the Federal Bureau of Prisons was expanding to house over 190, 000 inmates; over half of whom (54%) are serving time for drug offenses. The record federal expansion has been accompanied by a four-fold increase in state and local prisoners, giving the US the dubious honor of becoming the worlds' leading jailer, a lead we increase every month.
Yet the elephant in the national living room is that our lavishly supported drug policy has never even met its own goals. The 'zero tolerance' and 'drug free America' slogans of the Eighties were quietly dropped in the Nineties for a more modest fifty percent reduction in 'drug use' within a specified interval; only to see the interval extended as it became clear the original reduction wouldn't be achieved. Current emphasis has shifted to 'drug free' workplaces and schools through use of yet another unproven strategy: aggressive random drug testing.
Interestingly, that's a development which serves mainly to highlight another weakness in a woeful policy: urine testing is best for detecting marijuana. Just as the drug war was originally impelled by youthful use of cannabis, its failure has always been underscored by pot's continued popularity with adolescents; that many have remained chronic users is supported by the steadily increasing number of annual arrests and the relentless increase in seizures at our borders; to say nothing of the numbers of plants being cultivated by amateur growers in the nation's back yards, basements, garages and closets. Then, there's the recent discovery of enormous 'grows' in our national forests being being tended by Mexican aliens, clearly to circumvent both border interception and land forfeiture.
All the above suggests that Congress has been enhancing punishments for marijuana out of sheer frustration; yet 'pot' arrests are still treated by the media as opportunities for word play and stale Cheech and Chong humor. Along with the stubborn denial of policy failure at the federal level, is the craven failure of non-government institutions to come to grips with the enormous and indefensible injustice represented by four decades of "marijuana" prohibition, a policy which, even as this is written, is being enforced more aggressively than ever against 'medical' users in California. Nor are our scientific organizations willing to criticize the obvious abrogation scientific principle by government agencies in defending it. That news organizations were out in front of 'science' in parsing the FDA's absurd April 20 communique on smoking pot is a telling case in point. Most outrageous of all, at least to this writer, is that the campaign against medical use in California is receiving passive assistance from the self-appointed medical marijuana advocates who claim to speak for 'patients' and yet have completely failed to take advantage of the opportunity Proposition 215 provided for studying them.
I have now been systematically interviewing chronic pot users for nearly five years. What they have told me convinces me beyond any doubt that NORML, ASA, MPP, and other medical marijuana supporters are nearly as clueless as the feds; and equally susceptible to doctrinaire thinking when it comes to adolescent drug initiation and usage.
August 17, 2006
Is Pluto a planet?
A new scientific controversy provides us with yet another chance to take a look at the response of the 'scientific community' to the war on cannabis. As is usual with such comparisons, because the critical implication involves appreciating something which is NOT happening, it may be less than obvious to those with a casual interest; and easier for those with a vested interest to deny.
In a nutshell, Pluto was discovered in 1930 at a time when scientific instrumentation and observations were more primitive than they are now. Interestingly, the respected astronomer who first described it is still alive and understandably don't want Pluto downgraded from its planetary status. That's only one of several possibilities being considered by the International Astronomical Union now meeting in Prague. Because there are several other implications of what will clearly be an arbitrary decision, its ultimate impact will be more political than scientific–– yet still within Union's sole power to amend.
They are the features which beg comparison with the 'war' on drugs.
Also, since neither national governments nor various police agencies seem to have any stake in the outcome of the debate over Pluto, the present discussion is a lot more honest and uninhibited than the endless wrangle over cannabis; and so far, at least, no tax supported federal agency has seen fit to sponsor 'research' to influence it; nor has Congress, the White House, or the Supreme Court attempted to do so either.
August 14, 2006
Even though I have little time for this sort of thing, there are some news items which so perfectly illustrate the absurdity of our drug policy that I must point them out. One such appears in today's Salinas Californian. Consider what's reported there: at a time when the economy is threatened by inflation, we are engaged in a losing (and unnecessary) war against 'terror' and the tax burden has been cruelly shifted to the poor and the middle calss, our police 'heroes' in the front lines of the drug war are still able to get away with simultaneously admitting they are not up to the job and complaining they don't have nearly enough money to do it.
One is also forced to wonder when the drug policy 'reform' community will finally get around to asking the cops and feds to explain that mysteriously persistent popularity.
Oh, yes. Don't forget that although we are worried about global warming and the diminishing global supply of petroleum, NASCAR tacing is now our favorite sport.
August 12, 2006
A Letter from the Gulag
Just over a year ago, on August 10, 2005 my friend and associate, Dustin Costa was arrested in his own home by six California 'peace'
officers with drawn guns. At first they seemed a motley group indeed, but to anyone familiar with the details of the case, there was a certain cruel logic in that police overkill because they represented every California police agency with the most remote claim to jurisdiction in Merced, CA where the bust was carried out; however, they were really on a mission from the DEA, because they were there to arrest Dustin on federal drug charges and take him into federal custody at the Fresno County Jail. He has been there ever since–– completely ignored and nearly forgotten by the medical marijuana 'movement' that claims to represent him
What makes his case a nearly unique and especially obscene miscarriage of justice is that, at the time of his arrest, he had been out on bail on state charges for the same offense, a substantial 'grow' intended for medical use. He had already made eighteen court appearances and was orchestrating his defense so adroitly that no trial date had even been set. Clearly the development that had changed the equation enough to allow his controversial arrest was the Supreme Court's June ruling in the Raich case, which approved federal prosecution of those charged with violating its drug laws; even in states with 'medical marijuana' laws. Although the Supremes clearly hadn't considered the issue of double jeopardy, there were posts from lawerly types to 'reform' lists pointing out that as separate 'sovereigns' each government was entitled to pursue its own case.
So much for fairness and collusion.
Although Dustin has been held under extreme conditions in a hell-hole, he has continued to work for what he believes in and has been interviewing many of his fellow prisoners (nearly all of whom are short term county jail prisoners). The following letter is an example of how well he has been using his time to understand what is happening and refine his message:
Received From Dustin Costa, dated August 9, 2006
Very few of those now attempting to restrict use of 'medical marijuana' in California claim it isn't medicine. Even such recent enemies as Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin and San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis now claim to support its use by the 'seriously ill.' However, the most powerful, influential, and perhaps most self-interested 'dog' in the state-wide fight over medical use remains the federal government, which continues to insist that marijuana has no medical value whatsoever, and further, is both a dangerous drug and a menace to society. Because of the dangers it represents, they claim, anyone using or supplying it deserves a long term in prison. The government then offers local police additional resources to make sure medical marijuana offenders wind up behind bars. They claim, and perhaps even believe, that they only want to make America a safer place to live.
Wouldn't it be ironic if we were one day to discover that the real menace to society has been our federal government? Wouldn't it be a real twist of fate to discover that marijuana has the awesome potential to make America a safer place?
What if you were to discover that the government has borne false witness against marijuana, beginning with Congressional testimony in the Spring of 1937, and that the deceit and suppression of truth continues to this day?
Would you be surprised to learn that the biggest victims of the government's big lie are suffering from debilitating mental conditions like ADD, bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, autism, depression, and the whole range of anxiety-related disorders?
Did you know that people with those conditions now make up 70% of America's prison population?
America currently has 2.2 million people behind bars, a number which is growing at the rate of 1000 each week. 80% of them are there through the war on drugs. In the 38 years since the drug war began, America has become the largest per-capita jailer on Earth. Would it surprise you to learn that most of those new prisoners are those with potentially the most to gain from marijuana; who, if allowed to self-medicate with it, wouldn't be 'criminals' at all?
Imagine what it would mean if it turns out that marijuana is one of the wisest choices for treating adolescent mental disorders and also 'safer than aspirin and more effective than Ritalin?"
The logical implication would then be that the government has been relying on the false information it has gathered and spread with our tax dollars to further its agenda of incarcerating and brutalizing our poorest and most defenseless citizens in a campaign that relies heavily on fear, bigotry, and hatred.
It is that campaign which has transformed our prison system into our principal source of 'Mental Health Care.' If you agree with that policy, then you also agree with Mark Pazin, Bonnie Dumanis and the DEA.
P.O. Box 872
Fresno, CA 93712
I'm sure Dustin would appreciate feedback my readers.