September 23, 2010
When Silence can be DeafeningThe rapid approach of November 2, together with the unanimous opposition of federal officials to all state legislation allowing medical cannabis (“medical marijuana”), has led me to wonder when President Obama will finally break his personal silence on California's Proposition 19.
My own position is clear. Even before I began taking medical histories from applicants seeking a physician’s recommendation as allowed by Proposition 215 in 1996, I would have favored “legalization” simply because of the abysmal failure of all attempts at prohibition; whether China's during the 18th Century or those of the the US and the UN in the 20th. In fact I consider the enduring support of drug prohibition policy by all administrations since Repeal passed in 1933 to be a mystery; also the continuous endorsement of our policy by UN treaty since 1970 as solid evidence that our species has more trouble with deductive logic than we care to admit.
In any event, there is now little doubt that history has conspired to place our first nominally black chief executive in a position that is both ironic and improbable. Not only is he the first to be seen as “black” (as opposed to biracial) he is also the first American President ever to admit trying illegal drugs, (inevitably called "drugs of abuse" by every administration since Nixon).
One of several things I've learned from studying the ingestion cannabis as a repetitive behavior, is that the effects of edibles are so different from the inhaled form that the two are almost entirely different (albeit similar) drug experiences. In fact, the differences can be so pronounced it’s even possible Bill Clinton’s claim to have not inhaled was true; beyond that, if he’d tried an edible first, it could well have been a negative (dsyphoric) experience.
What makes it all the more interesting for me is that while I've been learning about cannabis from simply taking histories from admitted pot users for almost nine years, no other physicians have tried to replicate that experience; or if they have, they haven't reported their results. Without doubt, waiting for confirmation has made me impatient, which is probably why I'm so mindful of Obama's silence.
I'm also impatient to see who will be the first to ask him the long avoided question, which wing of American Journalism will ask it, how he will answer, and how his answers will be parsed by the same pundits who have been supporting our destructive national policy for so long.
It promises to be an interesting several weeks; perhaps well beyond November.
September 16, 2010
A Growing Crescendo on Proposition 19The rapid approach of November 2nd, when Californians will have a chance to vote on an admittedly imperfect "marijuana" legalization initiative is finally provoking a spate of opinions; some predictable, and others quite surprising, on whether legal cannabis would be a good idea.
Given that the San Francisco Chronicle, albeit under different ownership, had been reporting on Proposition 215 since well before the ‘96 election, one would expect them to have a well-grounded recommendation, but such is not the case. Although conceding that cannabis prohibition has been an abject failure and the past 14 years have revealed a surprising level of public support for “medical" marijuana, they failed to ask themselves (or their readers) just what that support was based on. Instead, they wring their hands over imperfections in the the initiative's wording without any realization that it, like Proposition 215, can only be a beginning and not a definitive solution. The editors thus recommend a "no" vote.
Don’t they realize that defeat would simply delay the inevitable and encourage the arrest and prosecution of more pot users? What evidence can they cite that either of the two federal laws banning “marijuana” were well written or supported by studies that would pass muster as even remotely “scientific?” There is none.
On the facing page, the Chronicle carried a dissenting opinion; one more representative of the victims of the federal policy its editors are so anxious to placate. A different take,exemplifies the type of analysis any controversial “war” should be subjected to before being carelessly endorsed by the media was written by the irrepressible Michael Moore and appeared in yesterday’s Reader Supported News.
Moore Yes,! NAACP, Yes! Chronicle editors, NO!
September 13, 2010
The More Things Change...A brief AP announcement last week described a late August request from nine ex DEA Administrators urging President Obama to sue California over Proposition 19, just as he’d sued Arizona over its decision to become involved in immigration policy.
Quite apart from not mentioning that the initiative process itself was not addressed by either the US or California Supreme Courts on the multiple occasions each has ruled on Prop 215 cases, the ex DEA administrators share an obvious bias in favor of a controversial policy. The only reason Proposition 215 came before California voters in 1996 was because the cannabis policy they had spent their careers enforcing had become so controversial. Continuing opposition by police agencies to any admission that cannabis has medical benefit is a given; the real news since Proposition 215 was passed in 1996 is its surprising popularity with people in all walks of life. If all supporters of medical marijuana are criminals, we live in a truly lawless country.
There are many reasons for unhappiness with Proposition 19's wording: it fails to protect the most vulnerable users (those below 21) it doesn’t incorporate the most important clinical evidence supplied by 215 applicants; it also still panders unnecessarily to the prejudices of the status quo.
That said, rejection by voters in November would be perceived as a set back and only encourage support by die-hards of a repressive policy that was already failing badly; even before Nixon's own lies forced him to resign in 1974.
Far a more balanced assessment of contemporary cannabis policy, see a recent column by David Sirota.
September 11, 2010
An Aging Global Infrastructure & Human NumbersThe explosion of a thirty inch gas main that devastated an entire neighborhood in the quiet San Francisco suburb of San Bruno two nights ago and the spectacular collapse of an important bridge across the Mississippi River on August 1, 2007 had a lot in common: each represented the sudden catastrophic failure of a modern structure that had functioned without incident for decades and long been taken for granted. Both happened early on a Summer evening as people were heading home for dinner, and both could easily have been much worse in terms of the number of lives lost.
From my perspective however, none of those considerations begins to express the significance of the two events, which is the degree to which our species has overpopulated its home planet and is now racing headlong towards its ultimate destruction. Because I’ve sounded that alarm on this blog so often in the past with so little noticeable effect, I’m under no illusion that this time will be any different; however, I still find it difficult to resist pointing out the obvious, particularly in a setting in which the whole world seems so intent on its denial.
To advance the original comparison just a bit further; each structure had, in its own way, remained out of sight while carrying out functions that had become increasingly critical to the growing populations they served. Such failures, no longer rare, are inevitably followed by investigations, finger pointing, and attempts to assign blame and compensate victims, none of which can ever be entirely satisfactory. In some cases, a valuable lesson may be learned and incorporated into future planning. However, the problem of population growth is almost never mentioned, particularly in poorer nations which often have the largest vulnerable populations and the least disposable wealth.
That we now may be entering a prolonged deflationary period (Depression) can only make matters worse.
September 02, 2010
Mexico: What to Believe?As someone who lived in pre-drug war El Paso between 1958 to 1963, I have great difficulty adjusting to the virtual tsunami of information about drug trafficking, murder, and corruption that has been emanating from Juarez since I began following the drug war in earnest in 1995. Not only have the numbers of alleged drug-related killings increased dramatically, so has the savage and brazen manner in which they are being carried out; to say nothing of the fact that pitched battles between government forces and narcotrafficantes are being fought deep in the interior.
Even given their dramatic progression from levels reported as recently as 1995, there is general agreement that after newly elected President Felipe Calderon dutifully attempted to accommodate a Bush-Cheney call for a crack down on drug smuggling in 2006, things have become even worse: more savagery, more killings, and more disturbing evidence the Mexican government is losing control.
Even against that background, President Calderon is still claiming progress in Mexico's version of the drug war, based on the most recent arrest of another notorious drug lord. How long can such blindness persist without provoking a catastrophic failure of government South of the Border? More to the point: how might such a failure affect us?
And isn't this very reminiscent of our "successes" against the cocaine cartels and Pablo Escobar in the Eighties, to say nothing of claims made on behalf of body counts and the "light at the end of the tunnel" in an earlier war?