August 16, 2014
A Long-Overdue Protest in FergusonOn July 19th, I referred to a phenomenon that has long been a consequence of our destructive drug war: the militarization of American police agencies. In the last sentence, I included a link to a database that lists the shooting victims of American law enforcement. I'm still not sure how, or by whom that database was started, but it seems to have been well maintained since 2009, at least. It contains both the identities of the victims and the circumstances under which they were shot; usually with links to press or TV accounts. Just browsing it is a revelation: the great majority of victims were young males of color who were shot early during an encounter with their local police. There are often links to media accounts of the shootings that include protests from friends or family disagreeing with the "official" interpretation– often stridently. A substantial number of the incidents were formally investigated and the police use of deadly force was almost always found to be justified.
In fact, the current ruckus over the killing of Michael Brown by police in the Saint Louis suburb of Ferguson is rather typical of the group; except that it's generating far more media coverage than any similar event within recent memory.
One has to go back the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police which was caught on amateur video and became an oversight sensation when released to the media.
In the aftermath of the King verdict, in which the cops were all acquitted, prompting three days of rioting that produced over fifty deaths, and in which the LAPD did not distinguish itself by either its intelligence or its courage. There were additional costs: Rodney King was a chronic alcoholic who eventually died suspiciously after being enriched by a large settlement for the beating administered by the LAPD.
Some accurate and careful analyses have been written since Michael Brown's death, such as the one by Jewelle Taylor Gibbs that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. My only disagreement with her is relatively minor: I hold Richard Nixon far more culpable than Ronald Reagan; it was Nixon who (literally) dreamed up the Controlled Substances Act. All Ronnie did was to follow Tricky Dick's script (with appropriate coaching from Nancy). Given the totality of our problems on planet Earth; from Ferguson to the Ukraine, not to mention the denial being exhibited by both our fellow humans and our "leaders," I'm tempted to ask a rhetorical question: can this species (possibly) be saved?
One can sympathize with Robin Williams, whose depression would have responded far better to cannabis than to the toxic Big Pharma products I suspect his shrinks were prescribing.
July 07, 2014
Random Thoughts on America's Recent Birthday238 years ago, 13 British colonies on the Atlantic seaboard of North America declared themselves independent of British rule in a document now famous as the Declaration of Independence. Its author, Thomas Jefferson went on to become one of the founders of the new nation and its 3rd President.
Recently, DNA evidence confirmed that following the death of his wife, Martha, Jefferson had several children by Sally Hemings, a woman of color who was both his slave and Martha's half sister. Such tangled relationships were probably not rare, given the degree to which chattel slavery had become essential to the economy of Southern colonies before our successful rebellion against British rule. There can also be little doubt that our forefathers' dependence on chattel slavery has adversely affected our development as a nation. As W.E.B. DuBois noted in 1896, the 3/5 compromise, resolved the deadlock over slavery and enabled our founders to finish drafting their Constitution in 1787, but was ultimately responsible for the bitter Civil War we were lucky to survive. Sadly, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln almost immediately following his reelection in 1865 deprived us of his leadership during the critical Reconstruction era.
In 1896, the Supreme Court's thoughtless Plessy decision essentially re-enslaved blacks by trapping them in the sharecropping economy of the "deep" South. The continuing rancor of Southern Democrats was also painfully evident throughout the first half of the 20th century. Indeed, it was not until after World War II that the Armed Forces were desegregated by Harry Truman's Executive Order in 1947- at about the same time that the color line in baseball was broken by Jackie Robinson.
Although progress in race relations in the United States since the end of WW2 has been slow, difficult, and erratic; "African-Americans' now have the right to vote and their civil rights are protected, albeit better in some states than others. However it's already been a Century and a half since the Civil War ended. There's also little doubt that Republican “red" states (predominantly ex-Confederate) still discriminate and there's also significant income and educational disparity on he national level.
Shifting to our history as a species- humans remain conspicuously vulnerable to jealousy, greed, and insecurity. The UN now enforces a a major anomaly of American Law, the War on Drugs ;despite it's well-known record of failure.
Finally, we also have abundant evidence that we have dangerously overpopulated our species' only available habitat for the foreseeable future, yet humans obviously find waging war against each other preferable to reaching agreement.
Ironically there is now a biracial President in the White House (who is nonetheless seen as black in most "red" states}. Safely reelected to a second term in 2012, he would to have little to lose- and predictably much to gain- by endorsing cannabis legalization.
I base that opinion on a study of (now) over 7000 cannabis users revealing that paternal participation in the life of their children is particularly important to their self-esteem and early adolescent behavior.
Finally, Obama's own adolescent pot use as a member of the Choom Gang should be pointed out to him within the context of his own upbringing. He's certainly smart enough to understand that ending Tricky Dick's punitive drug war will look a lot better on his ex-Presidential resume than having had that chance and wimping out.
May 18, 2014
Why Nixon's Drug War remains such a deadly Hoax1) The Controlled Substances Act, which became both American and UN drug policy in 1970 claims to be about Public Health, but is really about punishment; its major support comes from police, lawyers and Judges, all of whom are mandated by the same law to combat "drug crime" and empowered by it to create new drug crime by deciding which substances can be added to– or removed from– "Schedule One."
Thus the CSA gave the DEA, a law enforcement agency, total power over the creation of illegal drug markets.
2) The CSA also dictated the official algorithm for punishing use or possession of designated "drugs of abuse." It's very revealing that the first such drugs ("substances") placed on Schedule One in 1970 were "marijuana" (cannabis), psilocybin, and LSD. That’s almost certainly because his most pressing need in 1969 was to enhance the power of federal law over the vocal young people who were then demanding that he abandon the war in Vietnam he had been attempting to win by his secret bombing of Laos and Cambodia. His Controlled Substances Act was– and still is– based on pure rhetoric. There had never been any proper clinical studies of cannabis since those done by Dr.Wm. O'Shaughnessy on oral “gunjah” in India during the 1830s. We also don’t know of any studies of smoked cannabis done by O'Shaughnessy. The first such use was reported by French troops who learned to smoke cannabis in Egypt.
3) Whether he realized it or not, Nixon had pulled a Hitler by using the power of the state to assert a law without any basis in fact. In Hitler's case, it was his insistence (via the Numemberg laws) that Jewry is an enemy of every state and must be destroyed. In Nixon's law, the false premise is that the effects of certain "substances" are so evil, they cannot be tolerated by any society.
To accomplish his goals, Hitler created a special police force, the SS.
Nixon did the same when he created the DEA a special drug police force, to enforce his CSA.
The comparison is not facetious. Whenever a false belief becomes a ruling paradigm by law, a new opportunity for authoritarian abuse under cover of “justice” is created. Nixon's CSA was brilliant; it asserted the "right" of police agencies to create one new illegal market after another. All that was needed was a new product with enough appeal to command a premium from a vulnerable population. Crack is a perfect example: the growing underground appeal of inhaled cocaine had been established by Richard Pryor's famous "hair on fire" moment. The problem was that ether extraction of cocaine produces a product that is simply too expensive and dangerous for mass consumption. Those problems were solved by the discovery that heating bicarbonate of soda with powdered cocaine in a microwave produces a drug that can be smoked safely and will reach the brain just as quickly as the more expensive and more dangerous product requiring ether extraction. An added bonus was that the enhanced potency produced by smoking allowed the sale of smaller aliquots (doses) thus enhancing profits; it was like selling Chateaubriande by the forkful: the whole steak becomes even more profitable.
The threat that "marijuana" currently represents to Nixon's police hegemony is that cannabis really is medicine . In fact it's so safe and effective that it's almost too good to be true, a characteristic that has allowed the DEA and NIDA– its sister agency – to obfuscate the truth, at least temporarily. In that endeavor, they have been ably assisted by Psychiatry and Psychology. the medical handmaidens of Nixon's police. Not to mention "pot docs" with more avarice than intellectual curiosity.
May 16, 2014
The VA, cannabis, and PTSDNo sooner did I complain about the fact that the drug war adds up to bad medicine than a news item reflecting that reality turns up on national news. I just witnessed a somewhat impassioned debate on CNN's Crossfire on the question of alleged VA delays in care for "wounded Warriors" and a recent spate of 40 deaths allegedly related to those delays.
Putting together what I remember from my Army days when I cared for wounded GIs from Vietnam at a US Army hospital in Japan, and then later at Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco, I was reminded of the differences between then and now: the Vietnam war was fought mostly by young draftees, many of whom were just out of High School and definitely not career soldiers. They have since been replaced by a smaller "all volunteer" Army intended to reduce reliance on a draft, but which has also been severely stressed by deployments to the Middle East and other hot spots.
I have no data on retention stats, but suspect they are down and that there must be increased reliance on reserve units to meet troop commitments.
Since I also know that PTSD has been a common problem, I suspect that the feds' hard-nosed policy on cannabis may be about to catch up with them big time.
March 18, 2014
Richard Nixon's (Almost) Perfect Crime 1An essential tenet of Richard Nixon's Controlled Substances Act is that "marijuana", as a designated Schedule One "substance" cannot possibly be medicine because it wasn't recognized as such by "American Medicine" in 1970. Thus the first question that should have been raised about the CSA is by what authority could Nixon and Mitchell, a pair of lawyers, presume to speak authoritatively on behalf of "American Medicine?" Sadly, no one in Congress or in the Medical profession had the presence of mind to ask that question. The closest anyone came was when the anonymous House drafting committee prevailed upon Nixon to appoint the Shafer Commission. Two years later, when it unexpectedly ignored Nixon's wishes by suggesting timidly that pot be "decriminalized" and "studied" the Shafer report was completely ignored by a President who had just been returned to office by an historic landslide and thus able to brush it aside. During the first two years of his second term, a triumphant Nixon was able to create the DEA (1973) and NIDA (1974) as his perpetually self-interested surrogates to prosecute "drug crime" and protect the intellectual flanks of his execrable law.
In that respect, the Trickster was far more successful than with any of his other presidential responsibilities, including his own job, from which he was forced to resign for (of all things) lying.
For me personally, it's particularly irritating that the two agencies he created to enforce and lobby for his invidious law are still active and federally funded. It's particularly galling that the White House is now occupied by a nominally black lawyer who was smart enough to be elected to the Harvard Law Review, but hasn't tumbled to the benefits he derived from his own adolescent use of cannabis.
By the way, the Cannabis Culture link on Nixon's sins is generally accurate, but contains one factual error. RMN was not appointed to anything by either Senator McCarthy. He won his red-baiting spurs as a member of of the infamous HUAC.
March 09, 2014
A Key Insight from a Surprising Source (modified)My intellectual differences with drug war supporters are rather basic: I think our failed effort to control commerce in alcohol via the 18th Amendment demonstrated the futility of trying to prohibit commerce in any desired commodity so convincingly that repeating the same experiment indefinitely with "drugs" (as our species now seems committed to do through UN treaty) has become either an act of insanity or criminal irresponsibility. However, global anarchy is such a daunting prospect, we are left with persuasion and a reliance on facts to change an obviously misguided policy.
To focus on a specific example, Sally Satel MD is an academic psychiatrist who has consistently supported the war on drugs. My first awareness of her position was a 1995 Op-ed on the evils of meth she had co-authored with Professor Mark Kleiman, then teaching Public Policy at Harvard (he has since moved to UCLA where he is considered such an authority on drug policy that Washington State hired him to advise them on how best to implement the "legalization" of cannabis!). The exclamation point indicates my surprise that Washington state officials could have been so unaware of Dr. Kleiman's prior opinions on cannabis, a subject he clearly knows little about.
On the same subject, I came across an item phrased so so vividly by Dr. Satel that I clicked on it and was rewarded with an insight that helped me understand an anomaly that had long puzzled me: how had our jails and prisons become so overcrowded with a population that had once been managed as inpatients in the nation's State Hospital system?
As often happens, just seeing a vexing question posed differently– especially when accompanied by a new fact- can jostle one's memory enough to supply an answer that had remained just out of reach, a process we call "insight." It quickly struck me that I hadn't known anything about the Community Mental Health Centers Act, (I'd had been assigned as a surgeon at a US Army hospital in Japan a few months before Kennedy's assassination in Dallas). An important consequence of that timing is that although he and LBJ clearly harbored strong opinions about the shortcomings of American Medical care, they could not have discussed their separate ideas in much detail before the assassination.
Thus, the tragedy of Oswald's personality disorder can be held accountable for yet anther another unknown outcome in addition to how JFK might have managed Vietnam. LBJ was clearly flummoxed by the war, we also know from the record he'd been deceived by MacNamara's "fog of war." We also know from the Cuban missile crisis that Kennedy– although clearly anti-communist– had been a master of urgent diplomacy who had– thankfully– allowed Nikita Kruschev, a way out after overplaying his hand.
In my opinion, Dr. Satel's frequently expressed opposition to the very idea that cannabis could be medicine is indicative of the logical flaw she still shares with Dr.Kleiman and a host of others: the belief that Richard Nixon's CSA was humane legislation deserving of intellectual respect.
Even more surprising is the illogical CSA's durability as federal law in the face of its wretched provenance and unfailingly poor results over its four decades as a global policy. New markets, often violent, for every new "substance" listed on Schedule one, not to mention the bloated US prison population Dr. Satel rightly complains about.
I will soon address her implied question: just how were asylum inmates converted so quickly into prison inmates between 1962 and 1972?
The answer to that question has such serious implications for the future of our species, that it deserves the careful consideration only an extended essay could begin to address supply. Indeed it goes right to the heart of the folly known as the "War on Drugs"
February 18, 2014
Shocking Ignorance in High PlacesWhen the youthful Barack Obama surged into national prominence as Senator-elect from Illinois in 2004 I, like many others, quickly saw him as "presidential timber." His election in 2008 seemed to validate my hopes, although his first term failed my expectations by a wide margin. I remained in his corner in 2012 for the simple reason that I saw the GOP candidate's repeated endorsement of his Mormon faith as a crippling handicap in terms of my dominant issue: the many global harms being inflicted on our species by the American "War on Drugs."
That was because my advocacy of cannabis legalization had also sensitized me to the fact that the US– despite its many unique accomplishments– has also been guilty of several protracted injustices (slavery, segregation, and racism). Some readers may now be thinking: "wait a minute, didn't we save the world from Hitler in World War two?" Yes; but that was self-preservation, not altruism. Others could now be thinking, "this nut wants to legalize marijuana! I'm outta here!" before clicking off to another screen.
To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, we are a species sparated by a common genome. Another way to think about our conundrum is that despite the ultimate Darwinian revelation that anatomically modern humans are a single species with DNA allowing us to reproduce almost at will, individual humans, including some raised in the same culture– or even the same family– can respond to differences in belief, even in opinion– by killing themselves or each other. While we don't know how Neanderthals, our most recent hominid predecessors, responded to emotional stress, we know that in modern times, whole religious communities strenuously deny that evolution took place at all or prefer some variant, including different religious views on that issue.
Now I realize that my expectations for Obama had been set much too high. Just because he'd smoked weed avidly as a member of the choom gang, didn't mean he understood its benefits in terms of his paternal deprivation any more than Steve Jobs did when he was an avid pot user.
In some respects, Obama is simply another lawyer, his Harvard degree and the Presidency of their Law Review notwithstanding. He recently revealed himself, in an interview by CNN's TV Jake Tapper, as woefully ignorant of the drug war's legal basis and its history; not to mention American Presidential history. Also that he had probably not even read the Controlled Substances Act. Nevertheless, I'm glad he's in the White House because now that his shortcomings on drug policy are finally being exposed, there's time to embarrass him into doing the right thing for the sake of his historical legacy.
I'll explain what I mean by "paternal deprivation" and how I was tipped off to it in the next entry. I'll also return to the Tapper interview to explain what President #44 doesn't know about #37 and just how he's been conned by the most successful scam in history.
Unfortunately, he's had a lot of company.
January 04, 2014
Cannabis Prohibition as Human FollyHistory is the written record of our human interactions with each other and with our planetary environment. Although we are thought to have evolved as a species about a quarter of a million years ago, we first had to master language and writing before we could make full use of the cognitive potential our prolonged evolutionary heritage had provided us with. Nor, for that matter, do we have any reason to believe Human Evolution is over, or that its consequences will necessarily be to our advantage as a species.
In fact the fossil record reveals that extinction has been the fate of the majority of species that have evolved since life first appeared on the planet; also that several mass extinctions have occurred in the past.
Before getting too far into the subject of Evolution, it may be helpful to realize that not only is the concept itself still rejected by a significant fraction of educated humans, there is a growing dichotomy right here in the United States: a recent Pew Research survey showed that a declining percentage of Republicans believe in Human evolution, while the percentage of Democrats who do so has increased.
Unfortunately, that news was turned up while I was distracted by two other hot items: first, the announcement that "legal" marijuana went on sale in Colorado on January 1st; also that Coloradans hoping to take advantage of their new freedom may find themselves literally out in the cold.
All of which tends to confirm a suspicion that had been sneaking up on me for several years and recently become downright intrusive: any "cognitive" species dumb enough to follow Richard Nixon over a cliff by outlawing cannabis may not have a long future.
While many have taken comfort from our many escapes from disaster; it would be well to remember that the huge increase in our population has made us far more vulnerable to the natural disasters we have long been ignoring in our pursuit of wealth and power. In fact, we may finally have become clever enough to add to them all by ourselves.
As usual, not all agree, as the comments on Hayes' article demonstrate. More on this later.
December 04, 2013
The Drug War: an American Tragedy in Three ActsIn December 2014, America and the world will mark a tragic Centennial: the 100th anniversary of the Harrison Narcotic Act, a (perhaps) well intended, but ill-conceived, effort to limit the production and consumption of drugs considered too dangerous or "addictive" by its sponsors to be sold to the general public or prescribed by physicians. The first "narcotics" targeted by Harrison were cocaine and heroin. The law's dubious strategy was to punish physicians for prescribing them in an apparent belief that all doctors who did so were more interested in money than in their patients' welfare. Some were, but many were not and cops are not equipped to recognize the difference.
Significantly, the 1914, New York Times had devoted two separate Sunday supplements to separate propaganda blasts against each drug; both were alarmist and racist in tone, as exemplified by this item which appeared in the Special on cocaine published in February. In January, an egregiously misinformed article forecasting the special on heroin had appeared; Harrison was eventually passed by Congress less than 12 months later. It was a legislative victory based on ignorance that would set the standard for a grotesquely ill-conceived policy of failure for the next Century.
The errors implicit in that early faith in prohibition- and the policies it gave rise to- are emphasized by the continued popularity of heroin and cocaine on modern criminal markets. Not to mention the huge markets for other "narcotics" created as human governments have stubbornly persisted in trying to make a conceptual failure work. The institutionalization of those failures as a Drug War simply reinforces their intrinsic errors. Wars cannot be turned into Public Health, by either devious rhetoric or legal definitions; yet drug prohibition supporters still see "addiction," as a dread disease for which only Law Enforcement can provide acceptable treatment; what I have come to think of as the Nixon Doctrine.
That stubborn idea has been leading our species into disaster for over forty years; not all by itself, but as an one of several reigning misconceptions now being stubbornly promoted by elements within our species: that murder and suicide are valid as manifestations of religious faith, that money can purchase security, and that human activity doesn't affect the planet's climate are just the three most dangerous.
Drug prohibition's evolution from an ill-conceived American law into today's disastrous War on Drugs was more erratic than linear. It would take another 56 years- from 1914 until 1970- and require two additional pieces of misguided legislation: the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, and the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.
What they had in common was adherence to the same misguided belief that inspired Harrison: that the criminal prohibition of drugs is a good idea that should work, a notion that should have been rejected after Repeal was required to cancel the Eighteenth Amendment.
Instead, Nixon's CSA has given us mounting woes on our Mexican border plus the corruption of Burma, Colombia, and Afghanistan by a huge international drug trade.
Tragically- all three major American drug laws were promptly approved and uncritically adopted; first as US policy and subsequently by the UN.
Their detailed histories are both ludicrous and related: the 1937 MTA was a deceptive transfer tax clumsily modeled on Harrison. It required tax stamps that were never printed, probably because the insignificant "marijuana" market extant in 1937 was expected to remain small. When its unexpected expansion in the Sixties was signaled by the sentencing of LSD guru Timothy Leary to 30 years, the medically ignorant Warren Court struck it down on Fifth Amendment grounds.
Ironically, cannabis- re-named "marijuana" by Harry Anslinger, the MTA's original sponsor- has yet to be studied by competent scientists in a setting unburdened by the stigma of illegality during an era capable of recognizing its many and varied therapeutic attributes.
My necessarily limited study of cannabis users suggests that the DEA's ALJ Francis Young's 1988 ruling was correct, cannabis is a therapeutic agent of enormous promise: perhaps the single most valuable plant source of medicine yet to come to the attention of our species.
Thus was a golden opportunity missed in 1969 when the MTA was nullified by the Warren Court and President Richard Nixon took it upon himself to punish youthful anti-war protesters by enhancing the power of law enforcement agencies (and Psychiatry) to practice bad medicine.
A second opportunity was missed in 2000 when the theft of our Presidency by Dubya's supporters was enabled by a minor Florida functionary and later endorsed by a Supreme Court that had been configured by Republican presidents to overturn Roe-V-Wade.
Thus has support for the drug war becomes a good litmus test for political ignorance. With over 60% of the electorate now in favor of legalizing marijuana, will the Prez and enough of his political supporters please get the message? Legal pot is desperately needed by humans ASAP.
In another entry, I'll explain just why "decriminalization" and "medical" use are rhetorical traps.
November 24, 2013
An Imponderable CascadeThe 1960 contest between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon was a watershed in American Presidential history, the consequences of which are still being felt. Narrowly won by Kennedy, it was the first in which both candidates were born in the Twentieth Century and the first won by a Roman Catholic.
Although both men would occupy the Oval Office, neither would finish their remaining term; Kennedy because he was murdered in Dallas at the start of a promising re-election campaign following three somewhat uneven- but eventful and generally positive- years as President. Had he been re-elected the world would now be very different. But- as with Abraham Lincoln- we'll never know what might have happened.
Nixon would later win a cliff-hanger in 1968 after Lyndon Johnson's surprising withdrawal from a contest in which he was eligible for what would have effectively been a third term. Johnson had clearly relished being President, but he was also good at political calculus.
Another imponderable was the second assassination of a Kennedy within 5 years; by eliminating the strongest "peace" candidate right after he'd won a decisive primary, it left Nixon facing the weakest Democrat (who still made a race of it at the end). One is forced to wonder what might have happened had "Clean Gene" McCarthy urged his young followers to vote against Nixon in the weeks before the election.
In contrast to his narrow '68 margin, Nixon won a smashing victory over McGovern in '72, largely on the strength of his surprising visit to China, only to be embarrassed into resigning by Watergate, well before the end of his second term, which was completed by Gerald Ford, the first Speaker of the House to be elevated to the presidency, a contingency brought about by earlier revelations that Vice President Spiro Agnew had accepted bribes while governor of Maryland.
Two more links would be added to this chain of improbable Presidential events that began with JFK's victory in 1960: the election of Jimmy Carter, a fundamentalist Christian Georgia governor who was also an Annapolis grad and trained nuclear engineer, but had disappointed the electorate by failing to deal assertively with the Iranian hostage crisis, arguably a complication of the deal Henry Kissinger made with the Shah of Iran while while serving as Nixon's (who else?) Secretary of State in 1973
Kennedy and Nixon both had solid accomplishments while in Office; Kennedy's handling of the Cuban Missile crisis narrowly averted nuclear war which could well have been catastrophic. He and Kruschev both deserve great credit, although it must also be pointed out that Kruschev's ploy of smuggling nuclear weapons into Cuba is what created it.
A final imponderable is what would have happened had Richard Nixon not been the sitting president when the Warren Court struck down the Marijuana Tax Act in a 1965 case involving Timothy Leary, for it was clearly his need to punish the young peace demonstrators demanding an end to the war in Vietnam that motivated him- with rhetorical help from John Mitchell- to propose the medically indefensible Controlled Substances Act as the "remedy."
For reasons I will detail in the near future, the War on Drugs that followed the CSA almost immediately is a disgrace, not only to the United States, but to all of Humanity. It has had no redeeming features, only evil consequences in its four decades as American and UN policy.
Far from being accepted uncritically as a "gold standard" the scheduling algorithm it is based on should have been laughed out of existence by the first medically knowledgeable authority to read it.
November 03, 2013
A Surprising Development Put into PerspectiveYesterday, I was surprised to see an optimistic email from NORML to its members and supporters citing a somewhat positive article in Bloomberg News suggesting that legislation to "legalize" cannabis ("marijuana") might be just around the corner. Upon reading it however, I don't agree, primarily because its data is from the same old sources: more a reflection of the ignorance that has prevailed since the 1970 Controlled Substances Act launched the blatant deception that quickly evolved into an (international) "war on drugs" with a familiar cast: Drug "Producing" and "Transporting" nations, all afflicted with higher crime rates and more violence than their less involved neighbors. Not to mention the disasters at home: prison growth, Swat raids and lives destroyed on the basis of irresponsible false assumptions.
After California's Proposition 215 passed in 1996, a steadily expanding medical marijuana phenomenon- either by initiative or direct legislation- has been extended to twenty US states, but cannabis is still illegal at the federal level and in all UN member nations by International treaty.
I began actively oppossing America's drug war in 1995 and have had an opportunity to collect data from over 7000 Californians seeking approval of their "medical" use since 2001. Thus I've been able to compare clinical data from admitted users with the conflicting information supplied by both policy enforcers and their opponents in "reform."
What has impressed me most is the disparity in their claims: both with each other and with my data. For example, neither of the opposing sides provide demographics on the huge illegal market both are focused on. My data show it was very thin until the 60s when Boomers born right after WW2 suddenly developed a interest in cannabis that has been sustained ever since, leading to today's huge modern market which has been expanding into the Medicare demographic since 2010.
I've never seen a coherent explanation of that important phenomenon: a glaring failure by the 2 agencies Richard Nixon created to suppress that market in '73 and '74 respectively: just another of the many shortcomings casting great doubt on their frequently asserted "expertise."
Also, the timeline of events leading to passage of the CSA in 1970 confirms that the nullification of Anslinger's Marijuana Tax Act by the Warren Court in 1969 provided Nixon and Mitchell with both motive and opportunity to punish the young hippies then demonstrating against the increasingly bloody and ultimately futile Vietnam war just as Nixon was trying to control it with the succession of devastating attacks on Laos and Cambodia that ultimately failed to prevent North Vietnamese victory in 1973.
Thus our now 42 year drug war can be seen as collateral damage from the war crimes committed by Nixon and Henry Kissinger in their effort to Vietnamize American failure between 1969 and'73.
This is a prelude to why I don't think Congress will vote to legalize cannabis. There is too much negative history to admit, to say nothing of our deep commitment to folly and the huge lobbies that have grown rich on four decades of drug war failure.
It would ultimately be better to emulate the Supreme Court strategy of Brown V Topeka, the protracted cluster of Civil Rights cases required to undo Plessy V Ferguson. It will be daunting, but the still-unrecognized benefits of legal cannabis in an unfettered market would allow development to its full therapeutic potential. OTH, grudging "mini-legalization" would maintain the absurd stigma that still inhibits its use and precludes honest research.
The bottom line is that "pot" is even better than realized; it would be tragic to concede any of its many benefits for the sake of softening a harsh truth. More, later.
August 11, 2013
Pot's Hidden Demograpics: Part 1The complex demographics of my applicant population reveal that the adolescents who eventually became part of the modern “marijuana” market (over 96% of 7100 applicants) began arriving with the "Baby Boom" in 1946. It's a phenomenon so well delineated it has prompted me to divide the US Electorate into Pre and Post-boomers on the basis of their year of birth (YOB) and point out that the first boomers started gradually aging into Medicare by turning 65 in 2010.
What remains uncertain is how many Americans tried pot by getting “high” between 1946 and now. In that context it’s also important to note that there are several characteristics beyond mere age with their own voter implications: had they ever tried weed themselves? How might they vote on the separate issues of "Marijuana legalization" and the Drug War itself (never option in any US referendum).
In addition, the uncertainty clouding all illegal drug markets is a consequence of the illegality imposed by the US government itself; something one would think would be a no-brainer, especially after Repeal, were it not for the disingenuous support of every American administration since Woodrow Wilson's was assigned responsibility for the agencies descendant from the "drug unit" created by the Harrison Act in 1914, especially after Repeal did away with the "alcohol unit" created by the 18th Amendment.
In essence, he feds have been trying since 1970 to hide the failure of drug prohibition behind the euphemism of "Control" created out of whole cloth by Nixon's CSA with the help of John Mitchell.
It’s also important to point out that in 1970, Richard Nixon’s Controlled Substances Act began to alter the global drug prohibition playing field in several critical ways that have yet to be acknowledged. Two gradual alterations affected the pre-existing markets created for heroin and cocaine by the Harrison Act of 1914. Both were international and thus severely curtaied by World War Two; yet they resumed with vigor after VJ day, as documented in the case of heroin by 3 "reality-based" movies shot between the mid-Sixties and 1981:The French Connection , Serpico, and Prince of the City.
Demonstrably, the heroin menace has not diminished, as confirmed by the most recent celebrity death, itself reminiscent of the earlier deaths of John Belushi and Janice Joplin. Cocaine's market spurt became evident with an"epidemic" in the early Eighties largely traceable to Colombian cartels, first in Medellin, later in Cali. After the leaders of both cartels were killed by combined operations involving the DEA and their Colombian allies, the business was taken over by an insurgency that had already been in existence for decades and has since contrived to meet current demand by developing its own progressively sophisticated submarine navy.
The notion that our drug war is more effective than destructive is demonstrably absurd; yet it receives almost no serious scrutiny from the Press, which praises its own role in preserving freedom of spech. The issue of medical marijuana and its "legitimacy" has become a surrogate for people dissatisfied with a criminal drug policy in a "Democracy" increasingly run by money.
Yet I'll watch Dr. Gupta's CNN special on WEED in a few hours because it promises to be better informed and more honest than any precious mainstream drug war "documentary" to date.
How Pathetic that it's taken 13 years since Prop 215 to get this far.
On the other hand, Jeff Bezos just bought the WaPost, one of the three compliant "major dailies" that greased the skids for Gary Webb. If Bezos is pot-friendly, a seems likely,an honest Washington Post could be a game changer. I don't think the drug war could long survive "legalization" of pot.
Now, if someone could come up with a quick fix for climate change...
August 03, 2013
The Implications of "Our Nixon" and BeyondFor weeks, CNN had been touting a 2 hour special on Richard Nixon, my personal candidate for worst-ever American President. When it finally aired last Thursday (to mixed reviews). I was disappointed- but hardly surprised- that it made no mention of the drug war that has become Nixon's most pernicious legacy (but is not recognized as such for a variety of devious reasons I hope to discuss sometime in the near future).
Ironically, all Nixon himself may have ever craved was approval, but he must have been terribly frustrated in 1968 when, after finally arriving at the ultimate American pinnacle against long odds, he found himself being targeted by young "Hippies" demanding an end to the failing war in Vietnam, a quagmire that had evolved steadily from Truman's offhand offer of "assistance" in 1952 to later become a MAAG under Eisenhower; a unit my younger brother became part of as a draftee in 1960 and described to me in considerable detail in September 1961 when I met him for the first time since we both graduated in 1957; him from college and me from medical school.
What my brother- now sadly, deceased- told me was that the South Vietnamese were slowly losing their war in 1961 and we'd probably become involved as we had in Korea. One thing he was wrong about was China; he thought our presence would pull them in as it had in Korea. He couldn't have known that North Vietnam, liberally supplied with Russian weapons, would stymie our best military efforts until Tet made it clear to all but the most irrational hawks that the cost of "victory" was beyond what most Americans were willing to pay. Nixon's strategy of "Vietnamization' was thus obviated and his 1972 trip to China was after the fact so far as Vietnam was concerned. North Vietnam had outlasted its would-be colonizers, just as it had the French before us.
Every subsequent American president, from Eisenhower forward, had increased our presence in Vietnam until an attack on the Pleiku Barracks suckered LBJ into drastically raising the ante. What we also know about Johnson is that by focusing on domestic issues and allowing Robert McNamara to run things in Viet Nam, he'd set himself up for a forced withdrawal from the 1968 campaign. Thus began the "perfect storm" that allowed Nixon to squeak to a narrow victory over Humphrey in the pivotal 1968 Election.
Thus do mere mortals make critical mistakes based on false assumptions. At least the inescapable reality of failure in Vietnam brought a halt to our efforts to "win" short of using nuclear weapons.
Ironically, we might have learned another lesson from the French failure, one related to their (and our CIA's) use of the heroin market as a clandestine resource. Unfortunately we failed to heed that lesson as well and would only compound the damage after Nixon succeeded in punishing the Hippies with his Controlled Substances Act.
For those who agree that our "security" requires us to punish Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden severely for telling the truth,I have only two words: Daniel Ellsberg.