cannabisnews.com: Ill-Conceived 'War on Drugs' Still Fails 










††Ill-Conceived 'War on Drugs' Still Fails 

Posted by CN Staff on December 30, 2007 at 09:11:54 PT
By Cynthia Tucker†
Source: Herald-Tribune†

USA -- You don't hear much about the nation's "war on drugs" these days. It's a has-been, a glamourless geezer, a holdover from bygone days. Its glitz has been stolen by the "war on terror," which gets the news media hype and campaign trail rhetoric. Railing against recreational drug use and demanding that offenders be locked away is so '90s.But the drug war proceeds, mostly away from news cameras and photo-ops, still chewing up federal and state resources and casting criminal sanctions over entire neighborhoods.
Some four or so decades into an intensive effort to stamp out recreational drug use, billions of dollars have been spent; thousands of criminals, many of them foreigners, have been enriched; and hundreds of thousands of Americans have been imprisoned. And the use of illegal substances continues unabated.With the nation poised on the brink of a new political era, isn't it time to abandon the wrongheaded war on drugs? Isn't it time to admit that this second Prohibition has been as big a failure as the last -- the one aimed at alcohol?Every war has its collateral damage, and the war on drugs is no different. As it happens, its unintended victims have been disproportionately black. The stunning rise in incarceration rates for black men began after the nation became serious about stamping out recreational drug use.In 1954, black inmates accounted for 30 percent of the nation's prison population, according to Marc Mauer, assistant director of The Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates alternative sentencing. Fifty years later, he wrote, blacks account for almost half of all prison admissions. Much of that increase has come from arrests for drug crimes. Very few of those black men are wildly successful drug lords like the Harlem kingpin Frank Lucas, portrayed by Denzel Washington in the film "American Gangster." Instead, they are usually penny-ante dealers addicted to their product.As violent crime dropped in the '90s, some law-and-order types argued that the harsh penalties meted out under punitive drug laws were responsible for safer streets. But that argument is seriously undermined by a resurgence in violent crime, even as drug arrests continue. While violent offenders such as Frank Lucas deserve hefty prison sentences, there is no justification for lengthy sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.Recently, criminal justice officials have begun to tacitly acknowledge the racism embedded in the drug war. Earlier this month, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which sets federal sentencing guidelines, retroactively reduced the penalties for some crimes related to crack cocaine, reducing the stark disparity between sentences for crack cocaine, used more frequently by black Americans, and powder cocaine, more often used by whites. A day earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that judges could deviate from harsh guidelines in sentencing drug offenders.But the ravages of the drug war are too many to be eased by those narrow changes in policy. They won't help victims such as Kathryn Johnston, an elderly Atlanta woman killed by local police in a hail of gunfire a year ago. Under pressure to make drug arrests, they said, members of an Atlanta narcotics squad lied to a judge to obtain a "no knock" warrant for Johnston's house, where they believed they would find illegal substances. But the elderly woman, who lived behind barred windows, thought she was the victim of a robbery and fired on the officers. They returned fire. No drugs were found on her premises.The nation's so-called war on drugs recalls that old Vietnam War phrase about "burning the village" in order to save it. It also brings to mind Albert Einstein's famous definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.Our war on drugs really is a war on people. That's true insanity.Universal Press SyndicateCynthia Tucker is the editorial page editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. E-mail: cynthia ajc.com Complete Title: Ill-Conceived 'War on Drugs' Still Fails After All These YearsSource: Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)Author: Cynthia TuckerPublished: December 30, 2007 Copyright: 2007 Sarasota Herald-TribuneContact: wendy.dial heraldtribune.comWebsite: http://www.heraldtribune.com/CannabisNews Justice Archiveshttp://cannabisnews.com/news/list/justice.shtml

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Comment #23 posted by kaptinemo on January 02, 2008 at 07:44:54 PT:
That's precisely it, CQ
We now know the CIA "Team B" conclusions of the Soviets beating us in every measurable defense indicator, which was the basis for all the alarm back in the late 1970's/early 1980's, to have been a fraud...just as the "Office of Special Plans" in the Pentagon was doing before the Iraq War. The obvious implications of this was that the economy received a huge pump-priming that greatly benefited the defense industries...which in turn trickled down into the rest of the economy, as usually happens in America. More money for government programs...such as the Wo(S)D. But the fact remains that it was all debit-financed. Remember that so-called "Peace Dividend" that we were supposed to get, thanks to the (surprise) collapse of the Soviet Union making the maintenance of a huge defense budget unnecessary? We didn't get it because the defense industry calls the shots in this country, and if the country was not to go through a major recession or depression, defense spending had to remain high. To justify that, we had to have enemies. Enter Sadddam. But it was still spending borrowed money. It has to be paid back. Now, with the dollar's value being pummeled on the international markets, and with those foreign creditors saying no more loans, the inevitable contraction of the economy has begun. We can no longer afford to 'burn the candle at both ends. We simply cannot afford to maintain the vast military structure we've built over the years. Likewise, we can't maintain the kind of expenses the DrugWar represents. Finally, after a long time building up, the 'something' that's 'got to 'give'...is 'giving'. As things get tighter and tighter, we can expect more demands for social safety net spending and less on the fiscal fripperies of domestic policy...such as the DrugWar. When Joe Sixpack is looking at a pink slip and wondering how he's gonna keep a roof over his wife's and kid's heads, and food on the table, he's not going to have any patience for anything that takes money from life-preserver programs such as unemployment insurance. The pols will pick up on this very quickly when their constituents start screaming. And the DrugWar is an easy target, as the GAO has proven again and again. All that's needed is an ambitious pol who's willing to take the risk of enraging the prohibs. And articles like this makes that easier.
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Comment #22 posted by charmed quark on January 01, 2008 at 16:17:13 PT
Hey, Kaptinemo
I agree that the drug war is part of the profligate spending that we can't continue.Prohibition in the 20's is a very similar example - an artificially inflated economy and reckless spending on things like alcohol prohibition. But prohibition survived for quite a while after the economy collapsed. I think alcohol was used as a moral scapegoat for the depression.How did Reagan's "Star Wars" help the early drug war? By stimulating the economy?
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Comment #21 posted by kaptinemo on January 01, 2008 at 09:43:31 PT:
Happy New Year, one and all!
And with more editorials like this one, forthrightly calling for an end to drug prohibition, it may well be a banner year.Think of the DrugWar as if the nation was on a 40+ years long New Years Eve bender. The fiscal booze fueling the prohib's party was just a-flowing...right up until dawn, and now, the nation has a trillion dollar hangover. 'Hair of the dog' is tempting, but the bottles are empty, the liquor store is closed...and when it re-opens, your money to buy things will be worth even less, thanks to inflation partly caused by that wastrel spending, and even more by the other (real) wars. The government wants to keep the party going, so it will turn to its' creditors overseas...but they are finally digging in their heels, saying "No more loans for you! You haven't paid me from the last time you went on a binge!" Things are getting tight, and that means it's belt-cinching time. And that means hard decisions regarding what government must spend money on, as opposed to what it would like to spend money on. And this is where the media comes in...It used to be the media didn't look at the racial incarceration rate...until we kept sticking it in their faces, in LTE after LTE. It used to be the didn't use the "P" word - as in 'prohibition' - until reformers did, repeatedly, and the media realized that this is 'red meat'. And now, with all that's happening, internationally and domestically, a rare alignment of forces is occurring. Something very similar happened 30 years ago, with economic realities dictating the necessity to 'decrim'. Had it not been for the (wholly unnecessary) Reagan arms build up leading to more of the wasteful spending, the DrugWar might have shriveled up and blown away. And now, that cycle is approaching full circle; we're almost back to the same economic conditions dictating social policy once more. It will become easier for pols to point to those realities and demand the change in the laws. More articles like this will provide the equivalent of 'liquid courage' needed to face the inevitable howls from the modern day descendants of "Mr. Dry"
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Comment #20 posted by charmed quark on January 01, 2008 at 07:57:37 PT
Thanks, StormCrow
Happy New Year, everybody.I had that reference, but I'll look at your list. I found http://www.cannabis-med.org/studies/study.php which has great summaries of a lot of the cannabinoid research.It's interesting that a lot more research has been done on Nabilone as compared to Marinol. I wonder why.
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Comment #19 posted by FoM on December 31, 2007 at 20:15:16 PT
Storm Crow
I went ahead and shorten the url because it threw the page off but I don't know how I made it like I did. I love technology!Happy New Year 2008!
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Comment #18 posted by Storm Crow on December 31, 2007 at 18:37:08 PT

Hi Charmed, 
In comment # 10 in the recent "cancer" thread, I posted a link to my "Medical studies thread" at treatingyourself.com. There's a long list of studies on pain, spasticity and synthetic cannabinoids. You likely have a lot of them already, but hopefully, I've found a few that you missed. Here's one I just picked up recently-*Nabilone significantly reduces spasticity-related pain
	Hope this helps, and that you will have a happy and pain-free New Year! I wish you nothing but good luck with getting the prescription! 
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Comment #17 posted by charmed quark on December 31, 2007 at 15:31:16 PT

Even Marinol is hard to get here
I live in a state without medical cannabis. I'm having to plead my case to a new pain doctor. He seems to want to prescribe narcotics, seizure drugs,tricyclics and muscle relaxants for my pain and spasticity. If I go on this therapy I will probably become incapacitated. I'm trying to get him to instead continue my Marinol prescription.So I'm on Medline pulling up citations to show him that cannabinoids actual can be good meds for my condition. Thank goodness for GW Pharm and Sativex. They are the first company to have the big bucks needed to do large double blind studies. They and a few others have really changed the available science in the last 3 years.I was surprised to find that Sativex shows an effectiveness higher than the current neuropathic standard, Lyrica. Many of the other neuropathic standards have questionable effectiveness. And studies of synthetic cannabinoids show no significant impairment for driving and other activities, while the seizure and tricyclic drugs show moderate to high impairment.That's, of course, why I want to continue with cannabinoids. I've found they have the highest ratio of effectiveness to side effects of any drugs I've tried.I'm really tired of this irrational rejection of cannabinoids by doctors here. I'm ready to pull up roots and move to a med marijuana state.
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Comment #16 posted by Christen-Mitchell on December 31, 2007 at 13:38:33 PT:

Colorado Medical Marijuana
While not sanctioning mental health use, Colorado Law leaves a wide door for medicinal use. Pain, nausea and spasm covers a lot of ground.....I recently had the chance to do the Pepsi challenge thing. Legal entanglements forced me to stop smoking. After six weeks I had to turn to hydrocodone (an opiate). Now back to smoking I was surprised to find cannabis the superior med. Both relieved pain and discomfort, but smoke removed swelling as well.
Hemptopia - Our Greener Future
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on December 31, 2007 at 09:29:44 PT

60 Minutes: The Debate On California's Pot Shops
December 31, 2007http://www.wibw.com/home/headlines/12938067.html
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Comment #14 posted by charmed quark on December 31, 2007 at 07:46:10 PT

CA wide-open law
Most of the state laws are too restrictive - they only allow cannabis for cancer treatment, severe chronic pain/spasms related to MS, and maybe a few other conditions.As one of the proponents of CA 215 said - he's not a doctor and felt the research was still developing. So he felt it was best left to the doctors to decide. I totally agree.Of course, the other side of the coin is that CA doctors really can recommend it for anything.The problem is those doctors who set up cannabis prescription mills who are just trying to make as much money as possible. Of course, they should be disciplined by their medical organization and maybe the state.But on the other side of THAT coin is it is very hard in most states to find a doctor who is willing to recommend cannabis. They are afraid of losing their prescribing rights if they do. So the doctor mills make it possible for people who really need cannabis to get it. Without them, they'd probably be out of luck.I just don't see a happy medium right now.
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on December 31, 2007 at 07:29:40 PT

charmed quark 
I think it was a repeat because I recognized it. I hope we can get beyond confusion about medicinal cannabis and find real compassion in the near future.
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Comment #12 posted by charmed quark on December 31, 2007 at 07:26:02 PT

60 Minutes
Was this a repeat? I thought I've seen some of it before.I thought it was an OK review. Some of the pot clubs really are just store fronts for black market pot. Part of the idea behind Prop 215 was to allow medicinal users to get cannabis without having to deal with the black market. And many of the pot clubs do that - all the pot is grown by members.Not that the DEA cares about this distinction. One of the true cooperative clubs shown on 60 Minutes was shut down by the DEA. And don't forget the WAMM Santa Cruz coop.They also showed a few people who were obvious "abusers" of the system. Such as a doctor who wrote a recommendation for a woman who said her high heels were making her feet hurt.Not that I really care about them. As long as cannabis is available to people who really need it. God knows that commercial pharmaceuticals are abused even more - should we shut down all drug stores?Plus, cannabis is a lot safer for abuse than most of the commercial pharmaceuticals. And many of the so-call abusers are self medicating for psychological dysfunctions - trying to put more awareness and joy into their lives.I only worry that this sort of thing could cause a negative reaction that impedes the medical movement.
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Comment #11 posted by unkat27 on December 31, 2007 at 00:06:37 PT

Re: Cannabis for Higher Awareness
The way I see it is they dumb us down from the beginning and make us feel really bad with their fear-mongering scare-tactics, such that we have a tendency to always be tense and worrisome about so many things, we develop regular nervous tension and anxiety, and although it is essentially dysfunctional, we are taught to "be tough and take it like men", such that we are programmed to live with the anxiety and the pain. All that anxiety and pain that we're taught to live with also has the effect of making the learning process much more difficult than it should normally be, and helps to keep us dumbed-down, under the deceptive BS of the ruling-class. When we use cannabis, it erases the anxiety and eases the pain, in such a way that it also helps us overcome the deception. And, yes, this is the effect that the ruling-class fears the most and may be the most ulterior motive for their demonization of it.
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Comment #10 posted by John Tyler on December 30, 2007 at 23:20:58 PT

Re 60 Minutes
Why are they trying to make that pejorative? Anybody can go to any storefront Drug Store with a doctorís note (prescription) and get what they need. Why should this be any different? I think 60 Minutesí is showing their prejudice.  

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Comment #9 posted by runruff on December 30, 2007 at 15:38:04 PT:

Dankhank
Thanks for the tune. My wife thought it was cute.Our minds are more than a universe, 
they are a multiverse.RR
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on December 30, 2007 at 15:20:05 PT

Friendly Reminder: 60 Minutes: Pot Shops - Tonight
The law some thought would put medical marijuana in pharmacies has created chaos according to critics, who say there are now "pot dealers in storefronts" who are selling to anyone with a doctorís note. Morley Safer reports. David Browning is the producer. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1998/07/08/60minutes/main13502.shtml
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Comment #7 posted by Dankhank on December 30, 2007 at 11:56:45 PT

right-on
I have known the same for as long as you three...Acid and Pot ... pot and acid ...good for what ails ya mentally and physically ...Runruff, here's one for you ... :-)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRnSCIRc3rc
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Comment #6 posted by John Tyler on December 30, 2007 at 10:58:39 PT

take you higher
It awakens one to a higher level of awareness. This doesnít go over very well with those that donít understand, or who donít want to understand, and in whose interest it is to keep everyone down. You can drink all you want, because that puts you on a lower level of awareness, but it is "No No" to a higher awareness. When you have experienced the higher level of awareness you can see the negative BS around you, and you canít accept it anymore.
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Comment #5 posted by museman on December 30, 2007 at 10:35:30 PT

runruff
Well, back in 1970, in a secret room on the fourth floor of a hospital that was built during the civil war, I discovered where I was at - in the belly of the beast - just after being sent to 'entertain the troops' that were languishing in various modes of missing body parts from their 'service' on the Mekong Delta, I smoked some Vietnamese and listened to Dark Side of the Moon for the first time.As my forethoughts lifted above the normal creased forehead, I could actually feel the higher consciousness, and I became aware. At that point in time I became aware of the BS in a way that forever prevented me from returning to the same blind prespective of 'patriotism' 'my country right or wrong' and set me on a path of discovery.Cannabis is the ultimate de-programmer (next to LSD 25) and all those centuries of BS programming fall away so quickly, it's no wonder the government fears it's widespread use.So who knew? More than one might think.
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Comment #4 posted by runruff on December 30, 2007 at 10:23:48 PT:

oops!
Chomsky, Chomsky! I ment Noam Chomsky!Sorry Noam.
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Comment #3 posted by John Tyler on December 30, 2007 at 10:23:01 PT

making sense
This makes me think of a tee shirt for the prohibs. "I spent 40 billion dollars on the Drug War last year and all I got for it was this lousy tee shirt". 
Ending cannabis prohibition makes sense... dollars and cents.  
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on December 30, 2007 at 10:19:47 PT:

Gee! Who knew?
There is no need to tell our leaders the truth, they already know the truth-Noam Chaomsky[Congress]-Who pays the pipper calls the tune.
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Comment #1 posted by museman on December 30, 2007 at 10:09:34 PT

and what does that make the prohibs?
"Our war on drugs really is a war on people. That's true insanity."A bunch of rabid insane people in need of straitjackets and sedatives - like cannabis.  -that's our government in a NUT shell.
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