In Drug War, Failed Old Ideas Never Die

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  In Drug War, Failed Old Ideas Never Die

Posted by CN Staff on February 26, 2010 at 07:49:31 PT
By Bernd Debusmann 
Source: Reuters 

Washington, D.C. -- Here's a stern warning to the U.S. states of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. A United Nations body is displeased with your liberal medical marijuana laws. Very displeased.The U.N. rarely takes issue with the internal affairs of member states, and even less with those of the United States. But that's what the International Narcotics Control Board has just done in its latest annual report, published this week. Without mentioning by name the 14 American states where marijuana is legal for medical purposes, the 149-page report says:
"While the consumption and cultivation of cannabis, except for scientific purposes, are illegal activities according to federal law in the United States, several states have enacted laws that provide for the 'medical use' of cannabis. The control measures applied in those states for the cultivation of cannabis plants and the production, distribution and use fall short of the control requirements laid down in the 1961 Convention (on narcotic drugs.)"The Board is deeply concerned that those insufficient control provisions have contributed substantially to the increase in illicit cultivation and abuse of cannabis in the United States. In addition, that development sends a wrong message to other countries." The Board's concern doesn't end here. It is equally worried over "the ongoing discussion in several states on legalizing and taxing the 'recreational' use of cannabis."California, the most populous state in the U.S., stands out in that discussion. In mid-February, a California legislator, Tom Ammiamo, introduced a bill that would tax and regulate marijuana (by most estimates the state's largest cash crop by far) much in the same way as alcohol. In addition, California backers of marijuana legalization say they have collected more than 700,000 signatures for a ballot initiative likely to be voted on in November.There's not the slightest hint in the U.N. report of rapidly growing support for more liberal laws on marijuana, the world's most widely-used illicit drug. The latest U.S. poll on the issue, in January, showed that eight out of ten Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use and nearly half are in favor of legalizing the drug, in small quantities for personal use, altogether.Countries that have done that come in for harsh rebuke from the Control Board, which singles out Mexico, Argentina and Brazil for having sent "the wrong message" by passing legislation that takes the crime out of drug use and replaces prison sentences with treatment and education programs. U.N. Oversteps The Mark  In the eyes of two liberal think tanks, the Washington Office on Latin America and the Transnational Institute, lecturing the U.S., Mexico, Argentina and Brazil on the way they handle drug use are way off the mark. The rebuke, said a joint statement by the two groups, "clearly oversteps the INCB's mandate and constitutes unwarranted intrusion into these country's sovereign decision-making."The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs placed marijuana in the most restrictive category, alongside heroin (as does the U.S. federal government) and for years was seen as a major obstacle to domestic reform in signatory countries. But a follow-up treaty in 1988 provided a measure of flexibility on whether or not drug possession should be treated as a criminal offence.In the United States, for decades the spiritual home of rigid marijuana prohibitionists, President Barack Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder, last October issued new policy guidelines that marked a milestone in a long-running dispute over whether federal law trumps state law on matters of marijuana. Holder announced that the Justice Department would stop raiding medical marijuana facilities set up under state law.That was the most high-profile move on drug policy so far in the presidency of Obama, who is on record saying that "the war on drugs has been an utter failure. We need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws..." He made the remark in 2004, when he was running for a seat in the U.S. senate. Speaking about drug policies as a whole, not only on marijuana, as a presidential candidate, Obama said he believed in "shifting the paradigm, shifting the model so that we can focus more on the public health approach."In the long-running global dispute over drug strategy, that means treating addicts not as criminals but as patients who deserve care in a public health system. To hear Obama's drug czar, former Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowski, tell it, that shift is underway. But is it really?The answer is no, judging from just-released highlights of the national drug control budget for Fiscal Year 2011, which begins in October. It provides for $15.5 billion in overall spending, a 3.5 percent increase over 2010, and allots vastly more money to law enforcement ($ 9.9 billion) than to addiction treatment and preventive measures ($5.6 billion).Like drug control budgets under President George W. Bush, the figures do not include the vast cost of arresting drug offenders and putting them behind bars, a practice that has helped turn the United States into the world's biggest jailer. Factoring in those costs would show that 73 percent of overall spending goes to law enforcement and controlling the supply of drugs, according to John Walsh, a senior expert at WOLA.Aaron Houston, director of government relations at the Marijuana Policy Project, sees the budget as evidence of recycled Bush policies rather than the paradigm shift Obama promised.It's Bush wine in Obama bottles. Source: Reuters (Wire)Author: Bernd DebusmannPublished: February 26, 2010Copyright: 2010 Thomson ReutersURL:  -- Justice Archives

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Comment #24 posted by rchandar on February 28, 2010 at 20:16:32 PT:
Yo, People...
Doesn't matter. The UN has no coercive power over US drug policy when it comes to "medical marijuana". There were no UNODC Conventions that addressed this; without a vote among member nations, they cannot "enforce" anything. We're Schedule I, that's all that we have to worry about. It's our policy, not theirs.Doesn't matter, at alll.....
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Comment #23 posted by FoM on February 27, 2010 at 10:07:57 PT
I agree that we will not quit. We've come too far. Too many have been hurt because of laws that shouldn't be.
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Comment #22 posted by Canis420 on February 27, 2010 at 10:04:30 PT:
What Im sayin is it just does not matter who is in the WH...we will not quit. Momentum may wax and wane a bit but the general public will eventually come around to the personal freedom issue and if attitudes of polls do not change me thinks their will eventually be a serious revolt.
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Comment #21 posted by FoM on February 27, 2010 at 07:18:32 PT
I know that we made progress under Bush but the freedom seen in this last year is amazing to me. I want a faster pace of change rather than a snails pace under Republicans.Many good people are in jail because of the last Administration.
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Comment #20 posted by The GCW on February 27, 2010 at 07:07:58 PT
With the monkey
With the monkey in the white chair the cannabis movement was not in a state of limbo. We made progress. If McCain and Palin were in it I don't think the cannabis movement would still be in a state of limbo at the bare minimum. Our movement may change pace some but there is no doubt it is going foward. Either way.Is Obama helping to increase the pace? I think so and that is good and better. But during the years of the monkey, there was significant progress.
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Comment #19 posted by FoM on February 27, 2010 at 05:09:50 PT

You said it doesn't matter who is in the White House. I have been doing CNews since late 1998 and we have made good progress this past year with Obama in power. If a Conservative was President we would still be in a state of limbo at the bare minimum. Republicans are filled with Fundamentalist Religious folks in their Party. 
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Comment #18 posted by Canis420 on February 26, 2010 at 22:47:23 PT:

We feel a l'il momentum....just a l'il bit. It feels good, and just like anything if it feels good we just wanna l'il more. Its gonna pace itself and move along...all we can do is press the cause and keep movin it forward...and we will! Don't matter who is in the WH, who is in the UN, who is in the bad ass DEA. More and more it is an issue of personal freedom and that is what will carry us through.
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Comment #17 posted by FoM on February 26, 2010 at 18:38:34 PT

John Tyler 
That's how I see it too. I don't expect miracles because a President can't just change anything that he might want to change. Obama said change comes from the bottom up not the top down. That's what the reform movement is doing. 
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Comment #16 posted by John Tyler on February 26, 2010 at 18:29:17 PT

only choice
That was our only choice, Obama or a Republican. He may not have been as speedy as we would have liked, but a lot of progress has been made. I know, not enough, but a lot. Remember, there is 70 plus years of prohibition institutional inertia that has to change, mindsets, careers, and petty bureaucratic empires. That is a big deal. All in all, he has been way better that any Republican would have been. We are in the Dark Ages coming into the Renaissance. I hope. The Age of Aquarius isn’t always on time. 
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on February 26, 2010 at 17:47:16 PT

I cannot imagine how deflated so many people would be if McCain would have been elected. I know that nothing that is important to me would be accomplished. I see how hard the party of no fights against just basic health care for the people. 
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Comment #14 posted by The GCW on February 26, 2010 at 17:32:47 PT

Skillet II
Obama does own that baby now. He has increased that budget. On the other hand He didn't say He'd end it. Although He should.If McCain and Palin were in there I believe We would be seeing less progress today. I do believe if the REPub's were in there, We would be still seeing progress though.I'm waiting to see if and when Obama calls off His goons in the DEA. I will be less satisfied if Obama allows His dogs to run free with My sich children being threatened.I'm not feeling any more or less afraid to speak out today than when the guy had on that Bush clown outfit but I think there may be other people less fearful and that is a positive.And I think Walter's has / had rabies (but I'm not certain) and I hope He gets help. Does He live in a medical cannabis state?
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Comment #13 posted by Skillet on February 26, 2010 at 17:28:16 PT

The wars continue
All of the illegal wars against the citizens of the US and other nations continue to be funded by our tax dollars and this administration. You can not ask for an expanded Federal Monster and then expect it to leave you alone to be free and make your own choices.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on February 26, 2010 at 15:19:46 PT

Yes Obama is the President and he is working to get health care through right now. We have made good progress since he became President in our area of interest. More and more people are feeling not so fearful since he became President.PS: I followed Obama's campaign very closely and he never said that he would just end the drug war. He commented on medical marijuana. More states are stepping up now. I haven't seen our new drug czar going out to speak against our efforts like Walters did. 
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Comment #11 posted by Skillet on February 26, 2010 at 14:32:27 PT

Obama's War!
It's Obama's budget, It's Obama's Drug War now. He had a chance to change it and has expanded it instead. The Drug war is his now. He owns this disgrace.
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Comment #10 posted by runruff on February 26, 2010 at 14:07:31 PT

My friends and neighbors;
I met serious men in prison who talk about using blue painted helments as target practice on the out side during manuvers. Many serious men are doing time on weapons charges.I met men who served with UN soldiers overseas and they call them girlscouts.I think an invasion of the UN Army would amount to as much as a turkey shoot if they come here, so how do they propose to enforce their "stern warning"? 
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Comment #9 posted by ezrydn on February 26, 2010 at 12:55:22 PT:

One Thing the UNODC Doesn't Get
Is that the "general public" they seem to be concerned about is what the Reform Movement is made up of. So, we're sending the wrong message to ourselves by exercising the voting rights given us by our Federal and State Constitutions? To UNODC, I say, "I may burn, but I will not bow!" Prepare for the onslaught of the Common Man. He's armed with something called a "Vote!" Something UNODC doesn't have.
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Comment #8 posted by runruff on February 26, 2010 at 11:39:04 PT

I'll see their stern warning...
..and raise with kiss my butt!
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Comment #7 posted by josephlacerenza on February 26, 2010 at 11:36:21 PT

Huff Po
Jesse Ventura had something to say about Obama and the drug war.Bush Era Drug War Hypocrisy Continued
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Comment #6 posted by happy on February 26, 2010 at 11:20:25 PT

You know..
This doesn't make me Happy. I'm tired of the interference, I'm tired of ignorance, and most of all I'm tired of prohibition. I just want to be Happy...and that's hard to do when freedom is illegal.
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Comment #5 posted by Storm Crow on February 26, 2010 at 09:51:11 PT

"sends the wrong message to the general public,”
Gee....does THAT sound familiar? Sounds SO much like the US prohibitionist refrain- "It sends the wrong message to the CHILDREN!" I guess the "general public" are now to be treated like children, not adults! Are we somehow so lacking in mental capabilities that we need to be protected from thinking for ourselves and deciding what to do with OUR bodies? I, for one, am an adult and do NOT need the UN to be my nanny! The "decriminalization movement “poses a threat” to the “coherence and effectiveness” of the international drug control system"- AND THEIR JOBS! Dang control freaks! They aren't happy unless they are busy making the rest of us dull, miserable, gray clones of themselves!I better go medicate- Having the UN telling me I am not competent to make my own decisions is NOT a happy start of the day!  
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Comment #4 posted by westnyc on February 26, 2010 at 09:40:18 PT

Simply stated...."Its called the First Amendment!&
 The Board's concern doesn't end here. It is equally worried over "the ongoing discussion in several states on legalizing and taxing the 'recreational' use of cannabis."My concern--"Where does it end?" As a citizen of the State of Michigan, I find it troubling when an outside organization uses its influence to detract and attempt to halt a State's Right from discussing an issue important to the people of that state. THIS--From the very organization that turned their backs on the Rwandan Genocide that left one-million civilians, mostly children and young people, dead at the hands of machete wielding madmen! Their priorities are not only questionable; but, they are equally disgusting!
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Comment #3 posted by HempWorld on February 26, 2010 at 08:58:20 PT

"Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico are
promoting possession of drugs."Yeah right!Prohibition 2.0 is coming near you!You can't have it no matter what! Even if you have people vote for legalization UN will step in and say; can't have it!
Legalize It!
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on February 26, 2010 at 08:50:35 PT

News I like.
UN Says Latin America Marijuana Movement May Undercut Drug WarBy Lucia Baldomir, Bloomberg - Wednesday, February 24 2010A growing movement in Latin America to decriminalize possession of marijuana and other illegal drugs may undermine global efforts to combat narcotics, a United Nations group said.The Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board, in its annual report today, said it is “concerned” that Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico are promoting possession of drugs, especially marijuana, for personal use.If not “resolutely countered”, the decriminalization movement “poses a threat” to the “coherence and effectiveness” of the international drug control system and sends “the wrong message to the general public,” the report said.Last year, Argentina’s Supreme Court declared the punishment of people possessing cannabis for personal use unconstitutional. Mexico decriminalized possessing small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use. Brazil has also taken steps to partially decriminalize drug possession, including replacing prison sentences with treatment and educational measures.The INCB, started in 1968 to monitor international narcotics laws, said it regrets that “influential personalities, including former high-level politicians in countries in South America, have publicly expressed their support for that movement."Cont.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 26, 2010 at 08:37:42 PT

Legislature Considering Decriminalizing Marijuana
By The Associated PressFebruary 26, 2010Hawaii -- Possession of small amounts of marijuana would be decriminalized under legislation advancing through the state Senate.The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a measure yesterday capping the penalty for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana at $100.URL:
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