Sense And Folly In The Drug War

  Sense And Folly In The Drug War

Posted by CN Staff on May 26, 2003 at 08:37:21 PT
Source: Berkshire Eagle 

Add Canada to the list of countries the Bush administration is mad at for poor reasons. This time it's conflicting policies on illicit drugs. Long an advocate of controlling drug abuse through treatment and education instead of punishment, Canada is wisely experimenting with new means for combating the social harm caused by illegal mind-altering drugs. One initiative in the works, decriminalizing the possession and use of small amounts of relatively harmless marijuana, has the Bush anti-drug Cossacks up in arms, with heightened security measures being talked about along our northern borders. 
In the age of al-Qaida, it is boneheaded for the administration to spend as much as a dime on protections against pot smokers in Manitoba. Yet Bush drug czar John P. Walters has joined with Attorney General John Ashcroft and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in decrying the Canadian proposal, which Parliament is expected to pass. Mr. Walters said relaxed marijuana laws up north could lead to a flood of marijuana heading south -- as if pot isn't already readily available to the average American consumer.Mr. Walters has also labeled "immoral" the city of Vancouver's "safer injection sites" for heroin addicts. Based on a successful Swiss model, the Vancouver clinics are staffed by nurses who dispense clean needles, swabs and sterile water. This cuts down on AIDS and other diseases and brings addicts into a setting where they can be encouraged to enter treatment programs. Mr. Walters termed the Vancouver approach "state-sponsored suicide." His answer is to throw drug addicts in jail. Mr. Walters also shares the Bush administration's disdain for Canada's humane policy on the medical uses of marijuana, which distinguishes between what in some cases is self-destructive behavior and the alleviation of suffering among the seriously ill.It's not that the Canadian government is indifferent to the family and social harm that often accompany drug addiction. Canada, however, means to do what works, not simply maintain a cruel and demonstrably ineffectual multi-million-dollar drug-enforcement and incarceration industry.Among the many U.S. anti-drug devices that have failed, according to a new federally financed study, is drug testing in schools. A study of 76,000 high-school students found that young people whose schools do regular random testing of students do not have less drug use than schools that don't test. In declaring student drug-testing constitutional, the Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that privacy rights were trumped by the need to deter substance abuse among the young. The "efficacy of this means drug testing" was "self-evident," according to Justice Antonin Scalia. Self-evident to Mr. Scalia, but not borne out by the facts.Perhaps Canada's approach to drugs is so alarming to the Bush administration because it may finally expose the U.S. approach as wasteful, inhumane, unworkable, ridiculously expensive and otherwise bankrupt. Source: Berkshire Eagle, The (MA)Published: Monday, May 26, 2003Copyright: 2003 New England Newspapers, Inc.Contact: letters berkshireeagle.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Links To Table Controversial Pot Bill Tuesday U.S. is Addicted To War on Drugs't Bully Canada, U.S. Told

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Comment #12 posted by afterburner on May 27, 2003 at 11:04:45 PT:
Alison Myrden, an MS Sufferer...
is on Newsworld now. I hope you get this feed eventually.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on May 27, 2003 at 10:59:50 PT
I just don't know if there will be a fair way to fix the damage done. I really don't think there will be. History will show how bad prohibition against this plant has been.Voting rights being restored would be necessary in my opinion.
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Comment #10 posted by kaptinemo on May 27, 2003 at 10:46:54 PT:
FoM, that requires some intelligence
on their part...and as the entire fiasco of the Drug War has amply demonstrated, such candlepower is presently lacking in policy circles when they are being run by zealots.But they will have to come up with something, because the cost of this would literally bankrupt the country.
I know, I know, I rant on and on about this, but some form of restitution will have to be figured in. Because if it isn't, a lot of people who've had their lives curtailed for no good reason will want either money...or blood. Many have been rendered permanent second class citzens because of a conviction; will their rights be restored? Many, many people have had their property forfeited, AND THERE WERE NO RECORDS KEPT OF WHERE IT WENT OR WHAT HAPPENED TO IT. How will that property be returned?You see, the Justice Department (gag! choke! cough! at the oxymoron) is in a huge bind. HUGE. They stand to face millions of lawsuits demanding money Uncle doesn't have anymore.And we are talking about millions of people *since 1937*. If they try to 'grandfather' it, who gets left out? How much to give each? How to say "I'm sorry; I was wrong" to someone who was arrested for possession, sodomized in prison and is now dying of AIDS?Uncle has created a ticking time bomb, and when all this explodes, I really don't expect that we will be able to recognize the face of government afterwards.Assuming that they at least try to do the right thing; this bunch running the show are so brazenly arrogant they may risk the very real danger of revolution if they attempt to say "Yeah, we did it; so what? Whatcha gonna do about it?"The answer to that question in the past has included such time honored practices as beheadings and guillotines for the arrogant who thought once they were untouchable.Here in the States, in these budget conscious times, the answer may be as low budget as a tree, a length of rope and an easily startled horse...I repeat for the benefit of those who continue to doubt: this mess could be the final straw that sinks this already financially shaky country into a mire we may not get out of. Riding this particular tiger requires the rider to be armed at all times, with the pistol muzzle close up against the creature's head, less his conveyance decide to snack upon him when he 'un-asses' his ride. The Drug War tiger could turn on the DrugWarriors in a heartbeat. The people at the very top of the food chain know this. They are no doubt hoping that things hold together long enough for them to transfer their money offshore and convert it to a currency that isn't losing it's value as the dollar steadily is. But if this rips open while they are still here, look for increasingly oppressive police measures to be implemented.Just as they are right now... 
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on May 27, 2003 at 07:47:14 PT
Don't you believe that when the laws are changed in the USA that they will have a stipulation that they can't be sued?I bet they will.
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Comment #8 posted by kaptinemo on May 27, 2003 at 07:41:00 PT:
FoM, it's the only real reason
*"Perhaps Canada's approach to drugs is so alarming to the Bush administration because it may finally expose the U.S. approach as wasteful, inhumane, unworkable, ridiculously expensive and otherwise bankrupt."* Because behind that are the looming lawsuits from everyone who has ever had their lives ruined by being caught under these insane laws. THAT'S what Ashcroft, John Pee and all their ilk are terrified of. Not of people using weed, but all those people demanding justice for having had their lives destroyed by the laws these goofs support and benefit so handsomely from.
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Comment #7 posted by afterburner on May 26, 2003 at 21:07:34 PT:
Pass the Dutchie from the Left Hand Side
Today and until the Decrim law passes, cannabis is legal in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and any other province or territory under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What do you say to that Mr. P.? A new evolution in government: the logical extension of Supreme Court primacy, i.e., if you get to pass judgement on the laws you are in a kingly position. Decrim is a check and balance in which the legislature Parliament begins the process again of more court challenges.Medical access has not yet been addressed in the new law for the many in eastern Canada's harsh weather, unable to grow their own supply. How do medical cannabis designated providers transport to or store the designated medical cannabis for the ill patient without running afoul of trafficking laws, which have been challenged in the Canadian Supreme Court? Do medical cannabis providers look different than spiritual cannabis providers? Do medical cannabis gardeners look different from relaxing cannabis gardeners? These are a few of the questions that must be asked and discussed in setting a new national drug policy. And what about pharmaceuticals and herbs, acupressure massage and tai chi, chiropractic and homeopathic remedies, nutrition and invasive treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation: all these are part of a new national medical policy from which a drug policy derives. time to wake up Canada and live! Prohibition kills! Choose life! Embrace the future. Love is coming. Love is here all around you. God loves and creates this beautiful world with trees stretching up to the sky. The distant oceans that once transported you or your ancestors from other homelands bath us with the stern salty breeze of truth. The red clay, the golden sand, the black peat, nourishes the green herbs and the trees giving shelter to the wings of the air and the crawling, burrowing creatures of the bark. The warm glow of the sun energizes and innervates the organic kingdom awakening and strengthening and sparking the life cycle, our home, our connection to the Creator.ego transcendence follows ego destruction, idea by idea, heart by heart, prayer by prayer, healing by healing, until all is well. 
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Comment #6 posted by til on May 26, 2003 at 18:16:04 PT
Expose the U.S. approach
Like I said before, imagine the unemployment after decriminalization.
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Comment #5 posted by CorvallisEric on May 26, 2003 at 12:47:42 PT
Re: Curious
I don't have the time and oomph to look, but here's a short list from memory of major newspapers that have had prohibitionist editorials.Boston Herald, New York Post, Wall Street Journal (perhaps more than the others), Washington Times, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, San Diego Union-Tribune, Deseret News (Utah, don't know if it qualifies as major).
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Comment #4 posted by Mike on May 26, 2003 at 12:33:04 PT
Here's the rest... The O'Reilly poll was a success
In details leaked to The (Toronto) Globe and Mail, the government's legislation would have three major thrusts:Police would write a ticket, rather than criminal citation, for possession of up to 15 grams (roughly 20 joints) of cannabis. Adults would pay a $150 (Canadian) fine, minors a fine of $100.Between 15 and 30 grams, police would have discretion whether to write a ticket or file criminal charges. Also, fines would increase when there were "aggravating factors."Much tougher penalties would be imposed on commercial growers, such as those producing potent "B.C. bud" for export to the United States. Four new categories of offense, rising in severity, would be created for cultivation.The government plans to be ready with an education and information program to discourage increased pot smoking.Walters, however, is aghast -- and not the least impressed at the criminal charges for cultivation. "Stepping up penalties that are not enforced is not going to solve the problem," he told one interviewer.History may not be on his side.Earlier this month, Belgium became the latest European country to decriminalize marijuana possession.Eight U.S. states (including Washington, Oregon and California) have passed medical-marijuana initiatives.Last week, in Maryland, conservative Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich defied Walters' counsel and signed a marijuana reform bill.It dramatically reduces penalties for cancer patients and others who smoke cannabis to relieve pain and suffering.It imposes a mere $100 fine for those caught possessing marijuana out of "medical necessity."Even the audience of bellicose conservative Fox pundit Bill O'Reilly -- who calls Canada's leaders "pinheads" -- seems to be turning.In a poll that drew 40,000 responses, O'Reilly's viewers voted 54 percent to 46 percent in favor of decriminalization.Sad to say, however, our House of Representatives is run by a man -- Texas Rep. Tom DeLay -- who chews tobacco and smokes cigars.Recently, as The Washington Post reported, DeLay and cronies lighted up cigars at Ruth's Chris Steak House in D.C., which is in a building owned by the Smithsonian and falls under a federal smoking ban.A manager politely cited government policy and asked DeLay to snuff out his stogie."I AM the federal government," DeLay bellowed at him, and then stormed out.Were he to smoke a joint, DeLay might be better able to control his anger.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on May 26, 2003 at 10:30:27 PT

Article from Snipped Source
In the Northwest: Tom DeLay Could Use a Different Form of PufferyBy Joel Connelly, Seattle Post-IntelligencerMonday, May 26, 2003As Parliament reconvenes today, Canada's government is set to introduce legislation that would remove criminal penalties and substitute a simple ticket for those possessing small amounts of marijuana.The decriminalization bill is causing controversy -- in the United States.John Walters, the Bush administration's drug czar, has taken repeated pot shots at Canada's "out of control" drug policy.Up in the Great White North, however, polls show 70 percent of Canadians favor the pending reform. Why? Part of it is recognition that criminal penalties don't stop people from getting high. They just give them criminal records, and give politicians embarrassing questions to answer later in life.Advocates of Canada's proposed reform cite statistics on how the United States, with 5 percent of the world's population, now has 25 percent of the globe's prison inmates. Almost 500,000 people in the States are locked up for drug violations.As well, particularly in western Canada, social choices -- such as smoking marijuana -- seem to be recognized as a matter of personal autonomy. The result is that the United States and Canada are of late moving in different legal directions.Canada's House of Commons is likely to approve marijuana decriminalization, which is championed by Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his Cabinet. Asked if he ever lighted up, Justice Minister Martin Cauchon told parliamentary reporters: "Yes, of course."A few years back, however, Chretien's government pushed through one of the world's most stringent (and costly to implement) laws covering gun registration and ownership. 
The U.S. House of Representatives has blocked implementation of a medical- marijuana initiative approved by voters of the District of Columbia. It is considering legislation to stop federal anti-drug money from going to states that pass medical-marijuana laws.At the same time, the House rushed passage of legislation that would exempt gun manufacturers from civil lawsuits brought by victims of firearms violence. It is likely to let expire a 1994 law that banned manufacture or sale of two dozen types of assault rifles.The laid-back attitude toward marijuana smoking in Vancouver, B.C., has frequently been shown to Seattle TV viewers.Especially during sweeps months, U.S.- based television crews regularly sniffed out the Cannabis Cafe, where drug parapher- nalia was sold and marijuana openly smoked and ingested in brownies. Embar- rassed city officials eventually shut it down.Whistler-based Ross Rebagliati won the Winter Olympics' first snowboarding gold medal at Nagano in 1998.He gained greater fame a few days later when Olympic officials found traces of marijuana, and took away the medal.It was reinstated, however, when it turned out that grass was not on the Olympics' list of banned drugs.Rebagliati returned in triumph to Whistler, where supporters passed around what was billed as the world's largest joint.The Canadian government already runs a marijuana farm in Manitoba, growing cannabis for clinical trials on pain relief among neuropathy and AIDS patients.About 200 Canadian citizens are authorized to grow and smoke pot to relieve pain from cancer, multiple sclerosis and severe arthritis.Snipped:Complete Article:
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Comment #2 posted by TroutMask on May 26, 2003 at 08:40:25 PT

We've seen lots and lots of stories that condemn the Dubya administration's stance on Canada's decrim. Has anyone seen even ONE mainstream media story or editorial that supports it?I find it hard to believe that even the Dubya administration could be so completely out of touch with the rest of the world.-TM
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on May 26, 2003 at 08:38:49 PT

I Just Love This Sentence!
Perhaps Canada's approach to drugs is so alarming to the Bush administration because it may finally expose the U.S. approach as wasteful, inhumane, unworkable, ridiculously expensive and otherwise bankrupt. 
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