Travel Pro Steves To Challenge Futile US Drug War

Travel Pro Steves To Challenge Futile US Drug War
Posted by CN Staff on March 21, 2008 at 10:25:28 PT
By Joel Connelly, P-I Columnist
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
USA -- As he troops about Europe, with notebook and camera crew, guidebook author Rick Steves witnesses what the late historian Barbara Tuchman called "The March of Folly," the sites of wars and witch hunts waged by feckless rulers.Steves has come home with a mind to take on our leaders' folly, the federal government's enduring, woefully unsuccessful War on Drugs, and the battle front against marijuana.
He would replace a strategy of locking people up with a policy designed to lessen harm. It's a lot like the "Four Pillars" approach to drug use adopted by Vancouver, B.C.: treatment, harm reduction, prevention and -- for profiteers of the business -- enforcement."I'm just tired of watching people embrace lies because they think it is dangerous to do otherwise," Steves explained.The futility of the drug war, started by the Nixon administration, can be seen in sweeping statistics as well as individual cases of human hurt.The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that 97.8 million Americans, age 12 and older, have used marijuana at least once. The ranks of semi-regular smokers total more than 25 million.If 39.8 percent of those over 12 have taken a toke, the number of young people getting high is higher. The DEA says that totals 41.8 percent of 12th-graders -- 31.7 percent have smoked in the past year -- 46.9 percent of college students and 56.7 percent of young adults.Can our drug warriors claim success given these figures?Steves says officials abroad shake their head at the ham-handed tactics of America's drug bureaucracy. "Europe has had a 15-year track record dealing with drugs as a health problem, not a crime problem," he said.Or drive 144 miles north and talk with Canadian Sen. Larry Campbell, a former police officer, coroner and Vancouver mayor. "They're still in 'Reefer Madness,' " Campbell said in an interview, referring to a laughable anti-drug movie of the 1930s.The drug warriors' tactics, of late, have been to attack civil liberties and stomp on privacy.An example is requiring random drug tests for those involved in high school athletics. In a case from tiny Wahkiakum County, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously last week against the school district's policy of pee-to-participate.Bill Clinton quibbled, waffled and evaded the have-you-ever-smoked-pot question far into the 1992 campaign. He finally put the country in stitches with his "I didn't inhale" line.But our first baby-boomer president signed a punitive law passed in 1995 by the Republican-controlled Congress. The law denies federal student loan assistance to convicted marijuana "offenders."What's the effect? In 2006, 696,074 Americans were arrested for marijuana "offenses." Of this number, 88 percent were charged only with possession. The number charged with sale and/or manufacture totaled just over 90,000.Hence, thousands of college students have been denied aid, and thousands of other worthy citizens endure petty penalties.A friend of mine works summers for the National Park Service, and wants to make a career with the agency. He is a) an Eagle Scout, b) an Olympic Peninsula native, c) a trained climbing guide and rescue technician who d) has earned two master's degrees, and e) presents research at scholarly gatherings on how to minimize human effects on fragile natural systems.One step remains: He must take a law enforcement course. Because he took a toke on a joint two years ago -- and answered the question honestly -- the guy must wait an additional year to learn how to shoot straight.The have-you-ever question has not intruded into the 2008 presidential campaign. A Hillary Clinton enforcer tried to gin up attention into Barack Obama's confession of youthful marijuana use, but was forced to leave the campaign.Still, as Hendrik Hertzberg wrote recently in The New Yorker, neither Obama, Clinton nor John McCain seems willing to rescue the country "from the larger disgrace of the drug war -- the billions wasted, the millions harmed, the utter futility of it."As usual, the initiative must come from the bottom up. As with global warming, Seattle is a test market for change.It's appropriate. In 2003, Seattle voters adopted Initiative 75, making pot possession our city's lowest law enforcement priority. Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske cites, with a hint of pride, the low number of stand-alone marijuana smoking arrests. The American Civil Liberties Union has put together a multimedia public education campaign, "Marijuana: It's Time for a Conversation," which includes a Web site -- -- a booklet and a 30-minute video. Steves is host.Comcast is offering the video free to subscribers through its On Demand service. Comcast subscribers can watch the program by entering 888 on their cable remote, going to Community, and looking for the program. It's a modest beginning. Steves jokes about hosting because a politician would run the risk of being "Swift-boated."One hopes, however, that the ACLU will get bolder. The marijuana front consumes $8 billion in taxpayer dollars each year. To what end? What does society gain from all those possession arrests?Sensible Americans look out today and see a country that needs to be extracted from its failing wars.P-I columnist Joel Connelly can be reached at 206-448-8160 or  joelconnelly seattlepi.comFollow politics on the P-I's blog at: Title: Travel Pro Steves To Challenge Futile U.S. Drug WarSource: Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA)Author: Joel Connelly, P-I ColumnistPublished: March 21, 2008Copyright: 2008 Seattle Post-IntelligencerContact: editpage seattlepi.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on March 31, 2008 at 20:43:28 PT
Ekim A New Article About Rick Steves
 Fresh Ideas for a Tired Crusade
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Comment #15 posted by ekim on March 31, 2008 at 20:13:43 PT
i see that the show has a comment section where readers or viewers go to carry on like here.maybe Larry has one 2 - of the Nation NPR from 2pm-4pmman april fools here again-- marks the second year since James Woolsey was in Kal at WMU with the kickoff event for the Powershift 2006 National Tour on Energy Security where the ex cia dir was asked should we be growing hemp -Yes came the reply - we should for jobs and also our National Security.
Mr. Woolsey went on and said that the cellulose to ethanol tech was ready to go and we should allow our farmers to grow Hemp.When the dir heard that WMU taught paper making and that 9 paper mills had closed down in Kal in recent years he said that he would have someone come talk about he value of Hemp.well thats my april fools joke as i have written letters and tried to publicly dis WMU into accepting Mr. Woolseys offer -- but only silence i hear.glad to see that maybe someone in Denver CO heard Mr.Woolsey speak and will ask the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden to compair Hemp to Switchgrass which gets 1,150 gal of ethanol per acre.
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on March 31, 2008 at 13:38:11 PT
I like Jesse Ventura. I will watch him on Larry King. Thank you.
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Comment #13 posted by ekim on March 31, 2008 at 13:12:43 PT
Talk of the Nation on Tuesday April 1
will have Rick on the show on NPR national public times between 2pm to 4pmLarry King will have Jessie Ventura on his show on Tues night as well.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on March 26, 2008 at 06:42:19 PT
Related Article From Seattle P-I
We Need To Get Smart About MarijuanaMarch 25, 2008
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on March 23, 2008 at 07:17:10 PT
I thank God for Jesus Christ.
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on March 23, 2008 at 07:16:10 PT
Comment 7
Excellent letter.It's about what the prohibitionists and drug warriors are doing to people in the name of their obsession. It's not about cannabis or anything me... it's what THEY do to people over pot, and freedom and liberty of the individual, too, of course. The cruel and stupid pogram of prohibition is outrageous, has killed innocent people, and destroyed more lives than cannabis ever could, and it must end.
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on March 23, 2008 at 07:12:40 PT
Jeans weren't "every day" then. It was a plaid pleated skirt and blouse and sweater.... but the tights made it all "Beat".
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on March 23, 2008 at 07:09:01 PT
In 1958 or 59 at ten or eleven years old,
I got my first pair of black dance tights, to wear with skirts and dresses, and I had a little beret, I think it was white. I thought I looked very like a "Beatnik", which pleased me very much. Although, I didn't start drinking coffee for more than ten years after that... I did feel very poetic and bookish and I had black tights and a beret... I was good to go.
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Comment #7 posted by fight_4_freedom on March 23, 2008 at 07:08:35 PT:
Fellow MINORML member with a published LTE
in my local paper.Bay City Times People's forumSunday, March 23, 2008Insane drug warVoice: Robert P. Wood, CaroOur federal government, our states, counties and cities are upside down in debt (39 percent of our federal debt is owed to China) and Rep. Bart Stupak and 218 members of the U.S. House are requesting another $429.6 million to throw at the drug war.	
Recently, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said that crime in Kentucky increased by 3 percent in the last 30 years while their state's prison corrections expenses have risen by 600 percent. Anyone paying attention knows that the 600 percent increase is due to the drug war. Does anyone think that throwing another $430 million at the drug war will end or even slow drug abuse?Our jails and prisons are overflowing and our government wants to build more and bigger jails. We now have 1.5 million people incarcerated for drug offenses and the majority of them are for marijuana.Drug task forces are carrying out a campaign of terror by breaking into over 40,000 homes a year with ''no-knock'' drug raids. They throw grenades into the homes and bust the doors down and rush in, heavily armed and ready to kill.We have already spent over $1 trillion on this drug war. It is the longest and most expensive war in American history, and it is a war against the citizens of the United States of America.I consider it to be corruption for our government to bury us in debt on this inhumane and barbaric drug war.Federal lobbyists paid our legislators $2.45 billion in 2006. Some of the largest contributors were law enforcement associations, lawyer associations, pharmaceutical companies, prison and corrections associations and insurance companies.It is time to hold Rep. Stupak and the rest of our war-mongering officials that are carrying out this drug war accountable on Election Day, and vote them out of office.Get involved, go to and learn how you can help end this insane drug war. 
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Comment #6 posted by John Tyler on March 22, 2008 at 19:52:32 PT
it started in the 50's
Nixon was paranoid. He was paranoid, with the power of the presidency, and minions who would carry out his orders without question.  This was a bad combination for the country. Paranoid people make bad judgments. The “blacks” he mentions had nothing to do with the wide spread popularity of drugs in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Weirdly enough, it was Nixon’s and his pals in the US Senate in the early 1950’s with their anticommunist policies and Cold War chemical weapons research that set the stage for the sudden and explosive interest in drugs in the 1960’s. Tim Leary was a psychology professor at Harvard. He was doing research on the effects of LSD on test subjects for the CIA. On the West Coast, author Ken Keasey was a human guinea pig for Army LSD testing. Both of them concluded that this was too important a substance to be kept solely in the hands of the gov. and they shared their knowledge with their friends, and their friends told their friends, and their friends told their friends and so on and so on. So in reality, Nixon’s own Federal gov., that he helped shape and guide policies for, was responsible for the widespread drug usage, then when he was president he tried to blame it on the “blacks” and put them in jail for it. That is such dirty politics. Look at it this way. Millions of people would not have had the chance to try LSD and “tune in, turn on, drop out” if it hadn’t been for Nixon and his pals in the 1950’s. Cannabis was popular with the 1950’s beatniks. Folksingers were their first cousins. Cannabis using folksingers met the LSD crowd at colleges. The Folksingers morphed into Rockers and the 60’s were off and running thanks to Tricky Dick, his pals, and their misplaced and mishandled policies.   
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Comment #5 posted by ekim on March 22, 2008 at 12:36:16 PT
hundreds of examples of Reefermadness
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Comment #4 posted by runruff on March 22, 2008 at 10:37:22 PT:
Nixon, the undisputed criminal in the white house
gave us the DEA. Purposely modeled after the Gestapo.If nothing else the Nazi's were good at what they did.
A fact that did not go unnoticed by our own government.Just read about he Gastapo and compare them with the DEA.
They are interchangable.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on March 22, 2008 at 08:33:37 PT
John Tyler
For me Nixon was the one who started it all. I know historically that wasn't the beginning but for me it was.
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Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on March 22, 2008 at 07:52:16 PT
still haunted by Nixon
“The futility of the drug war, started by the Nixon administration, can be seen in sweeping statistics as well as individual cases of human hurt.” This was done on purpose as we all suspected. I saw this little factoid about Nixon in a letter to the editor in the Hudson Valley Press, “H. R. Haldeman, President Nixon's Chief of Staff, wrote in his diary:  "( President Nixon ) emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to."  Our war on some ( politically-selected ) drugs has been an ideal system of going after the blacks without appearing to do so.  Today's racists aren't using fire hoses or ax handles. They're using the war on drugs. (White people arrested and imprisoned in the drug war are just “collateral damage”.)”  
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on March 21, 2008 at 21:52:01 PT
Speaking of 'Reefer Madness,'
In Breckenridge, Colorado, Reefer Madness, the play starts Friday March 28 and runs through April 27th.
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