A Drug War Truce?
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A Drug War Truce?
Posted by CN Staff on June 12, 2009 at 05:46:56 PT
By Tim Dickinson
Source: Rolling Stone 
USA -- Looking at the headlines, you might get the impression that America is approaching a cease-fire in the War on Drugs. After four decades of mindless prohibition and draconian prison sentences for addicts and casual users, the first four months of the Obama era have seen a rapid turn toward rationality. The administration has announced that it will no longer bust clinics that legally dispense medical marijuana, and incoming drug czar Gil Kerlikowske declared flatly in May that he had "ended the War on Drugs." 
Prominent politicians from Virginia to California — including Sen. Jim Webb and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — have begun to discuss the merits of legalizing and taxing marijuana. And most striking of all, New York — the state that pioneered the use of prison cells for drug addicts — has repealed its repressive Rockefeller drug laws, replacing the nation's harshest sentences with a progressive approach to treatment. "We put a stop to 35 years of bad policy," Gov. David Paterson tells Rolling Stone.The pace of change has shocked even the most optimistic drug-reform advocates. "I could never have predicted the way things have opened up in the last four months," says Ethan Nadelmann, the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "We haven't had an open and honest conversation about drugs like this on a national level since the 1970s."But while states like California and New York are challenging the fundamentals of prohibition and punishment that have governed America's drug policy since the Nixon era, the Obama administration is largely staying the course. The president, who has blasted the drug war as an "utter failure," has nonetheless delegated oversight of drug policy to one of the chief architects of that failure: Vice President Joe Biden, who coined the term "drug czar" and steered the passage of the nation's harsh drug sentences as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Far from scaling back funding for drug interdiction and law enforcement, the administration's 2010 budget increases the levels established under George W. Bush. And despite the growing bipartisan discussion among state leaders about decriminalizing marijuana, Kerlikowske tells Rolling Stone that legalization is not up for debate "under any circumstances.""There's an urgent need to end this mistaken drug war," says Kevin Zeese, head of Common Sense for Drug Policy. "This is just an example of an administration that says one thing and does another."Political pressure to end the War on Drugs is building in surprising quarters. In recent months, three distinct rationales have converged to convince a growing number of politicians — including many on the center-right — to seriously consider the benefits of legalizing marijuana.For Webb, a Democrat from Virginia who served as secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, it's a crisis of incarceration. "Incarcerated drug offenders have soared 1,200 percent since 1980," the senator says. "Yet the illegal-drug industry and the flow of drugs have remained undiminished." For Schwarzenegger, who says it is "time for a debate" about legalization, it's a crisis of cost: A bill in the California legislature to legalize and tax cannabis — the state's largest cash crop — would provide more than $1 billion annually to balance the state's busted budget. And for Terry Goddard, the attorney general of Arizona, it's a crisis of violence: With Baghdad levels of bloodshed raging in Tijuana and other border towns, legalization would deprive Mexican cartels of as much as 65 percent of their illegal income. "Much of the carnage in Mexico is financed because of profits from marijuana," Goddard told reporters in April. Last month, a Zogby poll that presented all three rationales found, for the first time ever, that a majority of Americans — 52 percent — say they support decriminalizing marijuana.Legalization is also backed by a growing number of veteran drug warriors. "The War on Drugs is a constantly expanding and self-perpetuating policy disaster," says Jack Cole, a former undercover narcotics agent who now serves as president of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which includes hundreds of former drug agents, police officers and judges. "If all drugs were legal and regulated we could have exactly the same demand for drugs in the U.S., but there wouldn't be any killings. Mexico's 7,500 deaths since the beginning of last year — all those murders just wouldn't exist."Note: Obama's new drug czar says the administration won't legalize pot - but pressure for real reform is growing.For Tim Dickinson's complete report, check out the latest issue of Rolling Stone, on newstands now.Source: Rolling Stone (US)Author: Tim Dickinson Published: June 10, 2009 Copyright 2009 Rolling StoneContact: letters rollingstone.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #22 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 19:33:56 PT
I see what you mean.
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Comment #21 posted by Mahakal on June 12, 2009 at 18:57:05 PT
What they're doing is giving the FDA regulatory authority over tobacco, which is a good thing I think. They aren't banning tobacco and I agree that prohibition of tobacco would be a terrible idea which would result in a black market and violence. There is really inadequate regulation/restriction of the additives and adulterants in manufactured tobacco products, etc.This argument this Republican is making about harm reduction seems like a good opportunity to point out that cannabis is a good harm reduction alternative to tobacco. Personally I was able to quit using tobacco by using cannabis, and I have helped other people quit tobacco by suggesting they do the same. It does work for some of us, because the urge to smoke is still able to be fulfilled, but without the harmful effects of tobacco.
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 15:59:39 PT
I thought of you when I posted this article. Check it out if you have time.
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Comment #19 posted by kaptinemo on June 12, 2009 at 15:38:31 PT:
I'm not laboring under any illusion
What's happening right now a blind man could see coming.The money's run out. The gravy train, exactly as predicted here years ago, is slowing down to an eventual halt. This is prompting some of the more honest pols to find their voice after keeping that voice quiet for many years out of fear of being smeared by the poo-flinging screech monkeys of drug prohibition. Other less upright and more opportunistic pols (significant glare in Ahnuld's direction) are beginning to realize that the show is over, and if they jump on the reform bandwagon soon enough, they might avert the personal and financial fallout that will accompany drug law reform being enacted. Or, as the faux Confucian saying goes, "Some people are like blister; show up AFTER work is done." They'll want to claim credit for support of an idea (that many of them previously opposed!) when they sensed their political fortunes changing.In either case, it is not the government driving policy anymore, it's the economy. Which affects the people. Who will begin to wonder aloud why so much of their hard-earned money is going for boondoggles like the DrugWar when they need that money to repair the tattered social safety net. And as times get tighter, those questions will become more pointed...and will skewer those pols that don't get the message that the political wind direction has changed.So, no, I have no faith in government; on this issue, it's proven it's intractable incompetence for decades. But that incompetence was buoyed by a seeming inexhaustible source of funding...which has dried up. And printing up more 'monopoly money' to try to absorb all the red ink is hopeless. That ways leads to Weimar Republic Germany and social collapse. It's time for triage; the time of national cuts in social services, as is happening in California right now, will soon be upon us all. But before that happens, expect the debate on illicit drugs to grow a lot louder. For any further expenditures on demonstrably hopeless causes will meet greater resistance than ever before.Like I said, the DrugWar gravy train has lost its' financial engine and is slowing to a halt. After decades of running over millions of people, the wheels will soon be motionless. And when it finally comes to a halt, those riding that train to their benefit and our misery will soon be surrounded by those they injured. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes on that day, I really wouldn't... 
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Comment #18 posted by Hope on June 12, 2009 at 14:11:29 PT
"Believe in government", Miranger?
Good grief no!Like we trust them?Good grief no!It exists though, and it is the government that we have and we're trying to change it. We've got to make it get right if we possibly can. There does seem to be an inclination by some in government now, more than a long time, to do the right thing. Not all of them, by any means... but more than usual, it seems.I'm very excited and happy and hopeful about Senator Webb's efforts in a dire situation, a crisis situation. Believe in it? Like it will always do the right thing? No way!That's what we do. We do our best to try to work up enough influence to make it do the right thing.
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Comment #17 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 11:54:00 PT
As far as addiction treatment I want to say if you have a history in your own family of serious drug addiction you understand the need to find a way to help them to curb their excessive narcotic pain medicine use. It has caused so much pain in my family. I have an addictive personality and quit hard legal pain drugs years ago and have it under control now. I want the same for all people who suffer with addiction. I really had no help and I don't want other people to have to do it all alone with no support. 
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 11:20:19 PT
I just really like Obama. I have never liked a President at all really. I am very much involved in health care reform since I need serious and expensive tests myself that would push my husband and I over the edge financially so I wait. Drug policy and this new administration take a second place since I am sick. My husband has the VA and we are lucky since he had his heart attack on the treadmill at the VA Hospital and they jumped to action and saved his life. 
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Comment #15 posted by Miranger on June 12, 2009 at 11:12:01 PT
I love reading on this website the great advances the 420 movement has built up, but it really saddens me inside to see you guys still "believing" on the government just because we have a new guy in charge.
Their agenda isnt different and like skillet says, "Treatment" has more money in it than incarceration. They will come up with a pill and medication to "get you off drugs and addictive substances" wait for it, its coming. Yet another drug to push u down but this time its legal folks :)
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 11:10:45 PT
It's good to see you. I don't know how to take this law about tobacco. My concern is the cost of cigarettes. A black market will kick in soon if it hasn't already because of the expense. Quiting tobacco is very hard compared to how easy it can be to quit cannabis. 
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Comment #13 posted by Mahakal on June 12, 2009 at 10:53:48 PT
Harm reduction
Take a look at this. cannabis would be a good harm reduction alternative for tobacco users.
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Comment #12 posted by Hope on June 12, 2009 at 08:57:58 PT
 Ethan Nadelmann at AlterNet today.
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on June 12, 2009 at 08:39:04 PT
Perhaps, if we haven't yet,
we should email Senator Webb our appreciation for what he is trying to do.
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Comment #10 posted by Had Enough on June 12, 2009 at 08:17:02 PT
International Cannagraphic
Found this comment on International Cannagraphic… wrote:GO FL GO.On a side note - if you haven't done so yet, take yourself and a group of friends to the next NORML event in your town. We protested with NORML near the beach and I held up a proud sign stating, "I am not a criminal". Lots of older folk and families with kids drove by, and would you guess what? We got so many thumbs ups, peace signs, and honks for legalization! Even the old timers were giving nondescript signs of approval. 
This gave me so much hope for FL. I believe we are gradually shaking out our outdated southern conservative roots. A great deal of us have a similar mindset to California. Not hard to believe because we're the two states with the best beaches. When you go to support or protest, I suggest looking clean. Avoid the stereotypical rasta gear and it can help normalize the movement. We are just like everyone else, we deserve the same rights!***They have a sticky on the petition drive found here…It’s titled…FLORIDA GET OFF YOUR ASS***The meetup in South Florida is on June 27 at 1:00 pm, and is being organized by Kim RussellClick link for info…
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Comment #9 posted by Had Enough on June 12, 2009 at 07:47:59 PT
People United for Medical Marijuana - Florida
PUFMM UpdatePeople United for Medical Marijuana - FloridaWe have collected 11,000 signatures and $4,000 in donations!How far would you go to make this a reality? This is not going to happen by simply by hoping, wishing, and praying. We all have to contribute as much as we can to make it happen. It is up to each of us to take responsibility and act NOW!"You must be the change you wish to see in this world." -Mahatma GandhiQuote about marijuana:"If (Marijuana) were unknown, and bio-prospectors were suddenly to find it in some 
remote mountain crevice, it`s discovery would no doubt be hailed as a medical breakthrough. Scientists would praise it`s potential for treating everything from pain to cancer and marvel at it`s rich pharmacopoeia ~~ many of whose chemicals mimic vital molecules in the human body" The Economist, "Reefer Madness, Marijuana Is Medically Useful Whether Politicians Like It or Not," April 29, 2006.Click to see…***Comment on Facebook…Bruce wrote at 12:55pm yesterdayJust found your face book link, Happy to join ! We're a small Tattoo/Head Shop in Key Largo, and we've been mailing petitions in since 4/20. We've had nothing but positive response, and the HIV/AIDS Coalition down here contacted us after hearing our 4:20 radio ad and promised 500 signatures !We start a weekly Cycle event at Gilbert's Resort on Friday, and we'll be pushing the petition there . Keep up the good work, BClick to see…***South Florida Meeting in Broward CountyLocation:Dan Pearl Library 10500 W Oakland Park BlvdSunriseFort Lauderdale, FL 33351954-749-2521How to find us:"Look for the meeting room"This is a great opportunity to meet other people in South Florida helping PUFMM get the laws changed. We will be giving you ideas on how we can work together to reach our goal. You will also be given all of the tools you need to hold your own PUFMM meetings with groups of volunteers. There is no cost to attend. T-shirts will be available in exchange for a $10 donation.Click to see…
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Comment #8 posted by rchandar on June 12, 2009 at 07:36:55 PT:
Jim Webb
...I think we need to put our attention and case before this man, who obviously understands "the big picture." That's the most important component, the human and civil rights component--arrests. This number must go down, this is the factor that clogs our courts and creates tens of thousands of heartbreaking nightmare stories of people who couldn't succeed in the parole system, and this is what affects families--who are in no position to lose anybody in recession times.the Clinton-initiated obsession with arresting and processing as many people as possible, continued unfortunately by Bush, must stop. We need these people in our communities and at work.--rchandar
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 07:32:55 PT
I understand. I see changes coming that will be much better then locking a person up. I believe in treatment for hard drug addiction. I do not believe in prison for hard drug addiction. Marijuana is not grouped with hard drugs in my mind. 
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Comment #6 posted by runruff on June 12, 2009 at 07:28:22 PT
I considered that and I hope your guess is right. Of course I am hoping for the best outcome. You will pardon me please if I tent to be a bit sceptical, I have bruises!
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Comment #5 posted by Skillet on June 12, 2009 at 07:25:19 PT
A new focus
I get the feeling that this administration is just going let people keep getting arrested but instead of putting them in cages in a prison system, they are going to put them in cages in a "treatment facility". You can funnel alot more money into the medical establishment that way.The democrates haven't ended a war yet that they promised to end. Name changes don't count. Just wait for it....."well it is way worse than what we thought, so we can't end the war on drugs right now."
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 06:36:15 PT
I think the budget has increased because of what is happening in Mexico. 
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Comment #3 posted by runruff on June 12, 2009 at 06:13:59 PT
There is no cure for stupid!
And yet Mr. Obama is beefing up the WOD budget for 2010?I cannot believe anyone who supports prohibition either understand the nature and purpose of the Constitution and our Bill of Rights or they understand and don't care because they would rather have things their way!Cannabis does cause cancer when misused. When cannabis is used as a tool to usurp human rights it is a cancer on our rights as human beings!
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 06:01:10 PT
I Agree On This One with Nadelmann
Excerpt: The pace of change has shocked even the most optimistic drug-reform advocates. "I could never have predicted the way things have opened up in the last four months," says Ethan Nadelmann, the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "We haven't had an open and honest conversation about drugs like this on a national level since the 1970s."
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 12, 2009 at 05:50:42 PT
It Really Is a New Day
I am so happy that we are moving forward under the Obama Administration. Obama always said that change comes from the bottom up and that is what is happening. Obama doesn't need to do much of anything but let it happen. I think that is exactly what he is doing.
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