Losing The Drug War In California
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Losing The Drug War In California
Posted by CN Staff on April 06, 2010 at 11:20:08 PT
By John H. Richardson 
Source: Esquire
California -- To greet the news about California's ballot initiative to legalize and tax marijuana this November, which proponents say could raise as much as $1.4 billion a year, the New York Times ran a story with comments from the president of the California Peace Officer's Association, John Standish. "We just don't think anything good will come of this," he said. "It's not going to better society. It's going to denigrate it."Later he was quoted again: "We have a hard enough time now with drunk drivers on the road. This is just going to add to the problems — I cannot think of one crime scene I've been to where people said, 'Thank God the person was just under the influence of marijuana.'"
My jaw dropped. That's it? That's the best you've got? For that, thousands of people die every year in the drug war? For that, we arrest more than seven hundred thousand Americans a year? For that, we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on police, prisons, and international eradication efforts?Besides, I've got two kids. To the point of driving them crazy, I tell them over and over to drive sober and stick to the speed limit. But I would five thousand times rather see them drive stoned than drunk — and I don't believe Mr. Standish could produce a single parent who feels differently.So I called Standish. Surely the Times failed to quote his good arguments?He told me: "The CPOA is a professional law enforcement association that develops leaders — there are four thousand members, police chiefs, sheriffs, command staff, and first-line supervisors, so all of the law enforcement associations in California are against this ballot initiative."Also, "It's kind of misleading in that California can't legalize marijuana — state law cannot trump federal law." Then he repeated verbatim the "we don't think anything good is going to come of this" and added two more arguments: that Denmark thinks making pot semi-legal is the worst decision they ever made, and Mexico is "not going to sit idly by if we legalize it."Then he had to rush off, so I didn't get a chance to ask him about what happened in Portugal (according to a study by the super-conservative Cato Institute) in the first five years since they legalized all drugs:"Lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1 to 10.6 percent; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5 to 1.8 percent (although there was a slight increase in marijuana use in that age group). New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17 percent between 1999 and 2003, and deaths related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half. In addition, the number of people on methadone and buprenorphine treatment for drug addiction rose to 14,877 from 6,040, and money saved on enforcement allowed for increased funding of drug-free treatment as well."A few hours later I got a call from the CPOA spokesman, John Lovell, a pleasant man who also represents the police chiefs' and narcotics officers' associations. These are the arguments he came up with:"First off, the figure of seven hundred thousand arrested is factually inaccurate — people do not get arrested for simple possession. The most that happens is they're given a citation and release. In California, the penalty for simple possession is $100 fine."In other words, pot isn't all that illegal, which strikes me as a weird argument for keeping the drug war going full tilt. It also suggests they don't take the stoned driver problem as seriously as their rhetoric suggests."Second, I think what John was trying to say is that the burden of proof is on the legalizers, because right now what you have is serious public safety problems caused by alcohol abuse, pharmaceutical abuse, tobacco that kills people. Given all that, the question is, What is the public policy good of adding another substance that alters their minds?"Also, "this substance is a registered carcinogen."Also, the initiative is badly written. "It may make it impossible for California institutions and businesses and governments to receive any federal funding." This is because the details of the initiative make it impossible to observe the standards of a "drug-free workplace," which is required by federal law for groups that get federal grants. This could cost California billions in Washington cash, he said.Also, the ballot does not provide for a state marijuana tax, just city and county taxes. "It authorizes 420 cities to make their own laws, each with their own regulations." (My rule against drug-war-trivializing Cheech & Chong jokes forbids me to take note of that number, although I will say that later, Lovell unilaterally upped the number of cities in California to 450).Also, pot use doubled in Alaska when they decriminalized. And the ballot doesn't forbid people with criminal records from distributing. And it doesn't specify if your license to sell is statewide or limited to a given city. And the Mexican government, mired in its war with the drug cartels, has expressed deep concern that legalizing pot will hurt their efforts to fight the drug cartels.At that point, I had to stop him and ask the obvious question: Isn't the drug war exactly like Prohibition? Didn't the legalization of booze make Al Capone's mobsters pack their Tommy guns back in their cello cases so semi-law-abiding citizens like Joseph P. Kennedy could take over the liquor "cartels.""That's a theoretical argument," he said."But isn't it true? Didn't the mobsters all go away?""You need to get your history from other than movies," he said. "What did happen after Prohibition is that the mob simply moved in to the legal liquor distributorships all over the country. All that came out in the Kefauver Commission in the 1950s."But... doesn't John McCain own a beer distribution business. Are you saying that John McCain is a mobster?"Of course not," Lovell said. "But let's not get into philosophical issues. What voters are going to be voting on isn't some philosophical debate — what they're voting on is a specific proposal. I think it's possible for the voter to say, philosophically, this should be legal, but this measure is wrong."Then he went back to the regulatory problems. Under the terms of the initiative, 450 different cities could have 450 different rules. That means a city could make it legal to grow pot in public parks. And look at how upset the Los Angeles City Council got when a thousand medical marijuana clinics bloomed — they capped the number of permits at 70. And what if you run a bike shop and can't promise a drug-free workplace? Won't your insurance company raise your rates?But all laws have problems, and none of this stacks up very impressively against the thousands of lives and billions of dollars. Isn't the solution to pass the damn law and fix the tangles as they come up? Just as the Los Angeles City Council did when they limited clinics?"The initiative has a provision in it — it can only be amended to advance its purpose. That means, because one of the purposes of the initiative is local control and local taxation, you cannot change that."So we're going to sacrifice thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of drug-war dollars so that California's cities and counties don't hog all the marijuana tax money?"This could cost the state billions in federal money," he repeated. Really? With California on the ropes, cutting school budgets and releasing prisoners, is the federal government really going to slash its grant money over pot?I don't buy it."For sure, it's going to cost every employer more in insurance," he said. "If you look at section 11340C, the only thing an employer can do is address consumption issues of an employee that actually affect their workplace performance — if you're in possession, an employer can't take any action. If you test dirty, the employer can't do anything."So you can only punish an employee for something that "actually affects his workplace performance" – these are his words, folks. In other words, if a person gets stoned on Saturday night and comes in Monday morning 100 percent sober, there's no way to punish him? And the problem with this is?"Tell that to the federal government when they deny your request to make bicycles for the Army."Even if it's a perfectly good bicycle?"Go read the drug-free workplace act of 1988," he said. Let me see if I follow this — the argument is that marijuana should be illegal because it is illegal?What I'm saying to you is, irrespective of our differing points of view, if you read this initiative, it doesn't make sensible public policy."By that point, we were going in circles — until he came up with one completely new argument. "In Mendocino county, the heart of the emerald triangle, there was last year — I'll have fun with it — a 'grass roots' effort that put a measure on the ballot to roll back Mendocino's liberal medical marijuana laws."A Cheech & Chong joke! From the drug warrior's drug warrior! If you need any more evidence of how completely mainstream marijuana has become, this is it. This war is lost. The only question now is how much more blood and treasure we're going to waste before we all admit it.P.S. If all of this makes your head hurt, relieve your stress with the best anti-drug song of modern times, Gotta Try. The band is Fifth Nation, which sounds kinda like Jeff Buckley meets Erykah Badu and includes a person who actually appears to have listened to me (see above) when I told her never to drive high. This is how they describe the song: "In a numbed culture, it's tremendously empowering not to get fucked up all the time." You can listen to it here.Source: Esquire (US)Author: John H. Richardson Published: April 6, 2010Copyright: 2010 Hearst Communications, Inc.Contact: editor esquire.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #15 posted by Hope on April 07, 2010 at 20:19:11 PT
Thank you, GeoChemist.
I don't always completely absorb and understand what you say, but I do listen, and I do appreciate your knowledgeable comments, and I knew that was an important and knowledgeable comment when you first made it. Of course I remembered it, and appreciate it.Thank you.
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Comment #14 posted by runruff on April 07, 2010 at 20:01:30 PT
I was reading about a phosphorus mine in SA on the east coast. It is owned by the Rockefeller's and it is very high in the U-238 [health damaging] that you speak of.The phosphorus mined here is sold exclusively to tobacco growers around the world. The Radiation has some kind of effect on the plant that makes it more commercially viable.
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Comment #13 posted by GeoChemist on April 07, 2010 at 18:19:08 PT
What you are referring to are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH's) and are the product of incomplete combustion. Anything that burns produces PAH's; the backyard grill is a notorious source of these compounds. To eliminate the problem, don't smoke it. With that said, has anyone ever heard of, much less shown proof of a case of cancer caused by smoked cannabis? Look at tobacco, whether it is smoked or chewed it STILL is a carcinogen due to the lead-210 (Pb-210) contained in tobacco. The tobacco companies would lead you to believe there is the same amount of Pb-210 in the air we breathe as there is in a cigarette. Is this true, maybe (I never looked into it) but breathing air isn't the same as taking Pb-210 into the lungs in a concentrated form. They also fail to mention the fertilizers that are used, which are apatite based. Apatite contains a fairly large amount of Pb-210's parent element, uranium-238 (U-238), which adds to the U-238 that occurs naturally. The radiation is taken into the tobacco plant in the form of Radon-222 (Rd-222) gas. All plants can receive natural Rd-210, some plants can fix it (render it inert) some incorporate as-is and it continues through its decay cycle; the problem with tobacco is two-fold; it doesn’t fix it and the fertilizers used (see above) raise the content of radiation well above natural levels. I was actually logging on to make a crass comment when I read your post Hope, thank you for remembering that.Anyway, most cops oppose reform because they know they are a pink slip away from asking; “would you like fries with that?”
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Comment #12 posted by Hope on April 07, 2010 at 09:03:09 PT
When I joined this effort of trying to talk 
and write and get the subject of cannabis prohibition into mainstream conversation and media coverage and efforts to change these draconian laws, I was angry, aghast at things that were being done by government and prohibitionists to people in the name of the war on drugs and cannabis. It was, obviously, so horrifying and so wrong. Breaking down people's doors. Shooting. Killing. Imprisoning. Ruining. Stealing. Destroying. Spying. The terrible and unjust sentences. It had to be stopped. It's still what stopping cannabis prohibition is about to me... but the more I've learned... I'm getting angrier and angrier about all the benefits being withheld from the people... and me, too.It's not right. Prohibitionist ignorance and power over people has got to end.
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Comment #11 posted by dongenero on April 07, 2010 at 08:17:12 PT
Like the grille on my patio and the food I cook on it?If only my grille had the cancer protective properties of cannabis that was found in the USC cannabis studies. Sigh
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Comment #10 posted by runruff on April 07, 2010 at 07:18:37 PT
Good info Hope..
But to them I would say,'wheres's the bodies"!
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on April 07, 2010 at 05:45:02 PT
Comment 6
There is some group of busybodies, I'm not sure if they are an arm of the government, in California that makes " A list" of carcinogens for people to know about. About a year ago they added smoked marijuana to their list. I remember GeoChemist grousing about it at the time. It's not really cannabis at all, but some tar or carbon or something that doesn't exist in cannabis at all until there is combustion and is actually something that is a product of combustion and would happen no matter what was combusted. But it got marijuana" put on "The list" of "carcinogens".
The specific "List" is a California thing... and I don't remember if it's actually put out by the government or someone else.
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Comment #8 posted by MikeEEEEE on April 07, 2010 at 05:08:12 PT
The same old BS, with a large pinch of fear.
They say, "The old tricks are the best tricks."
We must save the children, but supply them with taxed alcohol and nicotine. The prohibitionists would say, "We already have alcohol and cigarettes, that's enough."
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on April 07, 2010 at 04:44:16 PT
John Tyler
Thank you. I did see and post a link to that small article in the Columbus Dispatch. I hope we will see an expanded article soon. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
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Comment #6 posted by runruff on April 06, 2010 at 22:09:19 PT
 "this substance is a registered carcinogen."
Where? Where is it registered?I wonder who he is registered with? The AMA, ACP, ANA?The Boy Scouts of America? Is he in anyway qualified to asses the medical dangers of the herb?Why is there no scientific evidence of even ONE research doctor or ONE case study that will back this erroneous claim by this criminal-enemy of the sick, dying and those who just want to get baked? 
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Comment #5 posted by The GCW on April 06, 2010 at 20:59:59 PT
"this substance is a registered carcinogen."???Just come out and say it's a REGISTERED LIE.Register all You want but there is not one single dead body to show cannabis has ever caused 1 case of cancer.-And if the government had even one single case of cannabis causing cancer they would sell the store to make sure every American knew who it was.Official regestered lie vs. simple varifiable truth.If cop guy will use this clear lie, everything He says is suspect.
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Comment #4 posted by John Tyler on April 06, 2010 at 20:17:22 PT
in the news
In The Columbus Dispatch –on Tuesday, April 6 2010 there is an article that says legislation to legalize dispensing, growing and using marijuana for medical purposes has been introduced in the Ohio House.
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on April 06, 2010 at 13:17:07 PT
menu of lies
this will be an interesting campaign, has there ever been another one where 100% of one side's arguments are lies?so many lies to choose from, it's hard to address them all. I'll take the simplest looks like California arrests 50,000+ people per year for cannabis:
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on April 06, 2010 at 12:43:33 PT
A question came to me by e-mail.
A friend read my post and wanted to know about the money from the mmj I got when I was in prison?I didn't take any money. I would never ask my wife to conduct any illegal or "shady" business anyway.[he asked about that]I ask my long time friend and caregiver to donate it to the Takilma mmj co-op. They were just getting started then and many people donated what they could to this good cause. I only saw a bag full from '06 and one from '07 that my friend saved in his freezer for me just for fun.He gave some to Linda because Linda makes gel-caps for my Mom and cousin who cannot sleep at night without it.Any more questions, just ask! 
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on April 06, 2010 at 12:17:13 PT
"It's not going to better society."
Not the way 70 years of cannabis prohibition has,eh?No like"just say no"!Not like 40 years of war on the American people with their own tax money!Not like removing me from society for 2 years!30 years I grow pot, two years I get locked up and someone grows my pot for me on a medical recommendation while I am in prison 3 thousand miles away.I come home, get licensed and organize a mmj collective that puts out ####s every years since I have been out.But he want to do what now?
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