General Confusion

General Confusion
Posted by FoM on October 24, 2000 at 11:41:01 PT
By Jacob Sullum 
Source: Reason Magazine
After he took over the Office of National Drug Control Policy in 1996, Barry McCaffrey announced an end to the war on drugs. Instead of a military commander fighting an enemy, the retired general suggested, he was really more like an oncologist treating cancer.In terms of policy, McCaffrey’s rhetorical shift has not amounted to much. Whether they’re described as enemies or as patients, people who consume politically incorrect chemicals are still arrested, humiliated, jailed, and stripped of their property.
But during the last several years, McCaffrey has invited us to ponder a more interesting distinction: the sometimes fine line between a mistake and a lie. Now that he has announced his resignation, it’s a good time to reflect on some of his more memorable misstatements."Marijuana is now the second-leading cause of car crashes among young people," McCaffrey wrote in USA Today a couple of years ago. This claim surprised Dale Gieringer, California coordinator of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, who called McCaffrey’s office for the source.Gieringer was referred to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A NHTSA spokesman confirmed that marijuana is the second most common drug detected after fatal crashes but emphasized that it is not necessarily a cause of those accidents.As Gieringer noted in his newsletter, a 1990-91 study by NHTSA found that 52 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had alcohol in their blood, compared to 7 percent with traces of marijuana. In analyzing the role that drugs played in the crashes, NHTSA found "no indication that marijuana by itself was a cause of fatal accidents." Perhaps McCaffrey overlooked this crucial point in his eagerness to demonstrate the menace posed by marijuana. A similar explanation may account for his portrayal of Holland as a country consumed by violence."The murder rate in Holland is double that in the United States," McCaffrey said in July 1998, attributing the difference to Dutch tolerance of drug use. In fact, as the Dutch government was quick to point out, the U.S. murder rate is about four times as high as Holland’s.If McCaffrey has trouble reading crime statistics, he’s not much better when it comes to research on drug education. He offers high praise to Drug Abuse Resistance Education, even though the program’s benefits have never been demonstrated."Our results are consistent in documenting the absence of beneficial effects associated with the DARE program," the authors of a recent 10-year follow-up study concluded. "This report adds to the accumulating literature on DARE’s lack of efficacy in preventing or reducing substance use."Yet at the annual DARE Officers Association Dinner last July, McCaffrey said, "DARE knows what needs to be done to reduce drug use among children, and you are doing it--successfully." Well, maybe he was just being polite.That could not be said of McCaffrey’s remarks about medical marijuana. "There is not a shred of scientific evidence that shows that smoked marijuana is useful or needed," he declared in August 1996. "This is not science. This is not medicine. This is a cruel hoax that sounds more like something out of a Cheech and Chong show."After voters in California and Arizona approved medical marijuana initiatives that November, McCaffrey called a press conference. Asked whether there was "any evidence...that marijuana is useful in a medical situation," McCaffrey replied, "No, none at all. There are hundreds of studies that indicate it isn’t."Just a week after that comment, McCaffrey announced that he was asking the National Academy of Sciences to review the evidence of marijuana’s medical utility--the evidence he had repeatedly claimed did not exist. Two years later, the academy’s report definitively refuted his sweeping denials.It’s not clear whether McCaffrey’s pattern of prevarication reflects intentional deceit or carelessness. Either way, his ability to get away with it--to keep his job for nearly five years, enjoy favorable press, and emerge with the respect of both Democrats and Republicans--shows how empty the drug policy "debate" is in this country. When everyone backs the same basic policy, who is going to question anything that’s said in support of it? Like McCaffrey, I am troubled by the "war on drugs" metaphor, which suggests that the government’s targets are inanimate objects rather than human beings. But the term does reflect an important reality: The first casualty of war is the truth.Jacob Sullum's weekly column is distributed by Creators Syndicate. If you'd like to see it in your local newspaper, write or call the editorial page editor. Source: Reason Magazine (US) Author: Jacob Sullum Published: October 24, 2000 Address: 3415 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 400Los Angeles, CA 90034-6064 Copyright: 2000 The Reason Foundation Email: letters Website: Related Articles & Web Site:NORML Pot is a Burning Issue Cannabis May Make You a Safer Driver DARE Archives: Medical Marijuana Archives: 
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Comment #5 posted by dan on October 24, 2000 at 16:31:26 PT:
 Why isn't A.C.L.U. involved with sueing the lying bastard. Aren't there some codes of conduct? 
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on October 24, 2000 at 14:04:18 PT
Very Interesting
I sure don't know how you make your comments so pretty but thanks observer! That is really cool.
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Comment #3 posted by observer on October 24, 2000 at 14:00:08 PT
Demonizing the Enemy
"The murder rate in Holland is double that in the United States," McCaffrey said in July 1998, attributing the difference to Dutch tolerance of drug use. In fact, as the Dutch government was quick to point out, the U.S. murder rate is about four times as high as Holland’s.Such classic reefer-madness rhetoric. ``The murder rate in Holland is double that in the United States, McCaffrey told Swedish reporters. The overall crime rate in Holland is probably 40 percent higher than the United States. That's drugs.'' Barry McCaffrey, July 1998  ''... murders, suicides, robberies, criminal assaults, holdups, burglaries, and deeds of maniacal insanity it causes each year ...murder or degenerate sex attacks, many of them committed by youths, marijuana proved to be a contributing cause.... That’s marijuana!''Harry Anslinger, 1937 
Pinocchio McCaffrey
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Comment #2 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on October 24, 2000 at 13:50:56 PT:
Nice Tirade!
Gee, Lehder. Such passion! I hope you feel better now for having said what a lot of us are thinking.
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Comment #1 posted by Lehder on October 24, 2000 at 12:44:12 PT
War Against Reality
I am angered to be compelled by law to pay for this crap and ignorance. Why does the government publicize falsehoods as truth? This cannot be legal. McCaffrey must be held accountable for his statements.It is the government's official policy to isolate and marginalize anyone who does not vocally agree with this official mendacity. The government demands and enforces public and private displays of ignorance by its citizens. If you don't agree with this crap then you are barred from national campaign debates; you can be denied an education, a place to live or medical insurance; you can lose your job; you can be ostracized by a brainwashed community. By agreeing with this ****, you can be the boss; you can be a government bureaucrat and get paid a lotta bread to play with people's lives; you can speak with the media and tell more lies on television; people will buy you lunch! It's Drug War Ideology. It's a War Against Reality. And there's big money and soft jobs in it! I ask a lawyer to find, among the billion we have, the right law; but I am saying now: It's Illegal, it's gotta be! We are a 'democracy' in which ignorance is promoted, advertised, sung in jingles, and officially enforced. It's official policy and it destroys the possibility of enlightened democracy and undermines civilization. "It's the icy fingers of a barbarian clutching your shoulder."How to succeed in America: Be a tall white male Christian soldier with a splendiferous record of killing people; have a name that won't confuse people: Gore, Bush, Bush, Kemp, Ford, Hart, Dole, Reno BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
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