The drugwar in perspective: America legalized torture before they legalized marijuana.
Cannabis is moving into the mainstream, with fashion, films, TV and politicians acknowledging it's here to stay.
After decades of bubbling up around the edges of so-called civilized society, marijuana seems to be marching mainstream at a fairly rapid pace. At least in urban areas such as Los Angeles, cannabis culture is coming out of the closet.
At fashion-insider parties, joints are passed nearly as freely as hors d'oeuvres. Traces of the acrid smoke waft from restaurant patios, car windows and passing pedestrians on the city streets -- in broad daylight. Even the art of name-dropping in casual conversation -- once limited to celebrity sightings and designer shoe purchases -- now includes the occasional boast of recently discovered weed strains such as "Strawberry Cough" and "Purple Kush." source
Yet keep in mind, as the Times points out, "General marijuana use is, of course, illegal. Under federal law, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance (in the same category as LSD, heroin and peyote) [can you believe that?] and possession of it is punishable by up to one year in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first conviction.
According to the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report, in 2007 there were 872,721 arrests in the U.S. for marijuana violations. We are wasting our law enforcement and court resources due to our hypocrisy and lack of courage. We are wasting TAXPAYER money! It's time for change ...
Brian Roberts, co-founder of the THC Expo, talked about the revolution in progress. "The whole show teetered on who won the election," he said. "If McCain had won, I'd have never have put up my money. But Americans are no longer living in fear."
How about you? Are you still living in fear?
CNN Headline: Marijuana found in search of Michael Jackson's bedroom
OMG! OMG! OMG! Are you scared? The King of Pop killed due to smoking grass???
No, not exactly. While a couple "baggies" of marijuana were found in the singer's home, toxicology tests led the Los Angeles County coroner to conclude that Jackson died of an overdose of propofol, a powerful sedative he had been given to help him sleep. source
Today we likely know what killed Michael (propofol) and also know that marijuana didn't kill him. Had he smoked a joint to help him sleep, rather than use propofol, the singer would likely be alive today. Regardless of this truth, the media and LIVs (lower informed voters) still try to falsely portray pakalolo as a social problem when it actually helps millions of people.
Two law enforcement professionals called for the legalization of illicut drugs today (8.17.09): "Having fought the war on drugs, we know that ending the drug war is the right thing to do -- for all of us, especially taxpayers," wrote Peter Moskos, professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and author of "Cop in the Hood," and Neill Franklin, a 32-year law enforcement veteran, both served as Baltimore City police officers and are members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
We simply urge the federal government to retreat. Let cities and states (and, while we're at it, other countries) decide their own drug policies. Many would continue prohibition, but some would try something new. California and its medical marijuana dispensaries provide a good working example, warts and all, that legalized drug distribution does not cause the sky to fall. source
A new wave of reefer madness is sweeping suburbia -- but it's not just teenagers who are lighting up. Middle-aged, middle-class soccer moms are smoking pot ... a lot. These women aren't stoners: they're teachers, lawyers, and, perhaps, even your neighbor who prefers puffing a joint to sipping chardonnay.
Source: Mom Logic
Pot-Smoking Moms Tired of Being Judged By Wine Drinkers
Every night, Margaret's two boys fly into the house after sports practice and flip on the TV, while she races to the kitchen to get dinner cooking. "It's that tedious witching hour when I feel incredibly frazzled," says the Tennessee singer/songwriter mom of a 6- and an 8-year-old. But instead of pouring herself a glass or two of merlot, she heads to the standalone garage next to their house for a few puffs of Humboldt Kush, one of the four strains of pot she smokes seven days a week.
"If I wanted to, I could sit with a glass of wine in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other, with a cigarette pressed between my lips, under the influence of prescription narcotics — all the while holding my child in my lap." source
Breckenridge Legalizes Marijuana
November 3, 2009: Breckenridge, Colorado, is the latest municipality to remove all penalties for private adult marijuana possession and possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Some 72 percent of voters overwhelmingly approved a measure to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana under town law. source
Jack Cafferty (CNN - 3.31.09) wrote, "Someone described insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time. That's a perfect description of the war on drugs."
One senior Harvard economist estimates we spend $44 billion a year fighting the war on drugs. He says if they were legal, governments would realize about $33 billion a year in tax revenue. Net swing of $77 billion. Could we use that money today for something else? You bet your ass we could. Plus the cartels would be out of business. Instantly. Goodbye crime and violence. sourceWhat is wrong with Americans? A solid majority of our population knows the "war on drugs" has been a failure for decades; a solid majority of the population supports a change in policy to decriminalize or simply legalize marijuana. Thirteen (13) states have passed medical marijuana laws -- due to medical research showing positive uses of the drug. Yet an emotional minority blocks action and we do nothing -- except continue an INSANE policy that is based on lies and corruption.
The U.S. and Mexican responses to this violence have been predictable: more troops and police, greater border controls and expanded enforcement of every kind. Escalation is the wrong response, however; drug prohibition is the cause of the violence.Is It True That Marijuana Kills People?
Prohibition creates violence because it drives the drug market underground. This means buyers and sellers cannot resolve their disputes with lawsuits, arbitration or advertising, so they resort to violence instead.
The only way to reduce violence, therefore, is to legalize drugs. Fortuitously, legalization is the right policy for a slew of other reasons. source
"Right now, believe me, I'm not pleased, and I'm not going to sit here and paint some rosy picture because it's just not there. There is a high amount of violence in our city and our state, and much of it has to do with drugs and that is directly connected to the cartels ... We're not seeing a reduction in the amount of drugs that are coming in, we're seeing more." sourceYes, Sheriff White, that's what we've been saying for years. The U.S. and New Mexico has spent billions trying to incarcerate drug users and dealers, yet there is more product on our streets and the number of users has not diminished. How many years will you need to fail before you agree to a new approach?
Marijuana Saved This Man's Life: It was a hot day and most people in the area were indoors running their AC units. Doubtful anyone else would have heard Jack's fall. He had gone up on his roof to check his AC. As he was coming down, he slipped and fell off the roof. In the photo below, you can see where he tried to catch himself by grabbing the rain gutter. It didn't prevent the fall.
Meet My Neighbor Jack.
According to recent findings published in the journal Scientific Reports. Of the seven drugs included in the study, alcohol was the deadliest at an individual level, followed by heroin, cocaine, tobacco, ecstasy, methamphetamines, and marijuana. Previous studies consistently ranked marijuana as the safest recreational drug, but it was not known that the discrepancy was this large.
A November 2010 study concluded, "the most dangerous drugs to individual users were heroin, crack and crystal meth. Alcohol was most harmful to society, followed by heroin and crack." Marijuana is less harmful both to the individual and society. source
I will be participating in a medical training on addiction, including discussions on alcohol, tobacco, opioids and other illicit drugs. Take a few minutes to review their section on Marijuana Addiction. Send your comments or questions.
Feb 24, 2015: Marijuana is now legal for adults in Alaska. The state becomes the third U.S. state to end prohibition of marijuana, officially putting into effect Ballot Measure 2, approved by 53 percent of state voters in November. Update 12.5.17: Seven states and the District of Columbia have adopted the most expansive laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Most recently, California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada.
Alaskans age 21 and older may now legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana, grow as many as six marijuana plants in their homes (with no more than three flowering), and possess any additional marijuana produced by those plants.
The Marijuana Policy Project, a backer of the Alaska ballot measure, is launching a public education campaign reminding marijuana users to "consume responsibly," with ads that read: "With great marijuana laws comes great responsibility."
"Most adults use marijuana for the same reasons most adults use alcohol," Tvert said. "We want them to keep in mind that it carries the same responsibilities."
One of the problems the marijuana reform movement consistently faces is everyone wants to talk about what marijuana does, but no one ever wants to look at what marijuana prohibition does.
Marijuana never kicks down your door in the middle of the night. Marijuana never locks up sick and dying people; does not suppress medical research; does not peek in bedroom windows. Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.~ Richard Cowan
Canada Legalizes Recreational Use
The Canadian government has introduced sweeping legislation designed to permit the recreational use of marijuana throughout the country by July 2018, fulfilling an election promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The bill, inspired in part by the experiences of cannabis regimes in Colorado and Washington state, goes well beyond the U.S. situation, where marijuana remains prohibited at the federal level. In Canada, the federal government will change criminal law nationally and will license growers and set product standards while leaving it up to the provinces to handle distribution and manage retail sale.
Global Commission Of Officials Says War On Drugs Failed
Members of the commission include former presidents of Columbia, Mexico and Brazil, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz and former Fed Chair Paul Volcker, among others.
The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world, the report reads. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government's war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed. Complete Report
Former Mexican President: Legalize Drugs
August 10, 2010: Vicente Fox, the most recent former president of Mexico, is calling for the legalization of narcotics. In a post at his personal blog, the former president says:
"We must legalize the production, distribution, and sale of drugs ... Legalization does not mean that drugs are good," Fox wrote. "But we have to see it as a strategy to weaken and break the economic system that allows cartels to make huge profits, which in turn increases their power and capacity to corrupt."
Fox's predecessor, Ernesto Zedillo, teamed up with former Presidents from Brazil and Colombia to produce a report last year calling for the decriminalization of marijuana. Instead of plowing the sea by trying to eliminate drugs, they recommended so-called harm-reduction policies, like treatment and needle-exchange programs, to reduce the damage caused by illegal narcotics. source
Fox, whose election in 2000 ended more than 70 years of one-party rule in Mexico, argues that legalizing drugs would "strike and break" the economic power of drug-trafficking cartels operating in Mexico.
"We need to break the balance between criminals, markets, transfer routes, and criminal associations sheltered by corruption, intelligently, with much less doses of violence," Fox writes. source
Argentine President Calls for Decriminalization
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner repeated her call this week to decriminalize personal drug use and crack down on traffickers and dealers.
"I don't like it when people easily condemn someone who has an addiction as if he were a criminal, as if he were a person who should be persecuted."
"Those who should be persecuted are those who sell the substances, those who give it away, those who traffic in it."
"Decriminalization of the consumer should include what are called second-generation human rights, but at the same time there should be a strong policy of prevention, so that no one falls in the situation of consuming any substance," said Anibal Fernandez, the minister of security and justice.
"The evidence generally shows that the decriminalization of possession is not clearly associated with any increase in illicit drug use," said Ethan Nadelmann, Drug Policy Alliance.
A few years ago, Mexican President Vicente Fox proposed decriminalizing possession of drugs combined with a crackdown on traffickers, but a harsh reaction from the Bush administration caused him to retreat, Nadelmann said. source
Colombia's President Calls America's Drug War a Failure
Cesar Gaviria Trujillo, the former president of Colombia, told a Spanish-language radio station this week that America's war on drugs has been a disastrous "failure" that the ruling political parties simply refuse to talk about.
"Society does not want to accept that people consume [drugs]," he told RCN Radio in Colombia. "You cannot turn away from reality. We cannot accept that theory. [American politicians] may prefer not to talk about it. We cannot accept it. We cannot be condemned to live in war because Americans do not want to talk about it. No one speaks in favor of the war on drugs."
Trujillo, who left Colombia's highest office in 1994, also said that he has "high expectations" for the Summit of the Americas next month, during which the Obama Administration will listen to arguments in favor of drug legalization, at the insistence of current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. source
War on Drugs Has Failed, Say Latin American Leaders
Watershed summit will admit that prohibition has failed, and call for more nuanced and liberalised tactics
Otto Perez Molina, the president of Guatemala, who as former head of his country's military intelligence service experienced the power of drug cartels at close hand, is pushing his fellow Latin American leaders to use the summit to endorse a new regional security plan that would see an end to prohibition.
"Our proposal as the Guatemalan government is to abandon any ideological consideration regarding drug policy (whether prohibition or liberalisation) and to foster a global intergovernmental dialogue based on a realistic approach to drug regulation. Drug consumption, production and trafficking should be subject to global regulations, which means that drug consumption and production should be legalised, but within certain limits and conditions."
Mexico's president, Felipe Calderon, has called for a national debate on the issue. Last year Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia's president, told the Observer that if legalising drugs curtailed the power of organised criminal gangs who had thrived during prohibition, "and the world thinks that's the solution, I will welcome it."
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil and chairman of the global commission on drug policy, has said it is time for "an open debate on more humane and efficient drug policies." source
Australia: Drugs War 'a failure' That Bred Criminals
Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, is among a group of prominent Australians who have declared the "war on drugs" a failure in the most significant challenge to drug laws in decades.
"The prohibition of illicit drugs is killing and criminalising our children and we are letting it happen,"" says a report released today by the group, which includes the former federal police chief Mick Palmer, the former NSW director of public prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery, QC, the former West Australian premier Geoff Gallop, a former Defence Department secretary, Paul Barratt, the former federal health ministers Michael Wooldridge and Peter Baume, and the drug addiction expert Alex Wodak.
The report was written by the population health expert Emeritus Professor Bob Douglas and a social research consultant, David McDonald. It calls for a fundamental rethink of drug policies and "an end to the tough on drugs approach." The key message is that we "have 40 years of experience of a law and order approach to drugs and it has failed." source
New research from Harvard Medical School, in a comparison between families with a history of schizophrenia and those without, finds little support for marijuana use as a cause of schizophrenia. source
One would think it would have been very big news in June 2005 when UCLA medical school professor Donald Tashkin reported that components of marijuana smoke — although they damage cells in respiratory tissue — somehow prevent them from becoming malignant. In other words, something in marijuana exerts an anti-cancer effect! source
California study shows no increased risk for even the heaviest marijuana smokers ... "We know there are as many or more carcinogens and co-carcinogens in marijuana smoke as in cigarettes," researcher Donald Tashkin, MD, of UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine. "But we did not find any evidence for an increase in cancer risk for even heavy marijuana smoking."
The more tobacco a person smoked, the greater their risk of developing lung cancer and other cancers of the head and neck. But people who smoked more marijuana were not at increased risk compared with people who smoked less and people who didn't smoke at all. source
A pair of scientists at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco has found that a compound derived from marijuana could stop metastasis in many kinds of aggressive cancer, potentially altering the fatality of the disease forever. source
Mounting evidence shows 'cannabinoids' in marijuana slow cancer growth, inhibit formation of new blood cells that feed a tumor, and help manage pain, fatigue, nausea, and other side effects. source
Participated in a training at a major medical research university to discuss PTSD and Medical Cannabis. This document is available for public use. Download PDF: Cannabis and PTSD Presentation
District of Columbia
VA Recognizes Medical Marijuana
[July 23, 2010] The Veterans Administration announced Friday that vets recieving treatment in any of the fourteen states that allow medical marijuana may use the substance without losing their access to pain medication.
Those states are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. VA officials say the ruling should clarify an earlier policy that says veterans could be denied pain medication if they use illegal drugs.
While this is great news, what about the medical discrimination Veterans in other states will suffer? Don't our Veterans, those who have served, fought and sacrificed for all of us, deserve, as GW Bush announced in his January 2007 State of the Union address:
"We must remember that the best health care decisions are not made by government and insurance companies, but by patients and their doctors."
Judge orders CHP to return 60 pounds of marijuana
With the debate on medical marijuana still at a full boil in Los Angeles, a judge Friday ordered the return of 60 pounds of pot to a man after his attorneys successfully argued that a state law gave him the right to transport it ... But defense attorney Glen T. Jonas argued that his client was a member of a Venice-based medical marijuana collective and that he was authorized to transport the marijuana. source
Medical Marijuana Laws Are Moving Pot Into Mainstream
Karl Vick writes in the Washington Post (4.12.09) that, "marijuana is now available as a medical treatment in California to almost anyone who tells a willing physician he would feel better if he smoked ... All told, 13 states have legalized medical marijuana, a trend advocates credit in part to growing openness to alternative healing."
Marijuana use is widespread -- government surveys show that 100 million Americans have smoked pot or its resin, hashish, in their lifetimes, and 25 million have done so in the past year ... California currently collects $18 million in sales taxes from marijuana dispensaries, and Yee [Betty Yee, chair of the California State Board of Equalization] said a regulated pot trade would bring in $1.3 billion. source
Yee told Vick, "I think the tide is starting to turn in terms of marijuana being part of the mainstream," she said. "The pieces seem to be falling into place." California currently collects $18 million in sales taxes from marijuana dispensaries, and Yee said a regulated pot trade would bring in $1.3 billion.
Los Angeles Councilman Dennis Zine reported, "We're not getting complaints about people smoking marijuana," said the retired motorcycle policeman. "We're seeing complaints about the proliferation of facilities."
We now know the true outcome of open medical marijuana use in society. Problems won't come from users -- it will only be the traffic and congestion from the outlets. We're spending $30-$40 billion a year to prevent an increase in small businesses, which hire the most people in the country and pay the lion's share of taxes. Did I say this is insane?
Put that in your pipe and smoke it
November 18, 2009: The attorney general of Colorado, John Suthers (Republican), has advised the state's governor that medical marijuana sales should be regulated and taxed like alcohol and tobacco.
No matter what sort of spin one puts on the issue, ignoring the revenue-creating potential of taxing cannabis sales -- which will continue, legally or otherwise -- hardly seems prudent when we live in an era in which local governments can't afford to fix potholes or hire schoolteachers. source
Hey Washington! Stop Lying About Medicinal Marijuana
Citing "overwhelming" evidence that marijuana eases pain and anxiety for the chronically ill, medicinal pot advocates told a federal appeals panel Tuesday (4.14.09) that the federal government should be stopped from spreading "false information" about marijuana.
"The science to support medical marijuana is overwhelming. It's time for the federal government to acknowledge the efficacy of medical marijuana and stop holding science hostage to politics," said Steph Sherer, director of Americans for Safe Access. source
Yet our federal government, your government, told three judges of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that ... marijuana "has no currently accepted medical use."
Thirteen states disagree and have passed medical marijuana provisions. Millions of Americans use marijuana to control pain and ease their suffering. This is the government that told us Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and deregulation of the banking and financial industry would be good for America. Come on, Barack! We need change ... Yes we can!
In the study, 4AutoInsuranceQuote.org points out that the only significant effect that marijuana has on operating a motor vehicle is slower driving. A similar study by the NHTSA shows that drivers with THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) in their system have accident responsibility rates below that of drug free drivers.
"In fact, a recent study shows that use of medical marijuana has caused traffic related fatalities to drop by up to nine percent in states that have legalized its use."The study, titled 'Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption,' conducted by Mark Anderson and Daniel Rees in November 2011, shows that increased marijuana use amongst adults has decreased alcohol related traffic deaths in said states. This study provides solid evidence that marijuana is not only a safe substitute for alcohol, but it also makes for more safer drivers. source
In one more testament to the potential positive applications of legal marijuana, researchers in Italy and Britain have found that the main active ingredient in marijuana — tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — and related compounds show promise as antibacterial agents, particularly against microbial strains that are already resistant to several classes of drugs. The cannabinoids may prove useful as a topical agent against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) to prevent the microbes from colonizing on the skin. source
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has become the latest leader to condemn the now 40-year-old war on drugs.
The Governor's comments come amid polls showing declining public support for the drug war and a New York Times article highlighting the numbers involved — cost, price of drugs, rates of drug use, and more. What the figures should show policy makers and drug warriors, the Times reported, is that "the struggle on which they have spent billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of lives over the last four decades has failed."
"The war on drugs, while well-intentioned, has been a failure," Christie said Monday during a speech at The Brookings Institution. "We're warehousing addicted people everyday in state prisons in New Jersey, giving them no treatment."
"It costs us $49,000 a year to warehouse a prisoner in New Jersey state prisons last year," Christie said. "A full year of inpatient drug treatment costs $24,000 a year." source
Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker wants to end the War on Drugs saying it was ineffective and "represents big overgrown government at its worst."
"The so called War on Drugs has not succeeded in making significant reductions in drug use, drug arrests or violence. We are pouring huge amounts of our public resources into this current effort that are bleeding our public treasury and unnecessarily undermining human potential."
Booker then called drug arrests a "game."
"My police in Newark are involved in an almost ridiculous game of arresting the same people over and over again and when you talk to these men they have little belief that there is help or hope for them to break out of this cycle." Huffington Post
With over 30,000,000 Americans consuming in an average year, marijuana is no longer considered an enemy of the people in many quarters.
Why then is the U.S. arresting more than 850,000 Americans a year? Why are we spending $40 BILLION a YEAR to arrest and incarcerate Americans who "smoke a joint"?
Why do we refuse to decriminalize this product so we can stop funding gangs, thugs, murderers and terrorists — who bring violence to our streets, and instead, tax and regulate the practice? CBS News
Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, a tea party favorite and possible 2012 Republican presidential candidate, told The Weekly Standard he smoked marijuana for medicinal purposes from 2005 to 2008 following a paragliding accident in Hawai'i.
Johnson has long advocated for legalizing marijuana but has said in the past that he supports it despite no longer smoking marijuana (or drinking alcohol) himself.
"Rather than using painkillers, which I have used on occasion before, I did smoke pot, as a result of having broken my back, blowing out both of my knees, breaking ribs, really taking about three years to recover," Johnson stated.
Fresh off a third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday, a weary-looking Ron Paul spoke with CNN Wednesday morning but managed to summon his usual enthusiasm while railing against the U.S. war on drugs.
"This war on drugs has been a detriment to personal liberty and it's been a real abuse of liberty," Paul said.
"Our prisons are full with people who have used drugs who should be treated as patients — and they're non-violent. Someday we're gonna awake and find out that the prohibition we are following right now with drugs is no more successful, maybe a lot less successful, than the prohibition of alcohol was in the '20s."
As Paul pointed out to CNN, he's been loudly stating his opposition to the nation's anti-drug policies for decades. source
Art Carden writes, Pat Robertson is closing the year with something that absolutely shocked me when I heard about it. He has come out against the War on Drugs, or at least against mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana offenses.
Governments do a lot of silly and sometimes heinous things. The American War on Drugs is both: it is silly, and it is heinous. The economic case for drug legalization is rock-solid and straightforward, and a lot of the maladies and social ills that we associate with drug use are products not of the drugs themselves but of the fact that they are illegal. You don't see many criminal enterprises trafficking in coffee and tea (my drugs of choice) precisely because they are legal. If caffeine were banned, I'm certain that it would appear on the underground market, probably in an injectable form.
My friend Timothy D. Watkins, a professor of music at Texas Christian University, said it well when I was looking for perspectives on this last year:
"Part of what [being created 'in the image of God'] entails is the ability to make morally meaningful choices. The story of the Fall in Genesis is in great part about God allowing humans to make choices that are bad for them because without such freedom morality is a meaningless concept. Prohibition is the denial of moral agency."
Drug prohibition, and any other attempt to regulate private, non-coercive behavior, for that matter, cheapens our humanity. It isn't like we are getting anything in return. Prohibitions generally give us the exact opposite of what their advocates intend. The war on drugs is a war that is almost all cost with scant benefits. source
In 2001 Portugal became the first European country to abolish all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. People found guilty of possessing small amounts of drugs are sent to a panel consisting of a psychologist, social worker and legal adviser for appropriate treatment (which may be refused without criminal punishment), instead of jail.
Does the new policy work? Research data shows that decriminalization does not result in increased drug use.
Between 2001 and 2006, rates of lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1 percent to 10.6 percent; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5 percent to 1.8 percent ... 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, after decriminalization, and money saved on enforcement allowed for increased funding of drug-free treatment as well.
Research from the Cato Institute found that "a major problem with most American drug policy debate is that it's based on 'speculation and fear mongering,' rather than empirical evidence on the effects of more lenient drug policies."
"The impact in the life of families and our society is much lower than it was before decriminalization," says Joao Castel-Branco Goulao, Portugual's "drug czar" and president of the Institute on Drugs and Drug Addiction, adding that police are now able to re-focus on tracking much higher level dealers and larger quantities of drugs.
"Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success," says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. "It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does."
Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal's drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10 percent. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8 percent. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana. source
Comparatively, as Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, points out, "police made more than 850,000 marijuana arrests last year, [yet] a recent government report shows youth marijuana use increased by about 9 percent ..."
"In the almost 40 years since President Nixon declared a war on drugs, tens of millions of Americans have been arrested and hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent. Yet drugs are just as available now as they were then." source
Two-thirds of Americans support drug treatment instead of jail time for first-time drug offenders. We want to free our law enforcement personnel to pursue serious criminals; we want our tax dollars to be used for productive and efficient programs; and we want to end this failure. Please wake up; have the courage to stand for responsible democracy; and let's return this nation to the shining city on the hill of justice!
Take a look at the how a new lengthy op-ed by LEAP executive director and former Maryland narcotics cop Neill Franklin appears in the latest issue of The Journal, a magazine distributed to nearly every police chief and sheriff in the United States. Complete Article
Police Group Questions War on Drugs
In late 2000, when undercover narcotics Trooper Ed Toatley was killed in an ambush by a drug dealer, I had no idea that this tragedy would be a turning point in my life. Toatley and I had worked narcotics for the Maryland State Police and, at the time, I was in the 24th year of my 33-year law enforcement career ... As I have come to learn, many law enforcement people, then and now, have the same question: Do our hard-fought efforts do any lasting good against drug use and trafficking?
The answer to that question, sadly, is no. Drug use rates remain virtually unchanged since the start of the war on drugs 40 years ago. But what's even worse than our drug policies' ineffectiveness is that the laws actually create additional harms, to police and to citizens, to drug users and nonusers alike. Just think of the violence being inflicted on our cities by the thugs who control the currently illegal market for drugs, and the kids and other innocent people getting caught in the crossfire of warring dealers.
That's why I decided to become active in the fight to end drug prohibition and to enact new policies that actually control drugs and stop the stream of drug money to gangs and cartels.~ Neill Franklin, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Evan Wood, founder of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, director of the Urban Health Program at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and associate professor in the Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, writes:
In more than four decades since former U.S. President Nixon first declared America's "war on drugs," the battles against spreading disease, increasing violence and the ongoing destruction of families and neighborhoods have been lost ... The global drug war has created a massive illicit market with an estimated annual value of $320 billion ... the astronomical profits created by drug prohibition drive organized crime and its related violence.
From a scientific perspective, we must accept that law enforcement will never meaningfully reduce the flow of drugs ... The laws of supply and demand have simply overwhelmed police efforts. With young people reporting that obtaining illicit drugs is easier than getting alcohol or tobacco, the situation could not get much worse.
The Cato Institute, a respected U.S. think tank, has released a report on alternative drug policies. Several years ago, Portugal parted ways with the U.S. and decriminalized all drugs so that resources could focus on prevention and treatment of drug use. The report shows Portugal's policies have dramatically reduced HIV rates as drug addiction has been viewed as a health, rather than criminal justice, problem. In addition, Portugal now has the lowest rates of marijuana use in the European Union, with experts suggesting that the health focus has taken some of the glamour out of illegal drugs. source
A RAND study claims legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in California could sharply drive down prices for the drug and possibly undercut the tax windfall that supporters have touted ... authors predict retail marijuana prices could drop from $375 an ounce under the state's current medical marijuana law to as low as $38 per ounce and consumers would pay more than that - about $91 an ounce - once taxes imposed by local governments are figured in. source
NOTE: Simply raise the amount of tax. Consumers are used to the $375/oz price. Rather than add some $60/oz in taxes, add a total of $200 or something similar.
One definition of insanity is continuing to do something you know does not work. The failed War on Drugs thus is an insane policy ... taxpayers are residing in the asylum. California offers a chance to change this failed strategy on November 2, 2010. Help us pass the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act. According to the California Board of Equalization, the initiative could generate up to $1.4 billion in annual sales tax revenue to pay for our state's top priorities, like jobs, education, and public safety.
While budget cuts are forcing states across the nation to slash the number of teachers, increase class sized and cut the number of school days, the projected $1,400,000,000 from this initiative would support more than 39,000 new teachers, 30,000 new police officers, or 21,000 new firefighters in California.
As a taxpayer, you are rightly concerned about WASTE. The failed Drug War wastes about $40 BILLION per year. We've overburdened law enforcement, proscecutors, judges and jails. Schools are closing and our demand for drugs destabilizes neighboring countries like Mexico.
Help stop this INSANE policy ...
According to Judge Jim Gray, a conservative California judge, there are six key groups who are winning in the War on Drugs:
(1) Drug Lords
(2) Juvenile Gangs
(3) Law Enforcement
(5) Private sector, such a prison builders and prison guard unions
(You, the taxpayer, are losing! You, the mother or father, trying to protect your children are losing!)
After laying out his case, Gray concludes the most patriotic thing he can do is work to repeal drug laws. See this Reason.tv. comprehensive video and discussion source
Natalie ... the straight-A student, cheerleader and accomplished singer had lost weight and began seeing less and less of her old friends. She was spending a lot of time alone in her room, writing songs and poetry. She started hanging out with a new boyfriend. Soon, she was missing curfew and fighting frequently with her parents. Despite their suspicions, the Ciappas [Doreen and Victor] say it never occurred to them Natalie was using heroin. source
How come the parents were the last to know? This is Part One of the problem. Parents aren't connecting with their kids. No government policy can replace the role of parents. And, parents need to stop making excuses. Get to know your kids!
After Natalie's first overdose, she told her parents, "Oh no, I'm not going [to rehab]. I'll get myself off it." Neither Natilie nor her parents had sufficient knowledge of the power of heroin to make this decision. This is Part Two of the problem. American society remains clueless about these drugs. Why?
The answer ties into Part Three of the problem, as summarized by Detective Lt. Peter Donohue, Nassau County Police Department's Narcotics Vice Squad: "I think we skipped a generation in education. The young kids [and their parents] don't see the perils with heroin."
The majority of drug war money is spent on law enforcement. This has been a complete waste. As the article points out, the price is lower than a six pack of beer; it is deadlier than ever; and, it is easily accessible to teenagers. Yet we skip the education programs.
We have been pursuing this strategy for 30-40 years. Would you call it a success? It's time for change ... and, Yes we can!
A Denver restaurant, serving pizza, lasagna, salads and more, is a unique medical marijuana dispensary for patients who prefer an edible dosage -- and are tired of brownies.
"Dinner Buzz Special," Jenny Fowler wrote on a dry-erase board. "Start with our ganjanade [ganja tapenade], bread and a fat dank joint! Then choose from a slice of pizza or LaGanja [lasagna]. Then top it off with a Ganja Gourmet dessert, your choice, $30." source
Driving down Broadway, it's easy to forget you are in the United States. Amid the antique stores, bars and fast-food joints occupying nearly every block are some of Denver's newest businesses: medical marijuana dispensaries. The locals call this thoroughfare "Broadsterdam." As in Amsterdam, Netherlands, these businesses openly advertise their wares, often with signs depicting large green marijuana leaves.
"The American capitalist system is working," said attorney and medical marijuana advocate Rob Corry. source
The crop has been harvested, and Diane Irwin's secret technique paid off. "Every morning I would go out and talk to my girls," she said, "pray over them and ask them to provide good medicine." Her "girls" are marijuana plants destined for her son Jason's medical marijuana dispensary in Denver. At 48, she has just wrapped up her first season as a pot farmer. Her 62 plants yielded 13 pounds. source
Approval for medical use expands alongside criticism of prohibition
The same day residents of Maine rejected a gay marriage ballot measure, they voted overwhelmingly to allow the sale of medical marijuana over the counter at state-licensed dispensaries. Recently the American Medical Association reversed a longtime position and urged the federal government to remove marijuana from Schedule One of the Controlled Substances Act, which equates it with heroin ... public opinion is changing very, very rapidly. source
Democratic State Assembly member Tom Ammiano has introduced legislation that would legalize pot and allow the state to regulate and tax its sale. This could add billions in revenue to the cash-strapped state. Time points out that:
"Pot is, after all, California's biggest cash crop, responsible for $14 billion in annual sales, dwarfing the state's second largest agricultural commodity - milk and cream - which brings in $7.3 billion annually, according to the most recent USDA statistics. The state's tax collectors estimate the bill would bring in about $1.3 billion in much-needed revenue a year, offsetting some of the billions in service cuts and spending reductions outlined in the recently approved state budget." source
The Economist, 3.5.09, writes, "How to stop the drug wars:"
"... The war on drugs has been a disaster, creating failed states in the developing world even as addiction has flourished in the rich world. By any sensible measure, this 100-year struggle has been illiberal, murderous and pointless. That is why The Economist continues to believe that the least bad policy is to legalise drugs.
... The United States alone spends some $40 billion each year on trying to eliminate the supply of drugs. It arrests 1.5m of its citizens each year for drug offences, locking up half a million of them; tougher drug laws are the main reason why one in five black American men spend some time behind bars.
... Far from reducing crime, prohibition has fostered gangsterism on a scale that the world has never seen before." source
The LA Times, 2.28.09, writes, "A no-win war on drugs":
"... It has been nearly 40 years since President Nixon began the "war on drugs" in 1971. Its objective from the outset was to suppress the manufacture, distribution and consumption of illicit drugs. By all of those measures -- and by common agreement -- the multibillion-dollar effort has been a failure. Supply is plentiful, distribution sophisticated and consumption steady. Today, there is rare consensus among policymakers, law enforcement leaders and healthcare professionals: Our drug policy, they concede, is not working.
... The goal was laudable -- drug use can and does cause profound social harm -- but now we know that the methods chosen to address the problem were flawed. We tried to incarcerate our way out of drug use and succeeded merely in locking up 800,000 people a year on drug charges. Worse, violent cartels, drug mafias and street gangs have created networks of organized crime that stretch from the streets of Los Angeles to the coca fields and jungles of Colombia and Peru." source
Apparently, Michael Phelps smoked marijuana from a bong, or water pipe, in November 2008 -- after winning 8 gold medals in the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games. When the photo of Phelps surfaced in 2009, "America the Hypocritical" demanded action. Never mind that Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Al Gore, John Kerry and our current president, Barack Obama, also smoked marijuana -- as have millions of Americans.
USA Swimming suspended Michael for three months. Kellogg's halted their sponsorship of Phelps claiming his behavior is "not consistent with the image of Kellogg's." The LA Times reported that a mother of a 12-year-old Colorado swimmer said, "I am absolutely appalled. Honestly, absolutely appalled, sickened and saddened."
We believe it is FANtastic that Kellogg's and Phelps aren't working together. What mother would feed their budding Olympic champion Kellogg's crappy food - you know: Austin cookies and crackers, Carr's cookies, Cheez-It, Eggo, Famous Amos, Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, Keebler El Fudge, Keeble Town House, etc. These products are full of processed grains, white sugars, hydrogenated oils -- ingredients that will definitely f*^k you up! A great athlete smokes a little pakalolo and mothers who are poisoning their kids with Kellogg's products claim they are appalled, sickened and saddened. HaHa!
You can express your joy by Just Saying No Thanks to America's hypocrisy. Contact Kellogg's at (800) 962-1413 and thank them for dropping Michael. We don't want this phenomenal athlete being used to promote shitty food for kids and future champions.
Michael, you're still golden with us!
Marijuana is a herb or a weed,
That God himself grew from a tiny seed.
If you've been around it you've probably seen,
It really doesn't make anyone mean.
It doesn't make you lie, kill or steal,
Sometimes it can even help you heal.
So why isn't it legal for you and me?
Because of Officials that don't want to see,
That weed doesn't make you crash up your car,
Though it may make you wish on a star.
That weed doesn't make you start a huge fight;
Though it may make you laugh most the night.
And weed won't make your lungs a big mess,
So come on everyone, give it up, let's confess,
And help Congressman Frank legalize pot!
He just wants our help, that's not a lot!
Let's talk about it now to everyone,
And maybe one day we can toke it in the sun.
Author is me!
Juan Jose Soriano, deputy commander of the Tecate Police Department in northern Mexico, helped U.S. authorities find a drug-smuggling tunnel. That night, while Soriano slept with his wife and baby daughter, two heavily armed men broke into his house and shot him 45 times. The 35-year-old father of three young daughters died in his bedroom. He had lasted two days as the second-in-command of the department. 
This is the cost to civil society because of our failed drug policy. This is risk we put on our law enforcement officers and their families. This is reminiscent of Chicago-style gangster killings during the 1920s prohibition on alcohol. Why are we allowing history to repeat itself? By legalizing marijuana, we take out the criminal element. We can tax the product and use proceeds to educate about the dangers of abuse.
While we recognize there are millions of wonderful things about our country, nothing points to the gross shortcomings of democracy more than the current "War Against Marijuana." Leading scientists, medical professionals, politicians, law enforcement officials and countless other experts AGREE that our current policy on this substance is irrational and counterproductive. Yet we are unable to change direction!
There is little debate that 70-80 percent of Americans want to see a change in policy. At least 12 states have already done so. Nevertheless, the federal government and remaining states continue to push a bad policy on all of us.
It is estimated there are tens of millions of marijuana smokers in the U.S. and hundreds of thousands of citizens, who in every other way are law abiding, who are arrested each year for medical or personal use. Allen St. Pierre, spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), notes that there have been 20 million marijuana-related arrests since 1965 and 11 million since 1990 -- "every 38 seconds a marijuana smoker is arrested." 
Rep. Barney Frank, (D, MA), introduced (7.30.08) House Resolution 5843, Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2008, which would end federal penalties for Americans carrying fewer than 100 grams, almost a quarter-pound, of the substance. He emphasized that our current laws targeting marijuana users place undue burdens on law enforcement resources, punish ill Americans whose doctors have prescribed the substance, and unfairly affect African-Americans.
"The vast amount of human activity ought to be none of the government's business," Frank said during a Capitol Hill news conference. "I don't think it is the government's business to tell you how to spend your leisure time." 
St. Pierre noted that alcohol use is permitted in our country and the government focuses its law enforcement efforts on those who abuse booze or drive under its influence. "We do not arrest and jail responsible alcohol drinkers," he said.
Bill Piper, Drug Policy Alliance Network, remarked that those found guilty of marijuana use can lose their jobs, financial aid for college, their food stamp and welfare benefits or their low-cost housing. The U.S. stance on marijuana, Piper said, "is one of the most destructive criminal justice policies in America today."
Lack of Courage
Because of this irrational policy, you are less safe; your tax dollars are being wasted; and we are less effective at keeping young people from experimenting with marijuana and other drugs -- including alcohol and tobacco. So why do we continue on this failed path? We lack the courage to stand up and demand change!
The bottom line is that advocating for political change is a "death sentence" for most politicians. We seem to label anyone who advocates for change as a "dope smoking" liberal. Any citizen who expresses support for a change in policy must also be a "pot head."
What does this say about us as a nation, as a people? The vast majority of us recognize this failure, yet we are too afraid to stand up and demand a correction? Is this truly the "land of the free and home of the brave"?
It Could Be You!
When the shooting stopped, two dogs lay dead. A mayor sat in his boxers, hands bound behind his back. His handcuffed mother-in-law was sprawled on the kitchen floor, lying beside the body of one of the family pets that police had killed before her eyes. 
This was a tragic and terriblly flawed drug seizure ... We are strong supporters of law enforcement and other public servants. But this failed war on drugs puts these dedicated professionals in an unconscionable position. By changing this failed policy, we can help them keep us safe.
The August incident in Prince George highlights the complexity of law enforcement efforts to stem the flow of drugs. County police officials had burst into the home of Berwyn Heights' mayor, Cheye Calvo, to seize an unopened package of marijuana that an undercover officer had delivered an hour earlier.
Two men had orchestrated a plot to deliver marijuana to the addresses of unsuspecting recipients - in this case, Calvo's wife, Trinity Tomsic. To protect themselves from prosecution, drug trafficers steal names and addresses of potential recipients. Unbeknownest to the recipient, they mail a drug-filled package to their home. They then stake out the house and wait for the delivery. Once it arrives, they either steal the package or rob the unknowing homeowner.
"Trinity was an innocent and random victim of identity theft ... However, Trinity and our family have not been treated as victims of a crime. Instead, our home was invaded. Our two beloved Labrador retrievers are dead. My mother-in-law and I were tied up for nearly two hours," Mayor Calvo said. "We were harmed by the very people who took an oath to protect us."
Police killed one dog, Payton - named for football running back Walter Payton - even though Porter was standing next to him.
Police said the dogs "engaged" officers. Calvo confirmed that Payton probably moved toward the door but would have ultimately done nothing more than lick them.
"He was an aggressive licker," said Calvo.
Chase was shot while running away from sheriff's deputies, Calvo said. "He was hunted down and shot in the back while he fled," he said. "They didn't deserve to die. They don't deserve to be blamed for their deaths." 
The harm we do to millions of Americans doesn't seem to affect us. We continue this failed policy. I hope that the loss of these two, adorable Labrador retrievers may cause you to wake up! This situation could happen to you next.
Our Failure Hurts the World
Due to our illegal drug market, criminals manage the flow of the drugs demanded by Americans. This leads to violence, gang activity and numerous related crimes. To support their international efforts, high-powered automatic weapons and ammunition are flowing virtually unchecked from border states into Mexico, fueling a war among drug traffickers, the army and police and thousands of law abiding Mexican citizens are now dead -- victims of our failed policy.
More than 90 percent of guns seized at the border or after raids and shootings in Mexico have been traced to the United States. Texas, Arizona and California accounted for most of those traced weapons.
The body count, meanwhile, is rising. Since a military-led crackdown on narcotics traffickers began 18 months ago, more than 4,000 people in Mexico have died in drug-related violence, including 450 police officers, soldiers and prosecutors, as well as innocent bystanders, cartel members and corrupt officials, according to Mexican authorities. 
Tom Mangan, a senior ATF special agent in Arizona, compared the flow to reverse osmosis. "Just like the drugs that head north," firearms move south, he said. "The cartels are outfitting an army."
If we developed a new policy, where marijuana was available through legal channels, we could end this corruption and violence. Rather than spending tax dollars to continue failure, we would tax sales. This revenue could be used for education and rehabilitation programs. It's so simple and smart that a 4th grader could think it up -- why then can't our leaders? Why can't you?
 Legislators aim to snuff out penalties for pot use, CNN Online
 Prince George's raid prompts call for probe, Baltimore Sun Online
 U.S. guns arm Mexican drug cartels, LA Times Online
 In Mexico, a police victory against smuggling brings deadly revenge, LA Times Online