Thursday, September 30, 2004

I love opium poppies as an ornamental flower. Every grandmother in the 1950s had a row of them growing in the flower beds around the house. Heck, we had a starter plot of them ourselves at the family home in Connecticut. They spread you know and actually have gorgeous blooms, the petals look like crinkled crepe paper. I believe they are the color Crayola once called Oriental Red.

Thanks to having hosted the Carnival, I received a story about this regal weed. Tim Worstall sent a splendid idea he had last spring on how to beat the prohibitionists at their own game and spread a little beauty in the process. He had me hooked from the second sentence.

Whatever good may be done by reduction in consumption is being completely overpowered by the restrictions on freedoms and outright thuggery of those prosecuting the war.

Read the whole post for his excellent argument on the folly of forfeiture. I love his idea to make the point. You can still buy the seeds to grow these poppies in any grocery store during sowing season. He recommends you buy some but don't plant them in your own yard. The DEA could take your house. He thinks you should share instead.

Yes, you've got it. Find out who your local police chief is. Who's the head of the local D.A.R.E unit? Perhaps the local DA is being a little extreme in his prosecution of drugs cases? What about that judge who gave a life sentence to the guy with ten joints on his third strike?

Tossing a few legally procured seeds over a fence is probably not even a crime yet. He goes on to take a more serious look at the use of this opioid in a subsequent post and his further ruminations on the subject are most illuminating. He remarks that a derivative was commonly available within the last century and society thrived.

I would note that the average dosage of narcotics in mid 19 th century Britain was 127 doses per head per year. That's man, woman and child. One can have all sorts of arguments about the Victorians and colonialism but it is worth noting that the basis for modern society, the huge explosion of wealth of the industrial revolution and the Empire were all built by those who we would today consider hopeless drug addicts.

I have nothing to add to that.

Freedom March shut down in Alabama

I've been home for three days and I feel like I'm already five days behind but I want to post this update on Loretta Nall even though it's a few days old. First of all though, send her a positive thought. I think she's in court this morning for the hearing on her appeal.

The Freedom March on the 25th was unfortunately sparsely attended with only about 40 people showing up to protest unjust sentencing laws. You can hardly blame the people for being afraid to protest in that state. The police don't think much about First Amendment rights there and can make their lives miserable at a later time. The local press got that much of the story right. They downplayed the police intervention however which was significant. According to Loretta's account, the cops refused to acknowledge their permit and engaged in active intimidation to shut the rally down.
They did manage to get in some speeches however, with organizer Roberta Franklin leaving her hospital bed to attend. Michael Blain from the Drug Policy Alliance managed to give a speech and so did Loretta before the cops pulled the plug. Loretta tells me:

I just kept on speaking. Loud and clear were my words of freedom, justice and equality. They rang off the surrounding buildings and echoed through downtown Montgomery. People in buildings and homes, people driving down the street and those shopping nearby heard what I had to say.

It's generally believed Loretta's speech was the reason the police shut them down. As one of the other attendees said “That white girl done pissed the cops off!”

The video report is now up at PotTv and more photos are available here. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Police in Peru stormed an ancient Inca temple to release a group of foreign tourists "taken hostage" by coca growers?

It wasn't as bad as the headline made it sound.

The group was surrounded by around 70 unarmed coca farmers and students as they were touring the Koricancha temple, a popular attraction in Cuzco, one-time capital of the Inca empire. Many tourists heading for Peru's largest tourist attraction - the Machu Picchu citadel - often stop at Cuzco, correspondents say.

The tourists were injured by the tear gas the police used, not by the non-violent protest that was staged to get the government's attention. I would bet cash money that any one of those 19 tourists that really wanted to leave, would have been allowed to do so by the unarmed protesters.

The Peruvian government denies it has failed to honour its annual promise to purchase a quota of the coca crop for legitimate use that is held to be a vital part of indigenous Andean culture. The cocaleros have a message in response that the government does not want to be heard, so it used excessive force to disperse those who would listen. Your US tax dollars are being used to fund this culture war under the umbrella of the war on some drugs.

The coca plant is not a drug until it's processed into cocaine. Don't you think our government should find better ways to spend our money?

Post party blues

Well somehow I managed to get the carnival up in time; I had my doubts at midnight. It took a whole lot longer than I expected but it was fun and I have to admit it was the first time I actually read every single post in the roster. I'll be following up on a couple of those links later today as I received some drug war posts from a few people. It appears this issue cuts across all political spectrums. I also have an update on Loretta Nall that I want to pass on.

Meanwhile I'm a little burned out for working so late last night so I'm just going to chill during my lunch hour today. See you after dark.

COTV - Episode 106: Here on Gilligan's Isle
[Welcome Instapundit readers... Thank you Glenn.]

When I need to just chill out for a while, I watch game shows and old sitcoms. Gilligan has always been one of my favorites. The idea of being shipwrecked on a desert island has always appealed to me and the image rather fits my state of mind tonight after being on the road for so long. And since I'm thus adrift in my personal sea of madness, I'm afraid you're all marooned here with me. I have however, thought up a game to pass the time.

It's our personal Wheel of Fortune and here's how it works. I've broken up the theme song of Gilligan's Island into couplets to head the carnival categories. I have about forty entries in my inbox that I'm going to read now in the order they arrived, and make my comments without looking at the song. Then I'll merge the documents by assigning the posts in a rotating order with the combined document being an answer to the cosmic query. It's either going to be amusing or a disaster. Either way, I'm going with it so put some rum in your coconut and let's mix it all together.

Welcome fellow castaways to my carnival where we will answer the question, (and I've loved the guy since Maynard G. Krebs) what if Bob Denver was running for president?

Everybody sing

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip

Tim Worstall is destined for an appointment as village planner on our island and has some very sensible thoughts on population and taxation.

Of course, we'll be blogging and Peter at PseudoPsalms is looking ahead at The Blogosphere and the Debates. He reminds the candidates this is not your father's debate.

There's no shortage of diversion on this Isle, Josh at Quibbles and Bits is moving the story line along with Part V of The Great Dismal.

That started from this tropic port,
Aboard this tiny Ship.

Pieter at PeakTalk is mediating the dialogue with a post examining the man behind the mangled media preformance and tells us that Bush has a job to do.

Aunty Goob at Goobage (statisticulating with the best, fact-checking the rest), has an illuminating post on Infinite Sales Taxes. I'm not much for number crunching but it made sense to me.

The mate was a mighty sailin' man,
The Skipper brave and sure,

Every ship wreck suffers some losses and Brian Noggle offers up a stirring eulogy for an old friend.

La Shawn Barber's Corner tells us how to get over Blog envy and find our own niche in the blogosphere.

Five passengers set sail that day
For a three hour tour.

A three hour tour. [ sound of thunder: crack! ]

Nick from Conservative Dialysis leads us all in prayer with Helen Thomas: Please God, Make Her Stop!

The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed.

Annie at AmbivaBlog has a theory about "Why we love hurricanes". I think she's right. "Like a destructive toddler secretly relieved to be stopped by a godlike parent, we're appalled by our own power and grateful to have it dwarfed."

Eric at The Resistant Womanwrote his own intro and the post speaks for itself. What Eric of Taken In Hand wants is not a docile submissive woman but a resistant and worthy sparring partner in the battle of life!

If not for the courage of the fearless crew,
The Minnow would be lost.
The Minnow would be lost.

Trudy at DesertLight Journal wants us to find True Awareness for Domestic Violence Month at the DesertLight Journal. She is launching a campaign to combat distortions in an effort to promote full awareness of the issue of domestic violence.

Jeremy the Parableman checks in with a well reasoned argument on Affirmative Action, Part V: Reparations.

The ship's aground on the shore of this
Uncharted desert isle
With Gilligan,

Andrew Ian-Dodge says, I don’t do drugs…I am a Lib-Dem but I don't think he means it.

Abnu at Wordlab rightfully says, "This can't be a good thing."

the Skipper too,

Freeven at mental hiccups wants to know what John Kerry is hiding? He has a long list of suspect items.

The SmarterCop is not impressed that Florida Not Up to Carter's Standards. Another undecided for Bob I think.

The Millionaire and his wife,

Ken Summers at Second Breakfast delivers a double dose of posts on Estate Tax. He pretty well sums it up by noting, " It's tacky to tax death."

The Key Monk has numbers on his mind, he thinks the sky is not falling on the economy and he doesn't believe The Democrats' talk on Voter Fraud. I'm hoping he'll come over and balance my checkbook.

A movie star,

I keep wanting to add her to my sidebar. The ever amusing super sleuth Mad Kane, thanks to a DC insider known only as Debate Throat, has a copy of the Secret Debate Contract Addendum signed by President Bush and Senator Kerry.

Meanwhile, Ashish's Niti explains the checks and balances of the marketplace with Consumers have an upper hand in free markets.

the Professor

Joe Gandelman at the Moderate Voice wants to know why Reuters is in such a snit over the meaning of words. Joe also speaks on Russia's President Vladmir Putin who says he's cracking down on terrorism -- but others believe he's short-circuiting Russia's young democracy. They complain of a laundry list of measures to curtail freedoms proudly held up years ago as an examples of Russia's seemingly-miraculous conversion to democracy. Hmmm sounds somewhat familiar.

Ah, a debate among the castaways. Josh Cohen at responds to an INCITE piece about the UN. He points out a world government CANNOT be viable unless we're all self-actualized. Glad I don't have to judge the winner of this one.

and Mary Ann,

In a surprise move, democrats give conservatives indigestion forgoes politics to talk about man's best friend with a little dog-blogging.

Here on Gilligan's Isle!

QandO Blog said they sent a post on Neolibertarianism and Foreign Policy but as I always say, the universe gives you what you need and the link turned up a list of Things You’d Love to Say at Work, but Can’t which really does work better with the theme.

Message in a bottle: I heard from QandO this morning and they really want you to know about this so here's the link to Neolibertarianism and Foreign Policy. Jon Henke tells us he makes a case for a bit more Hobbesian libertarianism in foreign policy because rigidly ideological Libertarian foreign policy principles are lovely.....less so, if you’re dead.

So this is the tale of our castways,
They're here for a long, long time

Robert of Let's Try Freedom sends an interesting take on getting the judiciary out of the same sex marriage debate.

Asparagus Pee, Gooblek & Other Neat Stuff, (try fitting that on business card) has some timely advice on getting out of debt "the Christian Way.

They'll have to make the best of things,
It's an uphill climb.

You can count on that sly minstrel, Watcher of Weasels to spark up any party of Democrats. He arrives to tell us about A Mythology Wrapped in Ritalin Inside an Enema. Kerry is no threat to his vote for Bob.

Jerome du Bois at The Tears of Things finds Anti-Bush Art Is Puerile.

The first mate and the Skipper too,
Will do their very best,

John Beck at Incite keeps hearing the word, "Disingenuous," used to describe John Kerry & his campaign. He thinks they couldn't have picked a better word but he offers up a lot of synomyms just in case you have a favorite. I'm marking him down as an undecided for Bob.

Interested Participant noticed that Russia Wants Help Fighting Terrorism but the dark and mysterious forces Putin referred to are those of the United States.

To make the others comfortable,
In their tropic island nest.

Jack the bard behind The People's Republic of Seabrook (who couldn't have a more perfect graphic for our theme) warns us that Niccolo Machiavelli lives and counts the ways an election can be "lost".

Tex the Pontificator is a student of human nature and believes if we are seen as being strong, we are less likely to be attacked again. Yet another good reason to vote for Bob.

No phone! No lights! No motor cars!
Not a single luxury,

The delightfully stylish Spirit Fingers has some pithy suggestions for the politicians on how to dress for campaign success.

THE BIG PICTURE, still fitting in our theme has a roundup of pix reminding the candidates of the importance of being photogenic.

Like Robinson C-ru-soe, it's primitive as can be.

Eric at Classical Values makes some observations on violence. He advises: People who think murder is cool should watch a beheading video. Yuck. I think I'll pass on that one myself. Never could stand the sight of blood.

So join us here each week my friends,
You're sure to get a smile,

I'm a pushover for naturalists, so I love Rogue Pundit, who has discovered Morphine-less Opium Poppies and Pain Relief. Australian farmers call the mutant poppy "Norman" (for no morphine) and it bleeds pink instead of white. This could mean a breakthrough for non-addictive pain relief.

Funny how this theme is working out. The candidates might want to break out the sunscreen. Bill at Idler Yet has an analysis on the Immense political significance of Kerry's sun-tan.

From forty-seven stranded castways,
Here on "Gilligan's Isle."

[Lyrics thanks to rickanddarvagossip"]

Life Raft Award: Vik the Prolific is the last one in and we give him special dispensation for being late since in he sent in posts from three different blogs. Posted without review:
Dissecting Leftism shows that the neo-Nazis of modern Germany are just as socialist as Hitler was.

Socialized Medicine tells how a botched diagnosis led to a public hospital patient having her leg amputated.

Political Correctness watch discusses the politics of the Atkins diet.

So what do think folks? I admit handpicking the first five entries but after that I let them fall at random. I thought it answered the question and I'll be staying right here to ponder the meaning of all this but for those of you who want to make a run for the rescue ship, the carnival will be moving on to:

October 6th - Incite
October 13th - Conservative Dialysis
October 20th - The People's Republic of Seabrook
October 27th - The Twins Tell the Truth
November 3rd - Quibbles & Bits
November 10th - D-42
November 17th - Food Basics
November 24th - blogborigmi
December 1st - Ashish's Niti

Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Hemp Food industry wins big

It appears the DEA knows a losing battle when it sees it this time and will not be appealing the 9th Circuit's ruling allowing the sales and consumption of hemp food thus ending a three year battle between the feds and the hemp food industry.

"It's a great legal victory," said John W. Roulac, chief executive of Nutiva, a Sebastopol, Calif., producer of hemp protein powder and nutrition bars.

Indeed it is. Nice to have some good news for a change.
Fortune of a soldier

The trip home was rather uneventful. I did however meet a young marine at the airport who had just returned from Afghanistan. We talked for a long time and he had photos with him. I don't know quite what to make of the encounter.

Some of the photos were of the trip over on the boat. The sea behind him looked very blue, as was the sky. He and his fellow Marines, barely in their 20s, looked so young and enthusiastic - laughing and horsing around for the camera. The next series were from the ground in Afghanistan. They were stark and harsh as the blazing sun. He was there for 74 days.

They told his unit that they would be doing 5 day operations, returning to a base camp at intervals. Instead it turned into a 74 day mission. They didn't get a shower the whole time. They had no changes of clothes. He had brought five pairs of socks and told of how he would use one of his 12 allotted bottles of water to try to wash them in a MRE bag. He told of men removing the skin off their feet when they took their boots off. Men wringing blood out of their socks from foot diseases and men being taken off the field by helicopter when taken ill with intestinal maladies from the lack of hygiene. Quite a few left that way.

He saw and confiscated a small but significant amount of processed drugs. They would turn the drugs in to higher ups who sent them on to some undefined central clearinghouse. He wasn't sure where that was or what was done with them. I didn't mention my theory on it. They did nothing about eradicating plants. He spent several days doing reconnaissance from the middle of a huge poppy field however. He thought it was amusing. He was surprised when I asked if he found it to be visually beautiful, as if it hadn't occurred to him to even think about it in that way. He reflected for a moment and said yeah, actually it was, as if he had just realized it.

He said there was only one road in the whole country and that was in bad shape from the bombings. His unit was in the center of the country and spent their tour hiking on goat trails and open land. Sometimes the "insurgents" would surrender when they saw them coming and were glad to see the unit arrive. The Aghanis apparently like the MREs better than the soldiers do. Other times they had to broadcast insults in Arabic to flush "them" out. He never spoke of the Afghanis by name and couldn't define who the "enemy" was. They had a list of high profile targets and didn't find a one of them. He was pretty sure that we would never find bin Laden if he was hiding out in that area. "There's a million hiding places," he said.

He was proud of his mission. He found some small caches (he called them cachets) of guns. He didn't have to kill anybody. The biggest threat they faced in the end was boredom. There was nothing to do, sitting in the blazing sun in full uniform, they would shoot at stray goats and donkeys and any wildlife that happened to come within range. This bothered me. I asked him (hopefully) if they at least ate the animals to relieve the boredom of the MRES but they didn't. "Don't you think the locals might depend on those animals for milk and food?" I asked. He replied, "Yeah, maybe, but sitting day after day, just waiting like that, you go a little stir crazy. You gotta do something."

I wanted to ask a lot more questions but my plane was boarding. In the end, even though I think his orders and what we are doing there is dangerous and destructive; I told him it was bad to kill the villagers' livestock but I thanked him for going there and going through all that to keep our country safe. He was visibly startled. He clearly expected a obvious liberal to say something - well - hateful. I did it because even if I don't think it helped, I know he believed it did and was doing the best he could for this country while risking his life for misguided leaders in the process.

In the last group of photos, he and his buddies were in Croatia. These pix featured girls and tables filled with copious amounts of beer. They were smiling in these photos too but this time they looked a whole lot older.

Home again

Damn. Blogger just ate my post so this is the abbreviated version.

I made it back last night but I was pretty disoriented for a few hours. I barely recognize my own computer and I kept looking for the now absent console to shift the car but I'm adjusting. My todo list is daunting which includes putting up the Carnival which I have barely started and answering phone calls. It's very weird to have so many messages. I don't get this many calls when I'm here. It also appears I have something of a new beau. Half the messages were from him.

I was happy to find my garden alive if overgrown and the trees have barely started to turn so I didn't miss any of the fall foliage. I was less happy to find I still have terrible water pressure in the shower, (I'd almost forgotten) and it's dismally grey and cold. I've had to turn on the heat already today.

In any event, be it ever so humble, there's no hovel like home and it's good to be here.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Homeward Bound

It appears I'm going to wrap up my business here a little earlier than expected and I'll be traveling tomorrow, on my way home. It's a little bittersweet. I'll be glad to get back to my own space again and I'm glad to able to attend to the loose ends I didn't get to before I so abruptly left but I'll also miss my family. It's been a long while since I saw them for such an extended period of time and it reminded me of how much I love them all. It will be a little weird to wake up on Tuesday and be so far away again.

On the plus side, I will be home with my own computer and have the day to myself on Tuesday to get the Carnival up on time. I've been preparing to leave here so I haven't even looked at the latest entries yet but I recognize a lot of the names and I'm looking forward to being able to read them all at something resembling leisure.

Meanwhile, I have an early flight, hoping to beat the hurricane so I won't be posting again until tomorrow evening.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Call to Action - Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

Thanks to Jeralyn at Talk Left for reminding me about this upcoming bill in the House of Representatives. Ben Masel had alerted me to this last week when I couldn't get to a computer and it would have slipped past me without my having taken any action otherwise. You can contact your representative easily in a few clicks through Marijuana Policy Project and simply send their prewritten letter or use their template to send one of your own. I generally do the latter and sent the following using their instant messaging feature. Feel free to cut and paste my version if you like (using your own representative's name of course). If you don't know who that is, MPP will figure it out for you by using the address info you supply.

Dear Mr. Neal:

I urge you to oppose the Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act (H.R. 4547) and to cosponsor the Justice in Sentencing Act of 2004 (H.R. 5103).

Further, I urge and expect you to work to restore judicial discretion across the board and repeal all mandatory minimum sentencing that is currently hamstringing justice in America.

We appoint judges to weigh the facts and then make a reasoned decision to fit a punishment to the crime. Let them do their job or we might as well just abolish the entire criminal justice system and have defendants submit to a computer program, which is virtually what happens under mandatory minimums anyway.

I will be watching for your vote on these bills and will remember how you voted come November when it's time to reassess your job performance.

Thank you in advance for doing the right thing and voting against HR 4547 and supporting HR 5103.


Libby Spencer

Don't wait. Do it right now while you're thinking of it.

Prohibition Profiteer caught with his pants down

D'Alliance has the ultimate post on SSDP media director Tom Angell's recent battle with a creepy and rather illiterate drug testing kit marketer who thinks spending 25 years profiting from failed drug war policies qualifies him to discredit the results of a scientific survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that would cut into his business. The results being that drug testing does not in any way reduce drug use among teenagers.

Baylen posted the letters in full so I won't repeat them but do click over and have a look. It's a hilarious exchange and I can just picture Mr. Cholakis choking on his morning coffee when he read Tom's response. The only way this could have been funnier is if there was video of an in-person debate. I've been on a discussion list with Tom for years now and had the good fortune to meet him at the DPA conference last year. He's still a young guy with an apt name. He has an absolutely angelic demeanor and looks more like a choir boy than a drug policy reformer; not to mention he is extraordinarily polite. I picture Chokalis a big slob with food stains on his tie.

It's young folks like Angell who give me hope for the furture of this country. Way to go Tom.

Carnival of the Vanities

I'm hosting this week and I already have a few RSVPs so it should be a fun time. I finally had an idea for a pretty cool theme if I can make it work. It's a little daunting to come up with something original in the face of all the creativity before me. Oddly enough it did come to me in a dream.

For those who want to join in the festivities please send the customary info, Blog Name, URL, Title of post, permalink if you have them and an excerpt or summary if you like, by Tuesday night at 10:00pm. Email either to or to my new account at See you at the party.

By the way since I just started the Gmail account, I have several invitations to give away, (I'm sure you know you can only get an account by invitation while it's still in beta), so if you want an invite to that let me know.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: For newcomers to the carnival, the content of my blog has nothing to do with the acceptance of your entry. You don't have to take drugs, (I don't use them either by the way) nor do you have to advocate for drug policy reform in order to participate. Everyone is invited, no one is turned away at the door and your post can be about any subject that you like.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Alaska moves forward on cannabis legalization

Pete at Drug WarRant has the latest on the new initiative that will appear on the ballot in Alaska this November. Hot on the heels of the recent Alaskan Supreme Court ruling making possession of four ounces or less legal in one's own home and barring search warrants to be issued unless law enforcement could prove a reasonable expectation of finding a larger quantity, a group called Yes on 2 has begun campaigning in earnest for a ballot measure to legalize and regulate marijuana in the state. Organizers appear to have learned from an earlier failed attempt brought forward in 2000. They've recruited a carefully selected group of spokespeople to help make their pitch, including a biomedical professor, a former high-ranking state corrections officer and a prominent Republican Party official and are asking less of voters in an attempt to make the measure more appealing.

"The legalizers have done a good job this time," said former U.S. Attorney Wev Shea, who backed a 1990 initiative to criminalize pot in Alaska and was also a key spokesman against legalization in 2000. "Have you seen the commercials? ... They're really professional."

Shea and his fellow prohibitionists are concerned that there is no organized opposition this time around and are calling for a counter-campaign based on the same tired old propaganda that has been disproved time and time again. They have an uphill battle against the likes of Bill Parker, a former legislator and deputy commissioner of corrections in Alaska from 1995 until his retirement in 2002.

Parker said in a recent interview that Alaskans should vote for Ballot Measure 2 because it would protect individual privacy rights, stop the government from wasting taxpayer dollars to fight marijuana and regulate the drug in a way that will make it harder for kids to get but easier for adults to obtain legally. Drug dealers don't discriminate between children and adults by asking for an ID, Parker said.

Meanwhile, as Pete at Drug WarRant notes, ONDCP underling, Jennifer de Vallance remarking on the funding for Yes on 2 is whining that, "There is no well-funded political movement to keep our society safe." That's choice coming from someone who profits from the current prohibition and whose agency squanders millions of your tax dollars annually on such insipid schemes as the ineffective anti-drug ads equating marijuana use with teenage pregnancy and terrorism that actually contributed to an increase in teenage drug experimentation.

Guess who's Not coming to the ballot box this year?

If you have any extra cash lying around that you want to donate to a worthy cause, send it to the Drug Policy Alliance. They are currently engaged in a campaign to restore the voting rights of the one to 1.5 million nonviolent drug offenders who lost that right upon their convictions. Hundreds of thousands of those were convicted of nothing more than simple possession. If you donate between now and November 2, your donation will be doubled by a matching grant. For more information, go to the site.
Historic picture gallery

Andrew Garret is curator of the Medical Marijuana Picture gallery. The photos are not exactly artistic but form an interesting collection of medical marijuana applications from years past, running the gamut from cures for our kids to cures for our critters. I find it particularly significant that some of major pharmaceutical companies who are still supplying us with prescription drugs today are so well represented in the offerings.

Afghanistan's Catch-22

It's no big secret that opium poppy production has increased since we "liberated" the country to the point where it now supplies 3/4 of the world's heroin. It's also well known that the profits are enriching warlords, corrupt government officials and financing the resurgence of the Taliban. The trade, comprising a third of the country's economy, has become so lucrative as to be irresistible to the struggling indigenous peasants and since we bombed the country into smithereens, there is virtually no other way to make money anyway, so record levels of poppy cultivation are being reported in areas not previously used for this purpose.

Pentagon spokesperson, Peter Rodman say the drugs trade is corrupting Afghan government institutions and that without vigorous eradication, security would not improve quickly. The trouble is if the US attempts to institute a Plan Colombia style eradication program, the ensuing uprising in the no-man's land outside of Kabul would make the insurgency in Iraq look like child's play.

For more background on this story, read my posts here, here, here, here, here and especially here.

Loretta Nall to address Freedom Marchers

Funny, I was thinking of Loretta yesterday and then received this press release today.

ALEXANDER CITY, Al. – September 23, 2004 (ALMJP) – Alabama Marijuana Party founder Loretta Nall will speak on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol on Saturday, September 25th.

Mrs. Nall will be addressing Saturday’s “Freedom March”, an event organized by talk radio hostess and prisoner’s rights advocate Roberta Franklin. Participants will rally at the Court Square Fountain at 11 a.m. and then march up Dexter Avenue to the capitol, where speakers will address the audience.

The event is sponsored by Family Members of Inmates and has attracted support from The Drug Policy Alliance, The Justice Policy Institute and concerned citizens from across the state. The march will focus attention on Alabama’s Habitual Offender law, harsh drug laws and prison overcrowding.

This is an especially meaningful issue for her as she is due in court on September 30 for her appeal to a conviction for 2nd degree Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Paraphernalia.

Mrs. Nall, who maintains her innocence, was arrested in a November 2002 raid on her home less than a week after the Birmingham News published her letter to the editor in which she called for citizens to vote and change Alabama's drug laws..

Since that time she has founded and organized 35 state chapters of the US Marijuana Party, has hosted the News (see ) for 12 months , interviewing Jesse Jackson and Dennis Kucinich in regards the drug war in America. Loretta Nall has appeared in Rolling Stone Magazine,, and numerous daily newspapers across North America on behalf of her campaign to reduce the destructive effects of prohibition in America. She recently returned from war-torn Colombia, South America where she studied the affects of aerial fumigation on the food crops of peasant farmers as carried out under U.S. Plan Colombia. Currently, she is assisting in guiding a medical marijuana bill through the Alabama state legislature in concert with the Drug Policy Alliance and was recently appointed to an advisory board being commissioned at the request of Alabama’s Prison Commissioner. She also plans to run for Governor of Alabama in 2006.

She certainly has our endorsement for that office.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Safe injection site saving lives

Although he's got the kindest heart of anyone I know, my Dad is a gruff kind of guy. When I was telling him about these sort of programs he said, "Good, give the bums enough heroin to overdose and they won't be a problem anymore." He doesn't really mean it of course and I'm sure he would be glad to hear how the one-year review of Vancouver's safe injection site shows the facility is not only saving addict's lives (72 drugs users in 107 incidents since last March, one of which required CPR) but is also helping them change their lives for the better.

There are an average of 588 injections at the site every day – with a major spike in heroin use on "welfare Wednesdays."

Their all time record so far is 845 injections during the 18-hour period but they are also guiding people in kicking the habit.

He says two to four clients a day are referred to addiction treatment programs, with at least one person a week referred to methadone treatment.
The report says a total of 262 users have been referred to addiction counselling in the past six months. Another 78 were referred to withdrawal management programs, such as detox.

The evaluator, Dr. David Marsh, says he's looking forward to two more years of detailed evaluation, to find what works and what can be improved.

[News release] Bush Administration Has Until September 27 to File Hemp Appeal to Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, DC - The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and manufacturers of hemp seed products who won on February 6 their 2 ½-year old court battle to keep hemp foods legal in HIA v. DEA are optimistic that they are just days away from final victory over the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) 2001 attempted ban. The Bush Administration has until September 27 to appeal to the Supreme Court the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision from earlier this year. Sales of hemp foods in the U.S. will be permanently protected if the Bush Administration does not appeal by the September 27 deadline.

"Manufacturers of healthy foods containing omega-3 rich hemp nut and oil are confident that the Administration cannot win an appeal to the Supreme Court," says David Bronner, Chair of the HIA's Food and Oil Committee and President of Alpsnack/Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. "The three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit unanimously ruled that the DEA ignored the specific Congressional exemption in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) that excludes hemp fiber, seed and oil from control along with poppy seeds. The Court reasonably viewed as insignificant and irrelevant harmless trace amounts of THC in hemp seed, just like harmless trace amounts of opiates in poppy seeds," says Bronner. Fighting the DEA's attempted ban has cost hemp companies over $200,000, but in a surprising twist, attacks on the hemp food industry have actually energized the hemp food marketplace. "Since the hemp food ban was announced in October of 2001, awareness about hemp food's nutritional value and sales has increased," says Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. "With more hemp food products on the market than three years ago, a Bush Administration appeal will only further embarrass the DEA while helping drive sales. Appealing the decision would be a last-ditch effort to save face at the expense of taxpayers and limited law enforcement resources."

Hemp Foods are Safe and Nutritious - DEA Rules Were Ridiculous! Hemp seed is one of the most perfect nutritional resources in all of nature. In addition to its excellent flavor profile, the seed meat protein supplies all essential amino acids in an easily digestible form and with a high protein efficiency ratio. But most importantly, hemp seed and oil offer high concentrations of the two essential fatty acids (EFAs) in a perfect ratio of the omega-3/omega-6 acids. EFA's are the "good fats" that doctors recommend as part of a healthy, balanced diet. This superior nutritional profile makes hemp nut (shelled seed) and oil ideal for a wide range of functional food applications and as an effective fatty acid supplement. Not surprisingly, hemp nut and oil are increasingly used in natural food products, such as breads, frozen waffles, cereals, nutrition bars, meatless burgers and salad dressings.

Unfortunately, because of their paranoia DEA has confused non-psychoactive industrial hemp varieties of cannabis with psychoactive varieties, and thus the U.S. is the only major industrialized nation to prohibit the growing of industrial hemp.

Here's hoping all that will change on the 28th.

Cultural Baggage rated number one in Houston

I was fortunate enough to meet Dean Becker (far left in photo) last year at the Drug Policy Alliance conference. He is a tireless activist for drug policy reform, has conducted hundreds of interviews with some of the best minds inside the movement and has relentlessly harangued those addle brained prohibition profiteers who dare to face his microphone. To date, drug czar John Walters has declined to face up to Becker's sharp wit and probing questions but many have and he has hours of archived audio at his site. Also newly added, thanks to friends of Cultural Baggage, are written transcripts of the programs.

Dean makes no virtually money on this project, he has simply dedicated his life to ending this insane war on some drugs and does so at the expense of his own comfort and security. I'm told he lives on practically no money whatsoever in order to continue this important work. It's good to see him get some recognition in his own hometown of Houston, even if the reporter was a little snarky about his style. Don't believe the characterization. He's a brilliant and succinct interviewer. Check out his site and buy some merchandise to help him out.

Back to work

I'm so behind on email and newsletters at this point that I'll just be posting sort of randomly in the next couple of days as I catch up and find items of interest. First off let's review what's going on in my bloggerhood. Pete at Drug WarRant has two new election guides up, and a whole lot of roundups on what's going in the blogosphere as well including a surprisingly spot on post by my nemesis, Mark Kleiman and links to drug war stats at Radley Balko's Agitator. The Agitator is new to me although he's been around for some time apparently. Eleven Day Empire also pointed us to Radley's excellent post on alcohol prohibition this week that illustrates just how senseless it is to dictate personal consumption of anything.

Baylen at D'Alliance has the scoop on anything Pete may have missed and additional commentary on what's hot in drug policy reform. Just start at the top and keep scrolling. Be sure not to miss his post on drug war policy in Russia and decrim of marijuana in Chicago.

And Vice Squad celebrated their one year anniversary on Monday. Congrats to the team over there and check out today's Vice Wire that's full of interesting links including a piece on the new generation of drug lords emerging in Colombia. It appears they have modernized production and delivery and turned the whole business into more of a free market model.

New poll on Netscape

I just happened to notice there is a new poll on the Netscape home page today that accompanies a story on marijuana. The poll is currently running at 87% in favor of complete legalization for adults. Check it out. You can take the quiz as well but be advised that the answers were derived from prohibitionist propaganda and are not particularly accurate. They do have some truth to them but it's out of context and the questions are clearly designed to villify the plant.
Carnival Time

I was sorry to miss the party at Eleven Day Empire but being stuck with filtered library access only this week, I wasn't able to bring up my page to get the permalinks. I really like James' blog over there, he could hardly be called liberal but I find him very sensible which I always think is more important. Check him out and of course be sure to cruise through this week's entries with a very cool Star Wars theme.

The party is here next week and I already have a few RSVPs so it should be a fun time if I ever come up with a cool theme myself. It's a little daunting to come up with something original in the face of all the creativity before me. I'm hoping something will come to me in a dream.

For those who want to join in the fun here please send the customary info, Blog Name, URL, Title of post, permalink if you have them and an excerpt or summary by Tuesday night at 10:00pm. Email either to or to my new account at See you at the party.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Home is where the heart is

It feels like a long time since I've been in the place I actually call my own home and I haven't spent this much continuous time with my family since I left the home I grew up in, but somehow tonight all these houses I've been temporarily living in all feel like home to me. As I was driving back today from Statesville I realized it's going to feel somehow lonely to be in my own space again in about a week. Well maybe lonely is the wrong word, I have many friends that I also love dearly in Noho, but I will miss the proximity I have here to the people I love the best in this world. I think it will feel odd for a while to be so far away again.

It was so great to spend time with my Dad but it was also scary. In my head, he is still the same young and dashing man with a thick mop of black curly hair who could fix anything that's broken, solve any problem and made me feel safe when the world was frightening. And he still builds bird houses and grows a garden and loves maps and the weather as much as I do. I guess I learned all those things from him. It's really difficult for me to accept that he's 75 now, needs a cane to walk and he's gone quite bald in the last six years. Even though I see him so rarely, I can't begin to imagine my life without him in it but this trip made me realize that no matter how much I deny the possibility, the day will come when he won't be there.

Nonetheless, when I'm with him, I can believe he will always be there for me and I'm so lucky to have a Dad that I can tell anything to without fear of recrimination. Being a Luddite and all of course, he has never actually read this blog but he was keenly interested in what I was doing with it. I love that I could tell him and my mom Helen why I came out of the closet and admitted publicly I was a cannabis consumer. I told them I smoked every day for 37 years and they didn't blink. They weren't worried about the family name and their reputations nor did they gently mock me as my sister sometimes does. They were proud that I was making a difference doing something that I care strongly about and supportive of my work. When I was done talking Dad looked at me and said, "I don't think they should legalize cocaine and heroin because they destroy lives but the government should absolutely legalize marijuana. It doesn't hurt anybody and they would make a ton of money on it." How cool is that?

And speaking of my work here, I'm burned out from the drive and spending the last two hours trying to get through 500 backed up emails so please check in tomorrow when I expect to get back to the breaking news on the drug war.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Taking the day off

I haven't been able to access my blog itself from here but I have reports from those outside the Bush Bible belt that it did publish yesterday. Always good to know I didn't waste the time I could have spent with the family.

Meanwhile, it's my last day here and I want to take the folks on this riverboat cruise down at the lake so I won't be posting today. As always the fine blogs on the sidebar will keep you informed in my absence.

See you all (around here I guess that would be y'all) tomorrow night.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Family Reunion

Well here I am in lovely downtown Statesville. This place could be any town America. Kind of like a Norman Rockwell feeling to the place and although I actually haven't walked around the downtown yet, just driving through it had a feel somewhat reminiscent of lovely downtown Noho. Unfortunately, the only internet cafe in town apparently shut down a couple of months ago so I'm limited to the local library access at the moment. I'm actually surprised that the kid-filter here let me into the blog. I would thought all those "bad" words on my blog would have tripped the alarm system.

Meanwhile, it is so great to be hanging with Dad and Helen (who I consider to be my "real" mom). It turned out to be an impromptu family reunion. I haven't seen them in six years. My sister and her husband showed up and step sister Linda lives next door so she was there. Then as luck would have it, Aunt Bertha and Uncle Buddy were coming through town on their way to Florida to survey their apparently ruined vacation home and stopped in unexpectedly as well with their daughter Barbara who is also in my age range.

Linda is a fabulous cook and we had a dinner that could not be beat. With so many of us, the "sisters" (we're all in the same age range) ate on the front porch and traded stories about our horrible luck with men. Of course my sister Anne has been married to Harry for decades and he wandered out briefly to see why we were laughing so hard. He disappeared as soon as he heard the word sex bandied carelessly about.

The ride out was not that pleasant, the highway was crowded right up until I was about 40 miles out but the scenery was beautiful from there. You know you're in hillbilly country though when you start seeing the confederate flags flying right under the stars and stripes on the flagpoles. It's also surprisingly cold here. It gets down to the high 40s at night and the days haven't been mush over 70 degrees in the heat of the day.

My hotel room is hysterical. I took the cheapest room I could find, (with the tourist coupon) at the allegedly remodeled Motel 6. It's quiet and it actually has a great view. It looks over an empty field full of wildflowers and in the morning you can hear the birds even though I'm quite close to the highway. I had a choice of three hotels within the block but chose this one because you can open the windows. Ironically with the cold nights I've also had to turn on the heat which fortunately works very well.

The hotel itself is quite run down, stains on the interior corridor carpeting and my bathroom has great water pressure in the shower but the corner of the toilet tank lid is broken off and the skin drain stopper is missing the little handle so it's just a metal rod sticking up from the sink. The bed is comfortable enough however and it's an easy three minute drive from Dad's so it's been something of tradeoff but I'm happy enough and what can you expect for $30 a night anyway?

So blogging in any event is likely to be lighter than I expected although I will try to get in for an update once a day, I hate to waste a second of time I could be spending with Dad. So, if I disappear, expect to see me back on track by Wednesday night.

UPDATE: Well I can't preview the post, (I assume becasue of the filter) so I'm hoping this actually publishes. I'll be bummed if I just wasted the time writing all this down for nothing. Keeping my fingers crossed...

Sunday, September 19, 2004

One last side trip

I'm off to see my Dad for a few days this morning. Not likely to post again today as Dad is a Luddite and refuses to get a computer, however I have already located an internet cafe in his town so I should be back on-line by tomorrow.

Meanwhile be sure to check out the the Drug WarRant. Pete has some new information posted of interest to us, including the scoop on Montel Williams new show and you can keep track of breaking news using the blogs on the sidebar.

Enjoy your Sunday. It appears it's going to be a beatiful day for a drive here.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

In my own backyard

Thanks to my friend Karen for sending in today's stupid eradication story from Worthington, MA. This one hits close to home; I used to live out in those hills and truth be told, I had a grow in a swamp on the other side of that town about 20 years ago. I also named my plants and grew them in five gallon pails but I didn't label them. It would have been like putting a name tag on your own children. It's not necessary, you know them by sight, even if they're identical twins.

I probably know a lot of the 50 people involved in this one personally, certainly almost every guy from Cummington who helped on that operation. They're actually decent guys and I'd bet money they volunteered their time, just because that's what they do out there in the hilltowns. Nonetheless there's still the matter of the tax dollars being wasted on National Guard helicopters being used to find the plants and what the hell is the Worthington PD doing flying around looking for pot anyway after eight years? This smells of Bush's avowed crackdown on pot smokers.

The article doesn't say how many there were but doing the math on the information available it appears they found 250 plants in an area 300 by 60 feet square which does give each plant a fair amount of space. Again however, although the plants were four to five feet tall, it doesn't mean a thing unless they had significant buds and I doubt they did. The plants could have been 20 feet tall, without the flowers they are still pretty much worthless and you just don't get high yield buds outdoors there anyway.

It's been a cold summer in New England and even in a warm summer they would have just started seriously budding out now. You don't harvest for another month up there and you hope like hell you don't get beat by the frost. That's part of the reason you put in the swamp. The water protects it somewhat from the frosty mornings. And even if they managed to get some decent bud activity and assuming they had good seed stock there is no way the grower would have ended up with eight ounces of dried buds from one plant which is what they would have to get to make them worth $2,000 each.

I can picture this operation in my mind, I can almost hear the banter - I know the way these guys talk and I know the land they're treading. Although I'm just as irritated that they wasted the resources on chasing down harmless plants, this one makes me more sad usual, not only because these guys were ruining what was obviously a grow that someone really cared about and but also that guys like the Forgeas and Dennis Anderson, that I otherwise really like, would have participated in such a stupid effort and have been party to perpetrating such misinformation.

Funny world.

Marc Emery Speaks

Marc is still in jail of course and has expressed some dissatisfaction with NDP leader Jack Layton's silence over his imprisonment for sharing a joint. Layton was a beneficiary of Emery's largess in the recent election. Marc stumped for the party, signed up thousands of new members, paid for literature and donated generously to fundraising efforts. In light of Marc's contribution, although fellow NDP member, MP Libby Davies issued what was called a joint statement decrying Marc's plight, Layton's silence is still somewhat deafening.

As I recall, when I still had time to participate in forums, there was a lively discussion going on at Cannabis Culture on whether Marc's Marijuana Party should merge with the NDP at that time. I was one of the few that said they were risking losing their own momentum by casting their lot with Layton without some guarantee of further action on behalf of cannabis issues. I wish I hadn't been right, but Marc not being one to dwell on his losses intends to run a full slate of Marijuana Party candidates in the next go around.

Meanwhile however, Marc's supporters continue to hold daily vigil outside the provincial courthouse in Saskatoon on his behalf. They also staged a very successful rally on September 11 that was well attended despite terrible weather. Word has it there was much smoking of cannabis at the event and no police presence outside of a call made by festival organizers for an investigation into a stolen purse.

Local authorities said they were unaware of the rally, a rather disingenous statement considering the publicity prior to the event. One expects they simply did not want to add fuel to the simmering outrage of thousands of Marc's supporters who are organizing many political actions on his behalf including a mass mailing expected to result in 50,000 "Free Marc Emery" postcards to be delivered to the Justice Minister within the month.

Marc of course has long been a great hero of mine in this movement and we at Last One Speaks are with him and his supporters in spirit and solidarity. Last word to Marc:

"I have been in this jail for 24 days," continued Emery, "and God willing I will be released in 38 more. 62 days of my life stolen from me. And yet it goes on every day in courtrooms across Canada, lives are ruined and stolen because of alcohol-drinking lawyers, cops, judges and politicians.

"They despise our beautiful culture of tolerance, acceptance, unity, brotherhood and wonderment. They hate us for our goodness. We must shine light on their darkness, use truth to counter lies, and love to melt their hate."

"No job will be harder that to liberate Saskatchewan from the the dark grip of backwardness, bigotry and the peverse urge to punish," said Emery. "But we will liberate this province, and we will bring the whole country to the glory of a free nation once and for all, one nation under cannabis!"

Visit the website and show your support today.

Save the children

Kid's issues have been crossing my radar screen this week and the news is not good. To begin with, Sheldon Richman draws the parallels between the war on some drugs and social engineering designed to ensure our children grow up to be compliant exploitable workers. The U.S. Bureau of Education admitted as far back as 1914, "The public schools exist primarily for the benefit of the State rather than for the benefit of the individual."

What does this have to do with the war on some drugs? As Richman puts it,

... the "war on drugs" is an exercise in authoritarianism that has nothing to do with the welfare of the American people. Its purpose is to persuade people that only the government stands between them and mayhem. The key to the state's objective is making us believe that addiction chooses us and not the other way around. This is a lie exposed by the many responsible people who enjoy drugs in moderation the way others enjoy cocktails.

A lie that even former drug czar Bill (gambling is not an addiction) Bennett exposed in his 1989 introduction to National Drug Control Strategy, published by the ONDCP.

Non-addicted drug users still comprise the vast bulk of our drug involved population. The non-addicted casual or regular user . . . is likely to have a still-intact family, social, and work life. He is likely still to "enjoy" his drug for the pleasure it offers.

The government excuses its fascist tactics in the name of protecting our young people. Sheldon makes a good case for why it's far more dangerous to allow the prohibition profiteers to frighten you into allowing dangerous and unnecessary raids like Goose Creek to be perpetrated on your children in the name of safety than it would to simply allow them to experiment with drugs. Most kids will try them once or twice and not like them. The ones that abuse them have psychological issues that have little to do with the substances themselves.

The irony of this is the Bush administration's current proposal to test the mental health of every school kid in America would end up dispensing Ritalin, (already mandated as a behavior modifier for many "problem" students), or even worse legal pharmaceutical drugs at unprecedented levels. And by the way, this is just a beginning. Bush would like to extend mandatory mental health testing to encompass every single person in the United States!

As bad as all this sounds, for children in South America the situation is even worse. Your tax dollars are being used, directly or indirectly, to finance the wholesale murder of innocent children under the auspices of fighting the war on some drugs, whose only crime is to live in poverty in the slums of every country on that continent. These children can't help being born into a place where the drug culture is not only inescapable but often the only means of support and they have been executed by local police for as little as being in possession of one marijuana cigarette. I dare you to read the whole thing and still find any aspect of the war on some drugs supportable.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Alaska leads the way to sensible cannabis policy

I've been following this story for a long time with particular interest because my brother has been living in Anchorage for almost 20 years now and although he's offered to send me a ticket, I've never managed to get there to see his place. Places, I should say since he owns a house on the outskirts of town, a plumbing company and half a mountain somewhere out there. It's not that I don't love my bro, it's just I can never bring myself to go somewhere dark and cold when I get time off to travel. In the end, I always seem to head to a beach. This latest development in the marijuana laws however is certainly an incentive to finally accept his hospitality.

The Alaskan Supreme Court came down with a incredibly sane decision this week, "upholding last year's Court of Appeal unanimous ruling in Noy v. State of Alaska that solidified the argument a person's constitutional right to privacy is greater than a voter initiative making marijuana illegal." The lower court's ruling was in turn based on Ravin v. State which held adults had the right to possess marijuana for personal use in their home.

In 1990, voters passed an initiative on a 55 to 44 percent tally making it illegal to possess any amount of marijuana, but last year the appeals court not only ruled voters didn't have the authority to change the state constitution, but defined 4 ounces or less of marijuana as permissible for personal use at home.

"Noy basically restored Ravin and reaffirmed the right to privacy," said attorney Bill Satterberg, who filed the appeal. "People don't realize the purpose of the court is to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority."

Meanwhile Alaska's John Walters' clone, Attorney General Gregg Renkes, who obviously graduated cum laude from the prohibition profiteer's school of idiotic illogic, vows to keep fighting against sanity in drug policy and intends to squander the taxpayer's money in attempting to amend the constitution of the state in order to declare the world's most beneficial plant a danger to society.

On the other hand, Tim Hinterberger is fighting on the side of reason and bringing forward The Cannabis Decriminalization and Regulation Act, a ballot initiative making it legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess marijuana whether for consumption or distribution which would allow the legislature to levy taxes and potentially provide revenue for the state.

"Alaska clearly has values of independence and responsibility and fairness that are different than the rest of the country," he said. "Clearly marijuana prohibition doesn't work, everyone knows that and it's time to try and find a different way."

For more commentary on this story, check out Drug WarRant. And while you're at the Rant be sure to check out Pete's latest addition to his excellent series of voter's guides. This one is on Alabama which would be almost completely depressing if not for the fact that Loretta Nall is from there.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Lame brained raid of the week

These stories always make me feel like kicking something, like for instance the idiot cops who did this butts. The police chief at least apologized for the imbeciles who carried out this drug bust at the wrong home but there is really no excuse for this sort of incompentency.

Chief Mark Smith of Clarksville says his tactical team received a bad address from the drug agents with the Major Crimes unit, who got their information from an informant. Of cousrse that doesn't explain why the cops didn't notice that the people they were terrorizing were in their mid-50s when the person they were after was 24 years old. This scenario has become all too commonplace in this absurdly flawed war on some drugs and demonstrates once again how the enforcement of the law is causing more harm than the use of the illegal substance would. Picture this:

Teresa Guiler and James Elliott, who are in their 50s, were home watching television when the masked men stormed into the house. Guiler, whose arm was in a sling from a previous injury, told police that they had the wrong man as they pointed a gun at her and Elliott, who is deaf and had recently received a liver transplant, she said.

Police deny they used excessive force but what does this sound like to you. According to the couple's lawyer.

''What justification can you give to kick a 54-year-old man who's down on the ground,'' Meeks said about Elliott, who is a Vietnam War veteran. ''All he saw was men in masks with rifles. He was terrified. Then to get knocked down and stomped. They picked him up like a suitcase. The Police Department said they acted in normal procedure, but that's not normal.''

Sounds more like a terrorist act than a law enforcement action to me. Disgraceful.

Looking South

Bolivia is on my mind this afternoon. First of all, Baylen at D'Alliance has posted over 200 photos of his trip to the coca growing regions there a few weeks ago. Free for the viewing but please don't steal the images.

Then thanks to Sharon Secor, there's this story on life in a Bolivian prison. I've heard of prisoners bribing the guards for better conditions before - even in this country and it's not uncommon in other countries for families to provide the basic necessities for their relatives inside, but this is first I've heard of whole families joining the inmates in their cells and calling it home. Apparently the social conditions are so abysmal and abject poverty is so widespread in Bolivia that some parents feel their children are better off in jail than out. Further with no social services to deal with children of incarcerated parents, the kids would otherwise be living on the street.

Bolivia's social disparities on the outside are duplicated within the walls of the prison. With 1,450 inmates living in a space designed for 400, prisoners must buy their cells. Some cannot even afford a miserable cubicle and live in dank hallways. At the other end of the spectrum are those who can afford to maintain a family residence outside in addition to their prison digs. This inmate's place sounds better than my own apartment.

"It could be worse," admitted one inmate with a grin as he showed off his apartment, furnished with a cushy living room set, a stereo and cable TV. Boasting a living room, dining area, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, the 800-square-foot flat would have rented for $2,000 a month in Manhattan.

About 120 children live with their incarcerated fathers inside San Pedro along with hundred's of wives. Children stay for free. Wives can visit for free all day twice a week, but to sleep over, they must pay the equivalent of $2.60 - more than the daily wage for most Bolivians. For me the sad part is, with the current gulag growing daily in the United States, these inmates sound almost better off than our own 2.4 million prisoners.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

One small step in Albany, one giant leap for drug policy reform

When I started this blog over a year ago, even my closest friends mocked me for thinking the drug policy reform movement could end this failed war on some drugs in our lifetime by working within the political system. Today, we are laughing on the way to the ballot box. In a stunning upset, political newcomer David Soares overwhelmed his former boss incumbent Paul Clyne by winning the nomination for Albany's district attorney. Not only will Soares be the first black man in contention for the position but he won with a wide margin by basing his campaign on promising reform of some of the most odious and inhumane drug laws in country, commonly called the Rockefeller Laws.

I hope this moment in history brings the poor folks whose lives over the past 4 decades were destroyed by Paul Clyne and his father, the late Judge John Clyne, a little comfort. And that it also sends a message to the other 61 district attorneys around the state of NY, that we have become a political force to be reckoned with.

As Ethan Nadelmann of Drug Policy Alliance said in response to the results, "I can't think of anything which will do more to change the prospects for Rockefeller drug law reform than this."

If this is "encouraging news," one wonders what bad news would look like

Alternet posts a weekly roundup of drug war news that's always worth reading in full. Baylen's excellent post on crack cocaine is included but we won't bother to summarize since we know you're reading his blog at D'Alliance every day anyway.

Bruce Mirken also has a stellar piece in this week's edition on the statistics our government's prohibitionist agencies use to pretend they are succeeding in eliminating the use of drugs in society. Mirken "fisks" the statistics and they come up sorely lacking in credibility. For instance on the often spun fallacy that teenagers are turning away from marijuana, Bruce has this to say.

Central to Thompson's claim of progress is a reduction in the percentage of 12- to-17-year-olds who say they have ever used marijuana; from 20.6 percent in 2002 to 19.6 percent in 2003. But that 19.6 percent figure is two and a half times the 1970 rate, and exactly equal to the previous historical peak, 1979. The only time it's ever been higher was during a record-setting spike from 1998 to 2002.

Overall, use of illicit drugs actually rose a bit in 2003, and the number of Americans who have used marijuana reached an all-time high of 97 million. Some 15 million Americans used marijuana at least monthly, also an increase from 2002. That's the equivalent of every man, woman and child in Alabama, Maine, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Wyoming and North Dakota lighting up each month.

Given that for three years running the administration has carpet-bombed the airwaves with commercials designed to terrify the public about the dangers of marijuana, this is an astonishing record of failure.

He also points out that cocaine use is on the rise among the entire population with the number of teens trying cocaine for the first time being now nearly four times 1970 figures. Even more disturbing is the nexus between the anti-drug campaigns and alcohol abuse among our young people.

We seem to have convinced young people that binge drinking is safer than smoking even a little marijuana. 54.4 percent of 12- to-17-year olds said they considered it a "great risk" to their health to smoke any amount of marijuana once or twice per week. Only 38.5 percent saw great risk in binge drinking once or twice a week.

Along with the title of this post that I cribbed from the article, this pretty much sums up the problem for me as well.

Policy has come completely unhinged from reality. Despite a tripling of marijuana arrests since the Nixon era, marijuana use has skyrocketed while officials pick through the data for encouraging snippets and ignoring the big picture. Worse, they find reason to cheer at figures suggesting that we may be driving kids away from a comparatively benign drug toward one that is far more lethal.

And if you don't believe alchohol is worse try hanging out in a college sports bar on a Saturday night.

Happy Anniversary to the COTV

The creator of the Carnival of the Vanities, Sid (aka Bigwig), rightfully hosts for this week's festivities marking the second anniversary of the event. I haven't been around for all that time, I started showing up at this party only a few months ago but I keep coming back because I've grown quite fond of the regs here and it's just too much fun to miss. You never know what entertaining information you'll find on the pot luck table of refreshments here and the democratic nature of the set-up appeals to the civil libertarian in me. As always it's worth the time to stop by and peruse the offerings.

Meanwhile, I'm working myself into a state of panic about my upcoming stint as host two weeks from now. I still have no theme in mind and I'm out of town and away from my own computer until the end of the month. At home I'm known as the hostess with the mostest but who knows how my party will turn out without the drugs and booze.... hey wait a minute drugs and booze there's a theme.... nah, Seldom Sober beat me to that one, guess I'll have to keep thinking.

From all walks of life

A few interesting stories on the wires this morning. In this first one, Cory W. Whitfield, a Customs agent who worked for six years screening U.S.-bound traffic at Vancouver International Airport in British Columbia, was busted at the U.S.-Canadian border, accused of driving a van packed with 536 pounds of marijuana.

According to the complaint, Whitfield tried to enter the United States at the Lynden border crossing Monday. He presented a diplomatic passport, telling Inspector Rodney Nash, "I'm one of us."

He initially claimed he was bringing an engine block to a Ford dealership in Bellingham but fell apart under questioning and eventually told investigators, "he was blackmailed into bringing the drugs to Bellingham by a man who had compromising photos of him - photos that showed Whitfield, a married man with two children, surrounded by illegal drugs and in a sexual encounter with a woman at a party."

In this next story, a 54 year old nurse was convicted of a felony offense for growing her own marijuana at home. She was ratted out by a "concerned citizen." More interesting to me is that she had 30 mature plants and other seedlings that she stated were not cannabis. Tests conducted on those seedlings would indicate she was truthful but nonetheless they convicted her as if she was some kind of dealer.

Also note that she only had 7 ounces or so of pot on hand. Thinking that she could not grow more than 30 at a time because of the limitations of space and equipment, this gives a better indication of what an actual yield from a personal grow is. This illustrates how these valuations of $1,000 and up for homegrown plants regardless of maturity and/or potency is simply not realistic even for a commercial grow. While the black market does inflate the price beyond its intrinsic value, pot that costs a $1,000 an ounce comes around maybe once in a lifetime and she clearly was not getting that kind of yield.

Finally, there's this story that also provides the graphic for this post. Now this guy was dumb to leave his generator running at an abandoned trailer in the aftermath of the hurricane. People are always more vigilant after a natural disaster about odd little things like that but I include it here for the graphic. Look at those pathetic buds - they don't even look smokeable. Law enforcement giving themselves credit for a $100,000 bust would be laughable if it wasn't such a tragic waste of taxpayer's money to chase these little grows down.

Now the safety issue is a good point. Rigging these indoor operations requires a certain level of skill and intelligence that this guy clearly did not have but as Ben Masel pointed out in the comments section of yesterday's post on this subject, if it were legal, people could grow them outdoors in perfect safety and saving the fuel and electricity for other uses.

What I really want you to think about today though is just how pervasive cannabis is within our society. These people are not common criminals, they are your neighbors, your health care givers, your protectors from terrorists and otherwise law abiding citizens. They were not arrested for doing anything harmful or violent. They were arrested for gardening or transporting a common herbaceous plant that in terms of toxicity is less harmful than aspirin. With all the real crime in the world, how much longer are you willing to let your government waste its limited resources on going after these easiest of targets?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Another medical breakthrough for cannabis

A report in the Sept. 15 issue of the journal BMC Medicine details findings by researchers in Florida who have discovered that THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, may be useful in the formulation of new antiviral drugs that fight cancer-causing herpes viruses. This does not include the common herpes simplex that causes cold sores, but showed promise in treating the more virulent herpes viruses including Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV) and Epstein-Barr virus.

In tissue culture tests, THC blocked the reactivation of various types of herpes viruses. Infection with herpes virus is recurrent and lifelong. The virus lies dormant in nerve tissue in infected people after symptoms have gone away. Later the virus can reactivate itself leading to an increasing number of viruses and causing another symptomatic infection.

...THC may interfere with a gene called ORF50, which is found in these herpes viruses, say the researchers. This gene helps turn on the virus's machinery that is involved with reactivating the virus; it also helps start viral replication.

The work however is still in the preliminary stages and researchers caution that people should not be self-medicating for these conditions based on these results.

A study in contradictions

Here's an eradication story with a refreshingly honest angle. Law enforcement officials actually acknowledge that the plants were in various stages of maturity and were of low grade. This does not explain however, how they still came up with a value of 3 million dollars for the crop.

Gardeners grow by nature

Here's this week's grow-op bust illustrating the illogic of prohibition. They start out telling you about how the grow-ops are proliferating.

In the year 2001, 33 were discovered and dismantled in the City of Toronto. Last year, 2003, 140 grow operations were dismantled. In just the first 6 months of 2004, 168 operations have been dismantled within the City of Toronto.

Then they tell you that organized crime is involved.

"Grow operations generate vast profits for Organized Crime. These profits provide the resources for Organized Crime to engage in all manner of illegal activity, including the importation of Heroin and Cocaine. The illicit drug trade is the gasoline that fuels the engine of Organized Crime and ultimately results in addiction, death, violence and all forms of crime and disorder," said Staff Insp. Dan Hayes.

And then they list the dangers of unregulated grows.

Grow operations are located in our neighbourhoods. They present many risks to public safety, such as: fires, explosions, booby traps, mould, and noxious chemical exposure. In some cases, young children are living in homes that are being used for Grow Ops.

The prohibition profiteers want you to believe that this justifies their budgets and their methodology but doesn't this really illustrate why we should legalize? All these hazards are a direct result of an unregulated black market. Eradication, interdiction and incarceration have had decades to solve the problems and have obviously failed.

The grow-ops increase in numbers and size, the technology that allows for larger grows creates the profit margin that attracts organized crime and the ensuing health hazards occur because the ops have evolved from small grows for personal use to huge industrial operations that tap illegally into power sources in order to avoid detection and pump chemicals in order to increase potency and yield and who are willing to use violence to protect their investment. The people making the profits on these huge operations are not the ones working the grows. Children end up exposed to these hazards because there is no legitimate business that pays its workers that kind of salary. Think about it, kids were exposed to the hazards of bathtub gin during Prohibition I as well but do you hear of children hurt in bottling plants today?

The bottom line is the grows will grow unless and until you take the profit out of it.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Drug policy reform talk

I've already decided long ago that like it or not, (and I don't like it) that I'm voting for Kerry, but here's a chance for a little chit chat on whether it really makes a difference which republicrat (or is that democran?) gets elected. I thought I had missed this but we all still have a chance to participate in this discussion on Election 04 tomorrow at 6:00pm with one of the finest minds in the drug policy reform movement, Ethan Nadelmann. Talk or just listen here.

To submit a question, e-mail

Another encounter of the wild bird kind

My long term readers know that I'm always having bizarre bird experiences and my trip to the Crystal Coast yielded up yet another one. On Friday night I couldn't sleep so I headed out for one last walk down the beach. I got to the set of double doors leading out of the lobby and there was a guy crouched down flashing a light at something on the ground. I stopped short, not wanting to disrupt him and frankly not certain at first, whether he was just a drunk doing something nutty I didn't want to get involved in. As I crept closer, I saw he was talking to what certainly looked like a wild bird, except that it was completely motionless. I thought maybe he had hypnotized it with his little flashlight, which he was still shining intermmittently into its eyes. I was fascinated by this little tableau and watched for several minutes before he noticed I was standing there. He motioned me into the vesitibule.

I slid in quietly but the bird, although clearly alive, did not so much as as move a feather. It appeared to be a wren of some sort. The man's name was Bill and he told me the bird had hit the glass door as he was walking out and appeared to be stunned but not hurt. He was trying to revive it. I sat on the floor not four inches away from it and it still didn't flinch. It just stared at me. Having had several of these encounters now, I also started talking to it, trying to get it to react. We certainly couldn't leave it there alone with two cats prowling the yard outside, not to mention the huge possum that was also lurking somewhere. This went on for a few more minutes and still the bird didn't move.

I finally decided to try sticking my finger under it's chest to see if it would jump on as the other birds had done. No reaction whatsoever. I waited a few moments and tried again. It let me stroke its chest and didn't move at all. Bill and I continued to discuss the possibilities while the bird looked on with interest but no movement. We continued intermittently to attempt to get a reaction. It even let me stroke it's head.

Finally after about another ten minutes or so, it began to stir. I put my finger under it's chest one last time and still nothing. I finally said we should at least pick it up and put it in the shrubbery when at last, it looked at me, looked at him, turned around and flew out the one door that was propped open. Altogether an amazing experience. I looked it up later and it appears to have in fact have been a Carolina wren.