Thursday, March 31, 2005

Unexpected developments

I'm home for the night and it's really weird that there's no car here. Now it's not like I even drive it much when it is here but the empty carport has this glaring absence quality to it. I had to get a ride home. That always makes me feel like an errant teenager. Meanwhile, I have no real idea where my car is or who took it since I wasn't here when it was towed. Leo took it over to Tim's place and I talked to Grady over there today who figures it might be two weeks before I can get it back. It's kind of like island time here. Guess I'm going to go over and locate the garage in the next couple of days, maybe have a look around. They tell me it's not too far from here.

Meanwhile, I was thrilled to find through the referral log that LOS is on the North State blogroll. (You may have noticed I posted the logo on the sidebar.) I don't know from barbecue but I've always loved Andy Griffith and I really wanted to join this group. I applied months ago and never heard back so I assumed I was just too left for the excellent but right leaning lineup and I hadn't checked in a long time. Thanks to Trojan Horseshoes for the honor.

The cost of tough meth laws

As is true throughout the country, Tennessee has seen a boom in meth labs and its consequent harmful effects including a rise in burn victims from explosions while processing the drug. Deputy drug czar, Joseph Keefe attended a drug conference in Nashville on the subject recently and praised local authorities "for approaching the drug problem with tougher criminal laws, public education and addiction treatment."

Putting aside the fact that the ONDCP's idea of public education and treatment is a joke, the tougher criminal laws is exactly why the country is now endangered by these labs for the "new" meth. As noted here before, 30 years ago meth was a popular drug on college campuses and yet we had no explosions or toxic waste entering the ecosphere. Why? Because the precusor elements of its manufacture were legally obtainable ingredients and thus pure and safe. When they toughened the laws on the precusors, the meth makers were forced to improvise with less reliable ingredients and hence you now have labs that are the equivalent of Molotov cocktails, exuding toxic fumes and just waiting to explode.

That people are willing to expose their children to these dangers underlines the hold this drug has on its users. Clearly tougher laws didn't diminish the demand or there wouldn't be thousands of these labs hidden in every corner of the US. The only sensible method for eliminating this dangerous practice is to legalize the stuff and let them have it for free. At least then the health effects, (which are significant even outside of the burn victims) could be monitored and perhaps forestalled. As doctors at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center note, most meth patients don't have health insurance. Thus you the taxpayer, pay at both sides of this problem. First for the enhanced costs of enforcement of failed laws and then for the health consequences of an unregulated market. Think about it.

Day of disasters

So yesterday was a really bad day. The bad stuff started first thing in the morning. The recycle guys never come before 2:00pm so at 9:30am I'm just putting on my jacket to take it out to the street and see them driving by leaving me with a bin full of recycling. Then I'm getting ready to go get my driver's license changed over and I'm on the internet looking up the rules on the documents when I get attacked by the java byte trojan. My virus program duly informs me but I spazzed out and clicked on the wrong button and closed the screen so I had to run the whole system test to get the virus and by then it was embedded, and I had to go through a lot of steps to fix it.

So of course it's getting late by the time I get to the DMV but fortunately it's a local office and not crowded. I'm at the desk with the paperwork within 15 minutes and got to witness an Oriental girl get her learner's permit. She barely spoke English but her husband is fluent. Apparently she had failed the written test 5 times before this and she was just glowing with joy.

The DMV officer was really nice when she tells me that in the enormous folder of paper I have spread across her desk, I'm missing one key piece which I know is sitting on my desk at home. So I'm sitting there at like 3:30 on a really good hair day and I even put on lipstick thinking I would be having my picture taken. In fact on the way over I was thinking this would be the first time I ever had a shot at a good driver's license photo. Still all was not lost. I had time to run home and come back. But God apparently just doesn't want me to have a good photo on my license. As I'm driving out of the DMV, my brake suddenly went all the way to the floor and barely stopped the car. They pumped up but kept fading and I was glad they held the few miles back to my house.

But now what? I had to be at the family homestead later that day and I barely have a clue about cars. So I call the nearest place under car repair, it's within walking distance of my house and ask if they'll fix it. I figure I have enough brakes to get that far. The guy doesn't actually fix cars but he gives me a little phone consult and the name of the local mechanic. He thinks I could get there if I put some brake fluid in the car. So I duly get out my manual and figure out how to check the brake fluid and it's indeed low so I trudge over to the nearby convenience store and get some. Getting it to pour in without spilling took a couple of tries but I get it done and drive up and down the driveway pumping up the brakes as instructed. It's not working. Pumps up great and then goes to the floor again. I'm thinking it just needs more pumping up when I realize I'm backing into a cloud of brake fluid and upon inspection I discover the fluid is energetically dripping behind one of the tires. The good news is I've been needing to find a mechanic and I believe I inadvertently hooked up with the right local guy.

Of course when I arrived here last night with a still unused laptop, I couldn't hook into the house wifi without the WEP key that no one remembered. Fortunately, after my failed attempt to set up my own wifi at home, I at least knew what it was and today I got online without tech support and they towed my car to the garage without my having to be there. Hope this is the start of a better trend.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Yeah success!!!

Yesterday was probably the worst day I've had in decades. I'll have all the gory details later on that but my luck has apparently finally turned again. I'm at least posting to the blog using the new laptop. I figured out the WEP key to get on the family's wifi without having to call the ISP and I managed to switch from the unsecured default network with the crappy signal that I automatically connected to this morning, (who knows where that came from, it wasn't there last night), to the secured one inside the house. Of course it took hours to do what a technogeek could have done in minutes but I did it by myself and feeling pretty buff about it.

Anyway, I'm liking the laptop now that I'm finally using it. It's something of an adjustment to get used to the reduced screen and keyboard again but so far it appears to have the speed and functionality I wanted.

I'll be posting more often once I get a little better set up.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Action alert - NYT promotes propaganda

The NYT posts a really snarky editorial on medical marijuana. While they pay lip service to the positive aspects, they give much more weight to the flawed studies that wrongly suggest it has no medicinal benefit. Let's not let them get away this prohibition pushing propaganda unremarked.

Send a letter to the editor and set him straight. Letters should be under 200 words and focus on only one or two points. For help in framing your points, see medical marijuana pro and con and this article on how science is skewed to fuel prohibition. For help in composing your LTE, see also the Media Awareness Project's excellent activism center.

As they say at MAP, "It's not what others do it's what YOU do."

Monday, March 28, 2005

Monday bird blogging

Some exciting sightings this weekend. The cardinal and the red-headed woodpecker have been continuing their debate all week long. Hard to tell who's winning but the little wrens seem to attend all the lectures. New on the list today is the heron of some kind that flew overhead yesterday. It was hard to tell from just the silhouette what kind it was. I don't think it was great blue though. It didn't look quite big enough. More than likely it was night heron of some kind.

Meanwhile, I have one bluebird that keeps coming back and I saw a yellow warbler for the first time just this morning. Nice song from that one.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Homeland torture and the war on some drugs

For a limited time, you can view this BBC Documentary on inmate abuse in the United States prisons. It's a 50 minute video (no download is necessary) and well worth the time if you care about human rights. It contains very graphic scenes of torture and abuse but keep in mind when you watch this footage that at the present moment, we have close to 2.2 million people, many of them non-violent drug offenders, who are also living under these conditions.

Your tax dollars are being criminally wasted on this cruelty. It's time we released the non-violent victims of bad drug policy and revamped the system for those who truly belong in prison. Even violent criminals deserve better from society than to be treated in a way behind bars that would be cause for arrest on the outside.

To watch the video, click here.

Update: The link appears to be dead now. Hope you got a chance to see the video.

If prohibitionist press releases were honest

Speaking of Ashcroft, according to the buzz, SCOTUS is expected to release their decision on Angel Raich's medical marijuana case against him in the next few days. The prohibition vultures are already circling the press. Prohibition profiteer, the Drug Free America Foundation put a press release on the wire offering immediate comment, the very moment the decision is made public. Allow me to translate it for you. Edits will all be mine.

Drug Free America Foundation is the leading opponent of what we call medical-fraud "medical acceptance will expose us as frauds" marijuana.
With over 20 years experience in the drug policy prohibition profiteering field, Fay maintains: "There is no You must ignore all evidence proving there is a valid medical use for raw (smoked) marijuana. Proponents relentlessly fight to prove we cynically exploit the terminally ill to perpetrate a hoax based on prohibitionist fiction. Their goal is back-door legalization of a dangerous, addictive substance plant which can be grown for free and we can't control, that has been employed medicinally to good effect for over 5,000 years ."

Founded in 1995, Drug Free America Foundation is dedicated to has made a fortune in donations and grants by fighting drug use, drug addiction and drug trafficking and to promoting effective predictably deficient and cruel drug policies, preventing education and are dedicated to the prevention of profit loss. It is equally committed to exposing the preventing the exposure of our distortions and misrepresentations of valid scientific evidence presented by legalizers and we fear their deceptive tactics irritating insistence on facts over our propaganda, including medical exposing our fraud on medical marijuana.

Original via © 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770

Rites of spring

Happy day to those of you who celebrate Easter. I forgot today was the holiday so rather than try to get the wireless set up I decided to tidy up the place a bit, starting with some odd stuff I've been meaning to post about.

There's this funny item on John Ashcroft. It seems on foreign airlines, the flight movies are often edited during dubbing to remove curse words. Someone with an obviously refined sense of humor decided to replace the word a**hole with the name Ashcroft, in other words the gangster says, "Take this you f-ing Ashcroft!!!" You have to love it. Ashcroft didn't return calls when queried on whether he thought his name made an acceptable curse. Personally I think it's the perfect choice.

On another note, for those who love these silly things, here's a little quiz from the BBC to test your knowledge about the origins of Easter.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


I love my new computer but after working at it for hours, I still don't have internet access. All I have to show for it is a headache and a severe case of techno-distress. The help features as usual are not helpful for me. It strikes me as ridiculous that they expect you to set it up using on-line help when the problem is that you can't get online. I mean for what it costs would it kill them to give you a little paper manual? The wifi thingy was just as unhelpful.

Anyway, it appears everything is working except that it's not connecting. I'm thinking it's because I need more cables and stuff so I can connect everything together somehow. I hope it's not because I disabled the connection when I was trying to configure the computer according to the cheatsheet from the wifi. It's driving me crazy so I'm going to bed and calling my ISP in the morning.

All I got was a bar of soap and some shampoo

Sometimes you check into your room at the hotel and find a mint on the pillow - sometimes you find a bag of ecstasy in the drawer. Unfortunately the family that checked in with their kids didn't find it to be a welcome perk.

Doesn't say much for the housekeeping staff either and can't you just see the two guys who left it behind driving down the road, looking at each other in stunned disbelief saying, "I thought you had the drugs...

Fighting plants hurts farmers

Police are cracking down in southern India on opium poppy farmers and have conducted numerous raids in last couple of months. The farmers, pleading ignorance of the law are living in a state of terror. It seems plausible they wouldn't know since it appears the poppy farming has only recently become widespread and they're reportedly a simple people farming individually on only small plots of land. Agriculture Minister Srinivas Gowda agrees. He says farmers are being exploited by drug dealers.

Nonetheless the government is taking a hard line approach to enforcement but in an effort to appease the farmers has given them until the end of the month to surrender their crops. However, "concerned over the unrest the raids have generated among farmers, a senior leader of the socialist Janata Dal Secular party, HD Kumaraswamy, has called for a halt to the crackdown. 'The farmers are naïve and have been growing poppies as any other crop,' he says."

That's really the point and what irritates me the most about the eradication strategy of the prohibition. The farmers no doubt are depending on the money from the crop to make their living - they need the small amount they will get paid just to keep the farm going.

The buyers who process the plants are the ones who make the obscene profits but the enforcers go after the flower growers instead, which is a whole easier but does nothing to dent the supply. There are always ten other destitute souls who will take the chance in order to put food on the table and it leaves the busted farmer in an even more desperate state of poverty.

The only consolation in this story is that at least they're eradicating by hand instead of bombing them with criminal amounts of herbicides.

Underwater ventures

Colombia authorities, after watching its construction for the last six months, seized a submarine believed to be owned by the Norte del Valle cartel to be used for smuggling cocaine "under the radar" and out to sea.

"The ingenuity of drug traffickers is amazing. They will seek any way to avoid the coast guard," Eduardo Fernandez, head of Colombia's secret police in Valle del Cauca state, told the Associated Press.
What does he expect them to do, deliver the drugs to the Coast Guard directly? One wonders how the US can claim to be making such a dent in the supply of cocaine when the cartels can still afford to undertake such projects.

In spite of the six month investigation, no arrests were made. It appears that the Colombian government is more interested in receiving the Plan Colombia funding from the US than it is in eliminating the cartels but who can blame them. Between the bribes from the cartels and the funding, they make a pretty good bundle on prohibition, not to mention the added perks from the US for their help in perpetrating this fraud known as the war on some drugs.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Will work for kibble

This is sick. UMASS, a public university in Massachusetts routinely raises fees and tuition on an annual basis and decimates staff on account of budget shortfalls but they can afford a full time drug dog to use in harassing students? Guess we shouldn't expect anything better from a school that also welcomes the FBI on campus to harass innocent professors on account of their ethnicity. No wonder they call it Zoo-MASS.

Angels we have heard on high...

I'm so far behind that I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed with the amount of reading I have to catch up on, but as they say, no way out but through, so let me start with a belated but hearty "welcome to the Bloggerhood" to a brand new drug policy reform website - Nephalim's Drug War Revealed.

Nephalim is customarily defined as "fallen angels" but in this case I think it must mean "angel who fell from heaven to bless the drug policy reform movement." Previously unknown to me, our Nephalim has been an ambassador for the movement as a Kos reg and has now created a Kos style community for reformers. He claims the site is still under construction but it already looks way better than Last One Speaks, so one can only imagine how great the final product will be.

Nephalim and I are on the same page in terms of legalization but all are welcome regardless of political position. The site looks destined for big success and we're honored to be included in his recommended reads. Check it out. Here's a forum where you can speak out on the issue through the diaries without the responsibility of maintaining a personal site. Join the community and add to the discussion.

Getting back on track

Sorry the posting has been off last week. I've been putting in long days with the family and internet access was a problem, one that should be solved at any moment. According to the tracking info, my laptop is due to arrive today. Makes me glad the weather report was so wrong. It was supposed to be sunny but it's going to rain instead so I won't mind being stuck in the house waiting for the delivery.

Meanwhile, knowing that a lot of you are still dealing with snow, I don't really want to tell you that the magnolias burst into bloom seemingly overnight and my yard continues to morph into a wildflower garden. It feels like spring is accelerated here. I have a feeling it's going to be short and we'll be into the heat of summer all too soon.

Bird sighting of the week was a magnificent redheaded woodpecker who obligingly perched on the sunny side of the tree and chattered away for a few minutes. It was kind of funny. As he sat there talking, all the little wren type birds flew into the trees around him. It felt like he was the professor lecturing the children at bird school. Then the cardinal showed up and they got into a debate of some sort. It was most civilized though. First one would speak and then the other answered and occasionally the little guys would chatter among themselves. This is why I love living in the country again.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Good science - marijuana and teenage angst

Here's a study with a unique approach to analyzing why teenagers smoke marijuana. Researcher Tom O'Connell, M.D., using a new model of inquiry, examines the history and symptomology of adolescent users that strongly indicates many teenagers use the plant to self-medicate for anxiety, depression and to mitigate the symptoms of ADD type disorders.

Among his findings were that many chronic users came from families where the father was either absent or emotionally unavailable. More importantly, the research indicated that among long term consumers, many used cannabis to control excessive use of alcohol, tobacco and other illegal drugs. His summary says it all.
Proposition 215 encouraged many individuals who had been considered "recreational" users of cannabis to apply for "medical" status. Interviews placing their cannabis use in broader context showed that it is frequently an alternative to the use of alcohol, tobacco, and "harder" drugs.

The federal government, by imposing a Prohibition based on biased, inadequate studies, is depriving the American people of a safe and effective medicine.

Beyond that concern, the increasing enthusiasm for drug testing and punishing those who test positive for cannabis with either criminal or social sanctions is destructive to the large -but at this writing unknown -number of Americans treating emotional symptoms with what may be, for them, the best agent available.
Bottom line. Marijuana is a medicine, much less harmful than most pharmaceuticals and its full potential to treat mental disorders has not yet been fully recognized. In another age this plant would be called a wonder drug.

Flex Your Rights for only five bucks

Flex Your Rights checks in with a new offer on its invaluable video Busted. Even if you think you already know your rights, this is a must-view for every citizen in Bush's America. If you can't afford the $25.00 for the DVD version, it can down be downloaded directly to your computer for a token $5.00 donation.

Police house calls and traffic stops happen to everyone eventually. Be prepared. Watch this video.

Jekyll and Hyde - fact or fiction?

This is interesting. Newly uncovered evidence suggests Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the classic good vs. evil story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde while under the residual influence of a drug derived from a mould common to grains - ergot that is similar to LSD.
During the Victorian era, ergotine, a derivative of the fungus, was used by doctors to stop bleeding. Stevenson, who suffered from tuberculosis, was given injections of the drug to stop bleeding in his lungs.
Researchers believe, "The fact that Stevenson was injected with such a powerful drug just a couple of weeks before the writing of his famous story about personality-altering drugs has to be linked."

[Hat tip to Vig]

Monday, March 21, 2005

WTO could succeed where reformers have failed

Slate posts Tim Wu's most interesting theory on how the World Trade Organization could become drug policy reform's best friend. Wu points out "last November the WTO declared American gambling enforcement an 'illegal barrier to trade in services.' The fate of these gambling laws may be a guide to the future of American marijuana laws."

He speculates that under the WTO's "National Treatment" and "Beef Hormone" principles meaning their insistence that foreign and domestic products be treated equally and that any bans must be based on "good science," the prohibition of marijuana could successfully be overturned under trade law. He makes a cogent argument and as he notes, the WTO is the one international body that Bush obeyed on their decision rescinding protections for American steel. Of course it may take a while.
In order for the WTO to consider the legality of U.S. drug laws, some country would have to bring a WTO complaint against the United States. Don't expect a case tomorrow, but it may just be a matter of time. An increasing number of countries including Belgium, Holland, and Canada have begun to allow licensed growing of marijuana, and today's growers will be tomorrow's exporters.
By any estimate, the US offers a multi-billion dollar market for marijuana. One can only hope the money will prove enough an incentive for some country to bring the action that finally ends this anti-reefer madness.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Happy vernal equinox

I thought it was weird that spring started today. I'm glad to find out it's not dementia setting in, but rather that the date of the equinox has changed over the years. In fact it turns out that today is still not really the right date and by definition we should have celebrated it on St. Paddy's this year.

That being said, I celebrated today by taking a really long walk. Well actually I took three short walks but they added up. It was a glorious day here and I went out the first time in the family's neighborhood. Their hawk was out front waiting for me. He cried once and shot almost straight up overhead and then swooped around in circles fairly close over the rooftops. That one is a real show off. My home birds weren't around today but I got here early enough today to walk around and check out the flora. My yard has erupted in trout lilies. They're everywhere and I also discovered the whole bank below the garden is blooming with violets, white and purple.

Meanwhile the bulbs are already moving on to tulips and hyacinths and flowering shrubs are busting out all over in the neighborhood. I love the little roadside weeds myself. The creeping charlie here has a charming purple throated flower and there's another creeper with a tiny blue blossoms the color of forget-me-nots. My favorite was finding a ribbon of the tiniest johnny jump-ups I've ever seen all along the length one yard and across the street a similar strip was forming. They were so delicate I had to crouch down to identify them. They were almost transparent in the late afternoon sun.

Researcher says study being misrepresented by prohibitions and reformers

Media Awareness Project archives a great response by Dan Gardner to the recent study the press and the prohibitionists are alleging proves marijuana causes psychosis. It appears even the researcher who conducted the survey is disputing this skewing of his evidence. He is angry that the study is being used for political ends.

Gardner meanwhile, looks at the issue of how prohibition politicians use science to further their own agendas. He takes us back to 1893 when Britain commissioned a study in India that came to the same conclusions as many subsequent studies have - heavy use carries some risk of psychological damage, just as heavy use of alcohol will lead to health consequences, but moderate and responsible use presents no significant danger, privately or to the public welfare. And all have been ignored by those would continue prohibition.

Gardner further illustrates his point with a study cited in a recent Canadian debate on the subject. The prohibitionist cites one statistic that showed a drop in IQ in regular users. What she didn't note was the rise in IQ of former users over non-users and the data that showed participants who were "currently smoking between one and five joints a week saw their IQs increase by 5.8 points."

Mr. Fergusson, author of the current study in question, sums it up just as well as they did in 1893.
The findings are not "grounds for the banning of cannabis as a medical treatment ( nor or they ) a barrier to the decriminalization of cannabis possession," he writes. "What the evidence suggests is that cannabis is a psychoactive substance whose heavy use may have adverse effects and which should be used with appropriate caution."
Chances are his conclusions will be ignored as well.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

UK making hay with bad science

Well it didn't take long for the prohibitionists to latch onto the bogus study on marijuana causing psychosis. Reuters reports today, "The British government said on Saturday it had asked for an assessment of its decision to ease the rules on cannabis after studies showed the drug's use may be linked to mental health problems."

Home Secretary Charles Clarke admits that the reclassification has not lead to increased consumption but that didn't stop him from writing to the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs, asking them to review the downgrade to a relatively low risk C category. "I think there is merit in the Advisory Council assessing whether their position is at all changed by the emerging evidence," Clarke wrote.

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett who was responsible for the reclassification defended the change, saying it would give police more time to tackle dealers and prosecute cases involving more serious drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy and heroin. That much has been proven by legitimate studies to be true.

Friday, March 18, 2005

A day in court for Loretta Nall

I'm woefully remiss in my daily reads. I haven't read anything in almost two weeks so I'm especially glad that Loretta Nall checked in with a link to an account of her latest court appearance. As you may recall, she was raided and charged with possession of a ridiculously small amount of marijuana after writing a letter to the editor of her home town paper and the DA wants her to go to jail for 8 months over it.

She gives us a fascinating look inside the Alabama court system and although the DA is obviously a nutcase, and the court officers are, I believe, overstepping their boundaries in enforcing order in the court, her judge sounds like an extraordinarily reasonable man. Her trial in April should be very interesting.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

High Times returns to happier format

Well Blogger has been downright ornery this week so I hope this makes it to the blog. It's been another long day at my end but this bit of news perked me up. High Times went back to its roots. After the failed experiment in changing formats, the "buds are back" and the magazine once again (if you'll forgive the pun) resin-ates with the cannabis connoisseurs.

The Boston Phoenix posts a nice feature on the comeback of our favorite 60s counterculture magazine. We read every issue cover to cover back then. High Times chronicled and shaped the golden age of cannabis. I'm glad that it survived relatively intact as a relic of those gentler times.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

More women in prison

Women are being incarcerated in Kentucky at twice the rate of men. The prison keepers say it's because of drug crimes and a new "willingness" by the courts to sentence women (read that as sentencing guidelines with mandatory minimums .) The jailers further imply that the new inmates are all violent drug offenders, but the reality is that many of them are women who were only peripherally involved in non-violent marijuana dealings through their relationship with a guy.

They've arrested so many that they can only house 40% of them in the "women's prison." I take that as a sign they need to reform their laws. The prison profiteers see it as a reason to build more prisons. Meanwhile, the jailers whine that women inmates are higher maintainence and require more "medical care." Right, as if they get any.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

It's the tax man

This story comes up about once a year or so but it's still amusing. South Carolina profited from the prohibition in an unexpected way when they enacted a law a decade ago requiring marijuana dealers to buy tax stamps. They didn't expect to sell any. It was a ploy to prosecute for tax evasion when they busted dealers but it turns out the stamps, at $3.50 each, became collector's items and they do a rather brisk business in them. Oddly, the more expensive stamps for other illegal substances don't sell at all.

Of course if they legalized the plant, they would no doubt make a whole lot more money.

Scales of justice out of balance

Here's a study in contrasts for you. First we have a 50 year old former prosecutor who is pulled over for speeding, a couple of blocks from the party he left at the Chief State's Attorney's home and is subsequently busted for DUI, possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana (What does that mean exactly? That he had more than three ounces?), possession of drug paraphernalia and possessing a loaded firearm while intoxicated. He's applying for diversion to a first time offender program that could result in the charges being dismissed. He'll probably get it. (By the way, the AG denies that any marijuana was smoked at the party. If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn available now at a bargain price.)

Then you have an 18 year old kid selling one batch of pot brownies outside of the school cafeteria at lunchtime. He was charged with distributing marijuana within 1,000 feet of school property. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined $10,000.

There is something very wrong with a system that would jail a child for the better part of his life for eating a plant while a grown man can endanger the public with drunk driving and a loaded weapon and walk off scott free.

New toy

Well I'm swallowing hard here as I just put myself into what I consider pretty serious debt and ordered a Dell 700m laptop. It's a first for me. I had a friend order and configure the desktop I've been using for the last few years so I've never actually bought one without help. It took over an hour since I'm such a technodope I had to read all the "help me decide" items but it's done now and I'm hoping for the best. Of course I'll be biting my nails for the next couple of weeks until it arrives and I see if it does what I want it to. Wish me luck.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Decrim in action

This was bound to happen. In Colombia Missouri, the voters, by a 61 percent margin, passed an ordinance that turned small possession of marijuana into a misdemeanor offense prosecuted at the municipal rather than state level. The police are pissed off. They don't like the ordinance and are trying to get it repealed. Meanwhile they're passing out tickets like Easter candy. They claim not to be targeting people but rather adding the ticket to routine traffic stops. What do you want to bet those have increased?

The cops don't like it because the system is doing what it's supposed to. Keeping small offenders out of the court system.
Columbia police have ticketed more people per month for misdemeanor possession of marijuana since voters approved Proposition 2 in November, but most are not being prosecuted. First-time offenders are given a second chance as part of the municipal court’s marijuana deferral program.
It's a double-edged sword though. Deferral programs usually require a treatment option, where the offenders go into some kind of short term rehab program instead to a jail cell. Most are more than willing to "confess" their problem to avoid the criminal record. The government then turns around and uses the statistics created by all these court orders to "prove" marijuana abuse is a problem and thus justify continuing to spend billions of tax dollars every year on the futile war against the plant.

The only problem with marijuana is that the law makes criminals of otherwise law-abiding people who use herbs to enhance their health - be it of mind, body or spirit. Decrim is a start but really a fix. The only practical solution to this problem is full legalization.

Innocent plants destroyed in bungled bust

Very sad story from Australia. A "crack" police team flying around in the outback looking for cannabis crops destroyed the hopes of the Southern Districts' Royal Easter Show exhibition when they hovered so low over the District's prize sorghum crop, grown with great pains during a drought to have become a 17 foot tall showpiece that the downdraft from their helicopter completely shredded the plants.

As the graphic with this article shows, it's not easy to make such a dunderheaded misidentification. One wonders if this crack team was cranked up on something themselves or whether they were simply trained by the US in the methodology of break the door down first and ask questions later.

No justice for green card holders

Linden Corrica worked hard to escape from poverty in his native Guyana to immigrate with his wife to New York city where he has been a responsible citizen for ten years. He is also a Rastafarian. A year and a half ago he was caught with about $10 worth of marijuana. His lawyer advised him to plead out and he served 8 days at Rikers. That should have been it, however he has been held in custody by US immigration ever since and our government is spending ten of thousands of your tax dollars to deport him.

You would think they would spend the time and money looking for violent offenders but no, in a growing trend, our government goes for the easy statistics. Looks pretty good when they're justifying their budgets to say they deported close to 200,000 "criminals" but who are keeping you safe from? Pot smokers, shoplifters and turnstile jumpers.

Now Corrica is no angel. He has other minor marijuana violations on his record but he hardly presents a danger to the community and was otherwise contributing to the community and the economy. The worst of it is that he could have pled not guilty and gone to trial and perhaps been exonerated but no one, not even his lawyer told him it was an option. Meanwhile, your tax dollars are being squandered on leaving a child without a father and a family without a breadwinner while violent crimes are being committed every day in the streets by US citizens.

This is one you can't blame on Bush, the policy was set in place in 1996 and has since caught many an unwary immigrant in its web of injustice. So much for that motto on the Statute of Liberty. The moral of the story is, if you carry a green card - don't plead guilty - to anything.

Sunny Sunday

I've been off-line because Blogger was having some serious publishing issues this weekend. Here's hoping this makes it to the blog.

It was a gorgeous day here yesterday. I thought twice about wearing a sweater. Being somewhat desperate for new clothes, I decided to finally venture out of town to the bigger city. The shopping center was only ten miles away and I figured out how to get there on the back roads so it was a lovely drive. There's some beautiful houses and farms out in the back country here. It still astounds me to see all the daffodils and forsythias in bloom so soon and I even saw a flowering tree of some kind that just started to bust out in blossoms.

I hate shopping though and apparently so does my car. By the time I got within striking distance of the store, my car started doing that crazy stalling thing again. It must have stopped running at least six times while I was driving down the road. Fortunately, I could just throw it into neutral and get it going again but it was a little tense. Oddly, when I was on my home, it didn't stall once. I guess it was glad to get out of the city as well.

The good news is that I managed to find some stuff worth buying so it was worth the trouble.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Psychosis study short on documentation

The prohibitionists are all excited about a study published in the last issue of Addiction alleging marijuana increases risk of psychosis but while they're drooling on their reprints, Bruce Mirken of MPP and researcher Mitch Earleywine are already debunking the data, or lack thereof with an analysis posted at Alternet. They break down the statistical weakness of the model and conclude it's much ado about nothing.
Private and government surveys have documented a massive increase in marijuana use, particularly by young people, during the 1960s and '70s, but no corresponding increase in psychosis was ever reported. This strongly suggests that if marijuana use plays any role in triggering psychosis, that effect is weak, rare, or both.
But as the authors point out, don't expect the press to catch on, nor the prohibitions to let on to the facts.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Mellow yellows

Well they are no better at predicting the weather here than they were in Noho. I had planned to get some work done inside the house. It was supposed to get cold and windy and maybe even rain this afternoon but instead it turned into a lovely spring day. I hate to even talk about it, knowing my friends are suffering through yet another snowstorm, but it's still a miracle to me to find myself outside raking the lawn at this time of year.

My daffodils are finally fading but they are blooming everywhere in town. My neighbor has a patch that's electrifying. It some big Dutch variety that's so bright yellow it glows in the dusk. Meanwhile the bluets are spreading, the trout lilies are popping up everywhere in front and the back yard is full of violets. I actually found two tiny little flowers popping out of the middle of what passes for a lawn here. And my other neighbor's forsythias are in flower.

The hawk flew in this morning to sit in "his" tree. He was rather agitated; squawking about something when he arrived but he settled down and hung out in silence while I had my coffee. The crows were in a state today as well. Three of them circled right overhead this afternoon with much cawing and were so low their shadows looked big on the ground. It reminded me of the frigates at the beach.

An American voice raised for legalization

Businessweek posts a column by Christopher Farrell arguing for the legalization of all drugs as an antidote to the harms currently inflicted by the prohibition/punishment model. He's on the right track here although I think he's a little trigger happy with the idea of prohibitive taxes. If you make the drug too expensive the already well entrenched black market will continue to supply it at a lower cost and may have to solicit more addicts in order to maintain profit levels.

Otherwise the approach he suggests, "legalization, regulation, and taxation," is exactly what would solve the "human devastation, violent crime, corruption, disease, and wasted time and money embedded in the old approach."

As Farrell points out, it's not perfect but it's better than we have now as "there's nothing positive to be said at all about the current approach."

Vancouver Sun raises the flag for legalization

The entire editorial series on marijuana legalization in the Vancouver Sun, is now archived here at the Media Awareness Project. We already looked at the first two. Part III examines the flaws of the currently pending decrim legislation. The bill is a disaster. Decriminalizing small amounts while upping the penalties on the producers will only serve to drive the industry straight into the arms of organized crime. The only deterrent will be to the small time providers who currently keep at least some of the trade out of the hands of professional criminals.

Part IV looks to the future and sees the potential for Canada to take the lead in sensible cannabis policy. The editorial puts the blame for the current drug war folly right where it belongs, square on the shoulders of the US and its intractable position on the plant. US pressure brought the UN conventions into agreement with this stance and it ensures compliance among the member nations by tying foreign aid allocation according to their willingness to participate in the sham war. The Sun challenges Ottawa to stand up for its sovereignty and choose common sense.

The series ends with these words.
The U.S. might well remain intransigent, but as the international community harnesses and distributes more and more evidence about the harm caused by the war on marijuana, some nations might feel empowered to consider marijuana legalization and regulation on a trial basis. Should such trials prove successful, other countries would likely follow.

All of this must begin, though, with a commitment from Ottawa to develop a national drug strategy, and to communicate the results of its work to the world. The world is not losing the war on marijuana: It's a war we've already lost. Canada can help to unify the globe in its efforts to minimize the harms caused not only by drugs, but by drug laws.
Take a moment to reflect on the import of this. With an average daily circulation of 203,390, for the Sun to have come out in favor of legalization is no small potatoes and would not have happened except for the work of the tireless activists in Canada who have kept the issue alive and in the forefront of public dialogue. Good work folks.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Marijuana buzz begins in the Silver State

The debate in Nevada over the marijuana bill has already sparked some discussion and media interest. Great video coverage here of Pierre Werner who runs a respectable grow-op that provides the herb to registered MMJ patients and is working towards opening a cannabis club in Las Vegas. He figures, "The tourism on this would be incredible. Tax revenue would shoot through the roof, funding education and law enforcement as well."
Werner says he's bipolar and pot is his medicine. He can legally smoke the stuff everyday because he's registered in the state's medical marijuana program. "Law enforcement needs to be concerned about murders, rapists and robbers, not plant huggers."
He believes it's only a matter of time until Nevadans come to their senses and legalize marijuana. In the interim, it appears he's building a successful business model to demonstrate how the small entrepreneurial market could work with specialty growers.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

System works for MMJ patient

Here's a happy story for change. Denver police officials have returned marijuana they confiscated from a Denver man, and did so with an apology. Turned out the guy was one of Colorado's first patients to be prescribed legal, medicinal marijuana.
Lawrence, who smokes the illegal herb to relieve chronic back pain and rheumatoid arthritis, said: "It's more of a victory for the people who actually voted for it, and the rest of the patients to know that the law actually worked.They don't have to be as concerned about what's going to happen if a cop pulls them over.Tell them you're a patient, show them your ID, show them your permit," Police offices suggest medical marijuana users keep their permit with them at all times to avoid confusion.
Good advice.

Voters will have to legalize for themselves

The Nevada legislature declined to vote on an initiative that would have legalized possession of one ounce of marijuana, and the panel's refusal triggers an automatic placement on the November 2006 ballot.
"It's time for new approach," said Rob Kampia, head of the Washington D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project. "If you don't like (drug dealers), put them out of business. We don't have people peddling alcohol on street corners."
It's up to the people now. Proponents already have one defeat under their belts from the 2002 elections and face stiff opposition.
"Marijuana will not be legalized on my watch," Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, said in testimony before the Assembly Judiciary Committee. Perkins labeled marijuana "a gateway drug" and said its legalization would "absolutely without question" lead to increased drug use.
It's an uphill climb to be sure but the pro side has well reasoned arguments and a less ambitious proposal this time around. They could still pull it off.

Treatment statistics do more harm than good

The prohibition faction makes much ado about the increase in marijuana treatment admissions in justifying their obscene budgets. Of course, in reality it has almost nothing to do with cannabis abuse and everything to do with the criminal justice system. Doug McVay of Common Sense for Drug Policy neatly deconstructs their sham statistics in a piece posted at He connects the dots between the courts and the treatment facilities, deflating their numbers with facts and finds the most important point.
What does it all mean? No one disputes the fact that it is possible for people to abuse marijuana, however the problem is obviously less significant than is being portrayed by the feds. The ultimate question is whether the potential for abuse is so great that marijuana should be dealt with as a criminal problem, as we do heroin and cocaine, or as a public health issue as we do alcohol and tobacco. The debate is difficult enough for the public without the issues being obscured by the political spin being given to research.
Not to mention ignoring the research that disproves the claimed effectiveness of their prohibition/punishment model. The answer is apparent to anyone willing to spend the time reviewing the facts. Prohibition is pointless and especially in the case of marijuana, causes more harm to the public welfare than the prohibited behavior.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Quote of the week

The little master of overstatement himself, Mark Souder delivers this little pearl of illogic in a statement given to the Montreal Gazette.

"In British Columbia, one of the things they seem to be in a state of denial about is that they have become a huge exporter of this really lethal form of marijuana."
Poor old Souder is sounding a little desperate these days. He forgets that Canadians actually understand that the plant is not toxic and in fact have legalized medical marijuana as a government delivered pharmaceutical. There is no "lethal" dose of cannabis.

Guess you can't blame him for trying though. From chair of his subcommittee in Congress to his speaking engagements, he's built his entire little personal empire on prohibition. When it falls - he loses everything.

A short history on Canadian cannabis

The Vancouver Sun started a four part series yesterday analyzing the history of cannabis prohibition in Canada. Permanently archived at Media Awareness Project, part one looks at the how marijuana came to be banned 75 years ago despite the fact that the legislators didn't even know what the herb was and only a couple of dozen people had been charged with possession of it at the time.

In the early 70s, eerily echoing our own Commission on the subject, Trudeau's government formed a group to study the plant and as in the US, that commission also recommended repealing the prohibition of possession of marijuana and the prohibition of cultivation for personal use. Both countries ignored the findings and marijuana remains illegal sending tens of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens to prison.

Part two, available today on the Vancouver Sun's site, (and will be archived at this bookmark at MAP), examines "whether our increasingly draconian laws have reduced the supply of, and demand for, illegal drugs." The answer is a resounding no.

Despite tougher laws, enhanced police powers and more drug seizures, cannabis use continues to escalate. According to the Canadian Addiction Survey, 44.5 per cent of Canadians over the age of 15 have used marijuana. That's a whopping increase from the 28.7 per cent of those who reported trying the drug just a decade ago.

...So what is the relationship between marijuana prohibition and marijuana use? There isn't one: As a number of European studies have demonstrated, the severity of drug laws simply has no effect on the level of drug use.
The author notes the only effect the laws have had on the cannabis market is to drive production into the hands of organized criminals who can afford to take the risks of being caught. Tomorrow, the series will review the newest pending legislation in Canada that proposes to decriminalize possession while ratcheting up the penalties for production - an approach doomed to miserably fail.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Walters on world tour

Drug czar John Walters is on a little overseas trip on your tax dollar conducting a bad-will tour at the meeting of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The UN Council had agreed that needle exchange programs for third world countries made complete sense as a tactic to stem the epidemic of HIV and AIDS. The US doesn't see it that way and is insisting the international body adopt prohibition standards applied so futilely within the US. Walters offers some real corkers here.

Walters said drug use itself -- not a lack of needle exchanges or other programs for drug users, such as safe injection sites -- is "behind the danger" of HIV and other bloodborne diseases. Continued drug use is a fundamental cause of the dangers we face from bloodborne diseases."

However, Walters added that the "points of agreement" between himself and Costa in the fight against illegal drug use "far outweighed the differences," according to AFP/Yahoo! News. "[T]he single greatest way of preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS through drug users is taking those addicted and get them to recover."
Translate that ONDCPspeak to: throw them all in jail and let them rot until they die of it. Ironically false statement of the week however, goes to this remark Walters made in response to the question of whether the US was unduly using its influence as major contributor to the fund when after a meeting between our State Department and Director of the UN agency Antonio Costa in 2004, Costa issued new guidelines omitting any mention of needle exchange in the Committee's documents.

Walters on Monday at a news conference said that he does not view the ongoing "candid debate" about drug policy as "pressure," according to the Associated Press. "Those who suggest that candor is a kind of intimidation I think want to silence debate and discussion."
He stole that from us you know.

Timely matters

The story of the unfortunate RCMP officers death continues to generate news and opinion pieces. Cooler heads are beginning to prevail in the rhetoric around this case and this piece notes well that to act rashly in grief and anger to ratchet up criminal penalties will do nothing to alleviate the dangers of grow-ops run by organized crime. We discussed all this, nonetheless, I'm posting a link to this one because there's a poll on the side bar asking whether legalization would help eliminate organized crime from the cannabis market.

It's winning but vote anyway. It's on the left hand side bar near the top.

In other news, I received an email from Ricardo Cortes, author of the children's book, "It's Just a Plant" that has been generating some controversy lately. Barring a last minute cancellation, Ricardo is due to debate Bill O'Reilly on Fox News tonight at 8:00ish towards the bottom of O'Reilly's show.

For more on this book that tells the story of a child who catches her parents smoking pot and the resulting backlash see this by Jamie Pietras in the Village Voice.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Hemp Farming Legislation Gaining Momentum

This is good news. Vote Hemp announces that California, New Hampshire, Oregon and North Dakota are likely to pass legislation this year that would allow farmers and researchers to grow industrial hemp, bringing back hemp farming almost 50 years after the crop was taken away from farmers who grew the versatile plant for centuries.

Dupont, shortly after developing the synthetic fiber nylon, destroyed the hemp industry with the complicity of the federal government. In a way the war on cannabis escalated all those decades ago at least partly with that in mind. Come to think of it, considering the cross licensing agreement Dupont signed with Monsanto in 2002 and the current usage of herbicide as a weapon in the war on some drugs, Dupont is still profiting from the prohibition.

In any event the evident success of hemp farms overseas is suddenly being noticed by American farmers and they're asking why our government persists in its ban when the "restrictions are not based on scientific arguments and actually hurt U.S. economic interests since it is legal to import, process, sell and consume hemp seed and hemp fiber products."

In light of the growing pressure from the public, the issue may be addressed at the federal level soon. The farmers rightly ask why the U.S. government won't distinguish low-THC hemp from high-THC drug varieties. In light of the well documented ecological and economic advantages of agricultural hemp, it's a question we should all be asking.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Don't blame the plants for RCMP tragedy

There's been a whole slew of press on the tragic deaths of the RCMP officers in Canada. I'm not even going to try to link to it. Media Awareness Projectin event has the whole lot archived and you can peruse it for hours there. I am going to link to this piece however that finally establishes the grow being labeled as "billion dollar" and "huge" by the press and prohibitionists actually consisted of 20 plants. No mention of how mature they were. It could be they were only seedlings.

Even if they were mature, this is not a commercial grow. This is one crazy guy on a farm who steals trucks and grew a little pot for himself. As I noted before, the cannabis consumption probably kept him from committing violence in the past. It certainly didn't cause it.

My gut reaction from the start has been that this had nothing to do with cannabis. As the facts slowly emerge, it becomes clear that the pot was incidental to the case. The police were there to repossess a truck and discovered stolen car parts and the plants accidentally. One doubts they would have expended that kind of manpower for the sole reason of such a tiny grow. The four men didn't die because of the grow, they died because of a botched investigation of a person known to be seriously disturbed with a propensity for violence against authorities. My guess is there's a greater chance he went out and got drunk while he was on the run, rather than stop to smoke a joint.

By the way there's also a poll at this link on the right side bar asking if legalization would have prevented these deaths. Even though the grow didn't cause them, if the press wants to continue the fiction that it did, let's at least use the opportunity to be heard. The legalization side was still losing at the time of the post. Please take a moment to vote.

Bird count and a new gig

Blogger is still having some serious publishing issues but we're giving it another try this afternoon. I had planned to be raking but the wind bites through the sun, so here I am with the daily bird sightings. I'm thrilled to tell you that my gray flycatcher came for a visit this morning - at least I think it was him. He didn't get quite close enough to identify but it just felt like him. There was a whole throng of unexpected species with him. I had new flock of robins or maybe it was the old flock that realized it was still too soon to go north and came home as well. The best were the two newcomers, a couple of woodpeckers. They were too high in the tree to identify but it was fun to drink my coffee and listen to them drum. One stopped to sing for a moment. She had a very pleasant voice.

I'm excited about a new project looming on the calendar. I'm about to become the Southeast media coordinator for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition's speakers bureau. These guys, which includes my friend Howard Wooldridge, went from scratch to becoming one of the most effective reform organizations at the speed of light. I really admire this group and I'm feeling pretty darn honored to be working with them. I can hardly wait to get started.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Cannabis-cooking granny to run for MP

I love this. The cannabis granny is back in the news. Optimistically looking beyond her sentencing hearing on possession charges next week to remaining a free woman, she intends to run for political office as a candidate of The Legalise Cannabis Alliance. Seems she has become the poster girl for elderly self medicating cannabis consumers. I wouldn't be surprised if she won it.

Since pleading guilty to possessing cannabis in January, Mrs Tabram has become the face of an elderly generation who take the drug for medicinal purposes. And her small semi-detached bungalow in Humshaugh has become a campaigning headquarters.

In the interim she's embarked a letter writing campaign to every other MP in the country, spending afternoons in her kitchen stuffing envelopes with the help of friends. "Accompanying each of the 659 letters is a nine-page report into the side-effects of prescribed drugs." She's hoping to convince even one of them.

I love that spirit.

New government report discovers dealers are still selling drugs - everywhere

The International Narcotics Control Board issued its 2004 report and in the understatement of the week announces, "Afghanistan is on the verge of becoming a narcotics state." I hate to tell these guys that it's been a "narco-state" ever since we liberated them by kicking the Taliban out. During their regime the trade had been all but eliminated. At the moment, opium production, after doubling last year, has now tripled and forms a large portion of their national economy. Essentially without the dope, the country is broke.

The US is urging Afghanistan to pursue a Plan Colombia style eradication campaign however they should hope Karzai doesn't read the report. It admits Colombia, despite having spent over a billion of our tax dollars on their allegedly successful program still contributes 90% of the cocaine and half the heroin coming into the US. The report fails to mention the execution of Plan Colombia has also fomented a civil war, displaced the indigenous population and permanently contaminated the Amazon rain basin with powerful chemicals.

It's long and I only read one section but I was struck by the repeated admission that HIV was being spread by injection drug users through shared needle use and that injection users were a growing population in Africa and South Asia. They further acknowledge a woeful lack of treatment facilities. And yet the Bush administration takes an incomprehensible position against needle exchange programs and other harm reduction methods and even as you read this, is exerting pressure on the UN agencies involved in implementing the drug conventions to end successful proposals that were already agreed upon previously.

The report covers all drug producing regions of the world and the link is worth keeping. It's hard to find. Thanks to Doug McVay for passing it on to us.

Friday, March 04, 2005

New face in town

Welcome to the drug policy reform movement to South Dakotans for Safe Access headed up by long time activist Bob Newland. He has this to say on his new organization.

We've tried numerous times to remedy this situation in our state legislature. We've asked the politicians to allow people who need cannabis as medicine to use it. They called us "drug addicts". They laughed at us. They threatened us.

Now, we're going directly to the people, with a petition to put the issue on the ballot in the 2006 election. That costs money. We need your help.

Check out the site and send him a few bucks if you can spare them.

Drug warrior victims

Four officers were shot dead while conducting a raid on a suspected grow-op in Canada. Last One Speaks offers sincere condolences to their family and friends but I'm troubled by the sensational headline that implies cannabis was somehow responsible for the violent behavior of this disturbed individual.

Buried deep in the article are the facts that suggest more plausible reasons. The police were also searching for stolen property and since there is no mention of finding any cannabis, one wonders how big a grow it could possibly have been, or if it even existed. It seems possible the grow-op raid was merely a ruse to get on the property. Furthermore, the suspect has a long history of violent behavior and mental instability. It was also widely rumored that he has long had a cache of weapons stored on his land.

Ironically, if there was actually a grow on the premises, it sounds from this report that the suspect was probably self-medicating his mental illness. It's likely that the reason he hadn't killed anyone prior to this was because he used the herb.

Either way, it's a needless tragedy. If we had sensible drug policy these Mounties would not have been put in that danger and there would be four less victims of the war on some drugs. One has to ask if it was worth the price of four men's lives to arrest someone for growing a plant.

Home for the weekend

Blogging has been a bit erratic this week because my schedule unexpectedly changed and I was needed at the family homestead. I'm off before dark today though so I finally got to check out the latest blooms in the yard. The same daffodils are still blooming. I'm amazed that they last so long here and there's been some cold nights where I wake in the morning and they're lying on the ground looking frozen but by the afternoon they seem to pick themselves up and keep going. Inspiring tenacity but the real excitement of the day is the two trout lilies that bloomed while I was away. A lot more plants have also erupted from the moss. It appears the whole corner of the yard will be full of them.

Meanwhile, my cardinals are back. I hadn't seen them in over a week and I was afraid they had moved on. No sign of my gray flycatcher though. He apparently found a new home.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

An herb by any name

This is a rather frightening and uninformed editorital from the The Monitor in Uganda decrying the evils of marijuana but I'm posting it because I didn't know the Luganda name for cannabis is enjaga. I wonder how you pronounce that?

Prohibitionists practice fortunetelling

ONDCP has released another self-serving survey on predicting heavy drug use that promotes religious intervention for drug abusing teenagers and puts forward the ridiculous theory that cracking down on marijuana use will somehow prevent kids from using cocaine. Your tax dollars are being spent on this useless report that contains such gems as kids who report significant illegal income and are suspended from school are more likely to become addicted to cocaine.

The report starts by explaining why their scientifically suspect methodology should be trusted as predictor of future behavior and essentially admits it has no way to distinguish heavy users from youthful experimentation and expends a lot of bandwidth justifying results that run counter to other more scientifically grounded studies. Here's a fine example of their "reasoning."
Respondents included in the study share more in common with respondents excluded from the study. However, respondents included in the study report more drug use than those excluded from the study.
What is that supposed to mean really? Furthermore, the majority of the respondents didn't use drugs at all. So where's the crisis that requires spending billions on marijuana intervention?

The only thing this particular report can report with certainty is that some teenagers do drugs, sometimes and sometimes, some few teens do drugs all the time. They admit they have no idea why this happens, yet somehow they extrapolate from this non-data that sending them to church and curtailing marijuana use will solve everything - conveniently ignoring that among those few teens that admitted chronic drug abuse, the so called gateway drug was tobacco, followed closely by alcohol. The study also fails to acknowledge that prior research has shown teens who use marijuana before they try alcohol tend not to become problem drinkers.

The report doesn't address strategies to deal with legal drug abuse of course, a far greater health problem, no doubt because the alcohol and tobacco industries tend to contribute to political action committees and pinning the true cause of drug abuse on legal substances would put the prohibition profiteers out of business.

These are your tax dollars at work folks. I can think of better ways to spend $50 billion a year - can't you?

[Link via Scott at Grits for Breakfast]

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


I had to deal with car insurance today and a few other errands so I ended up at the other bar in town while I was waiting for my legal pharmacueticals. It's a fancier joint with an Irish theme that opens earlier for the after work crowd. It's tiny but has a good menu and a nice vibe. There was a motley assortment of regulars. My young friend from the blues bar, Evans was there and I met several other locals. Marty the pianist who loves airplanes and I had a great conversation about skydiving. His lovely wife Katherine who owns the local jewelery store joined us, so I stayed because it was so great to talk to folks close to my own age who didn't feel alien to my life experience.

I guess I found the friendly crowd here. One of the local lawyers and a couple of girls having birthdays also engaged me in conversation. I had this moment when I looked around the room where it didn't feel so different from the after work crowd in lovely downtown Noho. I think I'll be alright here.

The Lone Ranger Rides Again

Our old friend Howard Wooldridge of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is gearing up for the start of his second cross country tour of the US in support of drug policy reform. He'll be leaving from the edge of the sea in LA on Friday on his trusty horse Misty (along with back-up horse Rocky donated by NORML) and heading east on this historic ride. No one had ever done it in both directions before.

You can follow his progress here at the LEAP site and also on his own personal blog. If you live along the route and can offer some hospitality to a man and his horse, be sure to contact Howard here.

Meanwhile, here's a write-up on his recent speaking engagement in Pittsburgh.