Wednesday, August 31, 2005

NIDA needs a reality check

This latest NIDA release is so nauseating that I don't even want to talk about it, but I will anyway. Let's just start with the opener.

More than 96 million Americans have smoked marijuana at least once. Marijuana abuse is particularly prevalent among adolescents: Of the more than 2 million people who abuse the drug for the first time every year, two-thirds are between 12 and 17 years of age.
What does that mean, "who abuse the drug for the first time." You can't abuse a drug for the first time. Abuse would imply sustained irresponsible consumption. The first time it's an experiment. When you do nothing else all day long, day after day but consume it, then it's abuse. Otherwise, for adults, it's a martini after work - not something you'd want to consume all day long either.

As far as kids, they shouldn't be taking any mind altering substances but the easiest one for them to get is marijuana because it's illegal and unregulated. You want to keep out of their hands, then legalize it.

Nora goes on to make the tired argument about the admissions of "teenage marijuana addicts" into rehab, while of course failing to mention that the majority of those admissions are court-orderd in lieu of criminal punishment for possession of a couple of grams of pot.

Even more irritating is that they are about to spend millions more on studies and research into treatments for this alleged marijuana abuse. They already have dozens of studies that prove it's a myth, but they're going to keep spending your tax dollars until they can find a scientist willing to give them the results they're looking for - that is to justify their continued existence.

The final line is a real corker.
This broad focus, building on the insights to be gained through increased understanding of marijuana's developmental impact, will help reduce the health costs and alleviate the damage inflicted by widespread abuse of this dangerous drug.
Let me say this one more time. If this plant was really a dangerous drug and was responsible for all the psychiatric problems they attempt to attribute to its use, you would be surrounded by murderous schizophrenic/psychotic heroin addicts. Think about it. The baby boom generation, the largest in the history of our country, almost all smoked pot. A lot of it. 96 million people admit to smoking it today. These ills would have manifested in them and they turned out to be today's leaders in government and industry.

What's up doc?

Well, I've been paying a small fortune for health insurance for months now and I was almost two years overdue for my annual checkup so I finally dragged myself to the doctor today. I hate going to the doctor. They always find something wrong with you and then they want you to keep coming back and they send you to see other doctors and before you know it, you're spending all your time in medical offices... It's vicious.

It was really hard to make an appointment to see someone new. I'd been seeing Harvey, my last doctor, for so long he knew my first husband. I didn't have to explain things to him and he never hollered at me for failing to make follow-up visits.

I fussed around about picking a new doctor based on their credentials for the last six months. There's literally hundreds from choose from within my geographic range. Ridiculous waste of time. In the end, I just decided to take the luck of the draw and called the practice nearest to me here in town and took the first appointment I could get.

The good news is, I like the new doc. He was nice enough and very laid back. He even spent some time chatting. They seem a little less pressed for time here. It turns out we have some things in common. Detroit for instance. He lived there for four years. The other good news about the doctor thing here is that even a small practice like this one, is self-contained. They do blood draws and xrays in house. Even better, I had a great phlebotomist. It didn't hurt and you can't even see where she took the draw. I've had some hospital draws done where I left looking like a junkie with a bad aim.

So pending the results, it appears I'm going to live a while longer, even though my blood pressure still sucks. I don't think 150/90 is that good. I thought it might go down since I left the stress of the law firm but it seems to me that's about where I was when I said goodbye to Noho. Of course considering I spend all my time now, thinking and talking about the relentless indiginities of the Bush administration, perhaps I shouldn't be that surprised. Politics is not really a restful preoccupation. There are days I wish I didn't know so much.

SWAT team and government agencies pay for wrongful raid

Finally something resembling justice served in these inexcusable SWAT team follies.

A Pueblo family who said masked police officers broke into their home without a warrant will get a $230,000 settlement from local, state and federal officials.

...Pueblo officials and an attorney for one of the federal drug agents admitted that the raid was in error, but blamed it on miscommunication.

DEA agents requested that Pueblo SWAT officers arrest the Unis’ sons and were under the understanding that a warrant had been issued for their arrest, but was not.

The settlement called for the city and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to pay the family $100,000 each. The state will pay $30,000.
Of course, no one is admitting liability but at least the family is being compensated for having been wrongly terrorized by our government. Perhaps if they have a few dozen more payouts like this, the prohibitionists will rethink their whole SWAT team strategy, but don't hold your breath waiting.

[hat tip to JackL]

Hurricane Katrina

Thanks to Jules Siegel for the link to this site containing the most comprehensive news and best photos I've seen of this tragedy.

Today's Emery news

Marc apologizes for the Nazi remarks. Here's hoping that's the end of it.

Meanwhile, Australian newspaper The Age does a late review of the case with a slightly different twist. Best quote:
Former Vancouver mayor Phillip Owen said the charges against Mr Emery reflected DEA dissatisfaction with Vancouver's progressive approach to prevention and treatment of drug use.
Exactly. Especially since they are living proof that there's a better way to deal with drugs than prohibition.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

He called it Wildfire

Cute. The A-Team of Prohibition, Al Gonzales and Karen Tandy held a press conference today in an attempt to justify their continued employment. They were declaring their huge success in combating the "meth epidemic" and the culmination of their signature offensive, Operation Wildfire.

Most of the press release focuses on a really sad story of a child who was the victim of their prohibition policies. They don't mention if the penalty for drug addiction wasn't so severe, the parents might not have run and if the drug wasn't illegal, the parents probably wouldn't have bothered making it themselves. Only this administration would run such an example of failure and tout it as a success.

The facts on the actual dent they made in the meth market are buried deeper into the release.
As a result of Wildfire, we arrested 427 people. We seized 208 pounds of methamphetamine. We took 524 pounds of precursor chemicals off the street. That’s more than 200,000 tablets of pseudoephedrine, 158 kilograms of pseudoephedrine powder, and more than 220,860 tablets of ephedrine – enough to provide 284,000 people with a hit of meth.
Assuming their numbers are real, which I'm not, who does one hit of meth? Even if you're trying it for the first time and only do it once, you' re likely to take at least five hits in the course of an evening. If you do like it, how many hits a day does an addict do? 10? 20?

Do the math, you know I can't, but I bet they spent in the hundreds of millions of dollars for this photo op, to make it harder for about 30,000 addicts to get their dope. And that will only inconvenience them, not stop them from getting it from somewhere else.

Think about it, they arrested 427 people. I doubt they were all "big dealers."

I don't know the statistics on meth consumers these days, but I would venture a guess there's at least 427,000 meth dealers left in the country. Doesn't feel like much of dent to me.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

Update: It's uncanny how Pete and I so often post on the same story at the same time. Drug WarRant posts quotes from Tandy and Walters, not to mention the fabulous logo. I have a feeling Pete made that one himself though.

SCOTUS nominee Roberts underwrote Iran-Contra drug operations

This is why it pays to follow general politics and a good reason to call your Senators and tell them to vote against the confirmation of John Roberts. Steve Soto at The Left Coaster has the details on how Robert's fingerprints were all over the Iran-Contra drug trafficking operations. He wrote the legal memo that allowed them to set up a humanitarian agency as a cover for the drug running they did there.

Those of you old enough to have witnessed this chapter in US history will remember a lot of people were indicted in Iran-Contra. Few did time, most were pardoned, many of them are now back in positions of power in the Bush administration.

A lot of the paperwork has been "disapppeared" by the Rove scrub team but Kerry was instrumental in the original hearings. The question is can he rise to the challenge again?

[hat tip to Avedon Carol]

Delayed reaction

I'm still on duty today and I'm in kind of a weird mood. I should be home relatively early though and will be posting later this evening. I have a lot in the inbox to catch up on.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Emery round-up

Marc gets some support on the editorial pages in the Canadian newspapers. The Quesnel Observer says that Emery was providing an important public service and our US prohibitionists should leave him alone. The Langley Times posts a letter that notes the only thing Emery is really guilty of is telling the truth about prohibition. The Sault Star interviews a MMJ provider who notes that the case is not about drugs, it's about human rights. He says, “Marijuana smokers, marijuana growers, we’re not terrorists. To put us in such a light is ludicrous.” Simon Poole reports that even Canadian prohibition supporter, Vic Toews, has softened his initial stance on Emery's arrest saying "he's not so sure extraditing under these circumstances is fair. He even admits that the mandatory minimum of 10 years Emery faces in the US could contravene his Charter rights."

Meanwhile, Marc replies to his critics in a letter to the National Post. I can't find a link so here's the text.
Zev Singer quotes me accurately, though not necessarily completely. For example, I said and had written that "a Nazi is a person who inflicts pain, punishment, torture, incarceration or death on another human being who is acting peacefully and honestly." But Mr. Singer forgot the next line from my statement: "And who believes in an ideology that morally justifies inflicting pain, punishment, torture, incarceration or death for the good of the state." Otherwise, I appreciate Mr. Singer's initiative in bringing up the topic. It's a discussion that we ought to have. Is the roundup of the cannabis culture worldwide a holocaust?

Remember, most of the world refused to believe the Jews of Europe were being placed in concentration camps, or that there were vicious pogroms against them, until it was far too late. There were thousands of Jews in concentration camps during the 1936 Berlin Olympics, yet no one boycotted those Olympics. The world did not believe there was a holocaust in Cambodia and the world did not act. The world did not believe or act on the holocaust in Rwanda.

Twenty-four million people worldwide have been arrested for their belief in cannabis since 1955 and many millions of them have spent substantial time in jail. Much of the world does not want to believe there is a cultural genocide going on against the 164,000,000 people who, according to the UN last year, cherish marijuana in their lives. Yet everywhere on Earth today in 2005 we are hunted down, humiliated, arrested, jailed or even executed.

The perpetrators are "Nazis," even though they may call themselves something else. They want to destroy our people and have given the state sanction to do it.
Personally, I'm not so sure keeping this Nazi meme alive is useful but there's no way a reasonable person could construe his remarks as anti-semitic and he's got a point. The war on cannabis consumers is not that different from the Holocaust. It's an attempt by the government to purge society of a class of people they don't approve of.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

Foamy the Squirrel

This is the link of the week. Absolutely hilarious flash video. Foamy holds forth on medical marijuana, crackheads and prescription drugs. The video is tame but the audio is not work safe.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

Straight from the Raver's mouth

Due to a flood of public interest over the SWAT team attack on the event, the promoters of the Utah rave have set up a website that includes an official statement that answers the FAQs. They also have a section about the similar raid on Czechtek.

The police should not get away with this gross violation of civil rights and make no mistake about it, this "bust" is a direct result of the war on some drugs. Regular readers will recall when they passed the RAVE Act so many months ago, that the reform community predicted travesties like this would occur. The authors of the Act claimed they were keeping our kids safe from drugs when they passed it and promised it wouldn't be used to prohibit lawful assembly.

Although the raid on the Utah Rave was the most egregious attack on the right to peaceably assemble, it has already been used several times to shut down political speech at educational events organized by policy reformers that included music. It's not a war on drugs folks, it's a war on culture and a war on free expression.

Even if you've never been to a rave (and I haven't), don't let it pass unremarked. As the promoters ask, make some noise and don't stop talking until justice has been served in this case.

[hat tip to kaptinemo]

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Eye of the hurricane

It's never been my favorite city, but say a little prayer for New Orleans. Unless by some miracle, Hurricane Katrina veers off into the gulf, it looks like they're in for a really rough ride.

What's that sound?

That growling you hear is Gut Rumbles and if you're hungry for something completely different, Acidman is your guy. Don't let the name fool you, it's got nothing to do with LSD. It appears he had a job where he actually made industrial acid of some kind. Funny I never thought of it before, but acid doesn't grow on trees. Someone has to make the stuff they issue all those warning labels about. Doesn't sound like a pleasant job. But I digress.

I wandered on to his blog by accident and I shouldn't like him at all. By his own admission, he's "obnoxious, profane, drunken, red-necked, loud-mouthed and entirely worthy of ritual de-linking by ANY self-respecting blogger." Not to mention a misogynist, but I think that part is idle boasting. From what I can tell in my limited tenure there, he loves his wimmin, especially when they're scratching at each other over his attention.

Nonetheless, we surprisingly have a lot in common and I've grown unreasonably fond of him and his motley crew of rednecks in the last couple of weeks. But then again, I always have had a thing for "bad boys." Besides I know my Dad and my "born again as a hillbilly" sister Annie are going to love him too, so this link is for them.

Enjoy and don't be surprised if you find me in the comment section now and again. I never could resist a challenge.

DEA doctors the evidence

MAP archives a terrific article by the AARP from the latest issue of their magazine on Prisoners of Pain. It's on the long side but worth reading in full. For those who never do, however, here's a few choice quotes.

With that conversation, Hamalainen joined legions of patients who are the victims of a troubling and all-too-common medical practice: the undertreatment of significant and debilitating pain. An estimated 75 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, according to the American Medical Association, and numerous studies have shown that patients often don't receive the medication that could provide relief. Undertreatment runs as high as 50 percent among advanced-stage cancer patients and 85 percent among older Americans living in long-term care facilities.

...Worse, some physicians fear that if they deliver humane pain care, they'll face prosecution by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration ( DEA ) or state medical boards. In recent years, a number of respected doctors have been investigated and even prosecuted after prescribing large amounts of opioids. The result, according to experts, is an environment that scares doctors away from practicing good medicine.

...At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he launched his career as a researcher and pain physician, Portenoy initially concentrated on cancer pain. Eventually he discovered that opioid medicines routinely prescribed in advanced-cancer cases also worked for patients without terminal illnesses. They relieved the symptoms without fogging patients' brains or turning them into addicts. The only major ongoing side effect, constipation, was manageable with other drugs. But when Portenoy shared the news in a 1986 journal article, he received excoriating criticism from his colleagues.

Slowly, time has proven Portenoy correct. In 1996 two leading professional groups declared opioids "an essential part of a pain-management plan." Five years later, the DEA and 21 health organizations agreed that opioids are often "the most effective way to treat pain and often the only treatment option that provides significant relief."

Though the DEA wouldn't comment for this article, it has previously insisted that it only goes after bad apples. "Our focus is not on pain doctors. Our focus is on people who divert drugs," agency official Patricia Good said during a 2004 teleconference. But physician groups and patient advocates point to a growing list of respected pain doctors who have been prosecuted by the DEA and by state medical boards. They say that while the DEA has a legitimate interest in preventing the diversion of harmful drugs, the agency's adversarial zeal has grown in the past four or five years.
Of course the seminal work on this matter has been published in a report commissioned by Radley Balko of the Cato Institute.

Don't let the DEA fool you. It is a war on doctors and it has nothing to do with drug diversion. They just make easy targets who have lots of assets to seize under forfeiture laws.

Rant on a roll

Pete Guither, as usual, is making me look like a total slug and is burning up the blogosphere with great posts. Just start at the top and keep scrolling for the latest developments on the poor kid, Anthony Diotaiuto, who was shot to death for possessing two ounces of pot in Florida, the ongoing controversy over the Utah rave bust, 8th Circuit insanity on sentencing and other stupid SWAT team tricks across the country.

And the winner is....
Scott at Grits for Breakfast checks in with a new report that shows "Texas incarcerates more people for marijuana than any other state." A dubious honor to be sure.
In Texas, "marijuana arrests comprised 56 percent of total drug arrests (48,963 out of 88,053 total arrests). Texas currently has 1,215 people in prison for marijuana as the controlling offense."
And one that doesn't come cheap, for Texas or the nation.
Nationally, nearly half of all drug arrests in 2003 were for marijuana, chalking up $5.1 billion in enforcement, adjudication and incarceration costs for marijuana alone, the group reports.
Scott has the links.

Supply side economics

It's been a tough week of really long hours so I'm behind in my reading and I'm just getting to posting this link to Talk Left who notes that the Wall Street Journal did a piece on the futility of the war on some drugs. You need to be a subscriber to read the piece, so with apologies to Jeralyn, I'm just going to steal her quotes.
...don't be confused by the facts. There's a whole army of Washington bureaucrats paid to fight America's drug habit by cutting off supply. A cynic might even suggest that career drug warriors have an incentive to see the "war" go on forever. One glance around this town and you can see that, barring a change in policy, it probably will.
Here profitable consequences of the "drug war" are prominently displayed; it's just that they're not the ones that Richard Nixon had in mind when he declared the "war" more than 30 years ago.

A fertile mix of incentives -- high demand for cocaine "up north," the prohibition against buying and using and U.S. insistence on interdiction -- has pushed lucrative trafficking operations off traditional routes and onto paths that pass through places like this. Locals here say that everybody and his uncle is getting into "transporting" and they're all getting rich.
Ah money - the real gateway drug and no faster route to it than the primrose path of prohibition.

On the bright side, as my dear friend Jules Siegel once noted, the Vietnam war ended when the WSJ came out against it. Perhaps the same will hold true for the war on some drugs.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Emery update

Marc is still making news over the border. The big buzz seems to be about this remark he made months ago, while blogging from a jail in some backwater province where he was serving a 90 day sentence for passing one joint to someone at a rally. This is what he reportedly said.
"I thought the term Jewish-Nazi, or Nazi-Jew, was an oxymoron until Cotler became the Injustice Minister," Mr. Emery's posting said. "What a disgrace he is to his Jewish roots. He should -- so much -- know better."
Granted it was an inelegant and rather stupid remark. If he hadn't used the word Jew, there would be nothing to say about it. But whose words over the course of a lifetime could stand up to such minute scrutiny? He was pissed off. He said something in anger. I understand he apologized. End of story already.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

Painful realizations

I would say this is a little misleading. While I believe marijuana is not an effective way to treat acute pain after surgery for instance, I do believe it's effective in easing acute pain that occurs as symptom of certain diseases.

However there is one heartening aspect of these guidelines in that they treat pain as a parameter of healing and there is talk of tracking it as a vital sign on medical charts. It's a good start towards acknowledging that treating pain with opiates is not the extreme option it's made out to be by the prohibitionists.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

The battle for UMASS marijuana

John Tierney continues his War on Some Drugs series with Marijuana Pipe Dreams. Read the whole thing, it's short, but here's the best quote.
Discovering benefits, after all, would undermine the great anti-marijuana campaign that has taken hold in Washington. Marijuana is deemed to be such a powerful "gateway" to other drugs that it's become the top priority in the federal drug war, much to the puzzlement of many scientists, not to mention the police officers who see a lot of worse drugs on the streets.
Another great piece by Tierney and a special thanks to Ann Althouse for picking up on this story. She says,
...This makes it look as though the DEA is trying to prevent scientists from proving medicinal benefits. ...It's one thing to be against marijuana, quite another to be against scientific research.
Not exactly a searing indictment of the DEA but nonetheless, Ann - although she is no extremist - definitely blogs to the right. It's good to see a conservative of her influence take on the issue at all and especially heartening to see her take a stand against the DEA's self-serving position in preventing this very small but important research program at UMASS from going forward.

I remind you that you can also follow the progress of the case on the Craker blog.

US monster prison system feeds on non-violent drug consumers

Drug War Chronicle points us to a new report by the The Justice Policy Institute - Efficacy and Impact: The Criminal Justice Response to Marijuana Policy in the United States. Unsurprisingly they find little efficacy or impact on the use of cannabis, while they revel the socially destructive results of the policy. Facts of the day.
...the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) measured the effectiveness and consequences of national drug control policies that have resulted in the U.S. spending 300 times what it did 35 years ago on drug control. Criminal justice responses to marijuana - including law enforcement, judicial and corrections-accounted for $5.1 billion in 2000, according to Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron. Despite this increase in spending on drug control from $65 million to currently $19 billion, and the imprisonment of 30,000 people for a marijuana offense, marijuana usage has remained relatively unchanged regardless of arrest rates going up or down.

...In 7 out of 10 states marijuana arrests make up over half of all drug arrests and in almost 3 out of 10 states marijuana arrests make up almost 60 percent of all drug arrests. The U.S. locks up more people for marijuana than the individual prison populations of 8 of the 10 European Union nations—and locks up more people for marijuana than the prison populations of the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Portugal.
It's not a war on drugs, it's a war on selected consumers - responsible or not. It's certainly not a war being waged to the benefit of society when non-violent consumers are locked up for years, while violent criminals enjoy early release to make room in the prisons.

Disband the DEA

Great feature article in this week's Drug Sense Weekly. Mike Gray, the Chairman of Common Sense For Drug Policy, takes a look at the ongoing interference in the practice of medicine by the DEA. It's short, so read it all. Gray thinks as the boomers age and are in need of this sort of treatment, the public outcry will finally overcome the DEA's irresponsible campaign against medical practitioners, particularly since you have to be deaf, dumb and blind to see they prosecute this aspect of the war on some drugs for the sole purpose of seizing the doctor's significant assets and generating statistics that "prove" they're accomplishing something to "benefit" society - namely the destruction of an entire medical speciality and one that's badly needed by chronic pain sufferers.

As I've said before, the DEA should be disbanded. It has accomplished nothing constructive during the life of the agency. Gray cites Dr. David Brushwood, professor of pharmacy at the University of Florida who puts it more eloquently,
"Interference in medical practice by a federal agency is intolerable. If the agency insists on an approach to diversion prevention that misunderstands medical practice and victimizes pain patients, it has outlived its usefulness."
In fact, it's a big part of the problem. Where do think pain patients will go for relief if they can't find doctors to treat them? At least some will end up dealing on the street to ease their ongoing condition, further expanding the black market which was a lot smaller before the DEA tried to "destroy" it by going after the easiest and least culpable targets.

If we don't eliminate the DEA, the least we should do is eliminate forfeiture. I'd bet money the pain docs would become a lot less attractive a target, if their assets couldn't be seized before they were even tried by the courts.

Friday, August 26, 2005

What's Martha Stewart done for drug policy reform lately?

Light posting tonight but JackL brings up a good point today. Remember when Martha Stewart was in jail and she put up that heartfelt Christmas post on unjustly incarcerated drug war inmates?

Anybody notice that she's done anything about it since she's been out. Not unexpected, but still a disappointment.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Heavenly Blues

The spider thing seems to have resolved itself without my intervention. I came home tonight and saw no sign of my brown recluse unless that new little spider sarcophagus is her. Back to the comfortable Daddy Long Legs and my spider under the broken leaf cabana. I have to break up some webs, it's getting crazy out on the screen porch, but I won't disturb that one even though it's in an inconvenient place.

Meanwhile, the morning glories are finally taking off. The big ball where all the vines converge sprouted six flowers this morning and they were still there when I got home. My only gardening success this year - besides the planter which recovered from the deer browsing. It looks great from the living room, exactly as I had envisioned it. That happens so rarely - it's cheering with the light turning already. Twilight comes at 8:00 here now.

Three squawking flocks of geese were flying south tonight. I couldn't see them through the trees but they raised an incredible racket as they were flying past. It's almost Labor Day. Where did the summer go?

Baltimore police commissioner brings a new view to drug policy

Nicole Sesker is a junkie. She turns cheap tricks to get her fix. She calls her herself a survivor. Baltimore's newest police commissioner, Leonard D. Hamm, calls her his step-daughter. He tried to help her but she wasn't ready to be helped. Hamm promises to bring a new perspective to his position.
In his first interview about his stepdaughter, Mr. Hamm, 56, said he decided to speak to dramatize the depth of the drug problem in Baltimore and to underscore the need for new strategies.

This spring, he initiated a program he calls "Get Out of the Game," assigning a unit of community affairs officers to patrol some of Baltimore's toughest streets in search of addicts and low-level dealers - not to arrest them, but to help them find treatment, job training, counseling and other social services.

...But it represents a shift for the department, which for much of the past decade has focused on locking up large numbers of nonviolent drug offenders. Though that strategy has helped reduce violent crime, it may have also reached the limits of its effectiveness, Mr. Hamm said.

"The piece that we need now is the healing part," he said. "We can do all the enforcement we want, but if we don't help people find work, find affordable housing, get treatment, we'll just keep doing what we're doing, locking the same people up."
Nicole says she wants to get straight but doesn't know how, however it's not clear that she is really ready. I'm not one that endorses the tough love thing but with heroin, it's pretty grey. I've seen what it can do to people so I'm not making judgements on either side. The only thing I'm certain of is that there are not enough treatment programs available to addicts who are serious about kicking the habit.

In any event, it's an interesting story and it holds some other pertinent facts.
Peter Beilenson, who resigned in June as city health commissioner to run for Congress, estimated that Baltimore had more than 40,000 drug addicts. Mr. Beilenson said that 85 percent of all crimes in the city were drug-related, but that the vast majority of the crimes committed by drug addicts were nonviolent.
The mayor of the city is not on board but I have a feeling this Commissioner is going to have a positive effect on drug policy in Baltimore anyway.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

Out of the archives, Michelle Malkin speaks

For readers who don't follow my political blogs, it would take too long to explain my distaste for Michelle Malkin. At the present time I find her to be an over-hyped spiteful raving maniac. But, my right-wing co-blogger, BatOne at Pennywit, sent me a link to this solid and sensible piece she wrote in 2000 about the war on some drugs that's worth archiving. She says,
... Downey's case simply underscores that the drug war is a costly and selective form of government paternalism that has done far more harm than good.
She goes on to cite the CATO Institute, Milton Friedman and Families Against Mandatory Minimums and closes with these words.
Black and white, young and old, famous and nameless -- Americans from all walks of life can identify with the broken soul of Robert Downey Jr. His addiction is his own prison. His public humiliation is its own life sentence. The war on drugs is an expensive quagmire that needlessly punishes people who've already punished themselves beyond repair.
I'm glad to know she was sane once, before she apparently drank the koolaid and decided to become a rabid pit bull for the White House. I wonder if she would write something like this today, in light of the administration's incomprehensible vendetta against cannabis consumers, not to mention pain management doctors.

Update: Welcome Agitator readers. Thanks Radley.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Well now that I know what a brown recluse looks like, I don't feel any better about my carport. The legs look kind of striped like the one hanging over my car.

The good news is, it's not there anymore. I never worked up the nerve to confront it but when I came home from work, it wasn't in its customary spot anymore. The bad news is, it may just have become irriated that I turned the AC unit on a few times in the last couple of weeks and have moved to over the trash can. I couldn't tell for sure in the dusk.

Meanwhile, the Daddy Long Legs have taken over the spot over the AC. Those are funny spiders but I know they're safe because I saw the garden center cashier pick one up. I have lots of those. They kind of come and go but every once in a while they will all pile up in one spot and it kind of looks like a giant dandelion puff.

Story developing....

Canadians protest in peace in Hamilton

To end the day on a more uplifting note, Canabian Day in Hamilton went off without a SWAT team intervening.
City Hall was the scene of a marijuana smoke out over the weekend as 300 users lit up to celebrate Canabian Day.

Hamilton police watched from a distance Saturday while protesters -- most of them in their late teens and early 20s -- passed around joints, pipes and bongs.

Despite earlier warnings from police of swift arrests of anyone caught with marijuana, officers barely acknowledged the trafficking of pot happening right in front of them.

"I have an operational plan and I'm following it and it's working well," said Superintendent Glyn Wide. "I'm not interested in any altercation here today. We're just making sure people are going to protest safely and without any injury."

Keynote speaker and pot activist David Malmo Levine handed out more than half an ounce of unpressed powder bubble hashish -- worth about $1,000 -- to protesters who sat cross-legged in circles, pipes and bongs in hand. Bongs are specialized pot-smoking devices.
Isn't it cute that they explained that? There was a reported cacophony of positive response from the passing traffic to the sign, "Honk if you blaze."

Nice to have some good news for a change.

Dealing from a daycare center?

This is what gives responsible cannabis consumers a bad name.
Oxford police found ten pounds of marijuana at a day-care center, resulting in charges against the center's owner and her son.

Gloria Rogers faces several charges, including trafficking in marijuana, and possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana. She is owner of Rogers Christian Day Care Home. She was released on $30,000 bond.
Notice this is a "Christian" day care. Is it me or do all the crazy crimes come those faith-based folks. The BTK killer taught Sunday School in one of those churches. The Olympics bomber was a Chrisian. But I digress.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with her dealing in a few pounds of marijuana but it's completely irresponsible for her to being doing so within such close proximity of children. Disgraceful.

New blog in town

Welcome to a new blog with a very long name, Notes from the DEA administrative law court concerning the MAPS/Professor Craker action. They will be tracking and reporting on this case now going through the DEA administrative court.

News Brief Medical Marijuana Hearings Begin
by Brendan Coyne

A hearing into a challenge to federal laws prohibiting research and experimentation with marijuana opened today, with the American Civil Liberties Union charging that the Drug Enforcement Agency’s efforts to fight such privately-funded research posed an unnecessary obstruction that could prevent researchers from definitively finding out whether the plant has legitimate medical uses.

The proceedings cap a four-year battle by a University of Massachusetts professor seeking to grow marijuana for research into the prohibited plant’s medicinal uses. Through its Drug Law Reform Project, the ACLU is representing the plant researcher, Lyle E. Craker, in front of a Department of Justice administrative law judge who will make recommendations to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

We look forward to the updates and of course wish them the best of luck with the case.

[hat tip to Preston Peet]

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Seattle Hempfest goes off with a hitch

On a brighter note, our federales didn't swoop down on the Hempfest this year despite the fact the pot smokers and paraphernalia dealers were in abundance. The Vancouver Sun reports:
Even former police chief Norm Stamper is a big fan of its time-for-a-change message and endorses it: "I think the scope and magnitude of the damage that's been done by the war on drugs far exceeds the damage of any other crime-fighting public policy in the history of the country."
The Seattle Times weighs in with this.
Many weren't shy about firing up a joint while they lounged in the park.
Seattle police were there, but spokesman Sean Whitcomb explained, "Marijuana enforcement is one of our lowest priorities. Keeping the public safe is our No. 1 mission at Hempfest."
But as fair warning, he added, "That doesn't mean we don't enforce a crime if it happens in front of an officer."
In other words, it's not wise to rub their noses in it.
Meanwhile the Arizona Daily takes a dim view of the festival in particular and cannabis consumers in general. Our Princess of Prohibition, Karen Tandy, could have written that piece for them.

Czechtek concert goers brutalized by police

The phrase going to hell in a handbasket springs to mind. Here's yet another brutual police action against concert goers in the Czech Republic - this one carried out over two days.

Czechtek is an open-air international and multicultural music festival with 12 year tradition. Not only different genres of music, but also videoart and other art performances take place on this unique event of free culture.

In all history of festival there were no significant damages or problems, participants while leaving clean the land and take responsibility for their action.

Contract with the owner of grass plain was clearly shown to police. There is no indicaion that festival was in any way illegal, every aspect was according to law of Czech Republic.
Police blocked the roads leading into the event and coerced neighbors of the property to sign complaints.
Most of the people did not hear any appeal to leave the place, many of them had drunk alcohol-containing beverages and could not go away with cars, many of them believed that by taking part on legally organized festival they cannot be targeted by police.

The first police action on saturday 30, 16:30PM took several hours and was badly coordinated. On the place was 1000 policemen, water cannon, armoured tank and low-flying helicopter.

The second night attack at 22PM was led with extreme brutality. Police in heavy suits without identifying numbers refused to give identifying information, information about their command and information about first aid location. Police used massive amounts of tear gas and desorientation grenades, in many cases they threw tear gas granade into a car and did not let people inside for long time get out, in other cases they broke car windows by iron bars, threw grenade in and forced people to get out.

All people were beaten up, including teenage girls, which cried in pain. Witnesses described attack on lone staing girl, who was pulled down by her hair and kicked on the ground by four policemen.

There were hundreds of injuries, including cuts, bruises, burnings, broken arms, shock. Many people were in shock still the next day afternoon with red faces from tear gas.
The police then sent all these disoriented kids onto the road and opened the highway to traffic again, resulting in a fleet of delayed trucks, I assume semis, barreling down the road. One concert goer was killed.

I would say thank God we live in America, but considering how similiar this is to the Utah rave, all I can say is God help us all.

[hat tip to JackL]

Update on the Utah rave bust

The stuff is still pouring into the in-box. Haven't seen Ben Masel in a long time but he resurfaced to express his outrage, constructively as usual. He posts a letter he wrote to the reporter at the Salt Lake City Tribune.

Between Ben and the blogosphere, the Trib posted an updated article that was a little more balanced. I won't bother analyzing this one because Pete Guither beat me to this and echoes my thoughts. He also links to a Provo article that indicates despite the cops' contention, the event was indeed fully permitted.

The thing really rankles me is the arrest of the security guards. The sheriff says they busted up the party out of concern for drug and alcohol use and then arrest the guys who are preventing it from being brought in - for holding it. Well what were they supposed to do? Run it down to local PD, baggie by baggie or have a big old bonfire and burn it as they consficate it? A bonfire is probably against the law at this time of year.

Sheer insanity. It's a culture war folks and it's a war on Americans - not drugs.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Utah Ravers terrorized by SWAT team

Outrageous. If you had any doubts that were now living in a police state, read this Kos diary. A fully permitted musical event was raided by armed cops in fatigues with helicopter support. They had no warrant. Their probable cause was alleged prior knowledge of illegal activities at similar events. To my knowledge there were no complaints.

You really have to read the whole thing but here's a couple of money grafs.
No one resisted. That's for sure. They had police dogs raiding the crowd of people and I saw a dog signal out a guy who obviously had some drugs on him. The soldiers attacked the guy (4 of them on 1), and kicked him a few times in the ribs and had their knees in his back and sides. As they were cuffing him, there was about 1000 kids trying to leave in the backdrop, peacefully. Next thing I know, A can of fucking TEAR GAS is launched into the crowd. People are running and screaming at this point. Girls are crying, guys are cussing... bad scene.

...The police were rounding up the staff of the party and the main promoter went up to them with the permit for the show and said "here, I have the permit." The police then said, "no you don't" and ripped the permit out of his hand. Then, they put an assault rifle to his forehead and said "get the fuck out of here right now."
They were beating up young girls. The event hired security guards to confiscate drugs at the gate. They were arrested for possession. The owner of the property was essentially forced at gunpoint to leave her own land. And that's not even all of it.

I understand the local paper simply printed the farcical sheriff's statement and did no other investigation.

This is so egregious it demands action. Jeralyn also posted it so one hopes it will get some national attention outside of the reform community. Citizens have the right to assemble peacefully. This should not happen in America and judging by the number of emails I have in the inbox, we'll be talking about it again.

Update: Here's the link to only published story on it so far. It does appear to be a hack job. It's mostly just a steno job from the release but I found it even more appalling that this account puts the attendance at 400 people and they sent in 90 cops?

[hat tip to JackL]

Howard Wooldridge speaks

My tech savvy DetNews coblogger Bonnie Bucqueroux caught up with Howard Wooldridge while he was riding across Michigan and posts a great video report. If you want to see Howard in action speaking to the local Rotary Club, click here.

Heavenly Blues

Well how glad was I to get a call at 6:00am to say I didn't have to come in yet? Pretty darn happy although unfortunately it's because the tyke got sick and has to go to the doctor this morning. Still it was great to get a couple more hours of sleep and one hopes the babe just has a little bug and it's nothing serious. I'm sort of on pins and needles waiting to hear.

Meanwhile, my first morning glory flower popped out today and it's really blue. There's a ton of buds too so in a few days I should be waking up to quite a show. I'm ridiculously excited about it. Goes to show you how much my life has changed. Remember when I used to get my excitement from meeting semi-famous musicians at the City Cafe?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Need a job?

You could apply for this one.



THIS IS A SOURCES SOUGHT NOTICE. Potential sources are sought to provide security for transportation in Arizona of bulk quantities of marijuana for destruction. Individuals working under this requirement shall be qualified to legally carry weapons and able pass a DEA background investigation, as well as have experience providing security for transportation of sensitive items. The work to be performed will be the loading of multi-ton quantities of marijuana at a secure site, providing protection and security enroute to the destruction facility, offloading multi-ton quantities of marijuana at the destruction facility, and providing security until all the marijuana is destroyed.
Full job description at link.

[hat tip mycos]

Wild life

I have a new wildflower in the yard. Well actually they're only in the neighbor's yard since mine was mowed but they're an interesting change. It appears they're some form of chaffhead, although mine aren't as robust as these.

The wildflowers have been a definite plus about living here. There's a lot that also grow up north but a few really nice ones that don't. Earlier in the season, there were a lot of these moth mullen around. The picture doesn't do them justice and it's fun to see wisteria and passionflowers growing wild on the roadside. I meant to dig one up from the construction site and bring it home but I never got around to it. I think it needs more sun than I have in any event.

Meanwhile, I have this weird little vine popping up in the back yard that I still haven't been able to identify. Kind of tender foliage with a three lobed leaf. They keep getting mowed down before they flower but there's one that just sprang up by the side of the house. I'm hoping that one blooms by the end of the season so I can figure out what it is. These little mysteries drive me crazy.

Back to work

Well, it's my last day off before another eight day stretch of long hours - I hate this rotation - and I didn't get half the things on my list checked off. Got the lawn mowed though. What a blessing it was to find Ortega.

I was supposed to wake up early yesterday and pick up all the limbs that fell off the trees in the last couple of storms before he got here but as usual, I stayed up way too late, thinking and drinking, so I didn't hear the lawn mower outside the window until he was just about done. He picked up the sticks too thank God. I didn't mind doing it in the cooler weather, but the bug thing has got me so creeped out since it got hot, that I've been afraid to go out and do it without being fully decked out in jeans, boots and a long sleeve shirt. That leaves a small window in the morning to get it done without dying of heatstroke.

Meanwhile, my sis has instructed me on spider removal and snake avoidance, so maybe if I get brave I'll try to move that spider in the carport this afternoon. I don't really want to kill it. I just want it to live somewhere else. It had me so freaked out that I brought the groceries through the other door because I was afraid to walk under it in the dark. It's braver at night and hangs lower. Annie thinks it's probably just a garden spider, but I'm not taking any chances.

Anyway, I'll be back to mainly evening posting starting tomorrow. It's an early call and my sleeping schedule is off. It will take a day or two to adjust again. I'm so not a morning person.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Jailing addicted mothers hurts the children more

How much more counterproductive can it get?

Maryland joins South Carolina and a handful of other similarly "enlightened" states in this strategy. A baby is born with drugs in its system to an addicted mother. They could spend a few thousand on rehab services and give the little family a chance to overcome the problem. That would make sense. Get the mom off the junk; give her a little help with housing, maybe a job program, so she pull herself back together and raise her child properly. Of course that's not the strategy.

Instead, they spend tens of thousands to put the mother in jail, rip the baby from its natural mother's care and place it in a foster home to be "raised" by strangers. So the mother is still a junkie when she gets out and you have a kid prone to emotional disorders from, if they're lucky - and not all of them are - an indifferent upbringing.

Jailing mothers punishes the babies just as much or not more than the mothers. Where's the justice in that?

Just like back home

Did Canada pass its own version of the Patriot Act while I wasn't looking or have they simply entirely turned over the administration of their government to the US neo-cons? The Windsor Star reports.
OTTAWA - The federal cabinet will review new legislation this fall that would give police and security agencies vast powers to begin surveillance of the Internet without court authority.

The new measures would allow law-enforcement agents to intercept personal e-mails, text messages and possibly even password-secure websites used for purchasing and financial transactions.
I'm sure I don't have to tell our readers up North the implications this legislation could have on drug policy activists. Outrageous.

Mad about meth

This one has been making the rounds but in case you missed it, the NYT has a story on the latest media extravaganza in the war on some drugs. In response to growing criticism that they're ignoring the "meth epidemic," White House drug warriors, John Walters, AG Al Gonzales and HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt showed up at a Nashville conference to assure the masses that they take the drug seriously.

I'll skip the lame quotes, (they're always the same), and summarize. The White House guys say they are doing something about it and they've already done a lot, but white trash meth heads don't own enough property to seize to make it worth their while to arrest them and it costs too much to clean up the busted labs, so they have to go after marijuana users who are easier to catch and are generally successful citizens who own good stuff to forfeit. Okay, I made that last part up, but that's effectively how it works.

Everyone agrees that it's a problem and the HHS will grant a token $16.2 million for treatment options. A spit in the bucket compared to the billions they spend on apprehension and incarceration. Meanwhile, ONDCP will be pitching in by spending your tax dollars on a new ad campaign to "fight" meth use. Which will no doubt be as effective as the anti-marijuana ads - which is to say - not at all.

The big meme is to make cold medicine and whatever other common legal items that contain pseudoephedrine, really hard to get. Great way to incovenience the public, but unlikely to eliminate meth use as the "cooks" are way ahead of them already and have simply moved their operations to Mexico.

This strategy, already employed in many places, may have indeed reduced the proliferation of home labs, a good thing to be sure, but meanwhile meth use is up sharply and shows no sign of abating. So what you're left with is a whole bunch of addicts who can no longer make their own drug and will now probably be committing property crimes to be able to afford their fix. The violence the addicts are prone to while in paranoid psychosis from overuse, is just a little bonus.

They also want to increase the penalities for meth. As if anyone has ever been "cured" of addiction in jail. I guess they didn't notice that incarcerating well over 2 million Americans already, hasn't done a bloody thing to reduce consumption of any drug.

But without a punative approach, all that drug war funding would disappear and the one thing all the parties agree on is that they want and need more money to continue their failed tactics. What the hell, it's a living.

Howard's ride

My pal Howard Wooldridge is still on his horse and has made almost to Detroit. I put up a long post on the DetNews blog for him. Hope Motown shows him some love.

Couldn't stand the weather

The summer is so odd in the south. It changes so fast, it makes New England weather look slow.

I diddled around all day so I didn't go the grocery store until about 9:30. When I went into the store it was kind of a pleasant evening. When I came out, everything had completely changed. It was so hot and humid, it felt like a jungle. My car was covered in dew and with the windows opened the entire thing was fogged up. No combination of AC or defrost would clear it up. I drove halfway home with the wipers on to keep it from condensing on the glass even as I was moving. It got so hot, I came home and turned on the AC. Damnedest phenomenon.

It's hard to get used to the insect thing here as well. Long time readers know that I kind of like spiders but they have poison ones here and I'm pretty sure the one hanging off the carport ceiling is a brown recluse. Not that I'm going to get close enough to check and see if has an hourglass on it to make certain. It's big and I figure if it wasn't poisonous, it would be more afraid of me.

Anyway, it lives right over the driver side door of my car. If I'm off for a few days and don't go out, it will anchor its web to the car. I'm not quite sure what to do about it. It's really weird for me to be afraid of spiders. It's hard to get used to.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Hot links

Radley Balko has a lot as always. New preparations for drug dog searches in Arizona schools. And he always has the latest on how it's, not a war on doctors, no really - it's not. The DEA said so.

Prohibition and the Media looks at National Forest grow-ops.

Meanwhile, Pete Guither dissects Marc Souders psyche. I'd say the answer to his question is a resounding - Yep.

Funny stuff

Loretta has a link to a hysterical news report on a drug burning. It is a joke folks so don't go out there trying to find one.

Heart of Texas

Scott at Grits for Breakfast is back on the blog and has a link to a great article on Texas drug task forces called appropriately, "The War on Thugs." I have to pass on the lede as well.
Over the past four years, close to a quarter of all narcs in Texas have been laid off, victims of a severe contraction in the state’s biggest anti-drug bureaucracy. Even more cuts may be on the way, depending on the outcome of a budget fight currently going on in Washington, D.C. The writing on the wall is easy to read: After almost two decades of lavish funding, the drug war is no longer a growth industry in Texas.
Sounds like progress to me. Scott also finds out that his blog is being read in strange places.

Border guard on trial

Your Homeland Security at work folks, keeping you safe from - no, don't be silly, not terrorists - plant smokers. As you can see in the photo, they'll go to great lengths to keep those scoundrels out of our country - even when they're innocent.

A 17 year veteran of the Border Patrol, now called something longer, will go on trial - not for assault and battery, he's a federal cop so he's allowed to beat people up - but violating the civil rights of Zhao Yan, a Chinese businesswoman who made the mistake of vacationing in Niagra Falls and decided to take a walk across the border - as thousands of tourists do everyday. I made that walk myself as a kid.

The unfortunate Ms Yan picked the wrong day.
She and two other Chinese women say they were trying to walk to Canada at about 11:15 p.m. July 21, 2004, at the Rainbow Bridge.

According to federal prosecutors, the events leading to her arrest began when Rhodes cleared Dennis L. Leathers Jr. of Baltimore, who had walked across the bridge from Canada, to enter the United States.

Angelo Arcuri, another inspector, told investigators that, as Leathers walked past, he noticed a bulge in his back, stopped him and discovered marijuana. After a brief struggle, Arcuri said he handcuffed Leathers.

Rhodes told investigators he thought Zhao and her companions were with Leathers, so he hit an alarm button on his portable radio to call other inspectors and then ran after the women.
Now there's probable cause for you. They happened to walking past the guy when he was caught. It gets worse.
[The guard] said Zhao resisted attempts to handcuff her, so he used what he called appropriate force to subdue her.

Other inspectors told investigators that Rhodes pepper-sprayed Zhao, put her against a wall and said he had her under control.

Emmett Russell and Amina Zinnerman, two fellow customs inspectors, are expected to testify that when they tried to help Rhodes - who is 6-foot-1 and weighs 210 pounds - handcuff the 5-foot-2, 115-pound woman, Zhao was on her knees.

Before they could intervene, Rhodes, they said, kneed Zhao three times in the face, grabbed her by the hair and smashed her head twice on the pavement.
She was later released when they realized the women had nothing to do with Leathers.

Rhodes is claiming he is being scapegoated as the only openly gay guard on the force. A rather lame excuse in the light of the photo. I don't have much hope he'll have to answer for his thuggish behavior but there is a glimmer, since China's foreign minister has taken an interest in the case.

Ms. Yan will be returning to testify at the trial. One doubts she'll be making any side trips to Canada this time.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

News of the North

Marc Emery continues to make news, at least in Canada. It looks like he could get some help from high places on his extradition appeal.

The Ottawa Xpress posts an interesting interview with Eugene Oscapella, an Ottawa Lawyer who teaches drug policy at the University of Ottawa. He discusses the Emery case and the irrational drug policy in Canada.

He rightly notes they have their own problems up there, but compared to the US, Canada looks like the soul of reason.

The Up in Smoke cafe will be sponsoring a smoke-out rally in Hamilton tomorrow. They're giving free cannabis to attendees. Word has it there's been an ongoing demonstration in front of the cafe for the last several days and the local cops have been hassling them, but they have so far stood their ground and kept the local law enforcement in their place. Rumor also has it that the police will not be arrested attendees for openly consuming cannabis, as long as they are orderly.

The Canadian version of the DEA (or would that be FBI) has released a new report on illicit drugs. Unsurprisingly they conclude that prohibition has created organized crime networks that now control the market in illegal drugs.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

Fabulous fungi

Looks like it's going to heat up again today but it's been damp and rather cool here for the last couple of days. The most amazing thing happened. My neighbor's yard erupted into a field full of bright sulphur yellow toadstools. Only a few spilled over on my lawn but I also got white and black ones.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find a photo to link to, but it did have this fairyland feel to it. Made me feel like running out to buy some lawn gnomes.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Prohibition doesn't protect children

The latest statistics are in on the failure of prohibition to prevent teenage drug use.
The number of students in the U.S. who attend schools where drugs are used, kept or sold has jumped 41 percent at the high school level and 47 percent at the middle school level since 2002, according to the results of a survey released Thursday by Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

The center says 62 percent of the nation’s high school students and 28 percent of the middle school students in the U.S. attend drug-infected schools, up from 44 percent and 19 percent in 2002.
It's interesting they're using a medical reference, drug-infected, rather than the more traditional drug-infested? A change of rhetoric in response to the reform movement's focus on harm reduction or simply a typo? What do you think?

In any event, it's unsurprising and this at a time when they have escalated the war on some drugs to include trampling on teenagers rights with pee tests and random drug dog raids. When you punish a teenager for something they didn't do, chances are it will piss them off enough to go out and do it.

And all their false propaganda has not only piqued kid's interest in drugs, but has also destroyed the credibility of any legitimate warnings about the consequences of drug abuse. Not to mention, putting the market in the hands of illegal traders leaves drugs more available than even cigarettes.

CASA blames parents, they blame R-rated movies and they blame us - the reform community. The call for even more vigorous assaults on our children in order to "protect them." But the truth of the matter is, it's prohibition that puts drugs in the hands of children and legalization and regulation is the only thing that will reduce their availability.

Around The Bloggerhood

I've been posting a lot at The Impolitic for the last couple of days and with my crazy schedule, today feels like the weekend to me, so I'm doing the roundup a little early this week. Here's what I won't be covering since it's already been so ably addressed.

Pete at Drug WarRant points us to Radley's piece on the disposition of the lawsuit we reported on in January. The cops got away it, scot free. As Pete says,
...this isn't just a silly/funny story about "oops, the police made a mistake." This goes into the whole drug war notion that citizens don't have rights -- that the police are able to feel that they can go and destroy something without cause or special authority, and that there are no repercussions if they're wrong.
Pete also has a slew of great posts in last few days, from Walters latest bizarre remarks to the DEAs vendetta in Venezuela. There's too many to even highlight. Just start at the top and keep scrolling.

Meanwhile, the fine bloggers at D'Alliance are looking at the failure of absurd cold medication legislation to stem the availability of meth, and watching the walls of marijuana prohibition come tumbling down.

Scott is off for a few days but leaves a load of links to recent posts and David Borden is back from hiatus with a post on the drug war in Acapulco.

Loretta is on the road and sending in reports while Terry holds down the blog. This is another scroller folks. They have pix and tape of Loretta, a lot of regional stories on the Southeast and news on Central and South America that you haven't seen anywhere else.

Finally the other Scott, that being Scott Morgan of Flex Your Rights has a police encounter success story.

Luck of the draw

Talk Left has a couple of posts of interest in the last couple of days. First up is a really sad forfeiture story. As Jeralyn puts it:
Talk about snake eyes: Jose Luis Betancourt got 24 years for drug trafficking. Then, he lost his lottery winnings, because the court found he bought the ticket with drug proceeds.
Jeralyn also points us to the current issue of The Seattle Weekly, who are doing a special "drug issue," I assume in conjunction with the upcoming Hempfest. Additional articles are linked in the gray glance box.

Personally I consider it kind of a miracle that a major metro weekly would be doing a drug issue. It goes to show how far we've come in the reform movement. I don't believe this would have happened five years ago.

Cannabis consumers make good ball players

I've been switching back and forth between browsers these days. I finally downloaded Mozilla and I love it on my laptop. It's the only one I use but for some reason it doesn't work as well on the desktop, so I use IE here as well. Thus I found this interesting item on the MSN homepage.

Oakland receiver Randy Moss admits he still consumes marijuana - once in a blue moon - and has been doing so througout his career. He adds, "But as far as abusing it and, you know, letting it take control over me, I don't do that, no."
When pressed whether he still smokes marijuana, the star receiver with the checkered past said: "I might. I might have fun. And, you know, hopefully ... I won't get into any trouble by the NFL by saying that, you know. I have had fun throughout my years and, you know, predominantly in the offseason.
I hope he doesn't get into any trouble for saying that either. Good for him for being honest and he shouldn't have to apologize for it.
"But, you know, I don't want any kids, you know, watching this taking a lesson from me as far as 'Well, Randy Moss used it so I'm going to use it.' I don't want that to get across. .
I mean, does anybody ever say, yeah I drink beer in the offseason but I don't want to kids to get the idea it's okay to drink? The only reason he has to offer that caveat is because as long as it's illegal, it's so easy for kids to get.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Killing kids with "kindness"

Yet another innocent victim fell to the war on some drugs this week. Three year old Sierra Odom died from injuries she received while in foster care. The child was taken from her mother on account of alleged drug use.
Ms. Jamieson said a judge ordered her children removed because of "hearsay" about drug use in her home. She said she didn't use drugs and blamed that misinformation on a friend, who was "leading a double life."

Ms. Gonzales of Child Protective Services said there was credible evidence against Ms. Jamieson and good reason to remove her children.

"Drugs and drug paraphernalia were found in the home," she said. "There were concerns about drug use by the parents, and a judge agreed."
And now a 3-year-old is dead as a direct result of that "concern." I've said this before but it bears repeating. Responsible drug use alone should not be a criteria for removing a child from a loving family. There is no evidence the mother, even if she was using drugs, did so in the presence of the children, nor to my knowledge was there evidence of abuse or neglect.

To rip a toddler from the arms of her mother and throw her in with a houseful of strangers to fend for herself, seems to me to be more abusive than any drug related activity the birth mother may or may not have been participating in. The bitter irony is, truly abused and neglected children who live with parents who don't use drugs, but are otherwise irresponsible, are almost impossible to remove from the home.

[hat tip to Sharon Secor]

Retro drugs

Who knew that people still drink cough syrup to get high?

I tried it once in high school and thought it was pretty awful. The taste of it alone was enough to put me off and frankly, I didn't think it worked that well. It was more like being stupid drunk than a nice mind-expanding high.

A man and his horse

Our friend Howard Wooldridge is still making his way across Michigan and got some good press in the Paw Paw Courier-Leader. Some great quotes here. My favorites:
"There are literally hundreds of dangerous and addictive drugs available through licensed, regulated pharmacies. Tobacco and alcohol, the two deadliest drugs, are sold in neighborhood stores in virtually every community in the nation. We recognize the potential for harm of those substances and have developed workable methods to control their distribution."

...Wooldridge soon became disillusioned with how the "war on drugs" was being waged. In his experience, he says he found that police departments put more time and energy into pursuing drug cases than they devoted to more serious crimes because of the promise of forfeiture proceeds.

"(It) has morphed into a gigantic, 'Dollars for Collars' money-making scheme, with public safety departments becoming increasingly dependent on forfeiture dollars to make ends meet in these times of strained budgets."
If you're wondering why drug policy reform has gained so much steam in the last three or four years, Howard is one reason why. Rock and roll cowboy.

Souder stews over harm reduction

The war on some drugs is finally taking a turn towards sensible policy and long time prohibition profiteer Mark Souder is becoming worried about his job. Having parlayed his "tough on drugs" persona into a position of power in Congress, he sees harm reduction as a "soft" policy that will diminish his importance as chief Congressional Overlord of "The Drug War" and destroy his carefully crafted campaign against personal sovereignty.

It's almost comical to see him attacking his former allies for coming to their senses. This week he takes on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for sponsoring a conference on meth that focuses on treatment rather than the failed policy of punishment.
"I am enormously frustrated with your department for dithering on the meth issue while the rest of America fights an epidemic that is viciously tearing apart families and communities," Souder wrote to Leavitt on Friday. "Any claim that your department is unaware of the pro-legalization agenda and 'soft' approach to illegal narcotics of the harm reduction advocates is utterly implausible."
Somebody tell the guy that the "hard" approach has put well over 2 million Americans in jail and hasn't solved a bloody thing. Of course it's "utterly implausible" that he didn't notice this himself, but if they legalized drugs and treated the addicts as a health problem, his drug war committee would be rendered meaningless and he would lose his influence. Then what could such a petty little man do to get attention?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

News of the North

A good interview with Marc Emery in the Vancouver Courier. He talks about the bust and the history of his activism and reveals some little known details of his personal life.

Meanwhile, California state judge James Gray, in an address before the Canadian Bar Association in Vancouver said that the war on drugs isn't working and every American politician knows it. But instead of making changes, politicians would rather continue receiving war-on-drug funding.
"Our biggest cash crop in California is marijuana," said Gray. "That shows you how good of a job we're doing. We couldn't be doing worse if we tried."

Gray wants to see a push in America to decriminalize marijuana and treat it like alcohol, but says there is too much money in the war on drugs for the government to stop.

"It is big business to prosecute the war on drugs," he said. "And people in the government do not want to give up that business. They realized that 70 per cent of people that use illegal drugs only use marijuana. If you legislate marijuana, you lose your enemy in the war on drugs and the funding that goes into it."
The Judge had nothing but praise for Vancouver's approach to drugs and urged them to continue the good work. This of course is why the DEA is so hellbent to destroy the Vansterdam scene. It's another living testament for sensible drug policy and a living proof that debunks their lying propaganda as they continue to lamely insist that marijuana is so much stronger now and is the cause of teenage admissions to drug treatment programs. Both claims long debunked on both sides of the border.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

Monday, August 15, 2005

Mixed media - This just in

I'm telling you it's been a 60s kind of day. It's the anniversary of the opening of Woodstock in 1969 so I've been humming the song all morning. Now I hear Dana Beal, the Yippie's Yippie, a founder of the political movement and still at the helm from their office in NYC will be on the Mike Malloy Show on Air America Radio tonight at 10:30pm. Listen here online for Dana's take on Yippies, Ibogaine, Marc Emery and the World wide movement.

The quiet life

I'm still on family duty but I have the morning off. Really looking forward to getting a real break for a few days. One more early call to crawl through tomorrow, before I can get back to some serious blogging. Meanwhile it was nice to wake up and find Avedon Carol had linked to our harvest roundup. Thanks, as always, for the support Avedon.

I'm missing my friends from Noho a little more than usual after having seen them for such a short time last week. It occurred to me the best part was being with people who have known me long enough to understand my sense of humor. They always laugh at my lame jokes.

On the wildlife front it's been insects this time of year. I had this huge black dragonfly that was attacking my car a couple of days ago, or maybe it was wooing it - it was hard to tell but it was definitely trying to communicate something with its circling and divebombing. Maybe it was just the sun on the glass was annoying it. It was a rather impressive display in any event.

I have this one butterfly that's been "watching" me as well. I haven't been to identify it but it appears to be some kind of grass skipper. It's taken to landing on the brick and just sitting there when I'm on the porch. It let me get quite close to examine its markings but with the wings down it's difficult to imagine what it looks like while flying. It forms an almost a perfect triangle. There's also this enormous grasshopper of some sort that has been literally hanging around the house. Every day I find it in a new place, sometimes on the screen porch, sometimes on one of the windows. It just sits there for hours on end without moving. I can't imagine what it eats from there and I'm surprised the spiders don't try to get it.

Highlight sighting of the week however was the wild turkey. I was driving home from the family homestead and nearly ran into it when I turned the corner. It had to be at least 25 pounds. Absolutely gigantic and not at all afraid. I stopped the car of course and he took his time ambling into the woods, not minding at all that I was practically hanging out the window to watch where he was going. He seemed practically tame.

In fact it turns out he almost is. There was a woman standing just down the road watching him as well. I stopped and asked her about it and it turns out that she and her husband have been feeding them. They have lived in the neighborhood long enough to remember when the development the family lives in was still a farm and tells me there used to be flocks of them along with herds of deer.

And finally, for those of you who are wondering about the garden. Don't ask. It appears the only thing I will harvest from that puppy is the one tomato I picked last week. The deer have eaten it into oblivion otherwise. On a brighter note though, the morning glories have been growing like crazy but haven't put forth a single bloom. This morning I believe I've seen the first signs of actual flowers. I may see some heavenly blues before the summer is over.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


These photos are so incredible that I just have to pass the link on to the bird lovers out there. Someone found a hummingbird nest and chronicled the whole life cycle of the bird in it, from laying eggs to the fledglings leaving the nest.

[hat tip to Roger Helbig]

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Harvest time

Time for our annual waste of the taxpayer's money on marijuana eradication roundups.

It's been a bumper year in Humboldt.

West Virginia spent an entire shift of man hours to just burn the results of their haul. I notice they just valued it at millions without giving actual weight or plant numbers. You can guess the expense of finding it though.
Tupper led an eradication detachment made up of troopers from the Welch and Princeton detachments as well as conservation officers of the state Division of Natural Resources and a helicopter pilot from the West Virginia National Guard who piloted a RAID (Reconnaissance and Aerial Interdiction Detail) helicopter on the two-day mission.
Notice the blurring of the military on a domestic mission. They shouldn't be allowed to use the Guard for routine law enforcement, but they weakened the Posse Comitatus protections specifically for drugs. Now it looks like they will use the precedent to destroy them completely under the war on terror. But I digress.

Pick for colossal waste of the week goes to Jefferson County, WA.
Sheriff's officials discovered a 19-plant marijuana grow operation in the Rice Lake area north of Quilcene, while conducting a helicopter flyover looking for plants on Thursday.
I expect they had a pretty big crew for that bust as well and spent thousands of tax dollars for a day of fun in the copter. Here's the nefarious criminal they bagged.
The man was not arrested, Perry said, because he was willing to cooperate with deputies and because he is not a flight risk.

"We have discretion in doing that. He cooperated with us, and it wasn't a huge grow operation," Perry said.

"It's a good, clean case," Perry said. "He had marijuana, he was growing, and he'll be charged for it, I'm sure.
In other words, he is a law abiding citizen who smokes pot and grew a few plants so he doesn't have to deal in illegal transactions.

Perry said the property owner told deputies he was growing the plants solely for personal use. Perry said the man will likely face charges of manufacturing narcotics, a class "C" felony punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
Think about that. There is something decidely uncivilized about a system that would exact such a severe penalty against a guy the cops didn't think they needed to arrest.

The week in review

NORML has a couple of interesting health articles up this week. They find that natural cannabis is superior to the artificially derived Marinol for a number of reasons including that Marinol is more psychoactive. They also have research showing naturally derived THC selectively inhibits tumor growth better than the synthetic alternatives.

Not really surprising. It's sort of like the difference between real cheese and those orange individually wrapped slices of cheese-food they sell in the grocery store, except that the pharmas charge a lot more money for the fake stuff.

From Drug Sense, the latest in dunderheaded tactics in the new war on meth, arresting convenience store owners for selling charcoal, tin foil and two bottles of cold medicine. Especially galling here is they targeted a bunch of Indians who barely speak English.

Drug War Chronicle reports Colombian President Uribe had a flash of inspiration and now wants to buy the coca crop from the peasants instead of trying to eradicate it. How it's supposed to work is unclear. They're supposed to promise not to grow it again, but there doesn't seem to be any provision for developing markets for alternate crops in the scheme. It does beat the hell out of herbicide bombing though.

And editor Phil Smith also passes this disturbing story on the latest victim in the war on marijuana.
A suspected drug dealer working for federal agents lured Donovan Brooks from New Jersey to a West Palm Beach motel parking lot to buy $80,000 of marijuana Friday morning.

There, agents and police officers approached Donovan and another man, ordered both to the ground, and then shot and killed Brooks.
Brooks was murdered by a local cop who was part of some kind of regional task force working alongside the DEA and and U.S. Immigration. No details have been forthcoming but it doesn't sound any different than a gangland killing to me.

The (police) state of the union

This can't be good.
President Bush signed into law a bill to create electronic monitoring programs to prevent the abuse of prescription drugs in all 50 states.
What this means is the government will be invading your privacy and tracking your prescription drug use. It's none of their business in the first place and the possibility for improper use of the data is boundless. Not to mention it's just one more tool to use to harass doctors and chronic pain patients.

The government would like you to believe this is necessary to address the so-called doctor shopping problem. The actual number of patients who really do doctor shop in order to sell drugs on the street is so small, this program is the equivalent of using an atomic bomb to kill a fly on the outside of your screen door.

It passed almost without mention in the press and without a murmur of protest from our elected officials. Remember this in 06 when I ask you to get out there and vote.

[via The Agitator]

Marc Emery speaks

The NYT picks up the Emery story and runs a good profile piece. They don't overtly express outrage at this breach of sovereignty or the waste of tax resources in going after a political target under the guise of the war on some drugs but neither do they imply approval of the DEA's folly. Overall it's an even-handed article and worth the time to read.

Meanwhile Marc has issued his own statement at PotTV and in a written piece at Cannabis Culture. It's an eloquent appeal to take up the struggle and give a little back to the man and the movement he led and inspired for almost the last decade. This graf sums up the philosophy of Marc's quest.
Overgrow the Government. Absolutely right. Inherent in that beautiful phrase are so many ideals and glories of a co-operative, peaceful society. Plant the seeds of freedom. Not overthrow, which speaks of violent conflict. But overgrow, using God’s greatest plant, and the enlightenment that comes from ingesting marijuana, to further a peaceful, democratic, revolution based on tolerance and peace and unity of all peoples. Plants, not violence. Reason, not murderous incarceration. Personal freedom, not the Nazified paramilitary violence of the DEA.
The DEA threw down the gauntlet against personal freedom and international sovereignty. They apparently truly believe they can set themselves up as the world's cops and suppress protected political activity at will.

Now is the time for all activists to take up their pens and fight back. The war won't end unless we protest this transparent attempt to export the DEA's perverse vendetta against a harmless plant, across the globe. It's the least we can do, not only for Marc but for law abiding cannabis consumers everywhere.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Support in strange places

I was wondering why I was enjoying the Instapundit so much last night. Taking a quick peek just before I started seeing double from sheer fatigue, it took me a minute to realize that Glenn is apparently away and there's a bunch of guest posters.

Michael Totten sent me to this guy, who I've never heard of but is probably famous in that crowd, Rusty Shackleford, who I have to link to because it's a very strong anti-prohibition post coming from what appears to be a very right wing noise machine kind of blog. He says everyone is wrong about the drug war - except himself of course - but don't let the ego thing put you off. It's actually a good post and the discussion is most interesting.

Seeing stars

Well it was too overcast last night to see the Perseids from here. Ironically I had a better view of the sky when I lived in lovely downtown Noho. However, it was pretty cool to wake up and find some blog stars in the comments section. Thanks to Thomas Knapp and Chris Muir for stopping by to offer some encouragement and welcome to new reader Guile from I Am Paperbag. I'm not sure of the significance of the name but it's a an interesting and quirky blog. And thanks also to Mike at the great blog Mr. Power, for visiting from the UK and for the fab link.

I swear one of these days I'm going to get around to updating the template and adding a bunch of these new blogs to the blogroll. It won't be in the next three days though. I'm still on 12 hour shifts this week. I don't mind the long hours, it's the getting up before dawn that wipes me out. I am not a morning person.