Wednesday, August 06, 2003


I've had three arguments within 24 hours with one of John Kerry's speechwriters. Infuritating at the time but thanks to an unexpected encounter with an old friend from Humboldt, I'm beginning to see the humor in the situation. In any event, it's a long story and I'm still processing. Details to follow soon... Meanwhile, it's already late so I'm going straight to the inbox.


If you happen to be going to Toronto this weekend or you're just looking for something to do, Tim Meehan, of Parti Marijuana de l'Ontario Marijuana Party, is organizing a legal smoke-in on Queen Street on Saturday. I'd love to be there myself.


Tim also sends this story about how absurdly our tax dollars are being spent on the Homeland Security measures at the border. Boy do I feel safer knowing that our border patrol is zealously pursing innocent tourists inadvertently crossing that imaginary line. It reminded me of the last chapters in the Lord of the Rings, when Saruman poisoned the Shire with fear and turned neighbor against neighbor. There were rules against everything. As I recall the local, reluctantly conscripted sherrif told Frodo, "People don't like it, but they're afraid to stand up to the Chief's guys. They're just waiting for a leader to rouse them up".

And the ordinary hobbits banded together in their outrage and fought like they never had before. They found their strength, prevailed against the overlords and saved their gentle lifestyle. The book has been called a parable for another war, but it kind of works for this one too, doesn't it?



The CNN poll ended with 75% of about 2,500 people voting against increasing the war on drugs. Lou Dobbs, as expected, barely mentioned the results. I didn't see the Forgotten War series myself. I was sorry to have missed it. The transcripts however are available.

Last word of the day goes to my friend Elmer Elevator, a man with a razor keen mind that cuts to the quick of any issue. His response to this excerpt from the transcript:

SCOTT BURNS, DFO OF NATL. DRUG CONTROL POLICY: This is not the marijuana of 20 years ago. This is not 1 percent ditch weed. This is 8 to 15 percent THC-level marijuana with as high as 30 percent.


Dear Lou Dobbs,

When you give free airtime to a Drug Czar spokesman making a claim like this, I truly believe a responsible journalist and news organization are obligated to verify such a "fact" with actual scientific evidence. Police agencies have been seizing tons of marijuana every week for thirty years; someone must have been testing and base-lining the THC content. CNN should have investigated this claim and either verified it, refuted it, or said that it could not be verified.

Otherwise CNN is just offering any jerk with a federal job free airtime to claim and allege anything that supports his agency's political agenda. Make him buy an ad.

This is a fairly recent (last two years) and largely unsubstantiated claim of those politicians and administration officials who wish to keep up the scare tactics to preserve the police/prosecutor/prison centerpiece response to marijuana, and prioritize marijuana policing to make it the budget, manpower and legislative equal of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine interdiction -- an astonishingly irresponsible aspect of the astonishingly irresponsible war on drugs.

Thirty and seventy years ago, it was sufficient for William Randolph Hearst and Harry J. Anslinger to tell white voters that marijuana would cause their daughters to have sex with Negroes and Mexicans. Such racist scare stories are no longer permissable in the political dialogue. But from then to now, the federal response to marijuana has always been entirely a criminal-justice response.

So if today's reason for locking 'em all up and throwing away the key is that marijuana is far more potent than mom and dad's Woodstock pot -- ask these federal officials what their reason for arresting and imprisoning marijuana users in the Woodstock era was.

It was, then as now, cultural: a war against the poor, a war against blacks and Hispanics, a war against kids who listen to the music and the messages of their own generation. And we are winning that war. We have 2.1 million people behind bars in the Land of the Free, primarily due to the war on drugs. We have more people behind bars than Russia. We have more people behind bars than China.


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