The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

Is the End of Marijuana Prohibition the End of the War On Drugs? Probably Not. | Bruce Dixon

The forty years of so-called “war on drugs” has been the rhetorical excuse for a nationwide policy of punitive overpolicing in black and brown communities. Although black and white rates of drug use have been virtually identical, law enforcement strategies focused police resources almost exclusively upon communities of color. Prosecutors and judges did their bit as well, charging and convicting whites significantly less often, and to less severe sentences than blacks.

The forty years war on drugs has been the front door of what can only be described as the prison state, in which African Americans are 13% of the population but more than 40% of the prisoners, and the chief interactions of government with young black males is policing, the courts and imprisonment. Given all that, the beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition, first in Colorado and soon to be followed by other states ought to be great good news. But not necessarily.

Ask yourself, what would it look like if policymakers wanted to end the prohibition of marijuana, but not necessarily the the war on drugs. What if they desired to lock down the potential economic opportunities opened up by legalizing weed to themselves and their class, to a handful of their wealthy and well-connected friends and campaign contributors? What if they wanted to make the legal marijuana market safe for predatory agribusiness, which would like to claim lucrative patents on all the genetic varieties of marijuana which can be legally grown, as they already try to do with other crops?

If they wanted to do those things, the system in place in Colorado today would be a good start. In Denver today, low income property owners can’t just plant pot in the back yard or on the roof in hopes of making one mortgage payment a year out of twelve, it doesn’t work that way. Ordinary households are limited to 3 plants per adult, and for reference only the female plants are good for smoking, and prohibited from selling the weed or the seed. To participate in the marijuana economy as anything but a consumer requires background checks, hefty license fees, a minimum of hundreds of thousands to invest, and the right connections. All this currently drives the price of legal weed in Colorado to over $600 per ounce, including a 25% state tax, roughly double the reported street price of illegal weed.

So to enable the state to collect that tax money, and the bankers, growers and investors to collect their profits from marijuana taxed by the state and regulated in the corporate interest, cops and judges and jailers in near future, in Colorado and in your state as well, figure to be just as busy as they always have been the last forty years, doing pretty much what they’ve always done… conducting a war on illegal drugs, chiefly in the poorer and blacker sections of town, with predictable results.

The end of marijuana prohibition is not designed to create jobs in our communities, nor is it intended to shrink the prison state. Our ruling class simply does not allow economic growth that they can’t monopolize, and the modern prison state has never been about protecting the public from drugs or crime. Prisons and our lifelong persecution of former prisoners serve to single out, brand and stigmatize the economic losers in modern capitalist society, so that those hanging on from paycheck to paycheck can have someone to look down upon and so that they might imagine that this vast edifice of inequality is, if not just, inevitable.

ACLU report confirms PoC make up most of marijuana arrests | The Raw Story

brashblacknonbeliever:

And in other news water is very wet and fire is still extremely hot.

Statistics like this are the reason why I would like to see marijuana legalized. I don’t give a shit about the white hipsters who wanna smoke a blunt with their friends while listening to Bob Marley and retwisting their “dreads.” I don’t give a shit about the white college students who get pissed and cry to mommy and daddy when they get a ticket for possession.

What I do care about are the PoC who are stopped, searched, and abused by police who think they have drugs on them. I care about the parents ripped from their families to serve mandatory sentences in prison because of a three strikes law. I care about the fact that in Iowa, Black people are eight times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana-related charge than white people.

If your “legalize it” campaign revolves around making sure white people can get high whenever and wherever they want, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your actions.

(Source: womanistgamergirl, via randomactsofchaos)

As ever, the utter failure of American drug policy is taken by the establishment as evidence that persisting is of even more importance. The policies the United States pursued in Mexico as part of our increased role there coincided with a huge uptick in violence and no reduction in the supply of Mexican drugs? By God, let’s hope that the Mexicans don’t decide to try something completely different! It’s the most irrational status-quo bias you’re likely to find. Conor Friedersdorf

Putting aside the coincidence, the case reaffirms the lunacy of our marijuana policies that take away resources from more serious criminal matters. Here officers raid a home of a sick person and take away a drug that she says relieves her pain. Here is my view: if someone is dying from Lou Gehrig’s Disease, I am not horrified by her using pot to relieve her pain. Call me crazy but that appears to be the overwhelming view of most citizens. Yet, our politicians continue to feed a mass drug enforcement complex that arrests citizens and seizes property. While this case did not involve a greater seizure of property, many of these units are now the source of revenue streams associated with drug forfeiture. Jonathan Turley, Florida Police Raid Home of Sick Woman Hours After She Is Featured In Medical Marijuana Story (h/t)

Drugs and the National Security State | Lewis Lapham

… Alcohol serves at the pleasure of the players on both sides of the game, its virtues those indicated by Seneca and Martin Luther, its vices those that the novelist Marguerite Duras likens, as did Hamlet, to the sleep of death: “Drinking isn’t necessarily the same as wanting to die. But you can’t drink without thinking you’re killing yourself.” Alcohol’s job is to replace creation with an illusion that is barren. “The words a man speaks in the night of drunkenness fade like the darkness itself at the coming of day.”

The observation is in the same despairing minor key as Billie Holiday’s riff on heroin: “If you think dope is for kicks and thrills you’re out of your mind. There are more kicks to be had in a good case of paralytic polio and living in an iron lung. If you think you need stuff to play music or sing, you’re crazy. It can fix you so you can’t play nothing or sing nothing.” She goes on to say that in Britain the authorities at least have the decency to treat addiction as a public-health problem, but in America, “if you go to the doctor, he’s liable to slam the door in your face and call the cops.”

Humankind’s thirst for intoxicants is unquenchable, but to criminalize it, as Lincoln reminded the Illinois temperance society, reinforces the clinging to the addiction; to think otherwise would be “to expect a reversal of human nature, which is God’s decree and never can be reversed.” The injuries inflicted by alcohol don’t follow “from the use of a bad thing, but from the abuse of a very good thing.” The victims are “to be pitied and compassionated,” their failings treated “as a misfortune, and not as a crime or even as a disgrace.”

… Whether declared by church or state, the war against human nature is by definition lost. The Puritan inspectors of souls in seventeenth-century New England deplored even the tentative embrace of Bacchus as “great licentiousness,” the faithful “pouring out themselves in all profaneness,” but the record doesn’t show a falling off of attendance at Boston’s eighteenth-century inns and taverns. The laws prohibiting the sale and manufacture of alcohol in the 1920s discovered in the mark of sin the evidence of crime, but the attempt to sustain the allegation proved to be as ineffectual as it was destructive of the country’s life and liberty.

Instead of resurrecting from the pit a body politic of newly risen saints, Prohibition guaranteed the health and welfare of society’s avowed enemies. The organized-crime syndicates established on the delivery of bootleg whiskey evolved into multinational trade associations commanding the respect that comes with revenues estimated at $2 billion per annum. In 1930 alone, Al Capone’s ill-gotten gains amounted to $100 million.

So again with the war that America has been waging for the last 100 years against the use of drugs deemed to be illegal. The war cannot be won, but in the meantime, at a cost of $20 billion a year, it facilitates the transformation of what was once a freedom-loving republic into a freedom-fearing national security state. [++]

Top Zetas drug cartel leader Heriberto Lazcano has apparently been killed in a firefight with marines in the northern border state of Coahuila, the Mexican navy says. If confirmed, Lazcano’s death would be a huge victory for Mexican law enforcement, and mark the end of a founder of one of the world’s bloodiest cartels.

Mexico navy: Top Zetas drug cartel leader killed | Chicago Sun-Times

Finally, there will be no more drugs ever. The war is over.

L.A. repeals its ban on pot stores | latimes.com

After struggling for years to regulate storefront pot shops, the Los Angeles City Council retreated Tuesday, voting to repeal the carefully crafted ban on medical marijuana dispensaries it approved a few months ago.

The move shows the political savvy of the increasingly organized and well-funded network of marijuana activists who sought to place a referendum overturning the ban on the March ballot, when the mayor and eight council seats will be up for grabs.

It also leaves Los Angeles, once again, without any law regulating an estimated 1,000 pot shops, which some describe as magnets for crime and others call a source of relief for those who are desperately ill.

The council’s 11-2 vote came after an impassioned plea from Councilman Bill Rosendahl, a medical marijuana patient who is fighting a rare form of cancer. Looking gaunt and speaking in a faint voice, Rosendahl asked his colleagues how sick patients like him would be able to acquire the drug if the ban remained in place. [++]

The West goes to Pot | Charles Davis

… The crazy thing is not that a few people are getting pot prescriptions for what some perceive to be mild afflictions - the same thing happened with “medical” liquor during alcohol prohibition; the problem was the prohibition - but that any grown, mature human adult needs a special piece of paper from a state-licensed medical professional to purchase and possess a plant that at worst leads to jam bands.

This fall, voters in three states - Washington, Oregon and Colorado - will have the chance to go further than California ever has by legalising the use marijuana for all persons over 21. They have the political establishment against them - nine former heads of the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have called on Attorney General Eric Holder to campaign against legalisation, just as he did when it was put up for a vote in California in 2010 - but they also enjoy greater numbers than ever: A majority of non-elected Americans now believe that drug prohibition has been a costly exercise in futility and that cannabis should just go ahead and be legal already.

When it comes to progressive change, history shows that the public always leads and, when they’re done getting in the way, the politicians eventually follow. But before our leaders can be led, they’re liable to double down on disaster, as President Obama has by further militarising the war on drugs, a war responsible for ruining lives from Honduras to Hollywood. Someday, though, as demographics shift - as old people die off, frankly - we’ll look back and wonder not at the absurdity of “medical” marijuana, but at the insanity of raiding homes and putting human beings in tiny, terrible rape cages over something that grows in the ground and makes people happy.

Javier Sicilia Talks to L.A. | Caravan For Peace 2012

Let me start with a few verses from “Not Dark Yet” by Bob Dylan:

[…] I’ve been down on the bottom of a World full of lies/ I ain’t looking for nothing in anyone’s eyes/ Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear/ It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there […]

We blame this darkness, which has not stopped threatening Mexico and the United States, and which portrays the face of hundreds of thousands of dead, disappeared, persecuted, tortured, butchered, displaced and incarcerated; for all of them, I ask for a minute of silence.

We have reached, as Dylan says, the “bottom of a world full of lies” underneath war, especially when it comes to such an absurd war as the one against drugs. We call such bottom death, humiliation, illegal trade of guns, money laundering, criminalization, corruption, fear, horror, prisons, the strengthening of crime and government violence. For the same reason, we refer to it as the crisis of democracy, the annihilation of freedoms and the contempt for immigrants. This bottom of pain is also, as the song of Dylan says: “a burden that seems more than we can bear”.

The burden we bear upon us contains the weight of our dead, of our missing ones, of those displaced, of our criminalized and humiliated immigrants and, in my case, the weight of the murdering of a good, professional and athletic son, who had never tried drugs; an innocent victim of this imbecilic war just as thousands more. Despite this tragedy, that we have not ceased carrying as a burden for over a year, instead of looking for nothing in anyone’s eyes as Dylan says, we are looking for something, always looking for something in everyone’s eyes: relief, justice and a path to peace. We have done so in Mexico, traveling across the country and holding a dialogue with everyone. We now do it here, traveling across the United States while intending to also hold a dialogue with you, because if Mexico has grave responsibilities for this war that is sinking everything into darkness, the United States also has a part in this. This war began here 40 years ago, when president Nixon decided against all sense of democracy and forgetting what had formerly happened with the prohibition of alcohol in the 30’s, that drugs are not a matter of freedom, of the market and the government’s control, but a matter of national security that had to be fought through violence.

Since then, in order to protect the 23 million drug consumers in the United States, this nation initiated this war that has destroyed Colombia and which now in turn is destroying Mexico, Central America, and is also menacing to destroy in the medium term the United States itself. This is nothing but the imposition of barbarity over civilization, of violence over peace and the triumph of authoritarianism over democracy. [++]

On Drugs and Democracy | Inge Fryklund

The UN Office of Drug Control (UNODC) has thoroughly documented the violence, crime, and corruption linked with the worldwide heroin and opium trade. The U.S. news media report every day on the mayhem and corruption of government officials caused by the drug wars in Mexico, Colombia, and other points south of our border. In Afghanistan, the Taliban tax the opium trade and protect poppy farmers from eradication, fueling the insurgency and our 11-year war.

However, these problems are all consequences of drug prohibition, not of the drugs themselves. In legal terms, drugs are malum prohibitum (wrong because prohibited by law) rather than malum in se (inherently wrong, such as theft or murder). During the U.S. experiment with Prohibition (1920-1933), alcohol was malum prohibitum; as soon as it was legalized, it again became a normal regulated, traded, and taxed consumer product.

We need to rethink our prohibition of drugs. What problem are we trying to solve by making drugs illegal? Have we chosen the most effective and affordable solution? Are the collateral consequences worth it?

[…]

After spending more than four years in Afghanistan and seeing first-hand the impact of our drug policies—consequences most Americans never see—I have come to the conclusion that we persist on this course primarily because the costs of our drug policies are borne by other countries, not by us. In contrast with our experience under Prohibition, the corruption of American police and politicians by the drug trade is a relatively minor problem. Demand within the United States is just not high enough to necessitate much bribery.

The serious corruption is instead all on the production end, and this we have succeeded in outsourcing to foreign countries. Our war on drugs is fought on the territories of countries such as Colombia, Honduras, and Mexico. The headless bodies in Mexico barely make the inside pages of American newspapers (imagine if dozens of mutilated bodies were dumped in suburban Maryland). We have requisitioned foreign turf for our war on drugs. Citizens of these countries have no voice in the matter. Their leaders’ acquiescence to U.S. policies undercuts electoral accountability, and corruption of their police and courts undermines the rule of law. We have compromised democracy in our own hemisphere.

In Afghanistan, we have failed to connect the dots between drugs and corruption. At the July 2012 donors’ conference in Tokyo, donor after donor urged President Karzai to combat corruption. However, as long as we insist on the illegality of poppy, we are making a demand that cannot possibly be met. [continue]

At DEA, We Made the Drug Problem Worse, Not Better | Sean Dunagan, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)

The war on drugs has failed. Its failure has been so categorical and self-evident that the statement itself is bromidic. By any reasonable metric of success—addiction rates, violence, the availability of drugs in our schools— it’s clear that our 40-year jihad against certain plants and chemicals has done far more harm than good. Despite this, the federal government’s drug war strategy, which is founded upon aggressive law enforcement and mass incarceration, remains unchanged. We continue to arrest nearly a million people a year for marijuana offenses. We remain the world’s leading jailer, with an incarceration rate more than five times the global average. And this year, the federal government will spend nearly $4 billion more on drug law enforcement and interdiction than it will on drug treatment.

What has this strategy gotten us? The highest drug abuse rates on the planet and 50,000 corpses in Mexico. […]

I spent 13 years working as an Intelligence Analyst with the Drug Enforcement Administration before resigning last year. Over the course of that time, I gradually realized that our drug policies only served to enrich and empower the very cartels we were fighting. I could have kept up the good fight for another 50 years, and the problem would only have been worse as a result of my efforts.

In 2010, while assigned to the DEA office in Monterrey, Mexico, my family was evacuated as a result of the city’s rapidly deteriorating security situation. As I drove them northward through the desert in a long caravan of heavily-armed Federal Police trucks, trying to comprehend the barbarity plaguing the region, I recalled a wonderful verse from the Tao Te Ching: Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself.

READ

fuckyeahdrugpolicy:

Obama’s 2012 Drug Strategy: The Same Old Same Old | Drug War Chronicle

The Obama administration released its 2012 National Drug Control Strategy and accompanying 2013 drug budget Tuesday, and while the administration touted it as a “drug policy for the 21st Century,” it is very much of a piece with anti-drug policies going back to the days of Richard Nixon.
[…] The federal government will spend more than $25 billion on drug control under the proposed budget, nearly half a billion dollars more than this year. And despite the administration’s talk about emphasizing prevention and treatment over war on drugs spending, it retains the same roughly 60:40 ratio of law enforcement and interdiction spending over treatment and prevention training that [it] has obtained in federal drug budgets going back years. In fact, the 58.8% of the proposed budget that would go to drug war programs is exactly the same percentage as George Bush’s 2008 budget and even higher than the 56.8% in Bush’s 2005 budget.
full article

fuckyeahdrugpolicy:

Obama’s 2012 Drug Strategy: The Same Old Same Old | Drug War Chronicle

The Obama administration released its 2012 National Drug Control Strategy and accompanying 2013 drug budget Tuesday, and while the administration touted it as a “drug policy for the 21st Century,” it is very much of a piece with anti-drug policies going back to the days of Richard Nixon.

[…] The federal government will spend more than $25 billion on drug control under the proposed budget, nearly half a billion dollars more than this year. And despite the administration’s talk about emphasizing prevention and treatment over war on drugs spending, it retains the same roughly 60:40 ratio of law enforcement and interdiction spending over treatment and prevention training that [it] has obtained in federal drug budgets going back years. In fact, the 58.8% of the proposed budget that would go to drug war programs is exactly the same percentage as George Bush’s 2008 budget and even higher than the 56.8% in Bush’s 2005 budget.

full article

Pot Legalization Could Save U.S. $13.7 Billion Per Year, 300 Economists Say

socialuprooting:

Your plans to celebrate 4/20 this Friday could actually make the government some money, if only such activities were legal. That’s according to a bunch of economists, and some prominent ones too.

More than 300 economists, including three nobel laureates, have signed a petition calling attention to the findings of a paper by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, which suggests that if the government legalized marijuana it would save $7.7 billion annually by not having to enforce the current prohibition on the drug. The report added that legalization would save an additional $6 billion per year if the government taxed marijuana at rates similar to alcohol and tobacco.

That’s as much as $13.7 billion per year, but it’s still minimal when compared to the federal deficit, which hit $1.5 trillion last year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

While the economists don’t directly call for pot legalization, the petition asks advocates on both sides to engage in an “open and honest debate” about the benefits of pot prohibition.

“At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues, and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition,” the petition states.

The economic benefits of pushing pot into mainstream commerce have long been cited as a reason to make the drug legal, and the economists’ petition comes as government officials at both the federal and local levels are looking for ways to raise funds. The majority of Americans say they prefer cutting programs to increasing taxes as a way to deal with the nation’s budget deficit — marijuana legalization would seemingly give the government money wtihout doing either.

As I’ve written before, we’ve now had three consecutive presidents who have had experience with recreational drugs. One of them was a particularly horrible chief executive, but all have lived remarkably successful lives. They’re rich and have seemingly well-adjusted family lives and they were Presidents of the United States. Do any of them think that their lives would have been markedly improved had the state intervened to set them on the straight and narrow, back when they were using? I don’t think president Obama spends his day thinking, “man, if only I had an arrest record in college, I wouldn’t have had to deal with this John Boehner asshole; why didn’t someone stop me from going down this path of incredible success?”

Ilyagerner

(via manicchill)

(Source: manicchill, via letterstomycountry)

fuckyeahdrugpolicy:

Still Pushing the Failed Militaristic Approach to the Drug War | Antiwar.com

Via Juan Carlos Hidalgo at the blog for the Cato Institute, this graph illustrates how Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s militarized approach to the drug war not only didn’t quell the violence, but reversed the downward trend that had been going on for over a decade. +

fuckyeahdrugpolicy:

Still Pushing the Failed Militaristic Approach to the Drug War | Antiwar.com

Via Juan Carlos Hidalgo at the blog for the Cato Institute, this graph illustrates how Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s militarized approach to the drug war not only didn’t quell the violence, but reversed the downward trend that had been going on for over a decade. +

(via kenobi-wan-obi)