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Author Topic: The War on Drugs  (Read 59994 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« on: February 15, 2007, 04:02:30 AM »

All:

IMHO the WOD is a tremendous foolishness that is both counter-productive and counter to basic American values of live and let live. 

We begin this thread with a piece whose title captures a certain something , , ,

TAC,
Marc
================

DEA: More marijuana needed for studies
Judge rules federal supply is inadequate
By Michael Doyle - McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON -- Medical researchers need more marijuana sources because government supplies aren't meeting scientific demand, a federal judge has ruled.

In an emphatic but nonbinding opinion, the Drug Enforcement Administration's own judge is recommending that a University of Massachusetts professor be allowed to grow a legal pot crop.  The real winners could be those suffering from painful and wasting diseases, proponents say.

"The existing supply of marijuana is not adequate," Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner ruled.

The federal government's 12-acre marijuana plot at the University of Mississippi provides neither the quantity nor quality scientists need, researchers contend.  While Bittner didn't embrace those criticisms, she agreed that the system for producing and distributing research marijuana is flawed.

"Competition in the manufacture of marijuana for research purposes is inadequate," Bittner determined.  Bittner further concluded that there is "minimal risk of diversion" from a new marijuana source.  Making additional supplies available, she stated, "would be in the public interest."

The DEA isn't required to follow Bittner's 88-page opinion, and the Bush administration's anti-drug stance may make it unlikely that the grass-growing rules will loosen.  Both sides can now file further information before DEA administrators make their ruling.

"We could still be months away from a final decision," DEA spokesman Garrison Courtney said Tuesday, adding that "obviously, we're going to take the judge's opinion into consideration."

Still, the ruling is resonating in labs and with civil libertarians.

"(The) ruling is an important step toward allowing medical marijuana patients to get their medicine from a pharmacy just like everyone else," said Allen Hopper, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Based in the California seaside town of Santa Cruz, the ACLU's Drug Law Reform Project has been representing University of Massachusetts scientist Lyle Craker.  Since 2001, Craker has been confronting numerous bureaucratic and legal obstacles in his request for permission to grow research-grade marijuana.  An agronomist who received a doctorate from the University of Minnesota, Craker was asked to grow bulk marijuana by a five-member group called the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. The psychedelic studies group wants to research such areas as developing vaporizers that can efficiently deliver pot smoke.

"This ruling is a victory for science, medicine and the public good," Craker said.

"I hope that the DEA abides by the decision and grants me the opportunity to do my job unimpeded by drug war politics."

(EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM)

The latest research made public this week indicated that marijuana provided more pain relief for AIDS patients than prescription drugs did. The Bush administration quickly dismissed those findings as a "smokescreen," and it has remained hostile to Craker's research efforts.  During the trial, for instance, DEA attorneys secured an admission from Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies head Richard Doblin that he has smoked marijuana regularly since 1971.

"Can you tell us the source of this marijuana?" DEA attorney Brian Bayly asked Doblin, before withdrawing the question under objections.

The DEA originally claimed that it lost Craker's research application. Then the agency said that his photocopied follow-up lacked a necessary original signature. After a year, Craker tried again. He then had to wait another year before the DEA started processing the application, in which he proposed to grow about 25 pounds of marijuana in the first year.

Craker sued after the agency rejected his application. That brought his case before Bittner.

(EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM)

She oversaw the trial, which featured witnesses such as former California legislator John Vasconcellos.

"People have a right to know more about what might help them in their suffering and pain or illness, whatever it might be," Vasconcellos testified, in words repeated by Bittner. "The more research, the better."

(END OPTIONAL TRIM)

The University of Mississippi has monopolized government-grade marijuana since 1968. The university also contracts with North Carolina's Research Triangle Institute, which runs a machine that can roll up to 1,000 finished marijuana cigarettes in an hour.

(EDITORS: STORY CAN END HERE)

The government-grown pot is too "harsh" and filled with stems and seeds, researchers testified.

"The material was of such poor quality, we did not deem it to be representative of medical cannabis," researcher Dr. Ethan Russo said.

(e-mail: mdoylemcclatchydc.com)

02-13-07

mb-cd
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milt
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2007, 11:57:26 AM »

IMHO the WOD is a tremendous foolishness that is both counter-productive and counter to basic American values of live and let live. 

I'm with you 100% on this one, but I have some concerns.

I'm all for people being able to legally purchase whatever recreational drugs they want, but I want draconian restrictions on the producers.  Do you really want corporations devoting millions of dollars to huge marketing and advertising campaigns designed to convince everyone to buy marijuana, cocaine, MDMA, or whatever?  I'm not saying these drugs are any worse than cigarettes and booze (they aren't), but they obviously aren't for everybody.

Does it have to be all or nothing?  Either they're completely illegal or we have to allow heroin vending machines in every school or we'd be violating the drug companies' rights to free speech?  I say make it all legal, but allow zero advertising.

-milt
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2007, 12:27:51 PM »

It always worries me when you and I agree  grin

I have no problem with reasonable regulation, indeed I would even consider not extending the legal protection of the corporate form to those who engage in commerce in these items-- but the larger point about live and let live needs to be the guiding principle.
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2007, 03:07:01 PM »

RE: Legalization/regulation

Apparently, the ease with which a medical marijuana card may be attained has NOT brought about a rush of prospective clients. I'm trying to find the story, but I heard on the news a few nights ago that the fees for obtaining a "card" (allowing an individual to obtain marjuanan for "medicinal" purposes) are going up by a large percentage, something in the area of 95-105%. California had expected something in the area of 100,000 cards to be distributed after the passing of Prop. 420, but to date only 1,500 - 2,000 cards had been registered. I'll try to track the story and post it.

One of the discussions that I always find missing from the legalization debate is that of education. We can't seem to even deal with solid education about the ills of legal drugs (alcohol/cigarettes), so what happens if everything else gets legalized?
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rogt
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« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2007, 05:01:34 PM »

One of the discussions that I always find missing from the legalization debate is that of education. We can't seem to even deal with solid education about the ills of legal drugs (alcohol/cigarettes), so what happens if everything else gets legalized?

Not sure the problem with alcohol & tobacco is a lack of education, but that a lot more of the education comes from the alcohol & tobacco industries themselves (in the form of advertisements) than from more objective sources.

I think what Milt suggests for illegal drugs would make to have applied to alcohol & tobacco products, in some fashion at least.  It doesn't help that these industries respond to any such suggestion with a squad of high-priced lawyers who argue that their clients' "free speech" is being violated.
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grizzly
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2007, 02:10:44 AM »

I'm in Australia so I can only guess at the way things are in the states, here cigerette companys are not allowed to sponser events such as football matches and have massive restrictions on advertising. Alcohol is under similar bans to a lesser degree, like only certain hours for TV advertising.

In terms of legalising all other drugs, one of the best ways to take the power out of something is to accept it. So by legalising the drugs the local dealers would go out of business and ideally the streets would clean up. That being said I am against it, as I believe that it is not going to getting the junkies off the streets and all the same issues would still occur only now it would be more 'accepted' as just a part of life.

Jason
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2007, 08:31:15 AM »

Jason:

Here too we have restrictions on advertising for cigarettes and alchohol.

I would offer that there is a range of options here; decriminalization is not the same thing as legalization and within legalization there are various regulatory regimes possible.

IMHO going in this direction would pretty much put an end to the vast and extremely violent criminal enterprises devoted to drugs-- enterprises which have corrupted entire nations.  IMHO going in this direction would put an end to many rationalizations for the vast expansion of the police power of the state and enable a restoration of the sanctity of people's homes and the sanctity of our privacy.

Marc
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2007, 05:33:16 PM »


Wow.

http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/d/drug-cash.htm
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G M
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« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2007, 06:07:26 PM »

I recently took a class on the investigation of money laundering. One example cited was a S. Fla. drug house where they had so much cash to launder, 2 million dollars rotted into goo in the humidity before the DEA could get a search warrant.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2007, 05:49:17 PM »

Canada ranks fifth worldwide when it comes to marijuana usage, but ranks first among industrialized nations, according to the 2007 World Drug Report.

About 16.8 percent of Canadians ages 15 to 64 light up, compared to 12.6 percent of Americans in the same age bracket, according to the report. Canada’s usage is about four times the worldwide average of 3.8 percent, while the United States' usage is about three times the average.

Marijuana, or cannabis, remains the most commonly used drug in the world with almost 160 million people ages 15 to 64 using it in 2005, said the report, which was put out by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Usage is down slightly from 162 million, according to last year’s World Drug Report, which reviewed data from 2004.

The majority of it is grown in the Americas (46 percent), followed by Africa (26 percent). Canada’s usage trails behind Papua New Guinea and Micronesia at 29 percent each, Ghana at 21.5 percent, and Zambia at 17.7 percent. Among European nations, Cyprus topped the list at 14.1 percent, followed by Italy and Spain, both at 11.2 percent.

Doctors: Pot Triggers Psychotic Symptoms Study: Marijuana Damages Brain Report: Pot Getting Stronger Although Canada is a top five user of marijuana, its use among high school students in Ontario declined 19 percent between 2003 and 2005. Cannabis use amongst 12th graders in the U.S. declined 18 percent between 1997 and 2006, and is 38 percent lower than it was at its peak in 1979, the report said.

Cocaine Use Twice as High for U.S. Students

Canada may have cornered the North American market on marijuana use, but U.S. teens are twice as likely to use cocaine as teens in the rest of the world, according to the report.

About 4.8 percent of U.S. 10th graders have used cocaine compared to an average of 2.35 percent of 15 and 16-year-olds in South America countries and an average of 2.4 percent of similarly aged students in European nations.

Overall, Spain had the highest percentage of cocaine users between the ages of 15 and 64 at 3 percent, followed by the U.S. at 2.8 percent, England at 2.4 percent and Canada at 2.3 percent
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,288846,00.html
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buzwardo
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« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2007, 09:59:51 AM »

The Lost War
We've Spent 36 Years and Billions of Dollars Fighting It, but the Drug Trade Keeps Growing
By Misha Glenny
Sunday, August 19, 2007; B01

Poppies were the first thing that British army Capt. Leo Docherty noticed when he arrived in Afghanistan's turbulent Helmand province in April 2006. "They were growing right outside the gate of our Forward Operating Base," he told me. Within two weeks of his deployment to the remote town of Sangin, he realized that "poppy is the economic mainstay and everyone is involved right up to the higher echelons of the local government."

Poppy, of course, is the plant from which opium -- and heroin -- are derived.

Docherty was quick to realize that the military push into northern Helmand province was going to run into serious trouble. The rumor was "that we were there to eradicate the poppy," he said. "The Taliban aren't stupid and so they said, 'These guys are here to destroy your livelihood, so let's take up arms against them.' And it's been a downward spiral since then."

Despite the presence of 35,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, the drug trade there is going gangbusters. According to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Afghan opium production in 2006 rose a staggering 57 percent over the previous year. Next month, the United Nations is expected to release a report showing an additional 15 percent jump in opium production this year while highlighting the sobering fact that Afghanistan now accounts for 95 percent of the world's poppy crop. But the success of the illegal narcotics industry isn't confined to Afghanistan. Business is booming in South America, the Middle East, Africa and across the United States.

Thirty-six years and hundreds of billions of dollars after President Richard M. Nixon launched the war on drugs, consumers worldwide are taking more narcotics and criminals are making fatter profits than ever before. The syndicates that control narcotics production and distribution reap the profits from an annual turnover of $400 billion to $500 billion. And terrorist organizations such as the Taliban are using this money to expand their operations and buy ever more sophisticated weapons, threatening Western security.

In the past two years, the drug war has become the Taliban's most effective recruiter in Afghanistan. Afghanistan's Muslim extremists have reinvigorated themselves by supporting and taxing the countless peasants who are dependent one way or another on the opium trade, their only reliable source of income. The Taliban is becoming richer and stronger by the day, especially in the east and south of the country. The "War on Drugs" is defeating the "war on terror."

* * *

For the past three years, I have been traveling the world researching a book on the jaw-dropping rise of transnational organized crime since the collapse of communism and the advent of globalization. I have witnessed how a ferocious drug gang mounted an assault on Sao Paolo, closing the city for three days as citizens cowered at home. I have watched Bedouins shift hundreds of kilos of cocaine across the Egyptian-Israeli border on the backs of camels, and observed how South Africa and West Africa have become an international narcotics distribution hub.

The trade in illegal narcotics begets violence, poverty and tragedy. And wherever I went around the world, gangsters, cops, victims, academics and politicians delivered the same message: The war on drugs is the underlying cause of the misery. Everywhere, that is, except Washington, where a powerful bipartisan consensus has turned the issue into a political third rail.

The problem starts with prohibition, the basis of the war on drugs. The theory is that if you hurt the producers and consumers of drugs badly enough, they'll stop doing what they're doing. But instead, the trade goes underground, which means that the state's only contact with it is through law enforcement, i.e. busting those involved, whether producers, distributors or users. But so vast is the demand for drugs in the United States, the European Union and the Far East that nobody has anything approaching the ability to police the trade.

Prohibition gives narcotics huge added value as a commodity. Once traffickers get around the business risks -- getting busted or being shot by competitors -- they stand to make vast profits. A confidential strategy report prepared in 2005 for British Prime Minister Tony Blair's cabinet and later leaked to the media offered one of the most damning indictments of the efficacy of the drug war. Law enforcement agencies seize less than 20 percent of the 700 tons of cocaine and 550 tons of heroin produced annually. According to the report, they would have to seize 60 to 80 percent to make the industry unprofitable for the traffickers.

Supply is so plentiful that the price of a gram of heroin is plummeting in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom. As for cocaine, according to the UNODC, the street price of a gram in the United States is now less than $70, compared with $184 in 1990. Adjusted for inflation, that's a threefold drop.

* * *

A surfeit of bananas drove 47-year-old Colombian Susan Castillo to do business with terrorists. "It was about 10 to 15 years ago," she told me. "We had built our farm and raised our seven children on corn and bananas. But suddenly nobody wanted to buy our bananas anymore. We did what everybody did then -- we switched from bananas and corn to coca. Actually, we did not grow the coca ourselves but we rented out our land to a cocalero and he grew the crop." Both the Castillo family and the grower paid tax to the FARC -- the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a 17,000-strong peasant-based army, by far the largest terrorist organization in the Southern Hemisphere.

I spoke to Castillo in the bare office of a local U.N. counseling center in Ciudad Bolivar, a sprawling refugee camp that extends south from Bogota and houses about 1 million people. A few weeks earlier, she had been forced to leave her home after a pitched battle between the Colombian military and the FARC near La Macarena National Park.

Next to the U.N. office stands a spanking new library, courtesy of Plan Colombia, the $4.7 billion worth of drug-fighting assistance that the United States gave to Colombia over the first half-decade of this new century. Ninety-eight percent of that money was devoted to beefing up the Colombian armed forces' assault on coca plantations and left-wing guerrillas. I was rather pleased to uncover one of its few civilian outlets. All the library needs now is to open (it was padlocked), a few books (there were none) and some people who can read (a rare species in Ciudad Bolivar).

According to the Government Accountability Office, 70 percent of the money allotted to Plan Colombia never leaves the United States. It is used to buy U.S.-built helicopters and other weapons for the military, and a large chunk is paid to the security firm DynCorp. Britain and other E.U. countries have so far resisted spraying Afghan poppy fields with chemicals. But for several years, DynCorp has been spraying the herbicide glyphosate on thousands of acres of coca in Colombia.

The impact of the eradication program has been negligible at best. The FARC not only continues to control a swath of territory the size of Switzerland in south-central Colombia, but it has established itself in the north as well. The United Nations has identified coca plantations in 24 of the country's 32 provinces, whereas it was grown in only six when spraying began. But most embarrassing of all, before his trip to Washington in May, President Alvaro Uribe was forced to announce that production of coca was up 8 percent in 2006. Coca production has been so ample that the wholesale price of Colombia's best-known export has continued to slide throughout the course of Plan Colombia.

And now the U.S. government wants to repeat this "success" in Mexico. There's talk in Washington about a $1 billion aid package for the government of President Felipe Calderón to back his own war against drugs. And in Mexico, it's definitely a war: Calderón has mobilized the army to fight traffickers. In the first half of this year, more than 1,000 people were gunned down by rival drug cartels. Among the dead were newspaper reporters, narcotics police investigators, judges and politicians.

* * *

The collapse of communism and the rise of globalization in the late 1980s and early 1990s gave transnational criminality a tremendous boost. The expansion of world trade and financial markets has provided criminals ample opportunity to broaden their activities. But there has been no comparable increase in the ability of the Western world to police global crime.

International mobsters, unlike terrorists, don't seek to bring down the West; they just want to make a buck. But these two distinct species breed in the same swamps. In areas notorious for crime, such as the tri-border region connecting Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, or in the blood-diamond conflict zones such as Sierra Leone and Liberia, gangsters and terrorists habitually cooperate and work alongside one another.

Those swamps are steadily seeping toward the United States. British Columbia is now home to the greatest number of organized-crime syndicates anywhere in the world (if we accept the U.N. definition of a syndicate as more than two people involved in a planned crime). According to B.C. government statistics, the production, distribution and export of B.C. Bud, highly potent marijuana grown in hothouses along the province's border with the United States, accounts for 6 percent of the region's gross domestic product. It now employs more Canadians than British Columbia's traditional industries of mining and logging combined.

The majority of the province's criminals remain passive hippie types for whom the drug is a lifestyle choice. But as Brian Brennan, the chief investigator for the drug squad of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told me, the marijuana trade is threatening to turn nasty as British Columbia's Hells Angels, one of the best-organized criminal syndicates in the world, moves in on the action. The drug trade is so lucrative, he said, that when police seize growing operations in houses worth $500,000, suspects simply abandon the properties. "They are making so much money that they don't care about losing that investment," he said.

An avalanche of B.C. Bud rolls southward into the United States every day, dodging U.S. customs in myriad imaginative ways. But as the Hells Angels and other syndicates get stronger and their control over the port of Vancouver tightens, the ability of U.S. and Canadian authorities to monitor the border becomes ever weaker.

* * *

Could anything replace the war on drugs? There's no easy answer. In May, the Senlis Council, a group that works on the opium issue in Afghanistan, argued that "current counter-narcotics policies . . . have focused on poppy eradication, without providing farmers with viable alternatives." Instead of eradication, the council, which is made up of senior politicians and law enforcement officials from Canada and Europe, concludes that Afghan farmers should be permitted to grow opium that can then be refined and distributed for medical purposes. (That's not going to happen, as the United States has recently reiterated its commitment to poppy eradication.)

Others argue that the only way to minimize the criminality and social distress that drugs cause is to legalize narcotics so that the state may exert proper control over the industry. It needs to be taxed and controlled, they insist.

In Washington, the war on drugs has been a third-rail issue since its inauguration. It's obvious why -- telling people that their kids can do drugs is the kiss of death at the ballot box. But that was before 9/11. Now the drug war is undermining Western security throughout the world. In one particularly revealing conversation, a senior official at the British Foreign Office told me, "I often think we will look back at the War on Drugs in a hundred years' time and tell the tale of 'The Emperor's New Clothes.' This is so stupid."

How right he is.

misha.glenny@which.net

Misha Glenny is a former BBC correspondent and the author of "McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Underworld," to be published next year.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/17/AR2007081701716_pf.html
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Juan
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« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2008, 08:42:37 PM »

This article from the Washingtonpost illustrates the effects of the War on Drugs along the Mexican border.  Also check out the photo gallery.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/15/AR2008031501013.html

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SB_Mig
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« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2008, 03:30:58 PM »

The Lessons of Prohibition
Repeal Day drives home the folly of the Drug War

Radley Balko | December 3, 2008

This Friday, Dec. 5, is the 75th anniversary of Repeal Day, the day America repealed its disastrous alcohol prohibition.

Prohibition was the pièce de résistance of the early 20th-century progressives' grand social engineering agenda. It failed, of course. Miserably.

It did reduce overall consumption of alcohol in the U.S., but that reduction came largely among those who consumed alcohol responsibly. The actual harm caused by alcohol abuse was made worse, thanks to the economics of prohibitions.

Black market alcohol was of dubious origin, unregulated by market forces. The price premium that attaches to banned substances made the alcohol that made it to consumers more potent and more dangerous. And, of course, organized crime rose and flourished thanks to the new market created by the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act.

So hospitalizations related to alcohol soared. And so did violent crime. Corruption flourished, as law enforcement officials in charge of enforcing prohibition went on the take, from beat cops all the way up to the office of the United States Attorney General. Even the U.S. Senate had a secret, illegal stash of booze for its members and their staffs.

In 1924, the great social critic H.L. Mencken wrote of prohibition:

    Five years of Prohibition have had, at least, this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favourite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished.

A bill in Congress celebrating the anniversary of Repeal Day echoes Mencken's sentiment. It notes that "throughout American history, alcohol has been consumed by its citizens"; that prohibition resulted in "abuses" and the "irresponsible overconsumption of alcohol"; and that the ban on "'intoxicating liquors' in the United States, resulted in a dramatic increase in illegal activity, including unsafe black market alcohol production, organized crime, and noncompliance with alcohol laws..."

But there's one positive thing we can say alcohol prohibition: At least it was constitutional. The prohibitionists built support for their cause by demonizing alcohol from state to state, winning over local legislators one at a time. When they'd built a sufficient national movement, they started the momentum for a constitutional amendment. Congress didn't pass a blanket federal law, Constitution be damned. They understood that the federal government hasn't the authority to issue a national ban on booze, so they moved to enact the ban properly.

When America repealed prohibition, we repealed it with a constitutional amendment making explicit that the power to regulate alcohol is reserved for the states. Even today, when Congress wants to pass federal alcohol laws (such as the federal drinking age, or the federal minimum blood-alcohol standard for drunk driving), it can't simply dictate policy to the states. Instead, it ties the laws to federal highway funding, a blackmail that while distasteful, at least carries the pretense of adherence to the Constitution.

Contrast that to drug prohibition, where Congress (and the Supreme Court, when it upheld it) made no attempt to comply with the Constitution in passing the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA), the law that gave us the modern drug war.

There's no question that drug prohibition has been every bit the failure alcohol prohibition was. Nearly 40 years after the CSA passed, we have 400,000 people in prison for nonviolent drug crimes; a domestic police force that often looks and acts like an occupying military force; nearly a trillion dollars spent on enforcement, both here and through aggressive interdiction efforts overseas; and urban areas that can resemble war zones. Yet illicit drugs like cocaine and marijuana are as cheap and abundant as they were in 1970. The street price of both drugs has actually dropped—dramatically—since the government began keeping track in the early 1980s.

The main difference between the two prohibitions is that one was enacted lawfully, and once it became clear that it had failed, we repealed it (and government revenues soared with new alcohol taxes). As the drug war has failed, the government merely claims more powers to fight it more aggressively.

Eliot Ness and his colleagues raided supply lines, manufacturing hubs, and warehouses, but alcohol consumption was still legal. You didn't have armed-to-the-teeth cops breaking down the doors of private homes the way they do now for people suspected of consensual drug crimes. During prohibition, doctors could prescribe alcohol as medication. Today, federal SWAT teams storm medical marijuana clinics and terrorize their patients, thanks to the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Gonzales v. Raich, which allowed the federal government to prevent a dying woman from possessing medical marijuana, solely for her own use, to treat the symptoms of her illnesses, even though the voters of California had determined that she should be left alone.

When he first visited the United States in 1921, Albert Einstein wrote of America's ban on booze: "The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law... For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced."

That's as true today as it was then.

Radley Balko is a senior editor at reason. This article originally appeared at FoxNews.com.
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Crafty_Dog
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WSJ
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2008, 07:44:54 PM »

By ETHAN A. NADELMANN
Today is the 75th anniversary of that blessed day in 1933 when Utah became the 36th and deciding state to ratify the 21st amendment, thereby repealing the 18th amendment. This ended the nation's disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition.

 
Corbis
Celebrating the end of alcohol prohibition, Dec. 5, 1933.
It's already shaping up as a day of celebration, with parties planned, bars prepping for recession-defying rounds of drinks, and newspapers set to publish cocktail recipes concocted especially for the day.

But let's hope it also serves as a day of reflection. We should consider why our forebears rejoiced at the relegalization of a powerful drug long associated with bountiful pleasure and pain, and consider too the lessons for our time.

The Americans who voted in 1933 to repeal prohibition differed greatly in their reasons for overturning the system. But almost all agreed that the evils of failed suppression far outweighed the evils of alcohol consumption.

The change from just 15 years earlier, when most Americans saw alcohol as the root of the problem and voted to ban it, was dramatic. Prohibition's failure to create an Alcohol Free Society sank in quickly. Booze flowed as readily as before, but now it was illicit, filling criminal coffers at taxpayer expense.

Some opponents of prohibition pointed to Al Capone and increasing crime, violence and corruption. Others were troubled by the labeling of tens of millions of Americans as criminals, overflowing prisons, and the consequent broadening of disrespect for the law. Americans were disquieted by dangerous expansions of federal police powers, encroachments on individual liberties, increasing government expenditure devoted to enforcing the prohibition laws, and the billions in forgone tax revenues. And still others were disturbed by the specter of so many citizens blinded, paralyzed and killed by poisonous moonshine and industrial alcohol.

Supporters of prohibition blamed the consumers, and some went so far as to argue that those who violated the laws deserved whatever ills befell them. But by 1933, most Americans blamed prohibition itself.

When repeal came, it was not just with the support of those with a taste for alcohol, but also those who disliked and even hated it but could no longer ignore the dreadful consequences of a failed prohibition. They saw what most Americans still fail to see today: That a failed drug prohibition can cause greater harm than the drug it was intended to banish.

Consider the consequences of drug prohibition today: 500,000 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails for nonviolent drug-law violations; 1.8 million drug arrests last year; tens of billions of taxpayer dollars expended annually to fund a drug war that 76% of Americans say has failed; millions now marked for life as former drug felons; many thousands dying each year from drug overdoses that have more to do with prohibitionist policies than the drugs themselves, and tens of thousands more needlessly infected with AIDS and Hepatitis C because those same policies undermine and block responsible public-health policies.

And look abroad. At Afghanistan, where a third or more of the national economy is both beneficiary and victim of the failed global drug prohibition regime. At Mexico, which makes Chicago under Al Capone look like a day in the park. And elsewhere in Latin America, where prohibition-related crime, violence and corruption undermine civil authority and public safety, and mindless drug eradication campaigns wreak environmental havoc.

All this, and much more, are the consequences not of drugs per se but of prohibitionist policies that have failed for too long and that can never succeed in an open society, given the lessons of history. Perhaps a totalitarian American could do better, but at what cost to our most fundamental values?

Why did our forebears wise up so quickly while Americans today still struggle with sorting out the consequences of drug misuse from those of drug prohibition?

It's not because alcohol is any less dangerous than the drugs that are banned today. Marijuana, by comparison, is relatively harmless: little association with violent behavior, no chance of dying from an overdose, and not nearly as dangerous as alcohol if one misuses it or becomes addicted. Most of heroin's dangers are more a consequence of its prohibition than the drug's distinctive properties. That's why 70% of Swiss voters approved a referendum this past weekend endorsing the government's provision of pharmaceutical heroin to addicts who could not quit their addictions by other means. It is also why a growing number of other countries, including Canada, are doing likewise.

Yes, the speedy drugs -- cocaine, methamphetamine and other illicit stimulants -- present more of a problem. But not to the extent that their prohibition is justifiable while alcohol's is not. The real difference is that alcohol is the devil we know, while these others are the devils we don't. Most Americans in 1933 could recall a time before prohibition, which tempered their fears. But few Americans now can recall the decades when the illicit drugs of today were sold and consumed legally. If they could, a post-prohibition future might prove less alarming.
 
But there's nothing like a depression, or maybe even a full-blown recession, to make taxpayers question the price of their prejudices. That's what ultimately hastened prohibition's repeal, and it's why we're sure to see a more vigorous debate than ever before about ending marijuana prohibition, rolling back other drug war excesses, and even contemplating far-reaching alternatives to drug prohibition.

Perhaps the greatest reassurance for those who quake at the prospect of repealing contemporary drug prohibitions can be found in the era of prohibition outside of America. Other nations, including Britain, Australia and the Netherlands, were equally concerned with the problems of drink and eager for solutions. However, most opted against prohibition and for strict controls that kept alcohol legal but restricted its availability, taxed it heavily, and otherwise discouraged its use. The results included ample revenues for government coffers, criminals frustrated by the lack of easy profits, and declines in the consumption and misuse of alcohol that compared favorably with trends in the United States.

Is President-elect Barack Obama going to commemorate Repeal Day today? I'm not holding my breath. Nor do I expect him to do much to reform the nation's drug laws apart from making good on a few of the commitments he made during the campaign: repealing the harshest drug sentences, removing federal bans on funding needle-exchange programs to reduce AIDS, giving medical marijuana a fair chance to prove itself, and supporting treatment alternatives for low-level drug offenders.

But there's one more thing he can do: Promote vigorous and informed debate in this domain as in all others. The worst prohibition, after all, is a prohibition on thinking.

Mr. Nadelmann is the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
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« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2009, 02:42:16 PM »

 JOSE DE CORDOBA
MEXICO CITY -- As drug violence spirals out of control in Mexico, a commission led by three former Latin American heads of state blasted the U.S.-led drug war as a failure that is pushing Latin American societies to the breaking point.

"The available evidence indicates that the war on drugs is a failed war," said former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, in a conference call with reporters from Rio de Janeiro. "We have to move from this approach to another one."

The commission, headed by Mr. Cardoso and former presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and César Gaviria of Colombia, says Latin American governments as well as the U.S. must break what they say is a policy "taboo" and re-examine U.S.-inspired antidrugs efforts. The panel recommends that governments consider measures including decriminalizing the use of marijuana.

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Associated Press
Mexico has been besieged by drug violence amid a two-year government crackdown.
The report, by the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, is the latest to question the U.S.'s emphasis on punitive measures to deal with illegal drug use and the criminal violence that accompanies it. A recent Brookings Institution study concluded that despite interdiction and eradication efforts, the world's governments haven't been able to significantly decrease the supply of drugs, while punitive methods haven't succeeded in lowering drug use.

John Walters, former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said, "It's not true that we've lost or can't do anything about the drug problem," and cited security improvements in Colombia.

President Barack Obama has yet to appoint a successor to Mr. Walters. A spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy said he couldn't comment on speculation over the appointment of a new director.

According to a Democratic official familiar with the process, Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske is under consideration for an administration job, most likely to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The three former presidents who head the commission are political conservatives who have confronted in their home countries the violence and corruption that accompany drug trafficking.

The report warned that the U.S.-style antidrug strategy was putting the region's fragile democratic institutions at risk and corrupting "judicial systems, governments, the political system and especially the police forces."

The report comes as drug violence is engulfing Mexico, which has become the key transit point for cocaine traffic to the U.S. Decapitation of rival drug traffickers has become common as cartels try to intimidate one another.

Mr. Walters said increased violence in border areas of Mexico was partly a result of criminal organizations compensating for reduced income from the supply of drugs by turning to other activities, such as people-smuggling, and continuing to fight over turf.

U.S. law-enforcement officials -- as well as some of their counterparts in Mexico -- say the explosion in violence indicates progress in the war on drugs as organizations under pressure are clashing.

"If the drug effort were failing there would be no violence," a senior U.S. official said Wednesday. There is violence "because these guys are flailing. We're taking these guys out. The worst thing you could do is stop now."

Latin American governments have largely followed U.S. advice in trying to stop the flow of drugs from the point of origin. The policy has had little effect.

In Colombia, billions of dollars in U.S. aid have helped the military regain control from the hands of drug-financed communist guerrillas and lower crime, but the help hasn't dented the amount of drugs flowing from Colombia.

In the conference call, Mr. Gaviria said the U.S. approach to narcotics -- based on treating drug consumption as a crime -- had failed. Latin America, he said, should adapt a more European approach, based on treating drug addiction as a health problem.

—David Luhnow, Louise Radnofsky and Evan Perez contributed to this article.
Write to José de Córdoba at jose.decordoba@wsj.com
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« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2009, 12:39:11 PM »

By FERNANDO HENRIQUE CARDOSO, CéSAR GAVIRIA and ERNESTO ZEDILLO
The war on drugs has failed. And it's high time to replace an ineffective strategy with more humane and efficient drug policies. This is the central message of the report by the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy we presented to the public recently in Rio de Janeiro.

 
AP
A soldier stands next to packages containing marijuana at an army base in Cali, Colombia, August 2008.
Prohibitionist policies based on eradication, interdiction and criminalization of consumption simply haven't worked. Violence and the organized crime associated with the narcotics trade remain critical problems in our countries. Latin America remains the world's largest exporter of cocaine and cannabis, and is fast becoming a major supplier of opium and heroin. Today, we are further than ever from the goal of eradicating drugs.

Over the last 30 years, Colombia implemented all conceivable measures to fight the drug trade in a massive effort where the benefits were not proportional to the resources invested. Despite the country's achievements in lowering levels of violence and crime, the areas of illegal cultivation are again expanding. In Mexico -- another epicenter of drug trafficking -- narcotics-related violence has claimed more than 5,000 lives in the past year alone.

The revision of U.S.-inspired drug policies is urgent in light of the rising levels of violence and corruption associated with narcotics. The alarming power of the drug cartels is leading to a criminalization of politics and a politicization of crime. And the corruption of the judicial and political system is undermining the foundations of democracy in several Latin American countries.

The first step in the search for alternative solutions is to acknowledge the disastrous consequences of current policies. Next, we must shatter the taboos that inhibit public debate about drugs in our societies. Antinarcotic policies are firmly rooted in prejudices and fears that sometimes bear little relation to reality. The association of drugs with crime segregates addicts in closed circles where they become even more exposed to organized crime.

In order to drastically reduce the harm caused by narcotics, the long-term solution is to reduce demand for drugs in the main consumer countries. To move in this direction, it is essential to differentiate among illicit substances according to the harm they inflict on people's health, and the harm drugs cause to the social fabric.

In this spirit, we propose a paradigm shift in drug policies based on three guiding principles: Reduce the harm caused by drugs, decrease drug consumption through education, and aggressively combat organized crime. To translate this new paradigm into action we must start by changing the status of addicts from drug buyers in the illegal market to patients cared for by the public-health system.

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We also propose the careful evaluation, from a public-health standpoint, of the possibility of decriminalizing the possession of cannabis for personal use. Cannabis is by far the most widely used drug in Latin America, and we acknowledge that its consumption has an adverse impact on health. But the available empirical evidence shows that the hazards caused by cannabis are similar to the harm caused by alcohol or tobacco.

If we want to effectively curb drug use, we should look to the campaign against tobacco consumption. The success of this campaign illustrates the effectiveness of prevention campaigns based on clear language and arguments consistent with individual experience. Likewise, statements by former addicts about the dangers of drugs will be far more compelling to current users than threats of repression or virtuous exhortations against drug use.

Such educational campaigns must be targeted at youth, by far the largest contingent of users and of those killed in the drug wars. The campaigns should also stress each person's responsibility toward the rising violence and corruption associated with the narcotics trade. By treating consumption as a matter of public health, we will enable police to focus their efforts on the critical issue: the fight against organized crime.

A growing number of political, civic and cultural leaders, mindful of the failure of our current drug policy, have publicly called for a major policy shift. Creating alternative policies is the task of many: educators, health professionals, spiritual leaders and policy makers. Each country's search for new policies must be consistent with its history and culture. But to be effective, the new paradigm must focus on health and education -- not repression.

Drugs are a threat that cuts across borders, which is why Latin America must establish dialogue with the United States and the European Union to develop workable alternatives to the war on drugs. Both the U.S. and the EU share responsibility for the problems faced by our countries, since their domestic markets are the main consumers of the drugs produced in Latin America.

The inauguration of President Barack Obama presents a unique opportunity for Latin America and the U.S. to engage in a substantive dialogue on issues of common concern, such as the reduction of domestic consumption and the control of arms sales, especially across the U.S.-Mexico border. Latin America should also pursue dialogue with the EU, asking European countries to renew their commitment to the reduction of domestic consumption and learning from their experiences with reducing the health hazards caused by drugs.

The time to act is now, and the way forward lies in strengthening partnerships to deal with a global problem that affects us all.

Mr. Cardoso is the former president of Brazil. Mr. Gaviria is a former president of Colombia. Mr. Zedillo is a former president of Mexico.

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« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2009, 09:50:04 PM »

How to stop the drug wars
Mar 5th 2009
From The Economist print edition


Prohibition has failed; legalisation is the least bad solution

Illustration by Noma Bar



A HUNDRED years ago a group of foreign diplomats gathered in Shanghai for the first-ever international effort to ban trade in a narcotic drug. On February 26th 1909 they agreed to set up the International Opium Commission—just a few decades after Britain had fought a war with China to assert its right to peddle the stuff. Many other bans of mood-altering drugs have followed. In 1998 the UN General Assembly committed member countries to achieving a “drug-free world” and to “eliminating or significantly reducing” the production of opium, cocaine and cannabis by 2008.

That is the kind of promise politicians love to make. It assuages the sense of moral panic that has been the handmaiden of prohibition for a century. It is intended to reassure the parents of teenagers across the world. Yet it is a hugely irresponsible promise, because it cannot be fulfilled.

Next week ministers from around the world gather in Vienna to set international drug policy for the next decade. Like first-world-war generals, many will claim that all that is needed is more of the same. In fact the war on drugs has been a disaster, creating failed states in the developing world even as addiction has flourished in the rich world. By any sensible measure, this 100-year struggle has been illiberal, murderous and pointless. That is why The Economist continues to believe that the least bad policy is to legalise drugs.

“Least bad” does not mean good. Legalisation, though clearly better for producer countries, would bring (different) risks to consumer countries. As we outline below, many vulnerable drug-takers would suffer. But in our view, more would gain.


The evidence of failure
Nowadays the UN Office on Drugs and Crime no longer talks about a drug-free world. Its boast is that the drug market has “stabilised”, meaning that more than 200m people, or almost 5% of the world’s adult population, still take illegal drugs—roughly the same proportion as a decade ago. (Like most purported drug facts, this one is just an educated guess: evidential rigour is another casualty of illegality.) The production of cocaine and opium is probably about the same as it was a decade ago; that of cannabis is higher. Consumption of cocaine has declined gradually in the United States from its peak in the early 1980s, but the path is uneven (it remains higher than in the mid-1990s), and it is rising in many places, including Europe.

This is not for want of effort. The United States alone spends some $40 billion each year on trying to eliminate the supply of drugs. It arrests 1.5m of its citizens each year for drug offences, locking up half a million of them; tougher drug laws are the main reason why one in five black American men spend some time behind bars. In the developing world blood is being shed at an astonishing rate. In Mexico more than 800 policemen and soldiers have been killed since December 2006 (and the annual overall death toll is running at over 6,000). This week yet another leader of a troubled drug-ridden country—Guinea Bissau—was assassinated.

Yet prohibition itself vitiates the efforts of the drug warriors. The price of an illegal substance is determined more by the cost of distribution than of production. Take cocaine: the mark-up between coca field and consumer is more than a hundredfold. Even if dumping weedkiller on the crops of peasant farmers quadruples the local price of coca leaves, this tends to have little impact on the street price, which is set mainly by the risk of getting cocaine into Europe or the United States.

Nowadays the drug warriors claim to seize close to half of all the cocaine that is produced. The street price in the United States does seem to have risen, and the purity seems to have fallen, over the past year. But it is not clear that drug demand drops when prices rise. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that the drug business quickly adapts to market disruption. At best, effective repression merely forces it to shift production sites. Thus opium has moved from Turkey and Thailand to Myanmar and southern Afghanistan, where it undermines the West’s efforts to defeat the Taliban.


Al Capone, but on a global scale
Indeed, far from reducing crime, prohibition has fostered gangsterism on a scale that the world has never seen before. According to the UN’s perhaps inflated estimate, the illegal drug industry is worth some $320 billion a year. In the West it makes criminals of otherwise law-abiding citizens (the current American president could easily have ended up in prison for his youthful experiments with “blow”). It also makes drugs more dangerous: addicts buy heavily adulterated cocaine and heroin; many use dirty needles to inject themselves, spreading HIV; the wretches who succumb to “crack” or “meth” are outside the law, with only their pushers to “treat” them. But it is countries in the emerging world that pay most of the price. Even a relatively developed democracy such as Mexico now finds itself in a life-or-death struggle against gangsters. American officials, including a former drug tsar, have publicly worried about having a “narco state” as their neighbour.

The failure of the drug war has led a few of its braver generals, especially from Europe and Latin America, to suggest shifting the focus from locking up people to public health and “harm reduction” (such as encouraging addicts to use clean needles). This approach would put more emphasis on public education and the treatment of addicts, and less on the harassment of peasants who grow coca and the punishment of consumers of “soft” drugs for personal use. That would be a step in the right direction. But it is unlikely to be adequately funded, and it does nothing to take organised crime out of the picture.

Legalisation would not only drive away the gangsters; it would transform drugs from a law-and-order problem into a public-health problem, which is how they ought to be treated. Governments would tax and regulate the drug trade, and use the funds raised (and the billions saved on law-enforcement) to educate the public about the risks of drug-taking and to treat addiction. The sale of drugs to minors should remain banned. Different drugs would command different levels of taxation and regulation. This system would be fiddly and imperfect, requiring constant monitoring and hard-to-measure trade-offs. Post-tax prices should be set at a level that would strike a balance between damping down use on the one hand, and discouraging a black market and the desperate acts of theft and prostitution to which addicts now resort to feed their habits.

Selling even this flawed system to people in producer countries, where organised crime is the central political issue, is fairly easy. The tough part comes in the consumer countries, where addiction is the main political battle. Plenty of American parents might accept that legalisation would be the right answer for the people of Latin America, Asia and Africa; they might even see its usefulness in the fight against terrorism. But their immediate fear would be for their own children.

That fear is based in large part on the presumption that more people would take drugs under a legal regime. That presumption may be wrong. There is no correlation between the harshness of drug laws and the incidence of drug-taking: citizens living under tough regimes (notably America but also Britain) take more drugs, not fewer. Embarrassed drug warriors blame this on alleged cultural differences, but even in fairly similar countries tough rules make little difference to the number of addicts: harsh Sweden and more liberal Norway have precisely the same addiction rates. Legalisation might reduce both supply (pushers by definition push) and demand (part of that dangerous thrill would go). Nobody knows for certain. But it is hard to argue that sales of any product that is made cheaper, safer and more widely available would fall. Any honest proponent of legalisation would be wise to assume that drug-taking as a whole would rise.

There are two main reasons for arguing that prohibition should be scrapped all the same. The first is one of liberal principle. Although some illegal drugs are extremely dangerous to some people, most are not especially harmful. (Tobacco is more addictive than virtually all of them.) Most consumers of illegal drugs, including cocaine and even heroin, take them only occasionally. They do so because they derive enjoyment from them (as they do from whisky or a Marlboro Light). It is not the state’s job to stop them from doing so.

What about addiction? That is partly covered by this first argument, as the harm involved is primarily visited upon the user. But addiction can also inflict misery on the families and especially the children of any addict, and involves wider social costs. That is why discouraging and treating addiction should be the priority for drug policy. Hence the second argument: legalisation offers the opportunity to deal with addiction properly.

By providing honest information about the health risks of different drugs, and pricing them accordingly, governments could steer consumers towards the least harmful ones. Prohibition has failed to prevent the proliferation of designer drugs, dreamed up in laboratories. Legalisation might encourage legitimate drug companies to try to improve the stuff that people take. The resources gained from tax and saved on repression would allow governments to guarantee treatment to addicts—a way of making legalisation more politically palatable. The success of developed countries in stopping people smoking tobacco, which is similarly subject to tax and regulation, provides grounds for hope.


A calculated gamble, or another century of failure?
This newspaper first argued for legalisation 20 years ago (see article). Reviewing the evidence again (see article), prohibition seems even more harmful, especially for the poor and weak of the world. Legalisation would not drive gangsters completely out of drugs; as with alcohol and cigarettes, there would be taxes to avoid and rules to subvert. Nor would it automatically cure failed states like Afghanistan. Our solution is a messy one; but a century of manifest failure argues for trying it.

http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13237193
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« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2009, 11:57:21 AM »

BTW I would like to note my approval of the BO Administration's decision to respect States' right to decriminalize pot.
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« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2009, 12:24:49 PM »

BTW I would like to note my approval of the BO Administration's decision to respect States' right to decriminalize pot.

Yeah, if he were to stop drug prohibition madness it'd change my opinion of him significantly.
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« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2009, 06:27:42 PM »

When the Mexican Drug Trade Hits the Border
April 15, 2009




By Fred Burton and Ben West

For several years now, STRATFOR has been closely monitoring the growing violence in Mexico and its links to the drug trade. In December, our cartel report assessed the situation in Mexico, and two weeks ago we looked closely at the networks that control the flow of drugs through Central America. This week, we turn our attention to the border to see the dynamics at work there and how U.S. gangs are involved in the action.

The nature of narcotics trafficking changes as shipments near the border. As in any supply chain, shipments become smaller as they reach the retail level, requiring more people to be involved in the operation. While Mexican cartels do have representatives in cities across the United States to oversee networks there, local gangs get involved in the actual distribution of the narcotics.

While there are still many gaps in the understanding of how U.S. gangs interface with Mexican cartels to move drugs around the United States and finally sell them on the retail market, we do know some of the details of gang involvement.

Trafficking vs. Distribution
Though the drug trade as a whole is highly complex, the underlying concept is as simple as getting narcotics from South America to the consuming markets — chief among them the United States, which is the world’s largest drug market. Traffickers use Central America and Mexico as a pipeline to move their goods north. The objective of the Latin American smuggler is to get as much tonnage as possible from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia to the lucrative American market and avoid interdictions by authorities along the way.

However, as narcotic shipments near the U.S.-Mexican border, wholesale trafficking turns into the more micro process of retail distribution. In southern Mexico, drug traffickers move product north in bulk, but as shipments cross the U.S. border, wholesale shipments are broken down into smaller parcels in order to hedge against interdiction and prepare the product for the end user. One way to think about the difference in tactics between trafficking drugs in Central America and Mexico and distributing drugs in the United States is to imagine a company like UPS or FedEx. Shipping air cargo from, say, New York to Los Angeles requires different resources than delivering packages to individual homes in southern California. Several tons of freight from the New York area can be quickly flown to the Los Angeles area. But as the cargo gets closer to its final destination, it is broken up into smaller loads that are shipped via tractor trailer to distribution centers around the region, and finally divided further into discrete packages carried in parcel trucks to individual homes.





Click to enlarge
As products move through the supply chain, they require more specific handling and detailed knowledge of an area, which requires more manpower. The same, more or less, can be said for drug shipments. This can be seen in interdiction reports. When narcotics are intercepted traversing South America into Mexico, they can be measured in tons; as they cross the border into the United States, seizures are reported in kilograms; and by the time products are picked up on the streets of U.S. cities, the narcotics have been divided into packages measured in grams. To reflect this difference, we will refer to the movement of drugs south of the border as trafficking and the movement of drugs north of the border as distributing.

As narcotics approach the border, law enforcement scrutiny and the risk of interdiction also increase, so drug traffickers have to be creative when it comes to moving their products. The constant game of cat-and-mouse makes drug trafficking a very dynamic business, with tactics and specific routes constantly changing to take advantage of any angle that presents itself.

The only certainties are that drugs and people will move from south to north, and that money and weapons will move from north to south. But the specific nature and corridors of those movements are constantly in flux as traffickers innovate in their attempts to stay ahead of the police in a very Darwinian environment. The traffickers employ all forms of movement imaginable, including:

Tunneling under border fences into safe houses on the U.S. side.
Traversing the desert on foot with 50-pound packs of narcotics. (Dirt bikes, ATVs and pack mules are also used.)
Driving across the border by fording the Rio Grande, using ramps to get over fences, cutting through fences or driving through open areas.
Using densely vegetated portions of the riverbank as dead drops.
Floating narcotics across isolated stretches of the river.
Flying small aircraft near the ground to avoid radar.
Concealing narcotics in private vehicles, personal possessions and in or on the bodies of persons who are crossing legally at ports of entry.
Bribing border officials in order to pass through checkpoints.
Hiding narcotics on cross-border trains.
Hiding narcotics in tractor trailers carrying otherwise legitimate loads.
Using boats along the Gulf coast.
Using human “mules” to smuggle narcotics aboard commercial aircraft in their luggage or bodies.
Shipping narcotics via mail or parcel service.
These methods are not mutually exclusive, and organizations may use any combination at the same time. New ways to move the product are constantly emerging.

Once the narcotics are moved into the United States, drug distributors use networks of safe houses, which are sometimes operated by people with direct connections to the Mexican cartels, sometimes by local or regional gang members, and sometimes by individual entrepreneurs. North of the border, distributors still must maneuver around checkpoints, either by avoiding them or by bribing the officials who work there. While these checkpoints certainly result in seizures, they can only slow or reroute the flow of drugs. Hub cities like Atlanta service a large region of smaller drug dealers who act as individual couriers in delivering small amounts of narcotics to their customers.

It is a numbers game for drug traffickers and distributors alike, since it is inevitable that smugglers and shipments will be intercepted by law enforcement somewhere along the supply chain. Those whose loads are interdicted more often struggle to keep prices low and stay competitive. On the other hand, paying heavy corruption fees or taking extra precautions to ensure that more of your product makes it through also raises the cost of moving the product. Successful traffickers and distributors must be able to strike a balance between protecting their shipments and accepting losses. This requires a high degree of pragmatism and rationality.

Local Gangs
While the Mexican cartels do have people in the United States, they do not have enough people so positioned to handle the increased workload of distributing narcotics at the retail level. A wide range of skill sets is required. Some of the tactics involved in moving shipments across the border require skilled workers, such as pilots, while U.S. gang members along the border serve as middlemen and retail distributors. Other aspects of the operation call for people with expertise in manipulating corrupt officials and recruiting human intelligence sources, while a large part of the process simply involves saturating the system with massive numbers of expendable, low-skilled smugglers who are desperate for the money.

The U.S. gangs are crucial in filling the cartel gap north of the border. Members of these border gangs typically are young men who are willing to break the law, looking for quick cash and already plugged in to a network of similar young men, which enables them to recruit others to meet the manpower demand. They are also typically tied to Mexico through family connections, dual citizenship and the simple geographic fact that they live so close to the border. However, the U.S. gangs do not constitute formal extensions of the Mexican drug-trafficking organizations. Border gangs developed on their own, have their own histories, traditions, structures and turf, and they remain independent. They are also involved in more than just drug trafficking and distribution, including property crime, racketeering and kidnapping. Their involvement in narcotics is similar to that of a contractor who can provide certain services, such as labor and protection, while drugs move across gang territory, but drug money is not usually their sole source of income.





Click to enlarge
These gangs come in many shapes and sizes. Motorcycle gangs like the Mongols and Bandidos have chapters all along the southwestern U.S. border and, while not known to actually carry narcotics across the border into the United States, they are frequently involved in distributing smaller loads to various markets across the country to supplement their income from other illegal activities.

Street gangs are present in virtually every U.S. city and town of significant size along the border and are obvious pools of labor for distributing narcotics once they hit the United States. The largest of these street gangs are MS-13 and the Mexican Mafia. MS-13 has an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 members worldwide, about 25 percent of whom are in the United States. MS-13 is unique among U.S. gangs in that it is involved in trafficking narcotics through Central America and Mexico as well as in distributing narcotics in the United States. The Mexican Mafia works with allied gangs in the American Southwest to control large swaths of territory along both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. These gangs are organized to interact directly with traffickers in Mexico and oversee transborder shipments as well as distribution inside the United States.

Prison gangs such as the Barrio Azteca and the Texas Syndicate reach far beyond the prison fence. Membership in a prison gang typically means that, at one point, the member was in prison, where he joined the gang. But there is a wide network of ex-prisoner gang members on the outside involved in criminal activities, including drug smuggling, which is one of the most accessible ways for a gang member to make money when he is released from prison.

Operating underneath the big gang players are hundreds of smaller city gangs in neighborhoods all along the border. These gangs are typically involved in property theft, drug dealing, turf battles and other forms of street crime that can be handled by local police. However, even these gangs can become involved in cross-border smuggling; for example, the Wonderboys in San Luis, Ariz., are known to smuggle marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine across the border.

Gangs like the Wonderboys also target illegal immigrants coming across the border and steal any valuable personal items or cash they may have on them. The targeting of illegal immigrants coming into the United States is common all across the border, with many gangs specializing in kidnapping newly arrived immigrants and demanding ransoms from their families. These gangs are responsible for the record level of kidnapping reported in places like Phoenix, where 368 abductions were reported in 2008. Afraid to notify law enforcement out of a fear of being deported, many families of abducted immigrants somehow come up with the money to secure their family member’s release.

Drug distribution is by far the most lucrative illicit business along the border, and the competition for money leads to a very pragmatic interface between the U.S. border gangs and the drug cartels in Mexico. Handoffs from Mexican traffickers to U.S. distributors are made based upon reliability and price. While territorial rivalries between drug traffickers have led to thousands of deaths in Mexico, these Mexican rivalries do not appear to be spilling over into the U.S. border gangs, who are engaged in their own rivalries, feuds and acts of violence. Nor do the more gruesome aspects of violence in Mexico, such as torture and beheadings, although there are indications that grenades that were once part of cartel arsenals are finding their way to U.S. gangs. In dealing with the Mexican cartels, U.S. gangs — and cartels in turn — exhibit no small amount of business pragmatism. U.S. gangs can serve more than one cartel, which appears to be fine with the cartels, who really have no choice in the matter. They need these retail distribution services north of the border in order to make a profit.

Likewise, U.S. gangs are in the drug business to make money, not to enhance the power of any particular cartel in Mexico. As such, U.S. gangs do not want to limit their business opportunities by aligning themselves to any one cartel. Smaller city gangs that control less territory are more limited geographically in terms of which cartels they can work with. The Wonderboys in Arizona, for example, must deal exclusively with the Sinaloa cartel because the cartel’s turf south of the border encompasses the gang’s relative sliver of turf to the north. However, larger gangs like the Mexican Mafia control much broader swaths of territory and can deal with more than one cartel.

The expanse of geography controlled by the handful of cartels in Mexico simply does not match up with the territory controlled by the many gangs on the U.S. side. Stricter law enforcement is one reason U.S. border gangs have not consolidated to gain control over more turf. While corruption is a growing problem along the U.S. side of the border, it still has not risen to the level that it has in northern Mexico. Another reason for the asymmetry is the different nature of drug movements north of the border. As discussed earlier, moving narcotics in the United States has everything to do with distributing retail quantities of drugs to consumers spread over a broad geographic area, a model that requires more feet on the ground than the trafficking that takes place in Mexico.

Assassins’ Gate
Because the drug distribution network in the United States is so large, it is impossible for any one criminal organization to control all of it. U.S. gangs fill the role of middleman to move drugs around, and they are entrusted with large shipments of narcotics worth millions of dollars. Obviously, the cartels need a way to keep these gangs honest.

One effective way is to have an enforcement arm in place. This is where U.S.-based assassins come in. More tightly connected to the cartels than the gangs are, these assassins are not usually members of a gang. In fact, the cartels prefer that their assassins not be in a gang so that their loyalties will be to the cartels, and so they will be less likely to have criminal records or attract law enforcement attention because of everyday gang activity.

Cartels invest quite a bit in training these hit men to operate in the United States. Often they are trained in Mexico, then sent back across to serve as a kind of “sleeper cell” until they are tapped to take out a delinquent U.S. drug dealer. The frequency and ease with which Americans travel to and from Mexico covers any suspicion that might be raised.

The Gaps
The U.S.-Mexican border is a dynamic place, with competition over drug routes and the quest for cash destabilizing northern Mexico and straining local and state law enforcement on the U.S. side. Putting pressure on the people who are active in the border drug trade has so far only inspired others to innovate and adapt to the challenging environment by becoming more innovative and pragmatic.

And there is still so much we do not know. The exact nature of the relationship between Mexican cartels and U.S. gangs is very murky, and it appears to be handled on such an individual basis that making generalizations is difficult. Another intelligence gap is how deeply involved the cartels are in the U.S. distribution network. As mentioned earlier, the network expands as it becomes more retail in nature, but the profit margins also expand, making it an attractive target for cartel takeover. Finally, while we know that gangs are instrumental in distributing narcotics in the United States, it is unclear how much of the cross-border smuggling they control. Is this vital, risky endeavor completely controlled by cartels and gatekeeper organizations based in Mexico, or do U.S. gangs on the distribution side have more say? STRATFOR will continue to monitor these issues as Mexico’s dynamic cartels continue to evolve.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2009, 08:06:31 PM »

Wichita Witch Hunt
Harvey A. Silverglate, 09.01.09, 4:15 PM ET
No good deed goes unpunished when a private citizen is up against the federal drug warriors--those members of the Department of Justice who have been seeking, with increasing success in recent decades, to effectively control the practice of pain relief medicine. But a current drama being played out in federal court in Kansas portends an even darker turn in the DOJ's war--a private citizen is being threatened with prosecution for seeking to raise public and news media consciousness of the Feds' war against doctors and patients.

The current contretemps in Wichita has its roots in 2002 when Sean Greenwood, who for more than a decade suffered from a rare but debilitating connective tissue disorder, finally found a remedy. William Hurwitz, a Virginia doctor, prescribed the high doses of pain relief medicine necessary for Greenwood to be able to function day-to-day.

Yet when federal agents raided Hurwitz's clinic in 2003 and charged the pain management specialist with illegal drug trafficking, Greenwood's short-lived return to normalcy ended. He couldn't find another doctor willing to treat his pain--the chances were too good that the "narcs" and the federal prosecutors who work with them would assert impossibly vague federal criminal drug laws. Three years later, Greenwood died from a brain hemorrhage, likely brought on by the blood pressure build-up from years of untreated pain.

Greenwood's wife, Siobhan Reynolds, decided to fight back. In 2003 she founded the Pain Relief Network (PRN), a group of activists, doctors and patients who oppose the federal government's tyranny over pain relief specialists.

Now, the PRN's campaign to raise public awareness of pain-doctor prosecutions has made Reynolds herself the target of drug warriors. Prosecutors in Wichita have asked a federal grand jury to decide whether Reynolds engaged in "obstruction of justice" for her role in seeking to create public awareness, and to otherwise assist the defense, in an ongoing prosecution of Kansas pain relief providers. The feds' message is clear: In the pursuit of pain doctors, private citizen-activists--not just physicians--will be targeted.

For Reynolds, the script of the Kansas prosecution has become all too familiar: The feds announced a 34-count indictment at a December 2007 press conference. Local media dutifully reported the charges with minimal scrutiny and the accused--Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda, a nurse--were convicted in the court of public opinion before their trial even began.

In such an atmosphere, it is very difficult to make the point that physicians engaged in the good faith practice of medicine are being second-guessed--not by fellow physicians, but by the federal government--and punished under the criminal law for administering what the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) of the Department of Justice considers more narcotics than is necessary to alleviate a patient's pain.

When pain doctors administer too much of a controlled substance, or do so knowing that they will be diverted to narcotic addicts, they are deemed no longer engaged in the legitimate practice of medicine. But the dividing line is far from clear and not subject to universal agreement even within the profession. Any patient in need of relief can, over time, develop a chemical dependence on a lawful drug--much like a diabetic becomes dependent on insulin. And, once a treatment regimen begins, many patients' tolerance to the drug increases. Thus, to produce the same analgesic effect, doctors sometimes need to increase the prescribed amount, and that amount varies from person to person.

It is notoriously difficult even for trained physicians to distinguish an addict's abuse from a patient's dependence. Nonetheless, federal narcotics officers have increasingly terrorized physicians, wielding the criminal law and harsh prison terms to punish perceived violators. Since 2003, over 400 doctors have been criminally prosecuted by the federal government, according to the DEA. One result is that chronic pain patients in this country are routinely under-medicated.

The litany of abusive prosecutorial tactics could fill a volume. A "win-at-all-costs" mentality dominates federal prosecutors and drug agents involved in these cases. After a Miami Beach doctor was acquitted of 141 counts of illegally prescribing pain medication in March 2009, federal district court Judge Alan Gold rebuked the prosecution for introducing government informants--former patients of the doctor who were cooperating to avoid their own prosecution--as impartial witnesses at trial.

Improprieties galore marked the prosecution of Dr. Hurwitz. Before his trial in federal court in Virginia in 2004, the DEA published a "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) pamphlet for prescription pain medications. In a remarkable admission, the DEA wrote that confusion over dependence and addiction "can lead to inappropriate targeting of practitioners and patients for investigation and prosecution." Yet on the eve trial, the DEA, realizing that Hurwitz could rely on this government-published pamphlet to defend his treatment methods, withdrew the FAQ from its Web site. Winning the case proved more important than facilitating sound medical practice. Hurwitz was convicted.

In Kansas, it appears that zealous prosecutors are targeting not only the doctors, but also their public advocates. When Reynolds wrote op-eds in local newspapers and granted interviews to other media outlets, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway attempted to impose a gag order on her public advocacy. The district judge correctly denied this extraordinary request.

Undeterred, Treadway filed on March 27 a subpoena demanding a broad range of documents and records, obviously hoping to deter the peripatetic pain relief advocate, or even target her for a criminal trial of her own. Just what was Reynolds' suspected criminal activity?

"Obstruction of justice" is the subpoena's listed offense being investigated, but some of the requested records could, in no possible way, prove such a crime. The prosecutor has demanded copies of an ominous-sounding "movie," which, in reality, is a PRN-produced documentary showing the plight of pain physicians. Also requested were records relating to a billboard Reynolds paid to have erected over a busy Wichita highway. It read: "Dr. Schneider never killed anyone." Suddenly, a rather ordinary exercise in free speech and political activism became evidence of an obstruction of justice.

On Sept. 3, a federal judge will decide whether to enforce this subpoena, which Reynolds' lawyers have sought to invalidate on free speech and other grounds. The citizen's liberty to loudly and publicly oppose the drug warriors' long-running reign of terror on the medical profession and its patients should not be in question. Rather, the question should be how the federal government has managed to accumulate the power to punish doctors who, in good faith, are attempting to alleviate excruciating pain in their patients.

Harvey A. Silverglate, author of Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent (Encounter Books, 2009), is a criminal defense and civil liberties attorney and author in Cambridge, Mass.

http://www.forbes.com/2009/09/01/siobhan-reynolds-pain-relief-network-wichita-justice-department-opinions-contributors-harvey-a-silverglate.html
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sgtmac_46
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« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2009, 11:45:12 AM »

I've been a police officer for 12 years and i've finally come to the conclusion that the WODs is a failure, and ultimately misguided.  I still pursue drug offenders, because in the present situation drug and crime are inextricably tied together so that fighting drugs IS fighting crime (because of the illegal nature of drugs and what is required to get them).......but it doesn't have to be that way if we eliminate the profit of drugs via some measure of decriminalization.

It's a costlier and costlier endeavor to pursue the WOD, with no hope of winning.  There has to be another way.
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sgtmac_46
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« Reply #22 on: September 03, 2009, 11:54:37 AM »

BTW I would like to note my approval of the BO Administration's decision to respect States' right to decriminalize pot.

Yeah, if he were to stop drug prohibition madness it'd change my opinion of him significantly.

He would give lip service to it, but ultimately doing so would actually serve the purpose of shrinking the power of the federal government, and that's one thing you can count on BO ever doing!
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DougMacG
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« Reply #23 on: September 03, 2009, 12:33:43 PM »

sgtmac, crafty, bbg,   I agree at least part way with you guys.  Consumer level amounts should be a state right to legislate and I would like the move to be toward decriminalization rather than legalization.  As much of a free marketer that I pretend to be, I am not interested in seeing pot commercials on prime time, just as I don't appreciate actors discussing erection issues  during prime time with my daughter.  I don't want to see big government start to profit off selective legalization with taxation the way they do with gambling and smoking.  As long as they do there will still be a black market.  I don't see highly addictive and highly destructive drugs (meth for example) in the same light as those that we consider no worse than alcohol.  Unfortunately, the really effective pain meds are highly addictive.

The feds may still have a role regarding large amounts crossing state and federal boundaries. 

What is grown on your property, consumed on your property and harms no one off of your property should already be legal under the highest law of the land.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #24 on: September 29, 2009, 06:45:27 PM »

Another “Victory” in the War on Drugs

Posted by Daniel J. Mitchell

A grandmother in Indiana has been arrested for purchasing cold medicine. We can all sleep more safely now that this hardened criminal has been taught a lesson. The Terre Haute News reports:

When Sally Harpold bought cold medicine for her family back in March, she never dreamed that four months later she would end up in handcuffs.

Now, Harpold is trying to clear her name of criminal charges, and she is speaking out in hopes that a law will change so others won’t endure the same embarrassment she still is facing.

…Harpold is a grandmother of triplets who bought one box of Zyrtec-D cold medicine for her husband at a Rockville pharmacy. Less than seven days later, she bought a box of Mucinex-D cold medicine for her adult daughter at a Clinton pharmacy, thereby purchasing 3.6 grams total of pseudoephedrine in a week’s time.

Those two purchases put her in violation of Indiana law 35-48-4-14.7, which restricts the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, or PSE, products to no more than 3.0 grams within any seven-day period.

When the police came knocking at the door of Harpold’s Parke County residence on July 30, she was arrested on a Vermillion County warrant for a class-C misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2009/09/28/another-victory-in-the-war-on-drugs/
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #25 on: October 08, 2009, 07:57:54 PM »

http://reason.com/blog/2009/10/08/probation-and-a-fine-the-sente
Reason Magazine


Probation, Fine, and Financial Ruin: The Penalty for Not Committing a Crime

Jacob Sullum | October 8, 2009

Last month a federal judge sentenced Rosa Martinez, a physician in Yakima, Washington, to a year's probation and a $1,000 fine for Medicare and Medicaid fraud. The fraud occurred when a physician's assistant in Martinez's practice mistakenly charged the government for her services at the physician's rate, which is allowed only when the supervising physician is present, which Martinez wasn't. She said she was unaware of the rule but accepted responsibility for the errors because they occurred on her watch. The overcharges totaled $22. No, that's not a typo. "Clearly," U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle said, "this is not any type of overt crime." Noting Martinez's dedication to her patients and her reputation for high-quality pro bono work, Van Sickle declined the prosecution's request to impose community service as part of her sentence, saying, "The kind of work you do is such that imposing some form of community service would not make sense."

This pathetic outcome is all that is left of a federal prosecution that threatened Martinez with up to 20 years in federal prison, portraying her as a taxpayer-bilking drug pusher. The case, launched three years ago by U.S. Attorney James A. McDevitt, stemmed from Martinez's willingness to treat people with histories of illegal drug use for pain, a practice that is not only legal but ethically required. In 2007 a jury acquitted her of prescribing narcotics outside the scope of medicine, failed to reach verdicts on related charges of unlawfully distributing narcotics, and convicted her on eight felony counts of health care fraud. After the trial, Judge Van Sickle dismissed the distribution charges and ordered a new trial on the fraud charges. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports that a medical billing expert hired by Martinez's lawyer "concluded that the convictions were based on misrepresentations by government auditors." According to the lawyer, "it gutted the prosecution's case," which is why McDevitt agreed to a plea bargain instead of retrying Martinez. As for Martinez, she wanted to keep fighting, but she "had run out of money" and assets, having "lost her home in the process of defending herself against the charges."

Keep this case in mind the next time you read about an alleged "pill mill" operator who faces a daunting list of charges that cast every aspect of his practice in a sinister light. More on drug control vs. pain control here.

[Thanks to the Pain Relief Network's Siobhan Renolds for the tip.]
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #26 on: October 12, 2009, 01:50:44 PM »

Ottawa

When George P. Shultz took office as Ronald Reagan's secretary of state in 1982, his first trip out of the country was to Canada. His second was to Mexico.

"Foreign policy starts with your neighborhood," he told me in an interview here in the Canadian capital last week. "I have always believed that and Ronald Reagan believed that very firmly. In many ways he had [the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement] in his mind. He paid a lot of attention to both Mexico and Canada, as I did."

Mr. Shultz, now a co-chair of the North American Forum—which pulls together members of the business and government community for an annual pow-wow—is still paying a lot of attention to the American neighborhood.

These days that means taking seriously the problem of drug-trafficking violence on the Mexican border. "It's gotten to the point that . . . you've got to be worried about what's happening to Mexico, and you've got to realize that the money that's financing all that comes from the United States in terms of the profits from the illegal drugs. It's not healthy for us, let alone Mexico, to have this violence taking place."

Mr. Shultz carries weight on this issue, in part because he has been thinking about it critically for decades and listening to our neighbors' viewpoints. He has long harbored skepticism about interdiction as a solution to drug abuse in the U.S. Those doubts were prescient.

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Members of the Mexican Federal Police inspect an unmarked grave in Ciudad Juarez, a major distribution center for drugs bound for the United States.
.In 1988, Mr. Shultz recalls, he traveled to Mexico for the inauguration of President Carlos Salinas. After the ceremony they had a private conversation. "He said to me that he understood it was important for Mexico to do what it could to stop the flow of drugs into the United States. But he wanted me to know that the funds to support all that traffic came from the United States to Mexico." Mr. Shultz says that around the same time he heard a very similar refrain from the president of Colombia, Virgilio Barco.

Mr. Salinas also warned the secretary that Americans should realize they are not immune: "This problem will spill across. Drug gangs will eventually be in the United States."

In recent years, Mr. Shultz says, "There has come to be more and more of a realization of the nature of the problem. I thought it was interesting six or eight months ago, that three former presidents of Latin American countries, President Zedillo from Mexico, President Cardoso from Brazil and President Gaviria from Colombia made a report basically saying that we have to look at this problem in all of its dimensions if we are going to get anywhere with it. And we have to realize what its origins are."

Yet it is also true that those presidents spoke up only after they left office. I asked him if there is any hope of policy leadership from those in office. "There is a certain amount of evidence that people are realizing the nature of the problem and have more of a willingness to try to deal with it."

But, he says, we still have not created the "political space" necessary to raise the issue in public. "Right now if you are in politics you can't discuss the problem. It's just poison. The result is that we have this giant problem that is tearing Mexico apart . . . and we have plenty of problems here too and we're really not having a debate about it."

Mr. Shultz is a strong proponent of education to reduce demand. "If we want to get serious about this issue, we should start with a gigantic campaign to persuade people that drugs are bad for them. And it has to be based on solid factual material. You can't try to mislead people."

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
.Yet that's been difficult because of the taboo. Mr. Shultz recalls what happened shortly after he left government, when his view that interdiction is not the solution came up after a speech to a Stanford alumni group.

Then, as now, he believed that we need to look at the problem from an economic perspective and understand what happens when there is high demand for a prohibited substance. When his comment hit the press, he says he "was inundated with letters. Ninety-eight percent of them agreed with me and over half of those people said I'm glad you said it, but I wouldn't dare say it. The most poignant comment was from [a former member of the House of Representatives] who wrote and said I was glad to see your statement. I said that a few years ago and that's why I'm no longer a congressman!"

I asked Mr. Shultz if he thinks a more sensible approach might come from the states. He says "people can express themselves a little better at the state level." And, with respect to some liberalization of the drug-possession laws at the state level, "I regard these developments as a distinctive statement by people that the present system is not working very well and they want to change it."
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DougMacG
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« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2009, 03:02:56 PM »

Very interesting.  A huge problem with no easy solution.  Nothing really gets legalized in this country as lemonade stands get shut down for licensing issues and tobacco gets sold on the black market as taxation goes sky high, so I think that can be a misnomer.

I can see decriminalization for consumers to a point as Crafty described in this thread agreeing with Obama.  I can see reevaluating all penalties and trying to get them in proportion to the amount of damage done to others.  A renewed campaign with honest science to inform people of risks makes sense.

An advantage of legalization would be labeling for potency and content, but that really isn't legalization if buying and selling as it is known today is still a violation of all FTC (and IRS) laws.

Here is a question (or two) for our libertarian friends here in favor of full legalization of drugs, what would you do then about prescription drugs?  Cocaine you can buy and sell but for Valium or Viagra you need a Doctor and a Pharmacy reaping fees and profits? That doesn't make sense.  And further, if could trust ourselves with medicines, why can't we trust we the people with 'medical' devices and procedures?  Today that can be a felony with years in jail.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2009, 04:01:31 PM »

I use to work a phone hotline with a couple pharmacologists employed by a major drug company who often spoke about how hard it is to define the line between psychoactive/recreational and medicinal drug use. A lot seems to depend on the headset of the users, speculation that mirrors my experience a working drug rescue: thing going on inside a person's head strongly informed how they reacted to a given psychoactive substance. As such, I'm not sure there's much return to be found in defining the line between a pharmacological and recreational reaction and indeed, substances like Viagra blur that line quite significantly.

Perhaps the solution is as simple as invoking different standards of consumer/civil liability: substances self-prescribed for recreational purposes are not covered by consumer liability laws so long as the substance conforms to its strength/adulterant labeling, while physician prescribed substances are fully covered by consumer protections. I'm sure other schema could be arrived at, I just have a hard time envisioning one that would harm more folks or enrich our enemies better than the counterproductive status quo. Not sure I understand the medical device questions, but suspect it would also work under the consumer protection standards I note above.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #29 on: October 12, 2009, 04:59:54 PM »

That's rather subtle.  I like it.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2010, 07:03:58 AM »

Al Qaeda linked to rogue aviation network
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60C3E820100113
TIMBUKTU, Mali (Reuters) - In early 2008, an official at the U.S. Department
of Homeland Security sent a report to his superiors detailing what he called
"the most significant development in the criminal exploitation of aircraft
since 9/11."

The document warned that a growing fleet of rogue jet aircraft was regularly
crisscrossing the Atlantic Ocean. On one end of the air route, it said, are
cocaine-producing areas in the Andes controlled by the leftist Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia. On the other are some of West Africa's most
unstable countries.

The report, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, was ignored, and the
problem has since escalated into what security officials in several
countries describe as a global security threat.

The clandestine fleet has grown to include twin-engine turboprops, executive
jets and retired Boeing 727s that are flying multi-ton loads of cocaine and
possibly weapons to an area in Africa where factions of al Qaeda are
believed to be facilitating the smuggling of drugs to Europe, the officials
say.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has been held responsible for car and
suicide bombings in Algeria and Mauritania.

Gunmen and bandits with links to AQIM have also stepped up kidnappings of
Europeans for ransom, who are then passed on to AQIM factions seeking ransom
payments.

The aircraft hopscotch across South American countries, picking up tons of
cocaine and jet fuel, officials say. They then soar across the Atlantic to
West Africa and the Sahel, where the drugs are funneled across the Sahara
Desert and into Europe.

An examination of documents and interviews with officials in the United
States and three West African nations suggest that at least 10 aircraft have
been discovered using this air route since 2006. Officials warn that many of
these aircraft were detected purely by chance. They caution that the real
number involved in the networks is likely considerably higher.

Alexandre Schmidt, regional representative for West and Central Africa for
the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, cautioned in Dakar this week that the
aviation network has expanded in the past 12 months and now likely includes
several Boeing 727 aircraft.

"When you have this high capacity for transporting drugs into West Africa,
this means that you have the capacity to transport as well other goods, so
it is definitely a threat to security anywhere in the world," said Schmidt.

The "other goods" officials are most worried about are weapons that militant
organizations can smuggle on the jet aircraft. A Boeing 727 can handle up to
10 tons of cargo.

The U.S. official who wrote the report for the Department of Homeland
Security said the al Qaeda connection was unclear at the time.

The official is a counter-narcotics aviation expert who asked to remain
anonymous as he is not authorized to speak on the record. He said he was
dismayed by the lack of attention to the matter since he wrote the report.

"You've got an established terrorist connection on this side of the
Atlantic. Now on the Africa side you have the al Qaeda connection and it's
extremely disturbing and a little bit mystifying that it's not one of the
top priorities of the government," he said.

Since the September 11 attacks, the security system for passenger air
traffic has been ratcheted up in the United States and throughout much of
the rest of the world, with the latest measures imposed just weeks ago after
a failed bomb attempt on a Detroit-bound plane on December 25.

"The bad guys have responded with their own aviation network that is out
there everyday flying loads and moving contraband," said the official, "and
the government seems to be oblivious to it."

The upshot, he said, is that militant organizations -- including groups like
the FARC and al Qaeda -- have the "power to move people and material and
contraband anywhere around the world with a couple of fuel stops."

The lucrative drug trade is already having a deleterious impact on West
African nations. Local authorities told Reuters they are increasingly
outgunned and unable to stop the smugglers.

And significantly, many experts say, the drug trafficking is bringing in
huge revenues to groups that say they are part of al Qaeda. It's swelling
not just their coffers but also their ranks, they say, as drug money is
becoming an effective recruiting tool in some of the world's most
desperately poor regions.

U.S. President Barack Obama has chided his intelligence officials for not
pooling information "to connect those dots" to prevent threats from being
realized. But these dots, scattered across two continents like flaring
traces on a radar screen, remain largely unconnected and the fleets
themselves are still flying.

THE AFRICAN CONNECTION

The deadly cocaine trade always follows the money, and its cash-flush
traffickers seek out the routes that are the mostly lightly policed.

Beset by corruption and poverty, weak countries across West Africa have
become staging platforms for transporting between 30 tons and 100 tons of
cocaine each year that ends up in Europe, according to U.N. estimates.

Drug trafficking, though on a much smaller scale, has existed here and
elsewhere on the continent since at least the late 1990s, according to local
authorities and U.S. enforcement officials.

Earlier this decade, sea interdictions were stepped up. So smugglers
developed an air fleet that is able to transport tons of cocaine from the
Andes to African nations that include Mauritania, Mali, Sierra Leone and
Guinea Bissau.What these countries have in common are numerous disused
landing strips and makeshift runways -- most without radar or police
presence. Guinea Bissau has no aviation radar at all. As fleets grew, so,
too, did the drug trade.

The DEA says all aircraft seized in West Africa had departed Venezuela. That
nation's location on the Caribbean and Atlantic seaboard of South America
makes it an ideal takeoff place for drug flights bound for Africa, they say.

A number of aircraft have been retrofitted with additional fuel tanks to
allow in-flight refueling -- a technique innovated by Mexico's drug
smugglers. (Cartel pilots there have been known to stretch an aircraft's
flight range by putting a water mattress filled with aviation fuel in the
cabin, then stacking cargoes of marijuana bundles on top to act as an
improvised fuel pump.)

Ploys used by the cartel aviators to mask the flights include fraudulent
pilot certificates, false registration documents and altered tail numbers to
steer clear of law enforcement lookout lists, investigators say. Some
aircraft have also been found without air-worthiness certificates or log
books. When smugglers are forced to abandon them, they torch them to destroy
forensic and other evidence like serial numbers.

The evidence suggests that some Africa-bound cocaine jets also file a
regional flight plan to avoid arousing suspicion from investigators. They
then subsequently change them at the last minute, confident that their
switch will go undetected.

One Gulfstream II jet, waiting with its engines running to take on 2.3 tons
of cocaine at Margarita Island in Venezuela, requested a last-minute flight
plan change to war-ravaged Sierra Leone in West Africa. It was nabbed
moments later by Venezuelan troops, the report seen by Reuters showed.

Once airborne, the planes soar to altitudes used by commercial jets. They
have little fear of interdiction as there is no long-range radar coverage
over the Atlantic. Current detection efforts by U.S. authorities, using
fixed radar and P3 aircraft, are limited to traditional Caribbean and north
Atlantic air and marine transit corridors.

The aircraft land at airports, disused runways or improvised air strips in
Africa. One bearing a false Red Cross emblem touched down without
authorization onto an unlit strip at Lungi International Airport in Sierra
Leone in 2008, according to a U.N. report.

Late last year a Boeing 727 landed on an improvised runway using the
hard-packed sand of a Tuareg camel caravan route in Mali, where local
officials said smugglers offloaded between 2 and 10 tons of cocaine before
dousing the jet with fuel and burning it after it failed to take off again.

For years, traffickers in Mexico have bribed officials to allow them to land
and offload cocaine flights at commercial airports. That's now happening in
Africa as well. In July 2008, troops in coup-prone Guinea Bissau secured
Bissau international airport to allow an unscheduled cocaine flight to land,
according to Edmundo Mendes, a director with the Judicial Police.

"When we got there, the soldiers were protecting the aircraft," said Mendes,
who tried to nab the Gulfstream II jet packed with an estimated $50 million
in cocaine but was blocked by the military.

"The soldiers verbally threatened us," he said. The cocaine was never
recovered. Just last week, Reuters photographed two aircraft at Osvaldo
Vieira International Airport in Guinea Bissau -- one had been dispatched by
traffickers from Senegal to try to repair the other, a Gulfstream II jet,
after it developed mechanical problems. Police seized the second aircraft.

FLYING BLIND

One of the clearest indications of how much this aviation network has
advanced was the discovery, on November 2, of the burned out fuselage of an
aging Boeing 727. Local authorities found it resting on its side in rolling
sands in Mali. In several ways, the use of such an aircraft marks a
significant advance for smugglers.

Boeing jetliners, like the one discovered in Mali, can fly a cargo of
several tons into remote areas. They also require a three-man crew -- a
pilot, co pilot and flight engineer, primarily to manage the complex fuel
system dating from an era before automation.

Hundreds of miles to the west, in the sultry, former Portuguese colony of
Guinea Bissau, national Interpol director Calvario Ahukharie said several
abandoned airfields, including strips used at one time by the Portuguese
military, had recently been restored by "drug mafias" for illicit flights.

"In the past, the planes coming from Latin America usually landed at Bissau
airport," Ahukharie said as a generator churned the feeble air-conditioning
in his office during one of the city's frequent blackouts.

"But now they land at airports in southern and eastern Bissau where the
judicial police have no presence."

Ahukharie said drug flights are landing at Cacine, in eastern Bissau, and
Bubaque in the Bijagos Archipelago, a chain of more than 80 islands off the
Atlantic coast. Interpol said it hears about the flights from locals,
although they have been unable to seize aircraft, citing a lack of
resources.

The drug trade, by both air and sea, has already had a devastating impact on
Guinea Bissau. A dispute over trafficking has been linked to the
assassination of the military chief of staff, General Batista Tagme Na Wai
in 2009. Hours later, the country's president, Joao Bernardo Vieira, was
hacked to death by machete in his home.

Asked how serious the issue of air trafficking remained for Guinea Bissau,
Ahukharie was unambiguous: "The problem is grave."

The situation is potentially worse in the Sahel-Sahara, where cocaine is
arriving by the ton. There it is fed into well-established overland
trafficking routes across the Sahara where government influence is limited
and where factions of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have become
increasingly active.

The group, previously known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat,
is raising millions of dollars from the kidnap of Europeans.

Analysts say militants strike deals of convenience with Tuareg rebels and
smugglers of arms, cigarettes and drugs. According to a growing pattern of
evidence, the group may now be deriving hefty revenues from facilitating the
smuggling of FARC-made cocaine to the shores of Europe.

UNHOLY ALLIANCE
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #31 on: January 14, 2010, 07:04:53 AM »

UNHOLY ALLIANCE

In December, Antonio Maria Costa, the executive director of the UN Office on
Drugs and Crime, told a special session of the UN Security Council that
drugs were being traded by "terrorists and anti-government forces" to fund
their operations from the Andes, to Asia and the African Sahel.

"In the past, trade across the Sahara was by caravans," he said. "Today it
is larger in size, faster at delivery and more high-tech, as evidenced by
the debris of a Boeing 727 found on November 2nd in the Gao region of
Mali -- an area affected by insurgency and terrorism."

Just days later, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials arrested
three West African men following a sting operation in Ghana. The men, all
from Mali, were extradited to New York on December 16 on drug trafficking
and terrorism charges.

Oumar Issa, Harouna Toure, and Idriss Abelrahman are accused of plotting to
transport cocaine across Africa with the intent to support al Qaeda, its
local affiliate AQIM and the FARC. The charges provided evidence of what the
DEA's top official in Colombia described to a Reuters reporter as "an unholy
alliance between South American narco-terrorists and Islamic extremists."

Some experts are skeptical, however, that the men are any more than
criminals. They questioned whether the drug dealers oversold their al Qaeda
connections to get their hands on the cocaine.

In its criminal complaint, the DEA said Toure had led an armed group
affiliated to al Qaeda that could move the cocaine from Ghana through North
Africa to Spain for a fee of $2,000 per kilo for transportation and
protection.

Toure discussed two different overland routes with an undercover informant.
One was through Algeria and Morocco; the other via Algeria to Libya. He told
the informer that the group had worked with al Qaeda to transport between
one and two tons of hashish to Tunisia, as well as smuggle Pakistani, Indian
and Bangladeshi migrants into Spain.

In any event, AQIM has been gaining in notoriety. Security analysts warn
that cash stemming from the trans-Saharan coke trade could transform the
organization -- a small, agile group whose southern-Sahel wing is estimated
to number between 100 and 200 men -- into a more potent threat in the region
that stretches from Mauritania to Niger. It is an area with huge foreign
investments in oil, mining and a possible trans-Sahara gas pipeline.

"These groups are going to have a lot more money than they've had before,
and I think you are going to see them with much more sophisticated weapons,"
said Douglas Farah, a senior fellow at the International Assessment Strategy
Center, a Washington based security think-tank.

NARCOTIC INDUSTRIAL DEPOT

The Timbuktu region covers more than a third of northern Mali, where the
parched, scrubby Sahel shades into the endless, rolling dunes of the Sahara
Desert. It is an area several times the size of Switzerland, much of it
beyond state control.

Moulaye Haidara, the customs official, said the sharp influx of cocaine by
air has transformed the area into an "industrial depot" for cocaine.

Sitting in a cool, dark, mud-brick office building in the city where nomadic
Tuareg mingle with Arabs and African Songhay, Fulani and Mande peoples,
Haidara expresses alarm at the challenge local law enforcement faces.

Using profits from the trade, the smugglers have already bought "automatic
weapons, and they are very determined," Haidara said. He added that they
"call themselves Al Qaeda," though he believes the group had nothing to do
with religion, but used it as "an ideological base."

Local authorities say four-wheel-drive Toyota SUVs outfitted with GPS
navigation equipment and satellite telephones are standard issue for
smugglers. Residents say traffickers deflate the tires to gain better
traction on the loose Saharan sands, and can travel at speeds of up to 70
miles-per-hour in convoys along routes to North Africa.

Timbuktu governor, Colonel Mamadou Mangara, said he believes traffickers
have air-conditioned tents that enable them to operate in areas of the
Sahara where summer temperatures are so fierce that they "scorch your
shoes." He added that the army lacked such equipment. A growing number of
people in the impoverished region, where transport by donkey cart and camel
are still common, are being drawn to the trade. They can earn 4 to 5 million
CFA Francs (roughly $9-11,000) on just one coke run.

"Smuggling can be attractive to people here who can make only $100 or $200 a
month," said Mohamed Ag Hamalek, a Tuareg tourist guide in Timbuktu, whose
family until recently earned their keep hauling rock salt by camel train,
using the stars to navigate the Sahara.

Haidara described northern Mali as a no-go area for the customs service.
"There is now a red line across northern Mali, nobody can go there," he
said, sketching a map of the country on a scrap of paper with a ballpoint
pen. "If you go there with feeble means ... you don't come back."

TWO-WAY TRADE

Speaking in Dakar this week, Schmidt, the U.N. official, said that growing
clandestine air traffic required urgent action on the part of the
international community.

"This should be the highest concern for governments ... For West African
countries, for West European countries, for Russia and the U.S., this should
be very high on the agenda," he said.

Stopping the trade, as the traffickers are undoubtedly aware, is a huge
challenge -- diplomatically, structurally and economically.

Venezuela, the takeoff or refueling point for aircraft making the trip, has
a confrontational relationship with Colombia, where President Alvaro Uribe
has focused on crushing the FARC's 45-year-old insurgency. The nation's
leftist leader, Hugo Chavez, won't allow in the DEA to work in the country.

In a measure of his hostility to Washington, he scrambled two F16 fighter
jets last week to intercept an American P3 aircraft -- a plane used to seek
out and track drug traffickers -- which he said had twice violated
Venezuelan airspace. He says the United States and Colombia are using
anti-drug operations as a cover for a planned invasion of his oil-rich
country. Washington and Bogota dismiss the allegation.

In terms of curbing trafficking, the DEA has by far the largest overseas
presence of any U.S. federal law enforcement, with 83 offices in 62
countries. But it is spread thin in Africa where it has just four offices -- 
in Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and South Africa -- though there are plans to open
a fifth office in Kenya.

Law enforcement agencies from Europe as well as Interpol are also at work to
curb the trade. But locally, officials are quick to point out that Africa is
losing the war on drugs.

The most glaring problem, as Mali's example shows, is a lack of resources.
The only arrests made in connection with the Boeing came days after it was
found in the desert -- and those incarcerated turned out to be desert nomads
cannibalizing the plane's aluminum skin, probably to make cooking pots. They
were soon released.

Police in Guinea Bissau, meanwhile, told Reuters they have few guns, no
money for gas for vehicles given by donor governments and no high security
prison to hold criminals.

Corruption is also a problem. The army has freed several traffickers charged
or detained by authorities seeking to tackle the problem, police and rights
groups said.

Serious questions remain about why Malian authorities took so long to report
the Boeing's discovery to the international law enforcement community.

What is particularly worrying to U.S. interests is that the networks of
aircraft are not just flying one way -- hauling coke to Africa from Latin
America -- but are also flying back to the Americas.

The internal Department of Homeland Security memorandum reviewed by Reuters
cited one instance in which an aircraft from Africa landed in Mexico with
passengers and unexamined cargo.

The Gulfstream II jet arrived in Cancun, by way of Margarita Island,
Venezuela, en route from Africa. The aircraft, which was on an aviation
watch list, carried just two passengers. One was a U.S. national with no
luggage, the other a citizen of the Republic of Congo with a diplomatic
passport and a briefcase, which was not searched.

"The obvious huge concern is that you have a transportation system that is
capable of transporting tons of cocaine from west to east," said the
aviation specialist who wrote the Homeland Security report.

"But it's reckless to assume that nothing is coming back, and when there's
terrorist organizations on either side of this pipeline, it should be a high
priority to find out what is coming back on those airplanes."

(Additional reporting by Tiemoko Diallo in Mali, Alberto Dabo in Guinea
Bissau and Hugh Bronstein in Colombia, editing by Jim Impoco and Claudia
Parsons)
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« Reply #32 on: March 22, 2010, 08:31:35 PM »

The War on Drugs Is Doomed
Strong demand and the high profits that are the result of prohibition make illegal trafficking unstoppable.
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY

They say that the first step in dealing with a problem is acknowledging that you have one. It is therefore good news that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will lead a delegation to Mexico tomorrow to talk with officials there about efforts to fight the mob violence that is being generated in Mexico by the war on drugs. U.S. recognition of this shared problem is healthy.

But that's where the good news is likely to end.

Violence along the border has skyrocketed ever since Mexican President Felipe Calderón decided to confront the illegal drug cartels that operate there. Some 7,000 troops now patrol Juárez, a city of roughly one million. Yet even militarization has not delivered the peace. The reason is simple enough: The source of the problem is not Mexican supply. It is American demand coupled with prohibition.

It is doubtful that this will be acknowledged at tomorrow's meeting. The drug-warrior industry, which includes both the private-sector and a massive government bureaucracy devoted to "enforcement," has an enormous economic incentive to keep the war raging. In Washington politics both groups have substantial influence. So it is likely that we are going to get further plans to turn Juárez into a police state with the promise that more guns, tanks, helicopters and informants can stop Mexican gangsters from shoving drugs up American noses.

Last week's gangland-style slaying of an unborn baby and three adults who had ties to the U.S. Consulate in Juárez has drawn attention to Mrs. Clinton's trip. The incident stunned Americans. Yet tragic as they were, statistically those four deaths don't create even a blip on the body-count chart. The running tally of drug-trafficking linked deaths in Juárez since December 2006 is more than 5,350. There has also been a high cost to the city's economy as investors and tourists have turned away.

Even with low odds of a productive outcome, though, Mexico can't afford to write off tomorrow's meeting. It is an opportunity that, handled correctly, could provide for a teachable moment. I suggest that one or two of Mexico's very fine economists trained at the University of Chicago by Milton Friedman sit down with President Obama's team to explain a few things about how markets work. They could begin by outlining the path that a worthless weed travels to become the funding for the cartel's firepower. In this Econ 101 lesson, students will learn how the lion's share of the profit is in getting the stuff over the U.S. border to the American consumer. In football terms, Juárez is first and goal.

Mexico hasn't always been an important playing field for drug cartels. For many years cocaine traffickers used the Caribbean to get their product to their customers in the largest and richest market in the hemisphere. But when the U.S. redoubled its efforts to block shipments traveling by sea, the entrepreneurs shifted to land routes through Central America and Mexico.

Mexican traffickers now handle cocaine but traditional marijuana smuggling is their cash cow, despite competition from stateside growers. In a February 2009 interview, then-Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora told me that half of the cartel's annual income was derived from marijuana.

This is especially troubling for Mexican law enforcement because marijuana use, through medical marijuana outlets and general social acceptance, has become de facto legal in the U.S., and demand is robust. The upshot is that consumption is cool while production, trafficking and distribution are organized-crime activities. This is what I called in a previous column, "a stimulus plan for Mexican gangsters."

In much of the world, where institutions are weak and folks are poor, the high value that prohibition puts into drugs means that the thugs rule. Mr. Medina Mora told me in the same 2009 interview that Mexico estimated the annual cash flow from U.S. drug consumers to Mexico at around $10 billion, which of course explains why the cartels are so well armed and also able to grease the system. It also explains why Juárez is today a killing field.

Supply warriors might have a better argument if the billions of dollars spent defoliating the Colombian jungle, chasing fast boats and shooting down airplanes for the past four decades had reduced drug use. Yet despite passing victories like taking out 1980s kingpin Pablo Escobar and countless other drug lords since then, narcotics are still widely available in the U.S. and some segment of American society remains enthusiastic about using them. In some places terrorist organizations like Colombia's FARC rebels and al Qaeda have replaced traditional cartels.

There is one ray of hope for innocent victims of the war on drugs. Last week the Journal reported that Drug Enforcement Administration agents were questioning members of an El Paso gang about their possible involvement in the recent killings in Juárez. If the escalation is now spilling over into the U.S., Americans may finally have to face their role in the mess. Mrs. Clinton's mission will only add value if it reflects awareness of that reality.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703580904575132153106546066.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #33 on: March 23, 2010, 06:10:10 AM »

Obama and Clinton both want to use the firepower of the Mexican cartels to justify sabotaging American gun rights through international treaties-- as if the kinds of guns they use were available to US citizens!  No automatics at my store!  No grenade launchers either!  And who originally created and trained the Zetas?  The US government!  But I digress , , ,

They also want to use the drug wars in Mexico to justify enabling more immigration and work visas for Mexicans; the better to have more amnesty to create tens of millions of new voters for the Progressive agenda.

On a lighter note, here's this.  Did Thomas Jefferson get stoned?

"1806 July "I remember seeing in your greenhouse a plant of a couple of feet
height in a pot the fragrance of which (from its gummy bud if I recollect
rightly) was peculiarly agreeable to me..." (Jefferson to W.Hamilton,
Betts, Garden Book, 323)"
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« Reply #34 on: March 23, 2010, 10:09:19 AM »

"They also want to use the drug wars in Mexico to justify enabling more immigration and work visas for Mexicans; the better to have more amnesty to create tens of millions of new voters for the Progressive agenda."

Crafty,

This is my biggest fear.  The liberals have already worked out the details to sell the immigration "reform" to the public.  The libs will go to great lengths to point out this is NOT "amnesty".
The immigrants will have to pay fines, pay back taxes, say they are sorry, and go on some sort of path to citizenship yadda yadda yadda.

This is coming soon and will also go through the reconciliation business.  ASAP.

All the Dem voters will want it - not just Latinos but all of them because they know it strengthens their voting base.

I do not think the Republicans are able to persuade Blacks that this is NOT in their long term interests though it clearly isn't.  The interests of Blacks are not the *same* as illega immigrants.  But for expediency of short term common voting interests - the liberal agenda - they and most of their leaders will go for it.

Blacks apparently don't want to see they too are giving away their country.  All they see is that this is some sort of social justice - transfer of wealth - reparations etc...  In the long run they are shooting themselves in the foot in my opinion.  I really feel Blacks have the same interests as Whites (and all legal citizens - Latinos/Asians etc.) on this issue.

If this goes through before November - and I would be shocked if the libs don't shove this through the same way - our country could well be gone forever.

Again the immigrants of today are NOT the same as our forefathers.

They come here and many immediately game the system.  The rest of us who know this appear to be unable to do anything about it.   

Has any one else noticed that the pundits in the MSM consistently sit with *smirks* on their faces whenever the topic of Obama's agenda being "socialist/communist" comes up?  Again if not for Fox, talk radio their is no truth out there.

I just don"t get how som mnny in our country are for this.  What a nightmare.  Our own media has drank the cool aid and covers for the Phoney One.
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« Reply #35 on: June 07, 2010, 11:16:17 AM »

The Parable of Prohibition
A very bizarre chapter of history can teach us a lot.
By Johann Hari
Posted Thursday, June 3, 2010, at 10:03 AM ET
Since we first prowled the savannahs of Africa, human beings have displayed a few overpowering and ineradicable impulses—for food, for sex, and for drugs. Every human society has hunted for its short cuts to an altered state: The hunger for a chemical high, low, or pleasingly new shuffle sideways is universal. Peer back through history, and it's everywhere. Ovid said drug-induced ecstasy was a divine gift. The Chinese were brewing alcohol in prehistory and cultivating opium by 700 A.D. Cocaine was found in clay-pipe fragments from William Shakespeare's house. George Washington insisted American soldiers be given whiskey every day as part of their rations. Human history is filled with chemicals, come-downs, and hangovers.

And in every generation, there are moralists who try to douse this natural impulse in moral condemnation and burn it away. They believe that humans, stripped of their intoxicants, will become more rational or ethical or good. They point to the addicts and the overdoses and believe they reveal the true face—and the logical endpoint—of your order at the bar or your roll-up. And they believe we can be saved from ourselves, if only we choose to do it. Their vision holds an intoxicating promise of its own.

Their most famous achievement—the criminalization of alcohol in the United States between 1921 and 1933—is one of the great parables of modern history. Daniel Okrent's superb new history, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, shows how a coalition of mostly well-meaning, big-hearted people came together and changed the Constitution to ban booze. On the day it began, one of the movement's leaders, the former baseball hero turned evangelical preacher Billy Sunday, told his ecstatic congregation what the Dry New World would look like: "The reign of tears is over. The slums will soon be only a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses. Men will walk upright now, women will smile, and the children will laugh. Hell will be forever rent."

The story of the War on Alcohol has never needed to be told more urgently—because its grandchild, the War on Drugs, shares the same DNA. Okrent alludes to the parallel only briefly, on his final page, but it hangs over the book like old booze-fumes—and proves yet again Mark Twain's dictum: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

There was never an America without chemical highs. The Native Americans used hallucinogens routinely, and the ship that brought John Winthrop and the first Puritans to the continent carried three times more beer than water, along with 10,000 gallons of wine. It was immediately a society so soaked in alcohol that it makes your liver ache to read the raw statistics: By 1830, the average citizen drank seven gallons of pure alcohol a year. America was so hungry for highs that when there was a backlash against all this boozing, the temperance movement's initial proposal was that people should water down their alcohol with opium.

It's not hard to see how this fug of liquor caused problems, as well as pleasure—and the backlash was launched by a furious housewife from a small town in Ohio. One Sunday in 1874, Eliza Thompson—a mother to eight children, who had never spoken out on any public issue before—stood before the crowds at her church and announced that America would never be free or godly until the last whiskey bottle was emptied onto the dry earth. A huge crowd of women cheered: They believed their husbands were squandering their wages at the saloon. They marched as one to the nearest bar, where they all sank to their knees and prayed for the soul of its owner. They refused to leave until he repented. They worked in six-hour prayer shifts on the streets until the saloonkeeper finally appeared, head bowed, and agreed to shut it down. This prayer-athon then moved around to every alcohol-seller in the town. Within 10 days, only four of the original 13 remained, and the rebellion was spreading across the country.

It was women who led the first cry for Temperance, and it was women who made Prohibition happen. A woman called Carry Nation became a symbol of the movement when she traveled from bar to bar with an oversize hatchet and smashed them to pieces. Indeed, Prohibition was one of the first and most direct effects of expanding the vote. This is one of the first strange flecks of gray in this story. The proponents of Prohibition were primarily progressives—and some of the most admirable people in American history, from Susan B. Anthony to Frederick Douglas to Eugene V. Debs. The pioneers of American feminism believed alcohol was at the root of men's brutality toward women. The anti-slavery movement saw alcohol addiction as a new form of slavery, replacing leg irons with whiskey bottles. You can see the same left-wing prohibitionism today, when people like Al Sharpton say drugs must be criminalized because addiction does real harm in ghettos.

Of course, there were more obviously sinister proponents of Prohibition too, pressing progressives into weird alliances. The Ku Klux Klan said that "nigger gin" was the main reason that oppressed black people were prone to rebellion, and if you banned alcohol, they would become quiescent. An echo of this persists in America's current strain of prohibition. Powder cocaine and crack cocaine are equally harmful, but crack—which is disproportionately used by black people—carries much heavier jail sentences than powder cocaine, which is disproportionately used by white people.

It was in this context that the Anti-Saloon League rose to become the most powerful pressure group in American history and the only one to ever change the Constitution through peaceful political campaigning. It was begun by a little man called Wayne Wheeler, who was as dry as the Sahara and twice as overheated—and a political genius, maneuvering politicians of all parties into backing a ban. He threatened them by weaving together a coalition of evangelicals, feminists, racists, and lefties—the equivalent of herding Sarah Palin, the National Association of Women, David Duke, and Keith Olbermann into one unstoppable political force.

With the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1921, the dysfunctions of Prohibition began. When you ban a popular drug that millions of people want, it doesn't disappear. Instead, it is transferred from the legal economy into the hands of armed criminal gangs. Across America, gangsters rejoiced that they had just been handed one of the biggest markets in the country, and unleashed an armada of freighters, steamers, and even submarines to bring booze back. Nobody who wanted a drink went without. As the journalist Malcolm Bingay wrote, "It was absolutely impossible to get a drink, unless you walked at least ten feet and told the busy bartender in a voice loud enough for him to hear you above the uproar."

So if it didn't stop alcoholism, what did it achieve? The same as prohibition does today—a massive unleashing of criminality and violence. Gang wars broke out, with the members torturing and murdering one another first to gain control of and then to retain their patches. Thousands of ordinary citizens were caught in the crossfire. The icon of the new criminal class was Al Capone, a figure so fixed in our minds as the scar-faced King of Charismatic Crime, pursued by the rugged federal agent Eliot Ness, that Okrent's biographical details seem oddly puncturing. Capone was only 25 when he tortured his way to running Chicago's underworld. He was gone from the city by the age of 30 and a syphilitic corpse by 40. But he was an eloquent exponent of his own case, saying simply, "I give to the public what the public wants. I never had to send out high pressure salesmen. Why, I could never meet the demand."

By 1926, he and his fellow gangsters were making $3.6 billion a year—in 1926 money! To give some perspective, that was more than the entire expenditure of the U.S. government. The criminals could outbid and outgun the state. So they crippled the institutions of a democratic state and ruled, just as drug gangs do today in Mexico, Afghanistan, and ghettos from South Central Los Angeles to the banlieues of Paris. They have been handed a market so massive that they can tool up to intimidate everyone in their area, bribe many police and judges into submission, and achieve such a vast size, the honest police couldn't even begin to get them all. The late Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman said, "Al Capone epitomizes our earlier attempts at Prohibition; the Crips and Bloods epitomize this one."

One insight, more than any other, ripples down from Okrent's history to our own bout of prohibition. Armed criminal gangs don't fear prohibition: They love it. He has uncovered fascinating evidence that the criminal gangs sometimes financially supported dry politicians, precisely to keep it in place. They knew if it ended, most of organized crime in America would be bankrupted. So it's a nasty irony that prohibitionists try to present legalizers—then and now—as "the bootlegger's friend" or "the drug-dealer's ally." Precisely the opposite is the truth. Legalizers are the only people who can bankrupt and destroy the drug gangs, just as they destroyed Capone. Only the prohibitionists can keep them alive.

Once a product is controlled only by criminals, all safety controls vanish and the drug becomes far more deadly. After 1921, it became common to dilute and relabel poisonous industrial alcohol, which could still legally be bought, and sell it by the pint glass. This "rotgut" caused epidemics of paralysis and poisoning. For example, one single batch of bad booze permanently crippled 500 people in Wichita, Kan., in early 1927—a usual event. That year, 760 people were poisoned to death by bad booze in New York City alone. Wayne Wheeler persuaded the government not to remove fatal toxins from industrial alcohol, saying it was good to keep this "disincentive" in place.

Prohibition's flaws were so obvious that the politicians in charge privately admitted the law was self-defeating. Warren Harding brought $1,800 of booze with him to the White House, while Andrew Mellon—in charge of enforcing the law—called it "unworkable." Similarly, the last three presidents of the United States were recreational drug users in their youth. Once he ceased to be president, Bill Clinton called for the decriminalization of cannabis, and Obama probably will too. Yet in office, they continue to mouth prohibitionist platitudes about "eradicating drugs." They insist the rest of the world's leaders resist the calls for greater liberalization from their populations and instead "crack down" on the drug gangs—no matter how much violence it unleashes. Indeed, Obama recently praised Calderon for his "crackdown" on drugs by—with no apparent irony—calling him "Mexico's Eliot Ness." Obama should know that Ness came to regard his War on Alcohol as a disastrous failure, and he died a drunk himself—but drug prohibition addles politicians' brains.

By 1928, the failure of Prohibition was plain, yet its opponents were demoralized and despairing. It looked like an immovable part of the American political landscape, since it would require big majorities in every state to amend the Constitution again. Clarence Darrow wrote that "thirteen dry states with a population of less than New York State alone can prevent repeal until Haley's Comet returns," so "one might as well talk about taking a summer vacation of Mars."

Yet it happened. It happened suddenly and completely. Why? The answer is found in your wallet, with the hard cash. After the Great Crash, the government's revenues from income taxes collapsed by 60 percent in just three years, while the need for spending to stimulate the economy was skyrocketing. The U.S. government needed a new source of income, fast. The giant untaxed, unchecked alcohol industry suddenly looked like a giant pot of cash at the end of the prohibitionist rainbow. Could the same thing happen today, after our own Great Crash? The bankrupt state of California is about to hold a referendum to legalize and tax cannabis, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has pointed out that it could raise massive sums. Yes, history does rhyme.

Many people understandably worry that legalization would cause a huge rise in drug use, but the facts suggest this isn't the case. Portugal decriminalized the personal possession of all drugs in 2001, and—as a study by Glenn Greenwald for the Cato Institute found—it had almost no effect at all.* Indeed, drug use fell a little among the young. Similarly, Okrent says the end of alcohol prohibition "made it harder, not easier, to get a drink. ... Now there were closing hours and age limits, as well as a collection of geographic proscriptions that kept bars or package stores distant from schools, churches and hospitals." People didn't drink much more. The only change was that they didn't have to turn to armed criminal gangs for it, and they didn't end up swigging poison.

Who now defends alcohol prohibition? Is there a single person left? This echoing silence should suggest something to us. Ending drug prohibition seems like a huge heave, just as ending alcohol prohibition did. But when it is gone, when the drug gangs are a bankrupted memory, when drug addicts are treated not as immoral criminals but as ill people needing health care, who will grieve? American history is pocked by utopian movements that prefer glib wishful thinking over a hard scrutiny of reality, but they inevitably crest and crash in the end. Okrent's dazzling history leaves us with one whiskey-sharp insight above all others: The War on Alcohol and the War on Drugs failed because they were, beneath all the blather, a war on human nature.

http://www.slate.com/id/2255385/
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stilljames
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« Reply #36 on: June 07, 2010, 04:51:37 PM »

Here is a simple point about the limitations of legalization and criminalization that avoids the stigma of drugs and alcohol.

Car Seatbelts.  99.999 percent of the time, adults are better off wearing them while driving.  It is now a crime to not wear a seatbelt.  Despite the laws and despite common sense, how often do many of us not wear our seatbelt?  How many thousands of people die per year because we do not remember to do the wise thing? 

To paraphrase Alan Watts:  We are going to accept the fact that there are always going to be people who do stupid things.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #37 on: July 11, 2010, 07:34:45 AM »

The Sisyphean futility of it all , , ,
=======================
ST. LOUIS — Seated at a hookah lounge in the Tower Grove district, Albert Kuo trained his lighter above a marbleized glass pipe stuffed with synthetic marijuana. Inhaling deeply, Mr. Kuo, an art student at an area college, singed the pipe’s leafy contents, emitting a musky cloud of smoke into the afternoon light.  Mr. Kuo, 25, had gathered here with a small cohort of friends for what could be the last time they legally get high in Missouri on a substance known popularly as K2, a blend of herbs treated with synthetic marijuana.

“I know it’s not going to kill me,” said Mr. Kuo, who likened the drug’s effects to clove cigarettes. “It’s a waste of time, effort and money to ban something like this.”

On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, signed a bill prohibiting possession of K2. Missouri is the nation’s eighth state this year to ban the substance, which has sent users to emergency rooms across the country complaining of everything from elevated heart rates and paranoia to vomiting and hallucinations.

Investigators blame the drug in at least one death, and this month, Gov. Mike Beebe of Arkansas, a Democrat, signed an emergency order banning the substance. Similar prohibitions are pending in at least six other states, including Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Ohio, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“It’s like a tidal wave,” said Ward Franz, the state representative who sponsored Missouri’s legislation. “It’s almost an epidemic. We’re seeing middle-school kids walking into stores and buying it.”

Often marketed as incense, K2 — which is also known as Spice, Demon or Genie — is sold openly in gas stations, head shops and, of course, online. It can sell for as much as $40 per gram. The substance is banned in many European countries, but by marketing it as incense and clearly stating that it is not for human consumption, domestic sellers have managed to evade federal regulation.

“Everybody knows it’s not incense,” said Barbara Carreno, a spokeswoman for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. “That’s done with a wink and a nod.”

First developed in the lab of a Clemson University chemist, John W. Huffman, K2’s active ingredients are synthetic cannabinoids — research-grade chemicals that were created for therapeutic purposes but can also mimic the narcotic effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. In a statement, Mr. Huffman said the chemicals were not intended for human use. He added that his lab had developed them for research purposes only, and that “their effects in humans have not been studied and they could very well have toxic effects.”

Nevertheless, pure forms of the chemical are available online, and investigators believe that many sellers are buying bulk quantities, mixing them with a potpourrilike blend of herbs and labeling the substance K2.

“It’s not like there’s one K2 distributor — everybody is making their own stuff, calling it K2 and selling it, which is the most unnerving aspect,” said Dr. Christopher Rosenbaum, an assistant professor of toxicology at the University of Massachusetts who is studying the effects of K2 in emergency room patients.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that so far this year there have been 567 K2-related calls, up from 13 in 2009. But investigators add that no one is really certain what is in K2, and people are arriving at emergency rooms with symptoms that would not normally be associated with marijuana or a synthetic form of the drug.

“I don’t know how many people are going for a box of doughnuts after smoking K2, but they’re sure getting some other symptoms,” said Dr. Anthony Scalzo, a professor of emergency medicine at the St. Louis University who first reported a rise in K2-related cases and is collaborating with Dr. Rosenbaum in researching K2’s effects. “These are very anxious, agitated people that are requiring several doses of sedatives.”

Dr. Scalzo, who is also the medical director for the Missouri Poison Control Center, added that although tests had found cannabinoids in K2, it was unclear “whether the reaction we’re seeing is just because of dose effect, or if there’s something in there we haven’t found yet.”

That question remains at the center of an investigation into the death of David Rozga, an Iowa teenager who last month committed suicide shortly after smoking K2. Mr. Rozga, 18, had graduated from high school one week earlier and was planning to attend college in the fall.

According to the police report, Mr. Rozga smoked the substance with friends and then began “freaking out,” saying he was “going to hell.” He then returned to his parents’ house, grabbed a rifle from the family’s gun room and shot himself in the head.

“There was nothing in the investigation to show he was depressed or sad or anything,” said Detective Sgt. Brian Sher of the Indianola Police Department, who led the investigation. “I’ve seen it all. I don’t know what else to attribute it to. It has to be K2.”

But many users say they are undaunted by reports of negative reactions to the drug. K2 does not show up on drug tests, and users say that while they would like to know what is in it, they would take their chances if it means a clean urine test.

The Missouri ban, which goes into effect Aug. 28, prohibits several cannabinoids that investigators have found in K2 and related products. Nevertheless, investigators and researchers say that bans like the one in Missouri are little more than “Band-Aids” that street chemists can sidestep with a slight alteration to a chemical’s molecular structure.

“Once it goes illegal, I already have something to replace it with,” said Micah Riggs, who sells the product at his coffee shop in Kansas City. “There are hundreds of these synthetics, and we just go about it a couple of them at a time.”

Investigators say that a more effective ban might arise once the Drug Enforcement Administration completes its review of cannabinoids, placing them under the Controlled Substances Act. Currently, however, only one such substance is controlled under the act, though the agency has listed four others as “chemicals of concern.”

“It’s hard to keep up with everything,” said Ms. Carreno of the D.E.A., adding, “The process of scheduling something is thorough and time consuming, and there are a lot of gifted chemists out there.”

Meanwhile, states are largely on their own when it comes to controlling this new breed of synthetic cannabis, which often comes down to a game of cat-and-mouse where law enforcement agents, politicians, users and their families must formulate new responses as each iteration of a drug comes to market.

“Where does a parent go to get answers?” asked Mike Rozga, who said he learned of K2 only after his son’s death. “We talk to our kids about sex. We talk to our kids about drugs, and we talk to our kids about drinking and being responsible. But how can you talk to your kids about something you don’t even know about?”
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G M
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« Reply #38 on: July 11, 2010, 08:57:21 AM »

Anti-tobacco laws, education and taxes have cut smoking in adults from about 50% to about 20%. Are we better or worse off for these efforts as a country?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #39 on: July 11, 2010, 09:25:22 AM »

So, you have changed your mind and now advocate the same approach to marijuana?

 cheesy
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G M
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« Reply #40 on: July 11, 2010, 09:43:20 AM »

I have said before that my position is that for strategic purposes, I support legalization of drugs, understanding that very ugly consequences will result from that policy decision.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #41 on: July 11, 2010, 09:56:37 AM »

I stand corrected. smiley
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #42 on: July 20, 2010, 01:07:47 AM »



http://www.safeaccessnow.org/section.php?id=69
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #43 on: November 02, 2010, 11:43:01 AM »

http://reason.com/blog/2010/11/01/the-most-dangerous-drug
Reason Magazine


The Most Dangerous Drug

Jacob Sullum | November 1, 2010

A new study in The Lancet rates the harmfulness of 20 psychoactive drugs according to 16 criteria and finds that alcohol comes out on top. Although that conclusion is generating headlines, it is not at all surprising, since alcohol is, by several important measures (including acute toxicity, impairment of driving ability, and the long-term health effects of heavy use), the most dangerous widely used intoxicant, and its abuse is also associated with violence, family breakdown, and social estrangement. A group of British drug experts gathered by the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) rated alcohol higher than most or all of the other drugs for health damage, mortality, impairment of mental functioning, accidental injury, economic cost, loss of relationships, and negative impact on community. Over all, alcohol rated 72 points on a 100-point scale, compared to 55 for heroin, 54 for crack cocaine, and 33 for methamphetamine. Cannabis got a middling score of 20, while MDMA (Ecstasy), LSD, and psilocybin mushrooms were at the low end, with ratings of 9, 7, and 6, respectively.



One can quibble with these judgments (some of that in a minute). But there is no question that the ISCD, which University of Bristol psychopharmacologist David Nutt organized after he was fired from his job as the government's chief drug adviser for excessively candid comparisons of cannabis and alcohol, has put more thought into its classification scheme that the British and U.S. governments put into theirs. As Leslie King, a co-author of the study, wryly observes, "What governments decide is illegal is not always based on science."

You could view the fact that distinctions between tolerated and proscribed drugs have never had a firm scientific basis as yet another reason why politicians should not be empowered to control the substances we put into our bodies.  Or, if you are David Nutt, you could view it as a reason why they should consult experts like you before they try to do so. While Nutt seems to think that marijuana and psychedelics are too strictly controlled, for example, he also argues that alcoholic beverages are too cheap and too readily available. For him, that conclusion flows directly from the scientific evidence, although a closer examination might reveal some intervening value judgments.

Putting aside the issue of technocratic paternalism, there is an impressionistic aspect to many of the judgments underlying these drug scores.  In the procedure used for the study, the authors write, "scores are often changed from those originally suggested as participants share their different experiences and revise their views." Sometimes these views are backed up by data, such as ratios of lethal to effective doses or survey results that indicate addiction rates, but often the evidence is more anecdotal. It also is not clear whether judgments about alcohol's harms were influenced by the fact that it is so widely consumed. As I read the study, the scores are supposed to be independent of use rates. But A.P. reports that "experts said alcohol scored so high because it is so widely used and has devastating consequences not only for drinkers but for those around them." Regarding social consequences, there is much room for interpretation about alcohol's causal role in domestic violence and other harmful behavior.

The scores may also exaggerate the intrinsic dangers of illegal drugs, since they do not distinguish between harms caused by drug use itself and harms caused by prohibition. "Many of the harms of drugs are affected by their availability and legal status," the authors note. "Ideally, a model needs to distinguish between the harms resulting directly from drug use and those resulting from the control system for that drug." The harm associated with heroin use, for example, is compounded by unpredictable purity, by artificially high prices that encourage injection, and by anti-paraphernalia policies that encourage needle sharing.

As usual, defenders of drinking are outraged by the comparison between alcohol and illegal drugs. Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, tells The Sun, "The vast majority of people know it's just not rational to say that enjoying a social beer with friends in the pub or glass of wine over dinner has the moral or societal equivalence of injecting heroin or smoking a crack pipe." Such reactions are based on the observation that the vast majority of drinkers are not alcoholics. Despite alcohol's very real dangers, they generally manage to consume it in a way that not only does not harm them or others but on balance enhances their lives. Here is the point that defensive drinkers like Simmonds miss: If this is possible with alcohol, it is possible with any intoxicant that large numbers of people have shown an interest in consuming. For more on that, see my book Saying Yes.

I discuss Nutt's drug-related deviance here, here, and here. Ron Bailey notes a previous Nutt-led study of drug dangers here. Brendan O'Neill cited Nutt in his 2009 attack on the "unholy alliance between alcohol prohibitionists and marijuana reformers." I discussed the potential and perils of comparing marijuana to alcohol in a 2010 book review.

[Thanks to Terry Michael for the tip.]
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G M
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« Reply #44 on: November 02, 2010, 03:37:17 PM »

After their bogus Iraq study, I trust nothing from the Lancet.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #45 on: November 03, 2010, 06:20:48 AM »

Agreed. 

I gather Prop 19, the marijuana initiative here in CA lost yesterday.  Too bad, it was a chance to move towards sanity on this issue.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #46 on: November 03, 2010, 05:52:13 PM »

Portugal has decriminalized possession of less than a 10 day supply of commonly abused drugs, resulting in a long study, the abstract for which follows. The whole piece is lengthy and well footnoted:

Abstract

The issue of decriminalizing illicit drugs is hotly debated, but is rarely subject to evidence-based analysis. This paper examines the case of Portugal, a nation that decriminalized the use and possession of all illicit drugs on 1 July 2001. Drawing upon independent evaluations and interviews conducted with 13 key stakeholders in 2007 and 2009, it critically analyses the criminal justice and health impacts against trends from neighbouring Spain and Italy. It concludes that contrary to predictions, the Portuguese decriminalization did not lead to major increases in drug use. Indeed, evidence indicates reductions in problematic use, drug-related harms and criminal justice overcrowding. The article discusses these developments in the context of drug law debates and criminological discussions on late modern governance.

http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/50/6/999.full#ref-63
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DougMacG
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« Reply #47 on: November 03, 2010, 09:43:34 PM »

BBG, thanks for posting. I prefer decriminalization (portugal) over legalization(that failed in Calif), but I don't like that they include all illicit drugs.  I am thinking of meth but other illicit drugs or prescription drugs are dangerous or highly addictive and don't need more sanctioning, encouragement or tolerance.  If penalties are absurd or disproportional, get them down to where the system can plea bargain an addict into treatment instead of wasting our limited space in jail.

Even if legalization is right, it isn't the focus we should have right now in terms of divisive social issues.  I personally would not like to see full libertarian legalization with consequences for the addicts before I receive full libertarian freedom to not pay a damn penny for any of the choices that they make including drugs, food, shelter or healthcare.

OTOH, (I've posted this before but) whenever the Court determined that growing one pot plant on your own property for your own consumption is a form of interstate commerce started a constitutional problem much larger than drug use.
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G M
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« Reply #48 on: November 03, 2010, 09:51:00 PM »



OTOH, (I've posted this before but) whenever the Court determined that growing one pot plant on your own property for your own consumption is a form of interstate commerce started a constitutional problem much larger than drug use.


Very good point. It's one thing for a state to pass a law or not, another when there is no evidence of an intent to cross state lines or national borders.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #49 on: November 03, 2010, 10:24:44 PM »

Quote
Even if legalization is right, it isn't the focus we should have right now in terms of divisive social issues.  I personally would not like to see full libertarian legalization with consequences for the addicts before I receive full libertarian freedom to not pay a damn penny for any of the choices that they make including drugs, food, shelter or healthcare.

I understand the triage point, but with so many drug users in jail the drugs, food, shelter, or healthcare underwriting is something of a given. Combined with the law enforcement resources devoted to the drug war--as well as numerous other perverse incentives--I think a strong argument can be made that it's in our economic interests to end yet another example of failed prohibition.
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