Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by takyon on Wednesday April 20 2016, @08:20PM   Printer-friendly
from the longer-than-81-blunt-papers dept.

takyon writes:

It's that time of the year again. Time to talk about drugs and the war on them because some stoners declared a holiday or something.

A recent article in Harper's Magazine includes the following gem that sums up the modern Drug War's origins. The journalist interviewed John Ehrlichman, one of the Watergate co-conspirators:

At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. "You want to know what this was really all about?" he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. "The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."

[Oh yes, it continues...]

The War on Drugs has persisted nearly unabated for decades, but signs of change can be seen. The UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the "World Drug Problem", called by Colombia, Mexico, and Guatemala, began yesterday and ends tomorrow. On the agenda this time around? The legalization of drugs, 18 years after a previous summit declared its goal of ridding the world of illicit drugs. The special session's April 19th start date coincides with "Bicycle Day", the anniversary of Albert Hoffman's first LSD trip. One group, the Psychedelic Society of Brooklyn, will be leading a bike ride ending at the United Nations building in New York to promote the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics and demonstrate that drug legalization isn't just about majority-approved cannabis.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has called for a global overhaul of drug policies, including a ban on the death penalty for drug offenses and focus on rehabilitation rather than imprisonment. Santos proposes that nations should be more free to reform their drug laws, rather than being beholden to international conventions (such as the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971). He has also announced that following nearly four years of peace negotiations, his government will collaborate with Farc rebels to eradicate coca production within Colombia. President Santos will speak at the UN General Assembly Special Session today regarding his proposals.

Other Latin American leaders such as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto are pushing for decriminalization and legalization. President Nieto says that Mexico will soon increase the amount of cannabis citizens are allowed to possess, and legalize medical cannabis. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales says he wants nations to focus on demand reduction and not just supply reduction. A commission set up by the Lancet medical journal and Johns Hopkins University published a report (DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)00619-X) that found that decriminalization in Portugal and the Czech Republic has led to significant financial savings, health benefits, less incarceration, and has not significantly increased drug use. On the other hand, nations such as Indonesia and China are against eliminating the death penalty as well as any legalization of narcotics. An outcome document adopted by member states on Tuesday included no specific criticism of the death penalty. Also, UN security guards have reportedly been ordered to confiscate copies of an open letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon supporting drug reforms signed by over a dozen former heads of state, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, former UN officials, celebrities, business leaders, etc.

Throughout the past year, we have seen extensive reporting of a "heroin epidemic" in the northeastern United States. Deaths due to heroin overdose are today being blamed for a 0.1 year decline in life expectancy among white Americans in 2014. The overdose (of any drug) rate among white adults aged 25-34 is five times the 1999 rate, and the same rate among white adults aged 35-44 tripled since 1999. Advocacy by groups and individuals, particularly the parents of overdose victims, has helped move public sentiment towards supporting drug treatment rather than incarceration. There is greater bipartisan support for allowing the wide distribution of the anti-overdose drug naloxone, and for introducing previously unthinkable public safety measures such as government-run needle exchanges to reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.

One measure of success in "post-war" Afghanistan has been the fate of the opium poppy crop, used to produce heroin. In 2014, the poppy plant was Afghanistan's biggest export, valued at $2.8 billion, 13% of the country's GDP. The Taliban have since surged into Afghanistan's southern provinces in order to take control of the growth and export of poppies. 3,000 government soldiers and policemen have died in the past 11 months in Helmand province alone, which accounts for over 60% of the world's heroin supply.

The estimated purity of illicit heroin has crept up in recent years as the price has fallen. However, while heroin might be cheap and plentiful, the heroin epidemic has been spurned on by the over-prescription of opioid painkillers. Opioid prescriptions have quadrupled since 1999, and last month the Centers for Disease Control issued guidelines that recommend reducing the use of opioid painkillers. Effective bribes in the form of "speaking fees" given to doctors have exacerbated the problem. Additionally, drug companies have been fined over misleading claims made about their opioid products, such as downplaying of addiction potential.

In the United States, the Drug Enforcement Agency is once again considering whether to reschedule cannabis (a decision will be made by July). Petitions to reschedule the drug have been denied over the years, but the supposed Schedule I criteria, such as "The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States," look increasingly strained now that nearly half the nation has legalized medical or recreational cannabis. In an all-too-common example of uncritical irony, an LA Times editorial on the subject notes that Schedule I "[lumps] cannabis in with heroin and LSD," as if LSD wasn't one of the safest recreational drugs and has no medical uses.

Investigating potential medical uses is needlessly difficult and expensive when a drug is listed as a controlled substance. This remains true even for the increasingly accepted drug cannabis, which has led 27 U.S. senators and congressmen to sign a letter to President Obama this week recommending a "fair" review of the Schedule I status of cannabis, as well as the end of the DEA/NIDA monopoly on cannabis supplied for medical research. Research into other controlled substances is slowly being conducted after decades of neglect. A new study (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1518377113) published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows the effects of LSD as recorded in the brain scans of 20 human subjects. One of the study's authors, the neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt, was dismissed from the UK's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) for his analysis (NCBI) showing that alcohol is far more dangerous in terms of both physical and social harms than cannabis, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, or ecstacy. The ACMD is under the purview of the Home Office, led by the tyrannical Theresa May.

Other groups are also pushing the research boundaries. For example, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies is sponsoring research into the use of MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. The EmmaSofia organization in Norway successfully crowdfunded nearly $40,000 to promote and manufacture MDMA and psilocybin. The couple behind EmmaSofia, Pal-Orjan Johansen and Teri Krebs, have published studies showing no link between common psychedelics like LSD and an increase in psychosis or suicide (DOI: 10.1177/0269881114568039), as well as investigating the use of LSD to treat alcoholism (DOI: 10.1177/0269881112439253) .

On the campaign trail, a few presidential candidates linger. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders appears to have the strongest pro-cannabis policy positions, supporting descheduling, decriminalization, legalization of medical cannabis, and not obstructing states from legalizing recreational cannabis. Hillary Clinton holds similar positions, but has appeared more cautious about both medical and recreational legalization. Republican candidate Donald Trump has supported medical cannabis, but criticized "trouble" in Colorado which legalized recreational cannabis. Ted Cruz's position on cannabis has evolved from criticizing Obama for allowing Colorado and Washington to legalize it, to supporting states as "laboratories of democracy" while opposing legalization personally. John Kasich appears to broadly oppose legalization, but is also nowhere near to winning the nomination unless his party's establishment chooses to anoint him after Trump fails on the first convention ballot.

Oregon's 25% sales tax on cannabis purchases has resulted in $3.48 million in revenue for the month of January, outpacing the revenue projected for the entire year. However, Oregon's Department of Revenue spent around that amount to refurbish a building and hire employees and security to collect revenue from recreational cannabis businesses, much of it in the form of paper money. The uncertainty involved with banking anywhere in the nation means that cannabis dealers often pay their taxes with large bags of cash. This also means that unless these businesses lie about the nature of their revenue or find a bank willing to risk a federal crackdown, the cannabis businesses are prime targets for thieves.

Colorado's recreational cannabis law has remained intact, despite efforts by Nebraska and Oklahoma to have a case against Colorado heard by the Supreme Court. Colorado's Department of Public Safety has measured an increase in emergency room visits "possibly" related to cannabis from 739 to 956 per 100,000. The authors of the mandated report say that a decrease in stigma may lead to better reporting of cannabis-related ER visits.

Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis on Sunday. On the state ballot initiative front, the only cannabis-related measure confirmed to be on a November 8th ballot is the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which would legalize and tax recreational cannabis and allocate the revenue to education. The Massachusetts Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Initiative may require additional signatures if the legislature does not approve the initiative by May 3rd. Florida will see the re-introduction of a medical ballot initiative, which failed in 2014 with 57% support. Other ballot initiatives in states like California and Arkansas may still have months to submit the signatures required to appear on the ballot this year. In a small reversal, Washington state voters may get to decide whether to restrict production and sales of cannabis in certain residential neighborhoods. Last year, Ohio voters rejected a legalization amendment that would have created a cultivation oligopoly.

Finally, I leave you with what's truly important: Loafy, chillin' after curing his munchies (image courtesy of Gravis).

🍄 🌵 Here's last year's article. 💉 💊

 
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by PinkyGigglebrain on Wednesday April 20 2016, @08:49PM

    by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Wednesday April 20 2016, @08:49PM (#334905)

    the original efforts against Hemp started in 1936 by associating it with making Blacks and Mexicans violent and causing White women to want to have sex with Blacks. The back story on what started this is fascinating. It was all about making the Du Pont's and Hearst's richer.

    In the 1940's the Government had to back off a bit because they needed the Hemp to make rope for the Navy. The Department of Agriculture made a great video called "Hemp for Victory". Though it disappeared from the LIbrary of congress, both the film AND the index data of its existence. That has since been corrected by people who had original copies of the film.

    Then in the 1950s the prohibitionists changed tack on their rhetoric and said that Cannabis made a person weak, pacifistic and easy push overs for the commies. This was the era that brought us "Reefer Madness".

    Then the "War on Drugs" started.

    Want to get some back ground and facts? check out the link below.

    http://www.jackherer.com/thebook/ [jackherer.com]

    Yeah, its biased on presenting Cannabis in a good light , but the Anti side is just as biased in the other direction. Read it, judge the information for yourself and form your own opinion.

    Not to mention you'll also learn some really cool historical facts. Did you know that the "Canvas covered wagons" that Americans are so proud of where covered in Hemp? Where do you think the word "canvas" comes from? And Levi's genes where originally made from Hemp canvas, and lasted a lifetime. unlike the cotton version they have sold for the last 60+ years.

    --
    "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +4  
       Informative=4, Total=4
    Extra 'Informative' Modifier   0  
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   5  
  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday April 20 2016, @08:51PM

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday April 20 2016, @08:51PM (#334906) Journal

    *jeans

    Yeah, I added in "modern" in front of "Drug War" when writing the draft to cover my bases, and ya know, avoid adding another 250 words.

    --
    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Wednesday April 20 2016, @08:58PM

      by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Wednesday April 20 2016, @08:58PM (#334909)

      English has too many letters and letter combinations that sound the same when spoken, gets confusing sometimes :/

      Thanks for the correction.

      --
      "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 20 2016, @10:12PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 20 2016, @10:12PM (#334945)

        Dearest creature in creation
        Studying English pronunciation,
              I will teach you in my verse
              Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

        I will keep you, Susy, busy,
        Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
              Tear in eye, your dress you'll tear;
              Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

        ...

        These are the first 2 verses of The Chaos (about English spelling): http://ncf.idallen.com/english.html [idallen.com]

        • (Score: 2) by Webweasel on Thursday April 21 2016, @09:29AM

          by Webweasel (567) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 21 2016, @09:29AM (#335134) Homepage Journal

          Thank you so much for posting that!!

          --
          Priyom.org Number stations, Russian Military radio. "You are a bad, bad man. Do you have any other virtues?"-Runaway1956
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by GungnirSniper on Wednesday April 20 2016, @09:11PM

    by GungnirSniper (1671) on Wednesday April 20 2016, @09:11PM (#334915) Journal

    All of those prohibition agents wanted to keep their jobs, so when alcohol was legalized again cannabis became the new daemon.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by frojack on Wednesday April 20 2016, @09:16PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 20 2016, @09:16PM (#334918) Journal

    Yeah, I don't buy the Nixon connection either, and Ehrlichman has never been one to avoid lashing back.
    The drug war was in full swing before Nixon. (And yes, I was there).
    .

    On another note, I think all these states jumping in line to approve Medical Marijuana have it all wrong. They are on the wrong track. Don't even mess with medical use laws. More trouble than its worth.

    They should just make it legal for recreational use or any use, and regulate quality and purity, etc. like any thing else made for human consumption.

    Make it a state banking license revocation offence to deny banking services to people in the Pot industry, and put the feds on notice that they will defend State Banks (with swat teams if necessary).

    Once 35 states legalize pot it will be easy to pass a law removing it TOTALLY from DEA jurisdiction (as well as ATF), and putting it under the Department of Agriculture.

    And start doing actual studies of driving while smoking pot, instead of trying to tie every highway crash to pot use.

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by ilPapa on Wednesday April 20 2016, @10:02PM

      by ilPapa (2366) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 20 2016, @10:02PM (#334939) Journal

      (And yes, I was there)

      I was there. Erlichman was there, too. In fact, he was right there with Nixon.

      --
      You are still welcome on my lawn.
    • (Score: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Wednesday April 20 2016, @10:04PM

      by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Wednesday April 20 2016, @10:04PM (#334940)

      Its easier to get a vote to help "cancer patients endure chemo" than to get people to vote for "let people get high!". Vote against medical use and you get accused of being a heartless ass, vote for recreational use and you get accused of encouraging irresponsible behavior like drink driving (yes "drink", its a Brit thing :D )

      The pro legalize groups picked a good long range strategy.

      --
      "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Wednesday April 20 2016, @10:54PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 20 2016, @10:54PM (#334956) Journal

        vote for recreational use and you get accused of encouraging irresponsible behavior like drink driving

        Well it was sold the the other way around here in Washington State, with the claim that Pot use impairs far far less than Alcohol.
        Traffic fatalities have not risen since legalization.

        Police made a great noise about THC being found in the blood of drivers involved in accident fatalities. Till it was pointed out to them that they were testing the wrong thing:

        Last year, they saw an increase in the percentage of blood samples showing THC — but they weren't distinguishing between active THC and what's known as "carboxy THC." That's the metabolized THC that hangs around your system long after you've sobered up.

        But even testing the right thing is simply unreliable.

        Paul Armentano of the pro-marijuana group NORML cautions, "We must not conflate the detection of these compounds as evidence of impairment."

        Armentano says you actually can't really tell how impaired someone is just by looking at THC levels in the blood, and other experts agree with him on this. He also points to new research showing that even active THC can linger in the body long after the high — especially in people who use a lot of pot.

        http://www.npr.org/2015/08/19/432896393/more-washington-drivers-use-and-drive [npr.org]

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Wednesday April 20 2016, @11:12PM

          by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Wednesday April 20 2016, @11:12PM (#334961)

          California legalized medical use around 1996. The initial efforts by the pro legalize groups paid off as more states legalized medical use and now we're seeing the "just legalize it" push since the Apocalypse that the anti groups claimed would occur if medical use was allowed didn't happen. Washington legalized recreational use in 2012, after the public had gotten used to Cannabis being legal for medical use for the last 16 or so years.

          Now that the ball is rolling more states will just legalize Cannabis outright, as was the original intent of the pro groups.

          --
          "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by butthurt on Wednesday April 20 2016, @09:23PM

    by butthurt (6141) on Wednesday April 20 2016, @09:23PM (#334920) Journal

    I found a couple of pages that say Reefer Madness was released in 1936.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0028346/ [imdb.com]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reefer_Madness [wikipedia.org]

    • (Score: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Wednesday April 20 2016, @10:08PM

      by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Wednesday April 20 2016, @10:08PM (#334942)

      I really thought it was mid '50's. Oh well.

      Thanks for the correction :)

      --
      "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by edIII on Wednesday April 20 2016, @09:46PM

    by edIII (791) on Wednesday April 20 2016, @09:46PM (#334928)

    causing White women to want to have sex with Blacks.

    The only thing funnier than that to me, is the irony that the Internet today provides black cock being put into blonde pussy at rates that would put entire cities "over gasped" back in the 20's. We'll never know if they're correct because their apocalypse already happened.

    Those that would complain are complete hypocrites, since white men having sex with black women is also a very popular past time. Who would have turned down Grace Jones from Conan? That's rhetorical, because she will reach out, grab you, and take you.....

    Whatever it is, I have just found that the strangest hang up to be associated with the drug war. We passed these drug laws to keep black cock strictly "regulated" apparently, only to ensure that white men addicted to the drugs are doing what again to get the drugs?

    People can be so funny some times.

     

    --
    Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21 2016, @09:00PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21 2016, @09:00PM (#335439)

      Those that would complain are complete hypocrites, since white men having sex with black women is also a very popular past time.

      Curvaceous is one of my attractions to black women. The other is the white-on-black contrast in the skin color. I like my black women dark too. Last girl I dated with this very dark and very curvy girl from Haiti. And don't confuse curves with overweight. I'm talking a big perfectly round plump booty, thighs, hourglass waistline, D titties and a very sexy short hairstyle (african hair is a pita to manage so she went short). Plus she was athletic and in good shape. We weren't meant to be in the long term but wow, rocked my world. Once you go black, you don't go back LOL. Well, not really. I like switching it up. Last GF was from El Salvador. I also dated a girl with a near perfect body from Ghana and before that a girl from Barbados who was thin but tall and sexy as hell.

  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Thursday April 21 2016, @03:16PM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 21 2016, @03:16PM (#335255) Homepage Journal

    I made my post above, before scrolling down this far. We say much the same thing, although the details differ.

    jackherer.com used to be so very much more educational - or at least my memory of the site says it was. The site his family has built is far less intuitive, and seems to have a lot less educational material. Ehhh - I shouldn't complain, I guess.

    Jack's original site gets credit for motivating me to learn more about the drug war. I was very ignorant of most of the issues before I discovered jackherer.com.

    --
    Your private safe room in the back of your mind? Trump pooped in it.