Saturday, May 13, 2006

Everything I learned about drugs...

...came from Pee-Wee Herman.

Save DARE Generation Diary from censorship

If you hop around the blogosphere often enough, chances are, you've heard about "net neutrality". If not, this video says it all:

So why should DARE Generation Diary readers support net neutrality? I'm glad you asked...

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has a multi-million dollar budget, and one of their primary functions is to stop attempts at reforming drug policy. If network neutrality is abandoned and big telecom companies are able to control the content that you see, it's not hard to imagine the Drug Czar shelling out some money to these service providers to effectively block you from reading DARE Generation Diary. His Czarness has already spent loads of taxpayer money on lobbying against drug policy reform efforts.

Beware: There are some telecom front groups out there like who claim that legislative attempts to uphold network neutrality are nothing but government schemes to control your access to the internet. For the libertarian's among us, government "regulation" may seem like a bad idea. But, on the contrary, these bills ensure an even playing field for both non-profit and for-profit corporations. Putting the digital marketplace in the hands of a few telecom corporations not only puts a stranglehold on free speech, but also the free market.

To save the internet as-we-know-it, and to protect the DARE Generation's right to freely express our views, head over to and send an e-mail to your congressional delegation today.

(Note: SSDP does not officially endorse the SaveTheInternet campaign. The views presented here are the author's.)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Drug Czar grasps at straws

The Drug Czar's "blog" is touting this year's just-released Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) numbers, which track mentions of drugs in emergency room admissions.
New Report: Cocaine, Marijuana Top Drugs Implicated in Emergency Room Admissions

Yesterday, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the latest report showing drug-related admissions to emergency rooms. Here are the results in a nutshell:
The 2004 DAWN estimates that cocaine was involved in 383,350 visits to emergency rooms; marijuana was involved in 215,665 visits; heroin was involved in 162,137 visits; stimulants, including amphetamines and methamphetamine, were involved in 102,843; and other illicit drugs such as PCP, Ecstasy, and GHB were involved with much less frequency.
But, as Pete at Drug War Rant explains, these numbers don't say anything at all about whether or not a particular drug caused someone to visit the emergency room. The only thing the numbers measure is how many times a given drug was mentioned during an E.R. visit.
However, unlike the conclusions sometimes drawn in news reports, what DAWN does NOT demonstrate is any connection between the use of a drug and the likelihood that it will send you to the emergency room.
But don't think that's going to stop the Drug Czar from going ahead and tricking lazy reporters into writing hysterical stories on how today's potent marijuana is sending unprecedented numbers of people to the hospital...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Anti-Drug: The Anti-Anti-Drug.

San Marcos, TX: Teenagers exposed to anti-marijuana public service announcements (PSAs) produced by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) are more likely to hold positive attitudes about the drug and are more likely to express their intent to use cannabis after viewing the advertisements, according to a study published in the May issue of the journal Addictive Behaviors. [emphasis added]
An archive of these ridiculous, counter-productive ads can be found here.

Over the past few years, the ad-campaign's budget has been cut from $195 million to $99 million annually. Responding to the budget cuts, His Czarness John Walters said: “It’s time for Congress to wake up and support a program that is working. There is no excuse for not supporting it.”

No excuse, John? What about the fact that your program is clearly NOT working? It seems that anti-marijuana propaganda only succeeds at turning more kids onto the drug. But maybe that's the ONDCP's plan. After all, more marijuana-using teens means more justification for the War on Drugs - and the fat paychecks that go along with it.

If Walters really is concerned about teen drug use, he would stop lying to himself and the rest of the country. The ONDCP's website says that LSD, if taken in a large enough dose, "produces delusions and visual hallucinations." So, how big of a dose have you taken, Mr. Czar?

Tell it like it is, Froma!

I know, I know. My last three posts have been about articles in my local paper, the Providence Journal. But at the risk of turning this into a Rhode Island drug policy blog, I'm going to post a fourth. This one is just too good.

Froma Harrop, a syndicated columnist from the Journal, has written great opinion pieces in the past condemning the HEA Aid Elimination Penalty and the federal government's war on medical marijuana patients. But yesterday, she outdid herself with this outstanding condemnation of the Drug War. It's so good that I'm finding it impossible to pick just a few good quotes, so here's the text in full:
Froma Harrop: 'Demon drug' propaganda doesn't cut it anymore

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

America's war on drugs is actually a Raid on Taxpayers. The war costs an estimated $70 billion a year to prosecute, and the drugs keep pouring in. But while the War on Drugs may have failed its official mission, it is a great success as a job-creation program. Thousands of drug agents, police, detectives, prosecutors, judges, anti-drug activists, prison guards and their support staffs can thank the program for their daily bread and health benefits.

The American people are clearly not ready to decriminalize cocaine, heroine or other hard drugs, but they're well on their way to easing up on marijuana. A Zogby poll found that nearly half of Americans now want pot legal and regulated, like alcohol. Few buy into the "demon drug" propaganda anymore, and for a simple reason: Several countries have decriminalized marijuana with little effect on public health.

Americans could save a ton of money doing the same. The taxpayers spend almost $8 billion a year enforcing the ban on marijuana, according to a report by visiting Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron. State and local governments consume about $5 billion of the total.

The war on pot fills our jails. America arrests 755,000 people every year for marijuana infractions -- the vast majority for possession, not dealing. An estimated 80,000 people now sit behind bars on marijuana offenses.

The Bush administration stoutly supports the campaign against marijuana, which others think is crazy. Compare the Canadian and American approach to medical marijuana: The Canadian Postal Service delivers it right into the mailboxes of Canadian cancer patients. The U.S. Justice Department invades the patients' backyards and rips out cannabis plants, even those grown with a state's blessing.

The Bush administration isn't going to last forever, nor is the patience of Americans paying for and suffering under the ludicrous war on marijuana. Surely letting sick people smoke marijuana to ease their discomfort -- 11 states have approved such, including Rhode Island -- would be a good start for a more enlightened drug policy.

For the drug warriors, however, this toe in the water seems a foot in the door for eventual decriminalization of pot. That's understandable. Relaxing the rules on marijuana would greatly reduce the need for their services.

Remember the Supreme Court case two years ago, when Justice Stephen Breyer innocently suggested that the federal Food and Drug Administration be asked to rule on whether marijuana had an accepted medical use? Well, the FDA has just ruled. In a total lie, the FDA said that no scientific studies back the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Actually, the prestigious Institute of Medicine issued its findings in 1999 that marijuana helped patients for pain and for the relief of nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.

The federal government "loves to ignore our report," John Benson, a professor of medicine at the University of Nebraska and co-chairman of the committee that wrote the Institute of Medicine" study, said after the FDA issued its "advisory."

The Drug Enforcement Administration, which feeds off the drug war, plays a big part in stopping this and all future efforts to reach educated opinions on marijuana. Lyle Craker, a University of Massachusetts authority on medicinal plants, wanted to grow marijuana for the purpose of evaluating its possible medical uses. The DEA said no, insisting that he use marijuana from a University of Mississippi lab. The DEA knows full well that the UMiss pot is low-quality and therefore useless for study.

The drug warriors' incentive to keep the game going is pretty obvious. But what's in it for taxpayers?

Miron's Harvard study looked beyond what the public pays to enforce the marijuana laws. It also investigated how much money would roll in if marijuana were legal and taxed like alcohol. The answer was over $6 billion in annual tax revenues. Do the math: If government stopped outlawing marijuana and started taxing it, its coffers would be $14 billion richer every year.

We could use that money. For example, $14 billion could pay for all the anti-terrorism port-security measures required in the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002.

More than 500 economists of every political stripe have endorsed the Miron study. Growing numbers of Americans are beginning to agree with them: The war against marijuana is an expensive failure -- and pointless, too.

Froma Harrop is a Journal editorial writer and syndicated columnist. She may be reached by e-mail at:

Letters supporting Ms. Harrop's bold stance against drug prohibition can be sent to Each letter should be 250 words or fewer, and must carry the writer's name, address and daytime phone.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Student's Prom Dates Banned from Prom After Background Check Finds Pot Possession

The Boston Herald featured a story about Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School banning a student's 19-year-old boyfriend from Saturday's soiree after a criminal background check turned up a past marijuana possession charge.

The school started Criminal Offender Record Information checks this year for non-students going to the prom. Any date with a criminal past would be rejected, she said. A School Committee member last night said the school’s administrators - not the School Committee approved the policy.

The Massachusetts American Civil Liberties Union said the school’s actions are illegal. “The principal cannot go snooping in CORI records for people,” said Norma Shapiro, the ACLU’s legislative director. She said that state CORI laws permit digging into the criminal past of school volunteers with access to students. “Exactly how does that extend to the prom?” Shapiro said.
Now the head of the state's Criminal History Systems Board, Barry J. La Croix, is investigating whether the school overstepped its authority. One prohibited use of the system is for snooping on potential dance partners. “If the (criminal) check was for the purposes that were reported then it is beyond the scope,” said Kelly Nantel, the systems board spokeswoman. “We’ll take appropriate actions.”

One students mother said, Kathy Eckert, a mother of one of the girls appealed to the principal Monday, but he is sticking by the ban, she said. “Let these girls go to the prom with their dates, (who are) nonviolent criminals,” Kathy said.

State Rep. Demetrius J. Atsalis, (D-Barnstable), also says the school went too far. “This is still the United States and everyone should be give an opportunity to participate,” he said.
So I guess arressting these guys was not enough punishment for possession of the devil weed. Let's ruin their girlfriend's senior prom as well! With these kids out of the prom, its almost guaranteed that none of the students atDennis-Yarmouth Regional High School will be using marijuana or alcohol... right?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

These are our leaders

The Drug Czar's office has picked a new head for the Drug-Free Communities program

Jack W. Claypoole will serve as administrator for the Drug-Free Communities program for two years, the Office of National Drug Control Policy announced Tuesday.

National Drug Control Policy director John P. Walters said Claypoole's expertise will help enhance and aid the community coalitions' efforts throughout the country.

"Mr. Claypoole brings a wealth of knowledge to ONDCP," Walters said. "His past commitment and record of success in the state of South Carolina to reduce the disease of drug addiction will be a great help to our work at ONDCP."

Claypoole sounds like a real expert, eh? Er... uh... check out this quote from a year ago.
"Part of the challenge with Methamphetamine is it makes the users so paranoid and they're so addicted, over 90% of first time users become addicted to methamphetamine. It's an incredibly addictive drug."
Sounds like a real anti-drug go-getter. But, the thing is, Mr. Claypoole pulled that number right out of his rectum. We expect our nation's leaders to use the best data available to make policy decisions. Leave it to the Drug Czar's office to keep installing buffoons who make things up to support their ideological agenda.

Stop the War on Youth

The Drug Policy Alliance released this video today about a Massachusetts teenager serving two years in prison for selling one joint's worth of marijuana to an undercover cop in a drug-free school zone:

DPA has the skinny on why drug-free school zone laws are a bad idea:
Drug-Free Zone Laws:

* Don't protect kids. In Massachusetts, for example, seven out of ten drug-free zone incidents occurred while school was not in session, and less than one percent involved sales to youth.

* Don't have a deterrent effect. Because the areas overlap and blanket most cities, they are impossible for drug sellers to avoid and thus create no incentive to move drug transactions away from schools.

* Have a racist impact. Zones often completely cover many densely populated urban neighborhoods, where people of color are more likely to live. For example, in New Jersey, drug-free zone laws cover three quarters of Newark, in contrast to six percent of rural Mansfield Township.
Make sure to visit DPA's website and sign up for their e-mail list.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A different kind of Just Say "No"

Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), Congress's chief drug warrior, is in hot water after placing two abstinence-only sex education proponents onto a panel organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Apparently, conservative politicians have been regularly diddling with sex ed science.

But this was the first time, conference organizers said, that a single politician had interfered so clearly. The concern, they said, was that studies on sexual behavior would not be made public if they jarred with the administration's views on abstinence and other public-health issues.

"At the CDC, they're beside themselves," Zenilman said. "These people ... haven't written anything. The only reason they're here is because of political pressure from the administration."

Neither of the new speakers, Dr. Patricia Sulak, an ob/gyn and director of "Worth the Wait," and Dr. Eric Walsh, went through the peer-review process required of other participants, although CDC officials did not explain why. Both panelists were funded by HHS, although others said they were told they had to pay their expenses.

Strong parallels can and should be drawn between the shortcomings of the Just Say "No" approaches to sex education and drug education. Like it or not, teens use drugs and have sex. Rather than acting like ostriches and sticking their heads in the sand, policymakers need to acknowledge reality and respond accordingly, doing what they can to keep young people as safe as possible.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

And this month's Sloppy Reporting Award goes to...

Daniel Barbarisi of the Providence Journal, for mindlessly perpetuating the myth that prescription drug addiction is inherently different than illicit drug addiction:
Prescription drug addiction is usually nothing like the addictions we see in the movies, where with a drug like cocaine, the user is constantly looking for the next high. According to Alan Gordon, director of drug and alcohol treatment services at Providence's Butler Hospital, a prescription drug addict is just trying to drag himself back to normalcy.
Daniel, are you suggesting that movies accurately portray cocaine addiction? Riiight, because all cocaine addicts are clearly those chapped-lipped, long-nailed prowlers who would kill their own mother for a better euphoria, while prescription drug addicts are poor, helpless politicians, talk-show hosts, and the like, simply trying to drag themselves back to normalcy. Surely, there are no prescription pill poppers who pop pills just to get high, just as there can't be any cocaine addicts trying to maintain normal lives.

Why not? Because the moving-picture-box told me so.

Tomorrow, I'm putting in my application for a Staff Writer position at the Journal. Here's a sample of the exposè I'm preparing:
Real journalists are usually nothing like the journalists we see in the movies, where with a value like journalistic integrity, the writer is constantly looking for the truth. According to Albert Jordan, director of distorted media at the Truth in Recovery clinic, a sloppy reporter compares real life to the movies as he tries to drag himself back to reality.

After first learning that Chuck Norris cannot, in fact, do three slow-motion roundhouse kicks in a row, the withdrawal symptoms can be "devastating", Jordan said.
Link to the Journal article