Friday, June 30, 2006

Obsess Much?

Citizens against Government Waste released a report claiming that the Drug Czar's "obsession" with marijuana has led to failure of addressing "harder drugs". The report can be read here in PDF.
The White House Office of National Drug Policy (ONDCP) has wasted billions of taxpayers' dollars since its formation in 1988 on ineffective and counter-productive policies that fail to meet the agency's core objectives, according to a report released this week by the non-partisan Washington, DC think-tank Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

"The federal government and the ONDCP have chosen to ignore evidence suggesting that the methods being used in the war on drugs are not effective," the report says. "[T]he federal government has become so obsessed with marijuana use that it is spending money unwisely.

"The government has thrown more than $1 billion at a campaign that has only succeeded in increasing the number of teenage marijuana users," the report states, noting that reviews of the media campaign have found that it often encourages - rather than discourages - cannabis use among viewers.

The ONDCP is not as concerned with reducing the few possible harms associated with marijuana but are obsessed with altering the opinion of youth and American's in general that marijuana is in fact a useful medicine or at least a safer alternative for enjoyable recreation.

We know they are lying and find most of their TV ads more amusing than anything else. The ONDCP commercials never contain any facts or realistic scenarios, because there aren't any that really support their claims. So they make up ads about teenage girls that smoke pot and become pregnant, or another teenager that apparently made a hat out of ground beef after smoking a joint (he may have some other issues aside from marijuana use that should be looked into...). The ground beef ad is probably the best I've seen because it ends in the worst possible effect of marijuana use...ARREST.

Citizens Against Government Waste issued a similar critique of the ONDCP last year, calling the agency a "federal wasteland" that fails to show objective results.

The ONDCP: Not as useful as you thought.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Oh Calvina...

A couple of weeks ago I was watching The Drug Years on the Sundance Channel, when the ever vigilant warrior in the War on Drugs, protector of America and outspoken, opinionated executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation Calvina Fay reaffirmed her tactlessness and obtuseness when she declared something akin to "Some people say the war on Drugs is failing and we should give up. To me, that's like saying we haven't found a cure for AIDS and cancer so we should stop our medical research."

Despite the irrationality and ignorance of such a brass statement, I’m almost tempted to agree to an extent. Please do not misunderstand my point, here. Unlike the search for a cure to cancer and AIDS, the Drug War has had purely negative and deleterious effects on individuals and society at large. Despite spending billions of dollars every year, and locking up hundreds of thousands of non-violent, otherwise law-abiding citizens, there has been no progress or improvement in solving the nation’s drug problem. True, despite decades of research, cancer and AIDS still kill millions of people each year. However, progress is being made. New treatments and drugs are discovered on a continual basis, making the lives of those afflicted with these ailments more bearable and enjoyable. What headway has been made in the thirty year-long, ineffective War on Drugs?

Wherein lies my agreement, then? I support a search for a cure, much to the chagrin of Ms. Fay, involving further research into the therapeutic value of many drugs in the medical arena. Cannabis has been shown to effectively help many patients left weak and wasting away after chemotherapy and other current treatments for cancer and AIDS. It has other properties that help mitigate pain and nausea associated with the drug cocktails prescribed to many patients with these ailments. People with other diseases such as glaucoma and multiple sclerosis can also benefit from the use of marijuana.

Of course, Ms. Fay and her supporters would have us believe that legalizing the medical use of cannabis and other drugs would lead to an increase of use among the general population. However, in 1999 the Institute of Medicine concluded that, “At this point, there are no convincing data to support this concern. The existing data are consistent with the idea that this would not be a problem if marijuana were as closely regulated as other medications with abuse potential.” The current prohibition policies in America take control of these substances out of the government’s hands. Legalizing the medical use of these drugs would put the supply in the hands of physicians and doctors instead of street-dealers, greatly reducing the supply to children and the possibility of abuse. Furthermore, as the IOM said, “this question is beyond the issues normally considered for medical uses of drugs, and should not be a factor in evaluating the therapeutic potential of marijuana…”

All substances, including morphine (an opiate closely related to heroin) and cocaine, already legally prescribed and used by doctors, have the potential to be misused and abused. However, drugs that can ease the pain and suffering of millions should be administered and regulated. But, doesn’t that send the wrong message to children – that it is ok to use drugs? Would a better message be sending seriously ill people with terminal diseases to prison instead of allowing themselves and their doctors to determine the best possible treatment?

There is indeed a drug problem in this country. It’s called prohibition. Calvina Fay was right in saying the War on Drugs is failing. She was wrong in saying we should stop medical research for a cure to the plagues of cancer and AIDS. We should, however, broaden the scope of our research to include honest investigation into the therapeutic potential of drugs for medical use. Doctors, not “I-know-better-than-you” Congressmen and women, are the only qualified people to determine what should and should not be used to help their patients cope with illness. Yet, with the unsuccessful Hinchey-Rohrabacher Medical Marijuana amendment yesterday, it appears that many politicians feel truly ill people need a prison sentence more than their medicine. So, does compassion still mean anything on Capitol Hill? Of course, compassion for prison guards, parole officers, police, and their jobs; not for seriously ill people who only want to make their lives better.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Soccer Moms for Sensible Drug Policy

Having trouble talking with mom and pop about drug policy? This editorial, written by a Republican mother from Colorado, offers all the right arguments for why conservative soccer moms should support the repeal of marijuana prohibition. The entire piece is a must-read, but here are just a few choice quotes:
Politicians whisper quietly behind closed doors about the insanity of the drug war. Neither party, however, has had the courage to take a stand against prohibition publicly. Just imagine if the $2 billion invested in these ads - or the billions more spent prosecuting peaceful marijuana users every year - had been diverted instead into tuition grants for needy students or back to taxpaying parents who could directly invest in college funds.


Democrats and Republicans alike believe they would gain nothing by advocating an end to prohibition, but both have failed to consider that they might just gain votes if they could learn to speak to mothers about drugs in a way that they could relate to.

Parents across America are trying to find a way to fund college. By legalizing marijuana, taxing it, and turning this revenue into college scholarships and treatment programs, the future of every child could be just a little bit brighter.


At the end of the day, our government knows it cannot enforce marijuana prohibition. In the absence of being able to do so, it sends the damaging message to our young people that marijuana should be illegal simply because "I'm the government, and I said so." Moms know better - and may ultimately be the single key to bringing sanity back to American drug policy.
Well said, Jessica.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Call Congress right now for medical marijuana patients

Last week I told you about the important medical marijuana amendment that Congress is getting ready to vote on. Well, the time is NOW! The House will vote this Wednesday, June 28, on whether or not the DEA should be able to spend money arresting seriously ill patients in states that have made medical marijuana legal.

We need you to call your member of Congress RIGHT NOW and urge them to support this sensible and compassionate amendment.

Here are the instructions and phone script that the Marijuana Policy Project put out:

"It's easy: Just call the Capitol switchboard operator at (202) 224-3121. Give the operator your zip code and ask to be connected to your U.S. House member; you don't even need to know your U.S. representative's name to do this.

When the receptionist for the congressperson — not the Capitol switchboard operator — answers, say something like: "Hi, this is [name]. I live in [city], and I'm calling to ask that my representative vote for Congressman Maurice Hinchey's medical marijuana amendment to the Justice Department's spending bill, which I understand will be considered on the House floor in a few days. The amendment would prohibit the Justice Department from spending taxpayer money to arrest medical marijuana patients in the 11 states where medical marijuana is legal."

Please call now: (202) 224-3121"

If you don't call, who will?