Saturday, July 22, 2006

ACLU "Drug Wars" documentary

This excellent Drug War documentary produced by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is well worth watching. It highlights many victims of our nation's idiotic drug policies, including medical marijuana patients, victims of racial profiling and mandatory minimums, and innocent high school students terrorized in a drug raid.

Note: If you are a high school student and have never seen footage of the drug raid at Goose Creek high school, you must watch this video.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Only you can prevent forest fires

This post by our friendly neighborhood Drug War Rant blogger, Pete Guither, was so hilariously on-target that I had to pass it along. The post makes an analogy between drugs and fire. Here's an excerpt:
Like fire, drug use can be very beneficial or it can be harmful, depending on how it's used, but with a little common sense, it can be quite safe.

In this particular analogy, the establishment has decided that only fire in corporate-sold furnaces is acceptable, and all other use of fire must be extinguished.

Prohibitionists (again, in this analogy) decide that the way to accomplish this is to destroy the fire utterly... by throwing dynamite at it. On occasion, the resulting explosion will temporarily suppress the fire from the lack of oxygen, but more often, it spreads the fire further in an unchecked manner -- plus it causes enormous collateral damage.


Conversations with prohibitionists tend to go like this:

Prohibitionist: How can you sit there and actually promote the use of fire? Don't you know about the little girl that was burned to death in a house fire?
Reformer: Uh, ... you threw dynamite at that fire.
Prohibitionist: She was burned to death. Fire caused that, not the dynamite.
Reformer: Uh, no. They were having a cook-out on the grill. You threw dynamite on the charcoal and the explosion spread the fire to the house...
Prohibitionist: See? It was fire. How dare you promote the death of little girls, you pyromaniac!
Read the full post here.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Shoot first, get statistics later...

Today, the CATO Institute released an in-depth study on the rise of paramilitary police raids in America. The report was researched and written by libertarian blogger, Radly Balko. From the report's executive summary:
These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The quashing of the drug policy reform movement in the SUNY system

The Albany-installed Administration at SUNY New Paltz is very scared. In the past year, two major successes for the student drug policy reform movement occured. One was my election to the Student Presidency. I, of course, ran on a platform which emphasized the counter productive nature of sanctions for drug possession on campus.

The other was much more significant. Dan Curtis, a newcomer to the movement but a passionate drug policy reformer nonetheless, was elected to the Presidency of the SUNY Student Assembly - the student government for the whole state. That's the highest office a student can hold in the SUNY system.

Now, the Administration at SUNY New Paltz, no doubt taking the call from above, has pressed 14 charges against us and 3 other student leaders and is trying to suspend us for one year - effectively preventing us from taking our positions. They also expelled my Vice President and dear friend - another serious voice in the call for campus drug policy reform.

All the local papers have written about it. The New Paltz Times wrote a fairly in depth piece in which the Mayor of New Paltz and several other prominent figures back us. They write:

The principal charge against the three student leaders was harassment of resident life director Corinna Caracci. The students deny the charge, which they say is disproved by a videotape made during the incident in question.

The extent of the due-process rights of the students to defend themselves is at issue. The university has refused to permit the students to question the witnesses against them. Civil-rights attorney Michael Sussman, who is defending the students, has put the college on notice that they intend to file a lawsuit based on violation of due process if their appeal is denied.

If you are wondering whether or not we do indeed have evidence that this Administrator lied on two police reports, please visit this page, which contains her deposition, statements from witnesses, and the video.

Wanna hear the best part?

After they saw we had the video to prove her deceit, they came at 6:30 in the morning to my office and arrested me again. This time is was for possession.... OF A "STOLEN" SLEEPING BAG!

The sleeping bag had been moved down the hall, by a colleague of mine, about 50 feet from one room to another. It had been in our office for almost a year. It was one of twelve of them, and the Administration knew they were there. They only chose to call them "stolen" and have me arrested days after the election.

Jason West, the Mayor of New Paltz, sees right through this crap and has also been a strong supporter of drug policy reform on our campus.

Village mayor Jason West said he was prepared to defend the students. "The village [government] has not yet officially taken a position on this situation," said West, who supported Holmes and fellow student leaders more than a year ago when they staged a protest against the administration's marijuana expulsion policy. "But I've been following it closely, and I plan to write a letter in their defense. I've spoken with the students involved. They have great lawyers on board, and only a year ago I saw how students charged with marijuana use were expelled without due process. They were not afforded legal representation. They were not allowed to cross-examine witnesses." It appeared to West that "they are being targeted for their political activism and that is intolerable."

The mayo emphasized that his feelings were "not directed at anyone in the administration personally. "I have great respect for president Poskanzer and work well with him," he said. "But I feel compelled to criticize certain actions that the SUNY administration takes when I believe that they violate the rights of my constituents."

The student leaders were being "negatively portrayed by the administration as troublemakers," said West, when in fact they were "highly effective, well-organized political activists who have done everything right."

I don't know if we have done everything right, but we have definitely fought hard to make drug policy a serious issue in student politics and New York State, and now the possibility of invalidation of all our efforts over the last two years is a very real one.