Friday, December 21, 2007

Well, if You Don't Have Anything to Hide...

We're all used to that argument by now. "Well, if you've got nothing to hide then you won't mind peeing in this cup, or letting us search your car or house." Its a foolish argument that ignores the right to privacy and security, suggesting that anyone who wishes to protect such rights is guilty of something.

But here is an interesting twist on things. Usually its police officers spouting this line, but in Los Angeles, CA, the Gang and Narcotics units of LAPD are having this line used on them. The Los Angeles Police Commission has unanimously approved that officers must reveal their personal finances including everything from overdue credit-card statements, checking accounts, properties, to stocks and bonds. The Los Angeles Police Protective League has already filed a suit citing invasion of privacy and violating union member's rights.

Why is this happening? Its an effort to crack down on police corruption since the Rampart Scandal in the late 1990's implicated over 70 members of the LAPD's CRASH unit in corruption that included selling and planting drugs, beatings and shootings, and even bank robbery. However, my question, and that of over 500 LAPD officers who are threatening to leave, is how will looking through financial records reduce corruption and misconduct?

Forcing people to disclose this amount of financial information is not the right way to go about stopping police corruption and we all know this corruption is real and that it needs to stop. Lets look at the big picture here. The units being targeted are Gang and Narcotics. Why? Because these are the units that deal with and proliferate the mess created by the War on Drugs. This corruption is related to the illegal drug market. Police can steal from and work with drug dealers because there is not proper regulation and all the money involved is cash!

I suggest going to the root of the problem. End the War on Drugs. In fact, I think if LEAP starts contacting some of these officers and suggests that it is the War on Drugs causing this violation of privacy we can expect some new anti-prohibition police officers in an area where they are needed most.

Think about it. Get rid of the black market for drugs and you get rid of drug dealers and the profit they bring to gangs. Therefore the need for a Gang unit is drastically decreased as is gang or prohibition related violence. The need for a narcotics unit will also decrease once we start dealing with drug addiction as a health issue and not a criminal justice issue. Because treatment cost less and is more effective than incarceration, we will see a decrease in addiction and the freeing up of tax dollars that could be used for effective drug abuse prevention education programs for youth (not DARE).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Colorado Judge Orders Police to Return Marijuana

So this is pretty cool. Not only has a Colorado judge ordered police to return 71 marijuana plants and growing equipment to a former U.S. Marine and licensed medical marijuana grower, it looks like the former Marine could be able to seek damages if the plants are not returned in good condition.
A Colorado judge ruled Wednesday that police should return dozens of marijuana plants to a former Marine and 1991 Persian Gulf War veteran who is a licensed medical marijuana user.

Aurora, Colorado police raided Dickes' home in April and seized plants growing in his basement. He was handcuffed, arrested and charged with a felony count of cultivating marijuana, which carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison. But last week, prosecutors dropped the charge after confirming that Dickes is licensed to grow the plants under the Colorado state medical marijuana laws that voters approved in 2000.
Makes sense to me. Basically this guy had his medicine stolen from him. Seems like the police should have checked to see if he was a licensed medical marijuana grower before they kicked in his door, arrested him, and stole all his pot. I guess they don't cover that in police academy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

John Walters is on the Naughty List

Santa Claus: And what would you like for Christmas lil' boy?

Lil Johnny P. Walters: I want $130 million tax payer dollars for the ONDCP's Anti-Drug advertisements.

Santa Claus: Well, lets check the Good and Naughty lists...

Lil Johnny P. Walters: Uh-oh...

Santa Claus: Hmmm, Johnny, it seems your on the naughty list this year. In fact, you've been on that list since you started working for the ONDCP! It looks like those anti-drug ads don't work because you insist on lying to young people and the public about drugs! But wait, theres more. You've been using taxpayer money to illegally campaign against state initiatives and to promote random student drug testing? Clearly that puts you on the naughty list this Christmas.

Lil Jonny P. Walters: Waaaaaaahh Waaaaaahh... sniffle, sniffle... "So what will I get for Christmas Santa?"

Santa Claus: Well Johnny... Your going to get a 40% cut in the budget for your drug propaganda ads. Thats half of what you and President Bush wanted. Unfortunately, he's on the naughty list too. HO HO HO!

New Orleans!


Well, its over and done with. The 2007 International Drug Policy Reform Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana was fun, extravagant, inspiring, and and a testament to this growing movement. Over 100 SSDP members from all over the country came together and proved what a dedicated and strong force the organization has become. Along with DPA, LEAP, MPP, and the Harm Reduction Coalition, SSDP (a lot of acronyms, I know) engaged in workshops and panels concerning issues ranging from random student drug testing, to campus change campaigns, to lectures led by some of the leaders in harm reduction education.

SSDP also elected 5 new members to the Board of Directors. Congratulations to Jimi Devine, Allison Grimmer, Constance Sisk, Matt Potter and Dan Cornelious.

This conference truly pushed the envelope and set the bar high for next year. Just look at the pictures! There was a marching band that led reformers down Bourbon St., over 1,200 registered attendees, the SSDP crew rocked Bourbon St. (led by Jimi Devine), and there was even "World Famous Love Acts"! Wait... I'm not so sure about that last one.

Find more pictures, information, and audio cd's of the sessions you attended or couldn't make at the DPA site. Thanks to everyone that made this happen!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Drug policy reformers from across the country and around the world are gearing up for their annual coming together, The 2007 International Drug Policy Reform Conference. From December 5-8, at least 1,000 activists, including more than 200 students, will descend on the French Quarter to share ideas and battle plans, network, and prepare for another year of work to reform drug laws.

Indeed, New Orleans will be the place to be - and what better place to spend a December weekend than the balmy cultural capital of America, rich with drinks and jazz and a nightlife that puts other cities to shame. Those lucky enough to attend the conference, set in the Astor Crowne Plaza on legendary Bourbon Street, will not have any problems finding things to do: the DPA pamphlet reads like a travel guide.
Old world ambiance, hot jazz, cool eats and sizzling night life awaits
you. Once you arrive at The Astor Crowne Plaza, you will be
within walking distance of many landmarks of New Orleans’
heritage, including: courtyards and iron-laced balconies,
famous restaurants and galleries, Bourbon Street, the mighty
Mississippi River ... and, of course, legendary Jackson Square.
The theme of this year's conference, "Working Towards a New Bottom Line," captures the spirit of the event: bringing together experts and activists, law enforcement and reformers who seek to change the law, students and professionals, and challenging them to together forge a new vision of drug law in America. DPA writes in its pamphlet, "We believe that change is possible in our nation’s drug policies, but that doing so requires all of us to challenge what we think we know and want to believe." Next week in New Orleans, a diverse group of dedicated people will be brought together to work towards one goal, and the potential is enormous.

The conference will focus on a number of specific issues. How can reformers do their job better? What effect does drug use have on our culture and on our politics? What does the most recent research say about drug use and drug policy? How can we reduce the harm caused by drug use? What should we do about bloated prison populations? Answers to these questions, as well as a film festival, an awards dinner, and - of course - the companionship of more than 1,000 like-minded activists, are to be found next week in New Orleans.

SSDP wishes good luck to all attendees.

Have fun.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

SSDP Gets The Message Out On Capitol Hill

On November 1, 2007, SSDP hosted a Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill to illustrate the destruction wrought on thousands of college students who have had their financial aid revoked for minor drug convictions. Good students are being forced to quit school or pay hopelessly high tuition. Unfortunately, some of them surely fall back into drug use, forever losing the chance that they had to get a degree and build a better life.

SSDP's Government Relations Director Tom Angell moderated the event, where six excellent speakers made a compelling case that the Aid Elimination Penalty must be revoked --- and you can watch every moment of the briefing, thanks to Youtube.

"We have a choice," said Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA), "you can reduce crime or you can play politics." The Congressman spoke first, arguing that the Aid Elimination Penalty defies logic. "It's counterproductive, because those who are involved in drugs - the last thing you want to do is kick them out of school and give them a lot of free time with nothing to do"

Nicole Byrd, spokesperson for the American Association of University Professors, made a fact-filled argument that focused on the naked irrationality of the Aid Elimination Penalty. "Those with degrees not only add more to the public coffers, but they cost much less, with a fraction of the crime seen in the lesser educated population and a third of the claims for public assistance."

Marisa Garcia said, "I am one of the lucky ones - I didn't have to drop out of school." For simply being caught with a pipe, Marisa and her family had to absorb thousands of dollars in extra expenses as her aid was revoked. How anyone can think this law is fair is beyond this blogger.

Kandice Hawes also had her aid revoked. "At the time that i was affected, I was a responsible, full time, hardworking student," she said. Nevertheless, a single possession ticket was all it took to send her scrambling to find a new source of aid - a search that ended with the Perry Fund.

Representing "The Association of Addiction Professionals," Cynthia Moreno Tuohy offered a clinical view of drug use and shared the story of how she overcame restrictions that are similar to the Aid Elimination Penalty. According to Cynthia, policy makers are not thinking about drug use holistically. "We know that addiction abuse is a bio-psycho-social-spiritual disease and we know that its a medical disease. And yet, ... this law does not treat this as a medical disease"

"We find that its very classist, and quite frankly, its a very racist policy," said Hilary Shelton, the Washington Bureau Director for the NAACP. He shed light on how the Aid Elimination Penalty's effects are mostly targeted towards poor Americans.

Finally, there was a short Q&A at the end of the event. Watch Hilary and Tom field questions on racism and more extreme drug use.

Like all great fights, there have been setbacks in the decade-long battle to end the injustice of the Aid Elimination Penalty. Nevertheless, those who care about fair and sensible drug policy should take heart: as is apparent in these videos, the facts are on our side, and the facts will win in the end.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Merry consumerist

Hey Kids (and people who are already being prompted to make their holiday wishlists):

Whether you're the kid who needs all the new toys, the kid whose principles of reduce/reuse/recycle are thoroughly chopped down and covered in energy-guzzling electric lights during the holiday season, or the kid whose wish list looks something like "Um, I dunno. Bottle of shampoo? Pay my bills? Ramen noodles? Tuition? Books? Pack of cigarettes? Just give me money?", here's an idea:

Put donations to SSDP on your wish list.

Speaking from experience, putting non-profits on your wish list makes your family think you're just darling. Also, it makes shopping easy, saves dorm/apartment space, makes up for all those times you read an email asking for donations and said "Sorry guys, I'm broke!", and removes any guilt you may or may not have for your Sasquatch-sized ecological footprint. It makes the giver feel extra-special because they're giving to you and your favorite non-profit(s) which will then give to society which will then give back to them. Epic win!

I usually make my wish lists on a web site and add links to the donation pages of organizations. (Making a website also impresses your family members, unless you fill it with unreadable backgrounds and animated .gifs, in which case Uncle Harry will call you a n00b.) If you do your lists on paper or by word of mouth, just include the home page URL and "where you can click the little donate button." (ssdp.org, in the purple box near the top. Or ssdp.org/donate for those whose memories are in good condition.)

This is also a good way to give your relatives a crash course in drug policy reform. No matter how unreceptive your family may be, they will see your wish list and think "What the... Is Johnny advertising his reckless drug use to the whole family? Madness! Or is it not actually about reckless drug use?" This holiday season, give your relatives an epiphany.

Or ask for a Wii. It's your wish list. If you like shiny new books (I do!! [/subtle hint]), check out the DPA's bookstore for a huge wordgasmic collection of drug policy lit.

Friday, October 26, 2007

SSDP’s Message Resounds: “Stop The War on Drugs from Becoming a War on Education."

Students across the country have their eyes on Congress. Demanding that the government repeal the Aid Elimination Penalty - part of the Higher Education Act that strips students with drug convictions of their financial aid - they are educated, organized, and passionate. And word is spreading: college newspapers have been scrutinizing this law recently as activists work to educate more people about its damaging effects.

Kristen Hodges’ article in The Kansas State Collegian quotes SSDP’s Government Relations Director Tom Angell describing the national coalition for repeal of the penalty that the group has built, including more than 350 organizations.
"We've been mobilizing students ever since day one in working to try to repeal that penalty," Angell said, "and it is not just a bunch of students that are angry about this. We have prominent education groups, like the National Education Association, and folks concerned with addiction recovery."
The national office has certainly had success, but campus chapters are the heart of SSDP. In the University of Connecticut’s The Daily Campus, Brittany Dorn reports on the success of the campus’ SSDP chapter.
UConn's chapter of SSDP was started last fall by Dan Cornelious, a 7th-semester political science major, who is now president of the 20-member group. The UConn SSDP chapter has been active on campus in a variety of ways this past year, from hosting speakers and discussions - such as a medical marijuana panel held earlier this month - to working with the administration to change drug policies and punishments.
Chapters are getting creative in fighting the effects of the Aid Elimination Penalty. In an editorial, the staff of the University of Maryland’s The Diamondback applauds work done by that school’s SSDP chapter.
Now it's apparent, as The Diamondback's Nathan Cohen reported yesterday, that SSDP has also employed a brilliant, unflinching method of lobbying resident assistants to use discretion when reporting marijuana use. To be clear, we don't support an on-campus housing scene where bong hits are more common than books. But SSDP is appealing to what this is all about: the appalling disregard of justice Resident Life officials have displayed so far.

Because Resident Life's policies on pot use are baseless, unbalanced and indefensible, SSDP will likely find great success in appealing to RAs. We hope that, as Resident Life will likely attempt to assail SSDP's efforts, RAs will do their duty to consider the plight of their fellow students and think critically about Resident Life's obsession with micro-managing its staff.
Finally, back to the Kansas State Collegian article by Kristen Hodges. She relates the story of one student and shows how the effects of the Aid Elimination Penalty might be more widespread than the 200,000 students who have had their aid revoked. With SSDP chapters around the country raising this issue, newspapers are covering it and finding stories like this that make clear the problems with current law.
"We were smoking in my friend's vehicle and got pulled over," he said. "The cop smelled drugs, and so he called for backup and started searching until he found a roach in the ashtray."

Though his financial aid was not affected, the alumnus said the police threatened him and said he ruined his future and told him, "when Sallie Mae hears about this, your financial aid is gone."

The alumnus said he could have contested his conviction because the drugs were in his friend's vehicle, but he was too worried about losing his financial aid to fight the case, so he pled no contest and got a diversion.
Activists around the country should take heart: you are being heard and you can make a difference. As widespread coverage of SSDP activity continues, the movement will only grow, and we'll come closer and closer to finally living in a country with sensible drug policy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fair and balanced

Today in lecture, I made an announcement about how SSDP is having a week of action to repeal the HEA Aid Elimination penalty.

I made the announcement brief but thorough: explained what it is, how it's being reauthorized, how many students have been affected, how it affects students with at least a 2.5 GPA, how low-income students tend to suffer more, how it's counterproductive.

I passed out postcards for people to fill out if they so chose to take action. After class, I collected them. Not everyone filled one out - hey, freedom of choice, it's cool - but one of the otherwise blank ones contained a message for me:

"I am all for helping people out, but you did not say anything about the other side of the issue. You need to inform us about the other side."

Me and that postcard stood a while giving each other a long, hard, bewildered look.

What is the other side of the story?

Seriously. Nothing, absolutely nothing and nobody benefits from this penalty. Well, Rep. Souder, maybe drug dealers recruiting long-term customers and salespeople, apparently recruiters for the armed forces too. Schools, economy, family, human rights, minority advancement, criminal justice & law enforcement, community health & safety, faith in the government, reducing drug abuse itself... yeah, pretty much everything else stands to lose.

There is this American myth that every issue has two sides with equally compelling arguments. Like everything's a complicated issue for which you have to consider tons of different conflicting factors. Indeed there are complexities within the drug policy issue at large - in fact, the existence of complexities prompts us to work for reform and reject zero tolerance/prohibition. The HEA Aid Elimination penalty, though? Hell, even my dad the well-meaning oldschool prohibitionist immediately understood the inherent nonsense and misguided morality of the thing.

Come on, people. 9 out of 10 dentists recommend repealing this penalty; the 10th dentist is a con artist who is not actually a dentist at all but a sadist who likes ripping out teeth with rusty tweezers and without Novocaine. Use your noggins. Sometimes you really can confidently pick a side; the issue is not always way beyond your comprehension. Must we insist on remaining disoriented in order to consider ourselves open-minded? Welcome to the post-9/11 world; this has been me ranting about my pet peeve.

Frontline Delivers the Drug War Goods

If you enjoyed The Drug Years on VH1, you’re in for a treat from the great documentarians at PBS’s Frontline.

With stories from Columbian smugglers, New York City crack middlemen, DEA officials from the last 40 years, and doctors specializing in treatment, “Drug Wars,” a website run by Frontline, chronicles drug policy with accuracy and depth. It includes interviews, research, and video clips. Here are some interesting nuggets.

Drug policy wonks sometimes talk about “black markets” created by current drug laws. Dick Gregorie, an assistant DA in Florida who has spent his career dealing with trafficked cases, explains the massive scale of illegal drug operations in this interview.
How would you describe the size, extent, parameters, of the international narcotics business?

The drug trafficking business has grown into one of the world's largest enterprises--I would say equal with the oil industry or some of the major corporations in the world.

Are you talking about cash?

We are talking about billions of dollars every year in liquid cash.

Would you say they [are] controlling some economies?

They do control economies. I would say the narcotics industry in Colombia is more cash ready than [its] government, or almost any other South American [government].

What are the mega-traffickers up against? Bill Alden began working as a narc for the DEA in the 1960s. He has a story and some thoughts from the inside:
In March, 1984, the Colombia national police along with DEA in Bogota made the Tranquilandia seizure, which was the single largest cocaine seizure of that time. It was 22,000 pounds of finished, refined cocaine. ...
Later that year, I made a presentation to the California Narcotic Officers Association in San Diego. I remember alluding to Tranquilandia, and insinuating that we might have turned a corner. I really always wanted to go back and apologize for that later on. There was no impact. Almost twelve tons of cocaine was seized, and that had absolutely no impact on the market at all, on availability. It continued just as it did, as ferocious as it was before. And then we really began to realize how big it really was.
We realized that if you could seize that amount of drugs and not have an impact on the traffic, then you better start doing something else besides focusing solely on the law enforcement aspects of the problem.
Does policy get better once the drugs hit American streets? Michael Gelacek served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission in the 1990s, which recommended to Congress that crack and powder cocaine sentencing be equalized. Under the laws of that time and today (as the recommendation was rejected), possessing a gram of crack results in a substantially longer jail sentence than possessing a gram of cocaine. He traces the origin of this unfair law.
If you go back and look at the Congressional Record, you'll see that they tossed around all kinds of numbers for ratios. They ultimately settled on a 100-to-1, and I don't remember where that came from. I think they plucked it out of the sky. They talked about 20-to-1, 50-to-1, 25-to-1. In the initial ratios between powder and crack cocaine, no one talked about 100-to-1. That came about as a one-upsman contest between the House and the Senate--who could be tougher on crack cocaine. And they both proved they could be very tough...

We know treatment works. We don't spend a lot of money on treatment. We know that education works. We don't spend a lot of money on education. One thing we know that doesn't work is incarceration. We don't cure anybody by putting them in jail. All we do is take them off the streets.
If you're wondering how much of your money goes towards these policies, Frontline has a handy chart. (17.7 Billion).
And these few bits of information barely scratch the surface of Frontline’s site. If you're interested in hard facts about drug policy, there is a ton of content here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Stop Bush's Drug War Draft!

Check out this quote from a 2003 RAND report (PDF) commissioned by the Pentagon:
The [armed] services might be able to significantly expand their pool of potential recruits by adopting policies that target youth who plan to go to college...
Hmm. Policies that target youth who plan to go to college. I'm not sure if I can think of any of those.

Oh. Right.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

High School Tyranny in Colorado

Hide your cell phones, kids, unless you want your high school principal pawing through them, reading your messages, and impersonating you to entrap your friends. This is exactly what happened at Monarch High School in Louisville, Colorado.

It's stunning that adults thought that this extraordinary violation of privacy was okay.
School officials at Monarch High in Louisville are committing felonies and violating students' privacy by seizing students' cell phones, reading their text messages and making notes about it in students' permanent files, the ACLU warned Wednesday.
Why would administrators do this? What could possibly drive them to such puritanical lengths?

The never ending crusade against high school marijuana use, of course.

It gets downright creepy. In a letter to the Board of Education of the school system, the ACLU describes one mother getting her son's cell phone back from Assistant Principal Drew Adams.
When the student’s mother finally recovered it the following Tuesday, she discovered that Adams had apparently drafted a text message and had attempted to send it from her son’s phone to one of her son’s friends. The text message appeared in the phone’s outbox with an unambiguous time and date stamp showing that it was drafted while Adams had possession of the phone. The text message itself appeared to be Adams’ attempt to engage the receiving student in a conversation while Adams was falsely representing himself as a student.
The drug war has turned our public policy into a farce. Under this set of absurd laws, our officials turn into criminal impersonators and those who we think we can trust violate our basic rights. For what? To bust a dozen high school students?

Dylan Hayword, a Monarch senior, tells us why we should all be concerned by this kind of insane abuse of power.
Hayward told 9NEWS he would not want administrators searching his cell phone because of personal messages he receives from his mother.

"She lets me know about family affairs, Grandma's surgery and stuff like that," Hayward said. "I don't want everyone going through my texts and learning about my problems and stuff like that... It's not cool."


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Franklin Pierce University Forced by Local Police to Help Bust its Own Students

Drug war lunacy has taken hold in Rindge, NH and it isn't pretty. A new policy of notifying local police about suspected drug use on campus has disrupted the school's educational mission and provoked widespread alarm among students.

After discovering a marijuana grinder during a routine maintenance check, campus security called police to investigate. Police then locked students out of their residence for 26 hours while obtaining a search warrant. This video made by Franklin Pierce SSDP members shows how several students were denied access to all of their possessions, including their school work, for a full day so that one of them could be investigated for drug paraphernalia:



If this sounds like a typical college campus misconduct case, it's not. Sources familiar with the situation have informed me that Rindge Police threatened campus security themselves with arrest if they didn't start sacrificing students to the local drug war. It's like saying, "We know people smoke pot on campus. Help us bust them, or we'll bust you."

It's hard to understand what could motivate this type of law-enforcement. Small-town police departments with less to occupy their time are frequently prone to drug war excesses. College town culture clashes are nothing new either. But the sheer audacity of all this is stunning, and it raises important questions about whether this police department understands its proper role in the community.

Beyond that, it highlights how quickly the war on drugs can become a war on education itself. Throughout the nation, students bear the stigma of presumed drug involvement and are targeted, not just by law-enforcement, but by federal law that removes young people from school for petty offenses. The behavior of police at Franklin Pierce University is symptomatic of the corrupted drug war mentality that we must investigate and destroy our young people if necessary in order to discourage drug use.

This is not a war which seeks to protect and uplift America's youth. It is many things, but it is so clearly not that.

By Scott Morgan - cross-posted on StopTheDrugWar.org Speakeasy

Don't Take Any Odds In This Fight

Today’s fight: on one side, Muhammed Ali in his prime; on the other, some random weak guy in a suit. The results are sure to be grotesque. But the fight is not nearly as one-sided as the next match-up: famed Chicago-school economist Milton Friedman vs. federal drug Czar John Walters.

In a recent interview, San Diego Herald Tribune blogger Chris Reed asked the Czar to refute Milton Friedman’s criticisms of the drug war. Friedman, who some call the father of the conservative movement (but who is an ideological ally of liberals on some social issues), wrote an important article for Newsweek in 1972 criticizing Nixon’s emerging “drug war”:

Legalizing drugs would simultaneously reduce the amount of crime and raise the quality of law enforcement. Can you conceive of any other measure that would accomplish so much to promote law and order?

But, you may say, must we accept defeat? Why not simply end the drug traffic? That is where experience under Prohibition is most relevant. We cannot end the drug traffic. We may be able to cut off opium from Turkey but there are innumerable other places where the opium poppy grows. With French cooperation, we may be able to make Marseilles an unhealthy place to manufacture heroin but there are innumerable other places where the simple manufacturing operations involved can be carried out. So long as large sums of money are involved -- and they are bound to be if drugs are illegal -- it is literally hopeless to expect to end the traffic or even to reduce seriously its scope. In drugs, as in other areas, persuasion and example are likely to be far more effective than the use of force to shape others in our image.


A well-reasoned blow from Friedman. Czar Walter has some explaining to do - after all, the drug war is what puts tax-payer money in his piggy bank. Reed transcribes his flimsy response:

he said what "the facts really say" is that Milton Friedman's criticisms of the drug war were "untrue -- demonstrably untrue."


This is what happens when you match-up a heavy-weight thinker with a mindless bureaucrat who’s profession is an embodiment of unfair, irrational laws.

Time to end with a joke:
Q: What did George Bush say when asked why he opposed the position of drug czar?
A: “That job is far too important to trust to a Russian”

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The danger of bread is that too much of it is spent on the war on drugs!

See because "bread" is an old slang term for money. Yeah.

Anyway, this has been circulating on the internets for a long time, but I got a kick out of it and thought it should be in DGD. (It was in my friend's livejournal. Thanks, friend.)

The Dangers of Bread

A recent Cincinnati Enquirer headline read, "Smell of baked bread may be health hazard." The article went on to describe the dangers of the smell of baking bread. The main danger, apparently, is that the organic components of this aroma may break down ozone (I'm not making this stuff up).

I was horrified. When are we going to do something about bread- induced global warming? Sure, we attack tobacco companies, but when is the government going to go after Big Bread?

Well, I've done a little research, and what I've discovered should make anyone think twice....

  1. More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread eaters.
  2. Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests.
  3. In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever and influenza ravaged whole nations.
  4. More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread.
  5. Bread is made from a substance called "dough." It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average American eats more bread than that in one month!
  6. Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low occurrence of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and osteoporosis.
  7. Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and given only water to eat begged for bread after only two days.
  8. Bread is often a "gateway" food item, leading the user to "harder" items such as butter, jelly, peanut butter and even cold cuts.
  9. Bread has been proven to absorb water. Since the human body is more than 90 percent water, it follows that eating bread could lead to your body being taken over by this absorptive food product, turning you into a soggy, gooey bread-pudding person.
  10. Newborn babies can choke on bread.
  11. Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit! That kind of heat can kill an adult in less than one minute.
  12. Most American bread eaters are utterly unable to distinguish between significant scientific fact and meaningless statistical babbling.

In light of these frightening statistics, we propose the following bread restrictions:

  1. No sale of bread to minors.
  2. No advertising of bread within 1000 feet of a school.
  3. A 300 percent federal tax on all bread to pay for all the societal ills we might associate with bread.
  4. No animal or human images, nor any primary colors (which may appeal to children) may be used to promote bread usage.
  5. A $4.2 zillion fine on the three biggest bread manufacturers. Please send this e-mail on to everyone you know who cares about this crucial issue.
At least they didn't recommend bread prohibition. Imagine the impurities that would show up in black market bread, and the exorbitant prices, and the fires starting when people cram dangerous industrial ovens into secret basement rooms, and the violence surrounding the illegal bread trade, and the environmental destruction when people start growing wheat in national forests, and so on!

So, is your bullshit detector functioning properly? Good. Help us end the federal war on bread! I mean drugs! which is justified largely by nonsense statistics and non-causal correlations.

Similar to the dangers of bread is this classic on the dangers of water.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Some Civics Lesson…Drug Testing Teachers Too?

In a glaring violation of fundamental rights to personal privacy, Hawaii roles out a new plan to randomly drug test all teachers.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association has ratified a new contract that will require its members to undergo random drug and alcohol testing--a requirement unusual for public school teachers--as the price for receiving a 4 percent salary increase each year over the next two years…...

Greg Knudsen, a spokesman for the 181,000-student statewide district, said that even though the department was already working with the union to develop a "reasonable suspicion" drug testing policy, that doesn't imply that officials think drug abuse is a widespread problem among teachers.

"The department didn't initiate it," he said about the random testing proposal.

Education Week May 9, 2007

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If the Department of Education didn’t initiate the testing scheme, then who did? It was Hawaii governor Linda Lingle, who pressed for the testing as a part of the new contract the union was negotiating. Claiming there was a crisis of teacher drug abuse because six public education employees were arrested during the 2006-2007 school year, the Governor made it very clear that without a drug testing provision in the contract there would be no pay raise. It’s a disturbing, though classic, attempt to look ‘tough on drugs’.

…..Talks opened in June 2006, but there was no movement until April when Gov. Linda Lingle's administration delivered an offer of raises and the nonnegotiable mandate of random drug testing for teachers.

"The thing was it was put down as a take it or leave it. There was no negotiation on the governor's part. It was kind of shoved down our throats," Wurst said. "I was livid about that. To me it wasn't negotiation. It was really, really disappointing."

The Maui News, May 3, 2007

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The pay raise will bring teachers up to just above $43,000 a year. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Hawaii, but it’s quite expensive to live there, and people shouldn’t have to sign away their most basic of constitutional rights to make a living wage. With tests around $45 a person, Hawaii is looking at almost $600,000 on what is basically a test for marijuana use. In essence the system is geared to test for teachers who used marijuana over summer vacation, but not who used meth over the weekend.

Some might argue that outside of the expense, the possible trampling of civil rights, and the political pandering, if the tests can help stop drug abuse than it’s worth it. Unfortunately they’ve never been proven to work. Let me state that again. THEY’VE NEVER BEEN PROVEN TO WORK!!! That’s right folks, even the National Academy of Sciences has said that, “Despite beliefs to the contrary, the preventative effects of drug-testing programs have never been adequately demonstrated.” (Under the Influence? Drugs and the American Work Force, 1994)

What can we do to stop this cheap political trick that threatens to undermine the rights of 13,000 teachers? The ACLU is currently recruiting teachers in Hawaii to join a legal challenge aimed at ending this unconstitutional practice. You can learn more at www.aclu.org/TeachersJoinUs . Pass the word on to any teachers you know, or anyone who lives in Hawaii. Teachers can also call toll-free at (888) 9Join-Us or send an email to teachersjoinus@aclu.org

I’m reminded of Ben Franklin’s quote, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Suspicionless drug testing takes away our liberties, and does absolutely nothing to improve the safety of Hawaiian students. Shame on you, Governor Lingle.

P.S. I’m really hoping that this is just some elaborate lesson designed to get students thinking about what protections the Constitution affords every American.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

"Just tell me what'll happen to me if I smoke dank nugs on the daily..."

Check out InfoMania's hilarious diss of the federal "anti-drug" propaganda campaign. (InfoMania is a program on Al Gore's CurrentTV.)

And be sure to write Congress and tell them to stop spending your tax dollars on silly, offensive, and wasteful propaganda.

Friday, September 07, 2007

"Let's analyze the poet's comparison."

Sorry, I'm an English major. And also a poet. I hereby swear to the blog gods that my next post won't be like an essay.

Okay, so in this post from June, I wrote "not every gay rights activist is LGBT, not every pro-choice advocate has had an abortion or is even sexually active, not every feminist is female, and not every environmentalist is a polar bear - duh."

I've been getting good reviews about that, particularly the part about polar bears. I like that rhetoric too, and here's why. (Note: Drug policy reformers do not necessarily support the causes/ideologies listed below.)

I hear a lot of rhetoric about how the War on Drugs is like the civil rights movement, the women's suffrage movement, and the abolitionist movement. This is true in the sense that a group of people are fighting social injustice over decades of powerful grassroots action, and, as with these historic movements, we are slowly but surely getting results. A growing number of people are on our side morally and intellectually. All we need is action, we can't be sure when push will come to shove, but those involved are already shoving soooo we're pretty much gonna win. Also, the connections to civil rights are clear in drug policy reform.

However, in a sense it's more like the environmentalist movement because it's not all about civil rights. It's also about creating safer communities, using our resources more wisely, and letting sound science take precedent over batshit crazy politics. There are a lot of actions we can take now to save money and improve quality of life in the long run. Another similarity is that the best advocates for reform in these camps must have a strong, very interdisciplinary knowledge base.

It's like the LGBT rights movement because we're fighting a prohibition of something that has to do with lifestyle choice. I don't personally believe that being LGBT is a choice, but in both cases people are punished and stigmatized for a part of their personal identity. Laws are enforced against people who simply are not criminals. And, as Ethan Nadelmann said when he telepathically stole my joke at the NE Regional Conference, in some ways both have to do with what you choose to stick in your own body, which is really nobody else's business.

It's like the pro-choice movement because it's based on reducing harm. We don't advocate recreational drugs any more than pro-choice activists advocate abortion. The point is meeting people where they're at and helping them in the best way possible, whether it's giving them information or giving them appropriate resources when they have a crisis. All this because abstinence-only just isn't effective.

Then there are endless ideologies that relate to drug policy reform: Libertarianism: people should be free to make their own choices. Christianity: freedom of choice, judge not lest ye be judged, compassion, and even sobriety (As the protestants learned during the temperance movement, prohibition did not cause people to "walk properly, not in drunkenness." Verse from Romans 13. If I understand Christianity, then sobriety and a law-abiding lifestyle should come from one's personal relationship with God and scripture, not from the law... but anyway). Wicca: Harm none, do what ye will. Hell, you can apply anything really. Existentialism: Well who knows why we exist but while we're here let's do something meaningful. Nihilism: Dude. Whatever, nothing matters. (Most reformers aren't nihilists - too much effort for nihilism. :D)

We shouldn't need these analogies to legitimize the movement as a whole. My feeling is that such comparisons should be focused on the context of the conversation at hand. We are not freeing slaves here, and unless you encounter the perfect context for the analogy, don't go suggesting that we think we're abolitionists. That would be misguided and sad. We are not misguided and sad. We're heavily based on strong principles and we're not out of our minds and we've thought about all the implications of the issue and we have good experience and research to back ourselves up. Every issue and philosophy is unique and multi-dimensional. Many issues overlap, but never entirely. Don't let anyone forget. Relying fully on analogy is for people with poor understanding of the issue at hand (see Godwin's law). But uh, that doesn't mean you shouldn't use them when appropriate.

Also let's get some polar bears in on this action. Can you imagine a throng of polar bears marching on the Capitol? Fuck, I can, and it's awesome. (Not all drug policy reformers have a potty mouth like me.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Family Guy: My Anti-Drug



Think that's silly? Check out the original ad, paid for by your tax dollars...



[Thanks for the link, Irina!]

Friday, August 31, 2007

Reputation busting 101

I don't know how it is at other schools, but at UMD, the student body tends to consider the drug policy reformers to be pro-drug at best and crazy drug addicts at worst. I'm guessing it is that way at most other schools, since it seems to be that way in the world beyond school as well. Take this offensive piece of crap as an example of our reputation as burned out hippies waving packets of illicit substances around on playgrounds saying "Whee drugs for everybody!"

So, let's say you hand someone a flyer and invite them to a meeting. They confess, "It seems that everyone involved in this kind of thing just wants to make life easier for themselves." Here are some comebacks - use whatever's truthful for you and relevant to who you're talking to.

  • "Actually, drugs aren't a part of my lifestyle at all. I don't use illicit drugs/I've never used an illicit drug." Props to you if you can honestly use this one and you've gotten involved in drug policy reform. They will probably ask you why or not believe you, so tell them why. Similarly,
  • "To be honest with you, drugs ruined [something that drugs ruined for you]. But then I realized things might have been better if [some non-prohibition approach had been used instead.] Maybe not in my case - who knows? But overall situations like mine could be avoided/improved."
  • "You're right. Ending prohibition would in fact make life easier for my [friend, relative, self] who [needs marijuana for a medical problem, is trying to beat a heroin addiction preferably without contracting HIV, lives in a violent black market crime area, is suffering disproportionate consequences for a non-violent, first-time, fucking stupid mistake that anyone could have made]." Fill in an appropriate amount of personal details.
  • "It doesn't make sense to me that only drug users would be interested in this. [Laundry list of reasons why non-users would be interested.]"
  • This one's bold, so know who you're talking to if you use it: "Suppose some of us do use illicit drugs. None of us have ever committed a violent crime like murder, rape, or assault. We don't deserve to [lose financial aid/get evicted from dorms/be punished at the level of violent criminals or worse]. Most drug users are non-violent non-addicts, and it doesn't make sense to lock up users or addicts."
  • "Ah yes. Stereotypes plague us all, but I assure you our members shower sufficiently. Come, join us and help us prove that we would not all jump in Jerry Garcia's lap given the chance, were his lap alive and well."
  • "Maybe, maybe not. But hey. Ever hear of a male feminist? A straight LGBT supporter? A white civil rights activist? Not to mention: should women, LGBT folk, and ethnic/racial minority members be condemned as selfish for supporting their own rights and trying to make positive changes in the world?"
  • "I know you are but what am I?" Just kidding.
And then there's the classic values statement!
  • "Actually, SSDP doesn't encourage or condemn drug use. Our members' personal feelings about drugs are secondary compared to our mission to end the federal War on Drugs, which ends up causing more harm than drugs themselves... and we're well aware that drugs can be harmful. We want people to make the safest choices possible, and everyone would be better off without the War on Drugs. Well. Everyone but terrorists and others who are making huge profits off prohibition."
Sometimes - perhaps oftentimes, I don't know - chapters do start with a small group of motivated and outraged drug users. It only makes sense; the Drug War infiltrates their minds and urine, after all, and you can't get much closer to home than that. As more members jump on board, more unique perspectives and new reasons for supporting the cause jump on with them. The best message to send is that we genuinely welcome them all, not for their numbers, not solely for their energy, but for the way their own experiences broaden our understanding of why this change needs to happen.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How a Giant Freakin' Cardboard Pot Leaf Changed My Life

Ahhh. Being back on campus reminds me of that time last year when I was walking along with my new friends and all of a sudden this giant freakin' cardboard pot leaf approached and invited me to the chapter meeting of NORML.

I was not hallucinating. See?



Not more than an hour later, one Anastacia Cosner in a cloud of chalkdust shouted over a stone wall at me and a man with curly hair ran and launched himself over said wall to hand me a flyer and breathlessly invite me to the SSDP meeting, which was being held jointly with NORML's. I'd never really been interested in drug policy reform or drugs, to be frank, but I was damn impressed by the energy of my recruiters. So I went to a meeting and the rest is history.

How's your recruitment campaign going? Got flyers? What if your school doesn't have an SSDP chapter to recruit for? Start one. Drug policy reform yields way more energy than any drug from caffeine to Adderall, and if you go running after people with a stack of flyers you might even burn calories...

The moral of this story is that student drug policy reformers are motivated, energetic, and positively impressive. So go be motivated, energetic, and positively impressive in whatever way you can. No pressure. It's fun.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

ONDCP's David Murray stymied by prohibition. Poor guy.

Buried in an article from today's New York Times, David Murray, the "chief scientist" for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, admits that the prohibition of drugs makes it much more difficult for public health researchers and law enforcement to study and keep track of them.

In discussing a new research technique that could enable law enforcement to determine where and how a given sample of marijuana was grown, Murray reveals his true awareness that taxing and regulating the plant would contribute to a better understanding of its effects and would bankrupt some the armed and violent gangs that currently make a big hunk of change distributing it on the black market.

Meanwhile, Dr. Murray is optimistic that the Marijuana Signature Project will help the agency better understand and control the flow of the drugs.

“We can’t go out and find this information because it’s an illegal activity where they shoot you in the back alley if you try to find out,” Dr. Murray said. “Today we’re making guesses. This will guide us toward a scientific basis.”

Can someone remind me why it makes sense to cede control of marijuana and other drugs to cartels and gangs instead of actually regulating the market?


photo: NYT

Monday, August 20, 2007

DARE Officer Method Man?

If you're a student at one of 15 select Brooklyn high schools, you might get an anti-drug lesson from Method Man soon.

That's right, the rap superstar has agreed to teach students about the dangers of drugs as part of a plea deal stemming from an arrest earlier this year when Mr. Johnny Blaze himself was caught with marijuana smoke emanating from his car.
According to defense attorney Peter Frankel, Method Man -- real name Clifford Smith-- "is thrilled to do it." Frankel added that his client has "never been in trouble before. He's not a stereotypical rapper."
For realz, I hope Method Man drops some real knowledge on those shorties in the schools, Safety First and Beyond Zero Tolerance style. We don't need none of them whack scare tactics.

Come to think of it, I bet Method Man could team up with Retro Bill, the "Official DARE Safety Buddy," for a major motion picture...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Indictment of drug prohibition in today's WashPost

Former BBC reporter Misha Glenny has an excellent piece on the front page of today's Washington Post Outlook section. In this devastating deconstruction of the War on Drugs, Glenny definitely makes the case for ending prohibition.

Here's a tasty taste.
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.

...

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.

From "The Lost War" by Misha Glenny (Washington Post; Sunday, August 19, 2007).

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Drug War is working!

I don't know about you, but I'm instilled with a deep sense of trust and respect for our nation's Drug War Czars and Generals when I read headlines like this:
More Kids Say Drugs a School Problem
August 16, 2007

Sixty-one percent of U.S. high-school students say that drugs are a problem in the schools, up from 44 percent in 2002, according to a new survey from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.

The Associated Press reported Aug. 16 that 31 percent of middle-school students also cited drugs as a school problem, up from 19 percent in the same time period.

At the same time, however, students' perception of drug use as a problem has waned: 24 percent of those surveyed said it was their top concern, down from 32 percent in 1995. Moreover, about 6 in 10 parents whose kids attend a school with a perceived drug problem said that the goal of creating a drug-free school is not realistic.
Well, look at the good news. At least 6 out of 10 parents don't have their heads up their asses.

As Drug WarRant's Pete Guither likes to say:
Some days it feels like I'm watching a house on fire. And one idiot wants to put it out with a machine gun. The other one wants to use grenades. And I'm standing there with a bucket of water and they look at me like I'm crazy.

Amen, Pete.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Even Customs Agents Hate Souder

Yesterday morning I flew back to Washington, DC from a weekend long Canada SSDP Board retreat in Toronto. Any time I have to go through customs, I know I'll be faced with the inevitable, "What do you do for work?" question at customs. In my seven years working in drug policy, I've never encountered a customs agent who had a problem with my work.

While going through customs yesterday, I told the customs agent where I work and he asked what SSDP does. I explained we were working to overturn a law that denies financial aid to students with drug convictions. The agent raised his eyebrows, looked at me, and responded, "Whoever came up with that law must be out of their mind!" He then went on a rant about how people who are trying to overcome addiction need an education in order to succeed, and that whoever created this law wasn't thinking long term.

Of course, I informed the agent that the man responsible for the law is Representative Mark Souder from Indiana. His reply: "Well, he's not very bright. Good luck with your campaign."

With that, he stamped my passport and wished me a good day.

Monday, August 06, 2007

We're number one, baby!


I think our friend Alex from the National Youth Rights Association said it best in the comments section of our Speed Grant:
Congrats guys, the SSDP machine is impressive. :)
Thanks Alex! What can I say?

However, let's not get complacent. There's still 8 days left in the competition... keep inviting your friends to vote for SSDP!

(Don't know what the hell I'm talking about? Read my earlier post.)

Are you on Facebook?

If it took just one minute to help Students for Sensible Drug Policy win a $1,000 grant, and you didn't have to donate a single penny out of your own pocket, wouldn't you do it?

Well, now you can. Facebook has a new Speed Granting application that allows organizations to win grants based solely on how many votes they get! And over the past few days, SSDP shot up from last place all the way to second place, and we are currently about 10 votes shy of overtaking the front-runner!

If we win, the money will go directly to supplying materials to our chapters for a national Day of Action to repeal the law that takes away financial aid from students with drug convictions.

Please take a brief moment to help SSDP win this grant. Here's what you can do to help:

1) Click here.

2) Allow the application to install itself in your facebook profile (don't worry, this won't install anything on your computer, and you can remove the application from your profile after the contest is over).

3) Click the "Vote for this" link on the right side of the page and confirm your vote.


Thank you! Since we are neck and neck with the front-runner, your vote helps a lot. However, if you have a little more time to help out today or this week (the contest ends on August 14th), here are some ways you can ensure that SSDP wins...

4) Invite your friends to vote for SSDP! The Speed Granting application allows you to send a message to ten friends at a time and invite 40 friends a day, so please do this four times today.

5) Click the "Share+" button to post it to your profile.

6) Invite more of your friends over the next week. Spread the word however you can (e-mail, instant messenger, posting on friends' walls, word of mouth, etc)!

Thanks so much. Remember, with your help, we will soon have $1,000 that will go directly toward repealing the law that has taken away financial aid from nearly 200,000 people with drug convictions.

Cast your vote today!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

WashPost on the One Hitters

Marijuana Lobbyists? They're Smokin' the Competition!

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Sunday, August 5, 2007; Page D03

So, listen, Barry Bonds: We've got, like, a completely new way of thinking about this whole debate on controlled substances in athletics that will totally blow your mind.

The new team in first place in the Congressional Softball League? None other than Washington's marijuana lobbyists. Dude!

The One Hitters -- a team sponsored by Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and related advocacy groups -- had by last week amassed a 13-3 record and vaulted to the top of the league, which includes teams from the RNC, DNC, Justice, Customs and Border Protection Service and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

"This effectively shatters the notion that drug policy reformers are just a bunch of lazy 'stoners,' " SSDP's Tom Angell wrote to us.

This stereotype has plagued the team since it joined the league four years ago. "We've definitely heard some snickers. Teams come in thinking we're going to be pushovers," said executive director and team captain/starting pitcher Kris Krane. "We have a chip on our shoulder about it."

Two years ago, the team fielded by the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy refused to play the One Hitters -- first pleading scheduling problems but later copping to ideological concerns. Krane is still steamed: "We're contributing members of society. We're policy people who genuinely care about the impact the war on drugs is having on our nation, and we're trying to dispel some of the stereotypes."

So: What's up with the name? Krane admitted that "it's sort of a double-entendre," alluding to small marijuana pipes. "We really didn't want to do anything to reinforce the stoner stereotype -- because we're not a bunch of stoners, we're policy wonks. But we decided to have some fun."

And when they celebrate after the game? "The only substances you'll find on our team is beer," Krane said.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Marijuana users okay for FBI, not for college

Ever used marijuana? If you recently graduated from high school, chances are you have. Oddly enough, the federal government denies college financial aid to students with drug convictions, but is now permitting marijuana users to join the FBI:
WASHINGTON — Aspiring FBI agents who once dabbled in marijuana use won't be barred from getting a job with the elite crime-fighting agency, which has loosened its drug policy amid a campaign to hire hundreds of agents.

The bureau's pot-smoking standard, in place for at least 13 years, was revised after internal debate about whether the policy was eliminating prospects because of drug experimentation, said Jeff Berkin, deputy director of the FBI's Security Division. The policy disqualified candidates if they had used marijuana more than 15 times.

[...]

Berkin said the previous policy was based on a scoring system that had become "arbitrary." He also said it created problems for applicants who couldn't remember how many times they had smoked pot when asked in polygraph examinations.

"It encourages honesty and allows us to look at the whole person," Berkin said of the revised policy.
Makes sense to me. Perhaps we can get the FBI to sign on as a member of the Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform.

New ONDCP Ad Will Blow Your Mind!

Since the ONDCP's anti-marijuana ads consistently go from dumb to dumber, they may as well just save tax dollars and air the ones they find after a YouTube search for marijuana commercial parody.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Feds Take Away Children of CA Dispensary Owner

A few years ago this story probably would have astonished me, but today, I'm used to hearing how the federal government will enforce laws to the extreme just because they can. Ronald Bradley Naulls is the owner of Healing Nations Collective in Corona California and at age 26 could be sentenced to 20 years in prison for distributing medical marijuana. Not only was Naulls arrested but so was his wife on suspicion of child endangerment and their 3 children have been taken away to child protective services.


Naulls put it perfectly saying that he is "caught in a fight between the state and federal government." Naulls has pleaded not guilty to charges of drug trafficking. He and his family are merely a casualty of the drug war and the stubbornness of the federal government. It should be so easy to see that this man was helping to bring relief to over 5,000 patients and his actions harmed no one. Now his family is being pointlessly separated and he could spend the next 20 years of his life behind bars, with our tax dollars paying for it.

Related news: T
he Los Angeles City Council approved plans Wednesday to limit new medical marijuana dispensaries, regulate existing ones and urge a moratorium on recent clinic raids by federal agents!

BREAKING: SSDP better than Congress at sports

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 2, 2007

Drug War Foes are Kings of Capitol Hill Softball League

“One Hitters” Dispel Stoner Stereotypes By Earning League’s #1 Spot

WASHINGTON, DC – The One Hitters, a softball team sponsored by Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, took over the #1 ranking in the Congressional Softball League last night. The team’s 13-3 record has vaulted them to the top of the league, which is made up of Congressional offices, lobbying and consulting firms, non-profit organizations, and local businesses.

Team leaders are especially proud of the ranking, which contradicts negative stereotypes of drug policy reformers as unmotivated “stoners.” “The drug policy reform community is made up of dedicated, hardworking people who take the issues of drug abuse and drug prohibition very seriously,” said One Hitters captain and SSDP Executive Director Kris Krane. “We take pride in fielding a fun but competitive team that dispels myths and stereotypes about people who care about ending the so called ‘War on Drugs.’”
The One Hitters have competed in the league for five years. Two years ago they made national headlines when the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy refused to play a game due to ideological reasons. “Everyone knows that ONDCP backed out because they were scared of losing to us on the field, much the same way they are afraid to debate us because their policies fail in the court of public opinion,” said center fielder David Guard, who is associate director of the Drug Reform Coordination Network. “We have an open challenge to the Drug Czar to play or debate anytime, anywhere.”

Other teams in the league include the Republican and Democratic National Committees (RNC & DNC Softball), Arizona Senators McCain and Kyl (No Talent AZ Clowns), the Department of Justice (Vote for Pedro), US Customs & Border Protection (Border Liners), Representatives Cummings and Sarbanes (Baltimore Oracles), Bloomberg News (Bloomberg Bombers), Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (Team PhRMA), and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (Outfielders).

*** The One Hitters' next game is against the No Talent AZ Clowns on Tuesday, August 7 at 6:30PM on 23rd and Constitution. ***

The One Hitters are a team in the Congressional Softball League sponsored by Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, with players representing a variety of drug policy organizations including the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, and the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative.

# # #

Update: The One Hitters are now offering a line of One Hitters apparel!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Do as We Say, Not as We Do!

While I do not support the random drug testing of anybody in the good ol' US of A, I have to say I liked the proposal made by a Camden County Commissioner asking that all board members take drug tests. The reason behind Commissioner Mike Andrews' motion is that if the board wants students to submit to random testing, they should be willing to do so as well.
"We as elected officials are depended upon by the citizens of our county to be leaders and also to set good examples for the children," he said. "I make a motion that from now on all members of this board, as a show of good faith and leadership, submit to random drug and alcohol testing and that these tests ... be carried out by an agency outside of the county to prevent and appearance of improperness, such as the State Bureau of Investigation."
It's not surprising that the board members voted his proposal down 3-1. Why should they have to suffer the embarrassment of pissing in a cup while someone listens intently to every squirt and drop? Why should they have to be punished for testing positive for marijuana or other drug use? After all, clearly it is they're job to create these rules, not to abide by them. I think this shows just how backwards and hypocritical student testing really is.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Supplementing Stephen

Last night's Colbert Report... I am so jealous.

Well played, Aaron Houston. A courageous display of poise in the face of insurmountable, or at least yummy looking, Doritos.

Here is the article that launched Stephen's (that's Mr. Colbert to you) segment about hemp. To summarize, a flamboyantly conservative Republican who emphasizes just how shady he's not wants to legalize industrial hemp.

Here is an article that addresses the differences between marijuana and hemp, which I pulled off NORML's Industrial Use page.

And here, finally, is the Marijuana Policy Project, which Aaron represented so coolly. Don't stop at the home page - check out the action center to support medical marijuana, push for marijuana taxation and regulation, and cut off funding for our ONDCP buddies.

There. I did my homework. I wasn't just squealing about one of the three celebrities I go gaga over. (The others are Jon Stewart and Neil Gaiman. The latter writes books. Oh and then there's Rosario Dawson, she's hot. Anyway.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Attention heroes

I've emerged from my Potter fan stupor enough to notice that Aaron Houston, lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project, will appear on Comedy Central's "Colbert Report" tonight (11:30 p.m. EST).

In fact, who am I kidding? "Noticed." I'm just going to go ahead and paste Micah's message here:
Aaron is a long-time friend and adviser to SSDP's national staff. He has a great sense of humor and is always on message, so I'm optimistic that he'll be able to handle Colbert with poise (as few can). I hope you'll be able to tune in. If you miss it tonight, ComedyCentral posts videos of the show the day after it airs.

Thanks, Micah.

We'll see if he can indeed "handle Colbert with poise", or if he'll get totally slammed by all the oh-so-witty marijuana puns and insinuations that he's high.

P.S. Stephen I have a mite of a crush on you. I know that lots of women (and men) find your manly patriotic aura of sexy truthiness totally irresistible, so this doesn't exactly stand out, but I thought I'd send my humble love over the blogosphere anyway. You slam that ganja-guzzling flower child.

p.p.s. Drug policy reform movement, forget I said that. We say crazy things when we're in crush.

Throwing rocks into the political pond

Someone please remind me why he's considered the "crazy" presidential candidate...


Oh yeah...


;-)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Teachers for sensible drug policy...

This is in no way nearly as important as getting John Walters to resign for illegally supporting 2006 Republican campaigns on taxpayer money (see these three posts). So I humbly request that you kindly take action on that issue before guffawing and/or muttering WTF at the picture below, which my good friend Nicholas Bishop provided as an illustration for this piece of sixth-grader devised silliness:


Love and peace indeed. Nice pin, Professor. Even if he does turn out evil, and even if no one else on this blog likes Harry Potter, at least he supports SSDP. (Did you take action yet?)

If John Walters were personally responsible for releasing HP spoilers, we could really get his goat. But I daresay that his corrupt actions and ideological campaigns that defy all sense of reason and compassion ought to rile up the public just as much, if not possibly more, than spoilers... even considering that it is the last book.

This is what illegal campaigning looks like...

"Drug Czar" John P. Walters with Representative Deborah Pryce in Columbus, Ohio, one of the "god awful places" Walters traveled to in order to illegally campaign for Republican members of Congress last year.

Tell Walters to resign.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Nation on Scooter Libby and nonviolent drug offenders

Katha Pollitt has an great, punchy column in the latest issue of The Nation. She uses President Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence as an opportunity to talk about the punishments that hundreds of thousands of Americans undergo every year after they are arrested for possession of marijuana or other drugs.

Writing to President Bush, Pollitt highlights the loss of student aid for college as a particularly devastating drug penalty:

But perhaps you are looking for one big compassionate gesture that would help a lot of people all at once and not require asking your friends and relatives embarrassing questions. With one stroke of your pen, you could pardon 200,000 young people. These are the youths who have fallen afoul of the drug provision of the 1998 Higher Education Act, which bars federal student aid to anyone convicted of a state or federal drug offense. That includes everything from government scholarships to work-study jobs. Unlike Libby, a middle-aged high-powered lawyer of considerable worldliness and wealth, these are just teenagers, who are famous for being idiots, and they violated laws that are broken every day by millions of normal, upstanding, productive citizens, including many Republicans. I don't think that can be said of lying to the FBI. Most people, even most Republicans, take that one pretty seriously. Also unlike Libby, these offenders have already paid their debt to society. Now they are dropping out of college, or not going--unless, of course, their parents can afford to pay full freight. Talk about unintended consequences--a law meant to warn kids away from drugs ends up keeping them out of college, but only if they're poor. You always say no child should be left behind. Pardon them, and people might begin to believe you actually mean it.

It's true. Students who rely on financial aid to pay for school are often forced to drop out immediately after being convicted of a drug offense, while the well-to-do often 1) can afford a good lawyer to avoid a conviction in the first place or 2) know someone who can commute their sentence.

If you think it's best that students with drug convictions stay in school and on the path to success - regardless of how you feel about Messrs. Bush and Libby - you can easily send a letter to your legislators asking them to overturn the aid elimination penalty.

Partisan Republican Drug Czar must resign

As we reported earlier, Congressional investigators have uncovered White House e-mails and documents showing that the U.S. Drug Czar and other staffers from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) spent taxpayer money traveling around the country to campaign for embattled Republicans in the months leading up to the 2006 elections.

In an e-mail from ONDCP White House liason Doug Simon, he commends Karl Rove for orchestrating the operation, and thanks other members of his office, including Drug Czar John Walters, "because they actually had to give up time with their families for the god awful places we sent them."

With such disdain for those districts coming from the Republican administration, is it really any wonder that Democrats swept Congress last November?

And it is not only offensive that an someone charged with crafting sensible policies to address the serious harms of drug abuse and drug prohibition would waste government resources and time on partisan politics, it is a blatant violation of the federal Hatch Act.

Hrmmm... political appointees abusing their office for partisan purposes. Sound familiar?

Please join us in calling for the Drug Czar to resign in the wake of this outrageous scandal. Just enter your e-mail address below and the rest of your info on the following page. A letter will be sent directly to the Drug Czar. And your members of Congress - who control ONDCP's budget - will be copied on the message.

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Even if the Drug Czar doesn't listen to us, our lawmakers who are CC'ed on our messages will have to. Take action now!