B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘drug_laws’ tag

The Dude Abides – Reefer Gladness

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Big Lebowski

Timothy Egan has known Jeff Dowd, aka The Dude from The Big Lebowski, since before he had a film based on him. So what does The Dude think about California’s Proposition 19?

But before the Coen brothers applied the Los Angeles slacker-noir treatment to my old friend and made him a cult hero on college campuses, he was a man of often unintelligible but occasionally brilliant political insights.

And on Proposition 19, The Dude speaks truth to power. We talked about the opposition to legalizing pot — the alcohol industry and people currently making the most money off California’s nutty medicinal marijuana retail scheme.

“If you take out the special interests, the entrenched groups, with any of these issues — whether it’s energy, the financial sector, or legalized marijuana — it’s always very clear what the right thing to do is,” said The Dude.

He was echoing, in his way, an old truth of politics: that the best way to judge what’s really at stake in an election is to follow the money. And the source of the funds being used to dissuade Californians from legalizing pot says a lot about the end-stage hypocrisies of the arthritic war on drugs.

(click to continue reading Reefer Gladness – NYTimes.com.)

Write about love

and if we did follow the money, who are some of the organizations opposing the will of the people? Why, the beer and beverage distributors, and the people currently selling medical marijuana.

So, it’s not a bit surprising that one of the biggest contributors to the campaign against legalization is the California Beer and Beverage Distributors. Having branded their products with nearly every major American recreational ritual, Big Alcohol does not want marijuana to get a piece of that large pie of legal money spent to distract ourselves from ourselves.

The other major opponents appear, at first glance, to be somewhat of a surprise. The California Cannabis Association, representing medical marijuana dispensaries, has come out against legalization, claiming it would be “a direct assault on medical marijuana patients.”

Prop 19, in fact, would be a direct assault on the profits made by those dispensaries. A Rand Drug Policy Research Center study this summer found that the price for an ounce of pot could drop 90 percent — before a hefty tax — if it’s legalized in California. This is in part because the law would allow people to grow a small plot of their own weed, further cutting into the cartels — legal and illegal.

Crony capitalism has no boundaries

Written by Seth Anderson

September 30th, 2010 at 8:17 am

Posted in Business,politics

Tagged with ,

Drug decriminalization really works – Portugal’s example

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Gee, wonder if the US could try what Portugal did? Ten years of data should give some real insights, no?1

Mounted Police, Black Friars Lane

Time magazine reports that Europe’s most liberal drug policy has been a huge success. Not, as you might think, those hippie Dutch, but Portugal, where possession of all drugs for personal use was decriminalised in 2001.

A study by the Cato Institute (PDF), a libertarian think tank, has found that in the five years after decriminalisation, Portugal’s drug problems had improved in every measured way. The man behind the research, Glenn Greenwald, a lawyer, told Time:  “Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success.”

Portuguese policy is that possession of small amounts of any drug is not a criminal offence; if you are found possessing it, you can be put before a panel of a psychologist, social worker and legal adviser, who will decide appropriate treatment. You are free to refuse that treatment, and a jail sentence is not an option. Drug trafficking is still illegal and punishable by jail.

I’ll just go through the figures; apologies for the slew of statistics. Drug use among 13- to 15-year-olds fell from 14.1 per cent in 2001 to 10.6 per cent in 2006. Among 16- to 18-year-olds it has dropped from 27.6 per cent to 21.6 per cent. This, incidentally, has come after years of steadily increasing drug use among the young; between 1995 and 2001, use in the 16-to-18 bracket leapt up from 14.1 per cent to its 2001 high. This drop has come against a background of increasing drug use across the rest of the EU.

There has been a mild increase in use among older groups, 19-24 and up, but this is expected due to the rise in use in the young in the 1990s; it’s a “cohort effect”, meaning that young people get older, and take their habits with them. Further, HIV infections among drug users fell, drug-related deaths fell, there was a decrease in trafficking, and a huge amount of money was saved by offering treatment instead of prison sentences.

(click to continue reading Portugal drug decriminalisation ‘a resounding success’: will Britain respond? No. – Telegraph Blogs.)

Homeland Security Federal Protective Service Police

From Time Magazine:

But there is a movement afoot in the U.S., in the legislatures of New York State, California and Massachusetts, to reconsider our overly punitive drug laws. Recently, Senators Jim Webb and Arlen Specter proposed that Congress create a national commission, not unlike Portugal’s, to deal with prison reform and overhaul drug-sentencing policy. As Webb noted, the U.S. is home to 5% of the global population but 25% of its prisoners.

At the Cato Institute in early April, Greenwald contended that a major problem with most American drug policy debate is that it’s based on “speculation and fear mongering,” rather than empirical evidence on the effects of more lenient drug policies. In Portugal, the effect was to neutralize what had become the country’s number one public health problem, he says.

“The impact in the life of families and our society is much lower than it was before decriminalization,” says Joao Castel-Branco Goulao, Portugual’s “drug czar” and president of the Institute on Drugs and Drug Addiction, adding that police are now able to re-focus on tracking much higher level dealers and larger quantities of drugs.

(click to continue reading Decriminalizing Drugs in Portugal a Success, Says Report – TIME.)

The US officials are too concerned with playing politics with the drug war, and reaping the benefits of asset forfeiture, to actually seriously discuss changing the current farce of a system. Too many vested interests.

Footnotes:
  1. left British spelling as in original []

Written by Seth Anderson

September 28th, 2010 at 7:46 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

The Web Means Everything Is On Your Permanent Record

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I am lucky that I was a teen and finished college before the digital age. As far as I know, there are no permanent records of my exploits anywhere on the web, accessible by casual web searchers, or overzealous customs officials. Like most 19 year olds, I did some crazy stuff, participated in some questionable behavior with my peers, but never was actually arrested by law enforcement. Thankfully. Because otherwise, I’d worry…

Three Note Oddity

Four years ago, Stacy Snyder, then a 25-year-old teacher in training at Conestoga Valley High School in Lancaster, Pa., posted a photo on her MySpace page that showed her at a party wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup, with the caption “Drunken Pirate.” After discovering the page, her supervisor at the high school told her the photo was “unprofessional,” and the dean of Millersville University School of Education, where Snyder was enrolled, said she was promoting drinking in virtual view of her under-age students. As a result, days before Snyder’s scheduled graduation, the university denied her a teaching degree. Snyder sued, arguing that the university had violated her First Amendment rights by penalizing her for her (perfectly legal) after-hours behavior. But in 2008, a federal district judge rejected the claim, saying that because Snyder was a public employee whose photo didn’t relate to matters of public concern, her “Drunken Pirate” post was not protected speech.

When historians of the future look back on the perils of the early digital age, Stacy Snyder may well be an icon. The problem she faced is only one example of a challenge that, in big and small ways, is confronting millions of people around the globe: how best to live our lives in a world where the Internet records everything and forgets nothing — where every online photo, status update, Twitter post and blog entry by and about us can be stored forever. With Web sites like LOL Facebook Moments, which collects and shares embarrassing personal revelations from Facebook users, ill-advised photos and online chatter are coming back to haunt people months or years after the fact. Examples are proliferating daily: there was the 16-year-old British girl who was fired from her office job for complaining on Facebook, “I’m so totally bored!!”; there was the 66-year-old Canadian psychotherapist who tried to enter the United States but was turned away at the border — and barred permanently from visiting the country — after a border guard’s Internet search found that the therapist had written an article in a philosophy journal describing his experiments 30 years ago with L.S.D.

According to a recent survey by Microsoft, 75 percent of U.S. recruiters and human-resource professionals report that their companies require them to do online research about candidates, and many use a range of sites when scrutinizing applicants — including search engines, social-networking sites, photo- and video-sharing sites, personal Web sites and blogs, Twitter and online-gaming sites. Seventy percent of U.S. recruiters report that they have rejected candidates because of information found online, like photos and discussion-board conversations and membership in controversial groups.

(click to continue reading The Web Means the End of Forgetting – NYTimes.com.)

Land of the free, right.

Oh, and since Jeffrey Rosen didn’t specify the 66 year old Canadian psychologist who took LSD in 1967, his name is Andrew Feldmar, and I blogged about this travesty in 2007. He really was barred from entry to the US in May, 2007, because he wrote an article about his drug use – in 1967!

Written by Seth Anderson

July 21st, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Patent Office Snuffs Out High Hopes

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When will our country move beyond these petty rules and regulations for plants?

Hurry This Way Again

For three months until last week, marijuana dealers had something they could only dream of before: the apparent stamp of approval of a federal agency.

On April 1, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office created a new trademark category: “Processed plant matter for medicinal purposes, namely medical marijuana.” The patent office, part of the Department of Commerce, posted the new category on its website.

The patent-office change set off a land rush by pot dealers in the 14 states where laws permit medical-marijuana sales. Some staked claims on rights to long-used names like Maui Wowie and Chronic. Others applied to trademark business names such as Budtrader and Pot-N. Two companies applied to trademark psychoactive sodas named Keef Cola and Canna Cola.

“It looked like a positive step to me. We don’t have many steps by the federal government legitimizing medical cannabis,” said Steve DeAngelo, executive director of the Harborside Health Center medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif., who hired an intellectual-property lawyer to trademark his company name before the patent office created the new category.

But last week the patent office snuffed out the promise of federal recognition. On Tuesday, after questions about the new pot-trademark category from a Wall Street Journal reporter, a patent-office spokesman said the office planned to remove the new pot classification by week’s end, and the category is now off the website.

The spokesman, Peter Pappas, said the office’s lawyers were “aware” of the category weeks ago. “It raises examination issues,” Mr. Pappas said. “It was a mistake and we have removed it.”

(click to continue reading Patent Office Snuffs Out One Industry’s High Hopes – WSJ.com.)

Almost progress, almost.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 19th, 2010 at 9:25 am

Posted in government

Tagged with ,

Cannabis and Capitalism

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The uneasy dalliance between capitalism, government, and cannabis is most advanced in Colorado. There is real money to be made here, for bold entrepreneurs who are willing to trailblaze.

One of the odder experiments in the recent history of American capitalism is unfolding here in the Rockies: the country’s first attempt at fully regulating, licensing and taxing a for-profit marijuana trade. In California, medical marijuana dispensary owners work in nonprofit collectives, but the cannabis pioneers of Colorado are free to pocket as much as they can — as long as they stay within the rules.

A Green Stride Forward

The catch is that there are a ton of rules, and more are coming in the next few months. The authorities here were initially caught off guard when dispensary mania began last year, after President Obama announced that federal law enforcement officials wouldn’t trouble users and suppliers as long as they complied with state law. In Colorado, where a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana was passed in 2000, hundreds of dispensaries popped up and a startling number of residents turned out to be in “severe pain,” the most popular of eight conditions that can be treated legally with the once-demonized weed.

More than 80,000 people here now have medical marijuana certificates, which are essentially prescriptions, and for months new enrollees have signed up at a rate of roughly 1,000 a day.

As supply met demand, politicians decided that a body of regulations was overdue. The state’s Department of Revenue has spent months conceiving rules for this new industry, ending the reefer-madness phase here in favor of buzz-killing specifics about cultivation, distribution, storage and every other part of the business.

Whether and how this works will be carefully watched far beyond Colorado. The rules here could be a blueprint for the 13 states, as well as the District of Columbia, that have medical marijuana laws. That is particularly the case in Rhode Island, New Jersey, the District of Columbia and Maine, which are poised to roll out programs of their own.

Americans spend roughly $25 billion a year on marijuana, according to the Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, which gives some idea of the popularity of this drug. Eventually, we might be talking about a sizable sum of tax revenue from its sales as medicine, not to mention private investment and employment. A spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws says hedge fund investors and an assortment of financial service firms are starting to call around to sniff out opportunities.

(click to continue reading In Colorado, Pot-Selling Pioneers Try to Turn a Profit – NYTimes.com.)

And this is a pretty good model to follow, methinks:

Three Thousand Walgreens

If there is a historical precedent for what’s now happening in Colorado, it could be the 1920s and the era of Prohibition. During America’s dry age, the federal alcohol ban carved out an exemption for medicinal use, and doctors nationwide suddenly discovered they could bolster their incomes by writing liquor prescriptions.

Pharmacies, which filled those prescriptions, and were one of the few places whiskey could be bought legally, raked it in. Through the 1920s, the number of Walgreens stores soared from 20 to nearly 400.

Prohibition also enriched adventurous sorts at every level of booze production and consumption, from grape farmers and distillers to the owners of speakeasies. Many of them went on to earn legitimate fortunes once Prohibition was repealed.

Fascinating to see how far along the reform of our out-dated marijuana laws has come in the last few years. Of course, federal law still classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance – i.e., with no accepted medical or societal usage. When is that going to change? How many states have to reform their laws before the reactionaries in Congress act?

From Wikipedia:

(1) Schedule I.—

(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
(B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
(C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.”

Written by Seth Anderson

June 27th, 2010 at 10:14 am

Posted in government,health

Tagged with ,