Tag: Drug policy of the United States

Your Christ Christie Common Sense Porn of the Day

After a rough week with the Presidential candidates … man, I could use me some Chris Christie “common sense porn”.

I don’t see 100% eye-to-eye with the Governor on drugs, since he opposes medical marijuana and decriminalization. But the idea of treatment over prison for non-violent drug offenders is so sensible, so humane, so … conservative that I was honestly moved by his words.

2016, Chris. We’re waiting for you.

Backing Off the War

Our War on Drugs is getting stupider and more corrupting by the minute. But … there may be some people out there who are not so dumb.

Flanked by former prisoners being trained at a food kitchen in Camden, [New Jersey Governor Chris] Christie called for expanding the state’s Drug Court Program — which offers non-violent drug addicts treatment and counseling rather than prison sentences — by making it mandatory for certain offenders.

About 8 percent of those who participate in the drug courts, which are available statewide and accept about 1,400 new participants each year, are convicted again — as compared to 43 percent of drug offenders released from prison, statistics show. Also, drug court participants cost taxpayers about $11,379 a year, as opposed to the $38,900 for the average prison inmate.

Through an executive order, Christie also created a task force that will, for the first time, coordinate the state’s programs to help prisoners return to normal life.

“We’re not giving people the skills they need, and we’re not giving them the treatment they need to overcome some of the problems that led them to crime in the first place,” Christie told a small crowd at Cathedral Kitchen in Camden, which serves food to the city’s poor and needy.

I have thought for some time that if we are ever going to end the War on Drugs, the impetus for it has to come from the Right. Democrats are too spineless to expose themselves politically. Only Nixon could go to China. Only Clinton could reform welfare. Only Republicans can back off a war on our own people.

Note particularly the cost savings. The Drug War is fucking expensive. Prisons, guards, cops — they cost money. People who go from smoking a joint to full-time criminality cost money and deprive us of working taxpayers. Treating people’s addictions is both cheaper and more effective.

Even the current GOP front-runner, a notorious drug warrior who thinks we should model our policies off of Singapore and drug test for federal benefits, is starting to get the hint.

It has always struck me that if you’re serious about trying to stop drug use, then you need to find a way to have a fairly easy approach to it and you need to find a way to be pretty aggressive about insisting–I don’t think actually locking up users is a very good thing. I think finding ways to sanction them and to give them medical help and to get them to detox is a more logical long term policy.

The day we realize that this country’s drug problem is, first and foremost, a medical problem, we will have taken a step back from the abyss. It’s good to see that a few people are starting to get it.

The Two Americas

Maggie McNeill has a post up today about Judge Jack Camp.

One year ago today I reported the story of Jack T. Camp, a federal judge in Atlanta, Georgia who made a career of throwing the book at people for consensual crimes; he fell for a stripper whom the F.B.I. then bribed into betraying her client by promising to drop other consensual crime charges against her. So she led him into a fake drug deal and the FBI arrested him and charged him with an assortment of drug and weapon charges for which any normal person would’ve faced decades in prison. But since he is a member of the ruling class (albeit a disgraced one), what he actually got was far less time in jail than a Georgia woman who was accused of agreeing to have sex with someone for the “wrong” reasons (like, you know, to pay the bills and feed her kids) might have been sentenced to.

The story actually dates from March, when he was sentenced. The judge in the case — um, the one who didn’t deal drugs with a stripper — made huge pronouncements about Camp betraying his office, dissing the rules of law and then sentenced him to … 30 days in prison, a $1000 fine, 400 hours of community service and reimbursing the government for their costs. Needless to say, anyone in this situation who had not ““disgraced his office” or “denigrated the federal judiciary” or “encouraged disrespect for the law.” would have been with a far harsher punishment and likely be in prison for years.

So why do I bring up this 6-month old story? Because I was thinking today that a big part of the reason our government is so disconnected from reality is because almost all the people in it are. Our political class can not sympathize with our anger when we are groped and harassed by TSA because it doesn’t happen to them when they’re on chartered flights. They ramp up the War on Drugs because their kids aren’t going to prison if they’re busted, their friends aren’t being busted on New York streets. Hell, they can talk about their drug use in a book and be praised for their “candor”. While bodies are hitting the floor in warrantless no-knock drug raids, they’re screaming blue murder when a warrant is executed on William Jefferson’s Rayburn office. They support the Patriot Act but how often are they subject to sneak-and-peeks? How often do their phones get tapped? And when it comes to the War on Whores, was Elliot Spitzer prosecuted for anything? Would any of them be?

It’s not just that people in power are held to the different standards than we are; it’s that they live in a different country. They live in a country that treats them with utter deference. Even when they egregiously break the law — especially sin laws on drugs and sex — they are coddled and swaddled, punished less severely than we are for, say, biking the wrong way down a street. And I have seen zero evidence that they have earned such special treatment.

We need to push them on this. Any politician who defends TSA needs to be ignored until he submits to a groping. Drug Warriors should be laughed at until they agree to some no-knock raids and sneak-and-peeks. And just like politicians who thunder on about gays should be assumed to be closet cases until proven otherwise, politicians who scream about prostitution should be assumed to be Client 9’s.

We The People

Obama is running for re-election now, so it’s time to drum up his populist support. To that end, his staff have launched a site called We the People, which allows the public to submit petitions online. If any get over 5,000 signatures, they’ll be forwarded to the President for an “official response”, which I’m guessing means they’ll stimulate the economy as discount toilet paper.

(Actually, I suspect the purpose is to get mailing lists, as you need an official Whitehouse.gov account to sign.)

Anyway, someone at the White House is clearly not familiar with this whole internet thing. You can get 5000 people to sign up for anything. I guarantee I could get 5000 signatures asking the President to wear a cheerleader outfit at press conferences. And that would probably have a greater likelihood of happening than what’s leading the pack:

Days into its launch, there are already eight petitions that will warrant a response from the White House per its own rules. The site appears to have attracted civil libertarians, pro-marijuana advocates, and atheists. The most popular petition with almost 20,000 signatures petitions the gov to “Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol.” The petitioner writes: “Marijuana prohibition has resulted in the arrest of over 20 million Americans since 1965, countless lives ruined and hundreds of billions of tax dollars squandered and yet this policy has still failed to achieve its stated goals of lowering use rates, limiting the drug’s access, and creating safer communities. Isn’t it time to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol?”

A petition created yesterday calling for the abolition of the TSA has already garnered over 7,000 signatures.

Those numbers are now up to 37,000 and 21,000. And this understates the case. Four more petitions on marijuana have over 10,000 votes each. Also trending high is the Sholom Rubashkin case, removing “Under God” from the pledge and ending software patents.

As I said, the President would ignore this anyway. But he’ll doubly ignore it now that pot is leading the charge. This President is turning out to be a major drug warrior and, considering his own history, a first class hypocrite. He’s laughed when this question has come up before because apparently ruining people’s lives, raiding legal clinics and taking relief away from people dying of cancer is funny. Personally I don’t find it amusing that 90% of pot busts in NYC are of black people even when they’re not smoking 90% of the pot. But if SWAT teams busting down people’s doors makes Obama giggle, that’s his problem.

However, reading through the list makes me proud of my fellow netizens. Almost every petition can be sorted into the “Get the fuck off my lawn” category of political thought. The most popular “gimme gimme gimme!” petition is one calling for mandatory spay-and-neuter laws. I’d be fine with that if it were applied to politicians, but they apparently want to apply it to animals. Well, other animals. More ethical animals.

Escalating the War on Pot

You know what? Obama is kind of a dick sometimes:

The Department of Justice sent out a memo today instructing the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration and leading officials in the U.S. Attorneys Office to treat medical marijuana shops as top priorities for prosecutors and drug investigators.

The memo, authored by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, “clarifies” a memo released in 2009 that declared medical marijuana sales in states that have legalized it to be a low priority for law enforcement and prosecutors. The so-called “Ogden memo” first appeared to drug law reformers as evidence that Pres. Obama was dialing back the war on drugs. The DEA and U.S. Attorneys office continued to go after state-legal grow operations and marijuana shops after the memo was first circulated, leading reformers to conclude that Obama was lying when he said on the campaign trail that he had no interest in going after medical marijuana.

The Ogden memo advised DEA’s and USA’s to back off from legal pot shops unless they were tied to organized crime or other illegal activities, like prostitution. It wasn’t followed by everyone, but there was a drop in busts. What they’re doing now is narrowing the Ogden memo so that it just means that law enforcement officials won’t drag actual patients with tubes dangling into prison. But they will go after anyone who grows or sells it, even if the are specifically authorized by the state: Here’s a direct quote:

Persons who are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities, are in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, regardless of state law. Consistent with resource constraints and the discretion you may exercise in your district, such persons are subject to federal enforcement action, including potential prosecution. State laws or local ordinances are not a defense to civil or criminal enforcement of federal law with respect to such conduct, including enforcement of the CSA. Those who engage in transactions involving the proceeds of such activity may also be in violation of federal money laundering statutes and other federal financial laws.

In other words, you could end up getting smacked with RICO because your wife runs a legal, licensed medical marijuana shop.

It is clear that Obama does not have the stones to do the right thing (not that this is any surprise). And it is equally clear that the federal law enforcement industrial complex is too deeply committed to this. DEA agents, US attorneys, the IRS — these guys are evaluated by how many people they bust and put in jail, not how much justice they create.

Enough. It’s time to rally the troops behind the Paul-Frank bill that would end this disaster. It’s time to return marijuana law to the states, where it should have been all along. Maybe the bill doesn’t have a chance. But it will force Obama and his fellow travelers to admit that they have a hard-on for taking medicine away from sick people, that they have zero respect for the states and for individual liberty.

I’m tired of this battle being fought in the dark, with secret memos and nebulous laws. It’s time to turn on the spotlights and make these fuckers run for cover.