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Saturday, December 30, 2006

This Year on Drugs

posted by on December 30 at 14:10 PM

a year on drugs.jpg

Despite drugs’ appeal and merry-making capabilities, most news about drugs is an unmitigated downer. Poor saps get screwed while rich sports pros walk free; the DEA jerks off about the number of crack-heads they bust while the White House whips parents into rabid hysteria over the next pandemic. Jeezus criminy. We all know our drug policy and propaganda are failing. But will things ever get better?

Looking back on the year, several stories and developments stand out as faint lights at the end of a tunnel, giving hope that the Drug War’s lock-`em-up prescript will crumble under its onerous weight, and that the movement for reform will deliver policies rooted in science, compassion, and frugality. Other stories simply stand out like gruesome traffic accidents you can’t help but check out one more time in your rear view mirror.

Here are some of the inspiring highlights - and the horrifying lowlights of 2006:

White Out: Meth was declared a national epidemic, and gabby news anchors couldn’t stop flashing pictures of toothless vagabond tweakers and the remnants of apartment laboratories that allegedly exploded without warning. Parents now must recite the alphabet backwards in Gaelic to buy Sudafed and hunters are warned to avoid shooting near unfamiliar trailers lest Hoquiam is inadvertently detonated like Hiroshima.

Alaska Rules: Alaska's Supreme Court smacked down their penalty-pushing Governor and upheld a privacy clause in the state's constitution, thereby allowing adults to keep an ounce of pot in their home. This suggests we could see similar rulings in states with comparable privacy laws next year.

Good Man: Kirkland's Roger Goodman, former chair of the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines Commission and director of the Drug Policy Project at the King County Bar Association, was elected to represent the 45th District in the state legislature. In what turned out to be a costly mistake, an opposition campaign sent swing-district voters several beautiful, glossy mailings labeling him an aggressive advocate of reforming drug policy, helping to earn the Democratic Goodman more than 54% of the vote.

Time Will Tell: Five locales, including San Francisco and Missoula County, hatched laws to de-prioritize marijuana enforcement. These local laws are like policy incubators (cloned from Seattle's Initiative 75) that could fledge into statewide decriminalization.

Time Out: The City of Seattle funded Clean Dreams, a vanguard program to get shady folks out of arrest's way by helping them get on their feet and out of financial desperation. If the proliferations of laws like I-75 are an indication, pre-arrest-diversion programs like Clean Dreams may start popping up around the country.

License to Ill: Medical marijuana dispensaries were raided left and right in California, sparking a legal brouhaha. Among other litigation, county governments are challenging the constitutionality of the California ID cards that grant pot patients immunity from prosecution. If the counties win, the legal precedent could invalidate all state medical marijuana laws - forcing chemo patients to choose between tossing their cookies or getting tossed in the slammer.

Cutting Class: Prompted by an impending class-action lawsuit, Congress scaled back the Drug Provision of the Higher Education Act. As a result, thousands of students who would otherwise have been denied college funding for hitting the bong can start hitting the books.

Smoke on the Water: The Seattle Hempfest tackled the City and the Art Museum with a lawsuit after officials dilly-dallied over the permit application for the event's annual waterfront venue. Once securing the permit out of court, Hempfest sprinted to make a touchdown with its largest event ever (and the most populous pot rally in world history) while dropkicking David Schmader into Electric Lady Land.

Pipe Dreams: Two state initiatives that would have basically legalized marijuana, one in Colorado and one in Nevada, went up in proverbial smoke earning a depressing 41% and 44% of the vote respectively. This means people should make sure they can win before filing dreamy initiatives and getting our hopes up.

God as Their Witness: The US Supreme Court ruled that members of the Union of the Vegetable (a trippy church) could use ayahuasca (a trippy vegetable) for spiritual purposes, building the stairway to a religious drug use defense.

RSS icon Comments


I'm from Hoquiam, and there is no myth in the thought that if you set off a bottle rocket in town that there is a 99% chance that it will hit either a church or a meth lab.

Posted by Joh | December 30, 2006 3:15 PM

It's true. I normally default Republican or skip the race entirely if there's no third-party candidate on the ticket, but the opposition fliers strongly turned my vote to Goodman this time around. I hope he can do exactly what they warned he would.

Posted by BC | December 30, 2006 4:48 PM

There was a story in the PI today about the DEA burning a big pile of pot in the woods somewhere or something. I thought, Yep, that's the end of pot around here! When are the daily papers going to start reporting on the futility of all these pot busts, burns, convictions? Perhaps a nod in the report to the fact that we've read this report a million times before and... what do you know? Pot is still available all over town, cheaper, more potent.

Posted by Dan Savage | December 30, 2006 7:40 PM

The cops get away with the "burning confiscated pot" story for two reasons. First, assignment editors (and I used to be one at KING TV in the not-so-recent past) are lazy fucks. The other is that cops & prosecutors are also sources, so you do them the favor of covering their stupid-shit weapons display or pot burn because you need their cooperation on other stuff.

Posted by Ronald Holden | December 31, 2006 9:42 AM

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