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Monday, December 31, 2007

This Year on Drugs

posted by on December 31 at 15:00 PM

Most drug news sucks. It’s either a starlet snorting lines or a linebacker getting stoned. And both fuckers say how bad they feel and get off the hook. But these sorts of sin-to-redemption stories are irrelevant. This Year on Drugs endeavors to cover the top ten significant developments and entertaining tragedies of 2007. And, no, Amy Winehouse doesn’t make the cut.

marijuana_arrests_chart.jpg

All Time High: A report released by the FBI in September shows pot arrests continued to climb, reaching an annual record of 829,625, at a cost of roughly $8 billion, in 2006. That’s a six percent increase from the previous year—out of proportion with population growth or the rate of use. The Census Bureau estimates the US population increased by only one percent that year. The rate of pot use has remained comparatively stable since the 1980s.

Your tax dollars at work.

Legal Aliens: It’s unclear what test group approved ads depicting a crayon animation girl dumping her stoner boyfriend for a sober Martian. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill were as nonplussed by the bizarre scenario in the drugs ads as the rest of us—so the Democratically controlled Congress slashed the White House’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign budget by 40 percent from the previous year, to less than half of Bush’s request.

us_mexican_drug_cartels.jpg

Cartel Violence: Mexican President Felipe Calderón decided to step up the drug war with alarming consequences. A record 2,500 people were killed by cartels—which specifically targeted musicians, politicians, and police. Undaunted by the apparent relationship between escalating drug enforcement and a rise in organized crime, Calderón is seeking an additional $1.4 billion from the U.S. in 2008 for Plan Mexico. The name is borrowed from the US-funded Plan Colombia, which failed to curb cocaine production but made that country one of the most violent places on earth.

cat_nip_nap.jpg

Field of Dreams: Afghanistan yielded a record crop of heroin poppies, supplying a whopping 92 percent of the world's opium, despite (and in part because of) an unprecedented US and NATO military presence there. With the popularity in the US of meth ebbing and a crackdown on Oxycontin suppliers, don’t be surprised if 2008 brings a wave of hipsters biting the bullet while chasing the dragon.

Shorter Sentences: The Supreme Court eliminated mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. The court’s logic was based on the 100-to-one disparity of the length of crack-to-cocaine sentences (possession of five grams of crack cocaine mandated the same minimum sentence as 500 grams of powder cocaine), causing African Americans to serve longer prison sentences for essentially the same crime. Expect a rush in 2008 for appeals to retroactively commute sentences.

kill_bill.jpg

Spell check, you fucking stoners.

Send Patients the Bill: Olympia lawmakers passed a bill clarifying Washington’s fucked up medical marijuana law. As it stood, there was no allowable quantity of pot that patients could possess to remain in compliance with the law, so patients were routinely arrested and forced to make their defense in court. A handful of irate pot patients, insisting that the bill would limit their god-given right to smoke as much blessed herb as they want, protested lawmakers and nagged the press. But the legislature overwhelmingly approved the bill, requiring the state’s Department of Health to issue those guidelines in 2008.

Ron Paul: His savvy opposition to the drug war duped gullible techies, who like to smoke pot while coding and take ecstasy on the weekend, into believing a Republican douche bag was their savior. w00t!

Chemo and Junkies: New Mexico refused to be square. The state enacted two unprecedented drug-policy reform bills. The first makes New Mexico the 12th state to allow medical marijuana, but unlike other med-pot laws, this one requires the state to create a marijuana distribution program. Expect a showdown with the feds in 2008 over whether a state government can operate a marijuana program that violates the federal Controlled Substance Act. Also, New Mexico’s legislature passed a “Good Samaritan” bill, which provides 911 callers who report drug overdoses immunity from drug possession charges.

meth_teeth.jpg

White Lies: Never mind that amphetamines have been popular since the ’60s, America was beat over the head with the idea that meth is a new threat to our nation. A slew of ads bought by the White House, and targeted in progressive regions of the western states, insisted that trying meth “even once” would turn ordinary people into toothless vagabonds. However, most users of meth—a genuinely freaky drug—come down with a full set of teeth. In 2005, considered the peak of the meth epidemic, 10.3 million Americans had tried methamphetamine at least once. Of those 10.3 million, only 1.3 million used methamphetamine in the previous year, and only 512,000 used it within the last 30 days. So, obviously, while doing meth once is not advisable, the ads are more of the failed "Just Say No" propaganda designed to incite fear, not improve public health.

Marijuana’s Gay Marriage? Equal rights for same-sex couples didn’t seem realistic until the landmark Massachusetts Supreme Court’s ruling in 2004. But Mass may be the cradle of the revolution again when an initiative that qualified for the ballot in 2007 reaches the voting booths in 2008. If it passes, the state will be the first to decriminalize marijuana since the ‘70s, making possession of up to an ounce punishable by a mere $100 fine.

RSS icon Comments

1

The biggest jump by far in those arrests came under Clinton, not GWB. Expect more of the same under Clinton II.

Posted by Fnarf | December 31, 2007 3:09 PM
2

"If you smoke pot an alien will steal your girlfriend?" WTF? Talk about surreal.

Maybe the drugs made the cartoonist paranoid.

Posted by Wolf | December 31, 2007 3:11 PM
3

There's be no aliens or pot in America if we had a good fence down there.

Posted by elenchos | December 31, 2007 3:25 PM
4

Nonplussed doesn't mean what you think it means.

Posted by keshmeshi | December 31, 2007 3:40 PM
5

'Plan ColUmbia'? Sorry for the spelling flame, but is it called that because the drugs came from British Columbia?

Posted by Natalie | December 31, 2007 3:45 PM
6

I was using it to mean perplexed, which is what it means, keshmeshi.

And thanks for the Colombia spell check. I usually get that right but I'm an idjit today.

Posted by Dominic Holden | December 31, 2007 3:45 PM
7

Well no mention of meth can be posted without the requisite, "Meth does not affect your teeth, it is the gallons of soda that meth users drink that destroy their teeth".

Still meth does take the crown for having the universally worse reporting.

Hey wasn't this the year of 'super-pot' or 'pot-zilla'? The pot that cannot be killed!

Posted by GDC | December 31, 2007 3:49 PM
8

Thank God I'm a dual citizen and can visit Canada whenever I darn well please.

Reminds me of prohibition ... and we all know how successful that was.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 31, 2007 3:59 PM
9

Mr. Holden,

Regarding the "spell check" comment under the pothead's sign...I might beg to recommend you perform a similar grammar check. In the sentence, "the ads are...designated to insight fear, not improve public health," the correct word is "incite," not "insight."

Posted by Paul | December 31, 2007 4:01 PM
10

FACT-CHECK! That ad is a parody, dude.

Posted by Kevin Erickson | December 31, 2007 4:02 PM
11

Kevin @ 10. If it's a parody, why is it on the ONDCP's Web site?

Posted by Dominic Holden | December 31, 2007 4:07 PM
12

Oh, the supreme irony:


"And thus we have a perfect oligarchical system in which, literally, our most powerful and well-connected elite are free to break the law with impunity, exempt from any consequences. While exempting themselves, these same figures impose increasingly Draconian 'law and order' solutions on the masses to ensure that even small infractions of the law prompt vigorous prosecution and inflexible, lengthy prison terms.


As Matt Stoller recently noted in an excellent post on the bipartisan orthodoxies that are untouchable in political debates, 'there are 1 million people put in jail for doing what Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George Bush have done' (buying and consuming illegal drugs) and '2 million people are in prison in America, by far the highest total of any other country in the world.' It's almost impossible for the non-rich to defend themselves effectively against government accusations of criminality, and judges have increasingly less sentencing discretion to avoid imposing harsh jail terms. Punishment for crimes is for the masses only, not for members in good standing of our political and corporate establishment.'

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/12/30/oligarchy/index.html

Posted by Original Andrew | December 31, 2007 4:57 PM
13

What's the deal with Stranger staffers and homonyms? So far this week we've had screw-ups with grisly/grizzly, aisles/isles, incite/insight, and Colombia/Columbia. But hey, who's counting? Seriously, if you guys want to write for a living, you need to get this stuff straight.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | December 31, 2007 5:22 PM
14

Dude, they're exercising their right to use the same leafy substance as President George Washington did ... that's what's up with it, @13 ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 31, 2007 5:28 PM
15

@12: yes.
And its not the "elite" in a vague sense who benefit: it is the Republicans.

Most of the persons charged and convicted for drug offenses are....African Americans. Only the most Democratic leaning set of voters.
Gee yet again this odd coincidence of loss of voting rights overlapping with minority and Democratic voters.

What could the explanation be?????

[Q: Why isn't drunk *driving* always a felony with automatic loss of voting rights ?
A: Come on -- lots of *Republicans* do that!]

Posted by Cleve | December 31, 2007 5:48 PM
16

Paul @9-

The insight/incite conundrum can "easily" be explored in the fanzine INCITE!

First to popularize the Magnetic Fields 45rpm and to later be commended by the finest music writer EVER 4 the StraNgeR, Everett True, this twee yellow rag was offered by the pop-insights of a 17th Century History of British Economics Graduate professor.

A recent headline "Soft is the New Hard" is hardly insightful, unless one wants to incite tired and well-worn path. Hey he's sacvinga the Earth- re re e recycleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee12e313fr3rgf

How does Kubla Khan relate to some pure, kind afghanistani, anyweigh Hioldwen?

Posted by BeE Kind tO Mi sol soll re faa fa la tii ti Wii we wiiweed | December 31, 2007 5:56 PM

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