You should check out this widget. Designed by the ACLU of Washington, it shows—with a map, pretty pie charts, and data—the county-by-county spending for marijuana enforcement in Washington State.
"People generally know that we’ve been wasting a lot of taxpayer money on the war on marijuana, but don’t have a good sense of how much," ACLU drug policy staffer mark Cooke explains. "They’ve rarely, if ever, had a chance to see the dollar figures." The full findings are result of dozens of records requests, Cooke says. And, of course, the data arrive just before voters will decide the fate of a fall ballot measure to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana.
Collectively, we've spent $211 million statewide from 2000 to 2010 on marijuana crimes, with the most populous counties spending the most. For example: Law enforcement agencies have spent $35 million in King County alone. The largest chucks, at around $9 million each, are for prosecution, defense, and arrests.
What's missing from this data is a sense of the rate of expense; for example, larger counties appear to spend less per resident on pot enforcement. In King County (population 1.9 million), we spent about $18.62 per resident on marijuana enforcement over the decade. But in far-less-populated, more-pot-bustin' places like Clark County—where they spent $10 million and have a population of only 425,000 people—they spent over $23 per resident over the decade. Or look at an even smaller county where there's fewer people but a ton of pot, like Okanagan, where they spent nearly $55 per resident.
As Cooke says, "The map lets everyone see how taxpayer money has been spent both around the state and in their own county." So take a look...
Well this explains something about The Stranger newsroom:
Teens who routinely smoke marijuana risk a long-term drop in their IQ, a new study suggests.
The researchers didn't find the same IQ dip for people who became frequent users of pot after 18. Although experts said the new findings are not definitive, they do fit in with earlier signs that the drug is especially harmful to the developing brain.
The study is being pushed hard by a group named—move over, all other cliches—"But What About the Children." I gotta admit, for an organization with a name that is literally an anti-drug talking point, they seem weirdly resigned to pot's eventual legality. Their slogan is, "Demand that policymakers who legalize marijuana guarantee the drug will not be marketed to children, like alcohol and tobacco are." Seems fair.
Funding for the study itself and But What About the Children's parent organization, National Families in Action, came in part by the federal government's National Institute on Drug Abuse... which is more or less in the business of warning people about the dangers of drugs. All that said, don't do drugs, kids. Look what happened to us.
Today, the Drug Enforcement Administration told 23 medical marijuana dispensaries—which have been visibly proliferating in the Seattle-area for last couple years—that they have one month to relocate outside of school zones. For those dispensaries that fail to move outside a 1,000-foot radius of schools, playgrounds, and other school zone areas, federal authorizes may raid the properties, seize their assets, and seek federal criminal charges, says a letter sent today by DEA agent Matthew Barnes.
"Your prompt attention to this matter is strongly advised," Barnes warns. (One of his letters to a dispensary is here.)
Agent Barnes adds that the federal government makes no criminal exceptions for marijuana, even it it's "medical," a word that his letter writes in italics and quotation marks.
If you ask me, the feds are being generous here. They don't have to tolerate any of these businesses, particularly when Washington State law doesn't explicitly allow dispensaries.
It's a three-day event now, and it starts on Friday. So you can go down to Hempfest in Myrtle Edwards park this evening or over the weekend. I'm gonna go and have a good time. But I think this is bullshit:
The pro-marijuana movement in Washington state is so splintered that Hempfest organizers are staying neutral on the legalization measure, Initiative 502.
Yes, Hempfest—the world's biggest pot legalization festival—has decided to sit out the most most sweeping, best-funded, well-organized legalization initiative campaign ever in the US. When it's in their state, no less. That's like gay pride staying neutral on this year's marriage equality referendum. Why can't they support the thing that the entire event is purportedly all about?
Hempfest director Vivian McPeak, a critic of I-502, said several staff members would have left the organization if it had taken sides on the measure. "It's painful and it's frustrating," McPeak said. "For Hempfest it's been sort of like navigating shark-infested waters."
I guess it's too much to expect a leader of the local pot movement to take a bold stand—for, uh, legalizing marijuana—if it requires navigating shark-infested waters. Unless he's one of the sharks against the initiative. But the case against I-502 is ridiculous. Thank god for rational minds:
"I'm actually sad that Hempfest isn't embracing this as sort of a pinnacle of the work that they've been doing for so long," said Alison Holcomb, campaign director for the I-502 campaign. "There have been so many people who have worked literally for decades to have a chance to begin to roll back marijuana prohibition ... and this is the year that we can finally break through that wall."
Anyhow, I love Hempfest for helping get us this far, even if it's dead wrong on I-502. So go this weekend. And vote yes on I-502.
Hempfest, the city's annual pot legalization hootenanny, has asked the Seattle Police Department for additional officers to patrol the festival this weekend, says Sergeant Sean Whitcomb.
"It's a surreal situation to be a marijuana festival and request more police at your event, but that's the situation we are in," Hempfest director Vivian McPeak says by phone. For sure, it's a man-bites dog story about an event that had no pot arrests last year but was marked 15 years ago by dozens of stoners led out of the park in handcuffs. But it also demonstrates just how well—maybe too well?—diplomatic relations have gone between Hempfest and police, and between pot activists and a city government (literally every elected official in Seattle is on record supporting pot legalization).
There's no particular threat to public safety, McPeak says. "Last year we felt that there wasn't as much of a presence inside the event as we would have liked, and we were just hoping for a few more patrols per day this year than we got last year," he explains. "There are just a lot of people down there and we like to feel that if something happens, the cops can get there quickly. We just want to err on the side of safety."
Yet in another strange twist, McPeak insists he didn't make the request, nor did Hempfest lawyer Fred Diamondstone. (SPD stands by the assertion that Hempfest did, in fact, request more cops.)
Regardless, the police department says it won't assign more officers. "We believe that we had adequate staffing for Hempfest 2011, and we believe that is going to be sufficient this year," Sergeant Whitcomb explains. "We will ensure that appropriate staffing is in place to ensure the safety of those attending the event."
The latest screed comes from Ezra Eickmeyer, a lobbyist for medical marijuana dispensaries, who claims that passing Initiative 502 to regulate and legalize marijuana would hurt patients and their industry. "Most access points would have to shut down," he warns on the pot blog Toke of the Town. Well, I suppose they're being honest about the industry's real concerns here: their own business. They also warn that the cost of medicine will go up, because cannabis sales would be taxed.
But like the industry's previous torrent of dishonest arguments, this is hooey.
I-502 doesn't change the medical marijuana laws on the books in Washington. All the rules for cannabis patients, care providers, doctors, medical pot cultivation, etc. will remain exactly the same as they are today if I-502 passes. Which is to say that the medical marijuana industry would continue to rest in a legal limbo, a gray area of the law that neither prescribes the right to run medical pot stores nor bans them. But it's illogical to suggest that legalizing pot for all adults would make pot more illegal for medical marijuana patients.
So the other crazy claims—like I-502 "Puts cannabis under the state liquor control board" or that prices will rise for patients up to 75 percent—don't really apply to folks with a doctor's note. Pot patients could keep going to dispensaries or grow their own, just as they do today. Eickmeyer and his cronies are apparently trying to scare patients and people sympathetic to patients. But the industry's concern here isn't patients. It's that a legal market for all adults will appeal to sick and non sick people alike, thereby cutting into the current medical pot industry's profits.
The most compelling stories belong to hot-shit '70s cover girl Patti Hansen. "She didn't really have boyfriends," Patti's friend told Michael. "She had hair and makeup guys who liked to hang out and party, and Patti was their star. Gay guys. One of them said to me, 'I'm looking for a man like Hansen.' I said, 'So's everybody.' She was big and strong. A photographer once came on to her, and she flipped him over her shoulder and knocked him out."
The state Department of Health has charged two naturopaths with unprofessional conduct for operating an “assembly line” practice of authorizing medical marijuana at last year’s Hempfest.
The charges, filed Tuesday, appear to be the first disciplinary action taken against a state medical professional for a medical marijuana authorization, said Tim Church, a DOH spokesman.
The two naturopaths, Carolyn Lee Bearss and Dimitrios Jimmy Magiasis, were featured in a Seattle Times story last August in which a reporter received a medical marijuana authorization for $150 at a Hempfest tent. Bearss recommended marijuana as treatment for the reporter’s lower-back pain without seeing medical records after an appointment that lasted 11 minutes.
For what it's worth, that reporter, Jonathan Martin, admits that he does suffer back pain that "flares up weekly."
UPDATE at 3:20 PM: Reached by phone, Sergeant Sean Whitcomb explains, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."
Seriously, just read the first sentence.
Then enjoy the mug shot.
Lena Whittle had just left her job last Sunday evening at a medical marijuana dispensary called the BOTH Collective on 10th Avenue, adjacent to the Capitol Hill Block Party, when she headed through the nearby festival gates. Expecting a routine security check, she handed over her backpack to a female security guard who started to go through the pouches and seized on a bag of marijuana.
"She said that I couldn't take these in with me, referring to my dried medicine," Whittle recalls the guard telling her. Asked to simply have the cannabis returned, the guard refused. Whittle explained that she was carrying her authorization from a licensed state medical professional. "She said that doesn't matter because it's not fully legal," Whittle recalls.
In fact, Washington State law allows legally authorized patients to possess up to "twenty-four ounces of useable cannabis."
Nonetheless, the security guard continued to search the bag, Whittle says, and eventually confiscated approximately eight grams of cannabis worth around $80 and refused to give it back. But does the Capitol Hill Block Party Party even have a policy against medical marijuana possession? Whittle suspects it doesn't.
"I felt like I was taken advantage of and my stuff was stolen from me," Whittle says, explaining that she left the event almost immediately afterward feeling flustered. "I didn't think that something the state says is medicine was a danger to anyone at the block party, but I was treated like a criminal."
Block Party organizers, who hire an independent security firm to work the gates, haven't yet responded to a request for comment. I'll up date this post if I hear back.
Posted by news intern Joseph Staten
Matthew Yglesias looks at a new book on the prospect of legal pot, which claims that marijuana legalized at the federal level could be given away like sugar packets:
...the authors note that “production costs for crops that need to be transplanted, such as cherry tomatoes and asparagus, are generally in the range of $5,000-$20,000 per acre.” That implies costs of less than $20 per pound for high-grade sensimilla and less than $5 a pound for mid-grade stuff. Another way of looking at it, suggested by California NORML Director Dale Gieringer, is that we should expect legal pot to cost about the same amount as “other legal herbs such as tea or tobacco,” something perhaps “100 times lower than the current prevailing price of $300 per ounce—or a few cents per joint.”
This would make pot far and away the cheapest intoxicant on the market, absolutely blowing beer and liquor out of the water. Joints would be about as cheap as things that are often treated as free. Splenda packets, for example, cost 2 or 3 cents each when purchased in bulk.
Yglesias observes that this could either be a boon or a detriment to the pro-legalization argument. I can imagine critics of legalization painting terrifying images of deranged shop keeps blowing pounds of weed through industrial fans onto the heads of children walking down the street. But, whatever. This is FUCKING INCREDIBLE.
... or at least it does in Brazil.
A years-long study by the Brazilian police into the "DNA" of cuts in the country's cocaine found that 11 percent of the bulk product (the "DNA" tests were only triggered after a seizure of more than five kilos) is cut with levamisole.
But thirty-five percent of their bulk cocaine is cut with Phenacetin, a non-opioid painkiller that has been banned in the UK since the 1960s, after it was linked to kidney and bladder cancers. Phenacetin has also been linked to the dissolution of blood cells and necrosis of the kidneys.
In short, it's nasty stuff.
And what's in Brazil's cocaine is probably in North America's cocaine as well—levamisole and other cuts have been found in cocaine-producing countries. But why are the producers bulking up their cocaine before smuggling it, thereby increasing their risk of getting caught? (The game used to be to ship
pure relatively pure product and bulk it up with cuts once it was over the border.) There are plenty of theories, but that question still hasn't been fully answered.
This post has been updated.
Last night, Dr. Benjamin Danielson, a practicing pediatrician and clinical professor at the University of Washington, became the latest in a long list of people who have endorsed initiative 502, the state's opportunity to finally legalize marijuana. The educational, community, and social-services center El Centro de la Raza also endorsed the initiative yesterday.
The New Approach Washington campaign has worked hard to engage communities of color on this issue (see this article from December) and it's succeeding. Recent endorsers include: Reverends Leslie Braxton, Steve E. Baber, and Carl Livingston; King County Councilman Larry Gossett; former Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (and former King County Executive) Ron Sims; and many others including Mayor McGinn, city and state legislators, former judges, former FBI agents and police chiefs, and Seattle's city attorney.
"I'm looking at it as a social justice issue, through the lens of disproportionality—racism—in the criminal-justice system," Dr. Danielson said this morning.
"It's a symptom of a really broken system... Is this just about legalizing marijuana? That's not really my goal or feeling. I'm not a pro-marijuana person per se," he said. "If someone on the street came up to me and said 'do you support legalizing marijuana?' I'd off the bat say 'no.' But I do feel like there's this overarching issue in our criminal-justice system of targeting people of color: the expense, the lost lives, the disruption of families, the broken-up dreams. Maybe that sounds a little corny."
"But it's true," I said. (Plus there's the half-billion dollars of tax revenue that legalization would generate in the first year alone.)
Dr. Danielson also said he thought it was "wise" of the I-502 to strongly engage communities of color and point people towards the criminal-justice issues and not just whether people should be allowed to smoke pot. "So," he said, "I appreciate that."
Apparently, El Centro de la Raza appreciates it too. Yesterday, El Centro also announced its support for I-502 on the same grounds. From the press release:
In Washington, a black adult is roughly three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white adult despite the fact that white Washingtonians use marijuana at a slightly higher rate. Marijuana arrests now make up over half of all drug arrests in Washington, and ninety percent of them are for simple possession.
The truth is that people with brown or black skin have been and are more likely to end up with a marijuana conviction. These marijuana criminal convictions limit our children’s educational and employment opportunities. Communities of color must recognize the institutionalized bias and come together for social justice to change the system.
The full release is below the jump.
First, the big news:
MEXICO CITY — The party that ruled Mexico for decades with an autocratic grip appears to have vaulted back into power after 12 years in opposition, as voters troubled by a bloody drug war and economic malaise gave its presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, a comfortable victory on Sunday, according to preliminary returns and exit polls.
The victory was a stunning reversal of fortune for the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI, which was thought to be crippled after its defeat in the 2000 presidential election ushered in an era of real multiparty democracy here.
The autocratic suits of the PRI are back in the saddle again—in part because the Mexican political structure is tired of chaotic drug-war mayhem and wants to give the stability of old-fashioned, genteel corruption another try.
If the past is prologue, that is good news for the Sinaloa cartel (the gentleman farmers among Mexico's drug gangs) and other big businesses. And that is bad news for the Zetas (the new-jack feral children among Mexico's drug gangs), political dissidents, and other upstarts. And it might mean that the drug war will have a brief surge in violence—as the PRI and the Sinaloa collude to exterminate their rivals—but will ultimately cool down for awhile*.
Let's start with a little historical background on the Sinaloa and the PRI from this 2010 Stranger article:
Major Mexican landowners had been growing marijuana and opium poppies and selling them to the U.S. long before the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 (the first major federal drug prohibition—prior to that, even the Sears, Roebuck catalogue advertised a syringe and a dose of cocaine for $1.50). Those Mexican landowners were aligned with, or outright members of, the Mexican political establishment...
Late last year, the US Sentencing Commission reduced its recommended sentencing for people convicted of a crack-cocaine offense, and Congress adopted the recommendation. That overturned the infamous "100-to-1" discrepancy between recommended sentences for people caught with crack cocaine (5 grams could get you 20 years in prison) and people caught with powder cocaine (it took 500 grams to get you 20 years). There is still an 18-to-1 discrepancy, but it's progress.
The 100-to-1 ratio was bad for all sorts of reasons: it was based on a faulty premise that rock was 100 times more dangerous than powder (which isn't true) and it disproportionately fell on African-American offenders, taking them out of their homes and communities for unreasonable periods of time and generally eroding trust and faith in the law in those communities.
The over 12,000 prisoners eligible for early release were 85.1 percent black, with an average age of 36.
But only people who were sentenced after the act got the sentence reduction. What about retroactivity or, in the court decision written by Justice Breyer, "did Congress intend the Act's more lenient penalties to apply to pre-Act offenders sentenced after the Act took effect?"
The court decided yes. It was a 5-4 vote and the split was familiar: Justices Breyer, Kenedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan on the yea side and Justices Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, and Alito on the nay side.
Key words: "mass graves," "stacks of heads."
A woman was at home in Grays Harbor: "She was taking a shower when armed agents broke in and forced her outside in a bath robe. She later found out the search warrant had a different address than her home, where she lives with her 2-year-old daughter and mother."
Our old friend levamisole—the livestock de-worming drug that is being cut into most of the western hemisphere's cocaine supply for reasons that are still not entirely clear, but guessed at in this series of articles—is now being found in baby food.
But there's no mystery to that. It's just running down the food chain, from cow to milk/meat to food.
And it's just another reason to consider going vegan.
The way police enforce marijuana laws in New York City amounts to little more than arresting people for the color of their skin. Technically, possession is decriminalized there. But displaying pot in public is not. So police routinely—at a rate of tens of thousands a year—stop people on the street, frisk them, and tell them to empty their pockets. And when people pull out that little bag of pot, blam, they're arrested. (Refusing to cooperate with cops can also get you booked in jail, so you're screwed either way.) This has made marijuana in plain view the most common arrest in New York City, with cops racking up about 50,000 a year, and black and Hispanic suspects arrested at proportions beyond their segments of the population. Even worse, "black and Hispanic MPV arrestees have been more likely to be detained prior to arraignment, convicted, and sentenced to jail than their white counterparts," this study explains. Mayor Mike Bloomberg and former mayor Rudolph Giuliani are staunchly in favor of keeping up this practice.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, reaching down from Albany and into the affairs of New York City, is not.
The governor will call for the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view, administration officials said. [...]
Reducing the impact of the Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk policy has been a top priority of lawmakers from minority neighborhoods, who have urged Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, to pay more attention to the needs of their communities. The lawmakers argue that young men found with small amounts of marijuana are being needlessly funneled into the criminal justice system and have difficulty finding jobs as a result.
For years, this crap has been tolerated because, hey, it's pot. No politician can come to the defense of the stoners. But pot laws were never about pot—the pot has always been an incidental criminal offense. Criminalizing pot in the 1930s was designed to cast a net so broad that police could ensnare anyone they feel like targeting.
But stop-and-frisk practices have become toxic, and pot decriminalization has become nontoxic.
Cuomo, bless his soul, has a nose for the moment that support is on his side for ending bigoted policy—like marriage discrimination—and pushing these anachronistic, and genuinely repugnant, laws off the books. Good for him. Hopefully he's a national bellwether for politicians who can admit that prohibition is, and always has been, a proxy for racism.
BuzzFeed has gone through David Maraniss's upcoming Obama biography and pulled out the pot-smoking parts. There are quite a few pot-smoking parts:
When you were with Barry and his pals, if you exhaled precious pakalolo (Hawaiian slang for marijuana, meaning "numbing tobacco") instead of absorbing it fully into your lungs, you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around. "Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated," explained one member of the Choom Gang, Tom Topolinski, the Chinese-looking kid with a Polish name who answered to Topo.
I expect that Fox News will immediately begin warning their viewers about the crippling effects of inhaling marijuana smoke just once in your life.
The going probable theory about why levamisole is being cut into cocaine at the source (South America) instead of North America (one typically wants to ship a drug as pure as possible for less bulk and then cut it when it gets across the border): It passes street tests for purity. The bleach tests and all that. Which means that South American producers are trying to trick Central American (mostly Mexican) narcos into moving stuff that isn't 100% pure to increase the producers' margins.
But that theory has some weaknesses: How did 80% of the South American drug producers figure out that this was a good idea? How have the Mexican narcos not figured it out yet? Or if the Mexican narcos have figured it out, why would they accept/be using this relatively expensive cut that not only increases their bulk—therefore increasing their smuggling risk—but has become a p.r. liability?
Sometimes I wish Walter White in Breaking Bad—the dorky chemist who falls into the meth netherworld—was a real guy.
He could explain all of this to me.
From this Sunday's NYT:
COLIMA, Mexico — After her son Alfredo was killed last year at his auto parts shop, Carmen Plascencia de Carrillo noticed that two half sisters skipped the wake and funeral.
“Maybe your son was involved in other things,” Mrs. Carrillo recalled them explaining, to her fury.
A brother of the victim, Rafael Carrillo, found neighbors keeping their distance from him. He was also told not to come to a cousin’s wedding for fear he might pose a risk to other guests. A sister’s food stand experienced a decline in customers.
From what the reporter was able to dig up, Alfredo de Carrillo seemed to be the victim of an extortion racket—some Mexican officials didn't answer the reporter's calls and others were typically vague—but the community is now afraid to get anywhere near his family.
The article is a good step in documenting some of the underreported social damage of the drug war.
But it misses one important point: the drug war isn't about an "underworld" and an "overworld." The drug war in Mexico is part of the world, a single economy that is integrated between government and narcos, and has been growing in that direction since the early 1900s. (For some evidence on this, see here, here [they arrested the mayor, the police chief, a city trustee and nine others, all of whom pleaded guilty], here, here, here, here, and pretty much anywhere else you care to look.)
The endless font of bullshit coming from folks trying to oppose Initiative 502, a measure on the fall ballot to tax and regulate marijuana in Washington State, deserves a quick lashing. Their latest tantrum is a response to I-502 sponsor Roger Roffman, a doctor and former UW professor, who acknowledges that marijuana can be harmful if abused. Remember, Roffman is trying to legalize marijuana, and he explained in a speech recently that, contrary to claims that marijuana is completely harmless, marijuana "is injurious to young people and their families. There are people who are victims of marijuana. To hear an advocate say it's close to harmless is troubling." Legalizing pot, he points out, lets society deal better with its harms as a public health problem.
"Yes, one of the main proponents of the initiative said this," says a breathless, scandalized article in the pot blog Toke of the Town. Surely you can't sincerely want to legalize pot and say it has, uh, downsides like all other drugs. A commenter jumped in to explain that "marijuana/cannabis is not a drug. Its botanically an herb and go check your kitchen for other herbs you may or may not use on a daily basis."
A bunch of idiots opposed to Initiative 502 is marching through the streets. Not really a bunch, more like a cluster, maybe 40 or 50 of them. That's not enough people to really shut down two lanes of traffic, but they're doing it anyway, to call more attention to their idiotic views. Since these ridiculous, paranoid, stupid people insist on vocalizing their opposition to I-502 by parading said stupidity through the part of the street where cars are supposed to go, a great many cops have to look away from actual crimes being committed elsewhere to follow them. It's like a moron motorcade: Half a dozen cops on motorcycles at the front, a dozen or cops on bicycles on each side, two or three police vehicles bringing up the rear. But hey,
freedom stupidity isn't free!
By the way, you fucking idiots, I502 does legalize marijuana, so your "Legalize not penalize!" signs make no sense, unless you seriously believe that there should never be penalizations for driving drunk, either. (The DUI provision in I-502 is what most of these idiots are opposed to.) Unless your problem is that taxing marijuana constitutes "penalizing" you (even though that tax money is going to do a lot of good for this state). It's lazy of me to put up a post criticizing these fucking idiots for being fucking idiots without taking the time to talk to any of these fucking idiots, but in my defense they're fucking idiots, and talking to them just isn't worth it. That's my political opinion!
If you are an idiot who wants to make some new friends just like you, they are said to be marching to Westlake. Everyone else, I suggest you do literally anything else. If you haven't read Dom's piece about I-502's supposedly pro-pot detractors, do it now.
And if you want a less vituperative critique of today's march, Dom's on it.
Filmed yesterday at 1:23 p.m. at Seattle's Westlake Center during the 2012 May Day protests
TREELICKER: "I dunno what the fuck they're doing." [points at protesters]
BOY WITH CAMERA: "So you're NOT part of the protest at all?"
TREELICKER: "I don't fuckin' do that..." [back at tree, caressing it] "It's the way I do it man, both hands..." [boy walks away]
TREELICKER: "It's my honey locust."
Yesterday's Guardian had a story about "legal highs" and how often they're popping up in the UK—one a week, which is way, way up from the old statistic of one every few years:
Roger Howard of the UK drugs policy commission, an independent organisation providing drugs policy analysis, said that when the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act was passed new drugs were appearing once every few years whereas now they were being marketed almost once a week.
"We have rapidly growing numbers of psychoactive drugs on the market, and it's becoming increasingly difficult for the police to identify the drugs they're finding," he said.
"Just adding a drug to the long list already controlled won't make much difference.
"The police and forensics are under too much pressure already to be able to offer much deterrent to potential users.
"We are deluding ourselves if we think that using existing controls like temporary bans will solve the problem."
As I've said before, this whack-a-mole cycle is entirely predictable:
Clever entrepreneurs find an intoxicant not covered under current law and begin selling it. People get excited about it and chatter online. Some user winds up in the emergency room—for reasons that may or may not be serious—and says its name to a doctor who's never heard of it. The doctor calls the poison control center, and the public-health bureaucracy scrambles to figure out what this exotic new drug is. Someone talks to a reporter, and soon newspapers and TV stations are all over it, hyperventilating over a "dangerous new high." Lawmakers see a chance to score some points by being tough on drugs and ban it. The drug fades away. A clever new entrepreneur finds a new drug, and the cycle begins again.
The funny thing is: these "legal highs" may be more dangerous than the old-fashioned, illegal ones. Human beings have thousands of years of experience with coca leaves, cannabis, and opium poppies. We barely even know what mephedrone and naphyrone are, yet we can buy those at the local head shop. That is completely backwards.
How to end this problem? Establish a safe, sane way to regulate drugs in the U.S (and the UK). They said it couldn't be done with alcohol, and look at us now. They said it couldn't be done with marijuana, and we're well on our way there. To bang the drum again: Take the billions of dollars we waste making life worse for people in the US and the rest of the Americas with prohibition and pour them into regulation and treatment, which will make life better.
I'm not suggesting that high-school kids be able to buy herion at 7-11. (Instead of the parking lot behind 7-11, which is where high-school kids buy their heroin now.) But there has to be a better way than this prohibition charade.
In the 1990s, as the Coast Guard was cracking down on speedboat smuggling, U.S. officials began to gather intelligence that the drug lords were building subs in the jungles of Colombia to launch an underwater drug-smuggling flotilla...
The semi-submersibles are typically 100 feet long, with four to five crewmembers on board and can carry up to 10 metric tons. They don't go fast — perhaps 6 knots. But because most of the fiberglass vessel is below the waterline and the remainder is mostly obscured by ocean waves, it is difficult to see these craft on radar. Sometimes there's a faux superstructure on top to make it look like a pleasure boat.
Even the Coast Guard knows that the few narco-subs it has found are a mere splinter of the "flotilla" that's actually out there. The subs are usually undetectable by radar, but found when the Joint Interagency Task Force—which, the article says, "operates in secrecy"—provides foreign intelligence on when and where subs might be traveling. But the comments thread on the military.com website, just the fact that they're having the conversation, is somewhat heartening:
h/t to The Cap'n.
It's a mild and undramatic debut, but here it is:
From a teevee station in Oregon:
COOS BAY, Ore.- An anonymous tip leads police to the arrest of three adults and the seizure of rare drugs.
Friday, The South Coast Interagency Narcotics Team and Coos Bay Police took a search warrant at Lucky Loggers RV Park in Coos Bay.
According to Detective Sgt. Eric Schwenninger, they found more than 60 grams of hashish, over an ounce of processed marijuana, LSD, scales and drug paraphernalia.
Schwenninger says LSD is not something they see often in drug busts, and neither is a kratom.
The teevee station and the police spokesperson are blessedly neutral about kratom, simply saying that it's psychotropic (true, though so is coffee) and unregulated (also true).
And a Stranger reader from Iowa posted this comment on the story about kratom we ran a few weeks ago:
I live in Iowa, and have used Kratom for roughly 5 years now. I have never had any type of hallucinogenic nor life threatening reactions to it at all. This is simply ridiculous. A good friend of mine is a part of an organization called the Kratom association who has been contacting senators in Iowa for over a month now and they simply are ignoring us. It's pretty disheartening when you used to believe that we had a voice. Now here is the kicker. I am a law-enforcement officer of the state of Iowa who was approved to use kratom by my superiors after they did actual research on it. I am staying anonymous for obvious reasons but I have stated this to the senators through letters my friend has sent to them for me and again it falls on deaf ears. It's ridiculous; I guess they would rather that I as well as many of my colleagues (who use Kratom too for pain) go on disability because we cannot work on the RX drugs that they have prescribed.