KPLU has a story up that isn't news so much as a reminder—US drug policy is still insane, even if we've been pushing towards legalization in Washington state:
More and more Canadians are learning the hard way that admitting to U.S. border agents that you smoked pot can bar you from entering the country forever.
Immigration lawyers say some Canadians are under the mistaken impression that legalization of marijuana in Washington state has resulted in leniency by U.S. border agents here, but it hasn't.
As everyone knows, tough and sensible drug policies like these have been very effective at curbing recreational drug use in the US.
So if you're Canadian who has ever used drugs and gets asked about it at the border, what do you do? Lie to a border patrol agent? Or risk being barred from the country?
Saunders says he doesn’t condone lying, but he does tell Canadians they can refrain from answering questions at the border.
“Just withdraw your application for entry, go back to Canada and maybe try a different day and maybe you’ll get a more hospitable officer.”
He says the inconvenience of that is far less than being permanently barred. People who've been denied entry, he says, are forever in the database and have to go through the expense and time of seeking a special waiver every time they want to cross the border.
Well, that's ludicrously inconvenient and ineffective, just like much of the rest of US drug policy. Now please enjoy this old story from the Colbert Report (also linked in the KPLU story) about a Canadian psychotherapist who was barred from the US because he wrote a paper decades ago about using LSD:
Los Angeles police just busted members of MS-13 for an alleged food-truck extortion racket in which gang members demanded "rent":
A grand jury indictment was scheduled to be unsealed Monday for about two dozen reputed members of the notorious MS-13 gang in connection with a violent extortion racket that targeted food-truck operators.
The victims of the alleged organized shakedown were not four-wheeled foodie cuisine servers, such as the Kogi BBQ truck, but those who serve blue collar workers at construction sites, according to several law enforcement sources familiar with the case.
The conventional wisdom used to be that the Mexican narcos didn't do this kind of stuff in the US because we are most valuable for our drug appetites—and that market wasn't worth risking by getting involved in other kinds of crimes (that might bring down extra ire from law enforcement). So kidnapping, extortion, and the rest stayed south of the border.
But MS-13 is not a Mexican cartel—it's Salvadorian and born in Los Angeles. (Many of its members were former soldiers fleeing the civil war at home.) Its mechanics are, apparently, a little different. And a recent report shows MS-13 getting closer to the Mexican Zetas and Sinaloa, though not derving huge financial benefit from the relationship yet:
Having spent time in several of their neighborhoods (both MS-13 and Calle 18) over the past two years, it is clear that the gang members and their families are derving little beyond subsistence from their criminal activities, and certainly not enough for an opulent lifestyle. Some of the money is used by gang members to feed personal drug habits, purchase weapons for the clica, pay lawyers for those in prison and other activities; but, it is not enough to life most gang members and their families out of poverty.
Maybe MS-13 is looking south and taking some pages out of the narco handbook—supplement your drug-trafficking income with terrorizing the folks at home. Except in their case, home is here.
The owner of a south Seattle club known for hosting Alcoholics Anonymous meetings was arrested last night for allegedly selling oxycodone before and after support group meetings for addicts and alcoholics, according to a press release sent by U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan's office.
According to the criminal complaint filed against 64-year-old Michael Martin Shepard, a tipster informed Seattle police that illegal drug sales were taking place at the Nomadian Community Resource Center off Rainier Ave S, which Shepard owns. During the subsequent police investigation, Shepard allegedly sold oxycodone to informants five times in the past two months, the release explains.
"The complaint alleges that Shepard would only deal drugs to those who became a 'member' of the NCRC in an attempt to evade detection by law enforcement," the release states. "The sales occurred both before and after the NCRC hosted sanctioned AA meetings for addicts and alcoholics."
Ugh. What an allegedly terrible environment in which to try and stay sober.
Then there's this: "Further investigation revealed that Shepard was obtaining the pills, in some instances, by purchasing prescriptions from those who had been prescribed the medication," the release states.
Durkan's office notes that distribution of oxycodone is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment and a $1 million fine.
A smidgen of real scientific research about levamisole in cocaine (instead of our decidedly nonscientific, shoestring journalism) is trickling onto the web. This study for the Annals of Emergency Medicine tracked people who wound up in US hospitals between mid-October 2009 and the following May. (The wheels of science turn slowly.)
Of the 46 potential cases reported from 6 states, half met eligibility criteria and had medical chart abstractions completed (n=23; 50%). Of these, close to half of the patients were interviewed (n=10; 43%). The average age was 44.4 years; just over half were men (n=12; 52%). The majority of patients presented to emergency departments (n=19; 83%). More than half presented with infectious illnesses (n=12; 52%), and nearly half reported active skin lesions (n=10; 44%). The majority of interview respondents used cocaine greater than 2 to 3 times a week (n=9; 90%), used cocaine more than 2 years (n=6; 60%), and preferred crack cocaine (n=6; 60%). All were unaware of exposure to levamisole through cocaine and of levamisole's inherent toxicity (n=10; 100%).
Our anecdotal evidence showed that levamisole poisoning was more frequent in regular users and in crack users—but I'm surprised to see that crack users make up only slightly more than half of this sample. And it's showing up in heroin, too, but only three percent of the seized herion, per the most recent numbers. (And three percent sounds small enough to be an accidental contamination or a whatever's-lying-around cut, not an actual economic strategy.)
And an anonymous commenter on The Stranger's first story about levamisole recently wrote:
Levamisole here in vancouver canada is mostly used to cut crack , because they doble their money , if a dealer cooks one ounce of coke, he adds another ounce of levamisole to it , becoming all together two ounces , and the users cant tell abd they think its base rock because they see only oil in the pipe and no dust left from the old cut that was baking soda .. Thats the reality of why they add levamisole to cocaine here in vancouver .. They sell the levamisole here for 1000 per kilo ..
That matches one of the theories we'd originally proposed—that levamisole makes a good cut, even though it's rarer than something like baking soda—because it has a chemical relationship with cocaine that passes street tests. Dealers (on a corner level or on an international level) who use purer-seeming cuts will be more popular than dealers who use obvious cuts.
But official sources—medical, governmental—have yet to officially solve the mystery of the tainted cocaine.
I hate to be one of those people who gets back from a trip and keeps yapping on about it, but... does anyone know where to get Burmese-style cheroots in Seattle?
I'm not talking about those frighteningly giant tobacco cylinders, the size of paper-towel rolls, that the old ladies seem to like so much. I mean the little conical green ones like these. They were great.
I disassembled one and it seemed like rough-chopped tobacco wrapped in a large, green, foresty-smelling leaf with a filter of pulped-up tree bark. And they have a pleasantly light, botanical smell—or at least I thought so—not as offensively sharp as a cigarette or bludgeon-heavy as a cigar.
If anyone sells them in the Seattle area, I'd love to know where.
Speaking of smokes, here's a paragraph Mark Twain wrote in a letter to his friend L. M. Powers:
I know a good cigar better than you do, for I have had sixty years' experience. No, that is not what I mean; I mean I know a bad cigar better than anybody else. I judge by the price only; if it costs above 5 cents, I know it to be either foreign or half foreign and unsmokable. By me I have many boxes of Havana cigars, of all prices, from 20 cents apiece up to $1.66 apiece; I bought none of them; they were all presents; they are an accumulation of several years. I have never smoked one of them, and never shall. I work them off on the visitor. You shall have a chance when you come.
Twain might have liked cheroots. They're cheap.
Yesterday, I Slogged about the new study from Washington State University on the economic effects of for-profit prisons. It concluded (surprise, surprise) that they're vampiric—instead of delivering on their promises of jobs and economic activity for rural, depressed communities, they drive wages and employment down.
Plus, they sound like terrible places to work. One Texas state senate committee found a ninety percent annual turnover rate in its for-profit prisons. And every week brings some new story about things going haywire in one of those poorly run holes.
As for the economics, the study couldn't have put it more plainly:
Specifically, new prisons in states undergoing a rapid shift towards privatization are inversely related to employment growth.
Matt Stroud, a prison specialist over at Forbes also mentioned the WSU study, but seems baffled by it:
It’s tough to know where to practically apply this research. In many cases, private prisons get built because the alternative (or at least the alternative stated by politicians) would be closing other prisons down. In essence — and I’m generalizing here — states will often run into a budget deficit and receive offers from private contractors to operate state run prisons at a reduced rate instead of raising taxes or closing a particularly costly prison altogether to amend a portion of the budget problem.
By his logic, a crappy for-profit prison—crappy for its prisoners, employees, and surrounding community—is better than no prison at all, since states are broke and people need jobs.
Here's another idea, Forbes, one that addresses all the concerns—it saves state money, generates tax revenue, decreases prison populations, and creates new jobs and economic activity for rural/agricultural communities.
Legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana.
We don't need more for-profit prisons. We need more sensible drug laws. Shouldn't that be obvious by now?
Click the photo, and then vote for the correct answer!
If you want more celebrity bullshit posts, post 'em. And please note that the two Seahawks posts were by regular actual employees of The Stranger, and one of them was so disdainful as to actually constitute a Golden Globes post.
And the Seahawks game was more important: There's a Golden Globes every year. The Seahawks do not make the post-season every year.
Pax is what they would make.
This thing is awesome (and awesomely expensive). Self-contained, rechargeable, solidly built, and packaged and documented with great care. I imagine these guys' business model started looking very smart in November as the orders from Washington and Colorado started pouring in. As laws like I-502 get passed in more and more states, I imagine we'll start seeing much more of this. High-tech (GETIT), luxury gear for potheads. I mean, for people who like to vaporize tobacco and other premium, loose-leaf herbs.
Since I'm filing this under tech, the requisite unboxing pics are after the jump.
The 787 is the world’s newest and most sophisticated commercial jet. It entered service with Japan’s All Nippon Airways in October, 2011. JAL’s Boston-Narita service, introduced last spring, was the first 787 route in North America. The plane’s composite construction, along with much of its systems architecture, is for now unique among commercial jets. Teething problems, let’s call them, are common when new models are introduced. Jetliners undergo rigorous pre-delivery testing, and but they are large and highly complicated machines. Not everything works perfectly right from the blocks....
This is the third serious incident involving the 787′s aft equipment bay. The first two resulted in emergency landings—one by a pre-delivery 787 on a test flight in 2010; the other two months ago by a United 787 in New Orleans. Testing and certification criteria have come a long way since the days of the DC-10 and the Comet, and I am by no means calling the 787 unsafe, but still this trend is a worrying one. It could potentially affect the plane’s certification for overwater flying (so-called ETOPS restrictions dictate how far from diversion airports a twin-engine plane like the 787 is allowed to fly). Nevertheless, it’s important to keep in mind that not every technical problem involving a 787 is indicative of a design flaw. From this point on, we can expect the growing fleet of 787s to be under rather intense scrutiny. That’s good for obvious reasons, but also bad because the media, which goes bonkers over almost anything involving airplanes, is liable to overhype even minor malfunctions that have nothing to do with the plane’s engineering.
I'm a nervous flyer... so, yeah, I'm kindasorta invested in the whole notion that new airplane models should work perfectly "right from the blocks." But I will somehow find the inner strength—or the outer Xanax—to defer Patrick's expertise on this one. (Via BalloonJuice.)
...then it's legal.
Some mysterious angel just delivered a bunch of pot to me. And now it's legal just to post photos of our pot on Slog, so... I am. Technically, it's still illegal to sell pot until the Washington State Liquor Control Board works out the details on who can grow pot and sell it, pursuant to our new marijuana legalization law.
But possessing pot is legal if it just appears out of the ether.
So that means the paper bag of pot that arrived—which said "Happy New Year, Dominic Holden" and contained seven smaller plastic bags of pot and a note that says, "If it falls from heaven, it's legal"—is totally legal. Thanks, mystery angel! It was nearly an ounce in total (that's a couple grams of it in the photo), and that amounts to roughly 20 times more pot than I could smoke in a year. So I've left it out for my dear coworkers. Because I can. Because it's legal now—if it falls from heaven.
The settlement is the joke.
This news is a few days old, but just in case you missed it: HSBC, Britain's biggest bank, has been given a tiny, $2 billion slap on the wrist for being the go-to institution for cartel money laundering, rogue state banking, and other financial no-nos for a decade. From the Guardian:
Britain's biggest bank was forced to pay $1.9bn (£1.17bn) fine to settle allegations by US regulators that it allowed itself to be used to launder billions of dollars for drug barons and potential terrorists for nearly a decade until 2010.
The US department of justice said HSBC had moved $881m for two drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia and accepted $15bn in unexplained "bulk cash", across the bank's counters in Mexico, Russia and other countries. In some branches the boxes of cash being deposited were so big the tellers' windows had to be enlarged. The US authorities said HSBC did not face criminal charges because the bank was too big to prosecute and no individuals were implicated.
"Too big to jail" is the headline du jour for this story, and some people are outraged that the penalties—including senior anti-money laundering officers having to partially defer some of their bonus—aren't tougher. It's depressing, but I can't say I'm surprised. Uneven justice for banks and individuals seems like a basic fact of American life these days. But if you want a taste of the outrage, you can find it at Rolling Stone:
So you might ask, what's the appropriate financial penalty for a bank in HSBC's position? Exactly how much money should one extract from a firm that has been shamelessly profiting from business with criminals for years and years? Remember, we're talking about a company that has admitted to a smorgasbord of serious banking crimes. If you're the prosecutor, you've got this bank by the balls. So how much money should you take?
How about all of it? How about every last dollar the bank has made since it started its illegal activity? How about you dive into every bank account of every single executive involved in this mess and take every last bonus dollar they've ever earned? Then take their houses, their cars, the paintings they bought at Sotheby's auctions, the clothes in their closets, the loose change in the jars on their kitchen counters, every last freaking thing. Take it all and don't think twice. And then throw them in jail.
Sound harsh? It does, doesn't it? The only problem is, that's exactly what the government does just about every day to ordinary people involved in ordinary drug cases.
If you're poor, the drug war is a real thing with real consequences—prison, death, destabilized families, cities, and countries. If you're a bank, it's a moneymaker and the law is just a minor inconvenience.
...the press kits have been fantastic. Good work, publicists.
This is your president speaking...
In an interview with ABC News, President Obama told Barbara Walters that recreational pot smoking in states that have legalized the drug is not a major concern for his administration.Obama has not had the best record in matters concerning pot. However, unlike Clinton, he did inhale.
“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Obama said of marijuana smokers in Colorado and Washington, the two states where recreational use is now legal.
“It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal,” he said.
You're not supposed to do it outside the privacy of your own home, but that's not stopping people. And for the time being at least, SPD's only giving verbal warnings. I heard one of the women saying to her male companion as I passed, "The laws are more lax than Amsterdam's."
News intern Al Jacobs reports in this week's Stranger:
Now that smoking weed is perfectly legal and state-regulated pot stores are on their way, what do street-level pot dealers make of the passage of Initiative 502?
To find out, I went to the University District and walked along the Ave. When people called out "Bud?" or offered to sell me weed, I identified myself as a reporter and asked them what they thought about legalization.
I was surprised by how many of them talked to me. Some were suspicious that I was just looking for free weed. One guy—yes, they were all men—asked me if I was "jive-talking" him. (He then handed me a strawberry-flavored lollipop and told me to have a nice day.) Another guy, dressed in a fur hat and gold chain, responded to my question on his feelings about I-502 with a glare and a question of his own: "Do I look optimistic?"
Others had more to say.
You gotta hear what else they had to say. KEEP READING --->
A worthwhile Planet Money episode from last week dealt with the trouble cannabis businesses, now legal in Washington and Colorado, are having/going to have with their banking.
Bank managers are worried about how the feds plan to deal with these new state-legal but federal-illegal assets. So the now-legitimate pot businesses are still having to operate as cash-only enterprises and figure out creative ways to legally launder their money and get it into banks. Fifty thousand bucks on your statement is one thing—fifty thousand bucks in cash is a liability. Over on the Planet Money blog, they've posted some methods that cash-only businesses use to manage their money:
1. Buy three safes. One for "bulk product," one for "inventoried, ready-for-sale product," and one for cash. "If you put your cash in with the cannabis, it will end up smelling like cannabis, and when you go down to the bank, I guarantee you're going to have a talk with the manager of that bank."
2. Get an ATM — and be prepared to stock it with cash yourself. Credit card companies may not want to do business with you. Same goes for the companies that run ATMs in small businesses. "The companies that traditionally maintain ATMs will not stock your cash," Davis says. "Why? Because it's possible that the federal government will come, break down the door and take that cash."
Some things are neither illegal (forbidden by government in laws) nor sinful (forbidden by God in Scripture), but they are unwise. For example, eating a cereal box instead of the food it contains is not illegal or sinful—it’s just foolish.
In fact, he blames marijuana as a factor behind a trend of hapless man-children that he sees as contributing to the rot of society: "what also concerns me is the fact that young men are the most likely to smoke weed and, by seemingly all measurable variables, are immature, irresponsible, and getting worse." He takes a brief detour from the pot talk to launch a tirade about how men aren't even responsible enough to own their own cars anymore:
A recent article even noted that young men are now less likely than ever to own a car, as taking public transportation allows them to use their smartphone more hours every day playing video games and downloading porn.
Will the high numbers of men downloading porn on the bus increase with the proliferation of legalized weed? Seems likely! Driscoll warns us that "while the Bible does speak of alcohol, it never mentions marijuana," which makes it ethically tricky. He examines multiple viewpoints of the marijuana issue, including medical marijuana. "Some believe that Christians should exercise caution and wisdom regarding medicinal use," Driscoll says, "simply because of marijuana’s reputation and the connotations it implies." (Heaven forbid those cancer patients get a bad reputation.) Finally, Driscoll reaches the most unsurprising conclusion ever:
I would advocate that the soundest Christian response to the legal question is Option C: that recreational use should be illegal but that medicinal use may be allowed. Based upon Christian convictions, I do not support the legalization of recreational marijuana use. Regarding medicinal use, while I have studied this issue, the truth is that I am not a medical doctor and therefore do not feel comfortable debating the potential medicinal benefits of marijuana. I’ll leave that aspect of the conversation to others more qualified.
That's an iffy endorsement of medical marijuana—it "may be permissible," Driscoll repeats later—but it sounds like Jesus hates the demon weed. Hope you Christians enjoyed your few hours of guilt-free pot use, because God has spoken through His special tool, Mark Driscoll.
This just popped up in my inbox:
The Department of Justice is reviewing the legalization initiatives recently passed in Colorado and Washington State. The Department’s responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged. Neither States nor the Executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress. In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6th in Washington State, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Members of the public are also advised to remember that it remains against federal law to bring any amount of marijuana onto federal property, including all federal buildings, national parks and forests, military installations, and courthouses.
Marijuana becomes legal at midnight, hurrah! But in light of this momentous occasion, it would be best for everyone if we handled tonight's transition like adults—not by courtin' the bull and lighting up on federal property or other foolishly public places, yeah?
Smoking and possessing pot becomes legal in Washington State starting Thursday. But who knows what impact that will have—some experts say it will make people smoke more and others say it won't. This article in the Seattle Times ponders the subject. Who knows the truth? Only the readers of Slog, a perfect cross section of society as a whole, can answer this pressing question:
Sounds like a tough job:
Washington voters' decision to legalize marijuana means the state Liquor Control Board (LCB) now has a year to set regulations for the first-of-its-kind marijuana market. ... The voter-approved Initiative 502 requires the LCB to license and regulate a seed-to-store closed marijuana market, with the first licenses to be issued in late 2013.
Gee, if only Washington already had in place a state-run distribution and retail system for selling a highly regulated and taxed controlled substance, this whole marijuana legalization thing would've been so much simpler. But then, such a "state store" system is a socialist fantasy that never could've worked.
Looks like those big lugs have been dabbling in the kiddie speed. There's something wrong with advanced-stage capitalism when it can't produce newer, stronger, better, undetectable drugs for its elite super-rich head-bonking class.
When Calderon took office in 2006, voters like 53-year-old Torreon housewife Rosaura Gomez supported his conservative National Action Party (PAN) for taking on drug traffickers.
But as the violence intensified and got closer to home, she lost faith. In this year's presidential election, Gomez backed the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled for most of the 20th century, in the hope that it can restore order. The party won the election and will return to power in December.
"Before, there was a pact, and things were calm. The drugs went to the United States and these groups didn't mess with the people. This is what we want so we can live in peace," she said.
I will repeat my prediction one more time—when the PRI (Mexico's old-boy political party) gets back in the saddle, it will further bolster its alliance with the Sinaloa (Mexico's old-boy, gentleman-farmer cartel) and create a pax narcotica.
Or, more accurately, they'll restore the pax narcotica that had been in place since the US first decided to ban/control marijuana, opium, and coca in the early 20th century. When that happened, the Mexican plantation owners (who roughly congealed into the Sinaloa) colluded with the government and military to keep things going.
The system ran smoothly, more or less, until a few bumps in the road: One, the war on drugs fractured the market and the private armies. (And military-trained anti-drug warriors flipped to become ferocious drug vikings like the Zetas, which only made things bloodier.) Two, Mexican voters got fed up with the institutionalized corruption of the PRI and voted them out of office. The authority, the center of gravity, was lost. The Hobbesian war of all on all began.
Voters like the one quoted above got sick of that and yearn for the peace and quiet of stable, institutionalized corruption.
I suspect that after an initial increase in violence (perhaps a severe increase) as the PRI and the Sinaloa clear the decks and annihilate their rivals, things will settle down. And the drugs will flow more freely and efficiently than ever.
Last night's marijuana-vote roundup, sent by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition:
Colorado: Marijuana legalization - Passed!
Washington: Marijuana legalization - Passed!
Oregon: Marijuana legalization – Failed.
Massachusetts: Medical marijuana - Passed!
Arkansas: Medical marijuana – Failed.
Detroit, MI: Decriminalization of adult marijuana possession - Passed!
Flint, MI: Decriminalization of adult marijuana possession - Passed!
Ypsilanti, MI: Marijuana to be lowest law enforcement priority - Passed!
Grand Rapids, MI: Decriminalization of adult marijuana possession - Passed!
Kalamazoo, MI: Three medical marijuana dispensaries permitted in city - Passed!
Burlington, VT: Recommendation that marijuana should be legalized - Passed!
Montana: Referendum restricting medical marijuana likely to pass.
Anti-502 people argued that legalizing pot, pushing it from a legally grey area to an open market, would draw federal/DEA hellfire. But there's something to be said for solidarity. The more states legalize, and the more state-supreme court decisions build a foundation of case law (on what will be some inevitable busts and arrests), the better off we'll be. We can hang together, or we can hang separately.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board has until December 1, 2013 to figure out what this new market will look like.
I'll start by agreeing with Goldy: The worst punishment for possessing a bag of pot is being killed in jail, which basically happened last week to a Snohomish County man facing a minor pot charge. That was awful. But Goldy's other assessment—that Initiative 502 on the fall ballot to legalize pot is mostly "symbolic" as a challenge to federal law—is wrong.
Regardless of any federal challenge or its outcome, passing I-502 will eliminate state penalties for possessing up to an ounce of pot. That's entirely practical. Misdemeanor pot arrests—the type Goldy's post is about, which make up 90 percent of the pot busts in Washington State—would end, thereby stopping about 9,000 marijuana arrests per year. Washington would be the first state to do that, and if we'd done it sooner, it would have saved that poor man's life in Snohomish County.
As for the symbolism of challenging federal law, that's also practical. Federal law ain't going to change itself. Congress and the White House will be unresponsive to the changing tides of opinion on pot until states make a big fucking to-do about it—just folks are doing with gay marriage. Now the president and the Democratic party are all about legalizing gay marriage. Not in spite of a federal challenge to DOMA and Prop 8, I'd argue, but because of it.
A 22-year-old man with severe food allergies died in the Snohomish County jail after a pot bust, and now his mother says she wants to know why.
Michael Saffioti died a day after turning himself in to face a misdemeanor marijuana charge...
All other issues aside—whether Saffioti should have been mixed into the general population, and whether jail officials took his food allergies seriously enough—the guy was in jail on a misdemeanor pot charge, and that's just plain stupid! These are resources that could be used to fight real crime (or, you know, to educate children) instead of being used to ruin (or end) the lives of people like Saffioti.
Yes, Initiative 502 isn't perfect, and yes, it essentially amounts to a state effort to nullify federal law. Yet even if the impact of passing it ends up being more symbolic than practical, that symbolism is important. Our nation's drug policy is more than just a failure; it is head-up-its-ass idiotic.
The fight to end the "War on Drugs" has to start somewhere. And it might as well start at the ballot box here in Washington State.
Pot hasn't become more illegal in the last 25 years, but the number of people getting arrested for marijuana in Washington State has nearly tripled, according to a new study by three East Cost academics. That's a growth rate far greater than the population. In that same time, according to US Census data, the population has risen only about 50 percent, from about 4.4 million to roughly 6.8 million people.
Here's the report, which includes incredible stats on the counties with the highest rate of pot arrests, the costs involved, and demographics of who's getting busted. Needless to say, racial minorities are being arrested much more, despite using marijuana less.
A few highlights:
Will wonders never cease? Articles like this are what I've been yearning for. No false equivalencies about kratom and bath salts:
It’s called Kratom, and unlike bath salts, Spice or any of the synthetic, formerly ”legal” drugs on the DEA hit list, this one is entirely organic...
No OH MY GOD IT'S A DANGEROUS NEW DRUG—KILL IT! KIIILL IT! hysteria:
Kratom is not new to the United States. It’s been floating around the herbal marketplace for decades, sold as a tonic for a variety of uses...
Citing actual targeted research about actual stuff instead of blustery, ignorant politicians or doctors (just because a person is an MD doesn't make him/her/it an expert on everything):
A 2004 study on the tolerance and withdrawal effects of kratom in mice conducted jointly by the Josai International University in Japan and Chulalongkorn University in Thailand concluded that tolerance to 7-hydroxymitragynine (the chemical in Kratom thought to possess addictive properties) developed “as occurs to morphine,” and there was evidence of cross-tolerance to morphine, as well.
Not leaping to crazy conclusions:
But whether or not Kratom deserves a DEA-exempt existence among legal substances in the marketplace remains to be seen.
See, that wasn't so hard, was it?
The article leans toward the conservative side of the issue—I don't expect most reporters to float the argument that the prohibition of morphine makes it more dangerous—but at least it tries to be fair. Thanks, Forbes.
(And hat tip to Sanho Tree.)
Suck it up, stoner Tea Baggers.