One year out: On July 13, 2015, President Obama commuted the prison sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders. Here’s what their lives are like now. [The Washington Post] Few aspects of the Obama administration have been uncontroversial. Yet releasing 348 people from prison early provoked remarkably little criticism. To date, President Obama has commuted more sentences than his seven predecessors combined; when the president granted clemency to 46 nonviolent drug offenders last July, many of whom were sentenced under laws that no longer exist, critics mostly complained that he hadn’t let more people go free.
"We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” - John Ehrlichman, a senior aide to Richard Nixon. [more inside]
Lou Milione, a senior official at [the DEA], told me, “One of the things the DEA is kind of in the business of is almost all of our investigations are proactive.” But Russell Hanks, a former senior American diplomat, who got a ﬁrsthand look at some of the DEA’s narco-terrorism targets during the time he served in West Africa, told me, “The DEA provided everything these men needed to commit a crime, then said, ‘Wow, look what they did.’” He added, “This wasn’t terrorism — this was the manipulation of weak-minded people, in weak countries, in order to pad arrest records." [more inside]
The New Mexico Law Review just published an issue dedicated entirely to Breaking Bad. It features eight articles that analyze the illegal acts committed on the show, their real-world parallels, and the consequences attached:
Given the array of legal issues raised, our editorial board was excited to take the opportunity to present analysis of Breaking Bad by scholars and legal practitioners. In April 2014 we issued a call for papers requesting abstracts on topics including the application of the Fourth Amendment to drug crimes under the New Mexico and/or U.S. Constitutions; the War on Drugs; ethical duties of lawyers; drug-offense sentencing; drug enforcement in rural, urban, and/or Tribal areas; and substance abuse and the law.Some of the greatest legal minds in New Mexico (and the country) came together to examine how Walter White would look to a jury, how the war on drugs affects peripheral citizens like Skyler, and whether Heisenberg could have stayed legit by fighting for his stake in Grey Matter in the courts. [via] [more inside]
Lives are literally at stake. I have been on both sides of this issue, having spent 7 years as a plainclothes narcotics detective. I have arrested or charged many addicts and dealers. I've never arrested a tobacco addict, nor have I ever seen one turned down for help when they develop lung cancer, whether or not they have insurance. The reasons for the difference in care between a tobacco addict and an opiate addict is stigma and money. Petty reasons to lose a life. As of June 1, the police department of Gloucester, Massachusetts will no longer be charging drug addicts who turn themselves in and ask for help. Instead, they will be fast tracking them into a recovery program. [more inside]
California passed proposition 47 on election day, changing a number of crimes- including possession of hard drugs- from a felony to a misdemeanor. Meanwhile, Vermont has decided to offer treatment as an alternative to prosecution for those caught with heroin possession, and Rahm Emanuel has discussed changing Illinois law so that those caught with 1 gram or less of any controlled substance won't recieve a felony in an attempt to get support for tougher gun laws. In addition, Oregon, Alaska, and DC voted to legalize marijuana, and Florida's vote to legalize medical marijuana failed but with 58 percent in favor. Is this the beginning of the end for the War on Drugs?
The world's most extensive study of the drug trade has just been published in the medical journal BMJ Open, providing the first "global snapshot" of four decades of the war on drugs. To sum up their most important findings, the average purity of heroin and cocaine have increased, respectively, 60 percent and 11 percent between 1990 and 2007. Cannabis purity is up a whopping 161 percent over that same time. Not only are drugs way purer than ever, they're also way, way cheaper. Coke is on an 80 percent discount from 1990, heroin 81 percent, cannabis 86 percent. After a trillion dollars spent on the drug war, now is the greatest time in history to get high.
Criminal Cartels And The Rule Of Law In Mexico: Summary, PDF
The cartels have thousands of gunmen and have morphed into diversified crime groups that not only traffic drugs, but also conduct mass kidnappings, oversee extortion rackets and steal from the state oil industry. The military still fights them in much of the country on controversial missions too often ending in shooting rather than prosecutions. If Peña Nieto does not build an effective police and justice system, the violence may continue or worsen. But major institutional improvements and more efficient, comprehensive social programs could mean real hope for sustainable peace and justice.[more inside]
A group of respected entertainers (and some not-as-respected celebrities), businessmen, Civil Rights leaders and academics have signed an open letter calling on the President to #EndTheWarOnDrugs. [more inside]
"Twelve years ago, Portugal eliminated criminal penalties for drug users. Since then, those caught with small amounts of marijuana, cocaine or heroin go unindicted and possession is a misdemeanor on par with illegal parking. Experts are pleased with the results." [more inside]
Len Bias has been dead for longer than he has been alive. For ESPN Michael Weinreb examines how the tragic death due to a cocaine overdose of this young, up and coming basketball star affected both the sport and American drug policy. Meanwhile at Deadspin, Tommy Craigs explains how twentytwo years after his death Len Bias still makes everyone crazy.
"Based in Brisbane, Australia, Stuart uses the medium of comics to explore serious issues with a unique perspective and a sense of fun." - War on Drugs and more, and even more. [Previously]
A Voter’s Guide to Legalizing Marijuana..at the state level
Thousands of drug-related convictions in Massachusetts may be challenged as investigators learn more about improper evidence handling and testing at a Department of Public Health laboratory. Over 50,000 samples related to 34,000 convictions were tested by a single chemist at the lab, who is alleged to have violated multiple laboratory protocols. Governor Deval Patrick's office has identified 1,141 inmates currently serving time in Massachusetts whose convictions may be affected by the investigation. [more inside]
Sarah Stillman for the New Yorker on confidential informants and the ends they meet -- "Gaither was tortured, beaten with a bat, shot with a pistol and a shotgun, run over by a car, and dragged by a chain through the woods." [more inside]
"Alex White, Professional Snitch: What do you do when the cops you work for are dirtier than you are?" Metafilter previously on Kathryn Johnston.
"Barry also had a knack for interceptions. When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted "Intercepted!," and took an extra hit. No one seemed to mind." A User's Guide To Smoking Pot With Barack Obama. [more inside]
Rethinking the War on Drugs (WSJ video / not OpEd). A more nuanced view than typically found in the anti-drugs vs. legalize drugs ad nausea. Practical solutions being done today. [more inside]
Attention all units, please respond to Central and Broadway, reference a large crowd. It's a war on drugs.Just Say No: a music video featuring former Albuquerque sheriff Darren White. On vocals.
"I realized that I was one of those extremely rare individuals who was a former POW of the drug war, and who got out and had the opportunity to share his story with the world." "It kind of makes an activist out of you when 3 helicopters land in your backyard and guys jump out with guns and destroy your place before your very eyes." Exile Nation is a documentary [complete film] [trailer] and an ongoing memoir, a work of “spiritual journalism”, and eventually "a documentary archive of interviews and testimonies […] revealing the far-ranging consequences of the War on Drugs to the American Criminal Justice System." [more inside]
Employed as a Counterterrorism Analyst, But Think Your Bosses Are Misunderstanding the Problem? Quit your DoD post and write a book! Offer it for free, on the Web. Oh, and do it anonymously. Reddit AMA here.
Cocaine - how it's made, how it moves, and who might be cutting it with a deadly cattle-deworming drug, a follow up to the mystery of the tainted cocaine.
In a pilot Phase II study of PTSD sufferers with a median of 19 years since diagnosis, MDMA-assisted therapy resulted in 10 out of 12 patients no longer meeting the diagnostic criteria. [more inside]
Without much fanfare, the Global War on Terror has ended. The new name for these military interventions is the Overseas Contingency Operation. Press Q&A. Some Republican representatives discuss. (SPOILER: They are not pleased.) Military blogs discuss. Similarly, the War on Drugs also looks to be on the way out, though no new name for the project has been announced at this time.
The Changing Racial Dynamics of the War on Drugs. The Sentencing Project has just released a report (pdf) finding that, for the first time in 20 years, the number of Black Americans in state prison for drug offenses has fallen. Between 1999 and 2005, the number of White drug offenders in state prisons rose about 43 percent, while the number of Black offenders declined by 22 percent. One cause may be a rise in the use of drug courts, which are locally administered programs that divert offenders into treatment rather than incarceration. The Sentencing Project has a recent report (pdf) on this issue as well.
In May 1995, the American government's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made an attempt to disrupt the supply chain of methamphetamine precursors, such as pseudoephedrine, by shutting down two major suppliers of the precursors under authority granted by the Domestic Chemical Diversion Control Act. Was it successful? Only temporarily, according to new research by Carlos Dobkin and Nancy Nicosia. (via)
(Some links NSFW) Any down on their luck stoner is familiar with so called, "legal bud" Herbs of all kinds have been marketed online to the connectionless or legally restricted that offered a marijuana like high without the legal consequences. Everyone knows they are all scams. It might surprise you, that some were not. Commonly sold under the names Spice or Zohai, mixtures of herbs sprayed with synthetic cannabinoid substances such as HU-210 or JWH-018 have been available online for at least the past four years. [more inside]
A SWAT team in Maryland raids a city's mayor's house and kills his dogs. Oh, and the warrant was wrong.
Hooked! Trapped! Teenage Booby Trap! Users Are Losers! Vintage anti-drug comics scanned and posted by Ethan Persoff. Plus dozens of other "Comics with Problems"-- like "Rex Morgan, MD Talks About Your Unborn Child" and "Capt Veedee-O and Ms. Wanda Lust in VD Claptrap."
"we upheld against proportionality attack a sentence of 40 years' imprisonment for possession with intent to distribute nine ounces of marijuana" - Justice Kennedy
DrugPolicyCases.com - Yakov Spektor, a New York-based attorney, combed through two decades of US Supreme Court opinions "to discern certain trends in the Court's treatment of various issues" related to the War on Drugs. The collection of opinions are organized by case, author and topic.
Richard Paey Speaks - An interview with the paraplegic man sentenced to 25 years in prison for treating his own pain, but now out after a full pardon by the Florida Governor. [more inside]
The US Sentencing Commission has recommended that Federal sentencing guidelines be reduced for crimes involving crack cocaine -- and is now deliberating making the new guidelines retroactive for prisoners already incarcerated. [WaPo] If taken into effect, about 3,800 inmates could be released by this time next year. [more inside]
"An open society must be prepared to listen to those who offer a critique of its conventional wisdom—and our conventional wisdom about drugs and addiction should be no exception."
The British Transform Drug Policy Foundation has recently released their 2nd guide After the War on Drugs: Tools for the debate. Described as a guide for prospective and current policy reform advocates, it enumerates the points typically brought up against reform, and offers strategies to rebut them. Somewhat of a counterpoint to the US DEA's Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization.
Spiritual Highs and Legal Blows - the power and peril of religious exemptions from drug prohibition
Entheogens and Psychotherapy. A 2001 paper by Canadian psychotherapist Andrew Feldmar on the potential therapeutic uses of psychedelics and his own experience with LSD. Now, because of this paper, he is no longer allowed to enter the U.S. [Via MindHacks.]
America's forgotten war. Are we winning?
Stories from Inside: Prisoner Rape and the War on Drugs (PDF). A new report by the human rights group Stop Prisoner Rape. [Via Drug WarRant.]
Dopey, Boozy, Smoky—and Stupid - Mark Kleiman of UCLA examines drug policy in general and offers some suggestions [via]
Dude, like, what did you do during the war? Young Israeli activists fight the war on terra in their own little way. Similar criticisms have been used before, usually to political advantages. Others call it yet another hysterical conflation.
"The system for classifying illegal drugs in Britain, which determines how users are punished, is unscientific and illogical and should be completely overhauled", according to a new report. See updated chart on the harm potential of various drugs.
The Drug War Goes to the Dogs. SWAT teams (usually the young ones) seem to commit a lot of puppycide. (Via The Agitator, who is also a MeFite.)
So how's the War on Drugs proceeding in Afghanistan? Barry McCaffrey, former drug czar, trumpets, "Opium production has been dramatically slashed by 48% just in the past year.". Oops, actually that's the acreage of opium cultivation; production went down by only 10%, due to increased yields. In any case, that's so last year. Instead of the socially detrimental policy of poppy eradication, wouldn't it be preferable to allow licensing of poppies for legitimate medical needs? The Afghan farmers agree, but some think the idea is flawed.
Schaffer Library of Drug Policy - read the transcripts of hearings held on the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, or the text of court decisions regarding drug policy, or the well-researched Consumer Unions report on licit and illicit drugs, or the differences between beer and drugs, according to Anheuser-Busch. A huge archive of materials, admittedly compiled from a pro-reform perspective.
In the "debate" over the War on Drugs, there's a lack of nice quantitative data presentation in one place. Brian C Bennett aims to rectify that. From trends in alcohol initiation relative to legal age limits, to investigation of the deaths classified by CDC as marijuana-induced. There are lots of charts, as for cocaine purity over the years, or treatment admissions, or arrest trends. The site map is your quick guide to the 2000 charts & articles.
Overgrow.com --one of the largest and most comprehensive sites written by and for cannabis growers about cannabis cultivation, complete with user forums and immense photo galleries--along with Heaven's Stairway Seeds (hempqc.com), Cannabisworld.com, and Eurohemp.com have all been shut down, their owners arrested in Canada, and the servers seized. The story hasn't yet made the Canadian news, but it raises many questions about free speech online.
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