Manufacturing consent and the drug war

Check out this “debate” between MPP’s Aaron Smith, and some chick called Calvina Fay:

Although I’m happy to see the issue being addressed (more or less) seriously in the mainstream media, I’m irritated by the inherent bias in the forum:

  • “street signs” at lower screen read:
    • “Golden state going to pot?
    • “Stoner stimuls for the states?
  • Off the cuff remarks biasing the forum:
    • “What if everyone walks around stoned all the time?
    • CNBC correspondent asking if the LA correspondents eyes are glazed.
    • L.A. correspondant: “you’d be high to think this is a slam dunk”

And let us not forget the inherent bias of the mechanics of the forum. Two people are given a few short minutes to present their point of view. The brevity of the allowed statements gives the dishonest representative of the dishonest status-quo an advantage, since all of here statement are familiar falsehoods, and thus ring true to the uneducated ear. The MPP debater has to focus on disassembling what lies he has time to deal with in the time allotted. So let’s take a look at the prohibitionists talking points:

” Legalizing it isn’t going to solve our drug problem, nor our economic problems. In fact it will make it worse.”There’s nothing new here of course, and there’s nothing true here either. While legalizing marijuanna certainly won’t solve our economic problems, it will create a new revenue stream and eliminate a harmful, wasteful, useless, cruel and racist expense: the incarceration and prosecution of marijuana users. It will reduce law enforcement costs, and free up funds and resources to fight real crimes. So it will mitigate our economic problems. Thus it’s a positive step in the right direction. The statement that legalisation will “make it worse” is just a fabrication to prevent us from looking at the sheer dumb-headed falseness of her statement.

Alcohol and tobacco have more social costs than they provide taxation income”But then what about the fact that Alcohol and tobacco have more social costs than they provide taxation taxation? This may very well be true. But we don’t criminalize Alcohol or tobacco production, despite the fact they are distinctly more harmful than cannabis. Why not? Primarily because we have learned from our mistakes. We attempted to apply cannabis style prohibition to alcohol back in the twenties, and it was a complete disaster. Not only did we lose the income from taxation of the substances, but their use increased, and the social harms exploded . Not only did we continue to see normal array of problems associated with alcohol abuse, but we added widespread crime and corruption into the mix. The parallels to the situation with cannabis are quite close. What’s different is the intrinsic harm caused by cannabis, which is much less than the intrinsic harm done by alchol use.

Legalisation will lead to more users. This is pure conjecture. The number she spits out (30%) is pulled out of hers, or someone else’s ass, with no basis in experiment to justify it. The data that does exists indicates that drug use either remains the same, or in many cases decreases with legalisation. Holland has lower cannabis use amongst its citizens than any of its neighbouring countries. Why? Well one Dutch official believes it’s because they “have succeeded in making cannabis boring”. This isn’t just an outlier. We have had similar results with alcohol prohibition, and Portugal has had similar results by decriminalizing all drug consumption. So the evidence suggests that prohibition not only doesn’t work, it has the opposite of the desired effect.

Marijuana is not harmless, it’s the number one drug that kids are in treatment for. This one actually makes me fucking angry. This is completely true, because Marijuana is the number one drug for which kids are being forced into involuntary “drug treatment”. One friend of mine was forced into one of these programs in his teenage years because he had smoked a few joints and got caught. They promptly put him on a series of pharmaceuticals. Brilliant. It’s the usual case that the most harmful consequence of cannabis consumption is getting caught. Now certainly marijuana is not harmless. Excessive use can rob your motivation. Excessive smoking can lead to bronchitis. All these effects can easily be cured by laying off for a couple of weeks. Cannabis is among the least habit forming drugs, and is associated with no withdrawal symptoms. So sure, excessive marijuanna use is harmful, just like excessive sugar or fast food consumption is harmful. Don’t overdo things. But criminalization of something radically safer than alcohol is just plain criminal.

We’d still have a black market for children, just like with alcohol and tobacco. The old “think of the children” ploy. It’s another complete line of bullshit. If you are worried about your children, or someone else’s children, you should be for the legalization of cannabis. Why? Well, the rate at which kids try cannabis under prohibition is high. By far the worst consequences of smoking cannabis result from its prohibition. If you get caught it can ruin your career, education and future. Why would you want to put your kids at that kind of risk, all because of a prohibition policy which has no benefit. ONDC polls indicate that high school age kids find it easier to get pot than to get alcohol. Under alcohol prohibition, an eight year old could walk into a bar and get a drink, no problem. Experience shows that regulation (like alcohol and tobacco) is more effective at keeping kids off drugs than prohibition (like cannabis and our failed attempts at alcohol prohibition). So the real question here is, are you stubbornly going to hold to prohibition, or are you interested in results? If you are interested in actually protecting your kids, support legalisation.

In closing, I just want to comment on the old trope “legalisation would be sending the wrong message to kids”. This statement is stupid in so many ways. Consider for example the Dutch experience (“we have succeeded in making cannabis boring”). Consider the kid who learns all the DARE propaganda, but sees healthy happy productive members of their peer group and society using and enjoying cannabis, and in fact coming off better than those using legal drugs. What message is that kid getting? Let me tell you: They are learning that the government lies, and that the laws are bullshit. Do you really want to teach your kid disrespect for the law?

Contemptible police tactics

I found out about this from the mpp blog. Apparently a federally-funded drug task force called “West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team (WestNet)” raided a medical-marijuanna club seized about 200 signatures, for a ballot initiative for marijuanna legalization.

The same group apparently raided another provider’s home. In the process of which, they handcuffed the family’s 14 year old son for two hours, and put a gun to his head”. They even confiscated $80 dollars form the 9-year-old daughter’s wallet in an attempt to prove that the dispensary was illegally profiting from pot sales.

lt’s hard not to get incensed over this kind of bullshit. What happened to the poor family makes a good story, and is easy to get riled up about, but the seizing of ballot initiative signatures is even worse. Drug laws would have changed 30 years ago, if it weren’t for the successful chilling-effect laid down by the destructive drug-laws and prohibition culture. This kind of thing is designed to frighten people, which in turn chills the efforts to obtain honest information about drugs and drug policies, and to have a real democracy, in which policy is informed by public knowledge, and public action.

The actions of WestNet violate Obama’s instructions to leave medical marijuanna providers be. Their actions represent the most despicable consequences and actions of the prohibition complex. In addition to legislative reform, we need culpability for bad cops. At the very least, WestNet should lose its federal funding as a result of these actions. I hope that you’ll join me in asking the ONDCP to take action against WestNet, to make an example of them, and let the rest of the overzealous, badly behaved, so-called “law-enforcement” officers.

Here is the text of the email I have sent them.  Please feel free to copy and paste:

I recently read about a federally-funded task force called “West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team (WestNet)”.

Apparently WestNet hasn’t gotten the memo that medical marijuanna providers are to be allowed to function within the domains of state laws. Worse, they have taken it on themselves to influence policy decisions by hampering legitimate political activism. I refer here to their seizing of petitition signatures as “evidence” (see

This same group, in another raid of another medical marijuanna provider, ransacked a licensed provider’s home, handcuffed their 14 year old son and PUT A GUN TO HIS HEAD. The further seized “as evidence” the contents of the 9 year old daughters mickey-mouse wallet.

Is this despicable behavior the intended use of federal funding being provided to this task force? I (and I am not alone) am sick and tired of hearing about this kind of brain-dead Gestapo tactics being used. Let alone being used against people who are trying to provide medicine to sick people.

It’s time that Police who show such bad judgement start facing some repercussions for their actions. I ask that you rescind the federal funding for WestNet. They are not using the money well.

Malcolm X Day

I wish Malcolm X had a holiday, or had some streets named after him. Some years ago, a group called the “Guerilla theatre of the absurd” at Reed College printed up stickers, the size and color of street signs, saying “Malcolm X dr.”, and pasted them on all street signs of some particularly wealthy street in Portland. In essence, they did a citizen renaming of a street.

Now, a study of American history shows that the teaching and preservation of American history is grossly, horribly mangled and abused in order to maintain fealty to a kind of unifying fairy tale. As part of this process, I think Malcolm X is being forgotten, and I find that tragic.

So I’d like to propose a new holiday: From now on, let Feb. 21 be Malcolm X day! How do we celebrate Malcolm X day? We print bumper stickers, the same size, shape and color of street signs in our city, and we do a citizen of renaming of a street, or a part of a street, whatever we can pull off. We do this every year, in every city where we can find some brave soul to join the movement. When do we stop? When they rename a street in your town after Brother Malcolm. After that we can celebrate by getting out and having a parade down Malcolm X drive or Blvd.

So what do you think? We have 9 months to prepare. Start your planning. Post pictures of your civic improvements on the web!