A graph published in the Washington Post illustrates the “embarrassing” results of government attempts to stymie illegal drug supply. The prices of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine—which collectively account for 90% of drug-related incarceration—plunged between 1980 and 2008, just as drug-related incarceration rose from fewer than 42,000 in 1980 to 562,000 in 2007. In the paper which produced the figures on which the graph is based—Long-Run Trends in Incarceration of Drug Offenders in the US—Jonathan Caulkins and Sarah Chandler of Carnegie Mellon University note that a major aim of drug-related incarceration is to drive up prices and reduce consumption by constraining the illegal drug supply. Law enforcement attempts to make drugs more expensive include crop eradication overseas, interdicting smuggling routes, street-level policing and busting dealers. But the numbers reveal an opposite outcome to that intended. “[The] relationships between incarceration, prices, and [use] seem perverse,” say the researchers. “Price plummeted and [use] soared precisely when drug-related incarceration was increasing dramatically, exactly the opposite of what one would expect or hope for.” The US has budgeted to spend $24.5 billion on drug control in 2013, 38% of it towards demand reduction (treatment, education, and prevention) and 62% towards supply reduction (law enforcement and interdiction).
by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the
government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be
enforced." — Albert Einstein
A clinical trial studied 39 people with schizophrenia. Twenty of the patients were given cannabidiol (CBD), a substance found in marijuana that is associated with its mellowing, anti-anxiety effects (not THC—the main ingredient in marijuana, which has been found to worsen schizophrenia). The other participants were given amisulpride, an antipsychotic medication. At the end of the four-week trial, both groups showed significant clinical improvement in their schizophrenic symptoms. “The results were amazing,” says Daniele Piomelli, professor of pharmacology at the University of California-Irvine and a co-author of the study. “Not only was [CBD] as effective as standard antipsychotics, but it was also essentially free of the typical side effects seen with antipsychotic drugs.”
Could jury nullification have saved a pro-marijuana activist from an 81-year prison sentence for selling pot?
Rich Paul of Keene, New Hampshire, is planning on appealing to the New Hampshire Supreme Court on the grounds that the judge misled the jury on what nullification is in his trial for selling marijuana to an undercover Drug Task Force informant. According to Free Keene’s coverage of the trial, judge John C. Kissinger emphasized that the jury had to follow the law as he explained it and didn’t mention jury nullification. Kissinger’s instructions to the jury were different than the ones given to the jury in the case of Doug Darrell, a 59-year-old Rastafarian woodworker who was acquitted of marijuana-growing charges thanks to jury nullification.
Paul, who essentially admitted that he sold marijuana to an FBI informant, had refused plea-bargain deals (including one that would have let him walk away with no jail time) because he wanted to stand up for his principles—weed is basically harmless and you should be allowed to smoke it and sell it to your friends. “Somebody had to stand up and say that this is wrong, and I thought I might as well be that guy,” he said in an email to VICE two days before the jury found him guilty. “I took the risk and now we’ll find out whether I bet my life well.”
some background on jury nullification:
Confusion about the legality of jury nullification is natural—essentially, it’s legal only because jurors can’t get punished for whatever verdict they reach. In the 90s, a juror from Colorado named Laura Kriho was charged with contempt of court for voting to acquit a 19-year-old charged with possession of meth and supposedly lying about her anti–drug war beliefs during the jury selection process, in what a lot of people read as an assault on the doctrine of nullification. Since then, though, the idea has become more mainstream—in 2010, the New York Times reported on prospective jurors in Missoula, Montana, voicing their concerns about sending an admitted weed dealer to prison, which led to the charges being dropped, and the mayor of San Diego recently said he supported nullification in a case involving a man running a medical-marijuana dispensary (legal under state law) who got arrested by the Feds.
In the past, juries in the South have used nullification to acquit whites accused of hate crimes against blacks, so the doctrine does have some nasty history behind it. A common critique, as expressed by the Straight Dope in a 2009 blog post on nullification, is, “If you want to change the law, do it at the ballot box, not in the jury room.” But change at the ballot box is complicated in 2013’s America. Even when states legalize marijuana, the federal government’s agencies can still crack down on people using and selling a legal (or semilegal) substance. Juries are supposed to represent the conscience of the community—is it so far-fetched to believe that many communities would find laws that send nonviolent criminals to prison for years repugnant? And shouldn’t they have some clearly defined mechanism for stopping that from happening?
Justice is not cheap in America so a fundraiser has started to help hire a lawyer for Rich Paul’s appeal. You can donate to his cause here
now that pot is legal in colorado, here’s what residents can expect:
Governor John Hickenlooper signed a set of bills yesterday to establish Colorado as the world’s first legal, regulated marijuana market. Last November, Colorado voters approved Amendment 64, allowing residents to possess and consume up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes, either purchased from licensed stores or homegrown. A maximum of six marijuana plants are permitted per home, while selling weed without a license or buying from an unlicensed party is still prohibited. And though local authorities may ban retail sales if they choose, home cultivation is allowed statewide. One of the measures signed, HB 1325, establishes a THC limit for drivers; those caught with 5 nanograms or more in their blood will be considered “too stoned to drive” and ticketed.
For the next nine months, only existing medical marijuana dispensaries can apply for a recreational sales license, and only Colorado residents may own or invest in the stores. When the retailers open for business, most likely in January 2014, they must label all pot products with warnings, and information on quantity and potency. Out-of-state customers may be saddened to learn that they can purchase only a quarter-ounce at a time. And marijuana-themed magazines must be kept behind the counter, like pornography; High Times and The Daily Doobie have threatened to sue.
Coloradans will decide in November whether to impose a 10% sales tax (funding the regulation of recreational marijuana) and a 15% excise tax (funding school construction), which would amount to a total rate of 25%. Some state lawmakers fear that voters will reject one or both proposals. Amendment 64 also legalized the commercial growing of hemp—which is genetically related to marijuana but has little or no THC content—though like its cousin, it remains illegal under federal law. The nation’s first major hemp crop in almost six decades was planted in southeastern Colorado earlier this month. But don’t expect to see Amsterdam-style “coffeeshops" sprouting up—they’re still banned, along with incorporated marijuana collectives and pot smoking in bars.
i spoke to some pot-smoking ‘boomers—including rick doblin of the multidisciplinary association for psychedelic studies and yes, i was geeking—about “smoking dope” in their fifties and sixties
As US marijuana laws evolve and society distances itself from previous prohibitionist attitudes, the baby boomer generation (born roughly 1946-1964), is smoking pot at an ever higher rate—or at least more of them are admitting it. As of 2011, 6.3% of adults between ages 50 and 59 reported using marijuana, up from 2.7% in 2002, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. “There’s a resurgence of interest in pot and psychedelics in baby boomers,” Rick Doblin, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, tells The Fix. “Many of them had experience with these substances in college, then gave them up for their families and careers. Now that they’re retiring and no longer working, they’re more open.” Doblin, who is 59 and has been a regular toker since he was 17, says his marijuana use has become more “work-oriented” as he’s gotten older. “I better understand how to use [pot] for activity rather than just relaxation,” he explains. “It goes terrific with exercise and physical labor. Older people understand this better.”
Doblin says the stigma of pot has decreased in recent decades, and many baby boomers now have a “longer-term perspective” about marijuana after witnessing scare stories blow over. “We’ve watched for 40 years and have found a lot of these claims [about the dangers of pot] to be untrue,” he says. Many older adults also feel freer to use the drug now that their children have grown up and left home. Though not all of them are completely open about it. “What’s so ironic to me is how many people grew up hiding marijuana from their parents,” says Doblin, “and now they’re hiding marijuana from their kids.”
A high school social studies teacher in Batavia, Illinois could face disciplinary action for informing students of their Fifth Amendment right to skip self-incriminating questions about drug and alcohol use in a school survey. John Dryden first saw the surveys ten minutes before his first class on April 18, and says the questions about drug and alcohol use concerned him, especially after he had recently finished reviewing the Bill of Rights with his classes. “Somebody needs to remind them they have the ability not to incriminate themselves,” he recalls thinking at the time. This is the first year Batavia has administered such a survey, which was distributed to help measure how students meet the “social-emotional learning standards" set by the state. It was not a diagnostic tool, but a "screener" to detect which students might need specific help, says Brad Newkirk, the school’s chief academic officer. It wasn’t made clear to students whether participation was mandatory or optional, but parents had been notified via email that their children could opt out of the survey if the district was given 24-hour advanced notice. The survey results were to be reviewed by school social workers, counselors, and psychologists—but not law enforcement, according to superintendent Jack Barshinger. But Dryden noted that a police officer was stationed at the school the day the tests were given. The school board is set to discuss the matter today. But though Dryden faces having a “letter of remedy” placed on his employment file, he is reportedly not in danger of being terminated. Nearly 5,000 people have signed an online petition asking the school board not to penalize him.
A new game app challenges you to “end the never-ending war.” It was designed to get people thinking about how hard it is to stop the drug trade.
In Narco Guerra, you are asked to act as Mexico’s Police Chief. You get money, weapons, and troops, and must decide how to deploy these limited resources around Mexico, as you try to rid different parts of the country of cartel activity. Certain actions, like taking down a cartel leader in one area of Mexico, also generate reactions like the emergence of new cartels. This gives users an idea of what the real drug war is like.
"The War on Drugs has been going on for more than 40 years now, and we wanted to explore why that is," said Tomas Rawlings, the game’s developer.
Check out the game’s trailer above.
Seth Rogen Teaches You How to Roll a Cross Joint
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My good friend Logan* was arrested this past weekend for having fake plates on his car. After they arrested him, his friend witnessed an officer planting dirt weed in his glove compartment. What an incredibly fucked up, grimy thing to do. Fucking with the life of a complete stranger who’s actually an awesome person, who didn’t harm anyone, anything. I asked him to write up his story because I want to put it here for people to find and consider, so it’s not forgotten.
So here it is, Logan’s story:
So last week as I’m pulling up to get a haircut from the barber shop in Corona, Queens. Two (female) uniformed officers ran up on me from across the street. I pulled an illegal u turn so I thought that was the reason they stopped me. They proceeded to tell me that my temporary tag looked suspicious. After they investigated further, I was told my tag was fake and they were gonna take me in (to jail) for that. They continued to tell me that there have been a lot of these fake tags going around and that there’s an open investigation on the guy who sold me the car and the fake tag. I asked them why were they taking me in and they said there was no way for them to tell if I was oblivious to the fact that it was fake.
Once I arrived at the precinct they started on my paper work/booking process. They allowed me to call a friend to pick up my stuff from my car because it was gonna have to stay at the police station. When my friends arrived to pick up my stuff the arresting officer which I only remember by the name of Emily continued to search the car at which that point my friend noticed her pull out what appeared to be a small nickel bag of “reggies” aka a bag of regular non high grade marijuana out of the glove compartment of all places. When she returned to the holding cell area which is the same place she was doing my paper work I noticed it and thought it was for some other case and didn’t even think anything of it.
Fast forward to central booking in Kew Gardens, Queens after spending a night in jail for a fake tag I didn’t even know about. I finally got to talk to my appointed lawyer. She went on to read me my charges and told me that I had a charge for marijuana possession! I was like what the fuck! It was clear to me that it was planted in my car by her (female officer) when she acted like she was searching my car. And in the glove compartment of all places. Nobody hides weed there! That’s the spot where you pull your car’s paper work from. When all was said and done, the charges were dropped from felony possession of a fake temp tag and misdemeanor possession of marijuana to disorderly conduct, which isn’t even a misdemeanor. And I have to pay $220 dollars in fines.
While locked up, there were other people in there for the same reason as me. And plenty of other people in there for petty charges. This system is so fucked up. Even though I could prove I bought my car and tag from a dealer there was no way to prove that I didn’t know the tag was fake. Hence theres no way prove my innocence to a (white) jury . As my lawyer told me. So I took the deal.
Born in Abbott, Texas on April 30, 1933 - Willie Nelson is the oldest and wisest celebrity marijuana advocate. He formed the Teapot Party after his marijuana arrest in 2010 and has a place on NORM`L’s advisory board.
Happy birthday, Willie!
…most ecstasy isn’t pure MDMA — it’s often cut with a some unknown filler, as are other drugs like heroin and cocaine. Both caffeine and ephedrine, another stimulant, serve as common fillers for ecstasy because they look and function somewhat similar to MDMA, but are cheaper to obtain. They share some of the speed-like effects of ecstasy, though they don’t give you the same increase in empathy and emotional openness.
There’s also a lot of hand-wringing about how kids these days think “molly” is purer, safer MDMA. But whether or not an adulterant makes your MDMA experience more or less dangerous depends, of course, on what it is. If your pill or powder is laced with something like baking soda, the toxicity of the MDMA would actually be diluted.
"If the adulterant is caffeine or ephedrine, you can get a combination of toxic effects that can be as bad or greater than MDMA alone," Mills says. "They may enhance each other’s toxicity, but definitive studies haven’t been done."
Ecstasy’s toxicity is a scientific mystery because it lacks a clear “dose and response effect,” according to Mills—one person might get sent to the hospital after one pill, while someone else can take 50, no problem. How many people actually die a year from ecstasy-related causes is hard to pin down, but according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there were 22,816 MDMA-related emergency room visits in 2009.
For Mithoefer’s study, under controlled clinical conditions with research-grade, pure MDMA, the drug didn’t show any long-term side effects. Trials of MDMA-assisted PTSD therapy have also been completed in Switzerland and gotten underway in Vancouver.
As for recreational drugs, it’s pretty much impossible to tell whether what you’re buying is 100 percent pure. You can buy test kits to check for some common adulterants. If your drug dealer happens to press his pills with baking soda, a less pure dose could actually be a bit safer, though the effects you’re paying for will also be lessened. Other than that, you’re probably better off with a purer dose of MDMA, rather than something that might be laced with a substance with Death in its nickname.
Police in England are distributing “scratch and sniff” cards to help members of the public detect the telltale aroma of illicit cannabis farms.
The cards, which replicate the distinct smell of growing marijuana, will be mailed to homes in 13 areas throughout the country, in the hope that they will help people to identify cannabis factories in their communities.
[…] Crimestoppers offers a list of clues for spotting cannabis cultivation, including a “strong and sickly sweet smell; visitors at unsociable hours; strong and constant lighting day and night and lots of cables.”
The U.K. saw a 15% growth in cannabis production in 2011-12, according to Crimestoppers, which the group claimed has led to an increase in theft, violence and the use of firearms, as well as an increased risk of fire in residential areas where growers have tampered with electrical supplies. Supplying cannabis in the U.K. can lead to a 14-year prison sentence.