Fuck Yeah Drug Policy
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"Human Rights Watch has long documented the widespread human rights abuses resulting from [the war on drugs]: in the United States, the devastation that disproportionate prison sentences for drug offenses have wrought on individuals and their families and disturbing racial disparities in drug law enforcement; in Mexico, the killings committed in the name of combatting drugs; in Canada, the US, and Russia, how fear of criminal law enforcement deters people who use drugs from accessing necessary health services, exposing them to violence, discrimination, and illness; in Afghanistan and Colombia, how narcotics production has fueled armed groups opposed or allied to the government; in India, Ukraine, and Senegal, how cancer patients suffer severe pain due to drug control regulations that render morphine inaccessible; and in China, Vietnam, and Cambodia, the “drug rehabilitation centers” where people are subjected to torture, forced labor, and sexual abuse."

The Human Rights Case for Drug Reform: How Criminalization Destroys Lives, Feeds Abuses, and Subverts the Rule of Law

The war on drugs breeds a lot of negative consequences — so many that I’ve never been able to list them all in just a few words. And that’s why this is awesome.

here’s everything the president said about drug policy in yesterday’s new yorker interview
Obama: Marijuana Is Less Dangerous Than Alcohol
President Obama’s comments on marijuana prohibition in a new interview with The New Yorker have made waves since it was published on Sunday. In it, the president likened marijuana to cigarettes and alcohol, going a step further to admit marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol:

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol … [Marijuana is less dangerous] in terms of its impact on the individual consumer. It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.

This statement contradicts the federal government’s position on marijuana, which classifies weed as a Schedule I drug, the “most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence” having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” According to the federal government, marijuana is just as harmful as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy — also Schedule I drugs. 
The president also discussed the unjust racial impact of our marijuana policies: 

“Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do. And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties … We should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.”

To remedy this inequality, he endorsed the pot legalization experiments in Colorado and Washington.

"It’s important for [the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington] to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

But he adds that we should be wary of slippery-slope arguments that could arise about legalizing harder drugs like meth and cocaine — which, by the way, is in Schedule II. 

“Having said all that, those who argue that legalizing marijuana is a panacea and it solves all these social problems I think are probably overstating the case. There is a lot of hair on that policy. And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge … I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues. If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka, are we open to that? If somebody says, We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth, are we O.K. with that?”

Read the full interview

here’s everything the president said about drug policy in yesterday’s new yorker interview

Obama: Marijuana Is Less Dangerous Than Alcohol

President Obama’s comments on marijuana prohibition in a new interview with The New Yorker have made waves since it was published on Sunday. In it, the president likened marijuana to cigarettes and alcohol, going a step further to admit marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol:

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol … [Marijuana is less dangerous] in terms of its impact on the individual consumer. It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.

This statement contradicts the federal government’s position on marijuana, which classifies weed as a Schedule I drug, the “most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence” having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” According to the federal government, marijuana is just as harmful as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy — also Schedule I drugs. 

The president also discussed the unjust racial impact of our marijuana policies: 

“Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do. And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties … We should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.”

To remedy this inequality, he endorsed the pot legalization experiments in Colorado and Washington.

"It’s important for [the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington] to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

But he adds that we should be wary of slippery-slope arguments that could arise about legalizing harder drugs like meth and cocaine — which, by the way, is in Schedule II

“Having said all that, those who argue that legalizing marijuana is a panacea and it solves all these social problems I think are probably overstating the case. There is a lot of hair on that policy. And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge … I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues. If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka, are we open to that? If somebody says, We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth, are we O.K. with that?”

Read the full interview

"Marijuana is demonized as a demotivational habit of a lazy crowd, but I am a high performing, innovative, overachiever who uses marijuana to relax after a hard day’s work. I have two college degrees and over a dozen patents in computer science. Like any habit, abuse leads to problems, but properly used in moderation I feel that marijuana is a boon to society, especially when you contrast its effects to alcohol consumption."
Computer engineer farmer808 has been smoking cannabis since middle school. He is now in his mid 40s and works as a computer engineer for a multinational company. He has a medical marijuana card due to chronic back pain – via I like weed, and I’m a good person: Pot smokers fight stereotypes | CNN
You Can Now Buy Recreational Weed in Colorado
It’s “a great day in Colorado, not just because marijuana is legal, but because now it is not illegal.” 
This morning, Colorado made history as its new marijuana law went into full effect. Recreational marijuana retailers opened their doors to customers — including an Iraq war veteran — for the first time in U.S history.
Colorado residents who are at least 21 can buy up to an ounce of marijuana in one transaction, while people from out of state can buy a quarter ounce. The state projects $578.1 million in annual revenue from combined wholesale and retail marijuana sales to yield $67 million in tax revenue.  
In Washington, where voters passed a similar measure, retailers will begin selling marijuana around June. The state has received 867 retail license applications as of late December.

You Can Now Buy Recreational Weed in Colorado

It’s “a great day in Colorado, not just because marijuana is legal, but because now it is not illegal.” 

This morning, Colorado made history as its new marijuana law went into full effect. Recreational marijuana retailers opened their doors to customers — including an Iraq war veteran — for the first time in U.S history.

Colorado residents who are at least 21 can buy up to an ounce of marijuana in one transaction, while people from out of state can buy a quarter ounce. The state projects $578.1 million in annual revenue from combined wholesale and retail marijuana sales to yield $67 million in tax revenue.  

In Washington, where voters passed a similar measure, retailers will begin selling marijuana around June. The state has received 867 retail license applications as of late December.

"Our marijuana laws are outdated, ineffective and stupid … I am progressive by birth, by nature, by philosophy. But I am a small ‘p’ progressive. I don’t believe that laws against things that people do regularly, like safe and responsible use of marijuana, make any sense."

Peter Lewis (Nov. 11, 1933 – Nov. 23, 2013)

On Saturday, Peter Lewis (chairman of Progressive Insurance) passed away just weeks after celebrating his 80th birthday. Perhaps the country’s most high-profile billionaire backer of drug law reform, NORML estimates he had spent well over $40 million funding the cause since the 1980s.

"For 50 years, we have tried to tackle the drug problem with only one tool – penalization – and that has failed. As a result, we now have more consumers, bigger criminal organizations, money laundering, arms trafficking and collateral damage. As a control model, we’re convinced that it is more harmful than the drugs themselves."
Julio Calzada, presidential adviser and head of Uruguay’s National Committee on Drugs (via The Guardian)
"In this age of global warming and economic deprivation, what is being fostered by the DEA is the old industrial model of medicine: mass production, standardization, and monopoly production, allowing only a handful of employees of a single company the privilege to privately cultivate cumulatively thousands upon thousands of marijuana-cannabis plants … we need to be decentralizing medical cannabis. This is the only way to ensure that most who need it will be able to access it at a reasonable cost and that discovery and innovation can be optimized. There is nothing inherently amiss with cannabis-based pharmaceutical production, but the operation of such industry and its eventual product approval should not be allowed to exclude or impede general medicinal access to the class of organic botanicals from which such preparations are ultimately derived. If people understood that this decision to allow only ‘the few’ to legitimately produce cannabis rather than ‘the many’ was being made on their behalf, perhaps they would be compelled to stand up for a right that is essential for all: to farm and cultivate members of the Plant Kingdom in your locality."
"If a person is weak enough to let a song affect their decision-making process when it comes to a drug, that don’t have to do with the artist. That has to do with the parenting, and the environment, and where that person comes from.

Molly ain’t the issue. It’s people. People have violent and psychotic behaviors. It’s not the drug that does it. There are people who do Molly every night and don’t do anything wrong. There are people who are on that shit and not violent. I can’t blame the drug."
"I can’t imagine that [marijuana legalization is] going to happen, no. The deeper issue is, what does it mean to live in a free country? In the US, something like 80 percent of people in prison are there for ‘consensual crimes.’
I tend to not like politicians, because it’s a subtle form of prostitution. Or maybe not so subtle. It’s all synchronized swimming to me. They all kneel and kiss the ring. Who’s going to take on the oil industry or the medical industry?
People compare Obama to Lyndon Johnson, but I think a better comparison is between Obama and Nixon. Because Nixon came into office saying he was going to pull out of Vietnam, and then he escalated the war. A lot of us were led to believe that Obama was the peace president, but there are still, I think, 70,000 troops in Afghanistan. 
I’m an anarchist, I guess you could say. I think people could be just fine looking after themselves.”
 — Woody Harrelson

"I can’t imagine that [marijuana legalization is] going to happen, no. The deeper issue is, what does it mean to live in a free country? In the US, something like 80 percent of people in prison are there for ‘consensual crimes.’

I tend to not like politicians, because it’s a subtle form of prostitution. Or maybe not so subtle. It’s all synchronized swimming to me. They all kneel and kiss the ring. Who’s going to take on the oil industry or the medical industry?

People compare Obama to Lyndon Johnson, but I think a better comparison is between Obama and Nixon. Because Nixon came into office saying he was going to pull out of Vietnam, and then he escalated the war. A lot of us were led to believe that Obama was the peace president, but there are still, I think, 70,000 troops in Afghanistan. 

I’m an anarchist, I guess you could say. I think people could be just fine looking after themselves.”

 — Woody Harrelson

"Because [cannabidiol] comes from marijuana, there are obvious political issues surrounding its use [to treat schizophrenia]. Extracting it from the plant is also expensive. But the biggest barrier may be that CBD is a natural compound, and therefore can’t be patented the way new drugs are. That means that despite the possibility that it could outsell their current blockbuster antipsychotic drugs, pharmaceutical companies aren’t likely to develop it — a particularly striking fact when you consider that every major manufacturer of new generation antipsychotics in the U.S. has so far paid out hundreds of millions or billions of dollars in fines for mismarketing these drugs. Yet they still reaped huge profits."

Maia Szalavitz - Clinical Trial: Marijuana Compound Treats Schizophrenia with Few Side Effects

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.”

full article


"I’m particularly concerned about how the war on drugs has destroyed the fabric of the black community in America. I grew up in a lower middle-class neighborhood in Queens that was destroyed by drugs. It was the heroin capital of Queens. Everybody shot dope. My friend in the eighth grade was shooting dope. I’ve seen the suffering first-hand and I’ve been involved in the suffering too. I used every drug there is, back in the day, but it didn’t make me a bad person: it just made me a sad person, a diseased person. It didn’t make me a criminal.
What would have made me a criminal is if I’d been arrested and sent to jail for 20 years, which could have happened easily. A great number of kids in my neighbourhood did go to jail, and they didn’t come out so well. They were educated in criminal behaviour, came home violent criminals, and became repeat offenders.”

— Russell Simmons: the war on drugs made victims of the black community | The Guardian

"I’m particularly concerned about how the war on drugs has destroyed the fabric of the black community in America. I grew up in a lower middle-class neighborhood in Queens that was destroyed by drugs. It was the heroin capital of Queens. Everybody shot dope. My friend in the eighth grade was shooting dope. I’ve seen the suffering first-hand and I’ve been involved in the suffering too. I used every drug there is, back in the day, but it didn’t make me a bad person: it just made me a sad person, a diseased person. It didn’t make me a criminal.

What would have made me a criminal is if I’d been arrested and sent to jail for 20 years, which could have happened easily. A great number of kids in my neighbourhood did go to jail, and they didn’t come out so well. They were educated in criminal behaviour, came home violent criminals, and became repeat offenders.”

Russell Simmons: the war on drugs made victims of the black community | The Guardian

"Cannabis is a truly global phenomenon. Reports on cultivation and seizures of cannabis and on sources of cannabis products illustrate that cannabis is not only consumed in all countries in the form of cannabis herb (marijuana), it is also grown in most of them."
— United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime - World Drug Report 2012 (via The Joint Blog)

"Cannabis is a truly global phenomenon. Reports on cultivation and seizures of cannabis and on sources of cannabis products illustrate that cannabis is not only consumed in all countries in the form of cannabis herb (marijuana), it is also grown in most of them."

 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime - World Drug Report 2012 (via The Joint Blog)

"The modern world is characterized by a mass-mindedness in which the betterment of society is seen as the product of “social engineering” directed by institutional authorities."

Consider the number of people who have taken drugs that are purported to cause violence. More than 37 million Americans report trying cocaine at least once; 9 million have admitted smoking crack; LSD has been taken by some 23 million U.S citizens. Imagine the mayhem if each of these users turned violent.

Further, synthetic marijuana — which is sold as “K2″ or “Spice” and has also been blamed recently for violent crimes — has been tried by 11% of American high school seniors. There are no figures for another “legal high” known as bath salts, which contain amphetamine-like compounds and which an emergency room doctor blamed for the Miami attack.

Basically, if drugs were a simple cause of violence, we’d be in far more trouble than we are now, with a crime rate many times what it actually is. Indeed, despite the rise of the new legal highs, rates of violent crime have generally adhered to a decades-long decline.

— Maia Szalavitz - Why Drugs Are Getting a Bum Rap in the Miami Face-Eating Attack | TIME  

"Nothing changes when it comes to the drug war. Just more death and destruction — and corruption, robberies, muggings, overcrowded prisons, gang wars, and violence, all with no impact on the supply of drugs. They kill one smuggler or they bust one drug cartel, and ten more pop up. Decade after decade after decade doing the same thing and hoping for a different result. Like the Energizer Bunny, the drug war just keep going and going and going."