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Tag: "The War On (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs"

Deep Thoughts

[ 115 ] September 29, 2014 |

That the move toward more tobacco prohibition than anytime in U.S. history coincides with the move toward ending prohibition on marijuana is endlessly fascinating to me, and I suspect to anyone familiar with humanity’s complex relationship with body-altering substances.


Crack Babies

[ 97 ] May 20, 2013 |

Hardly surprising that the crack babies “epidemic” in the 1980s was based on poorly designed scientific studies and really was just another tool in white backlash tool box to blame black people for their own poverty and justify the war on some classes of people who use some drugs.

Things I Would Pay Money to Watch

[ 33 ] January 24, 2013 |

I would pay money to watch former Colorado congressman, anti-immigrant racist, and overall jerk Tom Tancredo smoke marijuana. And at least someone is going to have that chance.

Horror and Pornography

[ 71 ] January 10, 2013 |

I hesitate to link to this; take care, because it’s a genuinely horrible story of the death of a small child.  Newspapers acquire, justified or not, reputations for certain kinds of stories. The Lexington Herald Leader, it seems, almost invariably has some terrible tale of something awful befalling a toddler, whether shooting or car accident or fall from great height or some other mishap.

For reasons I haven’t been able to fully articulate, this story affects me more than most.  I’ve thought about it since the incident first hit the news, for reasons that should be obvious.  The story of the last moments is incomparably horrible, both for mother and child. At the same time, the participants oddly defy blame.  The father will likely go to prison, but this is clearly not a case of intentional homicide; it is perhaps too easy for parents to imagine something like this happening, if they ever found themselves with the misfortune of being forced to live in a trailer-turned-meth-lab.

While we can make social-science-laden-public-policy observations about events like this, in a country as large and varied as the United States, the overall impact of any public policy shift is simply to marginally increase or decrease the number of toddlers who die horrible deaths.  Policy shifts can have an impact that is hardly trivial; any of more investment in schools, an easing of drug prohibition, anti-poverty programs, greater access to and information about birth control, and better funded social service programs might have made a difference in this case.  Nevertheless, people are going to die in ways that shock and horrify; state policy only changes the “who” and “how many.”

I should also say that I’ve been reluctant to post on this because of a nagging feeling that, for the family, there ought to be something deeply private about this event. Reading the story, especially in the excruciatingly clinical style of the first link, feels like watching pornography; there’s something wrong about the notion that I have the right to know about it.  The story activates my horror/outrage/despair centers in an almost voyeuristic manner. That the story happens to be true only enhances the emotional rush. Surely the state needs to intervene, even if the principles have already been horribly punished.  Clearly, the media should stand as watchdog to the state, and evaluation of the events should inform our politics and policy. Still, I can’t help but feel that the combination of righteous outrage and horror that I feel when I read about the case is inappropriate; this belongs to someone else, and I have no right to this sense of despair.

Good News

[ 56 ] December 14, 2012 |

I’m not saying an interview on Barbara Walters means a whole lot here, but Obama saying he would not go after Washington and Colorado for legalizing marijuana is a good sign. Does this mean he will call off the DEA in those states? Will he allow the states to set up stores? All the details need to be worked out, but it’s at least useful that Obama is talking in these terms.

Clinton and the Drug War

[ 40 ] December 10, 2012 |

I don’t want to make a big deal out of something that really probably isn’t, but I do think there is some significance to Bill Clinton declaring the drug war a failure. It matters precisely because of the possibility of Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016. Clinton is basically on the campaign trail now in the sense that anything he says could be construed as the position of possible candidate Clinton. Does this potentially mean the move toward decriminalization is beginning to gain traction in the political class? If Democrats at the top levels begin openly questioning drug policy, that is both extremely significant and a sign that the youth agenda is beginning to trickle up.

Again, it may not mean this much. But it isn’t nothing.

Let It Go

[ 141 ] December 7, 2012 |

The Obama Administration needs to let Colorado and Washington have their legal marijuana. Just let it go. The Obama Administration has pretty much let the DEA do what it wants around marijuana, largely I think because Obama just doesn’t care and doesn’t want to waste a single minute thinking about this issue. I understand that. But busting legal marijuana is not that dissimilar from the Defense of Marriage Act, at least in terms of the federal government trying to get in the way of historical processes as the social libertarianism of people under the age of 40 comes of age. Even on the level of morality, it’s hard to argue that putting people in prison for small-scale drug offenses is less immoral than denying marriage equality.

Obama just needs to walk away. Treat it like gay marriage and let the states decide what they want. At the very least, it’s an interesting experiment. If it is a disaster, the states can get rid of it. But the same people who support gay marriage support marijuana legalization. The reconstituted McGovern coalition that has pushed Obama to victory wants this. He could crack down now and it probably won’t cause a huge political backlash, even among his supporters. But like DOMA, 15 years down the road, it’s going to make Obama look pretty stupid as legalization becomes an overwhelming movement.

Let the Silliness Begin

[ 109 ] December 1, 2012 |

Baseball Hall of Fame voting debates are going to be intolerable for the rest of my life.

And personally, Curt Schilling saying that cheaters don’t deserve to be in is pretty funny. What about fleecing the state of Rhode Island, Curt? Should that disqualify you?

The “Romney is to the Left of Obama” Genre of Endorsement Just Reached a New Low

[ 200 ] October 18, 2012 |

I present you Dilbert creator Scott Adams endorsing Mitt Romney–because he believes Romney will be less harsh in prosecuting marijuana usage than Obama.

This gets at the inanity of the civil libertarian arguments throughout much of this election. It’s not that Obama has been good on civil liberties–he has not. He’s been terrible on marijuana legalization, overriding state desires for decriminalization. Personally, I believe that’s because Obama flat out doesn’t care about this issue and thus is letting federal law enforcement do whatever it wants. But whatever, Obama has been bad, as he has been on any number of civil libertarian issues.

However, the idea that Mitt Romney is going to be better than Obama on any one of these issues–drug war, Guantanamo detainees, Patriot Act stuff, drones, spying on citizens, etc., is completely absurd and to say otherwise makes civil libertarians look like complete morons that shouldn’t be taken seriously. Sounds like Dilbert needs to put down the bong and actually learn something about Mitt Romney.

Again, we need a tougher, smarter left, whether on its economic or civil wing. Saying things like Romney wouldn’t prosecute the drug war is an embarrassment.

Today in the War on Drugs

[ 56 ] June 29, 2012 |

Schools and camps are banning sunscreen because it is an over the counter drug or something:

But sunscreen rules are common. They typically stem from state and local policies that stop kids from bringing any drug — including non-prescription drugs — to school, says Jeff Ashley, a California dermatologist who leads an advocacy group called Sun Safety for Kids.

Sunscreens are regulated as over-the-counter drugs, so many districts treat them like aspirin, just to be safe, he says.

H/T to Lindsay.

The Oregon Attorney General Race and the War on Drugs

[ 9 ] May 11, 2012 |

Jill Harris has a nice summary of the Oregon Attorney General race, one of the most interesting and potentially important downticket races this year. Because the Republicans stupidly decided not to run someone here, it’s being decided in the upcoming Democratic primary on May 15 (and under Oregon mail voting laws, people are already sending in their ballots).

Although there are 2 Democrats running, they are different as night and day. This has turned into a single-issue race: medical marijuana and drug decriminalization. Former Interim U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton is running on his record as a drug buster, using all the typical anti-drug hysteria one would expect. The other candidate, Ellen Rosenblum, is a former judge who didn’t intend on running on medical marijuana, but when the ground began to shift, stated her progressive position on it, even visiting medical marijuana clinics on campaign stops.

A Holton victory certainly will not only put the clamps down on Oregon’s medical marijuana laws but will be a pretty big defeat for those who support these laws. If a pro-medical pot candidate can’t win in Oregon, can one win anywhere? The upshot of a Rosenblum victory is a bit less clear to me. With Obama’s increasingly aggressive crackdown on marijuana growers and the continued hostility of law enforcement, I don’t know that it moves Oregon off of the standoff it already has with the feds. But it would be a rare case of a state’s top law enforcement officer being elected on an explicitly pro-medical marijuana platform and that’s meaningful.

Harris doesn’t provide any polling data. Internal polls have each candidate ahead, with Rosenblum’s poll giving her a sizable lead and Holton’s a small one. Neither poll seems all that telling to me. Given that this is a Democratic primary in Oregon and not a general election, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see Rosenblum win. And this gets back to the stupidity of Republicans for not running someone. I don’t know whether Rosenblum could win a statewide race against a credible Republican on this platform. It’s possible, but I don’t see how it wasn’t worth a shot at least for Republicans. Of course, given the Oregon Republican Party’s complete lack of credibility (please continue to nominate right-wing extremists and indifferent athletes in a state dominated by Portland and Eugene!), they might not have anyone credible to run.

More Rush

[ 22 ] March 2, 2012 |

This seems a good time to post this song by the great and utterly unknown songwriter Buddy Tabor, who paints houses in Juneau and writes amazing songs. This is not really one of my favorites, but it does remind that Rush is a horrible person and a shameless hypocrite about drug use as well as women.

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