Interesting Tim Dickinson piece in Rolling Stone about the Obama Administration entering into an all-out war on medical marijuana. Dickinson doesn’t provide many answers as to why this has happened, noting the relatively sane policy the administration took in its first 2 years and then a complete about-face in the last year. He suggests that it might be career drug warriors making a stand and a president who honestly doesn’t care very much about this issue. That does make some sense. Still, given the widespread support for medical marijuana and increasing support for decriminalization of the drug in small amounts, this is an unfortunate turn of events.
No doubt all those who are outraged at the federal government cracking down on “states’ rights” will find the DEA going after medical marijuana in California equally shocking…..
A new survey of the world’s most deadly cities show that the top 33 are in the Americas, with the vast majority along the drug highway in North America and northern South America, beginning with San Pedro Sula, Honduras, followed by Ciudad Juarez. This includes New Orleans and Detroit. At #34 sits Cape Town. Mosul is #44. What do all these cities in the Americas have in common? I can think of two things. First, they are on the road to the United States for drugs. Second, the all have violence fueled by the loose gun laws of the United States. While it would be naive to argue that legalizing marijuana would completely solve these problems (drug gangs are already transitioning into kidnapping, extortion, illegal logging, and other illicit activities), ending the war on some people who do some drugs would sure make a huge difference.
The second thing Americans could do would be enacting reasonable gun control legislation. Since we will do neither, we can expect these horrible numbers to continue. White Republicans will talk about the savage nature of brown people killing each other and demand ever higher walls on the border, either unaware or unconcerned with how the policies they espouse fuel these horrors.
It would be easier to stomach the federal government intervening into the Greatest Scandal There Absolutely Ever Was if it was just empty posturing, but alas in addition we have to light tens of millions of dollars on fire.
This exhaustive explanation of why Jeff Bagwell — an obvious Hall of Famer on the merits — wasn’t even named on half the ballots last time does indeed contain every “reason” not to vote for him:
Jeff Bagwell played from 1991 to 2005, and he was muscular.
That’s it. We don’t don’t even have an unusual aging patterns from which a witch-hunter might infer causation; he was an excellent prospect, was steadily good, peaked at age 27, and had his last good year at age 35. There’s no reason to keep him out of the Hall of Fame, not even the really terrible reason that he used steroids.
And, yet, this collective guilt illogic on the part of the drug warriors makes perfect sense. Obviously, the idea that great players should be kept out of the Hall of Fame for violating non-enforced non-rules is going to be unsustainable in the long run. But nothing is going to end the silliness faster than someone who’s already in Cooperstown admitting that they used PEDs. (Well, there are already people in Cooperstown who used PEDs, but I mean the PEDs that are associated with a higher-offense context in which players could break records that boomers believe should permanently belong to their childhood icons.) So the fewer sluggers inducted from that era the longer sportswriters will be able to keep up the witch hunt. Players against whom there is no evidence whatsoever of steroid use are going to have to be at least temporary collateral damage in this particular front of the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs.
Read David Axe’s fantastic account of the Pima County SWAT raid:
The May 5 assault by a Pima County SWAT team on an address on Red Water Street, outside Tucson, was meant to apprehend a suspected member of a “rip crew” — a team of heavily-armed thugs, working for one of the cartels, that steals drugs from rival cartels. The special-weapons team, made up of at least seven men and seen in the leaked helmet-camera footage above, would pull up in a “Bearcat” vehicle — a sort of law-enforcement-optimized Humvee. Then they’d bust into the single-story house, hold the occupants at gunpoint and serve a search warrant, looking for drugs, illegal weapons and other evidence of cartel involvement. Just another day for a team accustomed to risky missions.
But something went very wrong. And within seconds of ramming in the door, the SWAT team opened fire, killing Jose Guerena, the owner of the house. Guerena, a 26-year-old Marine veteran, reportedly confronted the police with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, possibly to protect his wife kids, who were huddled in rooms behind him.
Let’s say it again; there is no remaining plausible defense for the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs. Whatever interest the state may have in controlling consumption of certain substances is clearly overwhelmed by the economic, social, and legal cost of enforcing prohibition.
I have an article up at the Prospect putting this week’s diminution of Fourth Amendment rights in context:
That the other eight justices signed on to the majority opinion shows how bipartisan a cause the war on drugs has become. It is especially disappointing that President Barack Obama’s two appointees — Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — joined the majority to dilute Fourth Amendment protections. It is too early to fully evaluate either justice, but their decision in King vindicates progressives who felt that Obama squandered an opportunity to install committed civil libertarians on the Court. Ginsburg, 78 and in poor health, is the only justice on the Court with a strong commitment to civil liberties, and given the likely configuration of the Senate even if Obama wins re-election, it will be difficult to replace her.
As with the broader drug war, civil-liberties violations have a disparate impact in terms of race and class. It is generally not wealthy white suburbanites who have to worry about being stopped and frisked on the streets or having their doors broken down. Like the grotesquely harsh sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine possession, this erosion of Fourth Amendment rights has persisted because wealthy people are largely insulated from its effects.
All of these civil-liberties violations might be more tolerable if they were part of a valuable and effective policy. But while the drug war has been successful at locking up huge numbers of people (especially young African American men), it’s done little to reduce drug use. Alas, the drug war has been far more effective in curbing our civil liberties.
Brief addendum to Scott’s post, which Brad P. also linked:
Guerena, who joined the Marines in 2002 and served two tours in Iraq, was killed just after 9 a.m. May 5. Guerera had just gone to bed after working a 12-hour shift at a local mine when his home was invaded as part of a multi-house crackdown by sheriff’s deputies…
Tucson KGUN’s Joel Waldman says the SWAT team prevented paramedics from going to work on Guerena for one hour and fourteen minutes.
The sheriff’s department maintains that Guerena was holding an AR-15 when the paramilitary force fired 71 bullets in his home, but other key parts of the government story have collapsed. While PCSD initially claimed Guerena fired the weapon he was alleged to have been holding, the department now says it was a misfire by one of the deputies that caused this deadly group panic inside a home containing a woman and a toddler.
On this, I think Sheehan gets it right: “The best use of $55 million since Darren Dreifort.”
Slightly longer version here.
David Simon on the arrest of Felicia Pearson.
Depressing, but not surprising:
There have been about 350,000 arrests for marijuana possession since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took office in 2002, the policy alliance said.
Seventy percent of those arrested are younger than 30, and 86 percent are black or Latino, even though, according to the Drug Policy Group, “young whites use marijuana at higher rates.”
And, of course, this discriminatory enforcement is not a coincidence; it’s what allows draconian drug laws to stay in the books. In theory, this where courts should intervene. In practice, the same Supreme Court that is very concerned about the “discrimination” inherent in local school boards voluntarily desegregating couldn’t care less about the actual invidious discrimination of the War on Drugs.