Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, delivered this TED Talk at TEDGlobal 2014 about the insanity of the drug war.
The reason some drugs are legal and others are not has nothing to do with science or health or the risk of drugs, and everything to do with who uses, and is perceived to use, certain drugs. If the principal smokers of cocaine were affluent older white men and the principal users of Viagra were young black men, using Viagra would land you time behind bars.
In "continuing education" seminars, cops are instructed to be on the lookout for people with nice stuff that can be easily resold, figure out a crime that those people might be guilty of, and tell the City Attorney so that that stuff can be grabbed through "civil forfeiture."
Carrying on the sleazy tradition of professional liar Harry J. Anslinger (first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department's Federal Bureau of Narcotics), weed prohibitionists are stretching the truth and outright fibbing in a desperate attempt to reverse the nationwide trend towards legalization.
The Laurens, GA County Sheriff's Dept broke down David and Teresa Hooks' door and fatally shot David Hooks on a tip from Randall Garrett, a burglar with multiple felony convictions, who said he saw meth while robbing their house.
As reported here, almost all of them were issued by a single cop, who hates legal weed and subjected his victims to humiliating rituals like flipping a coin to see which ones would get the ticket and which would walk away free.
62,000 US drivers have been pulled over and had their cash seized by small-town American cops in the past 13 years, under civil forfeiture laws that let them declare anyone to be a probable terrorist and/or drug dealer and take their money without charge or evidence; the only way to get it back is to hire a lawyer and return, over and over again, to the tiny town you were passing through when you were robbed at badgepoint.
They may be corrupt, authoritarian, racist and sleazy, but their FPRG-inspired mission patches are cool -- but of course, square-ass pinks who take jobs as DEA spooks are so lame that they flog them on Ebay, for your ironic fashion pleasure.
DA Thompson's order really doesn't eliminate that many possession arrests. His memo stated that those smoking in public (especially around children), 16-17-year-old offenders (who will be placed into a diversion program) and people with existing criminal records will still be prosecuted. This just leaves mainly the truly harmless: recreational users.
But the War on Drugs is every bit as essential to the NYPD as the War on Terror, and the NYPD (with new chief Bill Bratton's blessing) will continue to make meaningless arrests -- arrests made even more meaningless by DA Thompson's announcement.
If nothing else, this ensures the sort of job security that's usually only touted in sarcastic tones by the deeply cynical. According to the New York Times, arresting recreational users is full-time work for Brooklyn cops.
Rural counties across Indiana have been purchasing Afghanistan-surplus tanks with gunner turrets and heavy armour; most recently, it was Johnson County, whose Sheriff, Doug Cox, justified the purchase by saying, "The United States of America has become a war zone."
The 55,000lb "mine resistant ambush protected" tank (MRAP) was a steal at $5,000 (original price: $733,000), part of a bizarro-world peace dividend from the Afghanistan and Iraq drawdown, which sees the toolsuite of a military occupying force being flogged at knock-down rates to macho shithead sheriffs across the American heartland for deployment against American civilians.
For example, Johnson County SWAT used their MRAP to break up a fight between two drunks, and in Morgan County, the requisition for their MRAP said it was to be used for a variety of purposes, including "drug search warrants and felony arrest warrants." By and large, counties acquiring these tanks have no formal policy about when and how they can be used.
Michael from Mother Jones writes, "Most people who use marijuana probably don't give much thought to where it comes from. Alas, a huge chunk of it comes from environmentally devastating 'trespass grows' in the national forests, where the growers cut down trees, divert waterways for irrigation, and deploy rodent poison that makes its way into species that are under threat, including birds and weasel-like mammals called fishers. 'I would consider it the No. 1 threat to salmon' in Northern California, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist tells Josh Harkinson, who reported the story for Mother Jones."
Gasser's trial is positioned as a major move in the struggle to end the damage the War on Some Drugs has wrought on legitimate medicine. It used a randomized double-blind protocol to dose some dying patients (most with terminal cancer) with LSD as part of an anxiety-reduction strategy. The results were dramatic and positive. In a NYT story, some Gasser's patients relate their experiences with the therapy:
Michael from Muckrock sez, "MuckRock user CJ Ciaramella stumbled upon some recently interesting documents with a recent FOIA request: The DEA's training materials regarding parallel construction, the practice of reverse engineering the evidence chain to keep how the government actually knows something happened away from prosecutors, the defense, and the public. 'Americans don't like it,' the materials note, when the government relies heavily on classified sources, so agents are encouraged to find ways to get the same information through tactics like 'routine' traffic stops that coincidentally find the information agents are after."
Hilariously, the squad who engage in this obfuscation are called the "taint review team."
The crime-fighting legal eagles at the Department of Justice approved the settlement last week. Remember, though, if you are suspected of laundering money or selling drugs, the DoJ will take your house away and put you in jail for the rest of your life. Nice to be "too big to jail." Still, deferring multimillion-dollar bonuses has gotta hurt, huh?