Recently in Drugs Category
A bipartisan group of seven lawmakers today called on the president to fire the acting leader of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Chuck Rosenberg. They join nearly 100,000 people who've signed an online petition similarly calling for Rosenberg's removal after he infuriated patients and advocates by dismissing medical marijuana as "a joke" earlier this month.
Rosenberg's statements are "indicative of a throwback ideology rooted in a failed War on Drugs," the letter, spearheaded by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D.-Or.), begins.
One might forgive a fellow who was appointed to lead the Congressionally-mandated effort to suppress drug use for not sharing the view that the effort has failed, especially since we have no way of knowing what levels of drug use would be but for that effort. Still, you get the point. You either agree with the views of the 1.3% of legislators who signed the letter, or you are unfit for office.
I am pleased to see this important issue getting attention. However, there is a big difference between saying this is something candidates must address and coming to a consensus on how to address it. One thing we don't need is vague, boundless faith in "treatment" without an awareness of how difficult it is to keep addicts in treatment.
Voters rejected the measure with 64 percent opposed and only 36 percent in favor. It was defeated in every single one of Ohio's 88 counties, some of which voted against the bill by huge margins, according to preliminary numbers: 55 percentage points in Holmes County. 60 in Mercer. 65 in Putnam.
The bill was likely doomed to fail from the get-go for a variety of reasons. It was an off-off election year, where voters are older and more conservative. Ohio has never exactly been a bastion of marijuana culture. And most crucially, the bill would have created a state-mandated oligopoly on the production of marijuana, with a handful of the measure's wealthy backers as the primary beneficiaries.* * *
Issue 3 would create a marijuana "monopoly" (actually, an oligopoly) consisting of 10 producers who would have their exclusive rights to engage in the commercial production of marijuana enshrined in the state constitution. The campaign in support of Issue 3 -- so-called Responsible Ohio -- is predictably supported by those who would hold these exclusive rights. This is crony capitalism at its worst.As I have mentioned on this blog before, I see a legalized marijuana industry as a greater threat than legalization as such. Legal producers with a First Amendment right to promote their product will increase consumption considerably above and beyond what legalization alone will do, as we have seen so disastrously with tobacco, and that is not good.
My solution, given that I think legalization is inevitable, is for the government to monopolize the business itself, as some states do with liquor at the retail level and many states do with the numbers racket at the wholesale level. Few seem to be interested in that, though. Some people are dead set against legalization in any form despite the seeming inevitability, and some are gung ho for maximizing consumption despite the medical evidence of ill effects and the slim-to-none benefits.
The legislature has put another proposition on the same ballot forbidding putting monopolies in the state constitution. What happens if they both pass? In California we have a nice, clear rule. If two contradictory measures pass on the same ballot, the one that gets more votes prevails. (Article II § 10(b).) Apparently Ohio has no clear answer.
[Contrary to President] Obama, the state prison population (which accounts for 87 percent of the nation's prisoners) is dominated by violent criminals and serial thieves. In 2013, drug offenders made up less than 16 percent of the state prison population, whereas violent felons were 54 percent of the rolls and property offenders, 19 percent. (See graph below.) Reducing drug admissions to 15 large state penitentiaries by half would lower those states' prison count by only 7 percent, according to the Urban Institute.
[The Post reporter] is quite right to highlight the statistical reality that lots more imprisoned offenders are behind bars for violent offenses than for drug crimes. But he fails to acknowledge that a considerable amount of violent crime is related to black market turf wars and that the failure to treat effectively drug addictions and related woes often drive property crimes. American legal and social history should provide a ready reminder of these realities: violent and property crimes (and incarceration rates) spiked considerably during alcohol Prohibition not because of greater alcohol use but due to enhanced incentives for otherwise law-abiding people to profit in the black market from others' desire for a drink.
Given the relatively small share of drug offenders, ending the war on drugs would not significantly alter the racial disparity in incarceration rates, contrary to the conventional wisdom.
Blacks make up 37.5 percent of all state prisoners, about triple their share of the population as a whole, according to the Justice Department. If we released all 208,000 people currently in state prison on a drug charge, the proportion of African Americans in state prison would still be 37 percent.
Translation: Sentencing reform has been doing a lot of false advertising. The kinds of proposals we see being put forward about leniency for "low level, non-violent" drug offenders will neither decrease the prison population to anything like what reformers demand, nor will they do anything at all to curb racial disparity in the prison population.
The idea that society should decide about incarceration based on racial statistics is repulsive to me (I guess we don't have enough Jewish prisoners, yes?), but, as the Post article shows, even if we were to adopt it, it won't produce the claimed results.
...is the misconception that the drug can't hurt anybody. It can, especially young people.
The myth that marijuana is not habit-forming is constantly challenged by physicians. "There's no question at all that marijuana is addictive," Dr. Sharon Levy tells me. She is the director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children's Hospital, one of a few programs designed to preemptively identify substance use problems in teens. At least 1 in 11 young adults who begin smoking will develop an addiction to marijuana, even more among those who use the more potent products that are entering the market.
Heroin use is increasing rapidly across the United States among all age, race, income and ethnic groups, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday. And the increase comes with a devastating price: Deaths from heroin-related overdoses nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013.
Heroin use doubled among women and young adults ages 18 to 25, and more than doubled among non-Hispanic whites. Some of the highest increases were in groups with historically low rates of abuse: women, people with higher incomes and people who are privately insured.
In other words, as we lose our nerve in the war against drugs -- to the point that Congress is (apparently) thinking breezily about lowering penalties for illicit drugs of every sort -- the human toll is exploding, and reaching into groups where it was little known before.
Indeed, DrugWarFacts.org, a pro-legalization group, acknowledges in this chart that there were 17,000 deaths per year from illicit drugs (and that's using 2002 data), Moreover, in 2013, before this year's spike, there were 8,257 heroin overdose deaths alone.
It's not the drug war that kills. It's drugs that kill.
Mexican cartels have overtaken the U.S. heroin trade, imposing an almost corporate discipline. They grow and process the drug themselves, increasingly replacing their traditional black tar with an innovative high-quality powder with mass market appeal: It can be smoked or snorted by newcomers as well as shot up by hard-core addicts.
They have broadened distribution beyond the old big-city heroin centers like Chicago or New York to target unlikely places such as Dayton. The midsize Midwestern city today is considered to be an epicenter of the heroin problem, with addicts buying and overdosing in unsettling droves. Crack dealers on street corners have been supplanted by heroin dealers ranging across a far wider landscape, almost invisible to law enforcement. They arrange deals by cellphone and deliver heroin like pizza.
Then there was this chilling line:
Libertarian theory looks upon the "opportunity" to traffic in drugs as a hallmark of individual freedom. I look upon it as one of the most heartless and grotesque forms of murder.
Pellets bursting [inside the carrier's intestine] was a courier's worst fear. Once in Lorain, Ohio, a courier started foaming at the mouth, and his handler called down to Mexico to figure out what to do. As authorities listened via wiretap, the handler was told to cut the courier open and retrieve the remaining drugs.
A move to lower the lengthy prison sentence of a top associate of one of Washington's most notorious drug lords has prompted a federal judge to ask whether the nation's nascent drive to reduce prison populations might already be going too far.