This Fantasy World of Drug Prohibition

This Fantasy World of Drug Prohibition
Posted by CN Staff on February 27, 2003 at 21:38:36 PT
By Johann Hari
Source: Independent UK
The United Nations International Narcotic Control Board (INCB) has attacked one of the few progressive drugs reforms introduced by any British government since the disastrous tide of prohibition began to roll across the world in the 1960s. The downgrading of cannabis – a drug which more than half of all British citizens under the age of 30 have tried – from Class B to Class C, earmarked for this Easter, was the barest minimum that could be done in a country where even The Daily Telegraph, Peter Lilley and The Economist support legalisation. 
Yet the INCB has condemned it as a move made by a government "intimidated by a vocal minority that wants to legalise illicit drug use". This "vocal minority" includes, according to a 2001 ICM poll, more than half of all British people when it comes to cannabis.The INCB is among the world's most hardline exponents of drug prohibition. Whenever a country moves in the direction of greater tolerance and reducing harm, the INCB is there to beat it with a big stick. Despite its disingenuous attempt yesterday to claim to speak on behalf of African nations, it is effectively a puppet of the United States, a nation whose drugs record speaks for itself. The latest US Department of Health found last year that despite endless "crackdowns" over two decades, 87 million Americans have used illegal drugs, and nearly a million regularly use the most hardcore of all, crack cocaine.The intellectual poverty of the prohibitionists is so obvious that it no longer merits serious discussion. They are not interested in evidence from the real world; they are simply blinkered ideologues. Yet the INCB still tries to enforce the catastrophic US model across the globe. Any nation that tries to liberalise its drugs policy finds itself, as Britain has, under intense US/UN pressure.Through the INCB, they oppose even the most basic harm-reduction tactics, such as injecting rooms where heroin addicts can inject under supervision in case they overdose; needle exchanges (to avoid HIV infection); heroin prescription (proven to reduce property crimes, because addicts no longer need to steal to fund their habit); and ecstasy testing in clubs, combined with education about the drug (which could save the lives of the few people who do die using ecstasy).As Danny Kushlick, director of the increasingly influential Transform Drugs Policy Institute, explains: "There is now a serious tension emerging between the US approach to drugs – which is being aggressively forced on the world – and the European harm-reduction philosophy which is gradually emerging. Portugal has effectively decriminalised personal possession of all drugs; and in Spain and Italy, personal possession is now only a civil offence."At the moment, the European approach remains – just – within the boundaries of the international drug-control treaties, regulated by the UN, that were set up in successive waves in 1961, 1971 and 1988. Even these changes are achieved mostly by exploiting clauses about medical necessity. For example, needle exchanges, which test the ultra-prohibitionist spirit of the treaties, are justified by the Dutch with reference to the clauses about individual health. But no European country can move towards full legalisation of production and supply while remaining within the treaties' constraints. Sooner or later, there will be a blatant challenge to the treaties by a European country that wants to travel this path, although massive diplomatic pressure will be exerted to rein it back.The US-imposed constraints on South America are even greater. In Colombia, 40 per cent of the national economy is based on the international trade in drugs. The distorting effect on the entire country is immeasurable, with billions sloshing around in illegal funds, corrupting both politics and the administration of law. This is exacerbated by a US policy of mass-spraying, with noxious herbicides, of fields suspected to be used for cocaine-related crops. Tens of thousands of acres of land belonging to poverty-stricken small farmers have been destroyed, the environmental damage is devastating, and yet the policy is so ineffective that since it began the cocaine yield from Colombia has trebled.The idea that the drugs market can be stamped out is a fantasy. A kilo of cocaine is worth £1,000 in Colombia, but, because of the massive inflationary effects of prohibition, it is worth £30,000 by the time it reaches the streets of London. Wherever there is a 3,000 per cent profit margin, people will be prepared to take extraordinary risks. This market will not die.Legalising the supply and distribution networks of drugs, however, would put the huge sums of money generated by this industry into the hands of legitimate businesses and – most importantly – through taxation into the hands of governments that urgently need more money for the provision of basic health and education.The INCB approach, in contrast, is a guarantee of poverty in South America and mass property crime in Britain. The Government has unflinchingly taken the condemnation of this unaccountable body for even its very moderate change. This should embolden it to confront the prohibitionists again and move faster towards the European model that will – one day soon – replace the current anarchy and criminality of the drugs world with regulation, legality and sanity.Note: Wherever there is a 3,000 per cent profit margin, people will be prepared to take extraordinary risks.Newshawk: 312Source: Independent (UK)Author: Johann HariPublished: February 27, 2003Copyright: 2003 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.Contact: letters Related Articles & Web Site:INCB UN Attacks Blunkett's New Cannabis Law Production Harms Poor Nations The Case For Legalisation Time for Puff of Sanity 
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on March 01, 2003 at 10:15:27 PT
Thank you. I missed the Dan Rather interview but I wish I would have seen it. My problem is I see nothing but 'go war' promoted on the news on tv so I turn it off and read the Internet. We do not have free expression or a free press. I don't believe we ever did but it is magnified now with Bush and his obsession with war. I believe most people must see it even if they aren't paying attention to it. God help the world.
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Comment #10 posted by afterburner on March 01, 2003 at 10:03:59 PT:
FoM - Not a Cannabis Story, but Related.
Mar. 1, 2003. 01:00 AMWhy does U.S. want to silence free speech?President's obsession threatens stability around the worldRAMSEY CLARK
SPECIAL TO THE STARFormer U.S. attorney-general Ramsey Clark met with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein last Sunday. He wrote this commentary exclusively for the Toronto Star. friendly version
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on March 01, 2003 at 08:46:24 PT
That was good. We watch the 70s show all the time. The episode you mentioned was when Red put whipped cream on his head and analyzed the word Hip and then he sold the Vista Cruiser and then Eric and Hyde were yelling at Red and as he sat there and listened the background was moving around! LOL!This is my favorite show and so much so I put it on my What's New Page.
What's New
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Comment #8 posted by BGreen on March 01, 2003 at 00:31:51 PT
I'll Watch For It, FoM
That's when I was in High School and there's no way they can remove cannabis from that show without killing the realism.I think Pot-TV has only posted one episode so far. I saw the episode the other day where Hyde made his "special" brownies for a Church sale. Red, Kitty, Bob and Midge all ate some by accident. The killer part was when Eric and Hyde were confronting a mellow, buzzed out Red and he was seeing the wall behind them moving around. It was so funny.I taped the show you mentioned but my wife and I haven't watched it yet.Regarding Tommy Chong, if Cheech Marin and the hollywood community stays silent on this matter they're just as guilty as ashcroft and no different from the cowards who cooperated in the mccarthy madness in the fifties.Bud Green
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on February 28, 2003 at 10:04:13 PT
If you see this will you do me a favor? I read that Tommy Chong has left the 70s Show and I was wondering if Pot-TV will have this past show for viewing. Will you keep your eyes open for it? I missed it and it sounds like it was really good. I hope they don't give up the smoking circle or the show will go down hill and I sure don't want that to happen. That's our favorite show. I wonder if Cheech and Chong will be doing a movie like we've heard. I hope so. Thanks.
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Comment #6 posted by Nuevo Mexican on February 28, 2003 at 09:30:00 PT
To the Cannabis movement: adopt anti-war tactics!
As anyone can see, 16 to 30 million anti-war protesters have made a major impact on bushes rush to war. It ain't gonna happen no matter how much CNN, FOX and MSNBC want it to. The more bush has a hissy fit for war, the more he is discredited throughout the world. So, my advice for the cannabis movement, Move to the next level of activism, join with the anti-war movement, as 'Smoke Pot, NOt Iraq' signs are prevalent in many demos i've attended, and people that are anti-war are pro-legalization for the most part. Look at the success of MOveon.orgs massively successful virtual march on Washington! If you smoke pot and want war, you're not getting high, you're medicating your pro-war illness. Wanting to kill 500,000 people so we can take back our oil from under 'their' sand is what this all amounts to, and if the Cannabis movement doesn't hire a PR firm to take advantage of Ashcrofts overkill, the movement will die from a lack of countering a huge mistake, as Ed Rosenthals trial backfired, this can backfire in our favor! But it has to happen now, while it is in the press, before the next terror alert blocks out all other news stories, and the Battle for OIl heats up through March. Speaking of March, join the March on the White HOUSE in Washington, on March 15th, surround it, and make your voices heard: 
March 15
EMERGENCY CONVERGENCE ON THE WHITE HOUSE to STOP THE WAR ON IRAQ anti-war, pro-peace, anti-new world order globalization protesters are us, as we defeat bush and saddam, we will manifest a 'true world order' of equality, fairness, truth and compassion. The end of the world AS YOU KNOW IT, is here, as the bad old days are ending, and a fantastic new world is being birthed before our eyes! Get out in the streets now, as the time for action is here! Revolution is in the Chart of the United States for this year, and years to come, as it was deemed by the stars on Feb. 15th, 2003!
This will be a revolution is consciouness, with the Internet as its catalyst, and the oppression of billions throughout the world, the motivation for change. 
Follow this students example! Peace!
TURNING AWAY FROM American/Corporate flag during Pledge of Allegiance,ProtestAct
As above, so below!
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Comment #5 posted by afterburner on February 28, 2003 at 00:17:34 PT:
War - What is it Good For?
Worldwide war against cannabis“Appeal to reform the UN Conventions on Drugs” destruction or ego transcendence, that is the question.
Worldwide war against cannabis 
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Comment #4 posted by BGreen on February 28, 2003 at 00:10:50 PT
Related Commentary By Nol van Schaik
Haarlem, Febr. 26, 2003.By: Nol van Schaik, cannabis entrepreneur in Holland.
http://www.hempcity.netWorld wide attack on cannabis and its users launched!The USA and the UN seem to have nothing else on their hands, the last couple of days, it seems, both Big U’s started an attack on the cannabis culture as such.The saddest example is the US, as always, the DEA and other authorities have recently started a Bong offensive, meaning they have raided shops and wholesalers of paraphernalia, as bongs, pipes and rolling papers are called in general. 55 people have been arrested so far, millions worth of goods have been confiscated, and it only seems to be the beginning of another useless, countrywide attempt to stop people smoking cannabis, in bongs, that is.It seems to have its effect, even people with cannabis related websites, based in the USA, are already giving in to this new pot terror, has already left cyberspace, due to fear for prosecution. I can understand the fear in the USA, a pot person does not stand a chance in any US court, as the US vs Ed Rosenthal shows, the truth about cannabis may not come out.It is the climax of low, the US and the DEA can get away with almost anything, one might think their motto is: We lie, we deny, to prevent you from getting high!The UN is putting pressure on the UK, by condemning Home Secretary Blunkett’s declassification of cannabis to a so-called class C substance. In fact, the declassification of cannabis in the UK will not benefit cannabis users or suppliers, the penalties for the last group will stay in class B, with a maximum penalty of 14 years. If cannabis was really completely downgraded to class C, the maximum penalty for supplying, or dealing cannabis, would have been 5 years maximum, like for supplying steroids and valium, which are in class C as well.In real life, a pot smoker in the UK will still be prosecuted for smoking a joint, and they will still have to buy their cannabis, if available, from dealers that offer hard drugs for sale as well.The UK’s cannabis market is secured for those who supply all sorts of drugs in the UK for decades now: Organised Crime. They already take the risk of high prison sentences, by supplying class A and B drugs, so a class C drug will not pose any higher risk for them.Blunkett’s move monopolises organised crime, many cannabis growers in the UK consider stopping their activities after July 3, the day of the official ‘declassification’ of cannabis in the UK.Cannabis growers in the UK will be considered suppliers; any Magistrate will tell an accused grower they could never smoke the amount they produce themselves, so they must be selling the surplus to others, making them a supplier in the eyes of the Law. The increased penalties for supplying cannabis under the new Law scare them enough to stop growing cannabis. Growing cannabis is the only weapon against organised crime, Blunkett’s move will cause this weapon to lose its ammunition. Homegrown cannabis is also the only effective weapon against soap bar hash, which will regain its ‘popularity’ when herbal cannabis will get scarce.The UN does not talk about these implications of Blunkett’s ‘solution’ of the cannabis problem in the UK, they only read the words of the people of their stature and importance, politicians and high ranking police-officers.The UN is also putting pressure on the Dutch government, for allowing cannabis coffeeshops to operate, as always, but this time, with a conservative Minister of Justice in Holland, in an already fallen cabinet, the new government will comply with the UN criticism, by trying to close as many coffeeshops as they can, within the limitations of the Dutch National Coffeeshop Policy.Minister Donner’s plans for the new governments stance on coffeeshops have already leaked out, he wants to close 400 of the 800 regulated coffeeshops in the Netherlands. The same Minister Donner that said he would not close the coffeeshops under pressure of Sweden and France, is now about to bow for the demands of the UN, by shouting out loud he will close all coffeeshops he can. Donner also admits the coffeeshops policy is up to the individual Mayor of the City or Municipality, and not a matter of the government, they only set out some shady guidelines in 1976. This means that he will have to rely on the Mayors, to get his will done, this will turn out a mayor problem for Donner, coffeeshops have been accepted as a part of society in the Municipalities they are located, without causing any problems. Coffeeshops are registered leisure companies, they can not be closed by Minister Donner, he could forbid the sales of cannabis from coffeeshops, but then, who will maintain his Law? No matter how I feel about it, if the UN and Donner manage to make the Dutch cannabis policy collaps, it will have its impact on all developments on cannabis legislation in the world, we, the coffeeshops, will finally be held up as an example, of the success of prohibition.All together, this look like a worldwide attack on cannabis and coffeeshops, initiated by the UN and the US, who seemed to have reached agreement over the world endangering cannabis issue! The War on Cannabis has started…where is CNN?
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Comment #3 posted by BGreen on February 27, 2003 at 23:59:48 PT
The Netherlands' Coffeeshops In Trouble?
Donner want hard line on softdrugs‘Neighbourhoods in hands weed gangs’By: Ap van den Berg and Ferdi SchootenThe Hague/GPD- Justice Minister Donner (CDA) wants to tighten the tolerance policy for softdrugs and bring it in line with European legislation. A confidential report shows he wants ‘a sharp decrease in the number of coffeeshops’. Donner also wants to discourage druguse and homegrowing. It has been confirmed by reliable sources around the minister.If it was up to Donner, he will start a major offensive against illegal hemp plantations. It happens more often that criminal gangs use houses and basements in the poorer neighbourhoods, as it states in not yet published research of criminologist Prof. Dr. Frank Bovenkerk. According to Bovenkerk, the results from his report will be used ‘to reconsider the softdrugs policy critically’.
The criminologist states there are 20 neighbourhoods, spread over the whole off the Netherlands, controlled by weed gangsters.
Around 60 % of the crop is exported to foreign countries. The police usually only manages to catch the growers, mainly mothers on benefits, junks and people in great debts. The gangs, who supply for the necessary equipment, the plants, the utilities and the clipping, always escape from prosecution.The Minister will offer his suggestions to the Parliament on short notice. Because Donner is also the informer for the new government’s formation, his prerogatives will come to order during the formation of the Cabinet.
The PvdA (The CDA’s only coalition partner) does not feel anything for a hard line on softdrugs. This party thinks the police can use its energy way better for catching crooks.
The CDA, however, fears that smoking a joint will sooner lead to a transfer to hard drugs.The number of coffeeshops has already decreased noticeably over the last 5 years. At present, our country counts a little under 800 cannabis outlets (806,nvs) for marihuana and weed?, compared to around 1500 in 1998. The main loss of coffeeshops occurred in the big cities.
But, according to Donner, another 400 coffeeshops will have to be closed within a year, minimum. In fact, Municipalities can decide over the softdrugs policy independently.
By tightening the current policy, Donner wants to force municipalities in to complying.By bringing the Dutch softdrugs policy more in line with the stance of the EU member states, Donner hopes to make good agreements about the smuggling of humans, terrorism protection and asylum policy.
“Some countries, amongst whom France, do not keep themselves to these agreements because of the Dutch softdrugs policy”, said a spokesman.Source: Haarlems Dagblad, 26 Februari 2003.
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Comment #2 posted by Virgil on February 27, 2003 at 22:55:39 PT
Where is the costs/benefits analysis?
Where is the costs/benefits analysis for each state for continuing cannabis prohibition? You know the prohibitionist would not present such a thing to justify their sentencing policies. They do not even want to present arrest figures in the Uniform Crime Report or list confiscated property. Costs in money is always discussed but how do you express the costs of prohibition in pain, suffering, death, and corruption? Now what is the benefit of prohibition?Prohibitionist dwell on demonizing cannabis and do not even mention the term cannabis prohibition. The issue is prohibition and why we continue with the failed policy?
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Comment #1 posted by afterburner on February 27, 2003 at 22:31:21 PT:
The intellectual poverty of the prohibitionists is so obvious that it no longer merits serious discussion.Tell it, brother. Like the SOL (Schedule One Lie) and JN (Jury Nullification), we must keep talking about the alternatives and the path to a more humane drug policy.“Appeal to reform the UN Conventions on Drugs” destruction or ego transcendence, that is the question.
“Appeal to reform the UN Conventions on Drugs” 
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