A New Conversation on Drug Prohibition
function share_this(num) {
 tit=encodeURIComponent('A New Conversation on Drug Prohibition');
 site = new Array(5);
 return false;

A New Conversation on Drug Prohibition
Posted by CN Staff on April 03, 2009 at 15:30:34 PT
By Rick Holmes, GateHouse News Service
Source: Norwich Bulletin 
USA -- A year ago, a drug policy activist I was interviewing turned the tables on me. "What do you think it would take to get Americans to start talking seriously about legalizing pot?" he asked.I said maybe if some high profile celebrity got caught smoking marijuana, someone you never would have suspected -- preferably a Republican. Catch Nancy Reagan with a joint, I said, and the national conversation about drug prohibition would change.
Michael Phelps is no Nancy Reagan. But the conversation seemed to shift a little when photos surfaced of him hitting on a bong at a party on a South Carolina campus in February. There was the usual faux outrage to begin with, with commentators clucking about role models and talk of Phelps' endorsement contracts going up in smoke. There were the usual hippie-dippy jokes, with dated Cheech-and-Chong references. Phelps made the ritual apologies and promised never to do it again.But then there was a bit of a backlash. People started saying things out loud that might have been whispered a decade ago, like, "What's the big deal? A 23-year-old kid smoked pot at a frat house. What else is new?" The sheriff who launched a big-deal investigation of the incident found himself ridiculed on the editorial pages of South Carolina newspapers.Phelps didn't change the conversation, but he reflected the way it is changing. So did the message sent last November by Massachusetts voters, who, without having been pushed by an expensive campaign, voted two-to-one to decriminalize marijuana.America's drug policy has been frozen in place for 35 years by culture war politics born of the '60s. But if you listen hard, you can hear the ice breaking up.Consider the Rockefeller Drug Laws, enacted in 1973 when the "war on drugs" was still young. Mandatory minimum sentences -- as high as 15 years to life -- were set for possessing even small quantities of drugs. New prisons were built and filled, with thousands of non-violent drug users and small-time dealers. Other states followed suit, committing America to treating addiction and recreational drug use as a law enforcement problem, not a public health problem.So now, with 5 percent of the world's population, we have 25 percent of the world's prisoners: 2.3 million behind bars, with more than 5 million more on probation or parole. Our incarceration rate is nearly five times the average worldwide."Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different - and vastly counterproductive," Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., wrote last week in Parade magazine. "Obviously, the answer is the latter."What's been missing all these years in our conversation about drugs are reputable voices pointing out the obvious: All this incarceration has done nothing to reduce the use or availability of drugs.Webb isn't the only one daring to speak the truth. New York Gov. David Paterson delivered the message to legislators in his state-of-the-state message: "I can't think of a criminal justice strategy that has been more unsuccessful than the Rockefeller Drug Laws."And this week, Paterson delivered change, reaching a deal with legislative leaders to replace Nelson Rockefeller's drug war legacy with new laws that will give judges more discretion, let some addicts choose treatment over incarceration, and give current inmates a chance to have their sentences reduced.We're seeing change at the top as well. Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week he is reversing the Bush administration's practice of prosecuting in federal courts medical marijuana distributors whose operations are legal under state law in California and other jurisdictions.President Barack Obama has appointed a "drug czar" who told a Senate committee last week that prevention and treatment are as important as law enforcement. As Seattle police chief, Gil Kerlikowske implemented a policy set by voters in a referendum requiring police to make marijuana enforcement their lowest priority, earning praise from drug reform advocates.Drug wars are still being fought, in Afghanistan, where most of the world's heroin originates, and in Mexico, where a government crackdown on drug cartels has sparked an orgy of violence.But even these conflicts argue for reform rather than escalation. Visiting Mexico, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conceded that U.S. demand is in part responsible for Mexico's drug war - but she didn't call for longer prison sentences or other failed "war on drugs" prescriptions.Instead, Americans are facing facts like these: An estimated 62 percent of the drug cartels' profits come from selling marijuana in the United States. Americans spent $9 billion a year on Mexican pot, the White House drug office estimates, and another $36 billion on domestic weed.And, Webb notes, more than 47 percent of all U.S. drug arrests in 2007 were for marijuana offenses. That's a lot of money spent buying and policing a drug that, by most any measure, is less dangerous than beer.With the economy on the skids and all levels of government struggling to keep their heads above water, there is a newly urgent focus on the money spent on police and prisons. Webb is introducing legislation, with bipartisan support, to create a national commission to re-examine the criminal justice system "from top to bottom."There's even serious talk of legalization. A California lawmaker has introduced a bill that would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. A 10 percent tax on pot would generate $1.4 billion for California, Time's Joe Klein writes.A similar bill has been filed in Massachusetts. It would legalize and tax commercial distribution of marijuana -- $150 an ounce for the lowest grade weed, rising to $250 for top quality. Richard Evans, one of the authors of the bill, estimates it could bring $100 million a year to the state treasury.I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the Massachusetts Legislature to show leadership on drug policy, but if the times they are a-changing, even Beacon Hill may eventually notice.The House sponsor of the bill, Rep. Ellen Story, D-Amherst, doesn't expect it to pass soon, but told the Daily Collegian she's happy to help start the discussion."The older generation, for the most part, were the ones who had such trouble with same sex marriage, and the younger generation will come along and find it astonishing that that was ever a controversial issue," she said, "so the same thing may happen with marijuana."Evans told me "decades of whispered grumblings about the wisdom and efficacy of prohibition are rapidly giving way to a really serious public discussion about how to replace it."The discussion may feel new, he said, but America has been here before. In a time of similar economic strife 75 years ago, the nation left behind a culture wars issue that had dominated politics for a half-century. Prohibition had turned ordinary people into criminals, filled the prisons, turned the streets over to armed gangs -- and done nothing to make the nation more virtuous.Under the leadership of a new president, Prohibition was repealed. History may not quite be ready to repeat itself, but people are talking about it, more seriously than ever.Source: Norwich Bulletin (CT)Author: Rick Holmes, GateHouse News ServicePublished: April 3, 2009Copyright: 2009 GateHouse Media, Inc.Contact: letters norwichbulletin.comURL: Articles:New York's New State of Mind on Drugs Webb's Courage
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help 

Comment #19 posted by josephlacerenza on April 05, 2009 at 17:00:07 PT
You once again show why this is an unjust War against our own people.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #18 posted by Hope on April 05, 2009 at 16:22:26 PT
"Why does it have to be like this?"
Unbending Rules on Drugs in Schools Drive One Teen to the Breaking Point 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #17 posted by cliff on April 05, 2009 at 15:13:55 PT
in mass 150-250/oz is The Price. Its Stupid of them to think they can tax the full blackmarket price. Complete BS. there is No way it will happen. (ok, ok, there is some crazy expensive stuff out there, but who other than dabblers can afford it?)konas numbers sound much much more realistic and do-able
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #16 posted by The GCW on April 04, 2009 at 18:17:30 PT
I barely heard about any shootin'.But,New York with millions of people:You'd think someone would want to know, in that "hour" how many people the cops busted for cannabis infractions.You know?Report all this serious crime with honest victims that occur that are unsolved,In an hour span - or a day's span& thenshow how many times the cops were spending their time messing with people that are RESPONSABLEY doing something akin to drinking a beer or glass of wine.& Show some video of cops unions working hard to perpetuate that crime.-0-Cops,I think You are F'ing Our country for Your own selfish gain.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #15 posted by Sam Adams on April 03, 2009 at 19:52:23 PT
A terrible tragedy for those involved for sure.Whenever I see stuff like this, I'm thinking, you knew you were going to shoot yourself at the end, why not just shoot yourself first? It would save us a lot of trouble. Ditto for domestic violence. Why bother shooting anyone else? You're not going to be around anyway. I hate to be a jerk but I like to point out that people think police are their sacred protectors in situations like this. The reality is they're not going to be around when trouble starts, and they're definitely not charging into the line of fire to help you - for at least an hour. So why do we listen to them on marijuana laws?
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #14 posted by FoM on April 03, 2009 at 19:46:01 PT
Mass Murders
It was another terrible situation where someone lost it and took many people with him.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #13 posted by Sam Adams on April 03, 2009 at 19:36:30 PT
That is great news but I fear it will only last 2 years until opponents get a constitutional amendment passed. It should help several other states like CA VT NJ NY to do it too.I saw the awful story on the mass murderer in NY - I see that police waited a full hour to enter the building. "Protect and Serve" - a lot easier when everyone's already dead. They employed the tried and true "Virginia Tech" method.Where's the SWAT team when you need it? Probably chasing some drug offender.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #12 posted by FoM on April 03, 2009 at 19:12:32 PT
Is the Media Finally Getting it On Drug Policy?
April 2, 2009URL:
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #11 posted by FoM on April 03, 2009 at 17:52:44 PT
It's not spinning that bad now. LOL! I find so much happening and different ideas about direction it is hard to know how to feel. This is a very important time because what we decide will be what we live with in the not to distant future I believe.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #10 posted by konagold on April 03, 2009 at 17:45:03 PT
head spin FoM??
I get it after 70 years of a vicious cycle change at this pace seems dizzying let us hope this change gains more momentum even at the price of a spinning noggin 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #9 posted by FoM on April 03, 2009 at 17:35:38 PT
More on Marijuana Inc.
Legalized Medical Marijuana Company Now Public Stock, Really (CVIV)April 3, 2009URL:
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #8 posted by FoM on April 03, 2009 at 17:33:51 PT
I'm happy that you are happy.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by FoM on April 03, 2009 at 17:13:38 PT
My head is spinning about all this stuff going on. I feel strangely spooked by the whole thing. I guess when a red flag pops up in my mind I pause.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by konagold on April 03, 2009 at 17:10:05 PT
back to the post I made recently projecting the kind of profit to the farmer given 5 crop-acres in Hawaiior a potential 80,207 pounds per year from 5 crop-acres the bozo's on the political side of things want to charge us $150 an ounce when a farmer at TWO DOLLARS A POUND could gross $160,000 off of only five acres"to roughly figure what regulated medicinal Cannabis would provide in income to three profit sectors in the creation and distribution of medicinal Cannabis; to the farmer; to the government; and to marketing, wholesale to retail.if each of these got $10 per ounce, or $30 per ounce to the retail customer, what would 5 crop-acres of land in Hawaii potentially produce in a year?an acre is 43560 sq feet or 4840 square yards which divided by 1.196 equals about 4046 square meters per acre5 crop-acres is about 20,230 square metersDr list many seed providers and many 'boutique' seed descriptions claim yields of between 400 to as much as 800 grams per square meter.if ones choice of seed were to yield 600 grams per square meter then there is a potential of as much as 12,138,000 grams per harvest from 5 crop-acresif one allows for 120 days sprout to harvest time it is possible to harvest 3 times per year in tropical Hawaii[continual harvest are possible by starting plants each week and sizing the plants by controlling the light cycle]this is possible if one uses artificial lighting to extend day light hours during the winter short season preventing premature budding and the stunting of the plants near the winter solstice [I understand claims of as short as 54 days but I believe three harvest a year are more realistic outdoors]so three harvest per year equal a potential 36,414,000 grams per year from 5 crop-acresdivided by 454 equals a potential 80,207 pounds per year from 5 crop-acres or 1,283,312 ouncesso $12,833,120 would go to each, the farmer, the government, and the market, from the production from one five crop-acre farm in Hawaii per year at only $10 per ounce each[I realize that this is an idealized projection however if one were to only attain 50% of the potential not many crops produce six million gross a year from 5 acres by selling its crop at one tenth of what the current market bares]it is true that many have shown a willingness to pay $500 per ounce under current prohibitionso what is pot really worth in terms of produce level [corn, cabbages, carrots you know farm goods] prices??and just how ripped off are we cannabis consumers under the current scheme??would one rather pay 500 per ounce or 500 per pound??"yet these politicos want to RIP us OFF at $150 and ounce
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by mykeyb420 on April 03, 2009 at 17:01:38 PT
off topic,,,, From the mayor of San Fran
Friday, April 3, 2009
Contact: Mayor's Office of Communications, 
(415) 554-6131*** STATEMENT ***
MAYOR NEWSOM'S STATEMENT ON THE IOWA SUPREME COURT'S RULING THAT SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BAN IS UNCONSTITUTIONALToday's ruling is a giant leap forward for all the Iowa couples who seek equal rights. The Court's ruling to grant same-sex couples the right to marry affirms the very best of what our country stands for - and continues the march to full equality and justice.I applaud the Iowa Supreme Court for defending civil rights and ensuring the rights of the minority are protected
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by MikeC on April 03, 2009 at 16:38:58 PT
"Time" magazine joins the parade...,8599,1889021,00.html
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by FoM on April 03, 2009 at 16:33:26 PT
More on Marijuana Inc.
Medical Marijuana, Inc. Formerly Club Vivanet (OTC: CVIV) Files Patent Application to Satisfy Governmental and Medical Marijuana Dispensary Needs for Tax Collection in the Medical Marijuana IndustryApril 3, 2009URL:,774125.shtml
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by FoM on April 03, 2009 at 15:42:52 PT
A Question
How much of the money will the grower of the marijuana receive? Who will grow it and how much is the tax in the figures mentioned?Excerpt: A similar bill has been filed in Massachusetts. It would legalize and tax commercial distribution of marijuana -- $150 an ounce for the lowest grade weed, rising to $250 for top quality. Richard Evans, one of the authors of the bill, estimates it could bring $100 million a year to the state treasury.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on April 03, 2009 at 15:35:19 PT
The above 'discussion' is now old, because 
marijuana cures cancer, we can no longer compare marijuana to other vices such as cigarettes and alcohol, both of which kill hundreds of thousands Americans EVERY YEAR!Cannabis/marijuana does not, instead, if we let it, this could save hundreds of thousands of Americans EVERY YEAR!
On a mission from God!
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment