Ending The War on Drugs: The Moment is Now
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Ending The War on Drugs: The Moment is Now
Posted by CN Staff on May 14, 2009 at 18:13:17 PT
By Arianna Huffington
Source: Huffington Post
USA -- When it comes to addressing America's disastrous war on drugs, the Obama administration appears to be moving in the right direction -- albeit very, very cautiously.On the rhetorical front, all the president's men are saying the right things.
In his first interview since being confirmed, Obama's new drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, said that we need to stop looking at our drug problem as a war. "Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs" or a 'war on product,'" he told the Wall Street Journal, "people see war as a war on them. We're not at war with people in this country."He also said that it was time to focus more on treatment and less on incarceration.Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the federal government would no longer raid and prosecute distributors of medical marijuana who operate in accordance with state law in the 13 states where voters have made it legal.Holder has also said that his department intends to eliminate the outrageous and prejudicial sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.And while on the campaign trail, President Obama called for repealing the ban on federal funding for anti-AIDS programs that supply clean needles to drug users.All positive signs that we are ready to move beyond our failed war on drugs.But when it comes to putting its rhetoric into action, the Obama administration has faltered.Just a week after the Attorney General said there would be no more medical marijuana raids, the DEA raided a licensed medical marijuana dispensary in California.Obama's '09-'10 budget proposes to continue the longstanding ban on federal funding of needle exchange programs.The current budget is still overwhelmingly skewed in favor of the drug war approach -- indeed, it allocates more to drug enforcement and less to prevention than even George Bush did.Testifying today in front of the House Judiciary Committee, Holder, in his opening statement, called for a working group to examine federal cocaine sentencing policy: "Based on that review, we will determine what sentencing reforms are appropriate, including making recommendations to Congress on changes to crack and powder cocaine sentencing policy." A working group? Why? As a senator, Obama co-sponsored legislation (introduced by Joe Biden) to end the disparity. What further review is needed?(To be fair, during questioning, Holder said he and the president both favored doing away with the crack/powder disparity and said that Justice would even consider doing away with mandatory minimums altogether. But why the initial equivocation and the use of the very familiar needs-further-review dodge?)So the question becomes: is the Obama administration really committed to a fundamental shift in America's approach to drug policy or is this about serving up a kinder, gentler drug war?And this at a time when the tide is clearly turning. Inspired by the massive budget crises facing many states, and the increase in drug violence both at home and abroad -- leaders on all points across the political spectrum appear more willing to rethink our ruinous drug policies.Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has called for "an open debate" and careful study of proposals to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox has also urged renewing the debate, saying that he isn't convinced taxing and regulating drugs is the answer but "why not discuss it?" Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, pointing to evidence that Mexican drug cartels draw 60 to 80 percent of their revenue from pot, suggested legalization might be an effective tool to combat Mexican drug traffickers and American gangs.And, in a major shift in the global drug policy debate, a Latin American commission, headed by the former presidents Fernando Cardoso of Brazil, Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, and Cesar Gavaria of Colombia issued a devastating report condemning America's 40-year war on drugs."Prohibitionist policies based on eradication, interdiction and criminalization of consumption simply haven't worked," the former presidents wrote in a joint op-ed. "The revision of U.S.-inspired drug policies is urgent in light of the rising levels of violence and corruption associated with narcotics. The alarming power of the drug cartels is leading to a criminalization of politics and a politicization of crime."They called for "a paradigm shift in drug policies" that begins with "changing the status of addicts from drug buyers in the illegal market to patients cared for by the public health system."And in Congress, Sen. Jim Webb has introduced legislation, with co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, to create a blue-ribbon commission to examine criminal justice and drug policies and how they have led to our nation's jam-packed jails -- now filled with tens of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders."With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world," Webb wrote in a recent Parade cover story, "there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different--and vastly counterproductive. Obviously, the answer is the latter."I understand that drugs continue to be a political hot potato, fueled by what the Latin American presidents described as "prejudices and fears that sometimes bear little relation to reality." And I can easily picture some on the president's team advising him to keep the issue on the backburner lest it turn into his "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."But the cost of the drug war -- both human and financial -- is far too high to allow politics to dictate the administration's actions. Indeed, with all the budget cutting going on, how can anyone justify spending tens of billions of dollars a year on an unwinnable war against our own people?Change won't be easy. The prison-industrial complex has a deeply vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Which is why we need to keep the pressure on the president and his team to follow through on their drug policy promises.As with the regulation of Wall Street, real reform of our nation's drugs policies won't happen without someone in the administration making it a top priority.The jury is still out on Kerlikowske. His law enforcement background could make him the drug war equivalent of Tim Geithner -- too enmeshed in the system he is tasked with overhauling.Holder shows more promise. But he'll have to avoid the let's-have-a-working-group-review-decisions-that-have-already-been-decided approach.As a reminder, I'm planning to send the Attorney General a few copies of This Is Your Country On Drugs, a book out next month on the history of drug use and drug policy in America by our HuffPost Congressional correspondent Ryan Grim. In it, he argues that the goal of U.S. policy should not be to eliminate drugs, but to prevent and treat the addiction and other problems that come with them: "As currently understood and implemented, drug policy attempts to isolate a phenomenon that can't be taken in isolation. Economic policy is drug policy. Healthcare policy is drug policy. Foreign policy, too, is drug policy. When approached in isolation, drug policy almost always leads to unfortunate and unintended consequences."With three-quarters of the drug offenders clogging our state prisons there for nonviolent offenses -- and a disproportionate number of those young men of color -- the time has come to wage a full-scale war on the war on drugs.Source: Huffington Post (NY)Author: Arianna HuffingtonPublished: May 14, 2009Copyright: 2009, LLC Contact: scoop huffingtonpost.comWebsite: Articles:White House Czar Calls for End To War on Drugs Marijuana? Schwarzenegger Let’s Debate
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Comment #21 posted by FoM on May 15, 2009 at 20:38:22 PT
Hopefully the appointment President Obama will make will help us now. He wants empathy and I want empathy.
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Comment #20 posted by MikeC on May 15, 2009 at 20:27:19 PT
Supreme Court Justices...
On the Raich vs. Gonzales/Ashcroft decision it was the democratic appointed Justices that failed us. It was a 6-3 vote against the states rights.Stevens (R), Kennedy (R), Souter (R), Ginsburg (D), Scalia (R), and Breyer (D) were against states rights regarding medical marijuana.O'Connor (R), Thomas (R), and Rehnquist (R) dissented. If the two Justices appointed by democratic presidents had voted in our favor things would be a whole lot different today. Ginsburg and Breyer really let us down. 
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Comment #19 posted by George Servantes on May 15, 2009 at 17:51:24 PT
Money can't buy your happiness
They can be him or other governors but they can't buy us all. We are stronger then any materialistic wealth, we are on God's side and they are fighting against God.Obama is a very cunning politician, so it's not possible in any way that he'll do outright legalization of marijuana. I think he'll do some things in our favor but rest is on us. We can make huge advancement in our movement because he's looking neutral. So those that are not against us - they are for us. More and more people are not against us and marijuana. We should keep being positive, prohibition is ending soon. They all know it was a failure but are won't admit it overnight, they are preparing people for end of drug war. They said so many lies so they can't just legalize it outright. They have to prepare and brainwash tv fed morons who only listen to what they tell them to think and do on tv. It's all just a mind control that most people are not being aware of. Most people don't have their own voice so they let government think and govern every aspect of their lives.
Politicians know in these tough economic times they can hardly justify prohibition costs, so let me tell you, they won't became saints overnight, they just can't brainwash people so good like they used too.
Si they'll start playing "nice guys."
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on May 15, 2009 at 17:40:00 PT
The way I look at it is not all Democrats are liberal or progressive but luckily there are a heck of a lot more Dems then Repubs that are on board for medical marijuana. New Hampshire always reminded me more of a Libertarian type state then a Democrat type state but I could be wrong.
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Comment #17 posted by HempWorld on May 15, 2009 at 17:31:17 PT
Sam Adams
Good comment Sam, you've put your finger on it!Veto power does not belong in a real democracy, I think IHO.Now, I would like to see what happens to the hemp bill ...
All My Domains Are Now For Sale Or Lease 450 Of Them.
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Comment #16 posted by Sam Adams on May 15, 2009 at 17:10:27 PT
gov. lynch
Lynch in NH is Democrat. It's very disturbing to me that we've had governors from both parties in VT, RI, CT, and NH repeatedly veto ALL medical MJ bills. Med MJ access is supported by 70% of the population. I think it's abhorrent for a governor to veto this after the a legislature has passed it. In NH Gov. Lynch is apparently signing onto gay marriage but vetoing medical MJ. The reason why the governors end up stopping these is simple - it's easier to pay off 1 person than an entire legislature. Disgraceful behavior. Shows that we have a long way to go. Even in the most progressive areas of the country the forces of Prohibition are very strong. Big Pharma and the DA's and LEO don't like med MJ. It's easy for them to buy off a governor in a small state.
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Comment #15 posted by Dankhank on May 15, 2009 at 16:45:38 PT
top o the hour
CNN call in re: ending the drug war
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Comment #14 posted by AdaptBones on May 15, 2009 at 15:47:45 PT:
I just read something interesting about Obama that has made me just the slightest bit more confident in him and I thought I would share. I was reading an article about him choosing a new supreme court justice and how he was back when he was teaching law. He is described as a pragmatic decision maker who often times asked the question "what will the results of this law be on the average person". With that in mind perhaps he IS playing coy with washington and holding his hand until the time is right. He seems to be a smart, articulate and well thought out person when he makes a choice. Reading that just made me a bit more happy that maybe that wink he gave WAS meant for us. As some have put forth here and else where maybe he really is challenging all of us to finally stand up and take the reigns of power over our own lives a bit more. He did indeed say repeatedly that we the average citizen are responsible for change; so maybe his whole intention is to make people grow up a little bit more. I mean we all know people will try to use any excuse they can to remain ignorant because it's easier than taking responsibility for themselves. So Obama, if you are playing a game it is a very cleverly concieved one and I applaude you. I suppose only time will tell though. Blessed be.
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on May 15, 2009 at 14:33:27 PT
Museman Me Too!
You said: Obama's election has given opportunilty to the people. Sometimes I think Obama is actually doing a psych on washington.
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Comment #12 posted by dongenero on May 15, 2009 at 14:28:23 PT
Gov Lynch NH
Sounds like Gov Lynch is a big government Republican.She has a problem with patients growing their own so, what do you do? Make a state government agency that provides it?Sometimes government is needed for things of such scale or scope that individuals cannot accomplish on their own. This is one issue where individuals or small groups can certainly cover the need.In this case, government just needs to pass legislation, then get out of the way.
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Comment #11 posted by The GCW on May 15, 2009 at 13:55:41 PT
N.H. downdate.
US NH: Marijuana Debate Sharpens Attorney General Kelly Ayotte and county prosecutors have aggressively pushed back against a bill that would legalize marijuana for some seriously ill patients, sending lawmakers a letter calling marijuana an addictive drug and claiming that reclassifying marijuana as medicine could undermine efforts to keep youths from trying drugs. The bill's supporters decry the letter as "misleading" and have circulated a seven-page rebuttal of the two-page letter. The bill easily passed the House in March and the Senate last month, but its future remains in doubt. Gov. John Lynch has stopped short of vowing to veto it, saying he has "serious concerns" and calling the Senate version of the bill "unacceptable." In the House, supporters put the brakes on the bill last week, voting not to accept the Senate's amendments to the bill and instead calling for a conference committee to hammer out a final bill - with an eye toward crafting something Lynch will accept. State Rep. Cindy Rosenwald said she met with senior Lynch staffers and left certain that Lynch would veto the current incarnation of the bill if it was sent to his desk. She left the meeting with a list of eight issues flagged by the governor's staff, the most difficult one of which is distribution. The current bill would allow medicinal marijuana users - individuals who suffer from specific illnesses or symptoms, who've been prescribed the drug by a doctor and who have registered with the state - to grow their own marijuana. They're also allowed to obtain it from other patients, including those from patients in one of the 13 states where medicinal marijuana is legal. Lynch, Rosenwald said, is "not comfortable with marijuana grown in residences." cont.
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Comment #10 posted by josephlacerenza on May 15, 2009 at 11:04:35 PT
Good Article in the Huff Po
Just wanted to share this one!! Peace to C-News!!! I think this ship is doing better than a slow turn, we have this thing almost about face. We would NEVER be hearing anything like this from a McCain administration!!! He would want to spend us into the ground just to make a point that DRUGS are BAD, but do not look behind the curtain to who is really profiting from this prohibition!! 
 New Drug Czar: "We're Not at War With People in This Country"
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Comment #9 posted by museman on May 15, 2009 at 09:54:28 PT
great article
but, I'd like to correct a statement quoted of Webb;"With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world," Webb wrote in a recent Parade cover story, "there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different--and vastly counterproductive. Obviously, the answer is the latter."Wrong, there is a third possibility, and one i'm sure is the real condition, and that is that our government and its corporate puppet masters are the most evil people on the earth.And a lackie is a lackie, no matter what language they use to prop up their fakeness.Why people consistently expect that the government, and the real power behind the government gives a shit about anything but their global agenda of domination and control, just never ceases to amaze me.Thats like getting a cop to investigate bad cop behavior -oh I forgot, that IS how they do it. Friggin hypocrits, monsters, liars, robbers, ...and the list goes on, all bad, all negative.If the government were Sodom and Gomorrah (not so far a stretch) and I was Lot, and had to find just one righteos man in order to save it from impending doom, that 'history' would repeat itself.The crimes against humanity and the world by this collection of demonic pretenders to humanity cannot be washed away by political diversions, good sounding rhetoric, and following the same course as all former puppets, albeit with different syntax and phraseology.The crimes will stop, only when that which is making them is stopped. AND IT IS NOT THE PEOPLE. Though it is the people, and the people only who can stop it.But the people cannot get their rightful power back from the thieves who stole it, if they continue to worship at the altar of the Status Quo. The people cannot get their power back through the very system that holds it away, so ludicrous a thought, yet most believe that is the only way.It is time to push the pretenders to the sea, time to push and push hard, while the political musical chairs are shuffling around trying to put a better face on their agenda. Its not the time to start believing in cops, judges, politicians and their ilk.Obama's election has given opportunilty to the people. Sometimes I think Obama is actually doing a psych on washington. All through his campaign, he said over and over that it was up to the people to initiate real change. He's said it again several times since he took office.To me, that is the one real and important thing that made me vote for him, because in that I agreee 100%. But I don't believe in Obama any more than I believed in Bush. Their power is based on false values and moralities, and many false assumptions based on the former.But whether or not his motives are true or not, does not change the opportunity of the people at this point.I applaud (with one hand) the efforts of those few politicians to reflect the will of their constituents -that did so before the election, but all these fair-weather patsies signing on the boat we've been sailing through all the time they were firing shots across our bow, is just disgusting. The tide has turned, but the funny thing about tides; they come in, they go out, one thing they don't do is sit there and wait for people to catch them.FREE CANNABIS FOREVER
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Comment #8 posted by AdaptBones on May 15, 2009 at 09:16:59 PT:
THAT was a great article. This summed up perfectly what I was trying to say in a different article. This administration has said some pretty words but their actions have not matched up. We need to respectfully push this administration to live up to their words and end this war because they are the only ones keeping it going and it ends when ever they want it to. There are times choices need to be made for the better good of the whole and the time for true reform is now. Thank you Arianna this was a wonderful article to read. Blessed be everyone and let's keep the pressure on these people to live up to their words and to do it quickly because otherwise they will keep putting it off because that is easier than change.
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Comment #7 posted by Had Enough on May 15, 2009 at 08:04:38 PT
People United For Medical Marijuana - Florida 
May meeting in TampaWhen:…Sunday May 24…10:00 amLocation:…Lowrey Park Zoo7535 North Blvd.Tampa, FL 33604813-274-8184How to find us:"Go to shelter number 117"Who is organizing? Kim RussellWe are getting the Tampa Bay area organized. If you want to be part of making this happen and meet other like minded individuals, please come.************People United for Medical Marijuana – Florida are more than just a group. We are registered voters willing to sign a petition to show our support for medical marijuana. We are a political committee registered with the state of Florida to restore patients' rights to receive safe, affordable and effective medication. We are collecting signatures to amend the constitution.
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Comment #6 posted by runruff on May 15, 2009 at 07:07:53 PT
Arianna huffed a ton!
She can PC rant!
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Comment #5 posted by George Servantes on May 15, 2009 at 06:51:56 PT
War on drugs
War on drugs is War on God who created all these outlawed plants like cannabis, peyote, mushrooms etc...
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on May 15, 2009 at 05:35:25 PT
I really appreciate what Arianna said in this article. She is a very famous person and well respected. She didn't condemn this administration but praised them but added rebukes in a well written way. She is a real Obama supporter and I am grateful for her approach.
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Comment #3 posted by observer on May 15, 2009 at 00:01:33 PT
Arianna, Now
Arianna Huffington: "the time has come to wage a full-scale war on the war on drugs."Amen! Time to press home this reform, time to stop locking up people for cannabis, and time to make the jailers, the police and other and blatant drug war profiteers justify jail for peaceful pot smokers. I did a double take when I saw this article's author was Arianna Huffington. Now is the time.
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on May 14, 2009 at 19:41:46 PT
great column
We need to keep hammering away on the economy.As many industries shrink and contract, marijuana arrests keep on rising.Will 800,000 marijuana arrests help us compete with China? the EU? People have to start realizing tax money doesn't grow on trees. You can only print money for so long. You still need to make things. Correction: people in the private sector need to make things. That is what drives the economy.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on May 14, 2009 at 18:14:18 PT
Thank You Arianna
Thank you for standing up for us.
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