DRUG WAR BRIEFS: The Drug Czar Gets Slammed

November 28- Brian Peterson in Vancouver BCs Westender editorializes: The old-school drug warrior has horrified editorialists across the board since Bush nominated and won him the post last year.

(U.S. Drug Czar John) Walters supports harsh sentences for non-violent drug offenders, supports escalation of the Latin American drug war, and denies that racial disparities exist in the criminal justice system. He has campaigned heavily and successfully against sensible drug-law reform initiatives proposed in several states using lots of taxpayer dough.

The Czar and his heavy security contingent were in town to discuss the B.C. bud trade and apparently let a little air out of the COPE landslide, forged on the long-overdue promise of providing safe-injection sites. Among his pithy messages: safe injection sites are a waste of money and will attract addicts from all over North America.

He also comes bearing the laughably bogus statistic that 60 per cent of U.S. addicts are addicted to marijuana.

He fails to point out, as our righteous outgoing mayor does, that the U.S. is more aggressive in arresting people for simple marijuana possession than forcing them through drug courts where harmless pot-users are given a choice between jail or treatment.

Some choice. And he's got the nerve to say safe-injection sites are a waste of money?

Guys like Walters and the Bush clones are cogs in an imperialist mass-murder machine. They know their failed Drug Free America policies don't work. They direct their agents against the weakest members of society. They attack drug cartels that won't play ball while providing military protection to others that will. They have been caught laundering cash and consorting with druglords so often the judiciary has had to write them special exemptions to break the law.

The CIA's own declassified documents admit this. They are the worst kind of scum. We all need protection from them.

November 30- The New York Times reports: We interrupt our coverage of the war on terrorism to check in with that other permanent conflict against a stateless enemy, the war on drugs.

The truly amazing thing is that 30 years into the modern war on drugs, the discourse is still focused disproportionately on marijuana rather than more important and excruciatingly hard problems like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines.

The memorable achievements of Mr. Walters's brief tenure have been things like cutting off student loans for kids with pot convictions, threatening doctors who recommend pot to cancer patients and introducing TV commercials that have the tone and credibility of wartime propaganda. One commercial tells pot smokers that they are subsidizing terrorists. Another shows a stoned teenager discovering a handgun in Dad's desk drawer and dreamily shooting a friend. (You'll find it at www.mediacampaign.org. Watch it with the sound off and you'd swear it was an ad for gun control.)

Drug czars used to draw a distinction between casual-use drugs like marijuana and the hard drugs whose craving breeds crime and community desolation. But this is not your father's drug czar. Mr. Walters insists marijuana is inseparable from heroin or cocaine.

He offers two arguments, both of which sound as if they came from the same people who manufacture the Bush administration's flimsy economic logic.

One is that marijuana is a "gateway" to hard-drug use.

Mr. Walters's other justification for turning his office into the War on Pot is the dramatic increase in the number of marijuana smokers seeking professional help. This, he claims, reflects an alarming rise in the number of people hooked on cannabis.

But common sense and the government's own statistics suggest an alternative explanation: if you're caught with pot, enrolling in a treatment program is the price of avoiding jail. And marijuana arrests have doubled in less than a decade, to 700,000 a year, even as use of the drug has remained static.

In other words, the stampede of pot smokers into treatment is probably not a sign of more dependency, but of more aggressive enforcement.

December 2- Reuters reports: Casting doubt on a basic principle of U.S. anti-drug policies, an independent study concluded on Monday that marijuana use does not lead teenagers to experiment with hard drugs like heroin or cocaine.

The study by the private, nonprofit RAND Drug Policy Research Center countered the theory that marijuana acts as a so-called gateway drug to more harmful narcotics, a key argument against legalizing pot in the United States.

"The evidence has seemed so strong in favor of the gateway effect that a lot of policy-makers and others have taken it for granted the gateway effect is real. We have shown why this is not necessarily the case," said Andrew Morral, lead author of the RAND study.

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson kcnelson@premier1.net

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