The Speakeasy Blog

Narc Scandal Front and Center in Florida Sheriff Race [FEATURE]

Scandal in the Pinellas County, Florida, Sheriff's Office over its efforts to bust indoor marijuana growers is providing plenty of fodder for the sheriff's challengers this campaign season. Chronicle feature story here.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A former Missouri sheriff heads to federal prison, a former Kansas City cop is headed there, too, and a former South Carolina deputy is looking at drug charges. Chronicle story here.

Obama Signs Synthetic Drug Ban Bill

"Bath salts" and "fake weed" are now banned on federal law after President Obama signed into law the FDA safety bill to which the bans were attached. Chronicle story here.

A Comically Dishonest Defense of the Drug War

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There's a fun little debate series over at U.S. News & World Report featuring some of the usual suspects squaring off over whether the drug war is the best or worst thing in the world (well, it can't be both). My favorite part is Kevin Sabet's attempt to make the drug war sound about as wholesome as a hug from a nun, which he accomplishes by pretending no one ever gets arrested for doing drugs.

Seriously, just take for example this one item from Sabet's list of things he likes about the drug war:

Intervention: If individuals do start to use drugs, we know that brief interventions (by doctors, coaches, parents, faith leaders, or others) do a pretty good job at stopping the progression of use from non-dependence to addiction.

Others!? Really, Kevin? By "others" did you by any chance mean "cops with machine guns, battering rams, drug sniffing dogs, and flash bang grenades? Cause if you wanna talk about intervention…well that's who's been intervening. When the government hears you might have MARIJUANA in your basement, they don't send a "faith leader" to talk to you about it.

You can try to paint over prohibition, but you'll need a whole hell of a lot of spackle to stuff the bullet holes. The drug war isn't just a big counseling program, it's a bloody f#%king mess and everybody knows that's what it is because we get our news from watching the damn news, not from reading Kevin Sabet for breakfast.

Pretending our drug policy is all about treatment and prevention might feel good to the professional spokespeople who get paid to say so, but it doesn't work in a world that's watching as a war unfolds before us. All that happy crap about helping people is great and good, but we're also watching every day as the drug war destroys lives right in front of our faces and we want to know what's being done about that. Talking about treatment isn’t an acceptable answer to our questions about the continuing destruction that's being done with the billions of dollars that aren't spent on treatment.

After all, if you can't acknowledge the very worst about the drug war when defending it, you aren't really defending it at all. If responsible adults don't get roughed up and arrested for taking drugs in Kevin Sabet's essays and speeches, then it stands to reason that responsible adults shouldn’t have to get roughed up and arrested for taking drugs in real life either.

Follow Scott Morgan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drugblogger

Did You Know? Facts About Switzerland's Heroin Maintenance Programs, on DrugWarFacts.org

DrugWarFacts.org, a publication of Common Sense for Drug Policy, is an in-depth compilation of key facts, stats and quotes on the full range of drug policy issues, excerpted from expert publications on the subjects. The Chronicle is running a series of info items from DrugWarFacts.org -- check out this week's installment here.

Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative Makes Ballot

It looks like Massachusetts has a good shot at becoming the 18th medical marijuana state. An initiative there has qualified for the ballot. Chronicle story here.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Signatures Handed In

Arkansas proponents for a medical marijuana initiative met a critical deadline last week, but still have thousands of signatures to gather if they're going to make the November ballot. Chronicle story here.

Singapore to Relax Death Penalty for Some Drug Traffickers

Hard-line Singapore has announced it is modifying its mandatory death sentence for drug traffickers. It's just a small change, but it may save a few lives, and serve as a signal for other drug death penalty states. Chronicle story here.

Drug War Snapshot: Ocean City, Maryland

The police in Ocean City, Maryland, are on a mission to maximize marijuana arrests, and they're doing quite well at it. Factor that in to your vacation plans. Chronicle story here.

Drug War Snapshot: Nueces County, Texas

In Corpus Christi, police have been arresting a thousand people a year on drug charges. That's the single largest reason people make it to felony court in Nueces County. Chronicle story here.

Drug War Snapshot: Volusia County, Florida

The criminal justice system in Volusia County, Florida, is running largely on the drug war if last Friday's jail bookings are any indication. Chronicle story here.

Oregon Marijuana Initiative Hands in Final Signatures

Oregon's OCTA marijuana legalization initiative has handed in a final 57,000 signatures. It needs 32,000 of them to be valid to make the November ballot. But election officials invalidated almost half of earlier signatures, so it's still nail-biting time for proponents. Chronicle story here.

Georgia Puts Welfare Drug Testing on Hold

Georgia's governor was quick to sign a welfare drug testing bill into law, but now he wants to wait for a legal challenge to a similar law in Florida before implementing that law that was supposed to go into effect July 1. Chronicle story here.

Mexico President-Elect Wants Drug Legalization Talks

Mexico's next president has joined the ever growing chorus of Latin American leaders calling for a serious discussion of drug legalization, even as he announced he would continue to fight the drug war in Mexico. Chronicle story here.

Mexico's Drug War Version 2.0 [FEATURE]

Mexico's president-elect is going to rejigger the way the country prosecutes its war on the drug cartels, but no radical changes are apparent. Chronicle feature story here.

Puerto Rico Narcotics Officer Killed in Ambush

A Puerto Rican narcotics officer becomes the year's 29th drug war fatality after being ambushed in his vehicle Tuesday night. Chronicle story here.

Did You Know? Federal Expenditures on the Drug War, from DrugWarFacts.org

DrugWarFacts.org, a publication of Common Sense for Drug Policy, is an in-depth compilation of key facts, stats and quotes on the full range of drug policy issues, excerpted from expert publications on the subjects. The Chronicle is running a series of info items from DrugWarFacts.org -- check out the latest here.

Will Obama Be Better on Drug Policy in His Second Term?

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Marc Ambinder has a totally weird and distracting piece in GQ today saying that unnamed sources have told him to expect important drug policy reforms if Obama is re-elected. I think it's a bunch of crap.

According to ongoing discussions with Obama aides and associates, if the president wins a second term, he plans to tackle another American war that has so far been successful only in perpetuating more misery: the four decades of The Drug War. [GQ]

That's just the first sentence of many, but we can stop right here because I think there's been a huge misunderstanding. Marc Ambinder seems to think that Obama's people talking about reforming drug policies is a meaningful event, but alas it is anything but that.

Not so many weeks ago I watched with my own eyes as Obama's drug czar draped himself in the flag of reform at an event that was designed to placate pre-election frustration among progressives with regards to Obama's absolute failure to fix a single aspect of the massive war on drugs. The Obama Administration will tell anyone willing to listen that they are thinking creatively about solutions to our swollen criminal justice catastrophe, and it's hardly the sort of "exclusive" breaking news Ambinder breathlessly brings us.

In fact, the real story is the exact opposite of what was reported here. Obama isn't trying to win political points by pretending to support the war on drugs until after the election, at which point he will begin implementing important reforms. He's actually trying to win political points by pretending not to support the war drugs until after the election, at which point he can continue waging the drug war worse than ever.

You see, the drug war is really rather unpopular these days. You score more political points by attacking it than by propping it up, which is exactly why these "aides and associates" of Obama's have no problem telling their friends in the mainstream press about the President's bold post-election plans for fixing flaws in our drug policy. They're just saying this stuff because they know people want to hear it.

The most inaccurate statement you can make about Obama's approach to drugs is that he's trying to look tougher than he actually is. In reality, this administration speaks routinely of backing away from harsh policies, while simultaneously deploying the same drug war demolition tactics we've endured for decades. 

If anyone in the press is looking for a good story about Obama's approach to drugs, I'd recommend looking into the massive facade of false promises that's already unraveling in front of us, rather than regurgitating further rumors of future reform. 

 

Follow Scott Morgan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drugblogger

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Did You Know? Portugal's Decriminalization Record, on DrugWarFacts.org

DrugWarFacts.org, a publication of Common Sense for Drug Policy, is an in-depth compilation of key facts, stats and quotes on the full range of drug policy issues, excerpted from expert publications on the subjects. The Chronicle is running a series of info items from DrugWarFacts.org, and we encourage you to check it out.

Medical Marijuana Update

The feds continue to play hardball in California and local elected officials across the state are grappling with the issues. Meanwhile, Vermont moves ahead on dispensaries while New Hampshire's medical marijuana bill can't overcome a gubernatorial veto, and that's not all. Chronicle story here.

Chicago Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession

Following the lead of some of its suburbs, Chicago has decriminalized the possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana for adults. Chronicle story here.

New Hampshire Medical Marijuana Veto Stands

An effort to override Gov. John Lynch's veto of a medical marijuana bill succeeded in the House but fell short in the Senate. Chronicle story here.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A scandal that keeps on giving in Florida, a pair of bad apple deputies in LA get their just rewards, a crooked NYPD cop gets his, too, and much, much more. Chronicle story here.

New Jersey Assembly Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

A decriminalization bill has passed the New Jersey Assembly, but faces an uphill battle to overcome a veto threat from Gov. Christie. Chronicle story here.

NYPD Sued Over Stop and Frisk Marijuana Arrests

NYPD refuses to stop charging people with misdemeanor marijuana possession after stopping and frisking them and forcing them to empty their pockets so they can be charged with "public possession," so now the Legal Aid Society is suing to make them knock it off. Chronicle story here.

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