The Speakeasy Blog
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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 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.
When it comes to slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS, the imperatives of the drug war are a hindrance, not a help, a new report from the Global Commission on Drugs finds. There is a better way, the group says. Chronicle feature story here.
If you haven't yet seen DEA boss Michele Leonhart's frickin ridiculous congressional testimony last Thursday (or even if you have), please click over to Huffington Post where you'll find me ranting about it. 99% of the time when a drug warrior says something silly it doesn't become a big media story, but this one made the cut and for good reason. Check it out, then send the link to somebody cool.
The left-leaning Uruguayan government says it will introduce a bill that would give it a monopoly on legal marijuana sales. Chronicle story here.
New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch has vetoed a medical marijuana bill -- again. Now, it's up to the legislature to see if it can muster the votes to override the veto. Chronicle story here.
The Supreme Court has held that people "in the pipeline" -- convicted but not yet sentenced when Fair Sentencing Act reforms took effect -- on federal crack cocaine charges are entitled to be sentenced under the lesser penalties created by the act. Thousands could get sentence cuts. Chronicle story here.
Two Oregon marijuana legalization initiatives are in a mad scramble to make the ballot after being hit with unprecedented high invalidation rates for signatures already handed in. And they only have two weeks to go. Chronicle feature story here.
A new poll has the Washington state pot legalization initiative leading with 50% support, but that doesn't leave a lot of room for a margin of comfort. Chronicle story here.
The Senate has included federal funding for needle exchanges in its Health & Human Services FY 2013 appropriations bill. The House is expected to approve a bill without it, setting up a fight in conference committee down the road. Chronicle story here.