The Canadian Conservatives have lied and used every trick they have to pass Bill S-10.  This law imposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes in Canada.  The United States induced mandatory minimum sentences in the 1980’s at the height of drug war hysteria.  These laws paved the way for the prison industrial complex, consisting of corporate for-profit prisons, that exists today in the US.  As a result the US has the highest prison population in the world and the highest disparity in sentencing between whites and blacks.  This is exactly what the Canadian Conservatives are creating in Canada.

Canada’s neighbors and many countries around the world are beginning to ease up on their marijuana and drug laws.  The Canadian Conservatives however are chasing a failed US policy from the 1980’s.  The Conservatives even have the audacity to announce that this legislation is much welcomed by Canadians.  Justice minister Rob Nicholson on Bill S-10,

“we are absolutely convinced in our consultation with Canadians that this is welcomed across the country.” link1

“It does cost money to incarcerate people and I believe that Canadians have been willing to pay those costs up to this point and they’ll continue to do so. If we don’t, then Canadians will be further victimized. That’s what victims groups tell me all the time.” link2

Right now US states are beginning to take steps to legalize marijuana.  Today marijuana is legal and semi legal in many US states:

  • 15 states with legal medical marijuana
  • 9 with medical marijuana dispensaries
  • 13 states have decriminalized recreational marijuana
  • 4 states have voted on full legalization for recreational use

Most notably Proposition 19 which would have legalized marijuana in California lost 44.1% to 55.9% on Nov 2.  There are a handful of states trying to legalize marijuana in 2011 and 2012 and many others fighting for medical marijuana and decriminalization.  In addition Mexico decriminalized all drugs in 2009 including hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.  Canada attempted to decriminalize pot in 2004 but it was shot down by pressure from the US, who ironically had already decriminalized in 13 states.

In a recent visit to Ottawa US Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowski, had this to say,

Lawmakers in almost every single state in the U.S. are looking to reduce mandatory minimum penalties because prison populations have exploded with non-violent drug offenders.

The Conservatives argue that Bill S-10 will give police to tools to bring down organized crime.  They insist that this law targets “the ‘kingpins’ or major players in the drug trade”.  Since when do the Hells Angels or UN gang run a grow op with only 6 plants?  This law specifically targets small time growers for the purpose of filling prisons.  The Conservatives are not stupid and they do not really believe their own lies.  They are cold manipulative liars with a diabolical agenda.  Here is a breakdown of the penalties that Bill S-10 will impose on Canadians, check out cannabisfacts.ca for more info.

Bill S-10 passed on November 4 with final vote in the Senate of 7 to 4.  That’s all 7 of the Conservative senators on the committee vs the 4 Liberals.  All that is standing in the way of S-10 becoming law is the signature of the Governor General.

The Senate committee heard testimony from numerous witnesses and experts who overwhealmingly showed that S-10 is a bad law and will do the exact opposite of what the Conservatives said it will.

Howard Sapers, the independent ombudsman for federal offenders, told the Senate committee,

“There is a large body of research that points to both the lack of a deterrent effect for mandatory minimum sentences and the fact that they can lead to significant increases in the prison population, with little or no impact on public safety.”

Check out the video of the police officer’s testimony in the senate hearings, testimony.  Here is another link to videos of many other expert speakers on this law.

Bill S-10 is not the only law that Harper’s Conservatives are pushing.  They are on a mission.  In fact 40% of all bills tabled since the Conservatives came to power have to do with reforming the criminal justice system.  Here are some of their recent bills,

  • Bill C-25 (passed) – ends “two-for-one” sentencing credit for time that prisoners spend in pre-trial custody
  • Bill C-19 (passed) – increase maximum sentence for street racing (14 years to life)
  • Bill C-9 (passed) – remove alternative sentencing (house arrest) for serious crimes
  • Bill C-10 (passed) – mandatory minimum sentences for offences involving a firearm
  • Bill C-32 (in senate) – would create an offence of operating a motor vehicle while in possession of a controlled substance
  • Bill C-2 (passed) – group of laws called “Tackling Violent Crime Act”, new tougher sentences
  • Bill S-9 (in senate) mandatory minimums for auto theft
  • Bill S-6 (re-introduced) – repeal “faint hope” clause for life sentences
  • Bill C-36 (in senate) – safety of consumer products, very controversial check out the Facebook group

The crime rate fell three percent in Canada last year, and is down 17 percent in the past decade, while the Crime Severity Index is down 22 percent since 1999. Violent crime is also down and represents less than one-quarter of one percent of all crime, while the homicide rate is two-thirds of its peak in the 1970s.

Despite the fact that there is less crime Harper released this statement in 2006,

If we are to protect our Canadian way of life, we need to crack down on gun, gang and drug crime…. If you do a serious crime, you’re going to do serious time.

Harper’s Conservatives have taken major steps to the corporatization of Canada’s prisons.

  1. In April 2007, then-Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day created a panel to conduct a sweeping review of the federal prison system.
  2. Day’s panel released their final report titled “A Roadmap to Strengthening Public Safety.
  3. A task force was created to strategically implement the Roadmap titled ‘The Transformation Team.’

One recommendation of the Roadmap was to ‘modernize’ Corrections’physical infrastructure by building ‘regional complexes’ (super prisons) containing up to 2200 cells, combining minimum, medium, and maximum security, as well as a ‘special handling unit’ aimed at long-term incarceration in complete isolation and under heavy surveillance.

Canada’s first corporate super jail was the Central North Correctional Centre built at Penetaguishene, Ont.  This prison was run by an American corporation called “Management and Training Corporation“.

The Roadmap also called for a strengthening of so-called Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) in super prison construction. While it falls short of advocating for full private management, which was the case in Penetanguishene, it advocates for the privatization of every other part of the process: financing, construction, maintenance, and service delivery (e.g. foodproviders). This process is called backdoor privatization; when carried out to its logical endpoint, it results in a weak, token public agency charged with overseeing an operation entirely carried out by a far more robust profit-driven private sector.   The Roadmap also recommended to eliminate credit for time served before trial which as already come to pass in the form of Bill C-25.

Soon after its inception the Transformation Team began to scale-back maintenance investment in the existing prison infrastructure.  This led to the decay of present facilities and created the need for constructing new infrastructure.

In March 2010 Stockwell Day announced that the federal government needs to spend $9 billion on “much-needed” new prisons.  His reason was “unreported crimes

“We’re very concerned about the increase in the amount of unreported crimes that surveys clearly show are happening,” Stockwell Day

The irony is that unreported crimes are crimes for which nobody is charged or imprisoned.  Despite this obvious attempt to pull the wool over our eyes the spending was approved and the Conservatives are moving ahead with their corporate prison agenda.

Mandatory sentences along with corporate prisons and government policies have created the enormous prison population in the US.  The United States adult prison population now exceeds two million inmates, an average of 724 citizens per 100,000 members of the American population.  In Canada the current rate is 102 prisoners per 100,000 population (one seventh that of the United States).  We are on track to reach US numbers if the Conservative plan is allowed to continue.  Comparable rates in other countries are 98 in Germany, 92 in Italy, 80 in France, 64 in Sweden, 61 in Denmark and 69 in Iceland.

Despite overwhelming evidence that mandatory sentences and corporate prisons have zero effect on crime rates the Conservatives are going forward with their law and order agenda.  The current government under Harper will not change direction based on moral persuasion or sound logic.  This government is driven by a merger of hardened ideologues and religious fundamentalists.  Any strategy based on persuading the Conservatives to ‘do the right thing’ is doomed to fail.  Wake the fuck up Canada.  We need to get rid of Harper and his deranged political party before it is too late.

UPDATE FEBRUARY 2011:

Bill S-10 got sent back to house of commons.  That is not the typical process for a Canadian bill and it has already been through the house.  I don’t understand how or why it happened but thank god it did.  The NDP and Liberals are poised to vote against the bill which will kill the bastard where it lies, LINK.  Its not over yet but if there is a shred of democracy left in this country reason will prevail.

Here is some mainstream news articles about the same subject, LINK1, LINK2.

We were betrayed by our fellow stoners who voted no on Proposition 19.  These selfish, ignorant assholes turned their back on decades of activism because this law wasn’t good enough for them.  Prop 19 wasn’t perfect but you can’t hold out for perfection especially in the United States.

Prop 19 had the full support of every marijuana activism group including: NORML, MPP, SSDP, DPA, LEAP, IDPI and Cannabis Culture.  In addition many, many more non-marijuana advocacy groups supported the legislation including police groups, labor unions, politicians and medical associations.  Check out this list, Support for Prop 19.  Even the Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel supported it.  Are the traitors smarter than the overwhelming group of supporters?  Absolutely not.  The traitors are misguided conspiracy theorists and profiteers of the current prohibition.

The reasons that were given by the traitors are as ludicrous as the war on drugs itself.

  • Corporatization of cannabis
  • High taxes on retail marijuana
  • Prop 19 creates more restrictive regulations
  • Medical Law (prop 213) will be abolished

Prop 19 allowed for the commercial production of marijuana.  How is that a bad thing?  The traitors argue that the evil corporations would add hazardous additives to the plant like tobacco companies do.  If that did happen who cares?  Prop 19 allowed you to grow your own pot.  Why the fuck would anyone buy corporate weed if you can grow your own?

Mass production and marketing of marijuana will drastically increase the supply of cheap weed.  That will bring the price down to a much more civilized level.  Current prices vary from $150 to $400 per ounce.  That is because of prohibition.  In fact one of the DEA’s main objectives is to drive up the price of illegal drugs.  Marijuana is a crop like any other and can be produced even easier than most mainstream crops.  At today’s prices corn goes for about $7.50 per bushel.  That’s 8 gallons of corn for $7.50, and corn is many times harder and more expensive to grow than marijuana.  The $50 per ounce tax that Prop 19 calls for would still put  marijuana at a much lower price than today.  If Prop 19 passed high end pot would probably sell for $100 per ounce.

Prop 19 was not perfect and did in fact create some new penalties such as,

  • Every person 21 years of age or older who knowingly sells or gives away marijuana to someone older than the age of 18 but younger than 21, shall be imprisoned in county jail for up to six months and fined up to $1,000 per offense.
  • Any person who is licensed, permitted, or authorized to sell marijuana, who knowingly sells or gives away marijuana to someone under the age of 21 results in them being banned from owning, operating, or being employed by a licensed marijuana establishment for one year.

I don’t agree with any kind of legal age for alcohol, pot or any other substance.  Unfortunately that is the paradigm in the United States.  There are many countries with no legal age for alcohol and they are better off for it but that is an argument for another day.  The traitors argue that Prop 19 would penalize medical users who are otherwise free under California Proposition 215.  That is absolutely false.  Prop 19 clearly states that Proposition 215 and SB 420 laws are exempt from the new law.  “No on Prop 19” claims that there will be stoned drivers and people going to work stoned.  That is clear outright propaganda.

The stoners against Prop 19 also argued that marijuana is still illegal under federal law and that growers, sellers and users could still be prosecuted by the DEA.  That is true but what do you expect?  Prop 19 was isolated to the state of California.  It had zero power at the federal level.  It was unfortunate but expected that the feds announced that they would “vigorously enforce” federal drug laws against Californians who grow or sell marijuana for recreational use even if voters pass the legalization measure.  This kind of federal meddling really casts doubt on the freedom that the US federal government frequently trumpets about.  In addition Govenator Arnold signed bill SB 1449 which reduces simple possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction.  In doing so Schwarzenegger intentionally took some of the wind out of the sails of Prop 19 at a very important time.

Who are the traitors that fucked over Regulate, Control & Tax Cannabis Act?

Dennis Peron

Dennis Peron, author of Prop 215 which legalized medical marijuana in California in 1996.  Prop 215 has done amazing things for the movement.  It allowed medical marijuana to be grown, distributed and used legally as well as the medical marijuana dispensaries that we see today.  Peron opposes Prop 19 because he does not believe in the recreational use of marijuana.  He literally does not believe.  Peron was quoted saying “I don’t even understand what recreational marijuana is, people say they feel high. What were you feeling before that? Not high? Low? In other words, you were depressed.”  Nobody is that naive.  Peron is clearly opposed to Prop 19 because he does not want any competition for his pot friendly bed and breakfast in San Fransisco.

Fortunately Dennis Peron has already tasted justice.  He was recently arrested on hard drug and child porn charges.  Ironically he understands the recreational use of methamphetamine and ecstasy.

Dragonfly De La Luz

Dragonlfly aka Stephanie Taylor is a San Francisco-based cannabis and travel writer for Skunk Magazine.  She has received the most media attention of all the traitors.  Se started a blog titled “Stoners Against the Prop 19 Tax Cannabis Initiative.”  On this blog she spews all kinds of conspiracy theory and misguided information against Prop 19.  Dragonfly erroneously says growers who want to legally cultivate will have to pay $211,000 a year to do so. She was quoted, “Obviously there’s no space for the mom-and-pop small-time farmer who have been living off marijuana legally since 1996.”

Medical Dispensary Owners

In a Huffington Post article a dispensary owner named “Craig” was interviewed.  Here is a quote,

“I’ll give you two reasons, one is big tobacco. Did you know that Phillip Morris just bought 400 acres of land up in Northern California? The minute marijuana becomes legal, they’ll mass produce and flood the market. And of course, they’ll add the same toxins they put in regular cigarettes to get you addicted, and very little THC, so you’ll have to buy more… In short, they’re going to ruin weed.” He gestured around his beloved shop, with every flavor of every strain, in its purist form, selling for at-cost prices. “I like the way things are now.”

Phillip Morris 400 acre thing is a phony conspiracy theory in case you were wondering.

Medical Marijuana Growers

Many growers oppose Prop 19 for the same reason as “Craig”.  They are making a handsome profit the way things are.  I hope these selfish mother fuckers get what they deserve.  Here’s a good article on the growers of Mendocino County in California.

Dragonlfy and the other traitors claim that the godfather of marijuana activism and one of my heros, Jack Herer, opposed Prop 19.  Herer was great activist who did more for the movement than anyone, ever.  He died this year on April 15.  He initially opposed Prop 19 because he wanted full and free legalization.  He saw marijuana as a gift from god and wanted, as we all do, absolutely zero restrictions on its use and cultivation.  Jack’s son Dan Herer wrote the following in a letter to members of the cannabis community,

Jack ‘wanted it all’ and Prop 19 is just part of that dream.  Unfortunately Jack passed away before Prop 19 made the 2010 ballot; so many people think he would still oppose it. We don’t believe that, and we ask that everyone stop saying he would cling to that position as we move toward the Nov. 2 vote. He was smart and had the political savvy to know that once a measure is on the ballot, the time for bickering has passed. That is why he campaigned for Prop 215 despite its shortcomings. That is why, were he able, he would now be telling voters to rally around and Vote Yes on Prop 19.

Unfortunately these traitors, profiteers and conspiracy theorists managed to suck in enough people to vote down Prop 19.  The ballot initiative was defeated with 53.9% of California voters voting ‘No’.  All the marijuana advocacy groups who tried their best to get Prop 19 passed agree that despite the loss a nationwide and perhaps even worldwide debate has been sparked.  People are beginning to listen and the truth is getting a lot harder to hide.  The lies and evils of the war on drugs are more obvious than ever.  Marijuana legalization in North America is no longer a fringe issue.  A new law called the Jack Herer Initiative had been filed in California for 2012.  This new initiative is a much more pure form of legalization than Prop 19.

I just want to say fuck you to the traitors.  I hope you all spend years in a federal prison.

 

A new hydroponics store opened in Oakland California on January 28.  The thing that sets this store apart from all the other hydroponics stores is that it is huge.  This store is in a 15,000-square-foot warehouse.  iGrow is based their store design on Ikea, they have a variety of hydroponic systems layed out on display.  There is a doctor on site who can issue a medical marijuana card as well as technicians who will travel to your house and help you set up your new pot growing equipment.  The only thing this store doesn’t have is clones.  Check out this video,

So what its a huge pot growing store.  The store itself is not all that significant but the media coverage that it is getting is.  It is one more notch in the belt of the legalization movement and perhaps a glimpse of what the post-prohibition world will be like.

2009 hosted several firsts in the legal marijuana industry. In March 2009 the first publicly traded medical marijuana company, Medical Marijuana Inc, was founded.  It is a consulting company for medical marijuana businesses.  Last year in Colorado a gourmet marijuana restaurant opened called Ganja Gourmet.  It is the first marijuana restaurant.

Each of these businesses helps get society ready for the legal marijuana industry that is to come.  Recreational marijuana possession is still illegal throughout the US.  Pot is decriminalized in many states for non-medical use but it is still against the law and trafficking and cultivation are met with long prison sentences.  Up here in Canada it is 100% illegal for non-medical use.  There are not any marijuana producing corporations yet unless you count gangs and cartels which have multi-billion dollar market share on the black market.

Harry Ansliger spread the hate on marijuana and essentially began the criminalization of marijuana worldwide.  Richard Nixon took it to the extreme.  In June 1971 Nixon declared the war on drugs which took the drug policy of the United States worldwide.  Nixon and his supporters lableled illegal drugs as public enemy number one in the United States.  Nixon also created the DEA and increased penalties for marijuana. The United State’s first action in the drug war was a massive surprise attack on Mexico’s border by U.S. law enforcement personnel, code named “Operation Intercept.”  In September 1969 Nixon essentially shut down the US-Mexico border under the premise of disrupting the marijuana trade.  Each and every vehicle crossing the boarder was given a 3 minute intensive search.  The operation lasted only 20 days after border delays severly affected the economies of both countries.  The amound of drugs seized was much less than Nixon expected but that was not the true purpose for the unilateral action.  It was to coerce Mexico into funding a domestic drug eradication and enforcement policy in which Operation Intercept was a success.  Decptive and coercive tactics are the hallmarck of the US war on drugs which continues to this day.

Operation Intercept was the first drug related unilateral action against another country by the United States.  It symbolizes the US ‘s inability to accept responsibility for it’s own drug problem.  Instead the US government blames other countries which produce and distribute illegal drugs to the growing black market inside the borders of the United States.

In 1970 the Nixon government passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act which included the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).  The CSA created the five schedules which are used today in compliance to the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.  The CSA increased the search and seizure powers of law enforcement and established a major federal scientific inquiry called the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse (aka the Shafer Commission).  Marijuana was placed in Schedule 1 of the new law which is the most restrictive.  Crack cocaine and crystal meth are listed under Schedule 2 .  The criteria for a drug to be placed in Schedule 1 as defined by the law are,

  • The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
  • The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

Marijuana’s inclusion in Shedule 1 was to be temporary pending the results of the Shafer commission.  When the commission released its findings to President Nixon in 1972 he was not pleased.  The Shafer report found, “Neither the marijuana user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to public safety.”  The report also found that marijuana use caused “no significant physical, biochemical, or mental abnormalities,” and that “most users, young and old, demonstrate an average or above-average degree of social functioning, academic achievement, and job performance.”  The Shafer commission also recomended that marijuana be decriminalized and at least be removed from its Scedule 1 status.  Nixon refused to even read the report and stated in a press conference,

“I am against legalizing marijuana. Even if the Commission does recommend that it be legalized, I will not follow that recommendation.”

In March 1973 Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Agency.  Until that time federal drug enforcement was handled by several different groups.  The new “super agency” was consolidated from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), Customs, the CIA and the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE).  The DEA is the worst agency ever created.  They have abolutely failed in ever part of their job.  Demand for illegal drugs has climbed uninterrupted since 1973, prices have not gone up and criminal gangs reap higher profits than ever.  Since its creation the DEA has succeeded in one thing, wasting vast sums of money.  The DEA budget has increased anually from $75 million in 1973 to $2.5 billion in 2009 (from the DEA website)

Richard Nixon used extensivce propaganda to literally brainwash the US to hate marijuana.  He was the first US President to formally seek media support in spreading drug war propaganda. In 1970, Nixon held a special White House meeting with senior executives and producers from the major TV networks and ad agencies, who were collectively responsible for over 90% of prime-time television. Nixon showed them “shocking” films about narcotics addiction, and then asked them to help America survive the scourge of drugs. Popular shows like Hawaii Five-O, The Mod Squad andMarcus Welby, MD soon began featuring anti-drug storylines.  Nixon then met with senior radio executives, with similar results. Within a year Nixon’s drug war had received an unprecedented $37 million in free advertising, a figure which has grown steadily every year since. Government officials now claim the average American child sees over 140 anti-drug ads each year, and the anti-drug theme is incorporated ever more deeply into mainstream entertainment, including movies, music and TV.

The Nixon regime squached the marijuana decriminalization movement.  When Nixon came into office 11 states had decriminalized marijuana and many more were considering relaxation of marijuana laws.  The General Social Survey showed close to 30 percent support for outright legalization of marijuana.  The science was in, reports like the Shafer and Le Dain commissions showed that marijuana was not dangerous, addictive or anything else the government said it was.  Just like today legalization seemed imminent.  Nixon’s methods of propaganda and continued enthusaism for the war on drugs delivered a heavy blow to the anti-prohibition movement. Just before Nixon’s second term the Watergate scandal erupted.  He was busted in a conspiracy that involved spying on the Democrats in order to keep him in office.  Read the whole story here.  As a result of the investigation Richard Nixon was the first American president in history to resign.  Nixon was a crook and a liar.  Although he was forced out of office his legacy continues to this day.  The drug war is still tearing society apart and marijuana is still listed in Schedule 1 despite overwhelming scientific evidence that shows it does not fit the criteria.  The DEA continues to grow and people still hate marijuana. From the late Hunter S Thompson,

Richard Nixon has never been one of my favorite people anyway. For years I’ve regarded his existence as a monument to all the rancid genes and broken chromosones that corrupt the possibilities of the American Dream; he was a foul caricature of himself, a man with no soul, no inner convictions, with the integrity of a hyena and the style of a poison toad.

Marijuana prohibition and anti-homosexual laws are two heads of the same snake – laws governing morality. Victimless crimes that are committed in the privacy of your home. The laws for marijuana and homosexuality vary significantly throughout the world. In places such as Malaysia and Saudi Arabia you can get the death penalty for marijuana as well as for homosexuality. While in other parts of the world both cannabis and gay rights are accepted by society. Belgium, Canada, Netherlands, South Africa, and Spain legally recognize gay marriage (including adoption) they also have some of the most lax marijuana laws. Look at the similarity of these two maps of marijuana and gay laws (click to see larger image).

World Gay Laws by Country

World Cannabis Laws by Country

The southern hemisphere on these two maps is almost an exact match. The majority of countries where marijuana is decriminalized (light blue) also allow civil unions for homosexual couples (also light blue). The United States is divided on both maps, the West coast and Colorado having the more liberal laws. Africa has the harshest penalties for morality crimes, in Sudan and several other countries you can get the death penalty for sodomy. The cultural contrast between South Africa and its neighbours really stands out.

In ancient Rome homosexuality was commonplace. Several emperors openly enjoyed sodomy and homosexual and straight relationships were seen as equal. Ancient Greece and Japan were also pretty cool with homosexuality. In 385 BC Plato argued that love between males is the highest form and that sex with women is lustful and only for means of reproduction.

Marijuana was legal in the ancient world, too. While it was used all over the ancient world for fibre the medicinal and recreational effects of marijuana were unknown except for in China, India and Persia. The Arab world was fond of cannabis, they prefered hashish which was invented in Persia in A.D. 1155. Later hashish caught on in India and Europe. In the 1890s 70,000 to 80,000 kg of hashish was legally imported into India from Central Asia each year.

Homosexuality became illegal in Rome during the conversion to Christianity. As Catholicism spread throughout Europe so did harsh anti gay laws. Homosexuality remained illegal in most of the world until the French Revolution in 1771.  The Netherlands and Portugal soon followed, they were also pioneers in marijuana legalization.  During the 19th and 20th centuries the Western world slowly legalized homosexuality.  In 1989 Denmark was the first country to legalize gay marriage. Same sex couples were given a special status called civil union which is basically the same as marriage excluding the right to adoption and the right to marriage in a church. Gay marriage is still a hot political topic today, Canada just legalized gay marriage as well as adoption in 2005.

Napoleon prohibited marijuana for the first time in history in 1798, less than 30 years after France legalized homosexuality. Strangely he found cannabis important enough to invade Russia over during the war of 1812. The first anti-marijuana law in North America came into effect in 1910 in Utah. During that time Mormons who came back from Mexico were smoking marijuana and the church’s reaction led to the ban. Several other states followed but federal marijuana prohibition would not happen until Harry Anslinger came into the picture in 1937. The Canadian version of Anslinger, Emily Murphy, beat him to the punch in 1922 when she convinced parliament to criminalize marijuana possession. By 1961 nearly the entire planet prohibited marijuana with the passing of the UN Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs.

Homosexuality laws originated with Abrahamic religions (Islam, Christianity and Judaism). Marijuana laws were driven mainly by racism but religion played a role as well. Early anti-marijuana laws in North America were created to satisfy Christian and Mormon clergy. Church backed temperance groups like the WCTU, of which Emily Murphy was a member, successfully campaigned for prohibition of alcohol in the early 20th century. The WCTU wanted to have marijuana and tobacco prohibited as well. Temperance created the prohibition mentality and the propaganda that followed. Even today the WCTU website calls medical marijuana a scam and warns of the dangers of hemp agriculture.

No government has the right to legislate morality. Your body and your mind are not the property of the state. Abraham Lincoln summed it up in 1840 when he said, “Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”

What a year for marijuana!  More progress has been made in 2009 than the previous three decades combined. Marijuana discussion has hit the mainstream with major articles in publications like Fortune Magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, CBS News, CNN, the Economist and dozens of others!  Let’s take a look at the top ten news stories of this momentous year.

1. Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps Caught Smoking Bong

The photo of Michael Phelps hitting a bong was on the front page of every newspaper in February.  The sight of the world’s greatest Olympic athlete smoking pot got people talking.  This story broke less than a year after he won the most Olympic medals in history.  Phelps lost some major sponsors, including Kelloggs, but some stayed behind him.  Subway capitalized on the media attention and released TV ads starring Phelps with the slogan “Be Yourself” (Youtube).  Kellogg’s reputation sank after dropping Phelps largely due to a boycott in support of the athlete (link). Not even an industry-wide peanut scare inflicted as much damage on the food company’s reputation.

2. US Federal Government Stops Medical Raids

Until 2009 the DEA was raiding medical marijuana dispensaries even though they were legal under state law.  Under the Bush regime these raids peaked.  Thirteen US states have allowed the sale of medical marijuana with California being number one.  There are over 400 medical marijuana dispensaries in LA alone.  Obama stated early in the year that he opposed  these raids but it was not till October that it became official.  Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

3. American Medical Association Calls for Government to Review Marijuana Restrictions

Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drugs in the US.  That means it has a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug.  Cocaine and methamphetamine are in the lower classification Schedule II.  The official AMA statement reads

The AMA urges that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods.

The AMA statement shows that marijuana has undeniable medical uses and federal law should reflect that reality.

4. Marc Emery Gets Fucked Over by US Feds

The Prince of Pot was arrested in Canada on orders from the US DEA.  He was arrested in 2005 and the long extradition battle finally ended this year.  Marc was targeted because of his involvement in the marijuana legalization movement.  He was the leader of the BC Marijuana Party and publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine.  The charges against Emery include Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana, Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana Seeds and Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering.  He was the owner of Emery Seeds a company that sold marijuana seeds to Canadian and US customers over the internet.  Canadian authorities have not pressed charges.  Marc expected to be sentenced to five years in US federal prison.  DEA does not dispute that Emery is a political prisoner they issued a press release lauding his arrest as a blow to the legalization movement.  More on Marc Emery.

5. Latin America Ex-Leaders Say Drug War is a Failure

Cesar Gaviria, former president of Columbia, has joined with former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo to try to change the debate on drugs in Latin America.  Trafficking gangs have killed tens of thousands of people and weakened democracies through corruption. The presidents form a group called Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy.  They say

the war against drugs is failing and the U.S. government should break with prohibition policies that have achieved little more than cram its prisons and stoke violence.

The commission’s report was successful in changing they way Latin America thinks about illicit drug use.

6. Mexico and Argentina Decriminalize Marijuana and Other Drugs

Mexican congress voted to decriminalize marijuana and other drugs in June.  The bill says users caught with small amounts( 5 grams of marijuana, 500 milligrams of cocaine, 40 milligrams of methamphetamine or 50 milligrams of heroin) of drugs will not be criminally prosecuted.  Argentina followed Mexico’s lead in August of this year.  The Argentine supreme court ruled that drug laws were in conflict with the constitution.  Possession and consumption of small amounts of narcotics were decriminalized. In exchange, the government will publicly fund drug treatment programs for minor offenders and addicts, much like other nations, including the Netherlands and Spain.  Brazil and Ecuador have plans to decriminalize as well.

7. California Proposes Bill to Legalize Marijuana

In February Tom Ammiano of the California State Assembly proposed a bill titled The Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act.  This bill would legalize marijuana and tax it in the same way as alcohol.  If passed marijuana would be legally sold to anyone over the age of 21.  To obtain a commercial grow license one would pay an initial $5,000 fee, then a $2,500 fee each year after that. A tariff of $50 per ounce would also be placed on all sold and grown marijuana.  An estimated $1 billion in annual revenue would be made.  The bill has been delayed and is expected to be heard by state committee in early 2010.  The press jumped on this story broadcasting it all over the world.  It got people talking about the financial benefits of legalization.

8. Breckenridge, Colorado Voters Legalize Marijuana and Paraphernalia

The small ski town in Colorado voted 3 to 1 for the legalization measure.  It was placed on the ballot after campaigners turned in a petition with almost three-times the number of signatures required.  Breckenridge is the first place to legalize paraphernalia in the US. Possession of marijuana is already decriminalized in Colorado, up to 1 oz results in nothing more than a $100 fine.  Drug laws are not determined at the municipal level but this measure makes marijuana possession a low priority for police.

9. Five Years After: Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy Shows Positive Results

In 2001 Portugal decriminalized the use and possession of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD and other illicit street drugs.  The country was facing rising levels of HIV and drug related deaths.  They took the bold move in an effort to focus on treatment and prevention instead of incarceration.  A report published in the spring of 2009 by the Cato Institute, a Washington libertarian think tank, showed the real world benefits of decriminalization.  Five years later, the number of deaths from street drug overdoses dropped from around 400 to 290 annually, and the number of new HIV cases caused by using dirty needles to inject heroin, cocaine and other illegal substances plummeted from nearly 1,400 in 2000 to about 400 in 2006.  The report shot down the assumption that liberalizing drug laws will create an increase in drug use and addiction, one of the DEA’s top ten reasons against legalization.

10. British Drug Advisor Fired for Saying Pot is Safer Than Alcohol.

David Nutt was chair of the UK’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and a professor of neuropsychopharmacology.  The British government moved cannabis from Class C to the more restrictive Class B in opposition to Nutt’s recommendations. According to Nutt, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has made “completely irrational statements” about the dangers of marijuana use. According to Nutt:

“I’m not prepared to mislead the public about the harmfulness of drugs like cannabis and Ecstasy.”

His opponents say he embarrassed the British government, which toughened the penalties for possessing marijuana earlier this year.  The decision to fire David Nutt was no doubt tied to the upcoming general election.  After all, it’s hard to convince voters you’re on their side when your own drug advisor is going about telling them you’re full of shit.

Runner Up

Drug Czar Calls for End to the War on Drugs

The head of the US Office of National Drug Control Policy, aka the drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske said in an interview that the Obama government wants to make changes to the drug war.  The new strategy will spend more money on treating addiction and scale down the war on drugs rhetoric as part of an overhaul of U.S. counternarcotics strategy. He emphasized the point that “legalization is not on the table” and that the war will continue but they don’t want to use the title “War on Drugs” any more.

American drug laws are being threatened by anti-prohibition groups.  People are beginning to wake up to the evils of prohibition.  The DEA published this booklet, Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization.  It is available online HERE.  The DEA says this booklet is “designed to cut through the fog of misinformation with hard facts”.  Let’s take a look at the top ten “facts” about legalization.

1. We have made significant progress in fighting drug use and drug trafficking in America. Now is not the time to abandon our efforts.

They go on to say “Ninety-five percent of Americans do not use drugs.”

The exact opposite of that is true. An estimated 117,325,000 Americans aged 12 or over (47% of the US) have used illicit drugs in their lifetime. The lion’s share being marijuana use (41% of total US population).   Marijuana use has declined slightly in recent years but heroin use has grown significantly as well as cocaine.  Drug use follows trends for which change over time.  For example acid was popular in the 60s and again in the 90s but not right now.  Speed and meth were popular with the artsy crowd in the 60s and now meth is seen as a hillbilly drug.

Lets not forget the legal drugs.  The DEA only combats illicit drug use but the scope of drug use in America paints a picture.  Over 66% of US adults drink alcohol on a regular basis and 82% have tried it. 90 billion is spent on alcohol annually in the US alone. Tobacco use is also alarming, 173,927,000 Americans have used tobacco in their lifetime. In addition the use of menthol cigarettes among smokers is on the rise. Caffeine use is also alarming, approximately 70% of Americans are addicted to caffeine. Caffeine is an addictive and abused drug, in fact there are four caffeine-induced psychiatric disorders recognized by psychiatric professionals.

2. A balanced approach of prevention, enforcement, and treatment is the key in the fight against drugs.

Prohibition has never worked. Alcohol prohibition created a lucrative black market run by organized crime groups, corruption among law enforcement and politicians, and did little to curb alcohol use. Drug prohibition has taken all these problems to the next level.

The DEA continually promotes it’s special drug courts. These courts often sentence people to forced rehab. While that is better than prison many people don’t need or want rehab. In the case of marijuana the unnecessary treatment is used to create statistics that show marijuana is addictive, which it is not. (see marijuana rehab industry)

3. Illegal drugs are illegal because they are harmful.

Absolute bullshit. The legal drugs are more harmful than the majority of illegal drugs. In the case of marijuana the DEA uses myths and half-truths to show it is harmful.  Here is a quote from the DEA site:

smoking one marijuana cigarette deposits about four times more tar into the lungs than a filtered tobacco cigarette.

That is not true at all (see joint/cigarettes myth).  Another DEA tactic is emergency room mentions. Emergency room mentions are not reasons for visiting the hospital. If you go to ER, lets say for a broken leg, and mention marijuana verbally or on a survey it goes to this statistic. That is a loose measurement of prevalence of use not an argument for harm related to the drug. The DEA’s arguments that marijuana is harmful are 100% false. The lethal dose for marijuana is about 900 joints in one sitting (physically impossible), it is not addictive, and there has never been a recorded death or case of cancer as a direct result of marijuana use.

The DEA’s lies are immoral. A publicly funded agency should not lie to the public to stay in business. They are going after the children too, check out justthinktwice.com.

Alcohol is the drug that society has the most problems with. It is addictive, poisonous, has a high potential for abuse and no medical value. Four in ten criminal offenders report alcohol as a factor in violence. 43% of Americans have been exposed to alcoholism in their families. Tobacco is physically worse. Nicotine addiction is harder to quit than heroin. These drugs are harmful and kill millions every year but they are legal, why?

This chart sums it up. It ranks drugs based on the amount of drug it takes to get high vs how much it takes to kill you:

4. Smoked marijuana is not scientifically approved medicine. Marinol, the legal version of medical marijuana, is approved by science.

Marinol is a synthetic form of THC in a pill.  It is not popular among those who need medical marijuana.  There are three major complaints.  First, vomiting patients have trouble swallowing a pill. Then, if a patient does swallow the pill, the good effects don’t kick in for hours. And when the pill finally starts to work – buckle up. “A 2.5 milligram Marinol pill absolutely knocked me out,” reports one man with AIDS. “I wound up lying on the sofa for days, just totally drugged and unproductive.”  Patients prefer smoked marijuana because it is cheaper, more effective, works almost instantly, and easier to dose.  Here’s a good article “Marinol: The Little Synthetic That Couldn’t“.

Marinol costs $652 U.S. for 30 doses while cannabis can be bought for less than $100 for the equivalent amount.  Marinol was first made in 1985 when a company called Unimed bought the patent and began producing.  The reason a pill was created is a plant cannot be patented.  The pharmaceutical industry is based entirely on patents.  If you could grow your own medicine why would you pay thousands of dollars per year to a drug corporation?

The American Medical Association has recently stated that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance must be reviewed (article).  The DEA suffered a blow and has been working to remove references to the AMA’s stance on marijuana from their website and publications (article).

5. Drug control spending is a minor portion of the U.S. budget. Compared to the social costs of drug abuse and addiction, government spending on drug control is minimal.

What?!?  The DEA’s annual budget was $2.4 billion in 2006 and increases every year.  That’s just the DEA, the cost of maintaining the extreme amount of prison space required for drug war POWs is enormous, as well as local police, judges, prosecutors etc.  In 2003 the US federal government spent over $19 billion on the drug war, that’s $600 per second.

Drug prohibition is the lifeblood of many private industries as well including the private prison industry, private rehab, anti-drug advertising, drug testing, and many others.  There are countless other corporations who benefit from drugs being illegal; big pharma, alcohol and tobacco companies to name a few.  Of course there are the organized crime groups who actually sell the illicit drugs.  The money involved here is insane!

6. Legalization of drugs will lead to increased use and increased levels of addiction. Legalization has been tried before, and failed miserably.

The “legalization” that was tried before was actually the decriminalization of marijuana in Alaska that started in the 70s but they deliberately did not tell the whole story. As the DEA correctly points out Alaskans passed a referendum to recriminalize the personal use of marijuana by a slim margin in 1990. However, in 1993 the Supreme Court of Alaska ruled that a popular vote could not change a constitution amendment. The court has upheld this decision on several occasions. As the law currently stands in Alaska you are legally allowed up to one ounce of marijuana in the privacy of your home and up to 25 marijuana plants.  In Amsterdam you are only permitted to have 5 grams of marijuana without facing prosecution.  The DEA knows this and purposely lied in their “fact sheet”.

Decriminalization does not remove the “forbidden fruit” appeal of  drugs.  Some rebellious teens do drugs because they are illegal.  Under decriminalization people arrested for small amounts of pot don’t get a criminal record but they still pay a fine and it is still illegal.  It was not just an experiment either, twenty one states in the US have decriminalized marijuana to some degree.

The argument that legalization will lead to higher levels of addiction assumes that prohibition limits demand.  That is not the case.  Drugs are available in an absolutely uncontrolled market. High school students frequently claim that pot is easier to get than alcohol.  The law is not much of a deterrent.  When alcohol prohibition was removed in the 1930s did everyone become a drunk?  Absolutely not.

Let’s try a thought experiment.  If a big bucket of heroin and one of cocaine were left unattended on a busy street corner how many people would use the drugs?  Probably the same amount that are using it now.  Less than 1% of the population have used heroin and nearly 10% have tried cocaine.

7. Crime, violence, and drug use go hand-in-hand

That’s true but not for the reasons they say it is.  Illegal drugs are available only in the black market created by prohibition.  In a black market you can’t rely on the cops or other agencies to solve disputes so violence is the only option.  This market is run by criminal gangs who have built up massive amounts of money due to prohibition.  Drug users do not have to be criminals.  If you could go to a gas station and by a pack of “greens” the criminals would not be involved.  You don’t see Starbucks (one of the biggest drug dealers in the world) shooting up the competition do you?

8. Alcohol has caused significant health, social, and crime problems in this country, and legalized drugs would only make the situation worse.

This argument is used frequently by prohibitionists.  Well why is alcohol legal then?  I’ve already pointed out some of the problems with alcohol.  The truth is marijuana is a safer alternative to alcohol and the DEA prevents this alternative from getting to the public.  To me this argument is an admission of guilt.

For info on the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol look no further than SAFER.  Or get yourself a copy of the new book “Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?

Drunk driving is a major problem but studies show that stoned drivers are more cautious and safer drivers.  Each drug has its own unique pros and cons. If you can’t compare apples to apples the argument breaks down.

9: Europe’s more liberal drug policies are not the right model for America.

Europe has different forms of decriminalization and harm-reduction.  These policies have already made their way into the US.  The American stance of militarized outright prohibition with no compromise has not worked.  It is pretty ignorant to ignore alternatives when the system is failing.  What is the shelf life for bad legislation?

10. Most non-violent drug users get treatment, not jail time.

Again they are tooting their own horn about the “drug courts”.  The DEA thinks that treatment over incarceration shows mercy.  They won’t let you forget it either.  That does not change that hundreds of thousands of non-violent users are in jail for extremely long sentences.  (see marijuana vs rape).  The US imprisons more of their own people than any other nation past or present.  The drug war is the main recruiter for the growing US prison population.  Jail or not they still get a criminal record and that is just as bad.

The DEA’s arguments against legalization are weak.  I thought they could do better with a $2 billion/year budget.  But why are they arguing about the law anyway?  DEA is the drug enforcement agency they are supposed to enforce the law not rationalize it. As David Bratzer of LEAP said “If police officers are qualified to comment on anything it lies merely in the area of arresting criminals and helping people in distress.” Laws are supposed to be determined by the legislative branch of the government and in a more general sense the voting public, not the cops.  That just shows how fucked up the DEA is.