Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The DEA Has Their Say

A while back I wrote a piece about a letter representative John Conyers (D-MI) sent to the DEA about the raids of medical marijuana dispensaries in California. Well the DEA has responded (see their response here and here). To save you a little time, below is my brief summary of the original letter and the DEA’s response, in plain-English.

First, the original letter sent by Conyers on April 29, 2008:
Dear DEA,

I see you’ve been spending a lot of the taxpayers’ money out in California, what with all those raids on the medical marijuana dispensaries and all. What’s up with that? I want to see some receipts. I’d also like to know why you’re putting so much effort into going after all those sick people and their caregivers when there are all those really bad drug cartel guys south of the border. I think maybe your priorities are little screwed up. I want some answers, and I want them no later than July 1. Or else.

Yours truly,

The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
And here’s the DEA’s response, dated July 25:
Dear Liberal Troublemaker,

How many times do we have to say it—we don’t make the laws, we just enforce them. But since you brought it up, they certainly are some mighty fine laws. Contrary to what all those hippie potheads out in California want you to believe. Heck, some of the more sensible ones out there have even been asking for our help in ridding their communities of these illegal drug distribution centers. So there. Oh, and you’re not the boss of us. So shut the f*ck up, stop rocking the boat, and let us get on with fighting the drug menace.

Cordially yours,

Anyone surprised by the DEA’s response? Anyone think anything will change as a result of this little correspondence?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Dangerous New Drug Menace

I recently watched this documentary on TV about a dangerous new drug menace that is sweeping our nation. Although the show focused on a small town in Colorado, it would appear that kids across the country have found a new way to get “hopped up.” In case you weren’t aware, and I know I wasn’t, it seems that you can experience a hallucinogenic experience by snorting or sniffing cat urine. Not just any cat urine, mind you, but only the urine from a male cat marking his territory. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but I saw it on TV so it must be true. The kids refer to this ingesting of cat urine as “cheesing.” (Why? Because its “Fon to Due”.)

So how exactly do the kids go about getting cheesed? Well, it’s not as easy as you might think. It requires the male cat to be secured in a special harness, the so-called cheesing paraphernalia, and then a second male cat is introduced. This causes the harnessed cat to get all territorial and “spray.” These poor misguided kids then stick their face near the cat’s rear end and let the spray wash over their faces. The result is a psychedelic experience that approximates watching the movie Heavy Metal. Now I don’t know if it affects everyone the same, but the hallucinations seem to involve visions that include a lot of well-endowed women’s breasts. Just so you’re not too alarmed, it seems that the breasts are never completely exposed to the “cheeser.” Thank goodness for small favors.

Fortunately, our ever-vigilant government appears to be on top of the situation. The town that was the focus of the documentary quickly addressed the problem by making cats illegal. The DEA was even shown coming into the town and rounding up all the cats. As is to be expected, some people hid their cats away and a black market sprang up. But it appeared that the feds had the problem under control by the end of the show. I’m not sure exactly why all cats were outlawed, male and female alike, but I’m sure the government had its reasons. Better safe than sorry.

I wasn’t going to mention it, to avoid embarrassing the people involved, but in case you’re interested, the town that was the focus of this documentary was South Park, CO. Now that I think about it, that name sounds awfully familiar. But I can’t quite put my finger on it. And you know, I seem to recall that the documentary was done as an animated feature. You know, a cartoon. And a very crudely drawn one at that. Oh well, whatever it takes to get the message across to today’s MTV generation. My hat’s off to the makers of this documentary. They must really understand the kids to be able to speak to them in their own lingo. And now that this menace has been exposed, let’s just hope that the newly-instituted cat prohibition does what it’s supposed to do and puts an end to cheesing once and for all. After all, prohibition is the only proven way to stop people from doing what the government believes they should not be doing. I’m sure the innocent, non-cheesing cat owners who can no longer enjoy their favorite pet will understand. It’s for their own good.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Analyze This

I recently ran across the following “Statement By The White House Drug Czar Regarding Food and Drug Administration Dismissal of Smoked Marijuana As Medicine.” What follows is that statement, presented sentence by sentence, with my commentary in italics following each sentence.

(Washington, D.C.)—John Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and President Bush's “Drug Czar,” today issued the following statement regarding the Food and Drug Administration statement regarding smoking marijuana as medicine.
This is the only sentence in this statement about which I have nothing to say.
Director Walters said, “Our Nation has the highest standards and most sophisticated institutions in the world for determining the safety and effectiveness of medication.
The fact that FDA-approved medicines are released to the public all the time that end up killing people is irrelevant.
Our national medical system relies on proven scientific research, not popular opinion.
Except when it comes to marijuana, where it relies on misinformation and the opinions of people who stand to profit most from the war on drugs.
To date, science and research have not determined that smoking a crude plant is safe or effective.
Safe compared to what? Aspirin? Celebrex? Vioxx? Phenylpropanolamine? And there is plenty of evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, that shows beyond a reasonable doubt that marijuana can be an effective treatment for a variety of disorders.
We have a responsibility as a civilized society to ensure that the medicine Americans receive from their doctors is effective, safe, and free from the pro-drug politics that are being promoted in America under the guise of medicine.
And to prevent those same Americans from administering home remedies if those remedies might take money out of the pockets of big pharmaceutical companies. The only politics that should be involved, in a civilized society that is, are the anti-drug variety.
Too many of our citizens suffer from pain and chronic illnesses.
Smoking illegal drugs may make some people “feel better.”
And making sick people “feel better” is bad how?
However, civilized societies and modern day medical practices differentiate between inebriation and the safe, supervised delivery of proven medicine by legitimate doctors.
One is bad and the other isn’t. One is a moral issue, the other isn’t. I’m starting to think that “civilized society” might not be all that it’s cracked up to be.
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a review of the available scientific evidence in an effort to assess the potential health benefits of marijuana and its constituent cannabinoids.
So have many other reputable institutions, most of which don’t have a vested interest in their results.
The review concluded that smoking marijuana is not recommended for any long-term medical use, and a subsequent IOM report declared, “marijuana is not a modern medicine.”
The IOM is among a very small minority in their conclusion. See for example this NIH review of the medicinal applications of cannabinoids. Funny how the government seems to be unaware of the studies that disagree with their official position on marijuana.
For years, pro-drug groups seeking the legalization of marijuana and other drugs have preyed on the compassion of Americans to promote their political agenda and bypass F.D.A.'s rigorous standards which have safeguarded our medical supply for over 100 years.
There’s no place for compassion when it comes to caring for sick people. The most important thing is making sure the pharmaceutical companies make as much money as possible.
Marinol—the synthetic form of THC and the psychoactive ingredient contained in marijuana—is already legally available for prescription by physicians whose patients suffer from pain and chronic illness.”
THC is only one of several active compounds in marijuana. Pure THC has been shown to be much less effective than the natural substance. It has also been shown that taking pure THC can have some unpleasant side effects.
There you have it. That was a lot easier than I thought it would be. There isn’t a single unbiased statement of fact in the whole… uh… statement. Our government is nothing if not consistent.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

22 Years for Selling Weed!!!!

Now I’m as patriotic as the next fellow, but there are times when I am embarrassed by the American criminal justice system. The reason for my embarrassment can be found in an article I just read about a couple of Modesto, CA men who were recently sentenced for a federal marijuana-related conviction. One received a sentence of 21 years, 10 months and the other 20 years in a federal prison. Keep in mind that the average sentences in federal court for the crimes of murder, sexual abuse, and kidnapping are around 7 years.

Now I’m not claiming that these guys were in the right, or even that they were abiding by California state law. It would appear that they were not. It would appear that they were taking advantage of the system in order to make a lot of money. In fact, one of them even made a rap video practically daring the DEA to come after him. And of course the DEA did go after him. It’s one thing to keep a low profile and quietly go about your business. But once you become a public figure, you can rest assured that the DEA will do whatever it takes to make an example of you. Just ask Tommy Chong.

OK, so maybe these guys were not the altruistic caregivers they claimed to be. Maybe they were. Who really knows? That’s not the point. The point is that all they were doing was growing and selling marijuana. They were not accused nor convicted of any violent crime. And as far as I can tell, they had no prior criminal history. They were the victims of a “mandatory minimum sentence.” In case you haven’t heard that phrase before, it means that if you are convicted the judge has no flexibility in the sentence he passes. In this case, 20 years was the mandatory minimum sentence.

It just so happens that mandatory minimum sentences have become quite popular in recent years. Coincidentally their popularity, much like the so-called “three strikes” laws, has risen along with the increase in private prisons. And why not? If you’ve got a growing for-profit prison industry, you need to have prisoners. It would be pointless to be spending all those billions of dollars each year building new prisons if there weren’t any people to lock up in them. And our government is always willing to do what it can to help out private industry. Especially when that industry has lobbyists and donates millions of dollars to political candidates. It’s just one hand washing the other. That’s the American way.

But that’s neither here nor there. The point is that two people will be spending the next 20 years behind bars for selling marijuana!!!! In what universe is that not cruel and unusual punishment? Even if they were taking advantage of the system and using it for their own profit, the sentence in no way fits the crime. I know this excuse may be overused, but in this case I have to say that society’s to blame. If marijuana were legal, these guys would just be a couple of unknown wannabe rappers. Our society created a situation in which these two could get rich without putting in too much effort. Then when they took advantage of that situation, that very same society punished them. Severely.

The main problem with these two was that they weren’t quite smart enough to figure out the system. If they wanted some quick and easy money, they should have just gone out and robbed or killed somebody. That way, even if they got caught at least they wouldn’t have ended up spending the next 20 years behind bars. So let that be a lesson to anybody who thinks they can make easy some money selling weed. It’s just not worth the risk. Go out and get yourself a gun. All you have to do is point it at people and demand they give you their money. You’ll be happy you didn’t try to sell weed. And so will society.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Why Didn’t I Think Of That?

I read this article recently that really put the war on drugs into perspective for me. The article is about a new tactic being employed by our valiant drug warriors. It’s an approach to stopping people from smoking marijuana that is so simple and so obvious, it’s almost unbelievable that no one ever thought of it before. It’s pure genius. Are you ready for this? It’s scary clever:

The people of Prince George County, MD recently decided to ban the sale of single cigars. See what I mean? It’s kind of like the paper clip. After it was invented it seemed the obvious solution; but the day before its invention, the world was full of people wishing they had something to temporarily hold pieces of paper together with.

So what, you might ask, do cigars (or paper clips) have to do with smoking marijuana? Well, as I understand it, “the kids” these days use cigar wrappers to roll their “reefer” in. Sometimes, I hear tell, they even leave some tobacco in their so-called “blunt.” Those crazy kids! They’re always coming up with some new way to take their grass. But the people of Prince George County are onto their little shenanigans. No cigars means no more blunt smoking. Drug problem solved.

Unless, that is, those crazy kids go ahead and buy a five-pack of cigars. Because the new law doesn’t apply to cigars sold in packages of five or more as long as each individual cigar costs at least $5. But those kids that don’t have a lot of money or don’t smoke a lot will definitely be thwarted. They’ll have to go out and buy rolling papers (which they probably sell in the same place they sell cigars). Or use a pipe. Or a bong. Or a hookah. Or a soda can, or a pen, or a plastic bottle, or an apple, or a piece of aluminum foil. In any event, a few people might be somewhat barely-perceptibly inconvenienced. And since the kids won’t have the tobacco handy from emptying out the cigar wrappers, maybe some will forgo their tobacco smoking entirely. It’s like two benefits in a single ban. See what I mean about this idea being scary clever?

I don’t know about you, but I’m cautiously optimistic. I think that the drug warriors have finally hit on a tactic that will work. Although I have to say it’s not really all that original of an idea. Selling drug-smoking “paraphernalia” has, after all, been illegal in this country for quite a while now. The federal government had the right idea with that ban, they just missed the mark. They didn’t realize that kids now smoke their pot in blunts, so the ban on bongs was too little too late. That and the fact that you can still buy drug paraphernalia just about anywhere. But that’s besides the point. No sir, it’s cigar wrappers that are the key. Though some may be skeptical about the effectiveness of the cigar ban—it’s true, there are some doubters—I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that marijuana smoking will be totally abolished in Prince George County in short order. Remember, you heard it here first.