Tag Archives: war on drugs

The War on Drugs is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, North Carolina Edition

Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum) found at Chat...
Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum) found at Chatsworth House, a large country house eight miles (13 km) north of Matlock in Derbyshire, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apparently this month’s crop of stabbings, armed robberies, rapes/molestations and teacher/student sex scandals in Catawba County, North Carolina aren’t enough to keep the sheriff’s department busy. Or maybe they just have too many deputies on the payroll. Something’s obviously out of balance: They have time to go after gardeners.

“A man was arrested after deputies found nearly an acre of opium poppy in a Catawba County field,” Charlotte’s WBTV News reports. “Deputies spent the day pulling plants and loading them into their trailers.” According to the Charlotte Observer,  the uniformed bandits also stole the victim’s pets and livestock.

Our fearless flower thieves estimate the value of their haul at an insane $500 million. That’s a goody from the American drug warriors’ bag of dirty tricks: Their guess is based on the total weight of the plants, not on the tiny amount of opium that might eventually have been extracted from each flower. They also love to do this with LSD, which is measured in micrograms, including the weight of the paper the chemical is embedded in. Bigger numbers make for harsher charges and more publicity. In reality, if those poppies were destined for the street market, the take would have been closer to half a million dollars than half a billion.

A few  other numbers to put this circus into perspective:

According to Statista, approved pharmaceuticals are a $446 billion per year industry in America, a country accounting, per CNBC for about 80% of global prescriptions of opiates. Call that particular market $20 billion per year.  And its giants don’t like competition.

Then there are the tens of billions of dollars in tax money spent every year on the “war on drugs,” which has over time become a make-work program to pad the budgets and payrolls of law enforcement at every level.

Meanwhile, as I note above, there are actual criminals committing actual crimes in Catawba County. But solving those crimes and busting those criminals isn’t nearly as sexy or lucrative as trampling a guy’s garden, seizing his other property, and talking smack about it on TV.

If you’re a taxpayer in Catawba County or anywhere else, you’re paying for this “drug bust” in two ways: Higher taxes and higher crime.  Every dime and every minute spent busting pot-smokers, heroin junkies and flower farmers is a dime taken out of your pocket and a minute spent making you less, not more, safe from real crime.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION  HISTORY

The War on Marijuana is Ending. Disarm Jeff Sessions.

FreeImages.com/Mateusz Atroszko
FreeImages.com/Mateusz Atroszko

Jeff Sessions doesn’t “think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages and particularly young people start smoking pot.” He’s worried about the possibility of “marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.” Because, you see, “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

America disagrees.

A majority of US states (28) have modified their laws to recognize the medical benefits of cannabis over the last two decades. More recently voters in eight of those states, representing 25% of the population of the United States, have chosen to substantially legalize recreational use as well, and a solid majority of voters in the other states support the idea of doing likewise.

The writing is on the wall: The war on marijuana is ending, and freedom won. Sessions can’t undo that any more than the Ku Klux Klan was able to undo Appomattox.

Unfortunately, as the newly confirmed Attorney General of the United States, he does enjoy a great deal of Klan-like power to continue terrorizing the millions victimized by his side during its 80-year war on a benign and useful plant.

It’s time for Congress to take away that power.

In an ideal world, doing so would entail the repeal of all federal narcotics laws and the elimination of the Drug Enforcement Agency and Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Realistically those developments are probably decades away, but there’s a bare minimum baseline of acceptable congressional response to the will of the people and the prerogatives of the states:

First, Congress must remove marijuana from the DEA’s “scheduling” of drugs under the Controlled Substance Act.

Secondly, Congress must use its power of the purse to de-fund, prohibit, and if necessary punish, any future DEA/ONDCP enforcement or propaganda activity relating to marijuana.

And there’s no time like the president: The new president claimed on the campaign trail to respect the states’ decisions on the matter, and he’s also calling for cuts of “waste, fraud and abuse” from federal discretionary spending. The war on marijuana clearly answers to all three descriptions.

Four US Representatives — Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Don Young (R-AK), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jared Polis (D-CO) launched a “Cannabis Caucus” in mid-February to begin the urgent task of winding down the failed federal war on marijuana. That’s four out of 435. If your alleged representative hasn’t joined the caucus yet, maybe you should call his or her district office and ask why.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION  HISTORY

Marijuana: A Better Plan

English: Discount Medical Marijuana cannabis s...
Discount Medical Marijuana cannabis shop at 970 Lincoln Street, Denver, Colorado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2014, Florida’s legislature passed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act. The idea was to make strains of marijuana that are low in THC (the stuff that gets you high) and high in CBD (the stuff that helps children with seizure disorders) legal with a doctor’s prescription.

A year-and-a-half later, patients still await legal permission to purchase their medicine while state health bureaucrats and would-be providers of low-THC cannabis wrangle over which five nurseries will receive licenses to operate medical marijuana dispensaries.

Yes, you read that right. In a state with a population of nearly 20 million, only five plant nurseries will be legally permitted to provide medical marijuana. One wonders why the legislature even bothered. Was the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act just window dressing, passed to shut up a few loud constituents and maybe cloud the issue enough to hold off real marijuana policy reform for a few more years?

Florida’s not alone. Around the country, medical marijuana laws are mostly  piles of red tape seemingly designed for the specific purpose of making it as difficult as possible for anyone, anywhere to get a harmless, ubiquitous plant.

Yes, I said harmless. As “drugs” go, marijuana is less dangerous, less addictive, and has fewer harmful side effects than alcohol. Or, for that matter, sugar.

I can sum up why cannabis was ever made illegal in the first place in one word: Politics.

Ditto for why it remains illegal: Money. The main function of the war on marijuana today is to keep police departments and correctional facilities overstaffed and flush with money for overtime.

If there’s any such thing as a marijuana crime, it’s the fact that the plant remains illegal long after every myth of its evil effects has been conclusively debunked.

Fortunately, some states are moving away from the unmitigated evil of the war on marijuana. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington have legalized it for both medical and recreational use, albeit with some of the same burdensome regulations.

In the sunshine state, Floridians For Freedom are working to put the “Right of Adults to Cannabis” initiative on the 2016 ballot. The proposed law would recognize the right of adults to possess, use and cultivate cannabis.

The initiative isn’t perfect — it would allow the state to regulate the purchase and sale of marijuana “in the interest of health and safety,” something the state has already proven it can’t be trusted to do with medical cannabis — but it’s a start.

Four states down, 46 to go. When and if you vote next year, remember to ask the candidates where they stand on cannabis legalization. Any politician who’s not enthusiastically in favor of ending the war on marijuana doesn’t deserve your support.

Correction: The original version of this article left Oregon out of the count of states which have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana use.  I apologize for the error, and thanks to commenters “Jolly green giant” and Tom Welsh for pointing it out.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY