Drug Laws

One Small Step

You can help in the battle against the so-called war on drugs.
This Massachusetts Initiative may not go far enough and would not be required in a free country. But we don’t live in one and the initiative is One Small Step in the right direction:

On November 4, 2008, Massachusetts voters will have the chance to pass a ballot initiative decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana — removing the threat of jail time for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana for personal use.

Help Massachusetts take this step by financially supporting this initiative. Send contributions to:

Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy
P.O. Box 130151
Boston, MA 02113

Or, online here.

You can also help by asking your congressional representative to support the Personal Use of Marijuana Act.

Learn more at the Marijuana Policy Project.

Nullify the Drug War

In an essay in Time magazine 4 of the writers of The Wire commit:

If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun’s manifesto against the death penalty — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.

One of the writers, Dennis Lehane, was interviewed today on NPR by Scott Simon. It is well worth the 4 minutes.
Here is one of the exchanges:

SS: Some of the most articulate and passionate proponents of drugs laws and, in fact, fierce and aggressive police action to enforce the drug laws are people who live in inner city communities…who say drugs have ravaged our neighborhood. They’ve taken almost half of an entire generation from us. We have to stamp this out.
DL: There is absolutely no way I can argue against that argument. I am not argueing for mass legalization of drugs. I’m argueing for a different, more common sense approach to the drug war, if you will. And, saying, I don’t believe that the drug war as it is being fought now is working is working.

Since Dennis won’t argue let me, in radio sound bite form, do it for him.
The drug war is the monster that has ravaged your neighborhoods. End it and you will be able to reclaim your neighborhoods. To end it you must hold accountable the stakeholders in the drug war: the politicians, the DEA, the police departments and prison industry whose livelihoods depend on ravaging your neighborhood. The blood is on their hands.
If the drugs had been available in the corner drug store like beer or the liquor store like Jack Daniels you would not have lost half of an entire generation. Yes, prohibition must end; there must be mass legalization.
Would folks still use and abuse drugs? Sure. Just like folks, including most of the drug war stakeholders, use and abuse alcohol.
What you would not have is drug war related brutality in your neighborhoods, 1 in 15 of your young men in penal institutions, or drug gang related mayhem throughout much of the world.

Take one small step to End it now! Vote to acquit when there is no violence involved.

On a related note see these posts on jury nullification by Radley Balko.

I’d certainly do this. If only I’d get called to jury duty. I’ve been around long enough that you’d think it would happen, but no. In the meantime Mrs Modulator has been called many times.

Is It Really Free Trade?

Free trade, free trade, all aboard for free trade.
The Canadian and Columbian governments are close to executing a free trade agreement:

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier concluded an official visit to Bogota Tuesday, saying a Canada-Colombia free trade pact was imminent and praising its peace efforts in a statement.
“Discussions on a free trade agreement with Colombia are ongoing and Canada remains committed to concluding the negotiations in the near future,” Bernier said.

But will it really be a free trade agreement?
That would require that any individuals or groups of individuals in the two countries can voluntarily exchange goods and services without government restrictions in forms such as taxes, tariffs, prohibitions, etc.
Columbia is the world’s leading cocoa cultivator. Will there be unrestricted trade in cocoa related products?
The only role that the respective governments might have to play in a truly free trade environment is to provide a dispute resolution process (judicial system) and to provide police services in cases of fraud, theft or violence that the involved parties can not resolve amongst themselves without resort to violence.
That these agreements may make some steps in this direction can be a good thing. To the extent they serve to maintain the current state enforced corporate welfare system, well…, they are not so good.
Via Poliblog.