war on drugs
While there is nothing genuinely funny about a seventy-five year prohibition on cannabis that has arrested over 25 million cannabis consumers, making fun of the failed policy never goes out of style, especially when done right, with aplomb, which the NORML staff occasionally highlights on an otherwise serious-minded public policy blog.
While over a week-old it would seem a crime itself not to share this New York Times so-called OpDoc (where videos rather than guest columns are submitted). The Gregory Brothers, a quartet of video artists from Brooklyn, absolutely skew the disparity between American society’s hypocritical legal vs illegal drug paradigm.
They accomplish this by very humorous employment of auto-tune and eye-rolling use of politicians’ own words about the now near universally acknowledged failed war on some drugs.
Check out former Congressman Ron Paul, New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey governor Chris Christie (with intentional help from Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes of ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ fame) sing in a way, about a subject matter, they surely didn’t intend t00 when they opened their mouths and spoke the truth about an unpopular public policy (which, ironically, is what elected policymakers are supposed to do in democracies).
You can watch the video here.
The Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the most senior member of the Senate, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) again spoke out against the War on Drugs today during a briefing on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s upcoming agenda.
“The fact that so many people, especially young people, go to prison for a relatively minor thing, a drug offense. And then you ask, why can’t they get jobs afterward? Why do they have problems from then on?
I think we have spent tens of billions, hundreds of billions of dollars on the so-called War on Drugs. Well, we’ve lost.” – Sen. Leahy
Senator Leahy also addressed the disproportionate toll marijuana prohibition takes on people of color:
“There are too many people, too many young people, too many minorities, too many from the inner city who are serving time in jail for people who might have done the same thing but have the money to stay out and are not there.” – Sen. Leahy
It seems time does bring wisdom and other members of Congress should take notice and follow the lead of one of their most experience legislators. The time for sensible marijuana policy has come and this reaffirmation of support from an elected official, in such a position of influence as Senator Leahy, is clear proof the winds of reform are blowing strongly in our favor.
Two new polls, published this week by Quinnipiac University, show solid support for marijuana legalization in both New York and Ohio.
In a New York State poll of 1,302 voters, conducted December 5th through 10th, 51% stated that they believed marijuana should be made legal and only 44% stated they opposed the idea. Support was slightly strong among men (56% support to 41% opposed), but a small plurality of women also backed legalization (47% support to 46% opposed). Also, as we’ve seen across the board in marijuana reform polling, the strongest age group in favor is the 18-29 year old demographic (61% support to 34% opposed), with support declining through the older age groups. You can read more about the New York poll here.
Quinnipiac also conducted a state poll in Ohio of 1,165 voters from December 4th through 9th and found Ohioans evenly split on marijuana legalization, with 47% support to 47% opposed. You can view the cross tabs for the Ohio poll here.
Today, speaking to a CNN panel, Former President Jimmy Carter stated that he is in favor of legalizing marijuana. On the topic of the recently passed initiatives in Washington and Colorado, President Carter said it was in the best interest of the country for those states to be allowed to proceed with the regulation of cannabis.
“I’m in favor of it. I think it’s OK, I don’t think it’s going to happen in Georgia yet, but I think we can watch and see what happens in the state of Washington, for instance around Seattle, and let the American government and let the American people see does it cause a serious problem or not.
So I think a few places around the world is good to experiment with and also just a few states in America are good to take the initiative and try something out. That’s the way our country has developed over the last 200 years. It’s about a few states being kind of experiment states. So on that basis I am in favor of it.” – Fmr. President Carter
The former president further stated that he did not think the ending of prohibition would lead to a dramatic increase in use rates. He pointed to Portugal as a model example:
“All drugs were decriminalized in Portugal a few years ago and the use of drugs has gone down dramatically and nobody has been put in prison.” – Fmr. President Carter
As President Obama and his Justice Department contemplate what, if any, action to take as a result of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, we can only hope he listens to the wisdom from those who came before him. Recently, President Bill Clinton expressed his own dissatisfaction with the war on drugs, saying the anti-drug effort “hasn’t worked” in a newly released documentary, Breaking the Taboo.
“Well obviously, if the expected results was that we would eliminate serious drug use in America and eliminate the narcotrafficking networks — it hasn’t worked.”
- Fmr. President Bill Clinton
President Obama, please take the advice from the two previous presidents from your own party. Unlike these two former presidents, you still have time to take action and end the suffering and damage caused by the war on cannabis consumers.
The editors at US News & World Report are asking the question, ‘Is it time to scale back the war on drugs?’ They’ve assembled a round-table of participants to respond.
Arguing in favor politics as usual are Kevin Sabet, former Senior Policy Adviser to President Obama’s Drug Czar and David Evans, Special Adviser to the Drug Free America Foundation. Predictably, neither author’s platitudes are resonating with US News readers. (Both Evans and Sabet have only 15 ‘up’ votes combined, versus some 650 ‘down’ votes.)
Myself, Aaron Houston (Executive Director: Students for Sensible Drug Policy), and Neill Franklin (Executive Director: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) take the opposite approach — and are much better received.
You can read an excerpt from my commentary below:
“It’s time for politicians to call for a truce in the so-called war on drugs. According to a 2010 investigation by the Associated Press, lawmakers have spent over $1 trillion dollars enforcing the drug war. Their actions have resulted in a quadrupling of the U.S. prison population since 1980, but little else. In fact, according to America’s present drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, “in the grand scheme, [the drug war] has not been successful.”
Least successful among the government’s drug war policies is its long-standing criminalization of marijuana. Since 1970, over 21 million U.S. citizens have been cited or arrested for violating marijuana laws. Yet despite this vigorous criminal enforcement, over 100 million Americans—including the president—acknowledge having consumed cannabis, and 1 in 10 admits using it regularly. Marijuana prohibition hasn’t dissuaded the general public from consuming cannabis or reduced its availability, especially among young people. But it has damaged the lives and careers of millions of people who were arrested and sanctioned for choosing to ingest a substance that is safer than alcohol or tobacco.
… Despite more than 70 years of federal prohibition, marijuana is here to stay. Let’s acknowledge this reality, cease ceding control of the marijuana market to untaxed criminal enterprises, and put it in the hands of licensed businesses.”
Click here to read all of the round-table submissions and to cast your vote.