Opium poppies, Helmand province, Afghanistan. Source: The Last Crusade, illustrating a story 'US Marines Protect Afghan's Poppy Harvest (7th July 2009) which begins: 'Hey, guys, don’t pick the poppies.That’s the order from the Obama Administration to the 4,000 Marines presently engaged in Operation Khanjar or “Strike of the Sword,” an invasion of the Taliban infested Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. '
The Generalist likes to be ahead of the national press. In the case of my last post it was 7 days.
The article in question was by Simon Jenkins, a stalwart Guardian columnist, TV regular, Chairman of the National Trust etc. The article was entitled 'The war on drugs is immoral idiocy. We need the courage of Argentina.' Subtitle: 'While Latin American countries decriminalise narcotics, Britain persists in prohibition that causes vast human suffering'
Jenkins picked up on the shift in Latin America towards decriminalisation for personal possession of a wide range of drugs (see Previous Post) and added some useful things to my knowledge. For instance:
* In Ecuador, they have pardoned 1,500 "mules", mainly women, used by gangs to transport cocaine over international borders.
* The former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso has chaired a study report entitled Drugs and Democracy: Towards A Paradigm Shift: A statement by the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy. Under the heading 'A Failed War' the statement begins:
'Violence and the organized crime associated with the narcotics trade are critical problems in Latin America today. Confronted with a situation that is growing worse by the day, it is imperative to rectify the “war on drugs” strategy pursued in the region over the past 30 years.
'Prohibitionist policies based on the eradication of production and consumption have not yielded the expected results. We are farther than ever from the announced goal of eradicating drugs. '
Jenkins concludes; 'From the death of British troops in Helmand to the narco-terrorism of Mexico and the mules cramming London's jails, the war on drugs can be seen only as a total failure, a vast self-imposed cost on western society. It is the greatest sweeping under the carpet of our age.'
UPDATE: This story also picked up yesterday by The Observer: SEE: 'Is America Ready to admit defeat on its 40-year war on drugs' Also Cardoso's statement: 'The war on drugs has failed. Now we need a more humane strategy.'
SEE: International Drug Policy/Animated Report 2009
'Produced by an Oscar-winning studio for the Global Drug Policy Program of the Open Society Institute, [an organisation founded by George Soros ] this video highlights some of the disastrous effects of drug policy in recent years and proposes solutions for a way forward. '
Today's Guardian carries a review of 'The Candy Machine by Tom Fieling which adds further fuel to the flames. The review by Dominic Streatfield [who is the author of 'Cocaine: An Unauthorised Biography' begins:
'It's hard to imagine a policy as comprehensive in its failure, as overwhelmingly counterproductive, as the war on drugs. Tom Feiling has the statistics. In the last 35 years, the US has spent $500bn attempting to reduce the availability and purity, and increase the price, of illicit drugs. Yet cocaine purity is up, the drug is as available as it ever was and its price dropped 50% in the decade up to 2003. Cocaine, formerly the preserve of the super-rich, has become democratised. The result has been an explosion in demand and a corresponding explosion in supply. Nothing, it seems, can stop the flow.'
He concludes: 'What matters, however, is whether he is successful in making his case: that prohibition is "unworkable and counterproductive". I believe he is. Recent news reports from Argentina and Mexico indicate that their governments may be coming to the same conclusion: legalisation must, surely, be a less damaging route.'
In October last year (I have just discovered) , the Honduran President Mauel Zelaya proposed legalizing drug use, which he said would free up Honduras's financial resources and defang international traffickers. (AFP)
I learnt his information from the site of Transform Drug Policy Foundation which claims to be the UK's leading centre of expertise on drug policy and law reform.
They have obviously had an effect on Simon Jenkin's thinking. They have published a report (downloadable) entitled:
After the War on Drugs - Options for Control which, they claims, 'is a major new report examining the key themes in the drug policy reform debate, detailing how legal regulation of drug markets will operate, and providing a roadmap and time line for reform.' Underneath is the following quote:
“First Class'. Everyone knows that prohibition has failed, and this report sets out, for the first time, how we can replace it.” - Simon Jenkins, former editor The Times and Columnist in the Evening Standard, The Times and The Guardian
Their site contains an valuable time line:
A Comment to my Previous Post has tipped me off to the case of Marc Emery which I was previously unaware of. The full story can be found on the site Criminal Justice, which has embedded YouTube video on the man they call 'The Prince of Pot'. In brief. Emery has a major marijuana seed business and publishes Cannabis Culture magazine which he has been sending to all Canadian MPs for the last 12 years. According to Criminal Justice:
- Marc Emery brought a capitalist approach to the marijuana legalization movement by starting "radical retail" outlets such as Hemp BC, and got politically involved by helping organize the Canadian Marijuana Party and creating the BC Marijuana Party, the latter which he still leads today.
- Marc Emery created his seed business with the purpose of using the profits to fund the cannabis movement worldwide. Through the sale of cannabis seeds, Marc was able to finance numerous drug law reform groups and events around the world, mostly in Canada and the United States. He funded global rally/march promotion, American and Canadian ballot initiatives, election campaigns, lobbying groups, conferences, drug rehab clinics, class action lawsuits, protests, patient bills and bail fees, and more. In total, over $4,000,000 was contributed to various activities and organizations.
'On July 29, 2005 his business in Canada was raided by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. He and co-defendants, Greg Williams and Michelle Rainey, were charged with "'Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana", "Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana Seeds" and "'Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering." Yet today there have been no charges ever filed against them in Canada.'
The US are seeking his extradition.
Here is yesterday's report from the 'New Times Broward Palm Beach News blog.
'If you don't know the back story, later this month in Seattle, Marc Emery, the so-called "Prince of Pot," is scheduled to be sentenced to five years in American prison for selling marijuana seeds through the mail. The Canadian - and publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine - claims to have sold more pot seeds than anyone else in the world. But what in Canada is a $250 fine, has led to a four-year court battle in which the Drug Enforcement Administration has sought Emery's extradition for federal prosecution.'
See: Fort Lauderdale Protest for the 'Prince of Pot by Michael J. Mooney/Crime.
Also yesterday saw publication of a story in SF Weekly, the San Francisco News Blog entitled 'Chronic City: The Expensive Farce of Marijuana 'Eradication' In California.' by Steve Elliott. The article reads in part:
Every year since 1983, the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) has engaged in a quixotic quest to "eradicate marijuana" in California. And every single year -- all 26 of them -- it has failed miserably as marijuana became more and more available.
The waste, arrogance and abuse associated with the program -- which has unfortunately become the largest law enforcement task force in the United States, with more than 100 agencies participating -- have become legendary. Ordinary families have been terrorized by paramilitary units, peaceful homeowners have been buzzed by low-flying helicopters, and community relations between citizens and law enforcement have suffered almost everywhere CAMP has laid its heavy hand.