Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Pot Market

An Old Article of mine that got posted onto the marijuana subreddit and the increased traffic (i.e. reddit effect) may have been the cause for the website going down for a while. This article also got posted on Cannabis News.

I’d like to talk about the pot market, the sixty billion dollar ($60,000,000,000!) pot market. The nature of the reefer market is the primary reason why legalization is the answer and decriminalization is not. Decriminalization would prevent hundreds of thousands from getting criminal records (last year over 800,000 people were arrested and charged for possession of marijuana; an FBI figure that drug czar, John Walters lied about at a press conference) but it won’t eliminate the actual criminal element of it, nor would it help regulate it.

Marijuana is grown by all sorts of people. Most of it in this country is produced by people growing fewer than 30 plants; we shouldn’t worry about them, they are harmless and in a world with legal pot they’d be the equivalent of microbrewers. The rest of the pot in this country is grown by organized criminal groups. Recently, due to the tightening of the Mexican border, Mexican drug cartels are now growing a lot of marijuana in US national forests, and in the process have, according to an AP report, polluted the parks with poisons and all sorts of illegal-in-the-US fertilizers, sprays, and poisons.

From these growers, there are a number of intermediaries who handle the pot until it reaches someone you might know or only have have contact with for buying pot (unless you grow it, of course). Most campus dealers are small time, and only slang bangs to support their own habits, and maybe the munchies. I’d even go as far to say that almost everyone who smokes more than just occasionally has sold weed at one time or another (and sometimes not for profit) just because they had a friend who can’t get any. That’s right, I just accused the majority of Tufts’ campus of being drug dealers, and technically, a lot of us are.

I believe this is actually the reason why a lot of people become marijuana “addicts.” It is extremely easy to sell pot, especially in high school and college. To a collegiate dealer, the abundance of cheap or free marijuana, combined with the fact that there are virtrually no legitimate real world worries in college, makes for a sticky situation. Many of them just lie around all day and get stoned, and from dealing they have sufficient funds to do so. I should also say here for my own protection that I do not and have never sold marijuana. You can guess: I’m either employed, a trust-fund baby, or I grow my own (whatever answer helps you sleep at night).

I think we need to control marijuana, to regulate it. I don’t like the fact that for me and for most people I talk to, it was easier to get pot in high school than it was to get booze, especially considering the research that shows younger people who smoke too early (or drink or take too many prescription pills) can have certain problems in how brain development. Until regulations are put on pot such that it is OK for a 21-, or 20-, or 19-year-old to walk into a store and buy it legally, we can’t enforce stricter punishments on selling weed to underagers (I’m all for, in a weed-prohibition free world, jail time for those who sell to young kids).

But pot is not regulated. It doesn’t come from a legitimate source. Does that mean people are not buying it? Look around our campus; people are buying it, and often. But where does that money go? No one can say for sure, that’s the nature of the black market, but it’s no secret that it doesn’t end up in the hands of good people.

I don’t like the fact that I’ve given a lot of money to Mexican gangs, and American gangs, and terrorists. I don’t like that I support people’s addictions. More than any of that though, I don’t like the fact that a plant that helps me relax, loosen up, and laugh can get me sent to prison for possessing it. I don’t like the billions of tax dollars that go to enforce the prohibition nor do I like that those enforcements have indirectly contributed to the financing of violent gangs and the pollution of public land.

Most of all, I don’t like the personal freedoms that the government takes away when it makes marijuana illegal, and I especially hate the measures that the government and police feel they need to go to in order to make sure people listen.

I need to go smoke a joint. You should go smoke one too.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An Introduction to LEAP

One of my favorite organizations is LEAP: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

from their website:
Founded on March 16, 2002, LEAP is made up of current and former members of law enforcement who believe the existing drug policies have failed in their intended goals of addressing the problems of crime, drug abuse, addiction, juvenile drug use, stopping the flow of illegal drugs into this country and the internal sale and use of illegal drugs. By fighting a war on drugs the government has increased the problems of society and made them far worse. A system of regulation rather than prohibition is a less harmful, more ethical and a more effective public policy.

The mission of LEAP is to reduce the multitude of unintended harmful consequences resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ultimately ending drug prohibition.

LEAP's goals are:

  1. To educate the public, the media, and policy makers, to the failure of current drug policy by presenting a true picture of the history, causes and effects of drug abuse and the crimes related to drug prohibition and
  2. To restore the public's respect for law enforcement, which has been greatly diminished by its involvement in imposing drug prohibition.

LEAP's main strategy for accomplishing these goals is to create a constantly enlarging speakers bureau staffed with knowledgeable and articulate former drug-warriors who describe the impact of current drug policies on: police/community relations; the safety of law enforcement officers and suspects; police corruption and misconduct; and the financial and human costs associated with current drug policies.

Here is a quick and compelling video from LEAP member and former anti-drug cop, Terry Nelson from his testimony to the El Paso City Council about the national security, public safety and economic benefits of legalizing drugs.

If that's not enough for you for today, here's a great craigslist rant from Tular County, CA about the opportunity cost of legalization.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Free Ryan Frederick

The big story I'm following is the trial of Ryan Frederick, the Chesapeake, VA man charged with Capital Murder for killing a police officer who was breaking into his home as part of a SWAT-style raid. (Wiki about the case here)

The best source for information on the story has come from Radley Balko, a senior editor at Reason Magazine and writer of the Agitator blog. I'll let you look through the wiki if you want all the updates but coverage of the trial can be found here, here, and here.