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abe1Seventy-five years ago – December 5th, 1933, Congress repealed the Volstead Act (a.k.a. the “Noble Experiment“), which had prohibited the sale and manufacture (with “decrim” for users) of alcohol since 1920.  Among the reasons was the Great Depression, which began in 1929 and brought America to it’s knees. Continued funding of alcohol prohibition was impossible, while a new source of tax revenue was badly needed.  Other reasons were corruption of law enforcement and government, gang wars, drive-by shootings and contaminated “hooch” – just like today’s drug war. And once again, America is in need of additional revenue. 

Dec. 5, 2008 – Today’s Headlines on our Modern Prohibition:

* MA: OPED: A Day to Remember: Prohibition Isn’t Forever *

*Wall Street Journal OPED: Let’s End Drug Prohibition*

* Drug Czar’s Reply: Our Drug Policy Is a Success *

 Last spring, I wrote about the complexity of reforming the drug war compared to the simplicity of repealing alcohol prohibition and the defunding of the drug war that has already begun. Most experts agree that legalizing or decriminalizing Cannabis (marijuana) is a good first step. Treating it the same as alcohol and tobacco, as several countries in Europe have done, is likely the only reform that mainstream America will immediately accept. Restriction and regulation of narcotic drugs like cocaine and heroin will still be necessary – hopefully using  “harm reduction” methods, again following Europe‘s lead.

Prohibition Too Big to Fail ? – (Previous Post)

Note that users of alcohol were “decriminalized” during the first prohibition and the “experiment” still had to end. The same is true today – ultimately, legalization is the only answer for long term stability of society, respect for the law & government institutions and adherence to the Constitution.

I filmed Rep. Barney Frank (D) MA at a National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws conference back in 2001. Rep. Frank believes that the states could be a “laboratory” of drug law reform, much like after alcohol prohibition ended, when states enacted their own laws.Rep. Barney Frank (MA): Marijuana, Politics & State’s Rights

Rep. Frank’s observations still hold true today, including the contradiction of “conservatives” in Congress ignoring the results of elections in legal medical marijuana states and the logic of putting marijuana in the same category as alcohol and tobacco.

The following are several recent newspaper articles that address the issue of the modern prohibition, with more videos from You Tube to further illustrate the controversy.

Headline: Dec 2, 2008 – MD: Column: Legalizing Drugs: The Money Argument – A report funded by the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, in association with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, features Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron (see previous post) and his conclusions:

Legalizing drugs would save roughly $44.1 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of drug laws, with about $30.3 billion of this savings going to state and local governments and the rest staying in the U.S. Treasury.

Drug legalization would yield tax revenue of $32.7 billion annually.  That’s assuming legal drugs are taxed at rates similar to those on alcohol and tobacco.  About $6.7 billion would come from sales of legal marijuana, $22.5 billion from sales of cocaine and heroin and the remainder from the sales of other drugs now prohibited.

The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation was founded by Eric Sterling,  Counsel to the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary from 1979 until 1989. Mr. Sterling actually help draft much of the draconian drug legislation passed during the Reagan administration. Since then he has worked to undo the injustices wrought by these same laws. Eric was the first “activist” I met in the drug law reform movement and I have deep respect for him. If only other civil servants were so conscious of their actions and duty to their country.  Here is a video from a German documentary on the American war on drugs featuring Eric Sterling.The War on Drugs – An Insider’s View

Headline: Nov 20, 2008 – CA: OPED: It’s Time To Revisit War On Drugs – Quoting Albert Einstein and citing problems oversees with 37 years of Richard Nixon’s drug war, this article looks at the “Drug War Clock” at for the following figures:

 The U.S. federal government spent more than $19 billion dollars in 2003 on the War on Drugs, at a rate of about $600 per second .  State and local governments spent at least another $30 billion.  
Police arrested an estimated 829,625 persons for cannabis violations in 2006, the highest annual total ever recorded in the United States, according to statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Of those charged with cannabis violations, approximately 89 percent, 738,915 Americans were charged with possession only.  An American is now arrested for violating cannabis laws every 38 seconds.

The Drug Truth Network has produced a video exposing the “eternal horror, the empowering of our enemies, the death disease and destruction of drug war”.Eternal War = Drugs &  Terror

Headline: Nov 29, 2008 – IL: OPED: Obama Should End War On Drugs – A member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition from Barack Obama’s home state sends a message:

leap“President-elect Obama – we need an end to drug prohibition and a drug czar committed to treating drugs like a health problem, not a law-enforcement problem. We need harm-reduction. We need drug policy reform.”

LEAP has an on-line petetion calling on Congress to create a “Blue Ribbon Commission” to bring an end to the modern prohibition. Make your voice heard today!

In this video, another LEAP member reiterates the reasons that law officers and anyone concerned about the stability of our society should favor reform of the drug laws.Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper on Ending the Drug War

Headline: Dec 4, 2008 – CA: Should We Tax Pot?– A columnist from Los Angeles concludes that legalization and taxation of marijuana is a bad idea, citing a study from the Rand Corporation’s drug policy research center.

I think these prohibitionists should watch this video from the Marijuana Policy Project, with an inescapably logical appeal to our new president:Open Letter to Barack Obama from MPP

Headline: Dec 5, 2008 – Web: Prohibition Ended 75 Years Ago, But What Have We Learned? –  Rob Kampia, Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project, gives his observations on the old and new prohibitions in this article posted on Alternet.

albertThe prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the Prohibition law.  For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this
country is closely connected with this.
Albert Einstein, My First Impression of the U.S.A., 1921

Headline: April 23.2008Two Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced In House – This summer, the U.S. House of Representatives will again have a chance to affirm the rights of states to manage the health and welfare of their citizens. Let your representatives know how you feel about this legislation and these crucial issues.

HR 5842 – “The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act was introduced on April 17th, 2008 by a MD – Dr. Ron Paul (R) TX, who is also running for president.  Rep. Barney Frank (D) MA is a co-sponsor of the legislation, having introduced similar bills in the past. HR 5842 would remove federal opposition to doctors prescribing Medical Cannabis and protect those patients in states that have legalized medical marijuana. The following video, featuring Rep. Frank and Rep. Paul speaking about this issue last year, shows that true conservatives and true liberals can agree on medical marijuana.Bi-Partisan Support for Medical Marijuana

HR 5843 – “Act to Remove Federal Penalties for the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults – This legislation could legalize small amounts of Cannabis (100 grams – about 3.5 ounces) at the federal level for everyone in America. Also, transfers of one ounce between friends, if no money changes hands, would also be legal. Public use of marijuana would be subject to a $100 fine. This legislation could also help defuse the conflict between the federal government and patients in legal medical marijuana states.

Meanwhile, several states are moving ahead on their own to protect their citizen’s right to use the best medicine and in one state, a jury has said it first:

Headline: March 3.2008MI: Pot for Medical Use on Ballot – This November, the voters of Michigan will have the opportunity to vote for a medical marijuana bill (time has elapsed for the state legislature to enact the proposal, per state law), as the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care has collected many more signatures than necessary for the initiative to move forward.

In this video, Irv Rosenfeld, a stock broker who has received legal medical Cannabis from the U.S. government for 25 years, testifies before the State of Michigan Committee on Government Operations last year.Irv Rosenfeld’s Michigan Medical Marijuana Testimony

Headline: March 6.2008IL: Lawmaker Lights Up Medical Pot Bill Again– A Senate committee in the Illinois State House has approved legislation that would establish a medical marijuana program in the state, administered by the Department of Public Health. Patients would receive ID cards after recommendations from their doctors.

Multiple Sclerosis patient Julie Falco, of Chicago,  testified to the committee that marijuana was more effective for her condition than pharmaceutical drugs, without causing negative side effects.  Still, there’s always the worry that she will get in trouble, she said. In the following video posted by Illinois Compassion Action, Julie chronicles her twenty year battle with MS, the pharmaceuticals she tried to take and their effects, the value of Cannabis for her symptoms and the support of her doctor.Illinois Cannabis Patient Julie

Headline: March 29.2008 – TX: Jury Finds Man Needed Marijuana for His HIV – In a state where “Medical Necessity” is not allowed as a defence for Cannabis possession, a jury has found otherwise, agreeing that an AIDS patient’s use of marijuana for nausea and vomiting was justified. 

In this video, a Multiple Sclerosis patient from Texas, Tim Timmons demonstrates his use of medical marijuana, observes the political support by candidates like Barack Obama and Ron Paul, and challenges the state of Texas to “Arrest me, Now!“, if the state really believes that jail is the appropriate measure for medical marijuana patients.Medical Marijuana – Texas – Tim Timmons

Headline: April 7.2008RI May See Legal Marijuana Sales– A year after Rhode Island became the 12th state to legalize marijuana for medicine and one of three states to do this through their legislatures (Hawaii, New Mexico), doctors and lawmakers are now moving to establish “compassion centers“, which would distribute medical Cannabis to the patients in the state program, as well as provide education to patients and their caregivers. Only California and New Mexico have provisions in their laws for state-run distribution systems. Here is a good news story about the issue in Rhode Island.Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Compassion Centers

A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement.
        -THOMAS JEFFERSON     First Inaugural Address,1801