Sunday, May 16, 2010

Stupid And Incoherent

Esquire Magazine has an interesting article on California's ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in California.

...the president of the California Peace Officer's Association, John Standish. "We just don't think anything good will come of this," he said. "It's not going to better society. It's going to denigrate it."

Later he was quoted again: "We have a hard enough time now with drunk drivers on the road. This is just going to add to the problems — I cannot think of one crime scene I've been to where people said, 'Thank God the person was just under the influence of marijuana.'"

My jaw dropped. That's it? That's the best you've got? For that, thousands of people die every year in the drug war? For that, we arrest more than seven hundred thousand Americans a year? For that, we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on police, prisons, and international eradication efforts?

Besides, I've got two kids. To the point of driving them crazy, I tell them over and over to drive sober and stick to the speed limit. But I would five thousand times rather see them drive stoned than drunk — and I don't believe Mr. Standish could produce a single parent who feels differently.
No doubt we could find a LOT of parents that believe differently. Still, I think parents who have had experience with marijuana in their youth would generally feel that way.

The experience of Portugal (which legalized all drugs) is confounding (at least when it comes to statements about the dangers of legalization.
what happened in Portugal (according to a study by the super-conservative Cato Institute) in the first five years since they legalized all drugs:

"Lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1 to 10.6 percent; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5 to 1.8 percent (although there was a slight increase in marijuana use in that age group). New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17 percent between 1999 and 2003, and deaths related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half. In addition, the number of people on methadone and buprenorphine treatment for drug addiction rose to 14,877 from 6,040, and money saved on enforcement allowed for increased funding of drug-free treatment as well."
Since addiction to drugs is a medical problem (can police cure cancer?) it seems to me that moving resources from police to treatment actually accords to reason.
CPOA spokesman, John Lovell, a pleasant man who also represents the police chiefs' and narcotics officers' associations. These are the arguments he came up with:

"First off, the figure of seven hundred thousand arrested is factually inaccurate — people do not get arrested for simple possession. The most that happens is they're given a citation and release. In California, the penalty for simple possession is $100 fine."

In other words, pot isn't all that illegal, which strikes me as a weird argument for keeping the drug war going full tilt. It also suggests they don't take the stoned driver problem as seriously as their rhetoric suggests.
Well what about drugs in the workplace?
"For sure, it's going to cost every employer more in insurance," he said. "If you look at section 11340C, the only thing an employer can do is address consumption issues of an employee that actually affect their workplace performance — if you're in possession, an employer can't take any action. If you test dirty, the employer can't do anything."

So you can only punish an employee for something that "actually affects his workplace performance" – these are his words, folks. In other words, if a person gets stoned on Saturday night and comes in Monday morning 100 percent sober, there's no way to punish him? And the problem with this is?
The problem with that is that there are a lot of pigs at the trough who will have to get real jobs. The Drug War costs the Federal Government $25 billion a year. It costs the States an equal amount. Most of that money goes into law enforcement. Instead of chasing murderers, rapists, robbers, and thieves police are chasing plants and plant extracts. That is just stupid and as you can see from the above the reasons for continuing on this path are incoherent.

As the author of the Esquire piece says:
This war is lost. The only question now is how much more blood and treasure we're going to waste before we all admit it.
A police officer friend of mine predicts that the Drug War will be over 5 years after the first State legalizes. If the California initiative passes this November (polling is running 56% to 42% in favor) that would mean that by 2015 the Drug War would be over.

1 comment:

Obdurate said...

"what happened in Portugal (according to a study by the super-conservative Cato Institute)"

I wonder, does Mr. Richardson know anything at all about the Cato Institute, or does he simply thing anything not part of the left must therefore be super-conservative?