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When Hippies Go Bad -- The Hypocrisy Of Al Franken's Opponent

[ Posted Monday, July 9th, 2007 – 14:28 PDT ]

If I described a man who took active part in student demonstrations in the 1960's, helped take over Weller Hall when he was attending Hofstra University (a man who, when running for student senate, wrote in the school's newspaper: "these conservative kids don't fuck and get high like we do"), and later did a stint as a roadie for the band "Ten Years After," you would probably form a certain type of image in your mind. Let us not mince words -- you'd think he was a hippie.

But if I described a conservative Republican Senator from Minnesota who supports the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), you'd probably get a different image in your mind. Problem is, they're the same guy.

Meet Norm Coleman, the guy that Al Franken is running to unseat in his bid for the U.S. Senate.

Last Wednesday, an open letter to Coleman appeared on the website for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). The letter is worth quoting in its entirety:

My friend Norman,

Years ago, in a lifetime far away, you did not oppose the legalization of marijuana. Years ago, in our dorm rooms at Hofstra University, you, me, Billy, your future brother-in-law, Ivan, Jonathan, Peter, Janet, Nancy and a wealth of other students smoked dope.

Sure, we had to tape the doors shut, burn incense and open the windows, but we got high, and yet we grew up okay, without the help of the Office of National Drug Control Policy's advice.

We grew up to become lawyers. Our other friends, as you go down the list, are doctors, professors, parents, political consultants and professionals. No one ever got cancer from smoking pot or diabetes from using a joint. And the days of our youth we look back fondly upon as years where we stood up, were counted and made a difference, from Earth Day in 1970 to helping bring down a president and end a war in Southeast Asia a few years later. We smoked pot when we took over Weller Hall to protest administrative abuses of students' rights. You smoked pot as you stood on the roof of the University Senate protesting faculty exclusivity. As the President of the Student Senate in 1969, you condemned the raid by Nassau County police on our dormitories, busting scores of students for pot possession.

You never said then that pot was dangerous. What was scary then, and is as frightening now, is when national leaders become voices of hypocrisy, harbingers of the status quo, and protect their own position instead of the public good. Welcome to the crowd of those who have become a likeness of which they despised. Welcome to the mindless myriad of legislators who gather in cocktail lounges to manhandle their martinis while passing laws against drunk driving.

We have seen more people die last year from spinach then pot. We have endured generations of drug addicts overdosing on a multitude of drugs, from heroin to crystal methamphetamine. In your public life, as an attorney general, mayor and United States senator, you have been in the forefront of speaking out against abuses which are harmful. You have been a noble and honorable public servant. How about not being such a dope on dope?

How about admitting that if the Rockefeller drug laws were applied to Norman Bruce Coleman on Long Island in 1968, or to me, or to our friends, and fellow students, you, I and others we knew and loved might just be getting out of jail now? How about recognizing that for too long too many have been wrongly arrested, unjustly prosecuted and illegally incarcerated for unconscionable periods of time?

How about recognizing that you have peers who have smoked pot for 25 years or more and they are successful record producers, businessmen and parents?

How about standing up and saying you have heard and witnessed countless stories of persons who have used pot medicinally, as I have, to endure the effects of chemotherapy?

You who have travelled to Africa and seen the face of AIDS so up close and personal would deny medicinal marijuana relief to those souls wasting away from malnutrition, nausea and no access to fundamental medicines?

How about not adopting the sad and sorry archaic path of our office of drug control, which this week suggested pot smokers are more likely to become gang members than others?

How about standing up and saying: "I, Norm Coleman, smoked pot in 1969." That "I am not a gang member, a drug addict or a criminal."

How about saying: "I was able to responsibly integrate my prior pot use into my life, and still succeed on my own merits."

How about standing up not only for who you are, but who you were?

How about it, Norm?

I will always love, admire and cherish what you have achieved and accomplished and the goals you have met. I will always fondly look at the remarkable success of your present.

How about you looking back at your past and saying: "What I did was not so wrong and not so bad and not so hurtful that generations of Americans should still, decades later, be going to jail for smoking pot -- nearly one million arrests for possession last year."

Can't Norm Coleman come out of the closet in 2007 and say "These arrests are wrong -- that there is a better way, and we need to find it."

You might find more integrity and honor in that then adopting the sad and sorry policy of our Office of National Drug Control Policy.

You might find the person you were.

This letter was written by Norm Kent, who sits on the Board of Directors of NORML.
Media coverage of the letter has been sparse, to date. There have been a few stories in the local Minnesota press, and one on AirAmerica Minnesota's website, but I feel this needs wider attention.

The response to the article from the Coleman campaign was pretty feisty. Here is LeRoy Coleman, Press Secretary for Senator Coleman:

There's nothing normal about NORML, but, that's really not the point. It is a well known fact that years ago, as a college student, he smoked marijuana. Years later, with the hindsight of maturity, he realizes that it was a dangerous time in his life and could well have had seriously negative consequences on his health and on those around him.

The impact of drugs today -- the level of poisons in marijuana on the streets today -- and drugs like crack and meth -- are killing our children and destroying communities. The adults who lead NORML today should be joining the Senator, and those who now know the dangers of drugs, to do the responsible thing to prevent legalization of drugs of any kind that could harm the lives and future of our children.

Franken's campaign was likewise subdued. Understandably so, since Al has his own past issues with drug use. While I'm sure Al-the-comedian would have had some choice words to say about Coleman, Al-the-candidate is now very senatorial and serious-minded.

[I should mention that although the press office is very busy at Franken's campaign today, since they just announced that Franken outraised Coleman by about $300,000 (which is an astounding feat for a challenger versus an incumbent, before the primaries have even happened), campaign Communications Director Andy Barr was nice enough to take the time to email me the following statement:]

Al has written two movies about the family disease of chemical dependency. He believes that drug policy is an important issue and should be taken seriously, and he's committed to addressing issues of enforcement, addiction, and rehabilitation.

Al's much more willing to say what he thinks when the question is more generically phrased. Here's his response in a recent interview (you can see the whole thing on Al's campaign blog) to the question: "What's your assessment of Norm Coleman, as a senator?"

Oh, as a senator. (Laughs) Good.

I think that he forgot right away who he was supposed to be serving. I think, instead of the people of Minnesota, he was serving Bush and Cheney and special interests. Six months after Paul died, he did an interview with Roll Call, one of the Capitol Hill newspapers and he said, "To be blunt, I'm a 99 percent improvement over Paul Wellstone."

He said it, go look it up. Three or four days later, when he finally apologized he said, "What I meant was I'm a 99 percent improvement over Paul in terms of supporting this White House."

I take him at his word, I really do. He is on the side of the pharmaceutical companies, not our seniors. In Medicare Part D, he doesn't want Medicare negotiating with the pharmaceuticals. The VA does. The top 20 drugs bought and used by seniors are 44 percent cheaper with the VA than Medicare Part D. That's because the VA is allowed to negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies. If you look at Norm's fund raising, he's gotten $650,000 from pharmaceutical companies since 2002. So he's not operating in the interests of the people of Minnesota; he's operating in the interests of the Bush-Cheney White House and their cronies.

Another example, he was chairman of the permanent subcommittee of investigations, the most powerful oversight committee of the Senate. As chairman of that committee, he had sole subpoena power. He could subpoena anyone he wanted, he didn't need a majority of his committee to do it. Did zero hearings on war profiteering.

Harry Truman had the same job in WWII, with a Democratic Senate, Democratic White House, Democratic House, did over 400 hearings on war profiteering. Harry Truman called war profiteering "treason" and it is.

Now that's more like it!

But while Mr. Franken is reluctant (for obvious reasons) to take on Coleman on his hypocrisy over marijuana use, I am not. Obviously, this is what happens when hippies turn to the Dark Side later in life. Let's review: Norm Coleman worked as a roadie for Ten Years After (big hit: "I'd Love To Change The Word"). Coleman obviously enjoyed the hell out of marijuana in the 60s. Coleman now strongly supports the ONDCP's wastage of our tax dollars on television commercials (official propaganda) which equate smoking a joint with supporting the 9/11 terrorists (I'm not making this up -- Arianna Huffington herself got so upset at these that she ran her own ads equating gassing up your SUV with supporting Middle East terrorism). Coleman is now a conservative Republican member of the Senate. Add it all up, and Norm Coleman falls squarely into my personal category of: "Hippies Gone Bad."

Hypocrisy, thy name is Norm Coleman.

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

 

16 Comments on “When Hippies Go Bad -- The Hypocrisy Of Al Franken's Opponent”

  1. [1] 
    Herm71 wrote:

    ;-)

  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    I should publicly acknowledge that Herm71 was the one who alerted me to this story in the first place.

    Keep those tips rolling in!

    -CW

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    Couple of things...

    I am having trouble with these two statements from the NORML quote.

    >we grew up OK.

    >We became lawyers.

    Those two statements are mutually exclusive. :D

    Seriously though.. You seem to indicate that any youthful indiscretion is OK, because SOME people commit them and still grow up "OK"...

    Using this reasoning, it should be perfectly fine to approve and condone Grand Theft Auto, simply because someone stole a car as a youth, but still grew up "OK"...

    A lot of things are "cool" and fine when you are a young kid. But, as one gets older and matures, they look back and realize how wrong and bad it was. That is not hypocrisy. That is life.

    With regards to the legalization issue... Think of the precedence that is set. OK, so the hippie potheads get their marijuana legalized. Then the heroin druggies want their drug of choice to be legalized. And then, of course, the meth addicts MUST have their drugs made legal.

    BIAS NOTE: I am speaking of this as a person with an extensive LEO background, so I am obviously not very objective, having seen firsthand the vast majority of scumbag druggies who don't turn out as well as Norm Coleman or George Bush. Many of them were dead.

    Michale.....

  4. [4] 
    jlapper wrote:

    Michale,

    I agree with you about drug use not always turning out so great for everyone later in life. My sister, with a college eduction (Journalism), is working a minimum wage job with bleak prospects for any kind of retirement. She became heavily involved in drugs up to her late thirties and it took away everything she had.

    On the other hand I'm not so sure I agree with the grand theft auto analogy. With that you are talking about a crime of theft in which their is a car thief and a victim of theft. With drug laws you have a criminal (legally defined since buying marijuana is against the law) and a victim who are the same person.

    Also, I purposely left out until now that my sister's other huge problem was alcohol - and that's perfectly legal. For me, therefore, keeping one neurologically altering substance legal (alcohol) and outlawing another (marijuana) would be the equivalent of making car theft legal but outlawing bus theft. They're two sides of the same coin and to enforce one but not the other seems hypocritical. I think that is where many people have a problem.

    Quickly back to the problems drugs cause. I don't think this can be stressed enough. My sister's problems and, very recently, my stepson's problems (dropped out of school, became very anti-social - but better now and off the stuff) have led me to flinch sometimes when I see people taking drugs too lightly or making too many jokes about it, even though I have been guilty of countless lighthearted comments myself and of course, have smoked plenty in my time. I think my biggest problem is when people write off any negative impact drugs may have.

    And finally (and then I promise I'll shut up) I do believe that some people are predisposed to addictions and others are not. My sister and I were raised in the same house by the same two people and yet I can drink and occassionally smoke pot and not have it become a problem. Usually weeks intervene between drinks for me and it's been a long, long while since I smoked. Obviously the same cannot be said for her.

    Since this happens with nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, heroin and on down the line I think we have to choose if we want to play "nanny" to our citizens or let them make their own choices, knowing that sometimes those choices lead to ruin.

    I'm for making our own choices, and as such, despite my personal experiences with the hellishness drug addiction can cause, am against outlawing substances that people take for pleasure.

    Gotta go now and do some real work as well as update my own blogs which have been on hold while I was away for the holiday.

    All the best...

    Jonathan

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Great read, Jonathan.

    And I agree, the GTA analogy was not perfect as it just addressed the criminality aspect of my position, rather than the consequences aspect.

    But my main point is that it's not hypocrisy to work against something in maturity that you indulged in as a youth. It's simply, in my not so humble opinion, an issue of becoming older and wiser.

    My main problem with the whole "LEGALIZE DRUGS" issue is it smacks of cowardice and taking the easy way out..

    "It's too hard to enforce it so let's just make it legal!!"

    Once you start down THAT road, there is no telling where it will take you..

    Michale.....

  6. [6] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Once you start down that road, it takes you to Libertarianism. See my earlier post on "pursuit of happiness."

    Without getting in to the morality of drug use (especially vs. alcohol use, as Jonathon points out); the simple fact is that treating drug abuse as a medical problem instead of a criminal problem works much better. Europe and Canada have proven this beyond any doubt.

    It IS hypocrisy to agree later in life to things you know from personal experience aren't true. I think both Al Franken and Norm Coleman have changed their attitudes and matured on the subject, but I personally would want Al making the laws and not Norm, as Al seems to view the subject with more compassion than Norm.

    -CW

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    @CW

    >Once you start down that road, it takes
    >you to Libertarianism. See my earlier
    >post on "pursuit of happiness."

    I disagree..

    If we start legalizing things that are simply "too difficult" to enforce, the road it takes us to is pure anarchy.

    Drug abuse is not the victimless crime that many people would like to think it is. Take all the alcohol related problems in this country, multiply it ten-fold and that's what you would get with legalized drug usage.

    I will concede that SOME drug usage is a medical issue vs a criminal issue. But where do you draw the line??? Does the drug dealer who is selling the stuff have a "medical problem"??

    "EBAY-itis"???

    Of course not..

    The concept of legalizing something simply because it is too hard to enforce leads us to a dark and dreary place where the rule of violence reigns, as opposed to the rule of law.

    As to the hypocrisy issue, statistically speaking, early drug use leads to problems later in life IS true.

    I have three children. Two boys and a girl. Of the three, the oldest boy and the daughter started smoking and doing drugs at a young age. They are now 25 and 20 respectably, still living at home with a child, no job and no future to speak of. My middle boy, who didn't do drugs or smoke or drink(until legal able to do so) enlisted in the army at 17, made it all the way thru Army Ranger Training, had to leave due to a medical problem (that has since cleared up) had a successful job that he just left and is now in the USMC for advanced training.

    Now, people like Franken and Coleman are the exception and people like my oldest son and daughter are the rule.

    And with legalization of drugs, you will see many, many, MANY more of my oldest son and daughters than you will see Frankens and Colemans and Bushs.

    Regardless of the very real threat that legalization presents, the fact is that the Legalization crowd's main argument is that it is too difficult to enforce the drug laws.

    That's a piss poor reason to legalize something...

    If I may venture into "GODWIN" territory here, "Oh hell with it. It's much too difficult to fight Nazism over in Europe... Let's just let Hitler have Europe and Asia. It's too hard to oppose him.."

    Or, if I may utilize a movie quote...

    "Did you see a light?? Why didn't you walk into it?"
    "Fuck that... Too far, man..."
    -Seth Green, IDLE HANDS :D

    In any case, this is probably one of those issues (like torture.. :D) that we will simply have to agree to disagree on. I have a "Cop's mentality" when it comes to drugs and druggies and it's so ingrained, I doubt anything could change my mind.

    Michale.....

  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, I was trying to be cute and wound up mis-stating my own position. I believe that any laws against addictions such as alcohol or drugs are ultimately unenforceable -- by their very nature. It's like trying to pass a law against sex.

    There are some people who want to waste their lives, they're going to, and whether they use a legal substance, an illegal substance, or something in between (prescription happy pills, for instance), I believe that they're going to go down the path by themselves.

    I also believe that it's everyone's natural right to do so. That's where the libertarian/unalienable right thing comes into it for me. I mean, prohibition didn't work all that great, did it? How's the drug war going? Made a dent yet after umpty-billions spent?

    And if you do some research into European countries, you'll find their addiction rates actually lower than in the U.S. Part of the "thrill" of drugs for many is that they're illegal. Take that away, and addiction rates actually decline over time.

    Was our country in chaos before about 1900? You could go down to the pharmacy and buy any drug you wanted back then, for like a nickle. Sure, there were lots of housewives addicted to laudanum (opium), but today you get the same people on "Mother's little helper" pills from big Pharma. Is there really that much difference ultimately?

    But to answer your main point, even though it wasn't the point I was trying to make (my mistake, bad wording) -- you've got to also consider the flip side. I would be interested in your perspective, coming as you said from a LEO background. It can best be put as: what happens when a law is so unenforceable that people treat it like a joke? Doesn't that undermine society's respect for the law in general, and wind up doing more harm? And isn't that another form of anarchy?

    To truly state the Libertarian position: It's not that it's too hard to enforce. It's that the State should not be regulating what a citizen can or cannot ingest, in the privacy of their own home, as consenting adults, without directly harming others. This doesn't mean scrapping DUI or DWI laws, they would still apply in full force under the "as long as you're not hurting anybody else" concept of what government should be for.

    Again, it's a philosophical argument about the reach of government to me. But I can understand those who have seen people's lives wasted and who have different opinions on the matter. And I do respect those opinions.

    -CW

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    @CW

    >And I do respect those opinions.

    I know you do.. That's what I like about you. We can be diametrically opposed on the most emotional of issues, yet still maintain the basic human respect of those who disagree. :D

    Now, let me wipe this brown stuff of my nose and I will address the rest of your post.. :D

    The problem with allowing people to injest whatever they choose to in the privacy of their own home is that it rarely JUST affects that one person who chooses to injest.

    I recall a movie I watched in 7th Grade Social Studies. It was a movie about the "Happy Pill" where people could just pop that pill when things got rought... The very last segment had a great impact on me.. It showed a mother and a father with a screaming baby and the mother saying, "Wow! Her temp is up to 106..." and the parents just popped their happy pills and closed they door...

    Another childhood memory is of an old DRAGNET episode (Oh boy, am I really giving my age away here, or what!!? :D) where Friday and Gannon responded to a house where the parents were smoking pot.. And they found the infant daughter face down in the bathtub, dead.

    Yes, we can keep the DUI and DWI and all the other laws that apply to alcohol and apply those to drug usage... But will that really matter to the innocent men, women and children killed by drug abuse??? I don't count the druggies.. If they want to play russian roulette with their lives, let 'em.. Cops can sponge them off the road and the embankments and mutter under their breath, "GOOD RIDDANCE"....

    But what about the babies with the 106 temp who die because their parents took the "Happy Pill"??

    What about the toddler who lies dead, face down in the bath tub because their parents are stoned on pot??

    Do you think THEY will care about what laws apply when???

    As far as other countries and how they deal with it, that's really not applicable.. Americans are a different breed.. In essence, the average American is not "mature" enough to handle the legalization of drugs... Yea, sure we might "grow up" eventually, but at what cost???

    Finally, did you ever read the book by Stephen Coonts, UNDER SEIGE?? I may not have the title right, but it's a Jake Grafton book and not to be confused with the Denzel Washington/Bruce Willis movie of the same name.

    THAT is my take on drugs and how "enforcement" should be handled... It may be harsh and it may be unfair, but I guarantee you that it would be the most effective..

    SPOILER**********SPOILER************SPOILER

    For those who haven't read the book, the final "solution" for the National Security "drug crisis" was to get all the drug users and pushers and dealers and hang them from the lamp posts...

    Michale.....

  10. [10] 
    dapper wrote:

    To those it may concern:

    Drug dealing is a world wide enterprise, it has supporters deep in all areas of government, encluding justice and law enforcement, from the highs reaches down to the local level.

    This is a *Fact*.

    Only the ignorant OR those involved in this most harmful and illicit trade would not support complete regulation of this industry.

  11. [11] 
    Herm71 wrote:

    @Michale

    First, my sympathies (for lack of a better sentiment) on the status of two of your kids. Like CW, I can totally appreciate how close personal experience might diminish one's objectivity on a subject. However ...

    You mentioned two examples in your post: A movie you saw in seventh grade and a Dragnet episode. Um, I hate to break it to you, but THAT'S FICTION. Of course something you saw in seventh grade is going to end in tragedy. It's supposed to. It's called propaganda. It's intended to scare the bejeezus out of adolescents so that they don't smoke, do drugs, have sex, turn gay, whatever. And Dragnet? Joe Friday? Come on! You ever see Reefer Madness? That shit could really happen, man ... that's REAL! One puff of the "devil weed" and you're a stark raving rapist. Give me a break. I want to be respectful and I'm not trying to be totally dismissive, but I'm seriously having a hard time, uh, taking that line of reasoning ... seriously.

    I'll concede that early drug use sometimes leads to abuse problems later in life. Sometimes, but not always; not even the majority of the time. Most kids experiment a little and, like Norm Coleman, grow up to be functioning, productive adults. I'm sure he's not the first to grow up to be a hypocrite, either. The thing is, it's *already* illegal for minors to buy cigarettes and alcohol. But they get it anyway, to be sure. For that matter, it's illegal for them to buy, uh, illegal drugs too. But somehow adolescents get them also. Legalizing drugs does not mean allowing little Johnny and Jane to march down to the Stop-n-Shop to pick up a pack of joints or a sheet of acid. They're minors; they can't buy cigs or booze, they can't buy porno mags, and they can't vote. This is because they aren't mature enough to fully grasp the consequences of their actions. Yet, somehow, adolescents nationwide still hide girlie mags underneath their mattresses and go out behind the gym to smoke cigarettes. And, lo and behold, despite the illegality of marijuana, they're still takin' bong hits in their parents' basements when left alone. Legalizing drugs would not change this; they'd still be off limits to minors, but somehow I'm sure the minors would find a way to come by them.

    The problems associated with substance abuse are "sexy", in that they tug at heart strings, make good copy, and make it easy to solicit donations for the cause. I live in the Bay Area. I've seen the junkies panhandling on Market Street in S.F., pockmarks on their arms from needle punctures, sunken cheekbones, hollow eyes. It breaks my heart. And, yes, there is a social cost. But nobody chooses to be a junkie. However, there is a FAR greater number of responsible drug users in America than there are addicts, in spite of the majority of drugs folks use being illegal. I've seen the stats, it's like 10 to 1; for every addict there are 10 responsible drug users. You never know it, because ... well, because they're responsible. They're not making headlines; they're quietly pursuing their happiness in the privacy of their own homes, not bothering anybody.

    You ask, in essence, to quote The Simpsons, "What about the children?" Well, what about them? What about the nice church lady, Mary Winkler, who blew away her abusive pastor husband a year or so ago with a shot-gun; what about her children? Or Andrea Yates who drowned her children by rolling her car into a lake in 1994 and blamed in on a fictitious black man? And then there's Deanna LaJune Laney who beat two of her sons to death because God told her to. My point is that plenty of people do some pretty nasty sh!t to others without the excuse of drugs. I'd venture to say that the percentage of drug-related collateral damage is vastly disproportionate to the number of horrible, twisted non-drug related travesties that are perpetrated in this country. That's not to say that one is less horrible than the other, but let's put it into perspective.

    Finally, you're totally right, it's the innocents that we should be trying to protect. The thing is, although Nixon really ramped up the Drug War nationally after New York's Rockefeller instituted his drug laws in 1973 -- which was long before Nancy Reagan urged us to "Just Say No!" -- jazz drummer Gene Krupa was actually the first person ever to be busted for possession of marijuana in 1943. So it can actually be argued that the Drug War has been going on for the last 64 years. To what end? We've got mandatory minimums that lock non-violent users up for their productive life (not unlike the scenario in the book you reference), destroying families and removing many potentially productive people from society, and drug use and drug addiction rates have gone nowhere. The Drug War (or, War on (Some) Drugs) has made exactly zero dent in "saving" anyone. It sure has done wonders for the GDP, though. And that's what really counts, isn't it?

    Again, I know some of my tone has probably sounded somewhat sarcastic, and I apologize for that; I generally think the level of discourse in internet discussions have sunk to incredible lows, and to the extent that I have contributed to it, I am sorry. And, again, I am sorry for any pain and disappointment that your children may have put you through. But considering that you used as a reference a seventh grade propaganda film, I felt I had to respond in kind.

    Be swell (not swollen) ;-)

  12. [12] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Herm71 -

    While Krupa may have been the first person busted (I haven't checked that fact, so I'm taking your word for it), the "Drug War" began much earlier, and the war on marijuana began as an anti-Mexican immigration measure. From a report studying the history:

    ===================
    1. The first state marijuana prohibition law came in Utah in 1915 and was enacted into law along with a number of other Mormon religious prohibitions.

    1. The early state marijuana laws in the Southwest and West were passed because "All Mexicans are crazy and marijuana is what makes them crazy." That is, they were the result of racial prejudice against newly arrived Mexican immigrants.

    2. The other early state marijuana laws were passed out of the fear that opiate addicts, who had been deprived of legal access to opiates by the Harrison Tax Act of 1914, would turn to marijuana. In other words, they were afraid that opiate use would lead to marijuana.
    ===================

    OK, call them stoners for writing a review with two #1's, but if you want factual data on the drug war, the best resource I've found on the net is:

    http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/index.htm

    The quote above came from their list of studies they have up on their website. These are divided between academic studies and government commission studies, and are quite extensive.

    Just some info for anyone interested in reading the history of it all...

    -CW

  13. [13] 
    Herm71 wrote:

    @CW
    Thanks for the correction. And thanks for the link. I'd come across is a few years ago and have checked it out extensively, but somehow over the years I'd lost the bookmark. Sweet! Yeah, I'd forgotten about the racist justification for keeping Mexicans out of the country; and the Harrison Tax Act is just plain amusing. So for MJ being the gateway drug, eh? It's actually Heroin!

    Your correction, however, merely underscores my point: We've been pursuing some sort of "war" on drugs for dang near a century, yet rates of both use and abuse have remained relatively constant. Isn't it long past time for our tax dollars to be spent on something that'll give us a better return on our investment?

    Peace.

  14. [14] 
    CDub wrote:

    Herm71,

    I find your comments very well reasoned, and I agree for the most part, but I'd like to inject my theory in answer to your final question.

    "Isn't it long past time for our tax dollars to be spent on something that'll give us a better return on our investment?" --- Herm71

    I think it boils down to how you define "our". If by our investment you're talking about the money tax payers are investing, then yes, I'd say it's about time. But since tax payers are really out of the loop on how our tax dollars are invested, perhaps it would be interesting to examine who might might be getting an excellent return from "our investment".

    Consider; Drugs are big business. Huge quantities of product and cash flowing daily throughout the globe. This requires logistics, investment, security, weaponry, land, laboratories, transport equipment, bribes. In other words, a successful drug operation is a network of very rich people in many countries, especially the larger markets such as the USA. Like all large successful businesses, most of the dirty work is handled by low level, low paid employees ... interchangeable and expendable.

    Consider; The war on drugs is big business. Huge quantities weaponry, cash, logistics, transportation equipment, security, land, bribes. In other words, a successful 'war on drugs' operation is highly profitable to a network of very rich people in many countries. Like all large successful operations, most of the dirty work is handled by low level, low paid employees ... interchangeable and expendable.

    Consider; Making drugs illegal drives up prices.

    Consider; Networks of very rich people are able to manipulate US policies.

    Consider; The US government is composed primarily of very rich people.

    Consider; with armies of security forces on both sides, crushing competition is lucrative, and gives the 'war on drugs' crowd the ability to show 'success'.

    So when you say 'return on our investment', I assure you, there are lobbyists representing some very rich clients working hard in DC today to increase our investment in the war on drugs. And they're pleased as punch with the returns.

    So when someone like Norm Coleman says, "The adults who lead NORML today should be joining the Senator, and those who now know the dangers of drugs, to do the responsible thing to prevent legalization of drugs of any kind that could harm the lives and future of our children.", a number of his rich friends and supporters see another investment pay off handily. Oh, and by the way, the children whose lives and futures Norm seeks to protect ... interchangeable and expendable.

  15. [15] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    CDub -

    You make some excellent points, ones that are rarely made in this debate. I would add two things to your list, and invite you to draw your own conclusions:

    Consider: the street price of cocaine has stayed almost the same for 30 years. There is so much profit in selling illegally that inflation is absorbed without reducing profits much. This shows organization and control over this illegal black market.

    Consider: the only illegal drug which is easily grown in this country, marijuana, has vastly increased in price over the same period. While some marijuana is smuggled in to this country, most of it is produced domestically, meaning no international market is involved. And the price has gone way up.

    Like I said, draw your own conclusions to those two data points, but since you were focused on economics, I thought they should be added to the discussion.

    Thanks for commenting.

    -CW

  16. [16] 
    CDub wrote:

    Chris,

    Two very interesting, and seemingly incongruous facts.

    It will likely take me awhile to digest those into my 'theory' (which is really just a quick stab at the obvious).

    At first blush, my guess would be that the cocaine trade, as you point out, is a well oiled machine, and a darling among the rich, whereas the marijuana trade is overrun with 'wannabes" that are prime pickings for DA's up for re-election, and trophy heads for warriors against drugs. You pretty much have to be a rich player if you're going to know who to bribe, and I'd guess the prison's are choking on poor kids that just wanted to make a little pocket cash. Also, one price pressure for domestic marijuana producers is the fact that drug dealers in America will have their assets seized, without due process, and without recourse. Hiding a successful operation is likely difficult due to the space and energy required, making serious competition a scary proposition.

    All of this is just conjecture ... I conject a lot.

    CDub

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