Obama To Unveil New Drug Control Policy

The media continues to tout the Obama Administration's new drug control policy, to be released today, as a big progressive change that favors treatment over enforcement.

As I wrote last week, that's only half the story. The new policy (available here in its last draft form) also strongly opposes the legalization of marijuana, contains yet more money for the war on drugs and law and border enforcement, and urges states to adopt a zero tolerance policy for driving with any amount of an illegal controlled substance in one's system. (Marijuana stays in one's system for about 30 days. You can see where this is headed.) The policy also states its intention to go after indoor marijuana grows and ramp up forfeitures of cash by treating large amounts as if it were drugs. It also urges health care providers to ask patients more intrusive questions about drug use.

Do we need more money for treatment and prevention? Of course. But why does it always have to be accompanied by ratcheting up the war on drugs with more of the same ill-advised enforcement policies?

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    As if we could afford it at all (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by SeeEmDee on Tue May 11, 2010 at 05:53:28 AM EST
    What planet are these control freaks living on?

    We've got unemployment in the upper teens. People's benefits are running out. (And the Rethugs want to play games with that.) Scores of applicants for the few available jobs. Public services are having to reduce their offerings, which leads to more strains on those in desperate need of them. Libraries cutting back when they aren't closing. Small towns cutting back on even their police forces. On and on, a litany of no money for the important stuff.

    And we have money to blow on more failed anti-drug efforts? What is it with these people? Do they need to be surrounded by angry, desperate people before they get it that it might not be a such a great idea to be so wasteful of the taxpayer's remaining hard-earned money?

    But what might be even worse, with this 'new' plan (looks like more of the 'same old, same old' to me)Obama is for increasing the chances that a minority kid will never rise to his level of achievement if said kid gets caught doing what Obama freely admitted to in his memoirs? Because that's just what this latest budget for 'anti-drug' operations means.

    There's a word for this: HYPOCRISY.

    because that's (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by cpinva on Tue May 11, 2010 at 07:08:41 AM EST
    But why does it always have to be accompanied by ratcheting up the war on drugs with more of the same ill-advised enforcement policies?

    where the real budget money is. by comparison, treatment is far less expensive, more cost-effective and, most importantly, requires the employment of far fewer people.

    treatment doesn't need expensive prison beds, troops of guards, or a massive enforcement/judiciary segment. hence, it isn't the best way of building/maintaining your fiefdom.

    it's always about money. always.

    The real money is in taxing marijuana. (none / 0) (#5)
    by observed on Tue May 11, 2010 at 08:43:49 AM EST
    I bet California alone could get $1 billion in tax revenue from marijuana.
    Naturally, some of this tax money can be used to educate people about the dangers of drugs, so if the states want to plaster billboards with "reefer madness" messages, they can.

    Cultivating marijuan remains illegal (none / 0) (#15)
    by oculus on Tue May 11, 2010 at 10:40:13 AM EST
    under federal law and, as a large crop w/o sufficient proof it is for specific medical marijuana "patients," is also illegal under California state law.  But cultivating thrives.  Got to wonder how the state would collect those much-flaunted taxes.

    Legalize first. Use the tax revenue to (none / 0) (#17)
    by observed on Tue May 11, 2010 at 10:41:44 AM EST
    put up "reefer madness" billboards, if the state wants.

    I doubt the cultivators/sellers (none / 0) (#19)
    by oculus on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:03:48 AM EST
    who are presently in violation of the law will voluntarily pay taxes if their crop becomes legal.

    I'm guessing... (none / 0) (#26)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:22:07 AM EST
    ...you don't know anyone that's in that business, huh?  The experience here is that most of the MMJ growers and sellers are more than willing to pay taxes/fees in an effort to further "legitimize" their business.  

    Why Is That? (none / 0) (#27)
    by squeaky on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:23:13 AM EST
    They would get licensed, be certified, and be able to run a legal business. Most of the growers have been lobbying CA to tax them.

    Mea culpa. No personal knowledge. (none / 0) (#31)
    by oculus on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:40:52 AM EST
    Am wondering where those who replied to my comment get their information.

    No need to wonder... (none / 0) (#36)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:49:40 AM EST
    ...it comes straight from those in the local industry.  

    Zero Tolerance = Zero Brains... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by kdog on Tue May 11, 2010 at 08:21:07 AM EST
    Yeah, I can see where this is headed...I'll be a criminal whether I'm holding or not, under constant threat of kidnapping and/or extortion.

    All I can say is....F*ck you too Uncle Sam, F*ck you too.

    Easy dude (none / 0) (#7)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue May 11, 2010 at 08:44:40 AM EST
    "Don't let the sounds of your own wheels drive you crazy.."

    You know, it's funny. The two issues that cross all age, sex and ethnicity lines are single payer health insurance and reform of the drug laws and he has made both worse.

    He is trying to suck up to all those people who voted against him.

    Just think. If it was McCain in there all the Demos could shoot this down. As it is there is no one to oppose it.

    True words.

    Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.


    Jim quoting the Eagles? (none / 0) (#8)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue May 11, 2010 at 08:54:34 AM EST
    My whole World is topsy-turvy this morning!  

    Maybe he knows (none / 0) (#13)
    by Jeralyn on Tue May 11, 2010 at 09:52:49 AM EST
    they are playing in Denver tonight.

    BTW... (none / 0) (#22)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:16:21 AM EST
    ...I saw this little nugget buried in the Post...

    A measure to reduce sentences for most drug offenders who seek rehabilitation counseling from community groups is on its way to the governor's desk after the Senate on a 30-5 vote approved House Bill 1352. Bill backers hope to use savings from keeping drug offenders out of prison to build more robust rehabilitation programs.

    Wish I was there (none / 0) (#37)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:52:32 AM EST
    She said, "Listen, baby. You can hear the engine
    ring. We've been up and down this highway;
    haven't seen a g***dam thing."
    He said, "Call the doctor. I think I'm gonna crash."
    "The doctor say he's comin', but you gotta pay him cash."
    They went rushin' down that freeway,
    messed around and got lost
    They didn't care they were just dyin' to get off
    And it was life in the fast lane
    Life in the fast lane

    I asked for some Ralph Nader action... (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Tue May 11, 2010 at 09:07:33 AM EST
    still waiting...:)

    But I'll take your advice and keep it in perspective...at least the drug warriors are fairly lousy at their jobs and the odds of being caught are still very slim, you really have to be unlucky or stupid. There is some safety in numbers.

    Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down

    And now the neighbors make it loud and clear
    That they want no ravers moving in around here
    I won't play ball, won't do as I'm told
    I'd rather be a square peg in a round hole

    Texting and cell phoning (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by DancingOpossum on Tue May 11, 2010 at 03:49:54 PM EST
    The use of cell phones while driving has been shown to be far worse, far more dangerous, than driving while mildly or even moderately buzzed (driving while falling-down drunk is amother matter). Texting while driving is insanely dangerous and almost always leads to high horror -- if drunk-driving accidents are more frequent, it's because more people have access to booze than have cell phones, and texting isn't as common a practice as drinking....YET.

    Interesting, then, isn't it? That few states have laws on the books against texting while driving, and not all have strict rules against using a cell phone while driving. Indeed, those that do generally impose a fine rather than jail time.

    Also interesting: Our friends at MADD oppose laws restricting cell-phone use while driving. Hmmmmm...Why would that be? Maybe because MADD has become a prohibitionist outfit, plain and simple, and is obsessed with alcohol consumption and NOT with driving safety -- otherwise, how to explain this discrepancy?

    Given my near-phobic fear of driving, I have zero sympathy for anyone who drives when they shouldn't. So I'm by no means suggesting that we go "easy" on impaired drivers. I want the roads populated only by safe, competent, attentive drivers -- yes, a pipe dream, which is why I stay off them! But I think our emphasis on BAC levels is stupid, foolhardy, and counterproductive. The issue should be impairment, whether it's caused by phoning, drinking, or texting.

    Big shot banks don't want an end to prohibition (none / 0) (#4)
    by SeeEmDee on Tue May 11, 2010 at 08:41:40 AM EST
    The dirty money from laundering illegal drug cartel profits kept them afloat in the crisis they made. Geithner was one such big-shot banker before he became a (putative) 'public servant'. Geithner has Obama's ear. Figure it out.

    Now there's an answer that makes more sense. (none / 0) (#6)
    by observed on Tue May 11, 2010 at 08:44:14 AM EST
    Like Andy Dufrense said... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Tue May 11, 2010 at 09:18:48 AM EST
    "There's a river of dirty money flowing through this place"

    What's the going rate?  40 cents on the dollar?  Some racket.


    One nit, J. (none / 0) (#9)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue May 11, 2010 at 09:03:21 AM EST
    MJ stays in your system for a lot more than 30 days.  It is stored in the fatty cells of the body.  Urine testing may be clear after 30 days, but if you do a hair follicle test, it will show up.  

    I've noticed that around here is that everyone seems to have medical MJ these days.  Will the new policy go after the state sanctioned grow operations or will the legislature take care of that for them with the proposal to publically disclose the location of the grow operations?  

    Time will tell.

    I'm not quite sure (none / 0) (#33)
    by lilburro on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:43:34 AM EST
    there is a way to legitimately (well IMO legitimately) determine whether someone is driving high other than a behavior test.  But I'm aware roadside drug testing is common in some countries.

    Obama deserves disdain for this (none / 0) (#11)
    by Dadler on Tue May 11, 2010 at 09:17:39 AM EST
    He talks like he's just happy as a clam being ignorant and malicious. And entirely, inexcusably hypocritical.  Why? BECAUSE PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IS HIMSELF A DRUG ADDICT. That his drug of choice is in no danger of ever being illegal, nor would he ever seek to make it so, AND that it kills infinitely more people than pot ever could, is simply clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Obama is completely full of sh*t on this issue, and he needs to be treated as such. Laughter and mocking should accompany any speech he makes on this issue. Large socks full of horse manure and eggs should be hurled at him.

    Shut up, Mr. President, you are an idiot beyond measure when it comes to this subject, and we would all be better off if you simply stayed in your secret corner, puffed on your nicotine, and left everyone else alone.


    How about zero tolerance for (none / 0) (#14)
    by observed on Tue May 11, 2010 at 10:17:20 AM EST
    driving under the influence of alcohol?
    This country's drunk driving policies are a joke.
    There are much stricter laws in other countries.

    They are a joke... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by kdog on Tue May 11, 2010 at 10:41:27 AM EST
    you can get caged up for DUI while exhibiting no signs of impairment or reckless driving...now we're gonna do the same for other drugs...big fat joke.

    Reckless driving is the problem here...but we're hellbent on making it a breath/piss/blood/hair problem...I'm waiting on the day when drivers are judged on their driving, not the contents of their breath/piss/blood/hair.


    No, drunk driving is the problem (none / 0) (#18)
    by observed on Tue May 11, 2010 at 10:53:18 AM EST
    It's a joke to say otherwise.
    If people are being put away who are not drunk, that is a problem of application of the law, and not the law itself.
    That's like saying we shouldn't have laws against murder because sometimes the police convict an innocent person.

    .08 is not drunk... (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:10:16 AM EST
    the law is the problem.

    And I gotta say, as someone who was nearly killed by a reckless sober driver, their sobriety was no consolation...it's reckless driving that kills, the reason for the recklessness is no concern to me..be it intoxication, distraction, or just carelessness.  

    If you can obey all traffic laws with .08 in your blood, I say more power to you...you're not the problem on the roads.


    You're not taking an evidence-based (none / 0) (#21)
    by observed on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:13:43 AM EST
    approach to the problem.
    The statistics make no doubt that drunk driving is the cause of hundreds of thousands of traffic accidents every year, and 10's of thousands of fatalities.
    You're just making up stories to support your Libertarian position.
    Other countries have much tougher drunk driving laws, and lower drunk driving fatality rates.
    By the way, I didn't even mention a particular blood alcohol level.

    The law mentions it... (none / 0) (#24)
    by kdog on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:20:01 AM EST
    thats why the law is a joke...at the very least raise the "zero-tolerance" BAC, if we can't handle simply enforcing the reckless driving laws on the books.

    You could say driving causes all those death and more...why not just ban driving?  It's dangerous.

    All that being said, I got no love for people who recklessly drive...they are a menace and they kill...I just don't see the point of punishing blood alcohol content or drug content...punishing people who have not driven recklessly just to make MADD happy.


    No it doesn't (none / 0) (#32)
    by jbindc on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:43:22 AM EST
    The law talks about "impairment" or "under the influence".  Just because you don't feel falling down drunk doesn't mean you aren't impaired, with slower reflexes and poorer judgment.

    And just because... (none / 0) (#35)
    by kdog on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:49:19 AM EST
    you have a BAC of zero doesn't mean you are not impaired in some way...so why do we waste our time with such an imperfect indicator?  Especially with some poor slobs freedom at stake.

    The law in my state says you blow an .08 you're getting chains slapped on ya, even if you're the one who got slammed into buy some sober dolt who ran a red light...explain that one to me please.


    A few things (none / 0) (#42)
    by jbindc on Tue May 11, 2010 at 12:44:52 PM EST
    The NY DMV says this:

    Drinking and driving is a hazardous combination.


    One third of the fatalities in New York State involve impaired or intoxicated drivers and pedestrians,

    With increased Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), crash risk increases sharply. A driver with a BAC of 0.08 is four times as likely to cause a crash as a driver who has not been drinking, while a driver with a BAC of 0.16 is 25 times as likely to do so.

    1. You are worried about "taking some poor slob's freedom away." With freedom comes responsibility.  That poor slob has the freedom to make a variety of choices to get where he's going without driving and impinging on the freedom of everyone else on the road and sidewalks to be safe.  Sorry, his freedom to be an a$$ is subordinate to my freedom to be safe.

    2. I agree - people do other stupid things on the road.  There are laws against reckless and distracted driving.  Let them be enforced.

    4). If you don't like a set BAC, know what the alternative is?  A cop running you in on his judgment that you were impaired and that would be all that is needed to convict you - no scientific evidence needed.  I know how much you'd love that.

    I'm saying... (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by kdog on Tue May 11, 2010 at 01:20:08 PM EST
    forget about this hard to define "impairment" sh*t and stick to reckless driving...enforce reckless driving, vigorously even.

    Cuz look where this slippery slope of "impairment" is taking us...if Big O gets his way you're "impaired" if you smoked a doobie three weeks...it would be comedic if it wasn't so sad and moronic.


    err... (none / 0) (#44)
    by kdog on Tue May 11, 2010 at 01:20:49 PM EST
    smoked a doobie three weeks ago.

    Your argument is faulty (none / 0) (#46)
    by jbindc on Tue May 11, 2010 at 01:32:02 PM EST
    Because, as of right now, your biggest problem wouldn't be "impairment", but the fact that you smoked a joint, which is illegal.

    Again, you do have freedom here - don't partake if weed and you won't have to worry about it showing up 3 weeks later.  You have complete freedom in this matter.


    Not Illegal (none / 0) (#47)
    by squeaky on Tue May 11, 2010 at 01:40:52 PM EST
    If you have a prescription for medical use. And the problem, which you seem to be in denial about, is that the reason for testing is that it would impair driving, not that the person has used an illegal substance.

    The eroded 4th amendment would still not allow conviction for MJ use, when the search was done for DUI.


    One would hope so re: 4th amendment (none / 0) (#48)
    by lilburro on Tue May 11, 2010 at 01:44:28 PM EST
    as MileHi was saying above, you could test hair and go back for months.  Which would have absolutely nothing to do with impairment.

    You know (none / 0) (#50)
    by jbindc on Tue May 11, 2010 at 02:24:43 PM EST
    For once, you start with an actual argument and then you devolve into fantasy land.  I'm not in denial about anything.  Medical marijuana makes up a very minute portion of the population we are talking about. I'm also not arguing whether or not MJ should be legal.  I was saying that regardless of whether kdog would be "impaired" would be irrelevant, but would be relevant is the fact that he would have legal substances in his system.  And there is mo medical MJ allowance in federal law, so, yes, I was correct in saying "illegal".  

    Illegal substances (none / 0) (#52)
    by jbindc on Tue May 11, 2010 at 02:28:13 PM EST
    Well (none / 0) (#56)
    by squeaky on Tue May 11, 2010 at 03:13:36 PM EST
    Your support for penalizing drivers with DUI, for having smoked weed a week before a police stop is fascist. The next logical step would be for you to advocate police mandating video recording devices in barber shops so they could comb through hair on the ground and link it to someone who once used illegal substances.



    You sure got a... (none / 0) (#49)
    by kdog on Tue May 11, 2010 at 01:58:09 PM EST
    very strange definition of freedom jb...the freedom to bow down to tyrants, wow...I'm speechless.

    I disagree (none / 0) (#51)
    by jbindc on Tue May 11, 2010 at 02:27:13 PM EST
    My freedom to be safe is way more pirtant than your freedom to smoke joints or drink alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car.  It's not even a close call.

    I'm actually surprised that you keep talking about "freedom" without talking about responsibility.  


    jb, jb, jb... (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by kdog on Tue May 11, 2010 at 02:37:43 PM EST
    If I smoke two joints in the morning on Sunday, and drive to work on Monday, my driving is not impaired by the joints I smoked on Sunday, but I'll fail every test in the book unless John Law lets me hit up a GNC before peeing in the cup.  Understand?

    There is no impairment, yet if Big O has his way I'll get locked up for being impaired, despite the fact I ain't even high.

    Besides, I'd be more worried about my daydreams, thats my biggest impairment-risk on the roads...how can we test for those?...maybe a roadside brainscan:)


    Actually (none / 0) (#54)
    by squeaky on Tue May 11, 2010 at 03:08:44 PM EST
    I find that MJ makes my driving better, particularly on long trips. So apart from the not even being stoned bit, and getting busted, getting stoned does not impair my driving. I become more focused.

    How much more (none / 0) (#55)
    by lilburro on Tue May 11, 2010 at 03:09:56 PM EST
    valuable than other freedoms is your freedom to be safe?  Is your freedom to be safe hypothetically more important than my freedom to travel in and out of the country?      I don't think it's fair to pull in someone for a non-incident related drug offense.

    Except that repeated correlation studies (none / 0) (#23)
    by oculus on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:16:22 AM EST
    establish that, at an .08 BA, judgment is impaired.  

    How many things impair judgement? (none / 0) (#25)
    by kdog on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:20:47 AM EST
    Stress can impair judgement.

    Many studies also correlate... (none / 0) (#28)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:24:02 AM EST
    ...aging with decreased judgement and ability to operate motor vehicles.  Should we take their licenses?

    Take their licenses? (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by kdog on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:28:31 AM EST
    You're too soft on crime Mile...lock those menacing geezers up!

    Maybe we should outfit squad cars with stress tests, and what the hell...how about a licensed  psychiatrist who can do a roadside mental health exam and gauge the mental state of the driver to see if their mind is preoccupied with things besides the road.  Lives are at stake!


    Now... (none / 0) (#38)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:55:22 AM EST
    ...I wouldn't want to advocate locking my Mom up!  

    But, my word, driving 10+ miles under the posted speed limit on the I-5 like she's want to is certainly a hazard.  


    I worry about my great uncle... (none / 0) (#40)
    by kdog on Tue May 11, 2010 at 12:21:35 PM EST
    in his mid-80's...still out there on the roads, and not nearly as sharp as he used to be...scary.

    But what can you do?  I offer to chauffer him around when I can, but it's his freedom we're talking about here...I certainly don't feel like its my place to tell him he can't drive no more, sentencing him to his couch unless I can drive him...and there are worse drivers...I almost got creamed just this morning by some cabdriver blowing a stop sign...luckily I was on the ball at that particular moment and swerved to safety.

    Roads without reckless d*cks is about as possible as a world without war...it ain't ever gonna happen.  It's all a question of how tyrannical we will get chasing that windmill.


    Now you're getting personal. (none / 0) (#45)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue May 11, 2010 at 01:29:58 PM EST
    Please don't. Aging isn't voluntary. (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by oculus on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:35:11 AM EST
    Ingesting alcoholic beverage is.  Even so, yes, after "rigorous due process," revoking driver license due to inability to safely drive a motor vehicle is good policy, even if the unsafeness is the result of aging.

    The point is... (none / 0) (#34)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue May 11, 2010 at 11:47:12 AM EST
    ...that it is hard to apply "impairment" across a broad spectrum of people equally.  The ability to drive with "impaired bac" is different from person to person and has many variables.  The driving abilities of two seventy (70) year olds is also going to vary.  

    Voluntary (none / 0) (#39)
    by squeaky on Tue May 11, 2010 at 12:06:00 PM EST
    The voluntary act is driving. Drinking and aging are both legal. Making a choice to drive a car when one is not able, is voluntary.

    Well said squeak... (none / 0) (#41)
    by kdog on Tue May 11, 2010 at 12:22:58 PM EST
    much more concise than I...all we really need are laws against driving like an arsehole, best we can do without going too far.