Tag: war on drugs (page 3)

Obama's Drug Control Budget

Here's the White House statement outlining funds in the budget for the War on Drugs. Is there more prevention, alternative incarceration and re-entry funding? Yes. And we appreciate it.

But, it's still top-heavy on enforcement. While it says the DEA gets $24.8 million less this year, it points out that last year's amount included supplemental funding for the Southwest Border. So it probably isn't a decrease at all. And those African vacations keep on coming. Today the feds indicted 7 in Liberia and Romania as part of a reverse sting by DEA agents. (DEA agents posed as drug sellers.)

The men allegedly "agreed to receive and store multi-ton shipments of Taliban-owned heroin" and "sell multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine to the Taliban," while the two Americans -- identified as Alwar Pouryan and Oded Orbach -- allegedly agreed to sell the missiles, the statement said.

The U.S. Attorney's press release is here. Once again, it sounds like the drugs weren't intended for the U.S., but needing jurisdiction, the DEA talked the men into sending some here, with the promise of huge profits. Why are we flying these men from Liberia and Romania to New York to prosecute them? The cost of the prosecution, defense and their incarceration if convicted will be huge. [More...]

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Former Mexican President Vincente Fox Calls for Drug Legalization

The former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, tells Time Magazine he's changed his mind about the war on drugs, and now believes all drugs should be legalized.

"Prohibition didn't work in the Garden of Eden. Adam ate the apple," says Fox, 68, looking relaxed in a polo shirt — in contrast to his stressful last days in office. "We have to take all the production chain out of the hands of criminals and into the hands of producers — so there are farmers that produce marijuana and manufacturers that process it and distributors that distribute it and shops that sell it ... I don't want to say that legalizing means that drugs are good. They are not good but bad for your health, and you shouldn't take them. But ultimately, this responsibility is with citizens."


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UK Former Defense Minister Urges Legalization of Drugs

Prohibition was a failure. The War on Drugs is a failure. Maybe it's time to try a new approach.

Former UK Defense Minister Bob Ainsworth says it's time to legalize drugs. The methods of the past, including prohibition, don't work. They fail to keep the public safe.

The war on drugs has been "nothing short of a disaster" and it is time to study other options, including decriminalising possession of drugs and legally regulating their production and supply. "We must take the trade away from organised criminals and hand it to the control of doctors and pharmacists."


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The Nation: Dare to End the War on Drugs

In the Dec. 27th issue of the Nation, the cover story is "Dare to End the War on Drugs." It's about the need to rebalance our drug policy. Almost the entire issue is devoted to the topic. If you care about our failed war on drugs, this issue seems like a winner.

Nearly forty years after President Nixon declared a "war on drugs," it is painfully clear that the nation's approach to drug policy is counterproductive and cruel. Shifting our priorities toward a more sensible approach—one that offers treatment rather than punishment for addicts, and that recognizes the deep injustice of mass incarceration—seems like a daunting task. But as the writers in this forum suggest, we have all the answers and resources we need. If ever there was a time to say enough is enough, it's now.

Participants include: [More...]

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Top Doctor in Britain Calls for Decriminalization of Drugs

Sir Ian Gilmore, the outgoing President of Britain's Royal College of Physicians has called for the decriminalization of drug use in a parting e-mail to the organizations 25,000 members. He said decriminalization has the potential to both reduce crime and improve health.

He endorsed a recent article in the British Medical Journal by Stephen Rolles, from the think tank Transform Drug Policy Foundation, which argued that the policy of prohibition had harmed public health, encouraged organised crime and fuelled corruption. Sir Ian told the BBC: "Everyone who has looked at this in a serious and sustained way concludes that the present policy of prohibition is not a success.


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Obama Yields to Demands for National Guard Along Border

After meeting with Republicans toay, President Obama will ask Congress to fund sending 1,200 National Guard troops to secure the Mexico border in a greater effort to crack down on illegal trafficking organizations.

McCain says it's not enough. He wants 6,000 deployed.

The cost of the 1,200 troops: $500 million. What's it for?

[I]ntelligence and intelligence analysis, surveillance and reconnaissance support.

We already authorized $1.3 billion in Merida funds for the war on drugs in Mexico. Even though it hasn't been fully distributed , Obama is planning on asking for another $390 million.

Throwing more money into the failed policies of the past 40 years will do no good. The cartels will become stronger.

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Obama Plans to Extend Merida Initiative in Drug War Fight

When Mexico's President, Felipe Calderon, came to Washington this week, he urged the U.S. to be more helpful in the war on drugs. He asked that Congress reinstate the assault weapons ban (for which Republicans like Sen. John Cornyn took him to task, saying "Moreover, the Second Amendment is not a subject open for diplomatic negotiation, with Mexico or any other nation.") Calederon also criticized Arizona's immigration law. And he said the U.S. has a moral obligation to help Mexico fight the cartels.

In 2007, former President Bush got Congress to approve the Merida initiative, designed to to combat drug trafficking and organized crime, with a whopping $1.3 billion budgeted for Mexico from 2008-2010, ten times the amount budgeted in prior years.

Merida is set to expire in September, 2010, and Obama is now asking to extend it a year and provide an additional $310 million for FY 2011.

So where did the money go? Mostly, it turns out, nowhere. [More...]

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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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Drug Czar and Obama Make Strong Statement Against Legalizing Marijuana

Newsweek has a copy of the March, 2010 draft of the much delayed National Drug Control Strategy (available here.) It makes a strong statement against legalizing marijuana.

Keeping drugs illegal reduces their availability and lessens willingness to use them. That is why this Administration firmly opposes the legalization of marijuana or any other illicit drug. Legalizing drugs would increase accessibility and encourage promotion and acceptance of use. Diagnostic, laboratory, clinical, and epidemiological studies clearly indicate that marijuana use is associated with dependence, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and cognitive impairment, among other negative effects , and legalization would only exacerbate these problems. (my emphasis.)


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Drug Czar Goes to Congress, Describes Some Shift in War on Drugs

Gil Kerlikowski, Obama's Drug Czar, testified Wednesday before the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform. His prepared statement is here. The hearing was titled, "ONDCP's Fiscal Year 2011 National Drug Control Budget: Are We Still Funding a War on Drugs?"

Here's the statement of Ethan Nadelman, Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance.

Last May, Kerlikowski also advocated a change in the war on drugs, which has been a failure. At Thursday's hearing, he stressed treatment over incarceration.

The problem? Kerlikowski's new policy looks too much like the old one. [More...]

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U.S. Drug Agents to Be Embedded in Mexico

The next step in the war on drugs: Embedding U.S. drug and intelligence agents agents in Mexico.

The increasingly close partnership between the two countries, born of frustration over the exploding death toll in Ciudad Juarez, would place U.S. agents and analysts in a Mexican command center in this border city to share drug intelligence gathered from informants and intercepted communications.

...Until recently, U.S. law enforcement agencies have been reluctant to share sensitive intelligence with their Mexican counterparts for fear they were either corrupt or incompetent. And U.S. agents have been wary of operating inside Mexican command centers for fear they would be targeted for execution

The cost: In addition to the $1.4 billion aid package to Mexico, President Obama is asking for an additional $310 million for drug war aid to Mexico.

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ICE, Customs & Border Agency Ramps Up Drug Busts

I saw a headline yesterday that said ICE agents arrested 457 people in 83 cities last week in coordinated raids that were part of the largest anti-drug operation the agency has ever conducted. Of the 457 people arrested, 151 were U.S. Citizens.

I checked ICE's website and here's the press release. The headline is "476 gang members, associates and other criminals were put on ICE during Project Big Freeze." Gang members? That's a headline grabber. The key word is "associates" and "other criminals." If you run a car repair shop and your phone number is dialed from a gang member's phone, you can be called "an associate." It's a term that means nothing. If you have a DUI or a theft record, you are an "other criminal."

They throw around the favored phrase de jour: "Transnational criminal street gangs."

"Project Big Freeze is the largest nationwide ICE-led enforcement operation targeting transnational gangs with ties to drug trafficking organizations."

So who'd they get? A cartel leader? A narco-terrorist? Not quite. According to the press release, the three big catches were:[More...]

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Senate Passes $447 Billion Funding Bills

Bump and Update: The Senate passed the $447 government funding bills as part of a $1.1 trillion total appropriations package. Some highlights are here.


Sat. 12/12/09: The last hurdle was cleared today and the Senate will vote tomorrow on the $447 billion 2010 appropriations bill. The bill is composed of six separate measures.

Here's the one on crime funding. While there is prevention money in the bill, there's also a lot of funding for the War on Drugs.

Combating Illegal Drugs: $2 billion, $81 million above 2009, to combat illegal drugs through the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). These funds will provide for 128 new DEA positions to help stop the flow of illegal drugs across the Southwest border and to investigate, disrupt and dismantle major Mexican drug cartels.

The FBI does pretty well too, including lots of money for surveillance: [More...]

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UK Drug Reform Group Releases Blueprint for Legalization

Transform, a UK think tank and drug reform organization, released a new book today, After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation. The executive summary is here(pdf.)

As to Transform:

Transform’s vision is a world in which the War on Drugs is over, and effective and humane systems of drug regulation have been established.

Its "medium term goals":

  • To explore alternatives to drug prohibition, and build trust in models of regulation
  • To bring together a coalition calling on governments and the UN to count the cost of current drug policy
  • To reframe the drug policy debate within a wellbeing perspective that considers the impact of policy on human rights, human security and human development

Some highlights in this BBC article. [More...]

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U.S. Imports Cartel Snitches From Mexico, Violence Follows

The U.S. has been importing snitches from the Mexican cartels into the U.S., providing them with homes and new lives. Of course, some will be discovered. What happens next? Murder on the front lawn.

But in order to fight the drug traffickers, federal anti-narcotics agents have brought Mexican cartel members north of the border, to use them to gather intelligence and build cases.

ICE is arranging visas for them. And not playing nice with other law enforcement agencies, contributing to the violence: [More...]

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