War on Drugs

Pat Robertson calls for drug law reform

While his spokepeople are trying to walk back his comments, Pat Robertson, a well-known televangelist, recently called for decriminalization of marijuana (emphasis mine):

Calling it getting “smart” on crime, Robertson aired a clip on a recent episode of his 700 Club television show that advocated the viewpoint of drug law reformers who run prison outreach ministries.

A narrator even claimed that religious prison outreach has “saved” millions in public funds by helping to reduce the number of prisoners who return shortly after being released.

“It got to be a big deal in campaigns: ‘He’s tough on crime,’ and ‘lock ‘em up!’” the Christian Coalition founder said. “That’s the way these guys ran and, uh, they got elected. But, that wasn’t the answer.”

His co-host added that the success of religious-run dormitories for drug and alcohol cessation therapy present an “opportunity” for faith-based communities to lead the way on drug law reforms.

“We’re locking up people that have taken a couple puffs of marijuana and next thing you know they’ve got 10 years with mandatory sentences,” Robertson continued. “These judges just say, they throw up their hands and say nothing we can do with these mandatory sentences. We’ve got to take a look at what we’re considering crimes and that’s one of ‘em.

“I’m … I’m not exactly for the use of drugs, don’t get me wrong, but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot, that kinda thing it’s just, it’s costing us a fortune and it’s ruining young people. Young people go into prisons, they go in as youths and come out as hardened criminals. That’s not a good thing.”

Cory Maye to receive a new trial

Last week, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision that Cory Maye, who was convicted of killing a police officer in a botched drug raid in 2001, should receive a new trial (you can read the court’s opinion here or scroll to the bottom of the page):

The Mississippi Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for Cory Maye, but reached a different conclusion in doing so than one ruled on by the Court of Appeals last year.

The Court of Appeals ordered a new trial because a judge denied Maye his constitutional right to be tried in south Mississippi’s Jefferson Davis County, where the crime occurred.

The Supreme Court on Thursday didn’t rule on the venue issue. Instead, Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. said the trial judge erred in not telling the jury that it could consider Maye’s claim of self-defense.

Maye’s attorneys had contended Maye was clearly defending himself - and protecting his sleeping daughter - when he fired shots at people invading his home and killed police officer Ron Jones.

Since the original trial, the work of Dr. Steven Hayne, a forensic pathologist whose testimony at Maye’s trail was essential to the death sentence handed down by the jury, has been called into question thanks to investigative reporting done by Radley Balko (Brett and I talked to Balko about this case and more in April).

Gary Johnson On Drug Policy And Politics

In this excerpt from at talk at the Cato Institute last week, Gary Johnson talks about how he worked to change drug policy while he served as Governor of New Mexico:

Regardless of Proposition 19 outcome, Obama Administration will prosecute marijuana users

Despite California exercising its Tenth Amendment right, the Department of Justice will prosecute marijuana users even if Proposition 19, which has been endorsed by 65 law professors from across the political spectrum, passes on November 2nd:

Attorney General Eric Holder vowed to continue enforcing federal laws against marijuana in California even if the state’s voters legalize the drug.

Holder, in a letter to former administrators of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), officially stated opposition to Proposition 19, the state ballot initiative on which Californians will vote that would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.

“We will vigorously enforce the [Controlled Substances Act] against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law,” Holder wrote in the letter, which was reported on by The Associated Press.

A year ago, it looked like an administration was finally beginning to scale back the War on Drugs, which has been a costly failure, as the Department of Justice decided not to prosecute individuals using marijuana for medicinal purposes.

As has been with administrations past, the Tenth Amendment be damned and the laws of the federal government, no matter how fruitless they are, will be enforced.

Gary Johnson On California’s Marijuana Legalization Initiative

Chart of the Day: Welfare spending skyrocketed in last 10 years

You may have heard in recent days that the poverty rate in the United States jumped as a result of the recent recession. No doubt this will be used to justify more increases in spending, though Washington hasn’t needed a recession to increase spending on anti-poverty programs.

This chart from the Heritage Foundation shows spending for the individual programs and how much they have increased over the last 10 years. Note that while spending for welfare programs is at a record high, it has been a record levels since the “compassionate conservative” presidency of George W. Bush.

Despite all of this spending, the poverty rate has not only not changed, it has gone up, and since the passage of Great Society programs, which include Medicare and Medicaid, the trillions of dollars spent in the War on Poverty have been as effective as government crusades against some social ill, such as the War on Drugs, has been…a failure.

Welfare Spending

Reason chats with Adam Carolla

“You raise the taxes, people pack up and leave, you f**king retards. You guys don’t understand that concept?” - Adam Carolla

Reason TV recently sat down with Adam Carolla, a comedian, former co-host of The Man Show and host of The Adam Carolla Show, to discuss taxes, how big government has destroyed Los Angeles and Hollywood, individual liberty, drug laws and much more.

There is some language, but it’s hilarious.

Dan Carlin on Marijuana, China and Iraq

It’s been a long time since I last interviewed Dan Carlin, host of the Hardcore History and Common Sense podcasts. That doesn’t mean that he’s stopped being interesting, however. In this installment, I asked his unique, historically based perspective on China, Iraq, the United States military and marijuana.


In your Hardcore History podcast Death Throes of the Republic, you say that there were “perverse incentives” in place that kept Rome in a state of warfare. Having worked in Washington D.C., I have to wonder if the same is true of here. What do you say?

I think that’s going to be a pretty accurate statement in any society where warmaking becomes a regular feature of the system. Once you develop a major societal infrastructure to support such a military establishment, you begin to build up a vast array of interests (both in supplying and providing for such an entity, but also for ways to employ it that would benefit someone). These interests have a way of bending and warping the nation-state’s priorities and interests.  I think that is something that is one of the lessons the writers of Classical Antiquity try to pass on to us.  The people who founded the United States read those authors and understood those lessons, and tried to heed the warnings of the Greek and Roman writers and keep those “perverse incentives”  under control by limiting the growth of a large standing army and by counseling an avoidance of things like “  entangling alliances”   that could drag you into someone else’s wars.

Marijuana Demand and Production Unrelenting

While most of the posts on marijuana here tend to be United States focussed, this article from the British Daily Mail provides a glimpse into how the problem of prohibition is universal:

Criminal gangs are now producing so much cannabis in Britain’s suburban streets that there is a ‘market for export’.

Police say the gangs have taken over cinemas, houses, pubs, banks and shops left empty because of the recession.

Almost 7,000 cannabis factories were discovered last year - more than double the
number found two years ago.

Incredibly, a report by chief constables says the gangs are growing so much cannabis
that – for the first time – there is enough to start selling the drug overseas.

During a global economic crisis, what on earth is the logic of spending exorbitant amounts to squash an industry with such massive demand? Despite freeing up our prisons and cutting spend, legalization could even be the key to prosperity.


Former Mexican President Backs Drug Legalization

Vicente Fox has come out in favor of drug legalization:

(CNN) — Former Mexican President Vicente Fox has come out in favor of legalizing drugs in an attempt to disrupt the illegal markets that have turned parts of Mexico into battlegrounds.

In a proposal published over the weekend on his website, Fox argued that drug addiction and drug-related violence should be treated as distinct and separate challenges.

“So, drug consumption is the responsibility of the person who consumes; of the family who is responsible for educating; and of the education system and the socioeconomic context,” wrote Fox, who was president from 2000 to 2006. “What we have to do is legalize the production, the sale and the distribution.”

For those who have watched the policy consequences unfold, the need for legalization cannot seem any more precient.

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