1:46 PM, Apr 11, 2015 • By DAVID W. MURRAY and JOHN P. WALTERS
President Obama this week told an audience in Jamaica that U.S. efforts against illegal drugs were “counterproductive” because they relied too much on incarceration—particularly for “young people who did not engage in violence.”
In what the president termed “an experiment … to legalize marijuana” in Colorado and Washington state, he said he believed they must “show that they are not suddenly a magnet for additional crime, that they have a strong enough public health infrastructure to push against the potential of increased addiction.”
In regard to Jamaica and the entire Caribbean and Central American region, he said, “a lot of folks think … if we just legalize marijuana, then it’ll reduce the money flowing into the transnational drug trade, there are more revenues and jobs created.”
To some of us, Jamaica hardly seems an auspicious location for encouraging “experimentation” with drugs, in particular because of the challenges already faced by their deficient institutions of public health and criminal justice. The U.S. Department of State 2015 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) states:
Jamaica remains the largest Caribbean supplier of marijuana to the United States and local Caribbean islands. Although cocaine and synthetic drugs are not produced locally, Jamaica is a transit point for drugs trafficked from South America to North America and other international markets. In 2014, drug production and trafficking were enabled and accompanied by organized crime, domestic and international gang activity, and police and government corruption. Illicit drugs are also a means of exchange for illegally-trafficked firearms entering the country, exacerbating Jamaica’s security situation.
Drugs flow from and through Jamaica by maritime conveyance, air freight, human couriers, and to a limited degree by private aircraft. Marijuana and cocaine are trafficked from and through Jamaica into the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and other Caribbean nations. Jamaica is emerging as a transit point for cocaine leaving Central America and destined for the United States, and some drug trafficking organizations exchange Jamaican marijuana for cocaine. . . .
The conviction rate for murder was approximately five percent, and the courts continued to be plagued with a culture of trial postponements and delay. This lack of efficacy within the criminal courts contributed to impunity for many of the worst criminal offenders and gangs, an abnormally high rate of violent crimes, lack of cooperation by witnesses and potential jurors, frustration among police officers and the public, a significant social cost and drain on the economy, and a disincentive for tourism and international investment.
This does not seem like a place where “legal” marijuana would contribute to “reduced money flow” to the transnational drug trade, or “create jobs.” The president apparently thinks Jamaica should consider allowing more drugs, based on a faulty understanding of what is actually happening in Jamaica and in the U.S.
His charge of high incarceration rates for non-violent offenders is not factual. For instance, data show that only a fraction of one percent of state prison inmates are low-level marijuana possession offenders, while arrests for marijuana and cocaine/heroin possession and use were no more than 7 percent of all arrests, nationwide, in 2013.
Though critics of drug laws claim that hundreds or even thousands of prisoners are low-level non-violent offenders unjustly sentenced, the reality was shown recently by the President’s inability to find more than a handful of incarcerated drug offenders who would be eligible for commutation of their sentence because they fit the mythological portrait of excessive or unjust drug sentences.
Further, since 2007, the US is currently experiencing a surge in daily marijuana use, an epidemic of heroin overdose deaths (with minorities hardest hit), while the southwest border is flooded with heroin and methamphetamine flow, as shown by skyrocketing border seizures.
11:00 AM, Feb 8, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized pot legalization in recent remarks in Aspen. "This is one of the stupider things that’s happening across our country," said Bloomberg.
9:33 AM, Jan 8, 2015 • By DAVID W. MURRAY
The Colorado Gazette reports this week that “Colorado is taking a novel approach to marijuana education — not telling people to avoid the drug, just to use it safely.”
A key polling result may trip the legal marijuana breakout.4:45 PM, Oct 1, 2014 • By DAVID W. MURRAY and JOHN P. WALTERS
A poll reported in the Washington Post on September 23 offers positive news for those troubled by the movement to legalize marijuana. It also does not augur well for those pushing more states to follow Colorado and Washington, where legalization is already underway.
11:49 AM, Sep 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Washington Post editorial board was in favor of decriminalizing pot. But it is not in favor of legalizing it.
10:50 AM, Jul 27, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
A leading drug policy researcher, David Murray, has a must-read piece up at the Hudson Institute website, "Comparing Marijuana and Alcohol: Seriously." Murray's article is a devastating deconstruction of claims that marijuana is relatively safe, or at least safer than alcohol. And, as he points out, it thereby undermines much of the basis of the New York Times's blithely irresponsible editorial endorsement of marijuana legalization.
7:15 AM, Jul 10, 2014 • By DAVID W. MURRAY and JOHN P. WALTERS
President Obama visited Denver this week, was offered marijuana, and laughed. His administration made possible the open marketing and use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington state by directing that federal law not be enforced. The president is joined by Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul in supporting marijuana legalization. As Clinton recently told CNN, "On recreational marijuana, states are the laboratories of democracy.
'Do you want to hit this?'6:15 AM, Jul 9, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama was asked whether he wanted to smoke marijuana by a fellow patron of a Denver bar last night. The offer came from Instagram user manton89, who posted video of the ask on his Instagram account. "Asked him if he wanted a hit of pot...he laughed!" writes manton89 .
A voice can be heard asking President Obama, as he glad hands his way through the establishment: "Do you want to hit this?"
2:35 PM, Jun 18, 2014 • By DAVID MURRAY and JOHN P. WALTERS
When asked during a CNN interview with Christiane Amanpour last night whether she used drugs, Hillary Clinton was admirably firm. Had she done marijuana? “Absolutely not,” she replied. “I didn't do it when I was young, I'm not going to start now.” She is, however, more wavering when it comes to exposing other people’s children to the impact of drug use.
While she opposed marijuana decriminalization during her first presidential run in 2007, by 2014, following the enabling by the Obama administration of legal, recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington, candidate Clinton is now more receptive to a drug experience.
9:01 AM, Apr 24, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
A study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that "[m]arijuana use makes tobacco use more pleasurable and may increase the user’s risk for becoming addicted to nicotine." Experiments involving rats found that those animals exposed to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, self-administered nicotine at higher rates than rats with no such exposure. This connection raises concern that pot may be a "gateway" drug to nicotine.
On page one.1:11 PM, Apr 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The front page of today's Denver Post skips Easter. Its main focus? Marijuana.
"All weed, no Easter on Denver Post's page one," says media reporter Jim Romenesko.
11:41 AM, Apr 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Attorney General Eric Holder tells the Huffington Post that he had "youthful experimentation" of marijuana. In other words, he smoked pot in college.
As the liberal website reports:
7:11 AM, Jan 28, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Monday morning, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) blog at Whitehouse.gov published an entry titled: "Support for National Association of School Nurses' [NASN] Position on the Legalization of Marijuana." However, the original link for the post is now meet with a "Sorry, the page you're looking for can't be found" message, and the most recent post on the ONDCP blog is dated January 20.
3:24 PM, Jan 19, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
In an interview with the New Yorker, President Obama says that he believes marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol.
From the lengthy article:
Jonathan V. Last, non-tokerJan 27, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 19 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
As Colorado’s new law permitting—encouraging?—the recreational use of marijuana went into effect, many of our country’s finest journalists felt the need to share the details of their experience with the ganja. Some came to celebrate the state’s new liberality, others to condemn it.