Thursday, September 08, 2005

It's Time For Another Tea Party

Among the more comical aspects of the drug war is the government's proclivity for creating what they no doubt feel are pretty snappy sounding names for the big operations being regularly undertaken and proclaimed as glorious "victories" in the war on drugs. The inanity of some of those operations (like the dragnet directed against internet glass vendors) deserves to be ridiculed in its own spotlight, so I'll take care of it in due course. For right now, I want to focus on a little operation of my own -- Operation Orange Pekoe.

One of the more important missing elements in the anti-drugwar movement is the use of coordinated publicity stunts. At the grass roots level, some good stuff is going on -- for example, Howard Wooldridge of LEAP is doing a coast to coast horseback ride spreading the message that "Cops say legalize drugs." Then there is Ed Forchion, the NJ Weedman -- a guy who has sadly enough had to pack it in due to a lack of support. Ed is simply an amazing guy and true American patriot -- unfortunately, he also publicly admits that he likes to use marijuana. Ed defends himself in court -- and wins! Ed has the courage of his convictions to the extent that he actually blazed up at the Liberty Bell one Fourth of July.

Unfortunately, there just aren't enough Ed Forchion's in the world, brave enough to take that kind of stand. But what if we could come up with a stunt that would be relatively "safe" to participate in, and was something that is almost guaranteed to get attention?

Operation Orange Pekoe

What I hope to do is create a new "Boston Tea Party." Orange Pekoe is a kind of tea (it's the stuff you find in any common tea bag) -- which when burned, just happens to smell a whole lot like the fake marijuana tablets that are used to teach people what burning marijuana smells like. Frankly, to me it just smells like burning leaves, but it fits the bill for getting attention in two big ways: it is tea, and you can roll it in a joint and smoke it in public where people will assume that it is the real deal. In some places, doing that can get you arrested -- good! When people get arrested for smoking tea, that is called "news" -- and getting attention is the name of the game.

Any large gathering of people will be a great opportunity to pull off Operation Orange Pekoe. So the Million Marijuana March at first glance seems like it would be a great place to do it. There is a minor problem with that idea, though: when people are marching specifically for marijuana legalization, it just doesn't get much attention (google for it yourself -- the media has no interest). Worse yet, people expect people to be arrested for pot at such events, so it may not be as effective as a neutral celebratory event where the focus is not on drugs and where there are a large number of people: something like the 4th of July.

I think the 4th of July is a perfect time to do this for two reasons: the symbolic value, and the fact that there will be a lot of people at such events -- and a lot of potential attention. Imagine being arrested on Independence Day by smoking tea in public in the name of your independence! If we pull it off, it will absolutely make the history books. I'll be doing it -- and I hope I get arrested for it.

Obviously, the more people who participate (and the more who face society's misplaced wrath for doing so), the better off we are. And the more publicity we get in advance, the better too. So start spreading the word, Operation Orange Pekoe has been officially launched as of Sep 8, 2005. Target date Jul 4, 2006 -- it's time for another tea party!

Monday, May 16, 2005

There's A Monster On The Loose

Whether or not you've actually been paying attention, the time has come for every American to open his or her eyes and, rather than recoiling in fear at the sight, muster the courage to join those allying in the interest of slaying the beast once and for all.

This particular monster lives on fear and becomes ever more powerful simply because those in a positon to know better have taken to feeding the damn thing on a steady diet of the minds of our young people. Unwitting or not, as it turns out, most people don't ever see it until it's too late.

The monster has three heads, each of which is capable of inflicting incredible pain and violence in its own right. When they work together as a single unit, however, the heads are nearly invincible. Those three heads are: ignorance, intolerance, and injustice, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Ignorance: uses the tools of deception and fear. It mesmerizes its prey through a constant flow of hypnotic pronouncements, most frequently in the guise of protecting the young. The best defense against this head is the shield of truth. But defending against this head alone will not slay the monster -- remember that there are still two other heads to deal with.

Intolerance: is a particularly difficult enemy. Its weapons of choice are denigration and subjugation. It whispers a message gently and constantly in the ears of its prey: "they are different ... different is strange ... strange is bad ... bad is evil ... destroy the evil." The best defense against this head is the ability to recognize the basic humanity of each of us. Religion is supposed to imbue one with this characteristic, but simple observation of the world around us indicates that the lesson is yet to be learned.

Injustice: is the weakest of the heads -- but while the other two heads still exist it simply cannot be defeated. Injustice uses the color of law to cloak itself, hiding behind the self-righteousness provided by intolerance, and the misdirections of ignorance. This head may be merely parried until the other two heads are cleaved from the monster's body when the final death blow may be delivered against the beast.

America where are you now
Don't you care about your sons and daughters
Don't you know we need you now
We can't fight alone against the monster

-- from "Monster," by Steppenwolf

In light of the above, I have adopted "Monster" as the official song of the anti-drugwar czar. Read the complete song lyrics on my site, and start arming yourself for battle. This thing must be slain.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Why I Call It "Drugwar" Instead of Drug War

04/18/05 Note: While I thought I was quite clever using the term "drugwar" as a single word, it turns out that I was actually beaten to the punch by Arnold Trebach in his book "The Great Drug War," originally published in 1987 (page 353). It is no surprise that Arnold got there first -- he's been paving this road ahead of many of the rest of us for quite some time, and in reality is the original "anti-drugwar czar." Arnold is of course, prescient enough to have also coined at the same time the corollary term "drugpeace," which is ultimately the goal of those involved in reforming our drug laws. Visit his site:

While doing the research on what most people call the War on Drugs or "Drug War," two things quickly became evident to me: there are actually a wide variety of wars on drugs that have been declared throughout the past century; and more importantly, that the whole sordid mess is an endless cycle of repetitive and largely fruitless activity.

Given that a common folk definition of "insanity" is repeating the same act continuously with the expectations of a differing result, I believe that the Drug War fits within the scope of that definition. Thus, I decided to differentiate the term "Drug War" -- which is best understood in terms of the traditional activities of hunting down and capturing those who grow, manufacture, transport and or use the drugs -- and I began using the term "drugwar" to describe what I regard as a type of societal psychosis.

It is thus my contention that the following symptoms of Drug War indicate the presence of the mental illness I am calling "drugwar." The list of symptoms is adapted from the diagnostic criteria for "substance abuse disorders." Here then, is a brief review of the symptoms, and the verifiable evidence that the symptom is present:

  • A. Pattern of pathological activity

    • must be done daily to feel "normal" -- can anyone imagine the government letting a day go by without fighting the Drug War? Hell, they had cease fires and truces in just about every other war in history -- except this one.

    • inability to cut down or stop -- arguments to put a stop to the Drug War have indeed been being made over the past four decades of the Drug War, but they are met with vociferous and violent opposition from the patient. Threats to cut the Drug War budget or in any way let up on it are met with howls of protest, in which the patient claims dire consequences of almost biblical proportion.

    • repeated efforts to control or reduce excess -- there is plenty of available evidence of excess in the form of wrongful arrests, "oops, wrong house" raids, and corruption of officials. Attempts are made by the patient to correct these problems, but the patient always relapses back into the undesired behaviors.

    • binges -- every several years, those infected with drugwar go to great lengths to conduct largescale "operations" that yield quantities of drugs, an occasional dead person, and multiple arrests. The next morning, it is back to business as usual ... because the aforementioned did nothing to alter the status quo.

  • B. Impairment in social or occupational functioning

    • violence -- this is the ugliest side of drugwar. The violence inflicted by those suffering from drugwar runs the gamut from a simple wrestling match to keep a suspect from swallowing a crack rock, all the way to low-intensity conflict involving automatic weapons and military hardware.

    • legal difficulties -- arresting users sounds like a great idea ... until the courts get overwhelmed. Forcing people to choose between incarceration and treatment sounds like a great idea ... until the prisons are overcrowded and the waiting list for "treatment" is three years long.

    • arguments or difficulties with family or friends -- our closest neighbors are the targets of some of the harshest attacks by those infected with drugwar.

    • tolerance -- how many more senseles deaths and trillions of dollars need to be wasted in the name of "saving just one life?"

    • withdrawal symptoms -- listen to the pronouncements of the "drug czar" and the lawmakers when you ask them to cut their budgets.

  • C. Duration of disturbance of at least one month

    As it turns out, the patient has been ill for nearly 100 years.

In light of these facts, there can be no serious argument against my claim that our society is suffering from a chronic epidemic of a form of societal psychosis I call "drugwar."

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Meth, Hillbilly Heroin & Drinking Shoe Polish

If there is a single lesson that should have been learned over the past century of drug war, it is this: people will do just about anything to get high. Boredom can do nothing but amplify this tendency, and thus we have the recipe for rural America's latest drug crisis (or, if you prefer, epidemic) "meth" use. Alcohol has a great reputation in the same parts of America where meth use is rampant. It isn’t the drugs, when you think about it -- some people are just assholes. As usual, the media and various prohibitionists are doing their best to alarm the public over this latest "threat" to society. Of course, none of this would be happening in the first place had we learned anything at all from alcohol prohibition.

The factors cited by those who set the fires usually include (but are not limited to, of course): the dangers presented to the public by such things as "meth labs," and the endless drone of how "drugs are dangerous and destroy people's lives." While the name of the particular drug involved changes with the frequency of fashion vogues, the "danger" is always blown wildly out of proportion from what the government's own data already tells us.

What makes things worse is that meth has been the whipping boy of the moment on several different occasions over the past three decades (and the same for amphetamines in pill form for the past five decades). Proving once again that the drugwar is an endless cycle of social psychosis. I can't emphasize the following enough: it is a sign of intelligence to learn from experience. The usual argument is that: "We learned how bad alcohol and tobacco were, but it was already too late. Why make the same mistake again?"

That almost sounds reasonable. At least until you consider that alcohol causes way more problems in society than all illegal drugs combined. Clearly, especially given the biological drive behind getting high, our society needs alternatives to alcohol when our citizens succumb to the urge to twiddle themselves. Clearly, drug use itself can not and never will be "stamped out." Research the animal kingdom and the use of intoxicants. The only way to "stamp out" the human desire to intoxicate, is to remove the sense of self -- otherwise known as a lobotomy. No brain, no pleasure, no drug use. Problem solved. Get in line.

Given that we stand no chance against biology then, how can we make the use of drugs "safer" both for those so inclined, and for society at large? Now, I know this is going to sound a bit extremist, but the most sure-fire way to stop the havoc being wreaked on society by home made meth-labs, is to leave the manufacturing process to the professionals. No, not the underground chemists who do it the best, but the pharmaceutical companies already in the drug making business. Whoda thunkit? Hell, then you could even buy more than one pack of cold pills at a time.

Then too, the pharmaceutical companies can legally sell the product to people who wish to use it. Where would it be sold? How about a drug store? Alongside all the other "dangerous" chemical preparations -- like cough syrups. What about the children? Your job dummy!

What about all the extra addicts caused by the "message" that drug use is okay? Here's a thought: try a message worth a crap. How about: "Hey this is really dangerous and stupid, and you are a fool for doing it, but we'd rather not see you drinking shoe polish just to catch a buzz." Why would people who don't use drugs suddenly start doing drugs? Simply because it became legal to do so? Ultimately, it doesn't matter who uses what drugs: it's nobody's business. The best way to not send messages about drug use is to mind your own business -- and other people's drug use really is none of your business.

Now back to boredom in America's heartland. You may not have noticed, but there is no "cure" for boredom. Different people like to do different things to amuse themselves. We're all different, and none of us wants to be like you. So the secret to really 'solving' the drug use issue is to let the users decide for themselves what drugs they want to use. An open market would ensure a variety of drugs were available, and thus minimize the use of the more dangerous ones -- including alcohol. If the Bush admin's Social Security plan for "letting" people make decisions is a good thing, then clearly, a person should be "allowed" to decide for themselves what they do to their body or mind.

People will do almost anything to get high. We simply will not stop that, so let's try making it safer. For all of us.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

BC Bud: Collateral Damage

Note: The original reports linking the raid to a marijuana grow operation were in error. Although a grow operation was found, it was not the original impetus of the raid. 3/22/05

Today's irksome news is a story of how 4 members of Canada's Royal Canadian Mounted Police have lost their lives after doing a raid on a marijuana grow operation. This was no home grower working to maintain his own habit however, but instead a man running a major criminal enterprise, made possible by the refusal of some people to understand that you can't prevent human beings from playing with themselves.

It is incomprehensible and unconscionable that these four people lost their lives following orders to do something supremely stupid, ineffective, and inherently illogical, but we can only expect more of the same as long as people buy into the nonsense over the "dangers" of intoxicant use. The flames of that particular exercise in futility are constantly fanned by the news media, which is the real target of today's screed.

I read the report of this incident in the New York Times , which in keeping with a long-standing media tradition to pass along government bullshit without question, had a sidebar article about the horrifying increase of marijuana mentions in US emergency treatment centers. For at least the past two years the US drug czar has been busy trying to scare Americans over the "super-powerful" marijuana grown in BC and smuggled to the US. According to the drug czar, the reason so many people are going to the emergency room over marijuana is fueled largely by more potent weed than people had back in the day. (That, in and of itself, is simply not true, but I know there will be plenty of opportunity to enlighten others over that in the future.)

As usual, the problem is not so much with what the drug czar says, as it is with what he doesn't say -- and the news media doesn't bother checking into. The key thing to know about these emergency room visits over marijuana is that it simply doesn't matter that the number of such visits has tripled over a ten year period. The reason that the number of these visits doesn't add up to much is simply this: out of all the people who actually use marijuana, less than one-half of one percent of them end up in the emergency room over it.

One can rightly expect that the American drug czar would be reluctant to call attention to the fact that his entire operation is useless and unnecessary, but when the "newspaper of record" fails to do its job, we all end up paying the price for it. To help set the record straight over marijuana take a look at this:

Marijuana is nowhere near as scary as they want us to think.

How do you ask someone to be the last person to die over something so incredibly stupid? Worse, how many more have to die before we wake up and put an end to this nonsense once and for all?