— Rufus King, Chairman of the American Bar Association, from 62 YALE Law Journal, Pages 784-7 (1953).
Five police officers in San Francisco have been indicted for allegedly stealing money and drugs that had been seized as part of investigations. The prosecutions originate from surveillance footage released by the city’s public defender.
LTMC: Another example of how the War on Drugs creates incentives for public officials to engage in corruption. From the article:
In another incident the same month, the indictment says, the officers took marijuana [seized during investigations]. Vargas is accused of delivering the pot to two informants and asking them to sell it and split the proceeds with him, Furminger and Robles.
This type of behavior is extremely common among police who deal with drug crimes. These officers know that the problem they are policing (drug trafficking) is intractable. So after years of frustration, they figure they might as well get something out of this pointless venture known as drug enforcement. They’ve been staring into the abyss for so long that it started staring back into them.
It’s amazing to me how authorities are praising themselves for doing something that they readily admit will have little impact on the problem they are trying to combat:
When it finally ended last year, Operation Dark Water, as the investigation was known, was heralded as a milestone in the fight against the global drug trade. Police officers seized 750 pounds of cocaine and caught four cartel members, including a first cousin to its infamous kingpin, Joaquín (El Chapo) Guzmán Loera.
But for the Sinaloa cartel, a criminal multinational corporation handling billions of dollars, the arrests proved only a minor setback, authorities acknowledged. The cartel has established channels of cooperation with so many European criminal groups, including Sicily’s Cosa Nostra and street gangs in Budapest, that business there continues to boom.
On Saturday, Mexican and American authorities struck even deeper, capturing Mr. Guzmán in a predawn raid on a seaside condominium in the Mexican city of Mazatlán. Governments around the world are hailing the capture as a landmark in the fight against organized crime. Yet many authorities agree that the arrest will probably not bring an end to the cartel’s activities, much less make a lasting dent in the availability of illegal drugs.
El Chapo is a scary man. But he will be replaced by another scary man who will take over the business and its profits. Even if the government destroyed the entire cartel, another cartel would absorb its market-share. The U.S. Government has cooperated with the Sinaloa Cartel for 12 years in exchange for information on rival cartels. Those cartels still exist. And so will Sinaloa after Chapo is gone.
What drug warriors fail to recognize is that all of these organizations plan for this. They all know that at any time, someone could be arrested or killed. These are multi-billion dollar organizations. Like any large company, they have business models. They have hierarchies. They have contingency plans. You don’t get rich breaking the law for a living without planning ahead for what happens if you get arrested.
Furthermore, the profits of this industry are high enough that even if a plan wasn’t in place, and these organizations collapsed, someone would reinvent them. The profits to be made from drug trafficking are absolutely outrageous, comprising up to 7.6% of all global trade. Private interests in the West stand to profit handsomely from the drug trade, which (like any business) has contingent services that need to be provided (such as banking). And since they know they’re doing is illegal, traffickers are willing to pay handsomely for that service.
There is a reason the mob no longer gets rich off of bootlegging. There is a reason why we don’t have gang violence over alcohol. There is a reason why Anheiser-Busch doesn’t bring M-16’s with its delivery trucks when it supplies its product to local grocery stores, beverage centers, and convenience stores: Because their product is legal for consenting adults to purchase and consume. And any disputes over their product can thus be solved in the courts.
Drug traffickers, however, cannot resolve their commercial disputes in the courts. So instead, the drug marketplace is regulated by violence. Terrible, horrible violence that has left countless thousands of victims in its wake. Violence that would stop if their products were legalized, destroying traffickers’ profit margin and making their service obsolete.
But instead, governments will continue to use brute force, trying to muscle their way out of the problem—the metaphorical equivalent of using a small bucket to bail water out of a sinking ship. When we should have the sense by now to know that we don’t belong in this particular lake to begin with.
NBC News has posted this gem of a headline, "Pot Fuels Surge In Drugged Driving Deaths." Like every good story, it leads with a compelling anecdote—in this case, someone who was killed by a stoned driver. Then it cites the following statistics:
As medical marijuana sales expanded into 20 states, legal weed was detected in the bodies of dead drivers three times more often during 2010 when compared to those who died behind the wheel in 1999, according to a new study from Columbia University published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
“The trend suggests that marijuana is playing an increased role in fatal crashes,” said Dr. Guohua Li, a co-author and director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University Medical Center. The researchers examined data from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), spanning more than 23,000 drivers killed during that 11-year period.
But wait! Buried towards the bottom of the article are these statistics:
A separate study — also based on FARS data — found that in states where medical marijuana was approved, traffic fatalities decrease by as much as 11 percent during the first year after legalization. Written by researchers at the University of Colorado, Oregon and Montana State University, the paper was published in 2013 in the Journal of Law & Economics.
Those authors theorized pot, for some, becomes a substitute for alcohol. They cited a recent, 13-percent drop in drunk-driving deaths in states where medical marijuana is legal.
“Marijuana reform is associated with … a decrease in traffic fatalities, most likely due to its impact on alcohol consumption,” said Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, a trade association in Colorado.
So there’s an increase in marijuana-related crashes in states with some form of legalized pot, but there’s also a corresponding decrease in alcohol-related crashes. The net result is a decrease in the overall number of traffic fatalities. Yet NBC still chose to run a headline that, without context, suggests that legal pot is leading to more traffic fatalities, which it is not. The opposite is in fact true.
Most people aren’t going to dig to the bottom of the article to get this important contextual information. Instead, they’ll see the headline, read the first couple paragraphs, and the message they’ll get is that legal pot is increasing the number of traffic fatalities—without realizing that legal pot has actually reduced traffic fatalities overall.
Presenting the story in this manner is irresponsible. The headline is misleading, as are the initial supporting paragraphs. A lot of people are going to walk away from this article with the wrong message because NBC presented it in a poor fashion. And now, we get to listen to anti-pot crusaders tell us about how legal pot activists have blood on their hands, despite the fact that legal pot hasn’t actually increased the number of people dying in traffic fatalities. It has actually reduced them. And if this story leads people in battleground states to vote against legalized pot, it will be NBC that has blood on its hands, not legalization activists.
From the article:
Nearly one in three high students are exposed to student drug-testing programs. Yet, over a decade of scientific scrutiny of the practice has consistently found that these programs do far more harm than good.
The latest finding appears in the January issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Investigators from Israel and the United States assessed whether students’ awareness of drug-testing programs in their schools was associated with a reduction in the frequency of their use of alcohol, cigarettes or cannabis. It wasn’t.
Authors wrote, “Consistent with previous research, results of the current study show that perceived SDT (student drug testing) is not associated with a reduction in initiation or escalation of substance use in the general student population.” They concluded, “The current research reinforces previous conclusions that SDT is a relatively ineffective drug-prevention policy.”
Ineffective is putting it mildly. In fact, no peer-reviewed study has ever praised the program as effectual. By contrast, numerous studies, including those sponsored by the US government, have reported that student drug-testing programs fail to deter adolescent substance use, and in some cases may even encourage it.
18 Members of Congress signed a letter to President Obama today asking him to remove Marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act:
“We request that you take action to help alleviate the harms to society caused by the federal Schedule I classification of marijuana. Lives and resources are wasted on enforcing harsh, unrealistic, and unfair marijuana laws,” the letter reads, “Nearly two-thirds of a million people every year are arrested for marijuana possession. We spend billions every year enforcing marijuana laws, which disproportionately impact minorities. According to the ACLU, black Americans are nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite comparable usage rates.”
You can read the full text of the letter here.
As I like to say,”when you can’t bring a lawsuit, you bring a gun.”
- freebroccoli asked:What did you mean, that "works of Ayn Rand" are "not technically libertarian"? Or were you referring exclusively to Orwell in that remark?
Ayn Rand was personally extremely clear that she was not a libertarian. For example, she said:
[Libertarians] are not defenders of capitalism....
Bar is in two days.
I feel okay about it, but I’m still lowkey terrified. In all honesty, I don’t know how I feel. But I’ve done what I can to...
Two rich economies, relatively similar in structure, reacted very differently to the global financial shock of late 2008. In America output sank...”
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Megan Rice, the 84-year-old...
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