Drug Policy

Does America's Drug Czar Support Decriminalization?

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Mexican President Felipe Calderon thinks people caught with small amounts of illegal drugs should go to "treatment" instead of jail. Under his proposal, anyone possessing up to two grams of marijuana or opium, half a gram of cocaine, 50 milligrams of heroin, or 40 milligrams of methamphetamine would face no criminal penalties as long as he agreed to enter treatment. Otherwise, he could get up to three and a half years in prison. U.S. drug czar John Walters says he has no problem with Calderon's plan. "I don't think that's legalization," he told The New York Times last week.

Neither do I. In fact, it's a stretch even to call Calderon's proposal "decriminalization," as the Marijuana Policy Project does in a press release tweaking Walters with the headline, "Hell Freezes Over: White House Drug Czar Backs Decriminalization." It is surely an improvement if illegal drug users don't go to prison, even if the alternative is a treatment program that may be inappropriate, ineffective, or both. Yet under Calderon's plan the threat of jail still hangs over anyone who violates the government's pharmacological taboos and is not prepared to undergo re-education, which entails identifying himself as an addict, even if he isn't, and playing the role of the drug dealer's helpless victim. Walters correctly sees that such compelled affirmation of drug war dogma, which he likens to the treatment-or-jail option offered in American "drug courts," poses little threat to current policy.

Notably, a 2006 bill that Calderon's predecessor, Vicente Fox, supported before American complaints changed his mind would have lifted criminal penalties for possessing personal-use amounts of various drugs without requiring abasement at the altar of pharmacological correctness. Shortly before Fox refused to sign the bill, a U.S. embassy spokeswoman said the Mexican government should "ensure that all persons found in possession of any quantity of illegal drugs be prosecuted or be sent into mandatory drug treatment programs." The Calderon proposal satisfies that criterion and differs little from current practice in many American jurisdictions, so it's not surprising Walters is on board.

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  1. Decrim is going to pass in Massachusetts next week.

    Woo hoo!

  2. The drug war is the most worthless investment ever. thank you for spending our money and doing nothing.
    Legalize it!

  3. …a 2006 bill …would have lifted criminal penalties for possessing personal-use amounts of various drugs without requiring abasement at the altar of pharmacological correctness.

    One of the most disturbing things about the drug war is how the drug warriors demand obeisance to their worldview in exchange for lenience in sentencing. It’s hard to see that as anything other than a totalitarian mindset.

  4. Hey, this is a great idea!

    Also, anyone who buys more than two Twinkies at one time must enter a weight-loss program. We won’t forcefully starve them unless they fail in the program.

    Anyone who checks out the hot babe walking down the street must enroll in a sexual harassment awareness class. Hey, that’s better than being on the sex offender list, right?

  5. In fact, it’s a stretch even to call Calderon’s proposal “decriminalization…”

    Yeah, I’m thinking a better word would be “extortion”. My guess is they charge you for the “treatment”. Since most people arrested are too poor to afford it, it basically forces people to raise money illegally and kick it up. No one will ever ask where it came from.

    Probation/parole works exactly like that in this country.

    This is why the WOD can never end; government = mafia

  6. Treatment for addicts of physically addicting substances I could understand (although even the best programs for people who go voluntarily only have about a 20% success rate); but how would you treat a marijuana or LSD user?

  7. Simple, Abdul – you get them to admit they were wrong wrong wrong to ever use drugs, because drugs are bad, and they were bad to use them. When they show an appropriate level of shame and remorse, they’re cured!

  8. Two grams of pot is less than the most common unit of sale – the eighth of an ounce (3.5 grams) – and half a gram of coke is less than the most common unit of sale – the gram. So basically, if you’ve already smoked/blown half your stash, you’re good. Otherwise, off to jail with ya!

  9. Does America’s Drug Czar Support Decriminalization?

    Not only no, but FUCK NO!
    Next question.

  10. Madatory treatment or 3 years in prison is not really decriminalization.

    “””The drug war is the most worthless investment ever. thank you for spending our money and doing nothing.”””

    Depends on which side your on. The LEO types that receive the money thinks it’s a good investment. Of course!

  11. Why can’t the various drug cartel wise up enough politically to push a minarchist agenda via their bribed gov officials? Seems like they could play on anti-Yankee sentiment, economic investment, and reduced violence to sell it.

  12. The biggest problem with decriminalization is that it makes too much sense. It reduces a lot of the cost of the WoD and therefore many of its happily employed drug warriors.

    Forcing mandatory treatment is a handly way to psuedo-decriminalize while ensuring that the WoD is still worth the big bucks in the budget.

  13. the threat of jail still hangs over anyone who violates the government’s pharmacological taboos and is not prepared to undergo re-education, which entails identifying himself as an addict, even if he isn’t, and playing the role of the drug dealer’s helpless victim

    Not to mention being forced, publicly, to acknowledge the existence of a “higher being” in your daily entreaties for mercy and forgiveness.

  14. Why can’t the various drug cartel wise up enough politically to push a minarchist agenda via their bribed gov officials? Seems like they could play on anti-Yankee sentiment, economic investment, and reduced violence to sell it.

    Wise up? If they pushed anything of the sort the major drug kingpins would be out of business is a second. Pot comes from a plant. A fucking weed man. It should be cheaper than aspirin. The war on drugs has created a lucrative business opportunity for every kind of criminal from the petty thief to the biggest, most sadistic asshole out there.

    The drug cartels should be, and are, bribing to keep the laws the way they are. After all its the drug mules paying the price.

  15. I was referring to Mexico. The US won’t lighten up and that’s their market. Kinda like Canada and other countries supplied the US during alcohol prohibition.

  16. 2 grams of weed or 0.5 grams of cocaine? These amounts are less than the smallest amount you can usually purchase at one time. so 99% of people will end up in jail anyways, unless they had the fortune of consuming half their bag.

  17. How many joints are in a lid?

    Two. I roll big joints.

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