Recently in Drug Policy Category

(NYT) What would happen in the many communities now allowing medical marijuana had been a subject of much hand-wringing. But few predicted this: that it would be a boon for local newspapers looking for ways to cope with the effects of the recession and the flight of advertising -- especially classified listings -- to Web sites like Craigslist

But in states like Colorado, California and Montana where use of the drug for health purposes is legal, newspapers -- particularly alternative weeklies -- have rushed to woo marijuana providers. Many of these enterprises are flush with cash and eager to get the word out about their fledgling businesses.

"Medical marijuana has been a revenue blessing over and above what we anticipated," said John Weiss, the founder and publisher of The Independent, a free weekly. "This wasn't in our marketing plan a year ago, and now it is about 10 percent of our paper's revenue."

Marijuana will become legal. Once people start making money in a conventional manner - and advertising is as conventional as it gets - others will want in on the profits.

I have surprised a few people over the years with the statement that marijuana should be legal. They are shocked to hear a substance abuse counselor make that claim. But we spend way too much money fighting a losing battle, just like we did when prohibition was in place.

Nor will legalizing marijuana increase my business. I do not believe the rates of marijuana addiction will go up. One, I do not recall any increase in the rates of alcoholism after prohibition was repealed, so I suspect the same of marijuana. Second; marijuana is pretty well established as a cultural norm - along the lines of under age drinking - in this country.

In any case, and on a personal note, illegal or legal, I will not be using marijuana. I had my fun with it years ago, and paid a hefty price. I have no desire to repeat that process.

Hat Tip: Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice

State Rights

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You mean the Obama Administration is upholding the constitution?
Huffington Post

For years, I served as a federal prosecutor and member of the House of Representatives defending the federal pursuit of the drug prohibition.

Today, I can reflect on my efforts and see no progress in stopping the widespread use of drugs. I'll even argue that America's drug problem is larger today than it was when Richard Nixon first coined the phrase, "War on Drugs," in 1972.

America's drug problem is only compounded by the vast amounts of money directed at this ongoing battle. In 2005, more than $12 billion dollars was spent on federal drug enforcement efforts while another $30 billion was spent to incarcerate non-violent drug offenders.

The result of spending all of those taxpayer's dollars? We now have a huge incarceration tab for non-violent drug offenders and, at most, a 30% interception rate of hard drugs. We are also now plagued with the meth labs that are popping up like poisonous mushrooms across the country.

Offered without comment.
New York Times

Medical marijuana was legalized under state law by California voters in 1996, and since then 11 other states have followed, even though federal law still bans the sale of any marijuana. But some frustrated residents and law enforcement officials say the California law has increasingly and unintentionally provided legal cover for large-scale marijuana growers -- and the problems such big-money operations can attract.

"It's a clear shield for commercial operations," said Mike Sweeney, 60, a supporter of both medical marijuana and a local ballot measure on June 3 that called for new limits on the drug in Mendocino. "And we don't want those here."

The outcome of the ballot measure is not known, as votes are still being counted, but such community push-back is increasingly common across the state, even in the most liberal communities. In recent years, dozens of local governments have banned or restricted cannabis clubs, more formally known as dispensaries, that provide medical marijuana, in the face of public safety issues involved in its sale and cultivation, including crime and environmental damage.

What? This is a surprise? Of course making marijuana legal for medical use was going to be cover for increased production. That was a given. What is ridiculous is that there was no plan in place to deal with an obvious unintended consequence.

Or more to the point, that the eventual legalization of marijuana for recreational use moved a step closer.

Honestly, prohibition does not work. It never has, it never will.

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