Dope File: Druggies worse than killers?

By Joel Miller

We don’t joke with coke

Sometimes fact is not actually stranger than fiction, just a lot
stupider. Go no further than Columbus, Ga., and you’ll see exactly what
I mean.

Seems a convicted killer got a raw deal in court and was recently
resentenced with something a tad more lenient. Originally given life in
the pokey with no possibility of parole, it turns out that “prosecutors
realized the sentence was not allowed for his crime,” according to an
Oct. 21 Associated Press report in the New York Times.

It appears that spending life in the clink is too much for a guy who
only fatally shot his girlfriend. The killer “could have been
denied the possibility of parole for a drug conviction but not for
murder,” said the report.

Fancy that. Selling dope is worse than killing your girlfriend.
Who’da thunk it?

“It’s a quirk in the law that you can get more time for selling
cocaine than you can for killing somebody,” said Superior Court Judge
John D. Allen. “Maybe one of these days they’ll straighten this
madness out.”

Hopefully, it won’t be too long. Lady-killer is eligible for parole
in 14 years.

High court catches seizure fever

If you’re a drug warrior, Oakland, Calif., is your kind of town and,
since surviving a recent state Supreme Court challenge, will likely stay
that way.

The court’s ruling affirms

Oakland’s car nabbing
ordinance,
which allows the city to seize vehicles allegedly used in soliciting drug deals or prostitution — and will likely encourage similar laws across the state, according to the Oct. 19 San Francisco Examiner.

While currently Sacramento is the only other California city with a law like Oakland’s, San Francisco recently

fought off a similar
plan.

More than 300 vehicles have been seized since January 1998, by Deputy City Attorney Marcia Meyers’ reckoning. And remember, you don’t even have to be charged with a crime to have your vehicle filched because car seizures fall under asset forfeiture statutes and are considered civil cases, not criminal.

Oh well, I was getting tired of things like justice and liberty, anyway. Who needs ’em?

Obviously not the drug warriors.

Doing the junkie monkey
The recent marijuana study

supposedly showing that monkeys become
ganja
junkies
was widely reported by the mainstream media last week. Instead of being the government watchdogs they are supposed to be, however, most news agencies just reconfirmed their lapdog status by simply regurgitating the National Institute on Drug Abuse press release about the research with little or no voices critical of the study’s conclusions.

Nobody in the press, for instance, really critiqued the methodology of the study, which is definitely suspect because the researchers arranged for the monkeys to self-administer cocaine before trying them on marijuana’s active ingredient, THC. It doesn’t take Edward R. Murrow to find a red flag there.

“To me, it is a methodologically questionable procedure to start the squirrel monkeys on cocaine and then move them to THC,” explained Dr. Lester Grinspoon, emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “They may be dealing with the effects of the monkey’s involvement with cocaine. It certainly complicates what they say happened.”

Indeed.

“NIDA’s scientists have been trying for years to get lab animals to press bars for THC, without success,” said Steve Kubby, 1998 Libertarian California gubernatorial candidate and national director of the American Medical Marijuana Association, “until now. The trick, as described in the NIDA paper, is to addict the animals first to cocaine. Once the animals have been trained to press a bar for cocaine, the cocaine was removed and substituted by THC.”

Applying this to humans, I suppose that if you’re a coke fan, marijuana might work well if that’s all you can get. But since that’s about all this study really means, it’d be nice if NIDA and the press would stop monkeying around with the truth.

Barry, we hardly knew ye
Finally, on a sad note (cue mournful violins here), Gen. Barry McCaffrey, our nation’s beloved drug czar, is turning in his locker key Jan. 6, 2001. Hold back the tears, folks.

“I’m enormously proud of what we’ve done,” said McCaffrey. “We had exploding rates of adolescent drug use, and we’ve reduced it.”

Reduced it? Let’s try being serious for a moment. “Despite McCaffrey’s repeated claims that ‘we are winning’ the fight,” Arianna Huffington rebuffed in a recent column, “the use of illegal drugs by junior high kids has increased by 300 percent; it’s easier than ever for high school students to get drugs; drug prices are at an all-time low, and drug purity is climbing.”

Sure, we’re winning the war on drugs the same way we won Alcohol Prohibition and Vietnam. If that’s winning, I’d sure hate to see what losing looks like.

Though McCaffrey told former New York Times columnist Abe Rosenthal in a 1996 interview that “I’ve gone a long time in life not getting killed in combat because I pay attention to details,” the toker’s Torquemada apparently wasn’t able to carry that trait to his new duties. For all of his wonderful ability to scope the jots and tittles, McCaffrey has missed one terribly important detail about the drug war: The only thing being reduced in this country is liberty.

Sans any Gorish exaggeration, because of the drug war:

Barry, we hardly knew ye, it’s true. But we knew you well enough. We’ll sure miss you; it’s been a real displeasure.


Recent “Straight dope” columns:


“Vandalizing the 4th Amendment”


“Lookout for Big Narc”



Joel Miller’s entire drug war archive