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A crowd of about 60 gathered last Friday, June 17 at Pioneer Park in Mission Hills to call for a massive overhaul of United States drug policy. The rally was timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s declaration of a "War on Drugs" and was one of many held concurrently in 15 states across the country, including seven California demonstrations.

Groups represented with literature and speakers included Students for Sensible Drug Policy, A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing), Moms United to End the War on Drugs, Broken No More, and FACTS (Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes). Former California Assemblyperson Lori Saldaña asserted that “We can no longer afford a War on Drugs,” in a speech that cited prison overcrowding and the cost of incarceration.

After a number of speeches concerning all aspects of drug law from medical marijuana to methamphetamines, the effects of three-strikes sentencing and the proclivity of addicts to gravitate toward criminal careers when directed into prisons instead of treatment programs, the crowd marched down Washington. Many carried signs bearing messages such as “No More Drug War,” and “Health Care for 6 Million or 1 Drug War?” They were later to retire back to the park to hold a candlelight vigil in support of anyone negatively impacted by the War on Drugs.

Editor's note: this post was updated on June 22, 2011, at 11:26 a.m. to clarify remarks by Lori Saldaña.

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seabourne June 19, 2011 @ 9:58 p.m.

Tell your Congressional Representatives - It is time to "Change the Schedule of Cannabis, Cannabis Laws, and Drug Czar Laws"

Read and Sign the petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/change-the-schedule-of-cannabis-cannabis-laws-and-drug-czar-laws

After you sign the petition, email your friendlies, share on facebook, or twitter from the petition page. If you have a website grab the widget so your visitors can sign it without leaving your website.

This petition uses laws passed by Congress to point out that by their laws, the laws must change.

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malcolmkyle June 20, 2011 @ 11:46 a.m.

If you are a Prohibitionist then you owe us answers to the following questions:

1. Why do you rejoice at the fact that we have all been stripped of our 4th amendment rights and are now totally subordinate to a corporatized, despotic government with a heavily armed and corrupt, militarized police force whose often deadly intrusions into our homes and lives are condoned by an equally corrupt and spineless judiciary?

2. Why do you wish to continue to spend $50 billion a year to prosecute and cage your fellow citizens for choosing drugs which are not more dangerous than those of which you yourself use and approve of such as alcohol and tobacco?

3. Do you honestly expect the rest of us to look on passively while you waste another trillion dollars on this ruinously expensive garbage policy?

4. Why are your waging war on your own family, friends and neighbors?

5. Why are you so complacent with the fact that our once 'free & proud' nation now has the largest percentage of it's citizenry incarcerated than any other on the entire planet?

6. Why are you helping to fuel a budget crisis to the point of closing hospitals, schools and libraries?

7. Why do you rejoice at wasting precious resources on prohibition related undercover work while rapists and murderers walk free, while additionally, many cases involving murder and rape do not even get taken to trial because law enforcement priorities are subverted by your beloved failed and dangerous policy?

8. Why are you such a supporter of the 'prison industrial complex' to the extent of endangering our own children?

9. Will you graciously applaud, when due to your own incipient and authoritarian approach, even your own child is caged and raped?

  • It is estimated that there are over 300,000 instances of prison rape a year.
 196,000 are estimated to happen to men in prison.
 123,000 are estimated to happen to men in county jail.
 40,000 are estimated to be committed against boys in either adult prisons or while in juvenile facilities or lock ups.
 5000 women are estimated to be raped in prison.

http://www.loompanics.com/Articles/RapeInPrison.html

10. And will you also applaud when your own child, due to an unnecessary and counter productive felony conviction, can no longer find employment?

Private prisons are publicly traded and their stock value is tied to the number of inmates. Here's what the UK Economist Magazine thinks of the situation: "Never in the civilised world have so many been locked up for so little" http://www.economist.com/node/16636027

According to Paul Craig Roberts, a former editor of the Wall Street Journal and former assistant secretary to the treasury under Ronald Reagan, "Police in the US now rival criminals, and exceed terrorists as the greatest threat to the American public."

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Radical Uterus June 20, 2011 @ 9:03 p.m.

I don't see a single prohibitionist taking your challenge. Hmmm. Could be the insanity is too large to ignore. Could be that by virtue of overwhelming numbers people are fed up with government working against the governed.

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Visduh June 22, 2011 @ 7:51 a.m.

While I don't know much about her voting record, I was still quite surprised to learn that Lori Saldana supported outright repeal of current drug laws and an end to enforcement. Maybe she's concluded that her elective political career is over. What she said will be quoted if she ever tries for office again, and it might be noted that her sentiments don't sell well with the SD County electorate.

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dregstudios June 22, 2011 @ 2:22 p.m.

The War on Drugs failed $1 Trillion ago! This money could have been used for outreach programs to clean up the bad end of drug abuse by providing free HIV testing, free rehab, and clean needles. Harmless drugs like marijuana could be legalized to help boost our damaged economy. Cannabis can provide hemp for countless natural recourses and the tax revenue from sales alone would pull every state in our country out of the red! Vote Teapot, PASS IT, and legalize it. Voice you opinion with the movement and read more on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/01/vote-teapot-2011.html

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Richard_Rider June 22, 2011 @ 4:45 p.m.

           Richard Rider's Thoughts on Drug Legalization
                           Revised 12/1/2009

Some people feel that the solution to the drug problem is to become like Iran and other totalitarian countries -- crack down hard on drugs (and porn and deviant sex habits and on and on). Institute a death penalty for users and sellers, and repeal the Bill of Rights where drug violations might be involved.

Perhaps they are partially right -- kill a few hundred thousand people, institute a police state, and perhaps we can significantly reduce drug use in our society. But the country will not be the America that our Founding Fathers envisioned in 1776.

Furthermore, I doubt that we can put the genie back in the bottle -- drugs are here as we have far too many users out there already. Malaysia has the drug death penalty and still has over 300,000 addicts getting their product. After all, if we can't keep drugs out of our prisons, how do we ever plan to keep drugs out of the whole country?

But even if it would work, I would oppose such an approach. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, those who are willing to sacrifice freedom for security will end up with neither.

As a parent of boys who grew up in today’s society, I had the same concerns that all thinking parents have for their children and the temptation of drugs. I know that my children have been approached by drug dealers in school. But I also know that no one sidled up to my kids and tried to get them to buy a pack of Marlboros, or a fifth of Jack Daniels. Why? Because there is no excess profit in dealing in legal drugs, even though they are illegal for minors to use.

The key to understanding the drug problem is to realize that the huge profits (a 12,000% markup in cocaine, for example) are the direct result of prohibition. Most of the problems we ascribe to the “drug problem" are really the problem of drug prohibition. A $1 a day drug habit becomes under prohibition a $100 a day habit, and crime will inevitably result on both the buyers' and sellers' part. (continued)

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Richard_Rider June 22, 2011 @ 4:46 p.m.

(continued - part 2)

There are only three ways most drug addicts can afford to pay the high prices of illegal drugs:

  1. You can sell your body. The major cause of prostitution -- male and female, teenage and adult -- is drug addiction.

  2. You can steal from others. When I debated County Supervisor George Bailey on the Roger Hedgecock radio show (about the jail sales tax), Mr. Bailey insisted that the county’s studies found that 80% of all property crime (mugging, robbery, burglary and car theft) in San Diego is committed by drug addicts trying to get money for drugs. The lowest figure mentioned by law enforcement agencies is 40%, and 60% is normal for urban areas.

  3. This third method is perhaps the most harmful of all -- become a member of a perverse version of a multilevel drug marketing system. Become a dealer, sell to your friends and expand the drug problem.

We should end this madness. Let's legalize drugs and eliminate such problems. We will still have the very real medical and social problem of drug abuse. Utopia is not an option. But look at the benefits of drug legalization:

  1. Drastically reduce property crime (burglaries, auto thefts, muggings and commercial robberies). Estimates start at 40%.

  2. Greatly reduce the corruption of our law enforcement people.

  3. Relieve our overburdened court system.

  4. Relieve the overcrowding in our jails. Our country now provides the highest per capita incarceration of any country in the world, passing the 2,000,000 prisoner level in early 2000. And California has the highest per capita incarceration rate of any state (plus by far the highest annual prisoner cost of any state).

  5. End the routine drug shootings of dealers and bystanders over turf wars and drug deal rip-offs. You don't see 7-11 owners shooting it out with AM/PM shareholders over who gets to sell alcohol at an intersection.

  6. Destroy the multilevel marketing scheme that fills our schools and playgrounds with children selling drugs.

  7. Destroy the power of the hoodlum gangs and drug lords.

  8. Reduce the desperate acts of prostitution to acquire overpriced drugs.

  9. Greatly reduce the overdoses from ingesting unknown purities cut with unknown materials. An estimated 80% of the nation’s 3,500 annual illegal drug “overdose” deaths are caused by these two factors.

  10. Reduce the spread of AIDS and other diseases from sharing scarce prohibited needles.

(continued)

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Richard_Rider June 22, 2011 @ 4:48 p.m.

(continued - part 3)

  1. Return to a respect for the Bill of Rights with its support for the 2nd Amendment, due process and privacy in one’s personal life. Gun owners are starting to understand that perhaps the greatest danger to their right to keep and bear arms is the hysteria connected with the drug war.

  2. End government's Big Brother monitoring of our e-mails, our cell phones, our travels and our financial transactions under the guise of seeking “drug money."

  3. Reduce our international balance of payments problem.

  4. End the onerous action of asset forfeiture -- the confiscation of property from suspected drug users and dealers (i.e. minorities with a lot of cash) without even charging them with a crime, let alone convicting them.

  5. End our inadvertent funding of the communist and terrorist movements around the world, and especially in Latin America (our drug money is used to buy protection for the drug lords and farmers in South America).

  6. End our meddling in other countries' affairs in our vain attempt to curtail drug imports to the U.S. Significant savings to future military budgets should result, not to mention avoiding casualties from such conflicts and the increasing risk of a nuclear, biological or chemical warfare reprisal against our cities.

  7. Allow companies to design safer, less potent drugs. Note the drop in potency in the “legal” harmful drugs -- alcohol and tobacco. Illegal drugs, however, become even more potent since a more compact product is easier to smuggle and carries no greater penalty if caught.

  8. Stop persecuting people for private actions that, while they may harm themselves, do not directly harm others.

Understand, with this freedom will come increased responsibility for one's actions. We libertarians come down hard on drunk drivers and others who first harm others and then claim diminished capacity. No “Twinkie defense” would be allowed. One would face both criminal penalties and restitution responsibilities if one harmed others. --30--

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BusGreg June 26, 2011 @ 3:11 p.m.

All well put, but you forgot something. There are people who are gainfully employed and purchase their drugs with earned money. I am one of those. My body is to old to sell, I don't need to steal, nor am I a dealer. To categorically lump drug users in the three categories you mentioned and completely ignoring the fact that there are millions of functioning, responsible drug users reeks more of the old and tried. While you stated your case eloquently, I prefer to reason with liberal Democrats, rather than succumbing to the laisez faire approach of the Libertarian party. I have yet to see a sensible approach from Libertarians to any of our other problems the nation faces, such as tax give-aways to the rich ad multi-national corporations, strengthening the social safety net, universal health care and the rest of the needs we as a nation have. I am a legal cannabis user here in California, but I am not a single issue voter. Ending the phony war on some drugs is about the only issue where I can agree with the position of the Libertarian Party. When it comes to Social Security, Medicare, MediCal / Medicaid, the Department of Education, the EPA, Tax policy and renewable energy, the Libertarians fail as miserably as the Republicans or the TEA party. (Theological Extremist Activists)

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Visduh June 22, 2011 @ 7:26 p.m.

Ryder's well-reasoned and well-stated opposition to the current situation was a breath of fresh air. Too often the opponents of current laws and enforcement engage in bombast and hyperbole that actually works against their beliefs.

"War" is a term that should never be used loosely, lightly, or to excess. If we have been, indeed, in a war on drugs for forty years, we are suffering. Wars are imperfect, wasteful, and costly. Moreover, they can lead to many unanticipated things once started. Forty years of this "war" without final victory suggests the need for reassessment. If I was unaware that this "war" had been going on for forty years, forgive me. Forty years ago, I had just returned from a real shooting war, and must have missed the declaration. But in the interim, we had other wars, including one on inflation. None of them ever seemed to result in a clear-cut victory. Let's stop declaring war until we know what that means.

An arch-conservative, the late William F. Buckley, Jr., was a persistent opponent of drug prohibition. Anyone who opposes the current situation should look at his reasoning, which was always of the highest caliber. It was not that Buckley thought that drugs were a good thing; quite the opposite. He detested them and their effect upon society. He just opposed the prohibition, believing that it could not work. Strange bedfellows, eh?

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malcolmkyle June 23, 2011 @ 7:15 a.m.

Some simple facts:

  • A rather large majority of people will always feel the need to use drugs, such as heroin, opium, nicotine, amphetamines, alcohol, sugar, or caffeine.

  • Due to Prohibition, the availability of mind-altering drugs has become so universal and unfettered, that in any city of the civilized world, any one of us would be able to procure practically any drug we wish within an hour.

  • The massive majority of people who use drugs do so recreationally - getting high at the weekend then up for work on a Monday morning.

  • A small minority of people will always experience drug use as problematic.

  • Throughout history, the prohibition of any mind-altering substance has always exploded usage rates, overcrowded jails, fueled organized crime, created rampant corruption of law-enforcement, even whole governments, and induced an incalculable amount of suffering and death.

  • It's not even possible to keep drugs out of prisons, but prohibitionists wish to waste hundreds of billions of our money in an utterly futile attempt to keep them off our streets.

  • Prohibition kills more people and ruins more lives than the prohibited drugs have ever done.

  • The United States jails a larger percentage of it's own citizens than any other country in the world, including those run by the worst totalitarian regimes.

  • The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule it.

  • H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) American editor, essayist and philologist.

  • In 'the land formally known as free', all citizens have been stripped of their 4th amendment rights and are now totally subordinate to a corporatized, despotic government with a heavily armed and corrupt, militarized police force whose often deadly intrusions into their homes and lives are condoned by an equally corrupt and spineless judiciary.

  • As with torture, prohibition is a grievous crime against humanity. If you support it, or even simply tolerate it by looking the other way while others commit it, you are an accessory to a very serious moral transgression against humanity.

  • America re-legalized certain drug use in 1933. The drug was alcohol, and the 21st amendment re-legalized its production, distribution and sale. Both alcohol consumption and violent crime dropped immediately as a result, and, very soon after, the American economy climbed out of that same prohibition engendered abyss into which it had previously been pushed.

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Visduh June 25, 2011 @ 10:06 a.m.

This is the first time I've ever read a claim that the Great Depression was caused by prohibition, or that the end of federal prohibition brought about the recovery. Actually, the repeal of prohibition, the 21st Amendment, ended the federal and interstate prohibition of alcohol. To make the amendment palatable to states that still favored the ban, and there were several, it made it a state matter. (See Section 2 of the Amendment.) Many states took that power and turned alcohol into a revenue generator by taxing all such beverages whose alcohol content exceeded that of beer. One way to insure that all the booze consumed within the state had been taxed was for the state to hold a monopoly over all such sales, meaning that it physically handled all the product, and could attach tax stamps or seals to all the bottles. Many such arrangements continue to this day, such as in Idaho and Montana.

Other states kept the ban in place for many years, even decades. There was no universal agreement that the stuff should be legal, and many states still regulate the sale and consumption based on assumptions that ready, easy availability just leads to greater abuse.

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