Friday, August 16, 2013

121.2 - Good news: Holder blinks on "drug war"

Good news #2: Holder blinks on "drug war"

In a rather startling reversal and an implicit admission that the idiotic, decades-long so-called "War on Drugs" has been an abysmal failure, Attorney General Eric Holder has called for major changes to the nation's criminal justice system to scale back the harsh sentences given for certain drug-related crimes and rely more on drug treatment and community service programs. This includes changing Department policy such that what he called "low-level, nonviolent" drug users won't be charged with offenses that impose mandatory minimum sentences.

Adopting language long used by critics of mandatory minimum sentences, Holder said they "breed disrespect for the system. When applied indiscriminately, they do not serve public safety. They have had a disabling effect on communities. And they are ultimately counterproductive." Which is pretty much what critics have been saying for years.

There was, however, no immediate indication that the feds will stop their attacks on medical marijuana clinics, and in fact Holder completely avoided mentioning both the topic and the drug.

Even so, I can't help but wonder if the fact that 20 states and the District of Columbia now have legal medical marijuana laws, with three more states considering it, is forcing Holder's hand on those "low-level, nonviolent" users, especially since support for medical pot just went mainstream in a big way:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, says he had been wrong to ignore marijuana's medical potential and has changed his mind. Speaking of the potential benefits of the drug in aiding people suffering from several medical conditions - including seizures, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV - Gupta said "we have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that."

One of the things which he said changed his mind was discovering that in 1970, the Assistant Secretary of Health proposed that marijuana be classified as a schedule 1 substance, a category for those drugs with the highest potential for abuse, higher than cocaine, not because the government had evidence to show that level of risk but because it had no evidence about abuse. The decision was avowedly driven by ignorance, not by knowledge.

That's been the story of marijuana in general and medical marijuana in particular in this country since the days of Harry Anslinger - look him up. And while you're at it, look up the film "Reefer Madness." Looks like maybe, we just might, might, be starting to recover from those 70 years of lies and ignorance.


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