quote:NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton's Backward Logic on Legal Marijuana - The Atlantic
New York City’s Police Commissioner cites violence associated with the black market in pot as a reason against legalizing the drug.
Earlier this week, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton made a very confused statement about the increasingly popular movement to legalize marijuana. “Here in New York City,” he declared, “most of the violence we see, violence around drug trafficking, is involving marijuana. And I have to scratch my head as we see many states wanting to legalize marijuana, and liberalization of policies.”
As Jacob Sullum notes, “Bratton is presenting an argument for legalization as an argument against it … what Bratton views as a head-scratcher—that people would want to legalize a business tied to black-market violence—is actually a no-brainer.” Insofar as the marijuana trade is violent, it is because selling the drug is illegal. Prohibition gives rise to highly profitable conspiracies of criminals who vie for territory, using violence to best rivals who cannot turn to the law to defend themselves.
There may be costs to legalizing marijuana. Some people think that they outweigh the benefits. But there’s no question that legalizing marijuana would shift sale of the drug from criminals who sometimes engage in violence to businesses that almost never would. Legalization is the only effective way to eradicate such violence. How can one of America’s most successful police chiefs fail to understand that?
“I don't think it's a matter of stupidity,” a Reason commenter theorizes, trying to understand the logical fallacy. “It's a moral issue. Drugs are bad, so prohibition is good. Any violence resulting from drug prohibition is caused by the drugs, not prohibition, because drugs are bad. To question the premise that drugs are bad is to question his good intentions as a police chief. To say that the violence is caused by the laws that he enforces is a personal insult against his good intentions. So no, I don't think it is stupidity. It is the hell we live in thanks to that road paved with good intentions.”
That’s as charitable an explanation as any.
Fortunately, a majority of Americans have ceased to believe that fallacy, and several states are poised to ease or end anti-marijuana laws in 2016. It’s about time. Weed prohibition has made America more violent than it would otherwise be for decades. And it is immoral to lock human beings in cages for using marijuana. I have to scratch my head at law-enforcement leaders who want to keep it illegal.
quote:Rechter: coffeeshop bij school mag dicht - AT5: de nieuwszender van Amsterdam en omgeving
De gemeente wil met de sluiting het softdrugsgebruik onder jongeren ontmoedigen. Daarom moesten per 1 januari 2014 de eerste coffeeshops de deuren sluiten op schooldagen. Veertien eigenaren gingen tegen dit besluit in beroep, omdat ze meenden dat deze maatregel niet het beoogde effect heeft. Ze mochten namelijk al geen softdrugs verkopen aan minderjarigen. Bovendien vonden ze dat er te weinig tijd was om zich aan te passen aan de nieuwe openingstijden.
Volgens de rechtbank zijn de bevoegdheden van de gemeente op dit gebied heel ruim, omdat er sprake is van gedoogbeleid over de wettelijk nog altijd verboden verkoop van softdrugs. Bovendien zijn de coffeeshops ruim op tijd ge´nformeerd over het nieuwe zogenoemde afstandscriterium, oordeelt de rechtbank.
De gemeente wil dat op basis hiervan 26 zaken uiteindelijk de deuren sluiten. Hiertoe werden vier fases ingesteld, te beginnen met beperktere openingstijden. Hoewel het beroep van de coffeeshophouders in principe alleen over deze aangepaste tijden ging, meent de rechtbank dat de gemeente ook mag overgaan tot de uiteindelijke sluiting.
Inmiddels zijn elf coffeeshops dicht. De resterende hebben nog tot 1 januari de tijd, omdat de gemeente een uitspraak van de Hoge Raad over de landelijke invoering van de wietpas wil afwachten. Dit vonnis komt naar verwachting binnen enkele maanden, liet een woordvoerder van burgemeester Eberhard van der Laan weten.
Den Haag, Utrecht en Rotterdam gingen Amsterdam al voor met de invoering van het afstandscriterium voor de coffeeshops.
quote:UK is biggest online drug dealing country in Europe
While UK is second only to US in number of vendors who deal online, they average almost double the monthly transactions
The UK is home to more online drug dealers than any country in Europe, according to a new report that estimates the value of the monthly trade in drugs through darknet markets to be as much as ú16m a month globally.
British dealers generate more than 16% of the monthly global revenues – about ú1.8m – across the eight largest marketplaces, taking home an average of ú5,200 each, according to research commissioned by the Dutch government.
It found that three years after police in the US seized the Silk Road – the original online drugs marketplace – and arrested its founder, the numbers of drug deals taking place in successors to the site had tripled, revenues had doubled and six times as many product listings were available to buyers.
Researchers from Rand Europe, working in conjunction with academics from the UK and Canada, in January collected data on drug deals from the eight largest darknet markets, which are Amazon-type online marketplaces that can only be accessed with an encrypted connection.
They found that by far the most vendors operated from the US, which hosted 890 drug dealers, with the UK hosting 338. However, British dealers proved to be far busier, averaging almost double the number of transactions each over the month.
Germany and the Netherlands were joint third in the numbers of dealers, with 225 each, although Dutch vendors made fewer but, on average, larger transactions and operated in a far smaller jurisdiction.
The report says: “The Netherlands appears to have a substantial concentration of cryptomarket vendor activity (13.4 vendors per million population) in comparison to the United States (2.8 vendors per million population) and the United Kingdom (5.3 vendors per million population).”
The study found that cryptomarkets had grown substantially “but not explosively” since Silk Road’s takedown.
Despite the massive publicity that the darknet has received, its online markets still only attract a niche among drugs consumers. Its ú16m upper estimate of global drug revenues compares to an estimated monthly offline market for drugs of about ú1.7bn for Europe alone.
Stijn Hoorens, project leader for the team behind the report, said: “It could be explained by some of the challenges that these markets have faced over the years with ‘exit scams’, [which is] administrators who take their sites offline, saying for maintenance or something … in some cases they have just left with all bitcoins that were held in escrow. That has affected trust between the users of the cryptomarkets and the operators.”
However, the research also found evidence that darknet drugs sales may have a role in supplying offline drug markets, with dealers buying stock wholesale for distribution. A quarter of the drug sales were for listings worth more than $1,000 (ú768), the team found, suggesting that these shipments may have been bought for resale.
A further important finding of the study was that most sales and revenues were generated within continents, rather than from sales between far flung jurisdictions, Hoorens said.
“That was somewhat surprising to us, because it’s sometimes claimed that the internet facilitates global trade and I think we’ve shown that, at least thus far, that doesn’t seem to have been the case,” he said.
“It seems that the within North America revenues, within Oceania, and within Europe, revenues are much bigger than those between those continents. We can only speculate about why that is the case but I think if you look at the importance of cannabis still on cryptomarkets … that is often produced locally.”
Cannabis dominated the listings that the Rand team found online, making up 37% of listings across marketplaces, followed by stimulants at 29% of listings and ecstasy-type drugs at 19%. Those figures contrasted with European monitoring centre for drugs and drug addiction estimates for offline drugs sales, which put heroin at 28% of total sales and ecstasy at 3%.
The report says: “A possible explanation for these differences between ‘online’ and ‘offline’ markets may be that cryptomarket purchases typically require an element of planning, which may not suit the daily use of dependent users of, for instance, heroin.”
quote:D.E.A. Keeps Marijuana on List of Dangerous Drugs, Frustrating Advocates
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision on Thursday to not remove marijuana from the list of the nation’s most dangerous drugs outraged scientists, public officials and advocates who have argued that the federal government should recognize that marijuana is medically useful.
Reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 2 drug would have made it easier to get federal approval for studies of its uses and paved the way for doctors to eventually write prescriptions for marijuana-derived products that could be filled at pharmacies, like other Schedule 2 drugs such as Adderall, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Eight Democratic legislators had urged the D.E.A. to reclassify marijuana to a Schedule 2 drug. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts voiced her disappointment with the decision on Twitter. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said in a statement, “It shouldn’t take an act of Congress for the D.E.A. to get past antiquated ideology and make this change.”
Yet in a separate policy proposal also issued on Thursday, the agency handed researchers and advocates a victory in removing a significant roadblock to medical studies of marijuana. The D.E.A. said it will allow universities and even private companies to apply to grow marijuana for scientific research. For many years, the University of Mississippi has had a monopoly on that role as the sole D.E.A.-approved provider of marijuana, and researchers have long complained that the supply of the drug was grossly inadequate, stymying efforts to establish whether marijuana is an effective treatment for many diseases.
Chuck Rosenberg, the acting head of the D.E.A., wrote in the decision that marijuana would remain a Schedule 1 drug because “it has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.” He said these criteria are set out in the Controlled Substances Act, which mandates scheduling decisions based on scientific data.
“Research is the bedrock of science,” he wrote, “and we will — as we have for many years — support and promote legitimate research regarding marijuana and its constituent parts.”
The District of Columbia and 25 states now allow the use of marijuana for a wide variety of medical conditions. The scientific evidence of its effectiveness is thin to nonexistent for many illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis, Tourette’s syndrome and lupus. Reputable studies have shown it can relieve nausea, improve appetite and ease painful spasms.
But there is no drug derived from marijuana that has yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
quote:Cops call for moratorium on new marijuana laws after blizzard of legislation | Colorado Springs Gazette, News
Colorado law enforcement agencies say ever-changing marijuana regulations have them overwhelmed.
They're asking the state for a reprieve.
In May, heads of Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, the County Sheriffs of Colorado and Colorado District Attorneys' Council wrote a letter to the "Members of Legislative Leadership" seeking a two-year moratorium on new marijuana regulations in order to bring all officers into compliance with enforcement expectations.
Officers "cannot keep up with the quantity and speed of constantly changing marijuana laws," their letter said, noting 81 bills have been introduced in the last four years.
Rapid-fire legislation has created what Greenwood Village Police Chief John Jackson, a member of CACP, calls a "cavernous void" between what the state is proposing and the affect it has on the people charged with enforcing those laws.
"There's no cartilage between the bones here," Jackson said. "The legislature is completely responsible for that."
"If legislature keeps slamming out all these bills, they're going to keep law enforcement lost," Jackson said. Some agencies are turning away from training until things "settle down" he said.
He fears the goal may be to cause such "marijuana fatigue" that agencies won't aggressively enforce the laws. And if that's the goal, "that's where we are," Jackson said.
In many cases, those who are loudly cracking down on illegal marijuana activity are criticized, Jackson said, citing Pueblo County Sheriff's Office as an example.
The office has busted about 40 illegal marijuana grows since March, some of which have led to federal indictments. But other agencies are not following their lead.
In a community meeting this week to inform citizens about recent marijuana laws, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder said he was unaware of Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers' promise of "hundreds" of marijuana busts this summer.
Still, the county is conducting them, and working with the Drug Enforcement Administration to do it, Elder said. In fact, "There's thousands of plants being seized, there's hundreds of thousands of grams of refined marijuana seeds," being removed from the market, he said. But "we're not disclosing a total number of busts."
"We're working the problem but we're working at a risk-averse position," Elder said.
With such murky laws, the county fears lawsuits from marijuana growers, according to Elder and his sergeant, Emory "Ray" Gerhart.
Gerhart explained it this way: If authorities seize plants during an arrest but charges are later dropped, there's no property to return to the grower, which exposes police to lawsuits.
"If I come into your house and I take your plants, we're not going to take care of it," Gerhart said. "We're not going to put them in a greenhouse and put them in lights and water."
So far, Pueblo offenders are accepting plea deals, Gerhart said, meaning they don't get their plants returned, but "sooner or later, somebody is going to take that to trial and make some interesting case laws."
"At some point, people are going to get fed up with it (Amendment 64). I'm fed up with it. I'm not fed up with it to the point that I'm willing to risk millions of dollars in lawsuits over marijuana plants," Elder said.
Jackson said those fears could be quelled by better training and an assigned "marijuana expert" to keep local governments up-to-date on new laws, but that requires "involvement and leadership" from the state.
"Anytime you make all these little changes, how do you train 15,000 peace officers," Jackson asked.
Communities are also suffering under the changes, the letter from police organizations said.
Illegal home grows are popping up in neighborhoods across Colorado, officials said. Growers are altering homes, burdening electrical systems, polluting the septic system and smuggling drugs out of state, they said.
Recognizing those issues, Colorado Springs Fire Marshal Brett Lacey recently asked city council to consider stricter regulations on residential home grows to help prevent illegal activity and give the city teeth to prosecute when needed.
The letter also cites concerns about the potency of edibles leading to overconsumption and hospitalizations. That fear is not off the mark.
A study published last week in the online medical journal JAMA Pediatrics found there has been an increase of young kids making emergency room visits after accidentally consuming marijuana. Colorado laws on labeling and child-resistant packaging aren't working as well as advertised, a Denver Post analysis of that study found.
A solution has not yet been offered.
"Doctors who continue to dole out irresponsible extended plant counts" also made law enforcement's list of concerns in their letter. But state officials have started addressing that.
Four Colorado physicians, including one in Colorado Springs, had their licenses suspended this month after the Colorado Medical Board said they wrongfully allowed hundreds of people to grow extra medical marijuana plants. One doctor authorized at least 400 people to grow 75 or more marijuana plants from Jan. 1 to June 12, the Medical Board's suspension order said.
A judge has since blocked those suspensions, allowing the doctors to practice medicine, but a hold on their marijuana prescriptions remains in place.
Problems will only continue to build as everyone tries to make sense of the laws, Jackson said. A moratorium new laws, at the very least, will give people a chance to catch up, he said.
Though the group's letter hasn't received a response, Jackson said they plan to push it again in December, ahead of the start of the next legislative session.
"We're asking the legislature to slow this train down so we can understand it," Jackson said. "This is not an effort to repeal (Amendment 64), we're trying to make this work."
quote:Barack Obama's Daughter Malia Caught Smoking
Washington: Malia Obama, the elder daughter of US President Barack Obama, has been spotted smoking what some suspect to be a cannabis joint.
The 18-year-old, who is set to attend Harvard next year, was at the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago, Illinois, where a nine-second video published by Radar Online, apparently captured her smoking, is doing the rounds on internet and has evoked mixed reactions from public.
The website claimed an eyewitness smelled cannabis in the air, the Telegraph reported.
Cannabis is decriminalised in the state of Illinois and people are allowed to possess up to 10 grams of the drug.
The first daughter missed Hillary Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention last month to go to Lollapalooza.
Previous video had emerged of her "twerking" at the festival.
Her father had previously admitted smoking cannabis as a youth and he was part of a group of friends known as the "choom gang" in Hawaii.
Malia is currently on a gap year before going to Harvard in the autumn of 2017.
At the Democratic Convention, her mother Michelle Obama spoke movingly about her effort to give Malia and younger sister Sasha a normal life.
Sasha Obama, 15, has undertaken a summer job in a fish restaurant in Martha's Vineyard.
quote:Effective Immediately: Illinois Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession
By Brandon Turbeville
Illinois is now the most recent state to show signs that it is beginning to move in the direction of more sensible and responsible drug laws, particularly when it comes to marijuana.
This is because Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation last week which makes Illinois the third largest state in the country to decriminalize minor marijuana offenses. The new law makes having 10 grams or less of marijuana a civil offense as opposed to a criminal one. Thus, the penalty for possession of over 10 grams will be a fine of up to 200 dollars.
The law also sets an official standard for what will be considered too impaired to drive. Previously, any trace amount of marijuana at all was considered impaired, an obviously oppressive and illogical standard since marijuana can remain in a person’s system for several weeks. The new law creates a standard of 5 nanograms of THC in the driver’s blood within two hours of consumption.
The governor had been expected to sign the bill despite the fact that he vetoed a similar piece of legislation last year. At the time of his veto, Rauner said that existing penalties for small marijuana offenses were too harsh and that “criminal prosecution of cannabis possession is also a drain on public resources.” We proudly welcome Governor Rauner to the 21st century.
Laimutis Nargelenas, Springfield Park Police Chief, and former lobbyist for the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, is very concerned. “You’re giving individuals more opportunities for drug usage,” said Nargelenas.
At this point, we would like to make a joke about welcoming Nargelenas to the 18th century, but, interestingly enough, the people of that century had more much more rational views on marijuana than he does. Instead, we will allow Nargelenas to remain in the Twilight Zone where marijuana is dangerous, Prozac is safe and police who are scarcely indistinguishable from the military is a sign that everything is okay.
Many others in the state have praised Rauner’s action, most likely tired of seeing non-violent people having their lives ruined, thrown into cages and otherwise being brutalized – not by the plant they were arrested for – but by the people who are allegedly protecting them from it.
The new Illinois bill will also require municipalities to purge citation records of marijuana possession every six months although it does allow local governments to opt out of this clause. The bill goes into effect immediately.
quote:President Filipijnen dreigt met vertrek uit VN | NOS
De president van de Filipijnen, Rodrigo Duterte, zegt dat zijn land zich misschien uit de VN terugtrekt vanwege de aanhoudende kritiek op de strijd tegen drugs in zijn land. Hij zal dan China en Afrikaanse landen uitnodigen om een een nieuwe organisatie van landen te vormen.
De verklaring volgt op de oproep van twee mensenrechtenexperts van de VN aan de regering in Manilla om een eind te maken aan de executies door doodseskaders van mensen die van drugshandel worden verdacht.
Duterte ontkent dat de regering of de politie daarvoor verantwoordelijk is en zegt dat de experts welkom zijn als ze daar onderzoek naar willen doen. "Ik zal aantonen dat jullie hele stomme experts zijn", zei hij.
Duterte vindt dat de VN zich niet moet druk maken over "lijken van criminelen die zich opstapelen". De volkerenorganisatie kan zich in zijn ogen beter druk maken over zijn eigen falen bij de bestrijding van honger, terrorisme en oorlog. "Weet je, VN, als jullie ÚÚn slecht ding over mij kunnen zeggen, kan ik daar tien slechte dingen over jullie tegenover stellen."
Duterte werd in juli president. Hij won de verkiezingen met de belofte dat hij drugscriminelen eigenhandig zou doden. Sinds zijn aantreden zijn zo'n duizend mensen vermoord. Sommigen hadden een kartonnen bordje om hun nek met de woorden 'ik ben een dealer'.
Onschuldig tenzij bewezen wordt dat je schuldig bent, dat kennen ze niet op de Filipijnen.quote:Filipijnse president op dreef: duizend dode 'drugsdealers' | NOS
"Het zijn duizend dode drugsdealers, waar maken ze zich druk om?" President Rodrigo Duterte van de Filipijnen is de internationale bemoeienis over het optreden van doodseskaders in zijn land zat. "Laat de politie haar plicht doen."
Duterte is amper twee maanden aan de macht en sindsdien worden vrijwel elke ochtend dode 'drugsdealers' gevonden op straat. Soms hebben de doden een boodschap om hun nek, zoals een kartonnen bordje met de woorden 'ik ben een dealer'.
Een deel van hen is geliquideerd door doodseskaders: gemaskerde, gewapende mannen die 's nachts met een lijst op pad worden gestuurd.
"Niemand weet wie ze zijn", vertelt NOS-correspondent Michel Maas. "Waarschijnlijk zijn het agenten die 'een beetje overwerken' in hun vrije tijd." Ze werken een dodenlijst af die is opgesteld door de politie. Samen met buurthoofden wordt een overzicht gemaakt van wie er verdacht wordt van drugscriminaliteit.
"Als je daarop staat, ben je je leven niet meer zeker", zegt Maas. De verdachten worden dag en nacht in de gaten gehouden. Ze worden weggelokt met een smoes en gedood met messen of pistolen.
"Er zijn moeders die op deze manier al hun zoons hebben verloren. Zonder dat ze ook maar eens kans hebben gehad om hun onschuld te bewijzen", zegt Maas.
Naar schatting zijn inmiddels duizend mensen omgebracht die gelinkt waren aan drugshandel. Maas: "Ook drugsgebruikers, arme sloebers die juist hulp nodig hebben. Mensen uit de krottenwijken die alleen kunnen vluchten in de drugs."
Het land met 100 miljoen inwoners kampt al jaren met armoede en corruptie. Daardoor is de drugsproblematiek groot. De dealers en handelaren zijn een plaag voor de Filipijnse bevolking. Dat verklaart ook de grote populariteit van de hardliner Duterte.
"Hij schopt alle heilige huisjes omver en stopt nergens voor. Dat vindt de bevolking geweldig", zegt Maas. "Ze zien dat Duterte meent wat hij zegt en corruptie en drugsproblemen keihard aanpakt."
Duterte had van tevoren een bikkelharde strijd beloofd tegen drugscriminelen. "Klootzakken, ik vermoord jullie", zei hij op tv tegen hen. "Als verdachten zich verzetten, schiet ze dan dood en je krijgt een medaille."
De keiharde aanpak komt Duterte op felle kritiek te staan. Mensenrechtenorganisaties en de Verenigde Naties veroordelen de liquidaties. Studenten protesteren en ook de katholieke kerk veroordeelt de bloedige drugsoorlog.
"Veranderen we nu van een land van drugsgebruikers tot een natie van moordenaars", vroeg een invloedrijke Filipijnse bisschop zich op Twitter af.
Het bloedvergieten heeft ook overvolle gevangenissen tot gevolg. Sinds de doodseskaders in actie komen, hebben zich bij de politie ruim 125.000 mensen gemeld: allemaal verdachten van drugsdelicten die bang zijn om te sterven.
"De gevangenissen zijn zo vol, dat ze zakkenrollers vrijlaten om plaats te maken voor dealers", zegt Maas. Er zijn gevangenissen met plek voor 800 man waar nu 4000 mensen vastzitten. "Elke hal ligt 's avonds vol met slapende gevangenen."
Toch is de steun voor de Filipijnse president stabiel gebleven. "De meeste Filipijnen hopen dat Duterte blijft volhouden. Dan komt een einde aan corruptie, hopen ze."
Duterte heeft lijsten openbaar gemaakt met daarop politici, generaals en hoge ambtenaren die verdacht zijn van corruptie of medeplichtigheid aan drugshandel. "Hij heeft eerder al gezegd: als het hele parlement tegen me is, dan hef ik het op."
Lol, waarom moest het biljet van 500Ą ook alweer verdwijnen, omdat het zo in trek was bij de drughandelaars?quote:
quote:21 August 2016 Last updated at 09:23 BST
Mawaan Rizwan was brought up in a religious family but is no longer practising and feels detached from spirituality.
He visits the Oklevueha Native American Church in Salt Lake City in Utah, America, where people take the Class A drug peyote in the hope of finding religious enlightenment. A powerful hallucinogen, its active ingredient mescaline puts peyote in the same category as heroin. Its effects are like that of LSD. Taking it could put someone at risk if they or a member of their family have suffered from psychosis in the past.
People have been known to harm themselves while under the effects of hallucinogens.
The "medicine man" James Flaming Eagle Mooney and Ohio-based believer Richard say taking traditional medicines like peyote connect them to a higher power.
A sceptical but curious Mawaan joined them on one of their ceremonial retreats in the mountains.
quote:British Police Officers Reveal What They Really Think About the War on Drugs | VICE | United Kingdom
Good Cop, Bad War is the story of an undercover police officer, Neil Woods, who spent over a decade infiltrating Britain's biggest drug gangs. The book, released last week, provides a unique insight into a world of mind games and violence, where the drug trade acts as a production line for the creation of ruthless gangsters. Ultimately, his experiences led Woods to reject the way drugs are policed in the UK.
"The logic of the drugs war only leads one way: the police get smarter, so the criminals get nastier; things can only ever go from bad to worse, from savagery to savagery," says Woods. Now, after having left the force, he is chairman of LEAP UK (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), a pro-drug legalisation activist group consisting of ex-law enforcement officials.
But to what extent are Woods and his colleagues at LEAP UK – and those currently employed in the police force – rare specimens? How thin on the ground are drug cops who think they are fighting the wrong fight? Expressing sympathy for anything other than hardline prohibition – even to their colleagues – is something of a risk in the black and white, "them and us" world of police culture.
Even so, every now and then drug cops open up about the realities of clearing the streets of dealers and drugs.
I spoke to Mike Fisher*, a senior drugs investigator for Britain's organised crime busting bureau, the National Crime Agency (NCA). He asked for his name to be changed to avoid disciplinary action, as his views will definitely not be found anywhere near the pages of the NCA's annual report.
"If the NCA stopped targeting drug gangs, it would change nothing," he explained. "You would see little change in the high street. Society would not collapse. As it is, drugs are freely available now. All that would happen is that dealing would be more open. But it may give us more of a chance to deal with crimes such as homicide."
On the surface, it's a counter-intuitive line to take for a senior officer working within an agency for which the drug trade is a key target.
"Law enforcement against drugs is completely ineffective and has been since the Misuse of Drugs Act came into force in 1971," says Fisher. "The idea of the state protecting you from yourself just doesn't work. We've spent billions of pounds trying to prohibit drugs, but there's less chance of it working than Canute stopping the waves.
Fisher tells me that arresting people on the streets for drugs is an endless cycle, and that it's the same with the larger fish. "Whenever we remove a big guy, someone else – usually a lieutenant – replaces him within days. The more we try, the harder it gets: increased enforcement keeps these people looking over their shoulder; they become more covert about their activity, and that makes our job harder."
Fisher's solution is to take the Portugal route: decriminalise personal use of all drugs, from cannabis to heroin, and look at legalising production and supply. "I believe consenting adults have a choice as to what they put in their bodies. It will also make it easier for heroin and crack users to get the help they need and free up police time to go out on patrol and deal with other crimes," he says. "Ideally, production should be wrested from organised criminals and managed by governments."
Surprisingly, he tells me around half of Britain's elite drug detectives at NCA have similar "liberal" attitudes to the drugs problem.
But what about those drug cops working below NCA level, in towns and cities across the UK? To gauge what they truly think about their daily task, you need to be a fly on the wall – so that's the exact position that University of Sheffield criminologist Dr Matthew Bacon took. He spent two years embedded with drug detectives in a town and a major city (the identities of which are secret) in the UK and wrote about his experiences in Taking Care of Business, published last month.
Most officers were anti-drugs and fully supported prohibition. Drugs were seen as being behind all that's bad in society. This gave them a "righteousness" in their actions, observed Bacon. But within this, recreational drug users, social dealers and nightclubs were far less of a crime problem than alcohol, a drug which few officers had a problem with.
It's perhaps not surprising, given the police's moral code, that most of the officers he hung around with viewed "junkies" as lazy, undeserving scumbags. In 2012, a former undercover officer who disguised himself as a heroin user-dealer, told me: "It made me realise how bad cops can be to drug addicts. I was abused, assaulted and threatened with being fitted up by having drugs planted on me on a regular basis."
To the anti-drug teams Bacon shadowed, heroin dealers were one of the most despised groups in society, so much so that they were seen as "police property" – objects that police could do with as they wished. "Almost without exception, dealers were depicted as deplorable and dangerous outlaws," says Bacon. "They were made the scapegoat of the drug problem."
Drug cops, who saw themselves as "elite crime fighters", had sufficient respect however for the the Mr Bigs of the drug world. They saw those who ran professional outfits and had families at home as worthy adversaries, and a "good collar" for which they would earn respect among their colleagues.
Despite all this, there was acceptance – often expressed by officers off-duty after a few pints – that they were not waging a "war on drugs", but managing an unbeatable problem in order to "keep the public happy".
One detective sergeant told Bacon: "Sometimes I think we're like those [Japanese] soldiers in World War Two – you know, those ones on the island who just kept fighting because they didn't know the war was over. Only difference is, we'd lost the war before we even started fighting." Another officer told him: "We've thrown everything at it, even the kitchen sink, but drug problems just keep getting worse. In the end, the drugs are still on the streets, no matter how many people we lock up."
There are rebellious notions even among the rank and file. When I went stop and searching in Soho with one of the Met Police's sniffer dog teams in 2013, I was surprised to hear from a regular beat officer and his colleague that they thought cannabis should be legalised entirely. "I say legalise the lot," one said. "Legalise it and tax it," said the other. "If someone wants to turn the sky green and the grass blue, then it's up to them. I can't see the difference between alcohol and cannabis. The official line is that drugs are under control, but they are not."
I call up Simon Kempton, a police sergeant from Dorset who has specialised in drug enforcement and sits on the National Board of the Police Federation, a body that represents rank and file officers. He agrees with Woods – that the drug trade houses the most violent people in the country – but believes prohibition is crucial to taking them out.
"I can't speak for everyone, but in my opinion drug policing is worthwhile, all day, every day," he says. "I get it: it can seem futile when we take out someone knocking out kilos of cocaine, [who's] replaced within two hours. But the reason it's worth doing is because the drug is not just about the drug trade: it's weapons, terrorism, people trafficking, money laundering; it straddles the spectrum of the most serious crimes, such as murder, kidnapping, serious assault – which all go hand in hand with the drug trade.
"We are taking out the worst people in our society. When they assault people it's not just a punch-up outside a pub; we are talking about sending a message through retribution and torture. These people have to protect their trade from others, so they use extreme levels of violence. You have to be the scariest, biggest person on the block, otherwise they will take your money from you.
"Undercover police officers would not take the huge risks infiltrating gangs if they did not think it was worthwhile. Undercover drug policing is not cheap, but it's very cost effective. It's rare to get a not guilty after undercover work because of all the evidence that's been gathered. Yes, people can feel demoralised that they've put themselves on the line, and then someone ends up getting just a coupe of years, but that's the way it is sometimes."
However, Sgt Kempton said that for rank and file officers, policing cannabis was another matter, and that many officers sympathised with the path taken by Durham Police in going easy on low-level cannabis offences: "With dwindling resources, forces are having to focus their limited numbers on areas which represent the greatest harms to wider society. While policing cannabis is still a legitimate action, I believe most officers and the public would support a focus on other areas of crime."
Over the years writing about the drug trade, I've met drug cops who have told me that their job is similar to that of the drug user or trafficker – a series of almost addictive drug bust "hits" that perpetuate the game. There are some who have crossed the line completely to become dependent drug users themselves, and others who are disgusted by the stigmatisation of drug users and even dealers.
One female drug cop I spoke to told me: "There are some pretty nasty pieces of work out there, but some of them are just ordinary people. Behind every user and runner, there's a story," she said. "A lot of people say drug addicts and drug dealers are scum of the earth, but they don't know anything about them."
Woods' book will open the public's eyes to the raw violence and canniness of the drug world, and the lengths police will go to in order to disrupt it. But after years fighting at the apex of the drug war, his conclusion – and that of other experienced officers who have chosen to speak out – must be heeded if we want to find a solution to a problem that has been trashing communities around the world for decades.
Het moet wel een hele ruime interpretatie zijn die je hanteert om drogeringsmiddelen samen te laten vallen met werk, seks of religieuze beleving. Degene die er niet aan onderdoorgaan maar het dus wel recreatief gebruik of faciliteren dragen bij aan het probleem en aan de verdere verbreiding ervan.quote:Op maandag 22 augustus 2016 23:19 schreef Papierversnipperaar het volgende:
Iedereen gebruikt drugs, legaal, illegaal, in de vorm van vloeistoffen of poeders, of in de vorm van gedrag zoals religie, werk of sex. De meeste mensen gaan er niet aan onderdoor. Die paar die wel problemen krijgen help je niet met een War on Drugs.
Het enige wat de War on Drugs doet is geweld en corruptie veroorzaken. Het lost geen enkel probleem op, kost wel bakken met geld.
In een discussie over drugs is een definitie van drugs noodzakelijk. En mijn definitie valt niet samen met de opiumwet.quote:
Na een definitie van drugs, is een juiste probleemstelling noodzakelijk.quote:In wat voor andere vorm zou je de aanpak dan kunnen gieten zonder te kiezen voor het passieve wegkijken voor de problemen die er zijn? En kom niet met legalisering aanzetten dan haal je het uit de illegaliteit maar dit is enkel symptoombestrijding. Wat is een andere aanpak tegen de verbreiding en verspreiding van de drugsproblematiek?
Waarom zijn juist de gevaarlijkste drugs legaal?quote:
quote:Here's Why Cannabis Plants Are Growing Wild All Over Britain's Cities - Reset.me
Courtesy of Feed The Birds.
on March 12, 2015
Cannabis plants have been spotted sprouting in public places up and down the UK, a country where the plant is categorized as a Class B drug and possession alone can lead to a five year prison sentence. The majestic herb can be found humbly sunning itself near some of the nation’s most iconic locations in central London, such as the BBC headquarters, Tower Bridge and The Shard.
Although cannabis can flourish naturally in Britain’s wet, mild climate, as it has done in the past, these seeds were sown with intent. In perhaps one of the most profound acts of resistance in the UK’s legalization movement, the activist group “Feed The Birds” is distributing cannabis seeds across the country as part of a grassroots campaign to draw attention to the ridiculousness of prohibition.
Feed The Birds was founded in early 2014 by a person using the online alias Finn Hemingway. Since the movement germinated, they have accumulated over 23,000 Facebook followers; among these numbers are an estimated 2000 “birders” who contribute to the cause with acts of clandestine, yet highly effective, resistance. Planting, cultivating and harvesting cannabis plants in the UK is highly illegal and could lead to 14 years of imprisonment.
However, as displayed in the name, this movement has discovered and exploited a loophole in the legal system to render what they do perfectly legal. As it appears on the streets, all these activists are doing is throwing seeds around — quite literally feeding the birds. Although the plant itself is illegal to posses, cannabis seeds are not; it is legal to posses, sell and purchase them within the boarders of the UK. As long as they are not intentionally sown and germinated, it is legal to utilize them in a manner of different ways: to eat as food, to bait fish and to feed birds.
Scattering cannabis seeds in a public place with the intention of offering nutritionally dense, mineral and omega fatty acid rich seeds to our feathered friends is not a crime. If said seeds are not detected by hungry birds or banqueting squirrels, they will most likely begin to germinate and grow. Thus, cannabis plants as large and mature as those pictured can flourish in public places without a single person being prosecuted, punished or imprisoned.
“We believe that seeds left to grow highlight the ineffectiveness of prohibition, partly because cannabis grows naturally in the UK and has done for thousands of years, and partly because we feel visual protests are powerful and evocative,” Hemingway told Reset.
Each plant stands as a visual message regarding the skewed and failed drug policies that prohibit the herb.
“Personally, I think cannabis is still illegal because British politicians do not want to be seen as having a ‘weak’ stance on drugs,” Hemingway said. “I would urge all politicians to use a scientific and an economic approach on drug law reform.”
Despite some fierce opposition to cannabis in the UK, many residents acknowledge the plant’s positives — medicinally and economically — and think penalties for its use, cultivation and possession are overly harsh. This becomes especially apparent in light of the U.S. states that have legalized adult use of the plant (there are four in total, plus Washington, D.C.). Since implementing legalization in 2013, Colorado has seen lowered domestic abuse and violent crime rates, and the state benefitted from a staggering $60 million in taxes and fees from cannabis sales in 2014. It has also become a mecca for families with epileptic children. They are migrating by the hundreds from all over the country to Colorado seeking a form of non-psychoactive, concentrated medical marijuana which has shown unprecedented success in mitigating seizures.
Cannabis clubs have sprung up in many towns and cities all over the UK in an attempt to organize collectives — consisting of bankers and barristers to farmers and teachers — to plan peaceful demonstrations, social media campaigns and “bird feeding” events.
When asked how cannabis clubs in the UK can be useful, Hemingway said they are an “important way of showing the authorities and the general population how cannabis clubs reduce harm and increase cannabis user safety.”
Feed The Birds is also spreading awareness about the highly sustainable industrial uses of hemp as well as the medicinal benefits of the plant. Modern science is revealing cannabis is a highly effective treatment for countless different ailments, ranging from cancer to chronic pain.
As well as cannabis seeds, Feed the Birds has given London — and England as a whole — a makeover in the form of message-laden stickers declaring the plants medicinal uses. The stickers are popping up in some eye catching places — like the police vehicle pictured below.
Hemingway said the organization plans to distribute “millions upon millions” of seeds throughout the UK in the coming months — just in time for the upcoming general election. As a suitably modified version of an age old saying goes… “resistance is fertile.”
quote:There’s this weird thing about the French debate. So, France is like the US and Britain in that basically, middle-class white people think drugs have already been effectively been decriminalised. And black people are…you speak to French people of African or Arab descent and they are just constantly harassed. France has the most extreme drug laws in western Europe. You can go to prison for five years for having a single joint, it’s extraordinary. And people do get picked up the whole time, constant harassment.
So partly you have this effect where, and if you look at the biographies of the Kouachi brothers, the guy who did that horrific attack in Nice, almost all the French young men who have been carrying out these atrocious attacks, this is their formative experience of the police. It’s being constantly harassed in a racist way, an explicitly racist way. Police frequently use racist epithets towards these kids. So you have this incredibly racist drug war that makes their neighbourhoods feel like they’re under military occupation and these grotesque and disproportionate punishments. So you partly have that. That’s a factor, right? And I don’t want to overstate it, it is one of many, many factors. But it is a significant factor. So that’s one thing that’s going on.
The second is, how are these people getting guns, right? How do the people who carried out the Bataclan massacre and the others…France has an incredibly intense ‘war for drugs’. So France has a huge drug market, and not coincidently it has the biggest drug war, and also has the worst drug problems. Again, that’s only seen all over the world that these policies not only don’t work, they actually make the problems worse. So France has this very intense drug war and the highest drug use in western Europe. And when you ban drugs, they don’t disappear, obviously. They’re transferred from doctors and pharmacists to armed criminal gangs. And those armed criminal gangs fight for the market.
France has an incredibly intense ‘war for drugs’. I mean it’s come to light, and briefly got news coverage in France, when Manuel Valls – the prime minister – was in Marseille and a gunfight between rival drug gangs just broke out across the street. And at the moment they thought it was a terrorist attack, and then were like ‘no, no, just a typical afternoon in Marseille’, you know. So you have these huge networks of criminals, which these guys are all connected to through drug dealing, that then also supplies violence. Also means these young men grow up in a climate where violence is not only normalised, but actually necessary to operate in this market.
And so they grow up with a training in violence, a training in how to use violence, a training of violence being normalised, a training of being made to think that you are a stranger within the society, that you are under siege, that you are an enemy, an alien, people the police hate, people the police will crack down on really hard, when white people don’t get treated that way. So it just creates a toxic brew that feeds into this wider jihadism. It’s not the main cause, I don’t want to be simplistic about it, but I do think it’s a really significant factor
quote:'I've done really bad things': The undercover cop who abandoned the war on drugs
Neil Woods used to risk his life to catch drug dealers. But as gangs responded with escalating violence and intimidation – some even poisoning users who talked to the police – he started to see legalisation as the only solution
quote:The only dealers the drug squad could reliably catch, he saw, were “low-hanging fruit” – the small-fry dealers, and harmless addicts trying to pay for their habit by selling a bit, who an informant could report with no fear of retribution. “It’s why organised crime is increasingly becoming monopolised, because the most successful organised crime groups are the ones that can be the most terrifying.” Like cold-war nations seeking security in Nato or the Warsaw Pact, small-town dealers are being absorbed into large city gangs. “It’s a classic arms race. Although at least with the cold war you could knock a wall down, and de-escalate it. There’s no wall to knock down with the war on drugs, is there? Brighton is the thin edge of the same wedge destroying Mexico. Mexico’s just the thicker end of it, but it can only go in one direction.”