Posts Tagged Drugs
Our current drug policy is the worst of all worlds – it punishes the people who need treatment, radicalizes the suppliers, wastes resources and time, ruins lives and crowds our jails.
That said, I read with interest a post at Ed Brayton’s place, quoting from a study by Glenn Greenwald concerning Portugal‘s experiment with decriminalizing drugs (yes, from that Glenn Greenwald and freaking Cato).
Notably, decriminalization has become increasingly popular in Portugal since 2001. Except for some far-right politicians, very few domestic political factions are agitating for a repeal of the 2001 law. And while there is a widespread perception that bureaucratic changes need to be made to Portugal’s decriminalization framework to make it more efficient and effective, there is no real debate about whether drugs should once again be criminalized. More significantly, none of the nightmare scenarios touted by preenactment decriminalization opponents — from rampant increases in drug usage among the young to the transformation of Lisbon into a haven for “drug tourists” — has occurred.
The political consensus in favor of decriminalization is unsurprising in light of the relevant empirical data. Those data indicate that decriminalization has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal, which, in numerous categories, are now among the lowest in the EU, particularly when compared with states with stringent criminalization regimes. Although postdecriminalization usage rates have remained roughly the same or even decreased slightly when compared with other EU states, drug-related pathologies — such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage — have decreased dramatically. Drug policy experts attribute those positive trends to the enhanced ability of the Portuguese government to offer treatment programs to its citizens — enhancements made possible, for numerous reasons, by decriminalization.
And here is the money quote:
The data show that, judged by virtually every metric, the Portuguese decriminalization framework has been a resounding success. Within this success lie self-evident lessons that should guide drug policy debates around the world.
Stolen in full from The Gun Guys
(New York Times: Soldiers guarded a display of weapons seized in an operation against the Gulf cartel, which operates in Mexico City. Mexico is desperate for the United States to do more to stop the steady flow of weapons over the border. In the last six months, federal agents have begun stopping cars they have reason to believe are carrying guns into Mexico).
HOUSTON — John Phillip Hernandez, a 24-year-old unemployed machinist who lived with his parents, walked into a giant sporting goods store here in July 2006, and plunked $2,600 in cash on a glass display counter. A few minutes later, Mr. Hernandez walked out with three military-style rifles. One of those rifles was recovered seven months later in Acapulco, Mexico, where it had been used by drug cartel gunmen to attack the offices of the Guerrero State attorney general, court documents say. Four police officers and three secretaries were killed. Although Mr. Hernandez was arrested last year as part of a gun-smuggling ring, most of the 22 others in the ring are still at large.
Before their operation was discovered, the smugglers had transported what court documents described as at least 339 high-powered weapons to Mexico over a year and a half, federal agents said. “There is no telling how long that group was operating before we caught on to them,” said J. Dewey Webb, the agent in charge of the Houston division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Noting there are about 1,500 licensed gun dealers in the Houston area, Mr. Webb added, “You can come to Houston and go to a different gun store every day for several months and never alert any one.”
The case highlights a major obstacle facing the United States as it tries to meet a demand from Mexico to curb the flow of arms from the states to drug cartels. The federal system for tracking gun sales, crafted over the years to avoid infringements on Second Amendment rights, makes it difficult to spot suspicious trends quickly and to identify people buying for smugglers, law enforcement officials say. As a result, in some states along the Southwest border where firearms are lightly regulated, gun smugglers can evade detection for months or years. In Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, dealers can sell an unlimited number of rifles to anyone with a driver’s license and a clean criminal record without reporting the sales to the government. At gun shows in these states, there is even less regulation. Private sellers, unlike licensed dealers, are not obligated to record the buyer’s name, much less report the sale to the A.T.F. Mexican officials have repeatedly asked the United States to clamp down on the flow of weapons and are likely to bring it up again with President Obama when he visits Mexico on Thursday. Sending straw buyers into American stores, cartels have stocked up on semiautomatic AK-47 and AR-15 rifles, converting some to machine guns, investigators in both countries say. They have also bought .50 caliber rifles capable of stopping a car and Belgian pistols able to fire rifle rounds that will penetrate body armor.
It’s not just the sheer numbers of arms flowing into Mexico, but how powerful these weapons are: .50 caliber sniper rifles, assault rifles, cop-killer bullets that can penetrate bullet proof vests. The U.S. is simply looking the other way as whole arsenals head south, while drugs head north. And yet, the gun lobby’s shill, Wayne LaPierre, tries to assert that U.S. guns aren’t being trafficked into Mexico. Read the rest of this entry »