Archive for the 'War on Drugs' Category

The Great Marijuana Debate On Devil’s Advocate

Posted by on Oct 18 2012 | Drug Policy, Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC, War on Drugs

Put fresh water in your favorite bong, stock up on Cheetos and get ready to rumble this Friday night as host Jon Caldara moderates a debate between conservatives over Colorado Amendment 64, the marijuana legalization amendment, on the Independence Institute’s public affairs tv show, Devil’s Advocate.

In the pro-64 corner is former Colorado Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Tom “The Tank” Tancredo. In the anti-64 corner, Weld County District Attorney and former U.S. Senate Candidate Ken “Cowboy Boots” Buck.

Don’t miss this one. That’s this Friday at 8:30PM on Colorado Television 12.

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Like Free Markets? Like Movies? Check This Out!

Posted by on Sep 17 2012 | Economic LIberties, Economics, Economy, Events, Government Largess, Growth of Government, nanny state, PPC, Video, War on Drugs, War on Terror

From September 28th- 30th, the Young Americans for Liberty at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs will host a weekend full of films, presentations, and thought provoking discussions at the Second Annual Free Minds Film Festival. The festival explores the ideas of a free society and the specific topics will include the war on drugs, eminent domain, cronyism, gun control, the trail of tears and government sponsored genocide, luck and equality, lessons from ancient Rome and Panem, the horrors of the Soviet Union, and, of course, how to change the world!

Featured titles include blockbuster “The Hunger Games,” Academy Award shortlisted documentary “Battle for Brooklyn,” locally made “Guns and Weed: The Road to Freedom,” the inspiring true story “Amazing Grace,” and “The Soviet Story” will return as a permanent tradition.

Local and national experts will speak after the films and take questions from the audience. Speakers include Lawrence Reed, President of the Foundation for Economic Education, Metropolitan State University of Denver Economics Professor Dr. Alexandre Padilla, Isaac Morehouse from the Institute for Humane Studies, Dr. Amy Sturgis Interdisciplinary Studies professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University and the Mythgard Institute, retired Denver Police Officer Tony Ryan, and Denver- based Philosopher Dr. Diana Hsieh.

Friday and Saturday night will conclude with free beer and food and great conversation at BJ’s Brewhouse courtesy of Liberty on the Rocks.

The first Free Minds Film Festival was nominated for “Event of the Year” at the International Students For Liberty Conference and attracted over 90 attendees. The event is free and open to the public and the media.

A full schedule of the weekend including trailers, biographies, and directions to the event is available at

Register here for FREE!

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Attorney General Holder grants BATFE expanded forfeiture powers

Posted by on Aug 29 2012 | Asset Forfeiture, War on Drugs

Details here, from Americans for Forfeiture Reform. In short, BATFE becomes another federal agency which gets to seize large sums of cash, based on presumption that a large sum of cash must be related to an illegal transaction in controlled substances. And notwithstanding the fact that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is a Bureau whose job involves federal laws about alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives, not controlled substances.

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The Ruby Ridge murders, 20 years later

Posted by on Aug 22 2012 | Criminal Law, Executive Branch, Growth of Government, guns, Self-Defense, Targeted Killing, War on Drugs

The Prologue to my book No More Wacos: What’s Wrong with Federal Law Enforcement and How to Fix it, includes a section on the Ruby Ridge case. Much more on Waco and Ruby Ridge is available on the Waco page on my website.

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Reducing the Drug War’s Damage to Government Budgets

Posted by on May 14 2012 | Constitutional History, Criminal Law, federalism, Proposed Legislation, supreme court, Tenth Amendment, War on Drugs

That’s the title of an article that I have co-authored with the Cato Institute’s Trevor Burrus, in a symposium issue of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. The symposium is “Law in an Age of Austerity,” and includes contributions from Charles Cooper (Treasury Dept.’s authority to index capital gains for inflation), John Eastman (state authority to enforce immigration laws), and others.

The major part of the Article details some recently-enacted criminal law and sentencing reforms in Colorado, which mitigate the fiscal damage of the drug war. The second part of the Article summarizes the fiscal benefits of ending prohibition. Finally, the Article looks at some of the legal history of alcohol prohibition, and suggests that current federal drug prohibition policies are inconsistent with the spirit of the Tenth Amendment, including  state tax powers.

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Jared Polis Unimpressed By Colorado’s New Top Drug Cop

Posted by on Feb 29 2012 | boulder, congress, Drug Policy, federalism, PPC, War on Drugs

The Denver Post’s crime blog, cleverly called The Rap Sheet yesterday introduced readers to the new chief of the Denver office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Colorado Congressman Jared Polis, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee is, to say the least, unimpressed with Colorado’s new head federal drug warrior. Here’s what Jared has to say on his facebook page:

There are so many things wrong with (new regional Drug Enforcement Agency Director) Agent Roach’s approach in today’s Denver Post article. I’ll call her soon to discuss my concerns. Let me know yours. In this article she manages to insult not just my hometown of Boulder but our state Capital of Denver and so many other cities in Colorado: “Right now, she is choosing a city for her husband and two children to live in where no marijuana dispensaries are allowed.”

Her choice of where to live in our state is absolutely her own decision (though I question her judgment, she is entitled to her decision) but to publicly state shortly after arriving in a state that living in our premier city and many of our great towns is outright unacceptable to you is nothing short of an affront to our entire state.

As for her judgment, why should it matter if there is a dispensary across town? I mean, by all means don’t get a place next to a dispensary if you dislike them so intensely, but who cares if there is one somewhere else in town? Personally as a father, I would much rather have a well-regulated dispensary as a neighbor than a seedy liquor store, but neither one would absolutely disqualify an otherwise perfect place to live with good schools and a safe neighborhood.

Then Agent Roach just gets, well, weird: “People are not taking into account what can happen to those who are growing it (marijuana). There are homes with mold and water damage in the hundreds of thousands.” Oh my. That’s just a very strange thing to say. No doubt that some idiots have flooded their basements growing marijuana. No doubt that some idiots have flooded their basements growing tomatoes. I stained my tiles in my living room last year growing narcissus. Ok. So for this we need a federal cop busting people?

I mean, if you are dumb enough to flood your basement or create hundreds of thousands of dollars of mold damage, that is entirely your own fault and federal law enforcement should NOT be in the business of preventing you from ruining your basement. The fact that an opponent of medical marijuana uses arguments like “it causes water damage to homes” shows how bankrupt that side is of facts.

I truly wish Agent Roach well. In her defense, she’s a cop not a public speaker or public relations person, but I hope she is more careful with her words in the future.

She concludes that her goal is to “focus on dismantling the “top echelon” of drug organizations.” And “to strive for the large drug trafficking organizations – not just domestically, but internationally.”

On this, I wish her well. Ironically, Colorado’s legalized and regulated marijuana industry has probably done more damage to large drug trafficking organizations than her work will ever accomplish, but I certainly wish her well in her efforts unless she starts raiding legal Colorado businesses who are abiding by our laws.

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2011 drug law reform in Colorado a mixed bag

Posted by on Dec 02 2011 | criminal justice, Criminal Law, Drug Policy, PPC, War on Drugs

In 2010, Colorado lawmakers took a meaningful step towards drug law reform by passing House Bill 1352, which nibbles at the edges of the disastrous War on Drugs by amending some of Colorado’s controlled substance statutes (see my HuffPost Denver piece on HB 1352).

And while lawmakers continued that reform momentum this year, those efforts were tempered by other bills that expanded an already intrusive and expensive drug law regime that returns questionable public safety value.

For instance, the 2011 Colorado Legislature voted overwhelmingly to create new drug felonies (and thus new drug felons) by passing Senate Bill 134 which added synthetic cannabinoids and the naturally occurring Salvia Divinorum as Schedule I illicit drugs under Colorado’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

The Legislature in 2011 also involved itself in human resource decision making by local school districts by passing House Bill 1121, which among other things bars those convicted of a drug felony from employment with a school for five years from the time of conviction. This despite a lack of any evidence that the hiring of drug felons by school districts is a problem in Colorado.

But in the same session where Colorado lawmakers expanded the scope and reach of Colorado’s drug laws, they also passed several drug law reforms.

In this podcast, I interview Christie Donner about these reforms, and what they are meant to accomplish. Besides being the Executive Director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, Christie is also on the Drug Policy Task Force of the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ). The three bills were generated out of recommendations of the CCJJ and all have been signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper. The bills are:

Senate Bill 96, which excludes Class 6 felony drug possession convictions as a qualifying offense to be convicted under Colorado’s habitual offender statute.

House Bill 1064, which establishes a presumption in favor of granting parole to an inmate who is parole eligible and serving a sentence for a drug use or possession felony that was committed before August 11, 2011 (inmates must meet other criteria related to their behavior in prison and criminal history to be eligible for the presumption).

House Bill 1167, which shortens the time frame people convicted of certain drug crimes (schedule is staggered based on the seriousness of the offense) must wait before petitioning the court to seal that criminal record.

For a more thorough explanation of these reforms give a listen here.

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Unhappy Anniversary: The Drug War Turns Forty

Posted by on Jun 16 2011 | Criminal Law, Drug Policy, PPC, War on Drugs

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the contemporary war on drugs in the United States. In 1970, a Democrat-controlled Congress passed and Republican President Richard M. Nixon signed into law the Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Control act, which consolidated and updated all previous federal drug laws. Included in the legislation was the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which established five categories (or “schedules”) of regulated drugs based on their medicinal value and potential for addiction, and which remains the legal framework for the war on drugs. In 1971, Nixon declared drug abuse to be “public enemy number one in the United States” (a ludicrous statement) and the modern drug war was launched.

For a fuller examination of the history, and consequences, of drug prohibition in the United States, see my co-authored (with Dave Kopel) monograph on the issue, The Drug War against Civil Liberty and Human Rights, published by the Liberal Institute of the Friederich Naumann Foundation.

To mark the occasion, I am re-reading Mark Bowden’s terrific book, Killing Pablo, the story of the rise and fall of Colombian criminal and terrorist Pablo Escobar, who in the 1980s became fabulously wealthy, powerful and infamous due to drug-prohibition, much the same way American criminal Al Capone became fabulously wealthy, powerful and infamous a half-century earlier due to alcohol prohibition.

It is also a story of the wild abandon with which American drug warriors were (and still are) willing to irresponsibly grow the size and power of government, “reinterpret” inconvenient laws, blur the line between soldier and police, launch military actions, throw away ridiculous amounts of tax dollars, and waste both lives and liberty in a futile effort to stop free Americans from consuming politically incorrect substances. From Killing Pablo (page 54):

In April of 1986, the president [Reagan] had signed National Security Decision Directive 221, which for the first time declared drug trafficking a threat to national security. The directive opened the door to direct military involvement in the war on drugs, which was placing a growing emphasis on attacking the crops, labs and traffickers in Central and South America. This was an unprecedented mixing of law enforcement and military missions, and Reagan directed that any American laws or regulations prohibiting such an alliance were to be reinterpreted or amended. The Departments of Defense and Justice were directed to “develop and implement any necessary modifications to applicable statutes, regulations, procedures and guidelines to enable U.S. military forces to support counter-narcotics efforts.” Beginning that summer, U.S. Army troops joined DEA agents and Bolivian police in raiding fifteen cocaine processing labs in that country.

For an explanation of how U.S. drug war efforts in Andean Ridge countries has thwarted free-market capitalism, destroyed the livelihood of subsistence farmers, enriched narco-terrorists and criminal thugs, strengthened the role of the military, weakened civilian rule, and propped up government corruption, see my chapter (again, co-authored with Dave Kopel) “A Foreign Policy Disaster” in the book, The New Prohibition: Voices of Dissent Challenge the Drug War (Accurate Press, 2004).

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Reefer Madness and the Prohibition of Marijuana in the United States

Posted by on Oct 26 2010 | War on Drugs

(David Kopel)

My short essay for the Encyclopedia Britannica blog looks at the racist origins of marijuana prohibition. The essay is part of a two-day series of pro/con articles related to California’s proposition 19.

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