Category Archives: Culture

i’ve been saying this all along…

Two different magazines, with similar interests, not low-level progressives, but visible icons of the publishing world have stated unequivocally that we need to do something different from the 40 year old drug war. First the Guardian article discusses the medicalization of drugs. The second article in Harper’s discusses the geo-political backlash from the ill-advised war on drugs, and why we are going against it now.

What I’ve been saying all along is that the drug war is not a war against drugs, but a war against people. The first article, modern medical opinion, reflecting the large majority of prior medical opinions, suggests that the drug issue should be treated as a medical issue not a criminal one. In the introduction to the second article, I quote John Ehrlichman saying that the drug war was all about suppressing blacks and leftists hippies by making their favored drugs illegal.

The Guardian: Sarah Boseley and Jessica Glenza write Medical experts call for global drug decriminalisation

Boseley and Glenza conclude their remarks with a statement by Norman Lamb:

Norman Lamb, a former British government minister and Liberal Democrat MP, said that he supported the Lancet commission’s findings: “The war on drugs has failed and it is Liberal Democrat policy to decriminalise the personal possession and use of all drugs, and introduce a regulated, legalised market for cannabis. Drug use should be treated as a health issue, not as a criminal issue.”

Harper’s Magazine: Dan Baum writes Legalize It All: How to win the war on drugs

In Baum’s conversation with John Ehrlichman:

I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” (emphasis mine)

I thought ten years ago that we would be farther along. Some of us are, but many of us still believe that violence against people is a fruitful avenue to pursue when you want them to change their behavior. But in ten years, we have finally begun something of a fruitful conversation. Baum recounts the movement from officials in Washington D.C. toward a kinder and gentler treatment of people. But the U.S. government is still a long way from recanting its politically suspicious activity over the last 100 years, especially the last 46 years of the drug war. Many and varied documentaries have come out about the terrible consequences of the prohibition of alcohol from 1920 to 1934. They are explicit about how the government of the people, by the people, for the people raised many of the specters of tyranny from its recent past and again took the posture of, in C. S. Lewis’ terms “omnipotent moral busybodies.”

The quote from Ehrlichman above is news porn. My God in heaven! You let them do that? How could you? I can think of only one reason. My philosophy teacher in college Chet Roberson used to say to students who spouted ignorant remarks. “Hold on to your ignorance for as long as you can. If you give it up too early, you’ll go back to it.” How does this relate to the drug war and its ignorance? Well, obviously, we learned too few lessons in the alcohol prohibition. Even the government killing people by doubling the poison in denatured alcohol was not enough to stop people drinking. (See “The Poisoners” on PBS’ American Experience. On Netflix) The rise in violent crime attendant with prohibition was not enough for the government to see its own complicity in the betrayal of the American people. The practices and advice of our forefathers was not enough, the warnings agains tyranny not enough, etc. The long drawn out battle for reasonableness against the tyranny of the state and the tyranny of the majority is coming to a close. Now the staunchest drug warriors are blinking. Something has gone so horribly wrong that the good, and great nation is now one of the worst, and least in a variety of ways. The republic that split itself so completely from the tyranny of Britain is now one of the worst tyrants against its people in the world. Its prejudice and spite now clear for the world to see.

The so-called conservatives in their disgust for the drug user (Ehrlichman’s blacks and leftists), have played into the hands of the abusers with their self-righteous smug avoidance of illegality. What they didn’t know is that the illegalities were constructed to capture certain classes of people, again, Ehrlichman’s blacks and leftists. The so-called conservatives thought they were cleaning up the streets, and so without a question set themselves to the task of upholding those same illegalities as if they were the law of God. Jesus, in Matthew 15 and Mark 7, is explicit in the denunciation of those who exalt their tradition above the commandment of God. In this case the tradition is to put drug users in jail, the commandment requires that we love our neighbors as ourselves. And to display the “conservatives’” position as even more explicitly violent in practice Jesus made sure the disciples and his critics knew what he meant. He said that it wasn’t what went into the mouth that defiled a person, but what came out because what came out proceeded from the heart. So the “conservative” clamor to cleanse themselves from the taint of sin turned on the very people who needed their charity, healing, and help, those who, for whatever reason, decided to put drugs in their mouths.

It may be now that we are prepared to abandon our ignorance. Have we learned enough of the necessary lesson not to repeat the same mistakes ad infinitum? Can we have enough explicit history of prohibition to release ourselves from its bonds and return to a world where self control under liberty is the expectation and the rule? Can we have the gumption to follow Christ into the darker parts of our world with the everlasting and all-sufficient compassion that means the healing of the nations?

the lie of the war on drugs

The modern economy is wrapped up in the black market.

The laws governing the war on drugs are not the rules by which this economy operates.

In The Guardian, Ed Vulliamy tells the story of a writer, Robert Saviano, who uncovers for us the true nature of the drug economy. Anyone who has studied the War on Drugs in the United States has recognized this implicitly, but Saviano states it unequivocally and explicitly in his book Zero Zero Zero.

Already in hiding, and under armed guard for work he did on the Mafia, Saviano shows the complicity of the governmental infrastructure of the War on Drugs with the cocaine cartels. I feel it necessary to mention not only the lack of oversight on the drug economy this implies, but the fairly frequent use the government has made (Vietnam, Iran/contra affair, etc.) of drug sales for funding gray and black ops, all while spouting platitudes about the evils of drug use, or supplying weapons to insurgents connected to the drug trade.

Now, I understand this blog deals with Marijuana, but you have to remember that the majority of the Mexican cartels’ business is marijuana, so the same theme applies. The movement to legalize marijuana under rules that would undercut the black market would stop the complicity of the US government with organized crime. Vulliamy quotes Saviano:

For some reason, he says, the Anglo-Saxon world is slower to understand the innate criminality of the “legal” system than Latin societies. “I think the Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-American world is infused by a kind of Calvinist positivism; people want to believe in the health of their society,” says Saviano, even though “what this all means is that, for instance, the City of London is a far more important centre for laundering criminal money than the Cayman Islands”.

Most of the people I have discussions with about legalizing marijuana are of the view that the government must protect people from themselves, must control behavior. “We are obligated to hate drug use, and to punish the users.” But they don’t use their senses to watch what this sort of attitude does to people in the real world, or how this compromises respect for the law, or supports the illegal trade in currently illegal (and prescription) drugs, or the violence of an underground economy where threats of death are signs of power.

So Saviano, becomes my hero for using what Michel Foucault calls Fearless Speech (Greek, parrhesia), speech that tells the truth, even as it poses threat to the speaker. (Unfortunately, Foucault’s book is out of print at the moment, but there are still some used copies.)

7 pot documentaries

Merry Jane recommends these six documentaries to educate you about pot.

A NORML Life (trailer)

Should I Smoke Dope BBC Documentary (full movie)

Super High Me (trailer)

Grass: The History of Marijuana (full movie)
(Removed from YouTube)

The Union: The Business Behind Getting High (trailer)

What if Cannabis Cured Cancer (full movie)

Here’s another documentary we should take note of.

It is available on Netflix and on YouTube for $3.99 (preview)


willie’s reserve

New models for legal weed

In the article “Willie Nelson’s Crusade to Stop Big Pot” a number of models are emerging for the distribution of weed when it becomes legal.

The article states the current reality, a good summation of the status of legal weed.

By way of first principles, let us pause to establish that legalization is here. That fight is over; legal weed has arrived; all that remains is for the last chips to fall. Some form of marijuana has already been approved in 23 states, and roughly 80 percent of the American public currently favors medicinal use. Support for recreational pot has also been rising over the past decade, with more people in favor of full legalization than against it for the first time in 2011. The following year, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to permit recreational use: It is now perfectly legal in both places to shamble into a dispensary, plunk down a stack of crinkly bills, and purchase a bag of high-grade weed for no loftier purpose than to get high. Last year, Oregon and Alaska approved similar measures, and this month, the bellwether state of Ohio will vote on a proposal to join them [ed., the proposal failed]. Next year, at least five additional states will ­consider the same question, while another dozen are working on comparable ballot initiatives, and in 15 states and Washington, D.C., possession of the drug for personal use is no longer a crime. The consensus among doctors has returned to where it stood eight decades ago, when the American Medical Association loudly opposed the decision to make pot illegal in the first place. Even the federal government is beginning to change course: Early this year, President Obama predicted that if enough states decriminalize marijuana, Congress might remove it from the list of Schedule I drugs, and he has informed officials in Washington and Colorado that the Justice Department will not prosecute anyone who complies with state laws.

Legalization is inevitable

And the American citizens will not settle for decriminalization because it requires a black market to sustain it. Decriminalization may be a step forward toward a freer society (note: Holland), but it tacitly admits that recreational use is immoral and people’s private behavior should be controlled. The issue troubling so many Americans is what message legalization is sending to the youth of the country. Well, before I go off on a tirade about what message the forced sustenance of the black market under the domain of prohibition is sending, the youth understand very well that the standard line (punish users) entails contradictions and problems of all sorts. Also the federal government assiduously avoids discussion, favoring a “we say so” attitude, and sends messages to the young that adults are hypocrites and incapable of apologizing, or changing bad policy; democracy has failed; oligarchy rules; it’s useless participating in politics; etc. They young have grown up with these messages from the federal government. These messages are the noise in the background that we all learn to ignore.

So we will legalize marijuana. Some have suggested that legalization is probably the best course for other, more dangerous drugs as well, citing the flat figures of addiction over the last 100 years. William F. Buckley, Jr. suggests in the 1995 video that of the 97 million people who have tried currently illegal drugs only about 3 million have used these drugs in the last month. Is it likely, he asks, that legalization will increase the monthly ratio of users when the large percentage of those who have used drugs in the past no longer do so by choice?

Now that it’s legal, how are we going to buy it? There are a number of corporate models that promise a good variety. Like Willie’s Reserve, Snoop Dog’s new Leafs brand is now available (registration required).

Willie’s Reserve

Here’s the Chart from the article:

types of marketing

So the international supplier — the “Starbucks” model, the celebrity licensing model, and the small grower model all promise a fair entry into the marketplace, while each aims at a particular market. These are interesting scenarios. I believe they will all make their mark, when the moral busybodies in the federal government decide with Abraham Lincoln, that prohibition is a futile attempt to control people’s desires, and is an unjust way of ruling. I can’t imagine them not sulking though.

The marijuana industry will become a full-fledged member of the capitalist community competing on price, brand, and quality. In the contemporary market though, outside the promises of your purveyor, you really don’t know what you’re getting. The standard problem of an industry seeking approval, is the transparency of its operation. Because much of the operation remains hidden because of federal statute, there are no legal controls over quality, safety, or contents. You don’t know whether you are getting naturally grown, pesticide-free weed. You don’t know whether the CBD oil you are buying has the percentage CBD it says it does, or whether it is pure and free of pollutants. This is the point where the machinery of big pharma must come in, not in control of the drug market or pricing, but in the straightforward process of producing the product where some measure of transparency and labeling is assured.

Do I think these models will dominate? The shakeout has not come for that determination to be made. Because much of the industrial production of marijuana, even in states where it is legal for recreation, still faces federal banking statutes, and the producers cannot deduct production business expenses on their taxes, they are able to carry on their business only with some difficulty and without much protection. It is only when these models get to practice their methods in a freer environment will any shakeout occur.

They may all work. And they will probably all change tactics to develop and retain market share as the market matures.

a wiser course

The following is the outline for the report generated by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York in a publication called The Record in June 1994. Read the full article HERE.

This outline which is also the table of contents in the printed report with 83 pages and 203 footnotes of sources and authorities.

A Wiser Course: Ending Drug Prohibition

      1. New York State
      2. Other States
      3. Federal Courts
      4. The Judiciary is Impatient with the Present System
      5. Efforts to Handle Court Congestion
      1. Perception of Ineffectiveness
      2. Perception of a Self-Perpetuating System
      3. Police Corruption
      4. Poor Children are Victims of the “War on Drugs”
      5. Selective Prosecution
      6. Erosion of Constitutional Rights
      7. Forfeiture’s Heavy Hand
      8. Erosion of Privacy Rights
      1. Spread of Disease
        1. Sharing Needles
        2. Trading Sex for Drugs
        3. Neglect of Health
        4. Avoidance of the Health-Care System
      2. Lack of Information and Quality Control
        1. Adulterated Drugs, Designer Drugs, and Drugs of Unknown Potency
        2. Lack of Knowledge About Safer Use
        3. Using Alcohol and Tobacco Instead of “Soft Drugs”
      3. Injuries Due to Violence
      4. Diversion of Resources from Treatment and Prevention
      5. The Sense of Treating Drugs as a Public Health Problem
        1. Treatment Works
        2. Self-Help Groups
        3. Therapeutic Communities
        4. Other Inpatient Drug-Free Treatment Programs
        5. Outpatient Methadone Maintenance Programs
        6. Outpatient Drug-Free Therapy
      6. Empirical Research on Effective Drug Treatment
        1. Studies Examining the Effects of Treatment on Substance Abuse
        2. Studies Examining the Effects of Drug Treatment on the Consequences of Drug Abuse
      7. Education Works
        1. Life Skills Training Program
        2. Students Taught Awareness and Resistance
        3. Project Healthy Choices
        4. Student Assistance Program
        5. Smart Moves
        6. Seattle Social Development Project
        7. Programs for Children of Addicts

In addition, there were some dissenting voices. Read their comments here:

intellectuals support legalization 3

Walter Cronkite, recognized as one of the most trustworthy men in America during his news career, published a letter (found in the Huffington Post) telling why the war on drugs was wrong.

Telling the Truth About the War on Drugs

Excerpt from the article:

“I covered the Vietnam War. I remember the lies that were told, the lives that were lost – and the shock when, twenty years after the war ended, former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara admitted he knew it was a mistake all along.

Today, our nation is fighting two wars: one abroad and one at home. While the war in Iraq is in the headlines, the other war is still being fought on our own streets. Its casualties are the wasted lives of our own citizens.

I am speaking of the war on drugs.

And I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara admits what is plain for all to see: the war on drugs is a failure.

While the politicians stutter and stall – while they chase their losses by claiming we could win this war if only we committed more resources, jailed more people and knocked down more doors – the Drug Policy Alliance continues to tell the American people the truth – “the way it is.”

I’m sure that’s why you support DPA’s mission to end the drug war. And why I strongly urge you to support their work by giving a generous donation today.

You see, I’ve learned first hand that the stakes just couldn’t be higher.

When I wanted to understand the truth about the war on drugs, I took the same approach I did to the war in Vietnam: I hit the streets and reported the story myself. I sought out the people whose lives this war has affected.”

intellectuals support legalization 2

A. C. Grayling

Following is an essay I used in my introduction to philosophy classes. I used it because of the clear logic and aim at the rights of individuals to exercise freedom where that exercise did not impinge on the rights of others. The essay is short and well done.

Why A High Society is a Free Society

Found at the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics. This essay of his appeared in The Observer on May 19, 2002.
By Dr. A.C. Grayling
Dr Anthony Grayling MA DPhil (Oxon) is Reader in Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, and a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford.

Drugs Should Be Legalised – Their Prohibition Is An Intolerable Intrusion Into Private Behaviour

One measure of a good society is whether its individual members have the autonomy to do as they choose in respects that principally concern only them. The debate about heroin, cocaine and marijuana touches precisely on this. In my submission, a society in which such substances are legal and available is a good society not because drugs are in themselves good, but because the autonomy of those who wish to use them is respected. For other and broader reasons, many of them practical, such a society will be a better one.

I have never taken drugs other than alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and medicinal drugs. Of these, I have for many years not taken the two former. I think it is inimical to a good life to be dependent for pleasure and personal fulfilment on substances which gloss or distort reality and interfere with rationality; and yet I believe that heroin, cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy and cognates of these should be legal and available in exactly the same way as nicotine and alcohol.

In logic [there] is no difference between legal and currently illegal drugs. Both are used for pleasure, relief from stress or anxiety, and ‘holidaying’ from normal life, and both are, in different degrees, dangerous to health. Given this, consistent policy must do one of two things: criminalise the use of nicotine and alcohol, in order to bring them in line with currently illegal substances; or legalise currently illegal substances under the same kinds of regime that govern nicotine and alcohol.

On civil liberties grounds the latter policy is preferable because there is no justification in a good society for policing behaviour unless, in the form of rape, murder, theft, riot or fraud, it is intrinsically damaging to the social fabric, and involves harm to unwilling third parties. Good law protects in these respects; bad law tries to coerce people into behaving according to norms chosen by people who claim to know and to do better than those for whom they legislate. But the imposition of such norms is an injustice. By all means let the disapprovers argue and exhort; giving them the power to coerce and punish as well is unacceptable.

Arguments to the effect that drugs should be kept illegal to protect children fall by the same token. On these grounds, nicotine and alcohol should be banned too. In fact there is greater danger to children from the illegality of drugs.

Almost everyone who wishes to try drugs, does so; almost everyone who wishes to make use of drugs does it irrespective of their legal status.

Opponents say legalisation will lead to unrestrained use and abuse. Yet the evidence is that where laws have been relaxed there is little variation in frequency or kind of use.

The classic example is Prohibition in the USA during the 1920s. (The hysteria over alcohol extended to other drugs; heroin was made illegal in the USA in 1924, on the basis of poor research on its health risks and its alleged propensity to cause insanity and criminal behaviour.) Prohibition created a huge criminal industry. The end of Prohibition did not result in a frenzy of drinking, but did leave a much-enhanced crime problem, because the criminals turned to substances which remained illegal, and supplied them instead.

Crime destabilises society. Gangland rivalry, the use of criminal organisations to launder money, to fund terrorism and gun-running, to finance the trafficking of women and to buy political and judicial influence all destabilise the conditions for a good society far beyond such problems as could be created by private individuals’ use of drugs. If drugs were legally and safely available through chemist shops, and if their use
was governed by the same provisions as govern alcohol purchase and consumption, the main platform for organised crime would be removed, and thereby one large obstacle to the welfare of society.

It would also remove much petty crime, through which many users fund their habit. If addiction to drugs were treated as a medical rather than criminal matter, so that addicts could get safe, regular supplies on prescription, the crime rate would drop dramatically, as argued recently by certain police chiefs.

The safety issue is a simple one. Paracetemol is more dangerous than heroin. Taking double the standard dose of paracetemol, a non-prescription analgesic, can be dangerous. Taking double the standard medical dose of heroin (diamorphine) causes sleepiness and no lasting effects.

A good society should be able to accommodate practices which are not destructive of social bonds (in the way that theft, rape, murder and other serious crimes are), but mainly have to do with private behaviour. In fact, a good society should only interfere in private behaviour in extremis.

Until a century ago, now-criminal substances were legal and freely available. Some (opium in the form of laudanum) were widely used. Just as some people are damaged by misuse of alcohol, so a few were adversely affected by misuses of other drugs. Society as a whole was not adversely affected by the use of drugs; but it was benefited by the fact that it did not burden itself with a misjudged, unworkable and paternalistic endeavour to interfere with those who chose to use drugs.

The place of drugs in the good society is not about the drugs as such, but rather the freedom and the value to individuals and their society of openness to experimentation and alternative behaviours and lifestyles. The good society is permissive, seeking to protect third parties from harm but not presuming to order people to take this or that view about what is in their own good.


My notes found at my education site (PDF). These notes contain the skeleton of his argument in (mostly) his own words.

His argument goes beyond just the legalization of marijuana. And to be logical about our laws and behavior, it should. And though the purpose of this blog centers around marijuana, it is clear that the purposes surrounding the entire drug war and all its targets must be accounted for in the same or similar way as that which I propose for marijuana.

intellectuals support legalization 1

William F. Buckley, Jr.

From Wikipedia (numbers cite references on Wikipedia page)

Buckley was an advocate for the legalization of marijuana and some drug legalization as early as his 1965 candidacy for mayor of New York City.[121][122] He wrote a pointed pro-marijuana legalization piece for National Review in 2004 where he calls for conservatives to change their views on legalization, stating, “We’re not going to find someone running for president who advocates reform of those laws. What is required is a genuine republican groundswell. It is happening, but ever so gradually. Two of every five Americans […] believe ‘the government should treat marijuana more or less the same way it treats alcohol: It should regulate it, control it, tax it, and make it illegal only for children.'”[123]

Here is an interview on Buckley’s thoughts.

Click if video below does not play.

10 years

I became interested in the problem of the drug war after being disaffected with life, incapable of studying, reading, or being interested in society for about 10 years. Then I saw Judge James P. Gray on a talk show. Instantly my imagination and not incapable brain caught fire with an idea, the idea that the war on drugs was morally wrong. Then I read Gray’s book, Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs, (you can get the older edition on for a penny + shipping).

“Judge Gray’s thorough and scholarly work, based as it is on his personal experience, should help considerably to improve our impossible drug laws. [His] book drives a stake through the heart of the failed War on Drugs and gives us options to hope for in the battles to come” – Walter Cronkite

Then I knew part of the reason why America was failing as a country, why it was not exceptional, or the new kingdom of God, or fair, just, righteous and deserving a pass for international and local peccadillos. At its core it justified the control and eradication of individuals that didn’t fit its stereotypes, the stereotypes of the American dream. It believed that its version of purity was what God wanted and approved. It believed that its status quo was the high moral ground. So racism, sexism, and prejudice of every variety continued to be lauded and written into law, and the subjects of America’s ire were rendered, sent to jail, quietly allowed to be killed, and in the extraordinary circumstance killed them. All the while, America claimed to be exceptional, and shrugged off criticism without a second thought.

It took me about five years to study, analyze, and understand the drug war, its proponents and detractors, the science, the law, the practice. Then I started the Marijuana Memo, this site. In it, I attempted to vent my outrage and give reasons why the drug war was not only a bad idea, but it was immoral, unjust, and prejudicial. It was all these things without reason, justification, or science. All the drug war had going for it was socio-moral disgust whipped up into a frenzy of politicking, funding, and law writing, denigration of the Bill of Rights, militarization of the police force, and an entirely irrational “cure by incarceration.”

See this video on YouTube. This is a start. “The first step to solving any problem is recognizing there is one.”

After you’ve taken the video break, let me resume with a few recommendations that persist after 10 years of my initial assessments in 2005 and 2006.

  • Restore the Bill of Rights to its rightful place as a preventative of overweening federal power over our private lives.
  • Hold the authorities accountable for their deception, lying, outright abuse of power.
  • We need to let the non-violent prisoners out of jail, those who were wrestled up into the failed drug war, many of them spending more time in jail than their raping, murdering, and otherwise violent cohorts.
  • Allow any adult over 21 who wishes to use marijuana, to do so under a fair regime of laws and taxes that will not foster the continuation of the black or even gray market.
  • Allow doctors in every state to prescribe marijuana in its variety of forms for whatever reason they wish, without any more legal hocus pocus than that which is required for non-opioid pain relievers.
  • Do modern science, and take away from the profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies the exclusive ownership of drugs derived from marijuana. Marijuana is a publicly available plant that grows in a wide variety of climates.
  • Allow anyone to grow marijuana for medical or non-medical use, with the stipulation that none of it be distributed to those below the legal age.
  • Allow all the academic and corporate studies of the drug, whose sole purpose was not to justify the ludicrous federal policy, to be available publicly, and make them the basis of any rubric of drug laws. Many of the studies were publicly funded, and so the public should be able to have access to them as a ground of law.
  • Restore the redacted parts of the US pharmacopeia that dealt with marijuana and use it as the beginning of a better one.
  • Keep in place all the regulations that bring sanctions against people for violence, or reckless endangerment. That is, there are laws against violence of a variety of kinds. Don’t make the arrest about the drugs, even as the arrest for vehicular manslaughter is not (or should not be) about the alcohol.

There are dozens of more recommendations I could make to move the US toward a more just, consistent, a kinder society. Something of our violence has to do with our insecurity. Nietzsche said it (with some complexity, but the point is sharp.)

But most of all the attempt, ever more determined, to fix a price for every offense, and thus to dissociate, up to a certain point, the offender from his offense—these are the traits which characterize with increasing clarity the development of penal law. Whenever a community gains in power and pride, its penal code becomes more lenient, while the moment it is weakened or endangered the harsher methods of the past are revived.1

On these grounds America has become increasingly weak over the past 50 years. It has become a badge of pride or the gorilla beating his chest for the US to come down on drug users. It is politically expedient, and good for political fundraising to participate in the War on Drugs.

The harsher methods, ones that many of us are familiar with, the dramatic rise in incarceration, the persistent violence of the death penalty even in the face of fair and strong criticism of its lack of usefulness and persistent injustice, the contemporary militarization of the police with its attendant “shoot and coverup” mentality, show how true Nietzsche’s criticism was. The tendency, of course, is to cover up Nietzsche’s criticism instead of addressing the inherent insecurity that has ensued from fair mistrust of governmental authority. In the contemporary movie, Suffragettes the protagonist says to the policeman who is interrogating her, “Give us laws that are respectful and we will respect the laws.” Admitting you are wrong amounts to losing your job in the vicious business and political climate, becoming the sacrificial lamb, the scapegoat, all in the interest of maintaining the high moral appearance of authorities.

This all looks so grubby and medieval. But, “shouldn’t the local lord be able to kill whoever he thinks needs it to secure his power and maintain his hegemony?” Of course he shouldn’t be able to do that any more than a husband has some supposed right to beat or kill his wife if she displeases him.

To leave this on a much lighter note, I quote from Mitch Earleywine’s Understanding Marijuana, “Individuals are no more aggressive [than they were] after smoking marijuana.”2

1Fredrich Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, ch 2 section X.
2Mitch Earleywine, Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2002), 272.