Marijuana Laws = Privatized Prisons, racism and other stupid Fed tricks.

(Always glad to see diaries and posts from WLJ.  Please post more! – promoted by ClubTwitty)

Many of you know how I feel about pot and America’s war on drugs, but what you may not know is I am about to dedicate my life to ending this attack on America’s communities of color and those without resources to fight the hypocrisy.

Where do I begin?  In a nutshell….

America’s drug policies are 100% based on racist issues.  Cocaine became illegal after reports that it made Black men “crazy” and they would rape White women.  

In 1910 Dr. Hamilton Wright, considered by some the father of U.S. anti-narcotics laws, reported that U.S. contractors were giving cocaine to their Black employees to get more work out of them. A few years later, stories began to proliferate about “cocaine-crazed Negroes” in the South who had run amuck.  The New York Times published a story that alleged “most of the attacks upon white women of the South are the direct result of the ‘cocaine-crazed’ Negro brain.”  Some southern police departments switched to .38 caliber revolvers, because they thought cocaine made Blacks impervious to .32 caliber bullets.

Pot became illegal when reports of Mexican and Chinese workers smoked pot and “induced violence against Americans”.

During the Great Depression, the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act came into law, again using racism as its chief selling point.  The same Mexicans, who were vying with out of work Americans for the few agricultural jobs available, it was said, engaged in marijuana induced violence against Americans.

So, fast forward to 2009.  

Privatized Prisons.  America’s new slave labor.

What does this have to do with our drug laws – plenty.  In all capitalist ventures you need, demand, supply and access to product.  When you create a prison system for profit how do you ensure the success of that industry?  You create a supply chain to hold up the demand for larger prison contracts.  How do you fill the prisons with product?  Create an entire population of inmates from one sector of society.  In this case, people of color.

Case in Point, Tulia, Texas which was profiled on 60 minutes is just one example.

(CBS)  Tulia, Texas is the site of what’s been called one of the worst miscarriages of justice in recent memory.  

It’s where an undercover narcotics officer named Tom Coleman arrested 46 people – nearly all of them black – on charges of being cocaine or marijuana dealers, sending many of them to prison for a total of 750 years.  

As Correspondent Ed Bradley first reported last September, they were pardoned by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, after a judge accused Coleman of being a liar, thief and racist. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories…

Before some of you claim that people of color use more drugs, let’s get real for a minute.

Marijuana sales are estimated to be as high as $113 Billion dollars annually in the US.  Alcohol sales are $130 Billion.  As much pot as alcohol is sold every year.  

This number would require 40 million people to spend an average of $55 a week on weed.  This is not happening in the “hood”.  California NORML’s estimates are in that ballpark.  In 2003, the group figured that if 600,000 to 700,000 people in the state smoke two cigarette-size joints every day and 1 million smoke one joint every 10 days.  

Marijuana is being bought by business people, housewives, college students and apparently, everyone else.  

So, why are the drug laws putting so many people of color in jail and not white businessmen and housewives?  Because the drug policies in this country are horribly racist and privatized prisons need slave labor.  Supply and demand, basic economics.  Why else would a nation spend billions of dollars on failed program?  

The direct cost of the War on Drugs is something like 40 or 50 billion dollars per year. And still every year illegal drug sales increase.  

Why would we do this?  Our nation has been built on the concept of cheap labor.  Get mad, but before you respond to this atrocity, look it up the facts on the web.  There are 1000s of stories from every news source.

I have been very active for over 15 years in the drug battle.  We fought in Los Angeles when overcrowding of LA County jail caused law enforcement to release violent criminals early to make room for drug arrests.  Yes, we let out rapist early to lock up Black and Brown boys for smoking pot.

We have created a ridiculous drug atmosphere in this country.  Women will talk openly about their use of Valium or Xanax, but God forbid we admit to the fact we smoke a joint at night to relax.

I find it funny that people are impressed about my knowledge of fine rums from around world, but find it curious that I have the same knowledge of pot strains.

It is time for smart people to change this attitude.  There are no issues with pot.  Plain and simple.  

If as a nation we are ok with alcohol and cigarettes, which cause hundreds of thousands of deaths per year, why are we scared to admit that we smoke pot as much as we drink beer?  And the kicker to this is NOT ONE POT RELATED DEATH EVER!!!

Scott and I will become more involved in this issue and this industry.  We can not sit back and watch young people of color have their lives ruined over smoking a joint, or having veterans thrown out of their federally subsidized homes for smoking pot for pain relief.

In the Post this morning, a disabled man has been tossed out of Federal housing for smoking pot for pain.  I guess he should have taken OxyContin, Big Pharma and the Feds are OK with that drug.

http://www.denverpost.com/news…

Wake up call.  America the battle is on, and it will be televised, blogged, and reported by pot heads like me.  You know, the college grad, military officer, corporate executive, business owner and political consultant types.  

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38 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Laughing Boy says:

    Do you think harder drugs should be legalized as well?  Regulated or not?  

    The devil’s in the details, but I think you’re right on in a lot of this.

    • Whiskey Lima JulietWhiskey Lima Juliet says:

      The drug laws are clearly not working.  As society we should protect people from harmful drugs.  

      So, which drugs should we spend 40 million protecting ourselves from?

      Alcohol deaths  85,000

      Tobacco deaths  435,000

      Illicit drug use deaths  17,000

      Prescription Drugs deaths 32,000

      Marijuana deaths 0

      http://drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q

      Betty Ford did not go to jail.

      Rush Limbaugh did not go to jail

      So, what drugs and what penalty?  Is this a health care issue?  Is this a rehabilitation issue?

      • cologeek says:

        I’m all in favor of legalizing marijuana and treating it like tobacco, but the harder drugs are a thornier proposition.  Remember that legalization will lead to more use, and greater availability to the younger ones around us.  

        There have been a number of legalization efforts in Europe, most notably the Netherlands and Switzerland, with mixed results at best.  You should look at those when deciding how far you want to take legalization.  Don’t make this a political fight, make it a moral one.

        • Laughing Boy says:

          I agree with you on many things, but I don’t see how legalizing heroin and cocaine aren’t going to bring more misery to many more people.

          Would you just throw the doors open for drugs like that?

          • redstateblues says:

            Legalization of hard drugs has either had no effect, or lessened abuse, depending on which study you believe. I personally don’t see it happening, though I do support legalization of marijuana.

            But WLJ’s point about alcohol and tobacco causing just as much death and misery is cogent.

            I think that instead of legalizing heroin or meth, we should stop throwing addicts in prison and start putting a focus on treating their addiction. Prison does nothing for drug addicts other than give them a place to find more drugs.

            • Laughing Boy says:

              Treatment would be much more cost effective.

              • CaninesCanines says:

                What do street-level heroin addicts do all day? They try to find ways to support their heroin habit. For those who can’t maintain a steady job, that involves stealing or prostitution in order to pay for an expensive habit they already have. What happens if heroin addicts are given heroin by doctors for a few cents a day? Well, they have an awful lot of time to think about their lives, now. For some, they burn out on the habit and detox. Some don’t, yet are able to hold jobs now.

                I’m not against methadone, but people ought to realize that it’s a more addictive drug than heroin itself.

                http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08

                For years, European countries like Switzerland and the Netherlands have allowed doctors to provide some addicts with prescription heroin as an alternative to buying drugs on the street. The treatment is safe and keeps addicts out of trouble, studies have found, but it is controversial – not only because the drug is illegal but also because policy makers worry that treating with heroin may exacerbate the habit.

                The study, appearing in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, may put some of those concerns to rest.

                “It showed that heroin works better than methadone in this population of users, and patients will be more willing to take it,” said Dr. Joshua Boverman, a psychiatrist at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

          • Ralphie says:

            And in the process, she asked you a question, which you didn’t answer.

            You just went off on talking points.

            So I’m going to re-ask WLJ’s question, as a blockquote:

            So, which drugs should we spend 40 million protecting ourselves from?

            Please try to answer.

        • Whiskey Lima JulietWhiskey Lima Juliet says:

          However, that is part of the issue.  Pot is a schedule 1 drug.  In the same category as Heroine and looked at as one of the worse drugs you can take. We all know that has no basis in fact.

          Cocaine is considered a less harmful drug than pot.  (Schedule 2) I can not even begin to understand that, except is based on historical racial issues and allows the prosecution of pot use to be more severe.

          So, we have to begin with how categorize and then decide how we treat the issues of addiction, abuse and distribution.

          • Laughing Boy says:

            Then I’m with you.  Again, brilliant diary.  I need to come down for a glass of wine soon.

            • colorado76 says:

              One of the biggest challenges to meaningful reform of drug laws is a truly difficult discussion about weighing the expense, inefficacy and societal harm of criminalizing drug use against the additional harm that would befall those whose lives would be swallowed by easily available heavily addictive narcotics (as well as those around them, whether family members or people driving in the car on opposite side of the road).  To get this done though, I fear that folks on both sides are going to have to put the flame throwers down.  It has to be okay to suggest lessening penalties for drug use and possession without being branded as someone who disregards the safety of children, and it has to be okay to suggest keeping some drug restrictions without being branded as a thoughtlessly judgmental Puritan.   Fear of being turned into a caricature defends the status quo, which is in many ways indefensible.      

              • ClubTwitty says:

                certainly not to the extent it is now.  Meth, Cocaine, Heroin are different matters, in my mind.  But to fill prisons with non-violent drug-offenders, especially users and minor dealers, is just stupid on so many levels.

                Our drug policies are a mess.  A kid gets busted with pot in high school and suddenly it becomes very hard to get any federal aid for college.  Yeah that’ll teach ’em!  

        • Whiskey Lima JulietWhiskey Lima Juliet says:

          Prisons for profit are creating a culture of cultivating criminals for profit.

          • BlueCat says:

            of criminalizing non-violent drug use and injustice in the disparity between treatment of middle class and affluent white vs poor and minority offenders.  

            Also see nothing good, including the promised efficiencies and savings private enterprise is supposed to provide, coming of privatization for profit in our prison system just as nothing good has come of privatization for profit in our military and intelligence gathering, to put it mildly.

            What you see in all those areas is increasing costs to the taxpayer to fill the pockets of profiteers accompanied by bestial brutality with no accountability.

        • CaninesCanines says:

          Don’t make this a political fight, make it a moral one.

          The War on Drugs has always been treated as a matter involving Satan bunkum, not health and science.

        • smellykat says:

          and were able to offer treatment, might be an option to go there.  but without health care it doesn’t make sense.  every other country with more liberalized laws has health care.  

  2. Whiskey Lima JulietWhiskey Lima Juliet says:

    Warning On Possible Pot Growers Called Profiling

    Latino Forum Says Warning Puts Hispanic Campers In Danger

    DENVER — An advocate for Hispanic rights says she was appalled to learn that the U.S. Forest Service is warning the public that campers who eat tortillas, drink Tecate beer and play Spanish music could be armed marijuana growers.

    Polly Baca, co-chairwoman of the Colorado Latino Forum, said the warning is profiling and discriminatory. She said it could put Hispanic campers in danger.

    A Forest Service spokesman had no immediate comment Friday but the agency issued the warning Wednesday amid an investigation into how much marijuana is being cultivated in Colorado’s national forests.

    http://www.thedenverchannel.co

    • parsingreality says:

      Little did I know I was right there and Mi Amigos were growing pot somewhere nearby!  Wow!  

      And here I thought they were just some ordinary Mexican guys doing ordinary Mexican things.

      You never know!  

    • CaninesCanines says:

      I don’t want to keep reading about it being grown surreptitiously in national parks or forests in Colorado, California, and elsewhere, causing fear and potentially real danger for outdoor enthusiasts.

  3. parsingreality says:

    Where else, Mendocino County.

    She is Physician’s Assistant, so well educated and intelligent.  Sort of a part time job for her….

    IIRC, in Denver when the area around El Chapultepec was the red light district, the Chinese were there, too.  One of the streets, I think the one south of EC was known as Hop Alley for the opium usage.

    While I won’t go as far as WLJ in inferring intent and outright racism, there certainly is a racial component to our drug history and laws.  

    • Whiskey Lima JulietWhiskey Lima Juliet says:

      There are thousands of article written about this.  I am so surprised that so many of us don’t even understand how our laws came into play.  As I began researching this, I, too, was shocked and amazed.  Seriously, why would pot be illegal and alcohol and cigarettes sold to anyone? It comes down to race.

      The Marijuana Laws came out of fear and ignorance and are overtly  race based.

      The U.S. War on Drugs: Political Economics of a New Slavery

      Compiled by Drug Policy Alliance. August 2001.

      The U.S. “war on drugs” is big business — a multi-billion dollar public/private venture that radically inflates the value of illegal drugs and is used to criminalize the poorest people of color, trapping them in a vicious cycle of addiction, unemployment and incarceration:

      $27 billion for interdiction and law enforcement, $1.3 billion for Plan Colombia in 2000.

      $9.4 billion in 2000 to imprison close to 500,000 people convicted of non-violent drug offenses, 75% of whom are Black.

      $80 to $100 billion in lost earnings.

      http://www.drugpolicy.org/abou

      The Racial History of U.S. Drug Prohibition

      Compiled by Drug Policy Alliance. August 2001.

      [T]he drug laws can be used selectively and sporadically, against the poor or the otherwise undesirable, which is by no means incidental. Their enforcement is a tremendous political and economic weapon against what we call the Third World — James Baldwin

      In the United States and many other nations, it is no longer possible to talk honestly and frankly about racism without talking about the “war on drugs.” Few US policies have had as disproportionate effect on Blacks, Latinos and other racial minorities than the “war on drugs”. Every policy of the “war on drugs” – from racial profiling to arrests to prosecutions to length of sentencing – is disproportionately carried out against minorities.

      http://www.drugpolicy.org/abou

      • CaninesCanines says:

        Here’s a quote that the first “Drug Czar” Harry Anslinger included in his reports to Congress. It was written by a newspaper editor in Alamosa, Colorado:

        I wish I could show you what a small marihuana cigaret can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents. That’s why our problem is so great; the greatest percentage of our population is composed of Spanish-speaking persons, most of who are low mentally, because of social and racial conditions.

        Colorado had a law against marijuana prior to federal action. Then, the first convictions in the nation under the new federal law against marijuana in 1937 took place in Colorado.  

    • CaninesCanines says:

      One of Colorado’s foremost historians Thomas J. Noel has written about the Chinese presence in Denver’s LoDo in the 1800s, their use of opium in opium dens, and the prejudice they encountered. Noel states, “If Coloradans regarded blacks as inferior human beings, they looked upon the Chinese as sub-human.” In fact, Noel writes about how “Colorado’s only major race riot” took place in 1880, resulting in the beatings of several Chinese, and one lynching. Highly recommended history lesson (courtesy of Google Books) straight from Noel’s The City and the Saloon: Denver, 1858-1916:

      http://books.google.com/books?…

    • Cartesian Doubt says:

      This is great, something I knew little about before I read this thread.

      You also seem to have found a topic both liberal and conservative can find middle ground. After the last few weeks, this is to be applauded.

      My views on drugs used to be very rigid, absolute. I’ve been rethinking my views on marijuana as medicine and hemp as a cash crop.

      And you’re right, we’re punishing abusers instead of helping them. Where’s the compassion in that? Education on effects and consequences should be more of a focus than criminalizing use.

      And I agree with LB that we should continue fighting meth, heroin, and cocaine. Those drugs completely ruin people, the user and everyone around them.

  4. Sir RobinSir Robin says:

    There are many good, productive, indeed upstanding citizens who fall victim to these insane laws. Marijuana should be legal, distributed like alcohol and tobacco, and as with every thing that can harm a person….education at home and at school, and in the media.

    In saying that, you probably won’t win the war any time soon claiming that marijuana does NO harm….although I can’t see where it does, EXCEPT in that it harms society’s ability to brainwash it’s citizens. I’ve always found marijuanna users to be an independent thinking breed.

    Good luck, and keep us informed.

  5. CaninesCanines says:

    so that it doesn’t mess unduly with the global economy.

    http://www.reuters.com/article

    VIENNA, Jan 25 [2009](Reuters) – The United Nations’ crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

    Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often became the only available capital when the crisis spiralled out of control last year.

    “In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital,” Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. “In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system’s main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor.”

    The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime had found evidence that “interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities,” Costa was quoted as saying. There were “signs that some banks were rescued in that way.”

  6. pueblogrouch says:

    WLJ could you give us some data on private prisons and the slave labor that occurs there? I have been concerned about this for some time and haven’t had the time to research it.

    • Whiskey Lima JulietWhiskey Lima Juliet says:

      One of the best articles I have found:

      The prison industry in the United States: big business or a new form of slavery?

      http://www.globalresearch.ca/i



      STATISTICS

      Ninety-seven percent of 125,000 federal inmates have been convicted of non-violent crimes. It is believed that more than half of the 623,000 inmates in municipal or county jails are innocent of the crimes they are accused of. Of these, the majority are awaiting trial. Two-thirds of the one million state prisoners have committed non-violent offenses. Sixteen percent of the country’s 2 million prisoners suffer from mental illness.

      What has happened over the last 10 years? Why are there so many prisoners?

      “The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and its investors are on Wall Street. “This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors.”

      According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.

      Who is investing?

      At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society:

      IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more.

      …Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but not all; in Colorado, they get about $2 per hour, well under the minimum. And in privately-run prisons, they receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month.

      Thanks to prison labor, the United States is once again an attractive location for investment in work that was designed for Third World labor markets.

      A company that operated a maquiladora (assembly plant in Mexico near the border) closed down its operations there and relocated to San Quentin State Prison in California. In Texas, a factory fired its 150 workers and contracted the services of prisoner-workers from the private Lockhart Texas prison, where circuit boards are assembled for companies like IBM and Compaq.

      LASTLY AND MOST ALARMING!!!!!

      [Former] Oregon State Representative Kevin Mannix recently urged Nike to cut its production in Indonesia and bring it to his state, telling the shoe manufacturer that “there won’t be any transportation costs; we’re offering you competitive prison labor (here).”

  7. Car 31 says:

    Great diary. Admire your passion.  

    What are you going to do about it? I may have missed your proposed actions, but one place to begin, which you already know about I’m sure, is the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ).

    The CCJJ is a large, unwieldy group of stakeholders examining a wide variety of criminal justice issues.  One, of the many, subcommittees they have is the Drug Policy Task Force.  They are talking about what concerns you, without the racial overtones.

    Check out

    http://cdpsweb.state.co.us/ccc

    to get meeting schedule and minutes.

    That’s just one suggestion, but would love to hear what you and Scott are planning…

    • Whiskey Lima JulietWhiskey Lima Juliet says:

      We have been speaking to people across the nation to get a strong understanding of what is being done and by whom.

      Our team will be making some announcements in the next few weeks.  

      We are working to change perceptions of MMJ and working to shed light on the privatized prisons and what this industry means to America and her people – it is not a good thing by any measure.

      But yes, we plan on challenging the laws and the law makers to end this modern day slavery.

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