China’s insatiable demand for iron ore has been the basis for Western Australia’s booming export industry, but another natural resource has been making its way to the East.
According to Nimbin-based hemp researcher and grower Klara Marosszeky, a Western Australian hemp grower is exporting all of his crop to China, including a contract to supply the Chinese military. The military are using the material to create “hemp food packs” that include hemp milk, hemp chocolate, hemp cake, hemp coffee and hemp protein powder amongst other food products.
“You can use the meal like flour. It was used by most cultures of the world in the last century,” she said.
Ms Marosszeky is hoping that a hemp-based food industry will be a reality in Australia within a few years, but at the moment the authority that regulates the food industry, FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand), does not allow any hemp food products to be sold here.
“The industry is ready to grow and we think we will be growing it for food, either for local production or for export to meet the growing world food crisis,” she said.
This week the NSW Parliament passed legislation allowing for the licensing of industrial hemp to be grown in this state for the first time.
“Industrial hemp has the potential to provide farmers with a much-needed additional fast growing summer crop option that can be used in rotation with winter grain crops,” NSW Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald said. “It’s a potentially lucrative industry due to the environmentally friendly nature of (it) and there is strong interest for hemp products in the market.”
Klara Marosszeky held a workshop last weekend for 15 local growers to assist them to fill out the licence application forms and she is hoping they will be planting within weeks.
“Farmers are growing for a couple of different reasons; some are growing to develop a seed base for the Northern Rivers region because that’s the only way we can keep the price of seed reasonable. A few will be growing for the natural fibre industry, and the Regional Development Corporation is also working with Southern Cross University and the Northern Rivers Hemp Association to do seed research with the long term view of developing a good eating variety.”
However, Klara’s main interest and speciality is hemp masonry – using hemp fibre with a mixture of lime-based materials to create a building material.
“This year we’re hoping to get investment to get a bagging and batching facility in the region to produce a dry mix in one tonne bulk bags for the affordable housing market,” she said. “I’ve been talking with the Northern Rivers Regional Development Board who have supported my work through the innovation award process.”
Some previous trials of growing hemp in cane growing areas on the North Coast have been less than successful, so one of the other things Klara is hoping to do is to plant a “a wet footed cultivar”.
“We’ve got all sorts of cultivars from all over world… cultivars being worked on by Dr Keith Bolton and myself. For example we’ve got seeds in from Canada which give you height, European ones that are good for food, and Hungarian ones that give a combination of food and fibre suitable for textiles.”
Archive for the ‘war on drugs’ Category
How the CIA Inflitrated the DEA
By DOUGLAS VALENTINE
The DEA and its predecessor federal drug law enforcement organizations have always been infiltrated and, to varying degrees, managed by America’s intelligence agencies. The reason is simple enough: the US Government has been protecting its drug smuggling allies, especially in organized crime, since trafficking was first criminalized in 1914. Since then drug law enforcement has been a function of national security in its broadest sense; not just protecting our aristocracy from foreign enemies, but preserving the Establishment’s racial, religious and class prerogatives.
The glitch in the system is that while investigating traffickers, federal drug agents are always unearthing the Establishment’s ties to organized crime and its proxy drug syndicates. US intelligence and security agencies recognized this problem early in the early 1920s and to protect their Establishment patrons (and foreign and domestic drug smuggling allies fighting communists), they dealt with the problem by suborning well-placed drug law enforcement managers and agents.
They have other means at their disposal as well. In 1998, for example, in a series of articles in the San Jose Mercury News, reporter Gary Webb claimed that the CIA had facilitated the flow of crack cocaine to street gangs in Los Angeles. After the Agency vehemently denied the allegations, Webb was denounced by the CIA’s co-conspirators: the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. Frightened into submission by the growls of its biggers and betters, the Mercury News retracted Webb’s story and sent the reporter into internal exile. The CIA’s Inspector General later admitted that Webb was partially right. But being unjustly discredited is the price one pays for tearing the mask off the world’s biggest drug trafficker.
It’s always been that way. Case in point: in 1960 MacMillan published Russ Koen’s book The China Lobby. In it Koen said the Nationalist Chinese were smuggling narcotics into the US, “with the full knowledge and connivance” of their government in Taiwan. He said that “prominent Americans have participated and profited from these transactions.” The idea of prominent Americans profiting from drug trafficking was unthinkable and quick as a flash, Harry J. Anslinger, the Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), denounced Koen as a fraud. Within weeks Koen’s book was remaindered into obscurity by MacMillan.
Professor Al McCoy’s seminal book The Politics of Heroin, published in 1972, is another example. The CIA knew about McCoy’s research and approached his publisher, demanding that it suppress the book on grounds of national security. Harper Row refused, but agreed to allow the CIA to review the book prior to publication. When McCoy objected, Harper Row said it would not publish the book unless McCoy submitted.
Examples of federal drug law enforcement’s complicity with the CIA also abound and many are recounted in my first book on the subject, The Strength of the Wolf: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics 1930-1968. In my new book, The Strength of the Pack: The Politics, Espionage Intrigues, and Personalities that Defined the DEA, I explain how the CIA infiltrated the DEA and how, under CIA direction, the war on drugs became a template for the war on terror. One example shall be presented in this essay.
The Merry Pranksters
My new book, Strength of the Pack, begins in April 1968, when, in the wake of a huge corruption scandal, the Johnson Administration folded the FBN into a new organization called the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD). Attorney General Ramsey Clark announced the appointment of thirty-eight year old John E. Ingersoll as the BNDD’s director. In a letter to me Clark said that Ingersoll “offered a clean break with a past that had ended in corruption and, I hoped, a new progressive, scientific based approach to drug control in a time of deep social unrest.”
Clark appointed Ingersoll while Johnson was president and after the elections, in an attempt to preempt the in-coming Nixon Administration, Clark held a news conference to proclaim the Johnson Administration’s success in cleansing the BNDD of any lingering corruption. “32 Narcotics Agents Resign in Corruption Investigation Here,” read the headline in the 14 December 1968 New York Times. Clark noted that five of the bad agents had been indicted, and that additional prosecutions and resignations would soon be forthcoming.
The Democrats had lost the election, largely because the “law and order” candidate Richard Nixon had promised to win the war on drugs. Ironically, once he was elected president, this vow would pit Nixon against the CIA, which was aiding and abetting the major politicians and generals commanding America’s allies in Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, many of whom were part of a huge Kuomintang drug smuggling network. In order to defeat the Communists, their drug smuggling activities had to be protected. But in order for Nixon to make good on his promise to win the war on drugs, they had to be stopped. Thus began the CIA’s infiltration of the BNDD, and its struggle with Nixon’s anti-Establishment, felonious minions for control over targeting of major traffickers as a mean of managing the war on drugs.
BNDD Director John Ingersoll was totally unprepared for the political tug-of-war he found himself in the midst of. He had joined the Oakland police department in 1956, serving as a motorcycle cop and later as an administrative assistant to the chief. In the mid-1960s he became the police chief in Charlotte, North Carolina where he earned a reputation as a straight arrow and fighter against corruption. But within a year of taking control of the BNDD, Ingersoll realized he was no match for the wily federal drug agents he inherited. They were a cunning and dangerous wolf pack, and the organization’s top officials were among the worst offenders.
As one agent explains, “Most were corrupted by the lure of the underworld. They thought they could check their morality at the door–go out and lie, cheat, and steal–then come back and retrieve it. But you can’t. In fact, if you’re successful because you can lie, cheat, and steal, those things become tools you use in the bureaucracy. You’re talking about guys whose lives depended on their ability to be devious and who become very good at it. So these people became the bosses. Meanwhile the agents were losing their simplicity in subtle ways.”
Ingersoll knew this, but he was also aware of the high priority Nixon placed on winning the war on drugs. Rather than generate a scandal, Ingersoll decided to go outside of the organization, to the CIA, for help in quietly rooting out corruption. The 1975 Rockefeller Commission Report On CIA Activities Within The United States stated that the joint CIA-BNDD anti-corruption program began when Ingersoll became “vitally” concerned that some of his employees might have been corrupted by drug traffickers. Lacking the necessary security apparatus to expunge these corrupt agents, Ingersoll in early 1970 asked the Director of Central Intelligence, Richard Helms, for help building a “counter-intelligence” capacity. The request was “apparently” supported by President Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell.
The man Ingersoll appointed chief inspector of BNDD, Patrick Fuller, had served with IRS investigations for nearly 20 years in California. Fuller was Ingersoll’s close friend, but apart from that, he was incapable of mounting internal security investigations against federal drug agents. When Ingersoll proposed that they turn to the CIA, Fuller readily agreed. The plan, known as Operation Twofold, involved the hiring of CIA officers to spy on ranking BNDD officials suspected of corrupt practices, past and present. As Pat Fuller recalls, “We recruited the CIA officers for BNDD through a proprietary company. A corporation engaged in law enforcement hired research consultants, and three CIA officers posing as private businessmen were hired to do the contact and interview work.”
The principle recruiter was Jerry Soul, assisted by CIA officers John F Murnane, Joseph Cruciani, and Chick Barquin. Then a personnel officer at CIA headquarters, Soul had managed Cuban exiles during the Bay of Pigs invasion, and later directed the CIA’s exile Cuban mercenary army and air force in the Congo.
Apart from one exile Cuban, the CIA officers hired for Operation Twofold were, typically, Anglo paramilitary officers whose careers had stalled due to the gradual reduction of CIA forces in Vietnam and Laos. Those hired were put through the BNDD training course and assigned by Fuller to spy on a particular regional director and his trusted subordinates. According to Fuller, no records were kept and some participants will never be identified because they were “cut-outs” who never went to a BNDD office, but spied from afar and reported clandestinely. Some were not even known to Fuller. All were supposed to be sent overseas but most remained in the US.
Much of Twofold remains a mystery because, as the Rockefeller Commission reported, it “violated the 1947 Act which prohibits the CIA’s participation in law enforcement activities.”
No one was ever prosecuted.
Twofold Case Studies
Twofold was aimed at the BNDD’s top managers. One target was Joseph J. Baca, the assistant Regional Director in Los Angeles. The cousin of a top Mexican cop, Baca in July 1969 was charged by the New Mexico State Police with trafficking in drugs and stolen property. He was accused of arranging burglaries and holdups, and allegedly sold heroin to a drug smuggler. But the local investigations were closed without any adverse action against Baca, so Twofold torpedo Charles “Chuck” Gutensohn was asked to investigate.
Gutensohn had served with the Special Forces in South Vietnam. He left the army in 1964, earned a college degree, and in 1968 joined the CIA. For the next two years, Gutensohn served in Pakse, Laos, one of the major drug transit points between the Golden Triangle and Saigon. He had drug experience and upon returning to the US, Gutensohn was given the choice of being the CIA’s liaison to the BNDD in Laos, or joining Twofold. Gutensohn’s brother Joel, also a Vietnam veteran, had joined the Twofold program six months earlier in Chicago. That being the case, Chuck joined too.
“After meeting with Jerry Soul,” Gutensohn recalls, “I met Fuller at a hotel near Tyson’s Corner. He said that when we communicated, I was to be known as Leo Adams, for Los Angeles. He was to be Walter De Carlo, for Washington, DC.”
Fuller recruited Gutensohn and the other CIA officers because they did not have to be trained in the “tradecraft skills” required for the job of spying on their bosses. But Gutensohn’s cover was blown before he got to LA. As he recalls, “Someone at headquarters was talking and everyone knew. About a month after I arrived, one of the agents said to me, “I hear that Pat Fuller signed your credentials.”
A similar situation occurred in Miami, where Fuller’s targets were Regional Director Ben Theisen and Group Supervisor Pete Scrocca. Terry Burke, who would cap his career as the DEA’s acting administrator in 1990, was one of the Twofold agents assigned to investigate Theisen and Scrocca. Tall and handsome, Burke’s background is fascinating. After serving as a Marine guard at the US Embassy in Rome, he joined the CIA and served as a paramilitary officer in Laos from 1963-1965, working for legendary CIA officer Tony Poshepny at the 118A base near Ban Houei Sai–the epicenter of the Golden Triangle’s opium and heroin trade. Burke received the CIA’s highest award, the Intelligence Star, for gallantry in combat in Laos. He served his next tour in the Philippines but in 1969 was assigned to a dead-end job at CIA headquarters. Knowing his career had stalled, Burke contacted a friend from Italy, Customs Agent Fred Cornetta. Then the agent in charge at Dulles airport, Cornetta persuaded Burke to join the BNDD.
Burke applied and was hired in December 1970. Fuller recruited him into the Twofold operation and assigned him to Pete Scrocca’s group. But instead of spying on his new colleagues, Burke set about proving that he was tough and smart enough to work “undercover cases on bad guys with shotguns in motel rooms.” Burke never sent any negative reports to Fuller, and Theisen and Scrocca eventually accepted him.
Gutensohn and Burke’s experience was not unusual, and Twofold never resulted in a single dismissal of any corrupt BNDD agent. The astonishing reason for this is quite simple. Little did Ingersoll or Fuller know that the CIA never initiates a program unless it is deniable and has “intelligence potential.” Twofold conformed to these criteria: it was deniable because it was, ostensibly, a BNDD program; and it had intelligence potential in so far as it was perfectly suited for Angletonian style “operations within operations.”
As the BNDD’s chief inspector Pat Fuller told me, “There was another operation even I didn’t know about. Why don’t you find out who set that one up, and why?”
Boxes Within Boxes
Well, I did find out about this operation. Quite by accident, while interviewing a DEA agent in Miami, I was introduced to Joseph C DiGennaro, a member of the CIA’s secret facet of Operation Twofold, its unilateral drug operations unit. Hidden behind Fuller’s “inspections” program, the purpose of the CIA’s unilateral drug unit was to identify drug-dealers worldwide, and selectively kidnap and/or assassinate them. As DiGennaro explains, his entry into the program began when an eminent surgeon, a family friend, suggested that he apply for a job with the BNDD. Then working as a stockbroker in New York City, DiGennaro in August 1971 met Fuller at a Howard Johnson’s near the Watergate complex. Fuller told him that if he took the Twofold job, he would be given the code name Novo Yardley. The code name was based on DiGennaro’s posting in New York, and a play on the name of the famous American spy, Herbert Yardley.
DiGennaro took the job and was sent to a CIA security officer to obtain the required clearances. That’s when he was told that he and several other recruits were being “spun-off” from Fuller’s inspection program into the CIA’s unilateral “operational” program. He was told that he had been selected because he had a black belt in Karate and the uncanny ability to remember lists and faces. The background check took 14 months, during which time DiGennaro received intensive combat and tradecraft training. In October 1972 he was sent to BNDD regional headquarters in New York and, as a cover, was assigned to a compliance group that mostly inspected pharmacies. His paychecks came from official BNDD funds, though the program was funded by the CIA through the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Mines. The program had been authorized by the “appropriate” Congressional committee.
DiGennaro’s special group was managed by the CIA’s Special Operations Division (then under Evan Parker, first director of the CIA’s Phoenix Program) in conjunction with the military, which provided assets within foreign military services to keep ex-filtration routes open. Ex-filtration routes were air corridors and roads. The military also cleared air space when captured suspects were brought into the US. DiGennaro spent most of his time on operations in South America, but served in Lebanon and other places too.
Within the CIA’s special anti-drug unit, which numbered about 40 men, were experts in printing, forgery, maritime operations, and telecommunications. The operatives knew one another by first name only. DiGennaro, however, was aware that other BNDD agents, including Joseph Salm and Paul Seema, were in the program. No one else in the BNDD, however, knew about the program. When the call to duty came, DiGennaro would check with Fuller and then take sick time or annual leave to go on missions. There were lots of missions. As his group leader in New York, Joe Quarequio, told me: “Joey was never in the office.”
The job was tracking down, kidnapping, and if they resisted, killing drug dealers. The violence was the result of the “limited window of opportunity” needed to get the job done. Due to the need for plausible deniability, there was minimal contact with the American Embassy where the mission was conducted. DiGennaro had “a Guardian Angel” who “assembled intelligence, developed routines, and contacted informants.” But the host country and its uniformed police and military services were rarely aware of his presence, and there was little coordination with the local BNDD outpost.
The operations were extremely dangerous. As DiGennaro recalls, “There was a case in Colombia. There was seventy-two to ninety-six hours to get it done. I was flown to Colombia where I contacted my Guardian Angel. He had paid someone off and that someone had led him to a cocaine lab. The operators of the lab had been surveilled and followed to their hideout. In order to capture them, we had to work with a local military unit, which we contacted by two-way radio. In this particular instance, someone intercepted the call, and the next thing we know there’s a woman on the radio alerting the suspects. She was an agent of the traffickers inside the local military unit. We hear her screaming at the soldiers. Then she’s shot. We didn’t know who she was calling,” he continues, “so we had to leapfrog by helicopter and military truck to where we thought the subjects were. That time we happened to be right. We got the violators back to the United States. They were incapacitated by drugs and handcuffed in various men’s’ rooms in Chicago and Miami.”
As one DEA Agent recalls, “We’d get a call that there was ‘a present’ waiting for us on the corner of 116th St and Sixth Avenue. We’d go there and find some guy who’d been indicted in the Eastern District of New York, handcuffed to a telephone pole. We’d take him to a safe house for questioning and, if possible, turn him into an informer. Sometimes we’d have him in custody for months. But what did he know?” If you’re a Colombian or a Corsican drug dealer in Argentina, and a few guys with police credentials arrest you, how do you know it’s a CIA operation?
Expendable operative DiGennaro did not see the management apparatus that was directing him. He never knew much about the people the CIA unit was snatching and snuffing either; only that people were prosecuted and that defendants screamed.
DiGennaro’s last operation in 1977 involved the recovery of a satellite that had fallen into a drug dealer’s hands. By then he had all the CIA tradecraft skills required to fly solo; he learned who owned satellite, negotiated for it in good faith, and purchased it back on the black market. Such was the extent of the “parallel mechanism” the CIA had with the BNDD; a mechanism the CIA obviously used not only for anti-drug purposes, but for counter-terror reasons as well.
By 1977, some 125 “former” CIA officers had been infiltrated into the DEA at every level of the organization, especially in intelligence units, making everything possible–from black market arms exchanges, to negotiations with terrorists, to political assassination. It also put the CIA in total control of targeting.
However, as the CIA’s influence became pervasive, more and more DEA agents felt its adverse impact on their cases. First the CIA demanded a list of all overseas DEA informants, as well as copies of all its intelligence reports. They got both. Next they began recruiting traffickers the DEA was working on. These recruits were subtracted from the DEA target list. In Chile in 1973, for example, the CIA allowed five drug traffickers to leave the soccer stadium in Santiago where dissidents were being tortured en masse. These traffickers fled to Colombia where they helped form the cartel that would eventually supplied crack cocaine to street gangs in Los Angles, through other CIA assets in Latin America.
As one DEA agent puts it, “The relationship between the CIA and DEA was not as it was originally intended. The CIA does not belong in any type of law enforcement activity, unless it can result in a conviction. Which it rarely does. They should only be supportive, totally.”
In February 1977, as he was about to resign in dismay, this agent and a group of other senior DEA officials felt compelled to document a litany of CIA misdeeds.
The CIA was causing so many problems that in early 1977, outgoing Assistant Administrator for Enforcement Dan Casey sent a three page, single-spaced memorandum to DEA Administrator Peter Bensinger expressing his concern “over the role presently being played by the CIA relative to the gathering of operational intelligence abroad.” Signing off on the memo were six enforcement division chiefs. “All were unanimous in their belief that present CIA programs were likely to cause serious future problems for DEA, both foreign and domestic.” Unilateral CIA programs in foreign countries were a “potential source of conflict and embarrassment and which may have a negative impact on the overall U.S. narcotic reduction effort.” He referenced specific incidents, citing CIA electronic surveillance and the fact that the CIA “will not respond positively to any discovery motion.” Casey foresaw more busted cases and complained that “Many of the subjects who appear in these CIA promoted or controlled surveillances regularly travel to the United States in furtherance of their trafficking activities.” The “de facto immunity” from prosecution enables the CIA assets to “operate much more openly and effectively.”
Casey was especially upset that the CIA demanded that DEA provide telephone numbers for its operations. “This practice is most disturbing because, in effect, it puts DEA in the position of determining which violators will be granted a de facto immunity.” Considering the seriousness of the problem, he recommended that “all DEA support for CIA electronic surveillance be suspended at once.” He asked DDEA Administrator Peter Bensinger to insist that the CIA adhere to guidelines set by the Carte White House Domestic Council, which limited the CIA to gathering strategic intelligence. He advised that DEA personnel not request CIA support “which might end to prejudice the domestic prosecution of any drug trafficker.”
Alas, Bensinger suffered the CIA at the expense of the DEA’s integrity. He ignored Casey and his division chiefs. The Strength of the Pack features examples of how this accommodation with the CIA emasculated the DEA. One major example is the CIA’s Contra Connection, as revealed by Gary Webb. There is also the fact that Manuel Noriega was a CIA asset and that his DEA file was destroyed by CIA infiltrators, paving the way for the invasion of Panama. There was also the Pan Am 103 case in December 1988, in which a bomb was planted by enemy agents who had penetrated a protected CIA drug ring, which was making a “controlled delivery.”
This huge crack in the CIA’s protective shield led to the formation of the CIA’s Counter-Narcotics Center, and business continued as usual. In December 1989, as reported in the 4 May 1990 issue of Newsday, “a small US special operations team both planned and carried” out a raid that resulted in the death of drug lord Jose Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, his 17 year old son, and several bodyguards. Pablo Escobar in 1994 was similarly assassinated by a CIA led execution squad.
The Gacha and Escobar hits, and many more like them which the public knows little or nothing about, are extrapolations of those performed by Joey DiGennaro. And the beat goes on. Shortly after he resigned in 1993, DEA chief Robert Bonner revealed that the CIA in 1990 had shipped a ton of pure cocaine to Miami from its Counter Narcotic Center warehouse in Venezuela. The Orwellian “controlled delivery” was accidentally lost.
With Bush’s war on terror, the situation has only gotten worse. In Afghanistan and South West Asia, the DEA is entirely infiltrated and controlled by the CIA and military. DEA headquarters is basically an adjunct of the Oval Office. And the Establishment continues to keep the lid on the story. After sending my manuscript to two reviewers–one with CIA connections, the other with DEA connections–my publisher has stopped communicating with me. I think my editor just wants me to go away.
One can only wonder how deeply America will descend into this vortex of fear and subservience to state security before it vanishes altogether.
Douglas Valentine is the author of The Hotel Tacloban, The Phoenix Program, and TDY. His fourth book, The Strength of the Wolf: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1930-1968, which received the Choice Academic Excellence Award and is being published in Russia. The sequel, The Strength of the Pack, is being published by University Press of Kansas in 2008. For information about Mr. Valentine, and his books and articles, please visit his web sites at www.DouglasValentine.com and http://members.authorsguild.net/valentine
Prohibition has failed — again. Instead of treating the demand for illegal drugs as a market, and addicts as patients, policymakers the world over have boosted the profits of drug lords and fostered narcostates that would frighten Al Capone. Finally, a smarter drug control regime that values reality over rhetoric is rising to replace the “war” on drugs.
“The Global War on Drugs can Be Won”
No, it can’t. A “drug-free world,” which the United Nations describes as a realistic goal, is no more attainable than an “alcohol-free world” — and no one has talked about that with a straight face since the repeal of Prohibition in the United States in 1933. Yet futile rhetoric about winning a “war on drugs” persists, despite mountains of evidence documenting its moral and ideological bankruptcy. When the U.N. General Assembly Special Session on drugs convened in 1998, it committed to “eliminating or significantly reducing the illicit cultivation of the coca bush, the cannabis plant and the opium poppy by the year 2008” and to “achieving significant and measurable results in the field of demand reduction.” But today, global production and consumption of those drugs are roughly the same as they were a decade ago; meanwhile, many producers have become more efficient, and cocaine and heroin have become purer and cheaper.
It’s always dangerous when rhetoric drives policy — and especially so when “war on drugs” rhetoric leads the public to accept collateral casualties that would never be permissible in civilian law enforcement, much less public health. Politicians still talk of eliminating drugs from the Earth as though their use is a plague on humanity. But drug control is not like disease control, for the simple reason that there’s no popular demand for smallpox or polio. Cannabis and opium have been grown throughout much of the world for millennia. The same is true for coca in Latin America. Methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs can be produced anywhere. Demand for particular illicit drugs waxes and wanes, depending not just on availability but also fads, fashion, culture, and competition from alternative means of stimulation and distraction. The relative harshness of drug laws and the intensity of enforcement matter surprisingly little, except in totalitarian states. After all, rates of illegal drug use in the United States are the same as, or higher than, Europe, despite America’s much more punitive policies.
“We Can Reduce the Demand for Drugs”
Good luck. Reducing the demand for illegal drugs seems to make sense. But the desire to alter one’s state of consciousness, and to use psychoactive drugs to do so, is nearly universal — and mostly not a problem. There’s virtually never been a drug-free society, and more drugs are discovered and devised every year. Demand-reduction efforts that rely on honest education and positive alternatives to drug use are helpful, but not when they devolve into unrealistic, “zero tolerance” policies.
As with sex, abstinence from drugs is the best way to avoid trouble, but one always needs a fallback strategy for those who can’t or won’t refrain. “Zero tolerance” policies deter some people, but they also dramatically increase the harms and costs for those who don’t resist. Drugs become more potent, drug use becomes more hazardous, and people who use drugs are marginalized in ways that serve no one.
The better approach is not demand reduction but “harm reduction.” Reducing drug use is fine, but it’s not nearly as important as reducing the death, disease, crime, and suffering associated with both drug misuse and failed prohibitionist policies. With respect to legal drugs, such as alcohol and cigarettes, harm reduction means promoting responsible drinking and designated drivers, or persuading people to switch to nicotine patches, chewing gums, and smokeless tobacco. With respect to illegal drugs, it means reducing the transmission of infectious disease through syringe-exchange programs, reducing overdose fatalities by making antidotes readily available, and allowing people addicted to heroin and other illegal opiates to obtain methadone from doctors and even pharmaceutical heroin from clinics.
Britain, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland have already embraced this last option. There’s no longer any question that these strategies decrease drug-related harms without increasing drug use. What blocks expansion of such programs is not cost; they typically save taxpayers’ money that would otherwise go to criminal justice and healthcare. No, the roadblocks are abstinence-only ideologues and a cruel indifference to the lives and well-being of people who use drugs.
“Reducing the Supply of Drugs Is the Answer”
Not if history is any guide. Reducing supply makes as much sense as reducing demand; after all, if no one were planting cannabis, coca, and opium, there wouldn’t be any heroin, cocaine, or marijuana to sell or consume. But the carrot and stick of crop eradication and substitution have been tried and failed, with rare exceptions, for half a century. These methods may succeed in targeted locales, but they usually simply shift production from one region to another: Opium production moves from Pakistan to Afghanistan; coca from Peru to Colombia; and cannabis from Mexico to the United States, while overall global production remains relatively constant or even increases.
The carrot, in the form of economic development and assistance in switching to legal crops, is typically both late and inadequate. The stick, often in the form of forced eradication, including aerial spraying, wipes out illegal and legal crops alike and can be hazardous to both people and local environments. The best thing to be said for emphasizing supply reduction is that it provides a rationale for wealthier nations to spend a little money on economic development in poorer countries. But, for the most part, crop eradication and substitution wreak havoc among impoverished farmers without diminishing overall global supply.
The global markets in cannabis, coca, and opium products operate essentially the same way that other global commodity markets do: If one source is compromised due to bad weather, rising production costs, or political difficulties, another emerges. If international drug control circles wanted to think strategically, the key question would no longer be how to reduce global supply, but rather: Where does illicit production cause the fewest problems (and the greatest benefits)? Think of it as a global vice control challenge. No one expects to eradicate vice, but it must be effectively zoned and regulated — even if it’s illegal.
“U.S. Drug Policy Is the World’s Drug Policy”
Sad, but true. Looking to the United States as a role model for drug control is like looking to apartheid-era South Africa for how to deal with race. The United States ranks first in the world in per capita incarceration — with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, but almost 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. The number of people locked up for U.S. drug-law violations has increased from roughly 50,000 in 1980 to almost 500,000 today; that’s more than the number of people Western Europe locks up for everything. Even more deadly is U.S. resistance to syringe-exchange programs to reduce HIV/AIDS both at home and abroad. Who knows how many people might not have contracted HIV if the United States had implemented at home, and supported abroad, the sorts of syringe-exchange and other harm-reduction programs that have kept HIV/AIDS rates so low in Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, and elsewhere. Perhaps millions.
And yet, despite this dismal record, the United States has succeeded in constructing an international drug prohibition regime modeled after its own highly punitive and moralistic approach. It has dominated the drug control agencies of the United Nations and other international organizations, and its federal drug enforcement agency was the first national police organization to go global. Rarely has one nation so successfully promoted its own failed policies to the rest of the world.
But now, for the first time, U.S. hegemony in drug control is being challenged. The European Union is demanding rigorous assessment of drug control strategies. Exhausted by decades of service to the U.S.-led war on drugs, Latin Americans are far less inclined to collaborate closely with U.S. drug enforcement efforts. Finally waking up to the deadly threat of hiv/aids, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, and even Malaysia and Iran are increasingly accepting of syringe-exchange and other harm-reduction programs. In 2005, the ayatollah in charge of Iran’s Ministry of Justice issued a fatwa declaring methadone maintenance and syringe-exchange programs compatible with sharia (Islamic) law. One only wishes his American counterpart were comparably enlightened.
“Afghan Opium Production Must Be Curbed”
Be careful what you wish for. It’s easy to believe that eliminating record-high opium production in Afghanistan — which today accounts for roughly 90 percent of global supply, up from 50 percent 10 years ago — would solve everything from heroin abuse in Europe and Asia to the resurgence of the Taliban.
But assume for a moment that the United States, NATO, and Hamid Karzai’s government were somehow able to cut opium production in Afghanistan. Who would benefit? Only the Taliban, warlords, and other black-market entrepreneurs whose stockpiles of opium would skyrocket in value. Hundreds of thousands of Afghan peasants would flock to cities, ill-prepared to find work. And many Afghans would return to their farms the following year to plant another illegal harvest, utilizing guerrilla farming methods to escape intensified eradication efforts. Except now, they’d soon be competing with poor farmers elsewhere in Central Asia, Latin America, or even Africa. This is, after all, a global commodities market. And outside Afghanistan? Higher heroin prices typically translate into higher crime rates by addicts. They also invite cheaper but more dangerous means of consumption, such as switching from smoking to injecting heroin, which results in higher HIV and hepatitis c rates. All things considered, wiping out opium in Afghanistan would yield far fewer benefits than is commonly assumed.
So what’s the solution? Some recommend buying up all the opium in Afghanistan, which would cost a lot less than is now being spent trying to eradicate it. But, given that farmers somewhere will produce opium so long as the demand for heroin persists, maybe the world is better off, all things considered, with 90 percent of it coming from just one country. And if that heresy becomes the new gospel, it opens up all sorts of possibilities for pursuing a new policy in Afghanistan that reconciles the interests of the United States, NATO, and millions of Afghan citizens.
“Legalization Is the Best Approach”
It might be. Global drug prohibition is clearly a costly disaster. The United Nations has estimated the value of the global market in illicit drugs at $400 billion, or 6 percent of global trade. The extraordinary profits available to those willing to assume the risks enrich criminals, terrorists, violent political insurgents, and corrupt politicians and governments. Many cities, states, and even countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia are reminiscent of Chicago under Al Capone — times 50. By bringing the market for drugs out into the open, legalization would radically change all that for the better.
More importantly, legalization would strip addiction down to what it really is: a health issue. Most people who use drugs are like the responsible alcohol consumer, causing no harm to themselves or anyone else. They would no longer be the state’s business. But legalization would also benefit those who struggle with drugs by reducing the risks of overdose and disease associated with unregulated products, eliminating the need to obtain drugs from dangerous criminal markets, and allowing addiction problems to be treated as medical rather than criminal problems.
No one knows how much governments spend collectively on failing drug war policies, but it’s probably at least $100 billion a year, with federal, state, and local governments in the United States accounting for almost half the total. Add to that the tens of billions of dollars to be gained annually in tax revenues from the sale of legalized drugs. Now imagine if just a third of that total were committed to reducing drug-related disease and addiction. Virtually everyone, except those who profit or gain politically from the current system, would benefit.
Some say legalization is immoral. That’s nonsense, unless one believes there is some principled basis for discriminating against people based solely on what they put into their bodies, absent harm to others. Others say legalization would open the floodgates to huge increases in drug abuse. They forget that we already live in a world in which psychoactive drugs of all sorts are readily available — and in which people too poor to buy drugs resort to sniffing gasoline, glue, and other industrial products, which can be more harmful than any drug. No, the greatest downside to legalization may well be the fact that the legal markets would fall into the hands of the powerful alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceutical companies. Still, legalization is a far more pragmatic option than living with the corruption, violence, and organized crime of the current system.
“Legalization Will Never Happen”
Never say never. Wholesale legalization may be a long way off — but partial legalization is not. If any drug stands a chance of being legalized, it’s cannabis. Hundreds of millions of people have used it, the vast majority without suffering any harm or going on to use “harder” drugs. In Switzerland, for example, cannabis legalization was twice approved by one chamber of its parliament, but narrowly rejected by the other.
Elsewhere in Europe, support for the criminalization of cannabis is waning. In the United States, where roughly 40 percent of the country’s 1.8 million annual drug arrests are for cannabis possession, typically of tiny amounts, 40 percent of Americans say that the drug should be taxed, controlled, and regulated like alcohol. Encouraged by Bolivian President Evo Morales, support is also growing in Latin America and Europe for removing coca from international antidrug conventions, given the absence of any credible health reason for keeping it there. Traditional growers would benefit economically, and there’s some possibility that such products might compete favorably with more problematic substances, including alcohol.
The global war on drugs persists in part because so many people fail to distinguish between the harms of drug abuse and the harms of prohibition. Legalization forces that distinction to the forefront. The opium problem in Afghanistan is primarily a prohibition problem, not a drug problem. The same is true of the narcoviolence and corruption that has afflicted Latin America and the Caribbean for almost three decades — and that now threatens Africa. Governments can arrest and kill drug lord after drug lord, but the ultimate solution is a structural one, not a prosecutorial one. Few people doubt any longer that the war on drugs is lost, but courage and vision are needed to transcend the ignorance, fear, and vested interests that sustain it.
Want To Know More?
Drugpolicy.org, the Web site of the Drug Policy Alliance, offers statistics, arguments, and information about drug policies worldwide. Ethan Nadelmann and Peter Andreas examine the politics of global crime control in Policing the Globe: Criminalization and Crime Control in International Relations (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).
Reproduced with permission from Foreign Policy #162 (September/October 2007) www.foreignpolicy.com. © 2007, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Ethan Nadelmann is founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
A compound found in cannabis may stop breast cancer spreading throughout the body, US scientists believe. The California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute team are hopeful that cannabidiol or CBD could be a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy.
Unlike cannabis, CBD does not have any psychoactive properties so its use would not violate laws, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics reports.
The authors stressed that they were not suggesting patients smoke marijuana.
They added that it would be highly unlikely that effective concentrations of CBD could be reached by smoking cannabis.
| This compound offers the hope of a non-toxic therapy that could achieve the same results without any of the painful side effects
Lead researcher Dr Sean McAllister
CBD works by blocking the activity of a gene called Id-1 which is believed to be responsible for the aggressive spread of cancer cells away from the original tumour site – a process called metastasis.
Past work has shown CBD can block aggressive human brain cancers.
The latest work found CBD appeared to have a similar effect on breast cancer cells in the lab.
Lead researcher Dr Sean McAllister said: “Right now we have a limited range of options in treating aggressive forms of cancer.
“Those treatments, such as chemotherapy, can be effective but they can also be extremely toxic and difficult for patients.
“This compound offers the hope of a non-toxic therapy that could achieve the same results without any of the painful side effects.”
Dr Joanna Owens of Cancer Research UK said: “This research is at a very early stage.
“The findings will need to be followed up with clinical trials in humans to see if the CBD is safe, and whether the beneficial effects can be replicated.
“Several cancer drugs based on plant chemicals are already used widely, such as vincristine – which is derived from a type of flower called Madagascar Periwinkle and is used to treat breast and lung cancer. It will be interesting to see whether CBD will join them.”
Maria Leadbeater of Breast Cancer Care said: “Many people experience side-effects while having chemotherapy, such as nausea and an increased risk of infection, which can take both a physical and emotional toll.
“Any drug that has fewer side-effects will, of course, be of great interest.”
But she added: “It is clear that much more research needs to be carried out.”
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/11/19 06:11:45 GMT
© BBC MMVII
Denver voters are deciding on an initiative that says marijuana should be the city’s “lowest law-enforcement priority.”
To find out how the law works, Denver can look to Seattle, where an 11- member panel began reviewing marijuana incidents in 2003 to see whether police and prosecutors were pursuing cases against adults who possessed small amounts of marijuana.
Seattle City Attorney Thomas Carr, who says he is required to sit on the panel, says he hopes Denver doesn’t pass the initiative.
“The panel is slanted toward proponents of the law,” Carr said. “It does not work all that well. We get yelled at a lot by people in the room. Telling police and prosecutors to look the other way on a crime is really bad policy.”
Dominic Holden, a community representative on Seattle’s panel, says that citations and prosecutions for marijuana-related incidents declined by 50 percent a year after the initiative passed.
“The law does not tell police to ignore state or federal law,” he said. “It simply tells them where on the schedule of priorities these arrests fall.”
Although the committee cannot agree on why the numbers of marijuana arrests and prosecutions are down in Seattle, city officials have sent a letter to Denver endorsing the law as safe, effective and inexpensive.
The Seattle group also found no evidence of an increase in marijuana use among young people, crime or adverse effects on public health.
Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, spokeswoman for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, said that marijuana-possession cases already are a low law-enforcement priority.
“It isn’t something police specifically target for enforcement or to which they deploy significant resources,” she wrote in an e-mail. “Generally, when a person is charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana – as the state law requires – it is because the marijuana was uncovered by police during the course of investigating another crime.”
In 2004, Seattle police officers were told during roll call that marijuana incidents would be their lowest priority.
But Denver police Sgt. Ernie Martinez says he’s not going to direct officers to stop arresting drug users.
“Our official response is to continue to enforce marijuana laws,” Martinez said. “It’s still illegal in the state statues and federal statutes.”
That philosophy is the reason why marijuana proponents felt the need to draft an initiative in Denver.
Monday, September 03, 2007
It was a scene of domestic tranquility. David and Lillian Scott were in their living room talking. Their 15-year-old daughter was in the garage with two friends. Their 16-year-old son was elsewhere in the house feeding the 5-month-old baby. This was just last week in Temecula, California.
Just past 9:30 p.m. a gang of armed men burst through an unlocked front screen door shouting orders that couple and forcing them to the floor. The couple were then handcuffed. They begged to know what was happening and got no answer.
In the garage the men went after the teen aged girls ordering them to “get down on the fucking floor”. They too were handcuffed. And the son was in a similar situation as the armed men forced him to the ground. Lillian could hear her new-born crying and she asked one of the armed thugs if her baby was all right. She says that he “told me if I moved he was going to put a bullet in my head.”
Then the men started ransacking the house. Lillian found her bedroom door was ripped off the hinges and the door to her daughter’s room had a hole violently ripped into it. Of course the men were local police high on adrenaline and anxious to bash in the heads of “bad guys”. They haven’t said who they were looking for that night.
Lillian Scott could hear their radio’s as they spoke to one another. One of the officers announced that the second floor of the house was “clear”. That was one of the other officers pointed out that the house they were supposed to raid had only one floor. Apparently no one noticed, before attacking this family, that the house had two floors..
Notice also what is missing from this story. An open screen door with the Scott’s in the living room was entered by the police. No attempt was made to announce they were police first. Had they done that it would have easily been heard by the family. Nor was a search warrant shown to the family at the time of the attack and police refused to answer questions.
This is what lead to the murder of Kathryn Johnston by out-of-control police in Atlanta. Only a few blocks away Frances Thompson escaped with her life when police attacked her home in a similar style. Both those incident were “mistakes” as well. Dozens of innocent people have been killed by police in botched paramilitary style raids.
The police should not be turned into paramilitary outfits who are trained in the tactics of making war on the civilian population. How many such incidents have to happen before people realize something is seriously wrong with America?
Note: The map is courtesy of the Cato Institute and covers a portion of the paramilitary style raids where innocent people, or police officers, are killed. This is just the tip of the iceberg and shouldn’t be seen as an exhaustive list of such incidents. The map has not been updated this year. How many people close to where you live have been victimized? And exactly why do you think it can’t happen to you? Click to enlarge.