According to FBI figures released today, about 873,000 people were arrested on marijuana charges in the United States last year, 5 percent more than in 2006 and a new record. This is the fifth year in a row that marijuana arrests, which are up 167 percent since 1990, have increased. In 2007 marijuana arrests accounted for nearly half of the 1.8 million drug arrests; as usual, the vast majority of the pot busts, about 775,000, were for simple possession.
I analyzed the upward trend in marijuana arrests in the January issue of reason. In May I noted that New York City’s crackdown on pot smokers has exceeded the national trend.
In addition to chart above, NORML has a handy table.
The war casualties continues to rise and the PIC (prison industrial complex) continues to grow.
Campaign season is just getting warmed up, but looking back on the primaries we’ve already seen plenty of the usual fare: candidates shaking hands, hanging out at diners, and scaring voters about foreigners who are taking your jobs.
Sometimes the threat comes from China, Japan, or outsourcing to India. Today, it’s NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement—you know, all those Mexicans taking our jobs.
Senator Barack Obama joins the likes of CNN’s Lou Dobbs in decrying NAFTA. So many free trade foes fret about cheap foreign labor, yet they rarely holler about competitors who will work for far less than any foreigner. Politicians don’t pay much attention to it, but—from Terminator to Ice Pirates—Hollywood films have been warning us about humanity’s inevitable war against the machines.
“Now, think about it,” says Reason.tv host Drew Carey. “How are we supposed to compete against something that doesn’t get paid, doesn’t get health insurance, and never goes on breaks?”
Today, we don’t need human workers to book our travel, do our banking, or file our taxes. From factory workers to symphony conductors, countless workers are locked in battle with soulless job stealers known as computers, websites, and robots.
“No job is safe from the robot threat!” warns Carey. Of course, the warning is more than a little tongue-in-cheek. There’s no need to take a sledgehammer to a robot, because, although technology shakes up the labor market, it ends up giving us higher living standards as well as more and better job opportunities.
Like technology, trade gives us more good stuff than bad—yet Americans are likely to cheer technology and fear trade. No doubt TV talkers and White House wannabes will keep stoking our fears of foreigners until voters and viewers stop buying it—or until robots snag their jobs, too.
I don’t like regulated trade but if the alternative is one sided regulation the argument can be made for government treaties but they should not increase any restrictions or provide special treatment. That, however, is incredibly unlikely not to be included and therefore I think better to be safe then sorry and allow the grey/black market work around the regulations.
Should medical marijuana be kept from minors at all costs? Why is it that pharmacists can dispense amphetamines without getting busted, but legal operators who dispense medical marijuana face prison time? Why do armed federal agents persist in raiding California?
With its sun, surf and small town atmosphere, California’s San Louis Obispo County is a good place to grow up. Seventeen-year-old Owen Beck played football and soccer for a local high school, but one day his thoughts abruptly turned away from sports and school. Doctors told Owen he had bone cancer, and would have to begin chemotherapy right away.
The young athlete suffered another blow—doctors would have to amputate his leg to try to keep the cancer from spreading. Chemotherapy attacked Owen’s cancer and his body, leaving him bald, gaunt, and vomiting the food he needed to recover. The amputation introduced Owen to a bizarre, new agony called phantom pain, and although doctors gave him powerful medication, nothing helped.
But might a new kind of pharmacy offer new hope? A medical marijuana dispensary had recently opened in the nearby city of Morro Bay. More than a decade earlier, California voters legalized medical marijuana and Morro Bay’s mayor and Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the dispensary, and its owner Charlie Lynch.
Owen’s parents knew the idea of giving medical marijuana to a 17-year-old strikes many people as scandalous. Local Sheriff Pat Hedges even asserts that allowing medical marijuana is “not in the best interest of a community that prides itself on providing a healthy, family environment.”
But the Becks weren’t concerned about what other people thought; they were focused on helping their son. So with a written doctor recommendation in hand, they purchased medical marijuana for their teenage son. The new medication eased Owen’s pain and nausea like nothing else had, and the Becks grew fond of Charlie Lynch, who would sometimes refuse payment because, says Steve Beck, “He was just a compassionate kind of a guy.”
But one day, Owen’s life took another abrupt turn. Federal agents and local sheriff deputies raided Charlie Lynch’s dispensary, and seized nearly everything inside, including Owen’s medicine. “He had a prescription from a doctor at Stanford, and they took his stuff!” says Debbie Beck. Federal agents cuffed Lynch, and put him behind bars. Even though state and local laws allow for it, medical marijuana is still illegal under federal law. And because he had clients like Owen who were under age 21, Charlie Lynch faces heightened penalties. In California the average first-degree murder serves 20 years behind bars; Charlie Lynch could face a sentence as long as 100 years in prison.
Vikki Reyes has had it with Locke High, the school her daughters attend in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. She walked in on class one day and recalls “the place was just like a zoo!” Students had taken control, while the teacher sat quietly with a book.
Frank Wells has also had it with Locke High. When he became principal he says gangs ruled the campus. He tried to turn things around but ran into a “brick wall” of resistance from the school district and teachers union.
Locke seemed destined to languish in high crime and low test scores until Wells, Reyes, and many reform-minded teachers joined with a maverick named Steve Barr in an attempt to break free from the status quo. Their battle is just one example of the charter school education revolt that’s erupting across the nation.