In a case that could test the online
pornography industry, the owners and two employees of two popular
pornographic websites were charged this week with sex trafficking and
other crimes, accused of coercing several women to engage in sex videos
that were posted on the internet.
According to a criminal
complaint, the owners and employees “used deception and false promises”
to lure women who had answered modeling advertisements on Craigslist to
participate in the videos, telling them that their identities would be
shielded and that the videos would not be posted online.
owners, Michael James Pratt, 36, and Matthew Isaac Wolfe, 37, and one
employee, Ruben Andre Garcia, 31, were each charged with three counts of
sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, and one count of
conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion.
second employee, Valorie Moser, 37, who the authorities said helped
recruit the women, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit
sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion.
Wolfe, Garcia and
Moser pleaded not guilty. Wolfe and Garcia were being held in federal
custody Friday and the authorities said Pratt had left the country and
was considered a fugitive.
Pratt, Wolfe and Garcia are currently
on trial in a civil case in San Diego Superior Court that mirrors the
criminal filing. In that case, 22 women said they were tricked into
performing in internet pornography.
Ed Chapin, the lead trial lawyer representing the 22 women, called the alleged scheme “outrageous.”
is despicable,” he said, “and I am glad that the feds are stepping up
and that they’ve seen it and are doing something about it.”
D. Silverstein, a First Amendment lawyer based in Michigan whose
practice is focused on issues of pornography and similar entertainment,
said this was the first case he knew of in which a content producer was
prosecuted under these types of charges.
“The government has a
pretty high burden,” he said. “They have to be able to show that someone
knowingly recruited, enticed, harbored and patronized a person and then
gained value from it.” He said he was “not convinced the government has
a case,” adding, “Was the line crossed from content production to sex
In court filings, Pratt and Wolfe, who own the
websites GirlsDoPorn and GirlsDoToys, said the women had signed
contracts that stated the videos they appeared in could be “used
anywhere, anyhow, for any purpose.”
The women also recorded
videotaped statements stating that they consented to the videos being
used in any way and were not under the influence of drugs or
mind-altering substances, according to civil filings from the
Mary Anne Franks, a law professor at the University of
Miami who is the president of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, said
many women in the pornography industry have lodged similar complaints of
coercion but have not felt comfortable telling anyone. Or, she said,
they were afraid that complaints would lead to their not working again.
just a massive amount of fraud and coercion,” said Franks, who
coproduced a documentary about the world of amateur pornography. “It’s a
very welcome development that all porn companies will be put on notice
that there is an appetite to investigate these cases.”
criminal charges have not been brought by federal authorities against
pornography producers for more than a decade. In 2008, Paul F. Little
was sentenced to 46 months in jail after being convicted on multiple
Last year, a federal law strengthened the policing of sex trafficking online.
California, especially the San Fernando Valley, has historically been
home to major pornography studios and producers, but the internet has
made it possible for anyone with a cellphone camera to produce and
upload explicit content. And the internet involves interstate commerce,
which is regulated by the federal authorities.
many ways to trick, coerce and manipulate,” said Samantha Vardaman, vice
president of Shared Hope International, a nonprofit organization that
seeks to rescue victims of sex trafficking. “These brave women suffered
exploitation and exposure but they are using the legal remedies to get
control back. With the extraordinary abuses of the internet, we will
surely see more criminal activity like this.”
Mike South, a former
pornography producer who has chronicled the inner workings of the
business for his blog MikeSouth.com, said he hoped the case would
encourage young women to exercise caution before answering online
advertisements in the future.
“There might be a few girls that will read about it and take heed,” he said.
Gross, who has worked closely with pornography producers and actors for
more than two decades, applauded the criminal charges.
“I hope it
makes people take this industry as a legitimate business,” Gross said.
“If you think you’re going to come in here and behave in this kind of
manner you know there will be consequences.”
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Websites are making it easy for people to find prostitutes.
KOB 4 discovered a website that allows people to leave reviews of people they met who offer sex acts.
Posts detail what the sex worker looks like, what they will do and how much it will cost.
Christine Barber, executive director of Street Safe New Mexico, said
she’s familiar with various websites that allow people to find
“Honestly, it is gross,” she said. “It is really gross to go onto
these websites and see, ‘5’6” green eyes, this is how much I charge,’”
KOB 4 called a person who listed their number on the website. She
offered her services and rates, which she described as a donation.
Sex trafficking is a problem widely known in Albuquerque.
“That’s the thing that we really need to start to focus on– prostitute means sex trafficking victim and sex trafficking victim means prostitute,” Barber said. “They’re not anything different.”
Albuquerque Police Department Commander Mizel Garcia said investigating sex trafficking businesses isn’t easy.
“Investigating these businesses is very difficult, not just for APD,”
he said. “Reason being – it’s difficult to get the cooperation of the
workers that work these businesses.”
APD said it’s aware of websites like the one KOB 4 discovered. However, they don’t have the ability to take them down.
However, officials believe they are making strides in fighting sex trafficking.
“We’ve had a lot more cases where the women are willing to help and
we’re seeing a lot more calls to the hotline in our state, a lot more
cases in general,” Barber said.
One website user reached out to KOB 4 and said he believes the website does more good than harm.
“I just believe that it’s the kind of the least evil given that this is something that’s going to go on no matter what,” said a user who wanted to stay anonymous.
He claims the website creates a community. An easy outlet for law enforcement, a way to keep people—in his mind—safe. He also believes prostitution and human trafficking are very different.
“Somehow it’s ok for me to go see a lady who wants to rub my back and rub my feet, and I can give her money for that, but she can’t rub those other parts of me because all of a sudden that’s just illegal,” he said. “Even if that’s her choice.”
SEATTLE – A Seattle police captain in charge of the agency’s High
Risk Victims Unit said Thursday that he does not believe sex workers
“enjoy” such work, despite a controversial comment made by one of his
superiors during a city council meeting earlier in the week.
Following a report in Crosscut that the Seattle Police Department has begun routinely arresting sex workers, Deputy Seattle Police Chief Marc Garth Green was asked about the issue at a Seattle City Council meeting Wednesday.
During his remarks, Garth Green suggested some sex workers “choose to do what they’re doing” and said some even “enjoy” it.
“And that comes from my experience of actually working the street up
there and talking to the young lady who specifically told me that she
was there to make money and enjoyed it,” Garth Green said.
“The idea that we can conclude that women are pro themselves as a
choice, is something that is almost shocking to even say,” Councilmember
Sally Bagshaw responded.
Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda and Kshama Sawant were equally upset with the assertion, Sawant calling it “just not acceptable.”
In a series of tweets Thursday from the department’s official account, Garth Green walked back the comments, writing:
“I’d like to clarify my earlier remarks that I was unable to finish at City Council today. There is a reason we refer to those engaged in prostitution as High Risk Victims. In our experience, victims are forced into prostitution through violence, deception, and other factors not of their choosing. Diversion options can be limited, and we may need to arrest them to disrupt the cycle of violence and abuse. For people trafficked in prostitution, jail can be a safer place than out on the street. That said, our primary enforcement focus will ALWAYS be those who profit from and support this form of human trafficking.”
On Thursday, Seattle Police Captain Mike Edwards, who commands the High Risk Victims Unit, was asked about the remarks in an interview with Q13 News.
“Are those comments made to us? Absolutely. Those are made to us. Do
we believe them based on the experience, knowledge of what’s going on,
especially with pimps being involved? No,” Capt. Edwards said, going on
to suggest that Garth Green wasn’t given enough time to make the same
point. “Unfortunately, you need a lot of time to really explain this to
folks to really understand what goes on out on the street in
Captain Edwards said while the agency has increased arrests of sex
workers, few result in prosecution and many arrests are carried out in a
“care-taking” capacity – the idea being that removing sex workers from a
situation they may be forced into can help them break free of pimps.
“We are still victim-centered, trauma informed. That’s our approach,” he said.
“We know what that environment is like. That environment is not healthy. It’s dangerous. We can’t ignore it. It would be inappropriate for us to do so, even for the women in particular.
Edwards said he hopes the Crosscut article, and the resulting attention at City Hall, will spark a dialogue that can ultimately help ensure sex workers have better access to services.
The US has not had wholly “friendly” intentions towards the Kingdom for the past 30 years. Any appearance of such is only the visible veneer of real US military policy. Declassified documents reveal that there has been a constant drumbeat to invade Saudi Arabia that has sounded behind the closed doors of our government. The Pentagon, for three decades, has formulated and updated secret plans to seize Saudi oil wells and rid the Kingdom of the ruling House of Saud.
The London Sunday Times revealed information from a leaked and classified US Department of Defense plan. The plan, drawn up by the Pentagon, was code named “Dhahran Option Four” and provided for an invasion of the world’s largest oil reserves, namely Saudi Arabia.
A report entitled, “Oil Fields as Military Objectives: A Feasibility Study”, was produced for the Committee on Foreign Relations. In this report, the CRS stated that potential targets for the US included Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Venezuela, Libya, and Nigeria. “Analysis indicates … [that military forces of OPEC countries were] quantitatively and qualitatively inferior [and] could be swiftly crushed.”
One senior Israeli intelligence officer stated the goal was to make Israel the dominant power in the region and expel the Palestinians.
Before publication of his book “Sleeping With The Devil”, Robert Baer, ex-CIA officer, was ordered by the CIA to remove multiple passages claiming special CIA knowledge of Saudi royals having funneled money to Al Qaeda for terrorist funding, assassination plots, and even Chechen rebels. He asserts that Saudi Arabia is a “powder keg waiting to explode”, “the royal family is “corrupt”, “hanging on by a thread” and “as violent and vengeful as any Mafia family”.
Related: Secret Report Reveals Saudi Incompetence and Widespread Use of U.S. Weapons in Yemen
Since Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS outmaneuvered his rivals to become Saudi Arabia’s de-facto leader in 2015, the 33-year-old has received favorable coverage in international media, with a multitude of reports focused on his economic and social reforms in the conservative kingdom.
Salman’s record is very different from the hype, one that includes the imprisonment of critics and human rights activists, thousands of civilian deaths in Yemen and a rapid rise of the number of executions since his ascent to power.
“Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ‘reform campaign’ has been a frenzy of fear for genuine Saudi reformers who dare to advocate publicly for human rights or women’s empowerment,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement at the time.
In 2017, Saudi security forces arrested several hundred of the richest people in the country, allegedly in an attempt to combat corruption among the higher echelons of the Saudi bureaucracy.
Those arrested were locked up for weeks in the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, where some were reportedly physically mistreated.
A report by the New York Times said 17 of the detainees required hospital treatment after physical abuse, including one who later died in custody.
“In the eight months after he was appointed crown prince, 133 people were executed,” Reprieve said in March this year.
Mohammed bin Salman has overseen the execution of 16 people on average per month, every month, since his appointment.
The Crown Prince’s war on Yemen and the huge amount of money it is draining, in addition to the cold war he launched against Qatar, show clear signs of failure.
Then the attacks began. First taking place shortly after President Donald Trump’s administration ended waivers for countries importing Iranian oil, amplifying the effect of crippling sanctions it’s imposed on Iran since late 2018 after the U.S. withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal. Animosity between Washington and Tehran has skyrocketed since then.
I was an adviser to the Saudi Division during the Persian Gulf War. They were the second worst Army I had ever seen. Second worst only because Iraq lost. It looks like things have not changed with them since the army of a Third World country (Yemen) has captured a lot of them.
Yemen’s Houthi movement has said it carried out an attack near the border with the southwestern Saudi region of Najran and captured “thousands” of enemy troops including several Saudi army officers.
Houthi-run Al Masirah TV quoted the spokesman as saying they captured “thousands” of enemy troops, including many officers and soldiers of the Saudi army, as well as “hundreds of armored vehicles”.
The Houthis, who control the northern part of Yemen, have recently stepped up their drone and missile attacks across the southern border of Saudi Arabia.
The rebels claimed responsibility for a September 14 assault on two facilities run by Saudi’s state oil company, Aramco.
It’s surprising Saudi Arabia maintains its armed forces, and spends more than $100 billion annually (of course to keep its western masters happy in order to protect the autocratic Al Saud clan). But the fact of the matter is – a force of only 1,000 Hezbollah fighters can defeat the Saudi armed forces hands down, and overrun the entire kingdom. An internal assessment (a panic discussion within the top Al Saud clan, involving a few top princes around MbS, which spread through palace guards like wildfire) shows that the Al Saudi regime would collapse if this Yemen war continues for another three years. So the clan desperately needs western help in the form of boots on the ground. This had possibly caused the “drone strike” (an inside job) on Saudi oilfields, and attributed falsely to Iran. This has been the prelude for the western forces to be stationed in large numbers on Saudi soil to protect the Al Saudi family. All the latest Saudi moves to liberalize the strict Islamic rules (especially for women) is to sweeten this deal to invite the western forces on its soil, as well as making its own citizens to be more receptive to the western military personnel, women included, to move freely within the Kingdom.
But the moot point is that the Kingdom’s days are numbered by this Yemeni war – thanks to its medieval air force which has been killing Yemeni women and children systematically, because it can’t locate the Houti fighters (in spite of intels being provided by the undercover western military personnel on the ground).
Related: How Saudi elite became five-star prisoners at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton
How could Saudi Arabia, a country with the world’s third-largest military budget and six battalions of U.S.-built Patriot missile-defense systems, fail to defend the beating heart of the oil industry on which the kingdom depends?
That question lies at the heart of responses to Saturday’s attack on Abqaiq, which cut Saudi oil production by half, and is critical to any assessment of whether investors will have to permanently factor higher political risk assumptions into the price of oil.
For years, Saudi Arabia has been a major buyer of
U.S.-made weapons. That relationship intensified after President Trump
took office, with the American leader pushing oil-rich Riyadh to buy
more weapons and Saudi Arabia pledging a purchase of $110 billion in U.S. arms just months after his inauguration.
After this weekend, when a devastating attack on Saudi oil facilities blindsided the kingdom, some observers were left wondering what protection Riyadh’s outreach to the United States has bought it.
The operation appeared to circumvent the defenses of
Saudi Arabia’s military, including the six battalions of Patriot
missile defense systems produced by U.S. defense contractor Raytheon —
each of which can cost in the region of $1 billion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to Saturday’s attack with mockery. At an event Monday in Turkey, Putin suggested that Saudi Arabia buy the Russian-made S-300 or S-400 missile defense system, as Iran and Turkey had done. “They will reliably protect all infrastructure objects of Saudi Arabia,” Putin said.
Until U.S.-Iran tensions subside, the risk of further attacks is likely to remain. In recent months, the U.S. has accused Iran of sabotaging tankers carrying oil through the Strait of Hormuz, while Houthi-claimed drones attacked pumping stations for Saudi Arabia’s East-West pipeline in May, and the Shaybah oil field in August. A Saudi military official said Monday that Iranian weapons were used in the latest attacks.
The success of a drone strike against arguably the most important
single piece of infrastructure in the global oil industry could also
prove an embarrassment for Raytheon Co.’s high-cost Patriots.
“What amazes me is, what happened to the American anti-missile systems?” said Fawaz A. Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern politics at the London School of Economics. “This reflects terribly on the U.S. and its defense systems. The Iranians know this now and the lessons learned here will be applied in Syria, Lebanon and others areas in the future.”
Depending on their size, drones could even be driven into the kingdom and launched at short range.
Newt Gingrich on Meet the Press this Sunday said we were already in World War III and that the US needed to take direct action against North Korea and Iran.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has warned of astronomical oil prices in the event that tensions escalate in the Persian Gulf, two weeks after his country was hit by a drone and cruise missile attack that Riyadh and Washington have blamed on Iran.
The oil market is on edge after Saudi Arabia issued a combative statement that some are interpreting as a veiled threat to wield crude as a weapon.
the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will
see further escalations that will threaten world interests,” the crown
prince said in an interview with the CBS program “60 Minutes” over the
“Oil supplies will be disrupted and oil prices will jump to unimaginably high numbers that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes.”
The predawn attack on Sept. 14 hit two of state oil giant Saudi Aramco’s largest facilities, forcing the country to temporarily shut down roughly 50% of its output, or more than 5% of the world’s daily crude production. The following Monday, international benchmark Brent crude rose as much as 19.5% to $71.95 per barrel at the open — the biggest jump on record — before paring gains.
Washington and Riyadh also blame Iran for a series of mysterious sabotage attacks on several foreign oil tankers in the Gulf near the vital Strait of Hormuz, the narrow conduit through which 30% of the world’s seaborne oil passes. Iran denies those allegations as well.
Incredible success after incredible success against overwhelming odds and technology. BEHOLD! It is the Houthis, the Army of God! Touched by the Divine because of their honor in attacking only military targets and seeking justice where there is none. The Houthis are unbeatable and unstoppable.
Militarily they [the Houthis] have close to 100,000 battle hardened soldiers, and they have demonstrated their power elsewhere.
Middle East “represents about 30% of the world’s energy supplies, about
20% of global trade passages, about 4% of the world GDP,” the crown
prince, who is next in line for the Saudi throne and considered the
kingdom’s de facto ruler, told CBS.
“Imagine all of these three things stop. This means a total collapse of the global economy, and not just Saudi Arabia or the Middle East countries.”
My son also served in Desert Storm, he had contacts with some Saudi forces. He said they were cowardly clowns, these people in Yemen might well be foreign mercenaries, in which case SA just hires some more. If they actually have Saudi officers, then they may well be profitable hostages.
Security experts and members of the diplomatic community have told CNBC that Saudi Arabia is ill-equipped for a war with Iran, as the latter employs asymmetrical tools like drones, cyberattacks and regional proxies while Saudi defenses are more suited to conventional warfare.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned world leaders on Wednesday at the U.N. General Assembly that “the Gulf region is on the edge of collapse, as a single blunder can fuel a big fire.”
The royal family is teetering on the edge of collapse, with the possibility of internal dissent, whether it comes from within the royal family or the masses who live in poverty and are waiting for their Arab Spring.
US-led Saudi Arabia is the key pillar of the oppressors in the region. With the collapse of the oppressors’ front, everybody will be witnessing the annihilation of the Al Saud dynasty as well. Al Saud rulers are now facing major problems as the Saudi nation has been awakened. Now, the security and raison d’etre of the Al Saud dynasty has been challenged inside Saudi Arabia. If this weren’t the case, Riyadh wouldn’t have given more than half of its forex reserves to Trump. The dynasty is resorting to such moves to delay its annihilation. But the reality is that the Al Saud dynasty is spiraling down the vortex of destruction.
Anyone preparing contingency plans to secure the Saudi oil fields in times of crisis might want to dust off their work.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents participated in “sex parties” with prostitutes paid for by drug cartels for a period of several years, according to a report released by the Justice Department’s watchdog group.
Seven of the 10 DEA agents involved, most who held “top secret” clearance, admitted to attending the parties and some were suspended as a result, the Justice Department’s inspector general inquiry found. The report does not specify where the parties occurred, but many news outlets have said they took place in Colombia.
“Many of these agents were alleged to have engaged in this high-risk sexual behavior while at their government-leased quarters, raising the possibility that DEA equipment and information also may have been compromised as a result of the agents’ conduct,” said the 131-page report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz. The report, a review of sexual misconduct allegations in the DOJ’s four law enforcement agencies, found widespread mismanagement at the DEA, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The investigation came in response to 2012 allegations the Secret Service and DEA agents used prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia. Overall, the report linked the law enforcement agencies to 26 allegations during a four-year period that ended in 2012. Of that, the DEA was involved in 19. Among the other findings: — DEA agents were provided “money, expensive gifts and weapons from drug cartel members.”
Local police “also alleged providing protection for the DEA agents’ weapons and property during the parties,” the report said. — An ATF Director of Industry Operations who holds top security clearance modified a hotel room door “to facilitate sexual play” with anonymous people while on assignment.
“In addition, the DIO removed smoke detectors from the hotel room and inadvertently caused damage to the hotel’s centralized fire detection system,” the report said. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor “fire prevention interference” charge. He was suspended for 14 days, but still works for the ATF with “top secret” security clearance.
— A U.S. Deputy Marshal on assignment in Thailand could not be reached by phone. Every time State Department officials tried to contact him, “two women with heavy foreign accents answered the phone and stated (he) could not be disturbed.” The State Department official later confirmed one of the women was a prostitute.
Drugs Are Better and Cheaper Than Ever By Rebecca McCray, Jason Koebler, Reuters
Heroin, cocaine, and marijuana are just as available, far cheaper, and more potent than they were at the start of the War on Drugs, according to a new study.
We’ve known for far too long that the War on Drugs has been a failure, but the statistics reported in the British Medical Journal by Evan Wood, of the University of British Columbia’s Urban Health Research Initiative, are astounding. Wood and his team aggregated government drug surveillance data from seven different countries. Between 1990 and 2010, the street price, adjusting for inflation, of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana fell roughly 80 percent. At the same time, the street drugs became much more potent: The average purity of heroin increased by 60 percent, the purity of cocaine increased by 11 percent, and the potency of cannabis increased 161 percent. The story is much the same in Europe and Australia, with street prices dropping and supply remaining stable, despite a huge increase in drug seizures.
Though we’ve known that weed is stronger than ever, it seems like the trend has extended to other, harder drugs.
New data shows drug policy isn’t doing what it’s meant to. The war on drugs drastically altered the face of the federal prison system, but it hasn’t made anyone safer or meaningfully decreased the availability of drugs. That’s just one of the findings of a new report from the Pew Research Center, which examines the drastic rise in the number of people being sent to prison for drug offenses in the 1980s and 1990s.
DEA driving OxyContin abusers to heroin
The result of the War on Drugs in the 1980s and 1990s was to fill one-quarter of America’s prison cells with drug offenders. The availability of street drugs remained unchanged, and the price of heroin and cocaine dropped by more than half. Drug dealers also began to sell purer versions of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. Recently, the DEA has shifted its focus to physicians who prescribe opioids such as OxyContin, some of which is undoubtedly diverted or abused, although sensation-seeking journalists fueled the perceptions of a “crisis.” The shift prompted a letter from the attorneys general of 30 states, who complained that patients were not getting needed pain relief because doctors were afraid to prescribe. “If enough doctors are jailed or scared into not writing prescriptions, it’s conceivable that this drug war could have more impact than the ones against heroin and cocaine—doctors, after all, are harder to replace than crack dealers,” writes John Tierney. “But even if there’s less OxyContin on the street, is that worth the suffering of patients who can’t get the prescriptions they need?” And what has been the impact on drug abuse? A field survey on drug use in Cincinnati by the White House drug-policy agency found that “because diverted OxyContin is more expensive and difficult to purchase, users have switched to heroin” (John Tierney, “Handcuffs and Stethoscopes,” NY Times 7/23/05).
U.S. Government Finally Admits Marijuana Really Does Kill Cancer Cells
The idea that cannabis kills cancer cells seems to no longer be a conspiracy theory in the United States. With this information, can any state legitimately say no to medicinal marijuana?
Or could it even be considered a preventative herb to avoid getting cancer?
Amy Willis with Metro says that the US government has added a page on the use of cannabis and cannabinoids to their official cancer advice website.
Willis advises, “The National Cancer Institute, part of the US Department of Health, now advises that ‘cannabinoids may be useful in treating the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment’ by smoking, eating it in baked products, drinking herbal teas or even spraying it under the tongue.”
The official government site has a long list of medicinal uses of cannabis, including:
Anti-inflammatory activity, pain relief, anti-anxiety, stress relief, anti-tumor, antiviral activity and relieving muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, and many many more.
The site goes on to talk about how cannabis has been proven to destroy cancer cells in lab experiments.
Once the federal government finally allows medical marijuana to become a legitimate part of the healthcare industry, Big Pharma could suffer the loss of billions of dollars, a new report finds.
It seems the pharmaceutical trade has more than enough reasons to fear the legalization of marijuana, as an analysis conducted by the folks at New Frontier Data predicts the legal use of cannabis products for ailments ranging from chronic pain to seizures could cost marketers of modern medicine somewhere around $4 billion per year.
The report was compiled using a study released last year from the University of Georgia showing a decrease in Medicare prescriptions in states where medical marijuana is legal. The study, which was first outlined by the Washington Post, was largely responsible for stirring up the debate over how a legitimate cannabis market might be able to reduce the national opioid problem. It found that medical marijuana, at least with respect to those drugs for which it is considered an alternative treatment, was already costing pill manufactures nearly $166 million annually.
Researchers at New Frontier identified nine key areas where medical marijuana will do the most damage to the pharmaceutical market — castrating drug sales for medicines designed to treat anxiety, chronic pain, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, nerve pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, Tourette syndrome and glaucoma.
By digging deep into each condition, researchers found that if cannabis was used an alternative treatment in only a small percentage of cases, it could strip in upwards of $5 billion from pharmaceutical industry’s $425 billion market.
Although that may not sound like much of a dent, John Kagia, executive vice president of industry analytics for New Frontier, said, “The impact of medical cannabis legalization is not going to be enormously disruptive to the pharmaceutical industry.”
The report specifically calls out drug giant Pfizer Inc, suggesting that medical marijuana could suck a half billion dollars from its $53 billion in annual sales revenue.
It is distinctly possible that the latest report paints an accurate portrait of the impact medical marijuana could have on the pharmaceutical trade — that is, unless the drug manufactures decide to get in on the cannabis business.
GW Pharmaceuticals and Insys Therapeutics are already developing cannabis-based medications that are set to come to market in the near future. Depending how medicinal cannabis regulations eventually shake out with the federal government, it is conceivable that the medical marijuana programs that we have come to know would disappear, with the pharmaceutical companies being the only ones profiting from this alternative medicine.
Some experts say federal legalization would change the cannabis industry in ways that would be unsatisfactory to most in the business.
Marijuana could treat chronic pain better than opioids By Abby Hagtage
In 2016, over 64,000 people in the United States died from opioid overdoses — either from painkillers, heroin, or fentanyl (a synthetic opioid). To put that number in perspective, that’s more Americans killed by opioids in 365 days than were killed during the entirety of the Vietnam War. Opioids in America are more than a crisis — they’re a national emergency.
Americans, pain pills or not, are hurting. In a recent National Institutes of Health study, 25.3 million adults reported experiencing chronic pain every single day in the three months prior to the study, a number that makes up 11.2 percent of the population. An even larger number, 126 million people, reported experiencing pain of some sort in the three months prior.
Doctors have long voiced concerns that prescription opioid painkillers — on top of a high potential for addiction — aren’t actually solving the problem of chronic pain. This week, science confirmed it.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association compared opioids (Vicodin, oxycodone, and fentanyl) to non-opioids (Tylenol, ibuprofen, and nerve blockers) to see if they were better at treating chronic back, hip, or knee pain. The answer was clear: They were not. “Treatment with opioids was not superior to treatment with non-opioids for improving pain-related function over 12 months,” the study reads. “Results do not support initiation of opioid therapy for moderate to severe chronic back pain or hip or knee osteoarthritis pain.”
The news is a major blow for pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma, who have made billions through prescription painkillers, but it’s even worse news for those suffering the effects of chronic pain. The question it leaves behind: If opioids aren’t the answer to chronic pain, what is?
For a growing number of doctors, the answer comes in the form of another less dangerous drug: cannabis. This past November, three doctors in Illinois started a campaign called Physicians Against Injurious Narcotics, or PAIN, which aims to expand the state’s medical marijuana program to allow anyone that qualifies for opioids to also qualify for marijuana.
Last month, promising research results from Israel added scientific evidence to back their fight. Published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, the study followed 2,970 cancer patients between 2015 and 2017 as they embarked on a medical marijuana treatment program for chronic pain. Each patient was able to choose a plan that specifically catered to their lifestyle, and to pick from 16 different strains of the drug. Pain scales were ranked before taking the medicine and then measured again after the treatment was underway.
The results were overwhelmingly positive. Of the 1,211 cancer patients who were ultimately surveyed (902 patients from the original group died and 680 stopped treatment), 95.9 percent reported an improvement in their condition, and the vast majority of them experienced a dramatic reduction in pain. While at the outset, 52.9 percent of patients had rated their pain between 8 and 10 (on a scale of 10), after six months of treatment, the number reporting that level of pain had dropped to just 4.6 percent.
On top of managing pain, the study showed cannabis capable of addressing other issues the patients were experiencing too. Of those surveyed, 91 percent reported improvements in nausea and vomiting, 87.5 percent reported an improvement in sleep disorders, and 84 percent noticed improvement in anxiety and depression. The study’s authors fully endorse the drug as a treatment option.
“In an age where a physician often prescribes a different medication for each [cancer] symptom, cannabis, as a comprehensive treatment that affects several symptoms, becomes a desirable therapeutic option,” the authors conclude. “Cannabis as a palliative treatment for cancer patients seems to be well tolerated, effective and safe.”
Cannabis’s success in treating chronic pain is echoed in a 2018 review of more than 10,000 abstracts on the topic. Also published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, the large-scale review offers individual conclusions about marijuana’s ability to treat a variety of conditions. Under chronic pain, the authors write, “There were five fair-to-good quality systematic reviews that contributed to the conclusion that there is substantial evidence that Cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults.”
Despite these reports, not everyone agrees that medical marijuana is the answer to chronic pain. Kevin Sabet, founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), thinks that the studies miss the point. “We do know that components of marijuana like THC have shown results for modest pain relief, but that’s a very different conclusion than saying marijuana, which has hundred of components, is good for that,” Sabet tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
“I think we need to really distinguish between THC and raw marijuana — especially the kind that the subject would be getting in Israel for the study.” Sheila P. Vakharia, the policy manager of the Office of Academic Engagement for the Drug Policy Alliance — a nonprofit fighting to end the war on drugs — sees it differently. “The general pain levels reported by study participants went down dramatically,” Vakharia tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “And to see folks reporting that change is really promising.” Vakharia notes that on top of being effective in treating pain, cannabis comes with fewer risks. Namely, it’s less addictive and rarely fatal.
Although some medical professionals remain reluctant to prescribe medical marijuana, Vakharia says patients are beginning to seek out the benefits of marijuana themselves — and are safer as a result. A look at data in the states where marijuana is legal suggests she’s right. According to a 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the rate of deaths from prescription drug overdoses is 25 percent lower in states where medical marijuana is legal.
While Sabet thinks that more research needs to be done before individuals start using marijuana as a substitute for opioids, Vakharia hopes that the shift already underway will gain momentum. “I think the evidence will continue to build — and will start to persuade people who are otherwise reluctant to consider it as a treatment for themselves, or to recommend it as a medical professional,” Vakharia tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “But only time will tell.”
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Could cannabis oil cure cancer? BBC News
The BBC’s Alastair Leithead reports on how evidence is growing that cannabis could cure diseases like cancer. The medical value of cannabis has been hotly debated for years. Its use as a relaxant or a pain reliever is widely accepted now. Read more: Cancer and cannabis
Recovering drug and alcohol addicts may be able to stay clean with the help of non-psychoactive cannabis, new research suggests.
A preclinical study published in the medical journal Neuropsychopharmacology finds that the therapeutic compound found in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), can help control impulses to use addictive drugs such as alcohol and cocaine, reports Science Daily.
An investigative team at the Scripps Research Institute studied rats with a history of using alcohol or cocaine daily on their own, leading to behavior associated with addiction. The researchers applied a CBD gel to the rats once per day, and reported that CBD effectively reduced relapse provoked by stress and drug cues. The drug-experienced rats also experienced a reduction in anxiety and impulsivity.
The rats were examined five months after being administered CBD, and still showed signs of a reduced relapse. The result was unexpected, considering that CBD was completely cleared from the brain and plasma of the rats only three days after completing therapy.
“Drug addicts enter relapse vulnerability states for multiple reasons,” said the study’s lead author, Friedbert Weiss. “Therefore, effects such as these observed with CBD that concurrently ameliorate several of these are likely to be more effective in preventing relapse than treatments targeting only a single state.”
Study Exonerates Marijuana Smoking, No Link to COPD By Monterey Bud
Smoked marijuana achieves different outcomes for different people: some smoke weed to relax while others use cannabis to medicate. Regardless of the rationale, the Journal Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease revealed there is no direct correlation between prolonged exposure to marijuana smoke and adverse pulmonary function in a report released Tuesday.
In an attempt to drill down the controversial relationship between marijuana use and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a team of inquisitive scientists from the Colorado School of Public Health performed a cross-sectional analysis of 2,304 “current and former tobacco smokers” between the ages of 40 and 80.
Provided a lofty title, “Marijuana use associations with pulmonary symptoms and function in tobacco smokers enrolled in the Subpopulations and Intermediate Outcome Measures in COPD,” the SPIROMICS study scrutinized the perceived relationship between marijuana use and respiratory function.
“Marijuana lifetime exposure and current use status were assessed at enrollment (online supplement Table 1). Marijuana use was categorized into current (use in the past 30 days), and former (use over 30 days ago) users and compared to never users. Those with a history of marijuana use estimated the number of bowls or joint equivalents smoked per week and how many years the participant had smoked marijuana (one bowl was equated to one joint in this analysis). This information was used to calculate the number of joint years which was kept as a continuous variable; 1 joint year is equivalent to smoking 1 joint or bowl per day for one year. A supplementary analysis was added to assess the impact of joint-year history with lung function and symptoms. Joint years were categorized into <10, 10-20, and >20 joint-year history and compared to those who reported zero joint years.”
Results from the study concluded, “Neither current nor former marijuana use was associated with increased risk for cough, wheeze, or chronic bronchitis when compared to never marijuana users after adjusting for covariates.” While providing the caveat that these results “are likely heavily biased and should be interpreted with caution,” the study concluded that individuals exposed to long-term marijuana use had a lower percentage of emphysema, higher totals of lung tissue volume, and a higher percentage of air trapping, after compensating for covariates.
A study spanning two decades conducted by Dr. Donald Tashkin, a professor of medicine and co-director of the Asthma and Cough Center at UCLA, also concluded that long-term marijuana use does not impair lung function.
Acute Effects Of Smoked Marijuana And Oral Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol In Asthmatics
American Review of Respiratory Disease, Volume 109, 1974, p. 420-428 By Donald P. Tashkin, Bertrand J. Shapiro, and Ira M. Frank
SUMMARY: The acute effects of smoked 2 per cent natural marijuana (7 mg per kg) and 15 mg of oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on plethysmographically determined airway resistance (Raw) and specific airway conductance (SGaw) were compared with those of placebo in 10 subjects with stable bronchial asthma using a double-blind crossover technique. After smoked marijuana, SGaw increased immediately and remained significantly elevated (33 to 48 per cent above initial control values) for at least 2 hours, whereas Sgaw did not change after placebo. The peak bronchodilator effect of 1,250 mcg of isoproterenol was more pronounced than that of marijuana, but the effect of marijuana lasted longer.
After ingestion of 15 mg of THC, SGaw was elevated significantly at 1 and 2 hours, and Raw was reduced significantly at 1 to 4 hours, whereas no changes were noted after placebo. These findings indicated that in the asthmatic subjects, both smoked marijuana and oral THC caused significant bronchodilation of at least 2 hours’ duration.
Marijuana prevents people from doing ‘hard’ drugs, claims study By Olivia Petter
Cannabis might still be illegal in the UK, but new research has found that the leafy substance might not be the vilified “gateway drug” it’s widely thought to be.
In fact, in might be the key to discouraging users from progressing to “harder” drugs, such as cocaine and ecstasy, claim scientists at the University of New Mexico.
The five-year-long study involved 125 participants, all of whom were suffering from chronic pain.
83 were taking cannabis as a prescriptive pain mediator, whereas 42 chose to abstain.
They found that 34 per cent of the cannabis users stopped taking their medication, in comparison to just two per cent of the non-smokers, with 98 per cent continuing to take their prescribed drugs.
“Our current opioid epidemic is the leading preventable form of death in the US – killing more people than car accidents and gun violence,” explained lead author and psychology professor Jacob Miguel Vigil.
“Therefore, the relative safety and efficacy of using cannabis in comparison to that of other scheduled medications should be taken by the health providers and legislators,” he told Kobini.
He explained that painkillers and street heroin typically kill 90 people in the US every day; whereas some studies claim that cannabis consumption has never directly caused a fatality.
However, in 2014, Gemma Moss became the first British woman to die from cannabis toxicity, after she reportedly smoked £60 worth of the drug in one week which led her to die from cardiac arrest.
Whilst now legal in several US states, in the UK, possession of the class B drug could put you in prison for five years whilst selling and producing it could land you 14.
Medical Marijuana’s Main Ingredient Isn’t Dangerous or Addictive, World Health Organization Report Says By Melina Delkic, Newsweek
A top global health agency has declared the main ingredient in medical cannabis nonaddictive and nontoxic, according to a new report.
“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential,” wrote the World Health Organization, a U.N. agency that focuses on public health. Researchers spent months looking into cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that’s often used for medical purposes. It often comes in the form of oils, drops or capsules.
The organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) found “no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” They also found that, according to several clinical trials, CBD could be good for treating epilepsy and “a number of other medical conditions.”
Although the report came out in November, it drew international attention only on Wednesday, after the WHO published concrete recommendations from the ECDD’s November meeting. In addition to recommending a stricter scheduling for a type of opioid, the committee recommended a new approach to cannabis, responding to increased interest among its member states in researching and legalizing it.
In emails to Newsweek, spokespeople for the WHO clarified that the report very clearly “does not say that WHO recommends the use of cannabidiol.” What the WHO recommends “is that cannabidiol should not be scheduled for international control on the basis of current evidence, and that a fuller review will be carried out next year, when other cannabinoids are discussed.”
The committee said that CBD did not need to be controlled (or government-regulated) on an international level, and that this should be left up to individual nations. “Saying it should not be scheduled for international control means that it should not be prohibited, at the international level, to produce and supply it for specific purposes, such as medical treatment and research, given that WHO has not so far seen evidence of potential for abuse or harm from cannabidiol,” a spokesperson wrote. “As to what is legal or illegal, that comes under national law, so it is up to countries to decide.”
The committee will start the expanded review of CBD in May 2018, when it will make more specific recommendations and conclusions.
The legality of CBD has been a source of confusion for years. Even though it’s the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, the Drug Enforcement Administration emphasized in 2016 that it is still illegal and still a Schedule I substance, along with drugs like heroin and LSD. The DEA does not recognize a distinction between CBD and any other kinds of marijuana.
Even though the DEA once eased trials for CBD in late 2015, it released a statement in July saying that CBD was still very much illegal. “Because ‘Charlotte’s Web’/CBD oil is not an FDA-approved drug…it is a schedule I controlled substance under the [Controlled Substances Act],” the DEA said.
Because marijuana is a Schedule I drug, the DEA rarely approves research on it. And even though many states have legalized it for medical and recreational use, it remains illegal on the federal level.
Proponents in the U.S. have long argued that states and researchers should at least be allowed to look into CBD’s benefits and either prove or disprove them.
Even some Republicans, who are typically more hesitant about marijuana legalization, are beginning to agree. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a bill to that effect. “We lack the science to support use of medical marijuana products like CBD oils, not because researchers are unwilling to do the work but because of bureaucratic red tape and over-regulation,” Hatch said.
When I was a student nurse, I spent two weeks in a maternity ward where I was assigned to one expectant mother to care for. She was 37 and having her fifth child. During the pregnancy, she developed hyperemesis gravidarum, a nausea so severe that it can lead to electrolyte imbalances that can be life-threatening to the fetus. This mother chose to use cannabis to treat the hyperemesis. It worked very well without any of the side effects of other medications commonly used to treat it.
As it was standard operating procedure at the hospital I was interning at, she underwent a drug screen when she came to the hospital for delivery. Not surprisingly she tested positive for cannabis. As a consequence, she was investigated by Children’s Protective Services, a note was put in her chart of child endangerment and after her baby was born (weighing over seven pounds), she was not allowed to breastfeed and was separated from her baby who was placed in neonatal intensive care unit where the baby was fed formula.
Cannabis use during pregnancy to treat nausea, pain and depression is far safer to both mother and child than any of the medications that are given to women to treat those conditions during pregnancy.
Reefer madness and genuflecting to law enforcement drove health care professionals to claim that cannabis is a danger to both the fetus and the baby and that more research has to be done. Until then the horrors experienced by my patients, the 37-year-old mother and her baby, are par for the course.
Finally, the research has been done. Not only does it document that there is no harm from a mother’s use of cannabis, it also debunked the poor methodology of previous research papers which purported to show severe negative consequences to the child.
Published in the October 2016 issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, the medical review utilized research findings from 31 previous studies that interviewed over 132,000 pregnant women.
Earlier studies concluded that cannabis use during pregnancy resulted in a greater likelihood of having a preterm birth or a baby with low birth weight.
The new research found that the babies of the 7,800 women who only used cannabis during pregnancy were no more likely to suffer preterm birth or low birth weight babies than the 124,000 women who reported no cannabis use.
The new research demonstrated that the previous studies were deficient as they did not consider tobacco smoking separate from cannabis smoking. Utilizing research protocols that separated those who only used cannabis from those who used cannabis and tobacco, the researchers found that the women who only used cannabis did not have an increase for preterm birth or a low birth weight baby.
Those who used both cannabis and tobacco suffered an 85 percent increased risk of having preterm birth or low birth weight babies. Cannabis only did not produce those results—it was the tobacco. It has been long known that tobacco use during pregnancy is detrimental to the fetus and the same is even truer for alcohol, yet no one seems to be demanding the prohibition of these substances in the name of fetal health.
Opioids used during pregnancy to treat pain can result in babies having spina bifida (neural defect), hydrocephaly (fluid in the brain), congenital heart defects and other deforming and life threatening problems. Anti-depressants, especially SSRIs like Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft, have been demonstrated to produce autism spectrum, developmental disorders and birth defects in babies.
Complicating the picture is that neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) occurs when a baby is exposed to a drug in the womb before birth and then goes through withdrawal from the drug after birth. NAS is most often the result of a pregnant woman taking opioids.
Rather than discouraging women from using cannabis during pregnancy, doctors should be encouraging women to use cannabis in place of the far more dangerous drugs they are given during pregnancy to treat pain, depression and insomnia. This outdated and anachronistic anti-cannabis policy continues to negatively impact the lives of millions of expectant mothers and their soon to be born children.
Drug money is an inherent part of the American economy
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is the largest drug market in the world. We’re 5 percent of the world’s
population — we consume 25 percent of the world’s illegal drugs. Mexico
has the misfortune to share a 2,000 mile border with the largest drug
market in the world. At the end of the day, they’ll run out of products.
It’s the illegality that makes those territories so valuable. If you
criminalize anything only criminals can sell it. If only criminals can
sell it, there’s no recourse to law, there’s only recourse to violence.
That’s created the cartels. It’s our simultaneous appetite for — and
prohibition of — drugs that makes those border territories worth killing
On the effect legalizing marijuana (just in Washington and Colorado) has had on Mexican trafficking
two states that have legalized marijuana, do you know what’s happened
in Mexico? Forty percent of Mexican marijuana imports, they’ve been cut
by 40 percent. In Durango and Sinaloa, where most of the marijuana is
grown, they’ve almost stopped growing it now, because they can’t compete
with the American quality and the American market. I’m not making this
up; you get this from Customs and from DEA, from the people who are
trying to intercept it on the border and judge how much is coming
through as a percentage of how much they seize, and what they’re telling
us is it’s down 37 percent over the last two years. So by stopping
fighting, just two states stopping fighting the war on that drug, it has
Recognize drug laws as the price-support program
that they are. If this stuff was trading at its actual cost, without
the illegality premium, there wouldn’t be enough money in drugs to
support the cartels. But don’t take my word for it, just ask Al Capone.
Notice gangsters don’t sell liquor any more. And there are no more
drive-bys by bootleggers.
The US drug policy has caused the
deaths and incarceration of hundreds of thousands, as prohibition did in
the 30’s with booze. It has allowed these cartels to become powerful
and deadly. Now the US has created this monster and it’s loose. And
as long as drugs remain illegal the dead bodies will continue to pile
Prohibition didn’t work in the ’30’s and it didn’t make any one’s family safer, just the opposite. How dumb are American voters? To allow politicians to fleece them for wars they know can’t be won. Obviously, since the American voter continues to elect these “law and order” assholes they must be as dumb as bricks.
Legalization of Marijuana
The US war on drugs places great emphasis on arresting people for smoking marijuana.
Since 1990, approximately 17 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges, a greater number than the entire populations of Alaska, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming combined.
In 2010, state and local law enforcement arrested 746,000 people for marijuana violations. This is an increase of 800 percent since 1980 and the highest per capita in the world.
As has been the case throughout the 1990s, 2000’s and continues that the overwhelming majority of those charged with marijuana violations were for simple possession, around 88%. The remaining 12% were for “sale/manufacture”, an FBI category which includes marijuana grown for personal use or purely medical purposes. These new FBI statistics indicate that one marijuana smoker is arrested every 45 seconds in America. Taken together, the total number of marijuana arrests for 2010 far exceeded the combined number of arrests for violent crimes, including murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
Like most Americans, people who smoke marijuana also pay taxes, love and support their families, and work hard to make a better life for their children. Suddenly they are arrested, jailed and treated like criminals solely because of their recreational drug of choice. State agencies frequently step in and declare children of marijuana smokers to be “in danger”, and many children are placed into foster homes as a result. This causes enormous pain, suffering and financial hardship for millions of American families. It also engenders distrust and disrespect for the law and for the criminal justice system overall.
Responsible marijuana smokers present no threat or danger to America or its children, and there is no reason to treat them as criminals, or to take their children away. As a society we need to find ways to discourage personal conduct of all kinds that is abusive or harmful to others.
Responsible marijuana smokers are not the problem and it is time to stop arresting them.
Once all the facts are known, it becomes clear that America’s marijuana laws need reform. This issue must be openly debated using only the facts.
Groundless claims, meaningless statistics, and exaggerated scare stories that have been peddled by politicians and prohibitionists for the last 60 years must be rejected.
Marijuana does not cause brain damage, genetic damage, or damage the immune system. Unlike alcohol, marijuana does not kill brain cells or induce violent behavior
A 1997 UCLA School of Medicine study (Volume 155 of the American Journal of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine) conducted on 243 marijuana smokers over an 8-year period reported the following: “Findings from the long-term study of heavy, habitual marijuana smokers argue against the concept that continuing heavy use of marijuana is a significant risk factor for the development of chronic lung disease.”
Neither the continuing nor the intermittent marijuana smokers exhibited any significantly different rates of decline in lung function as compared with those individuals who never smoked marijuana.”
The study concluded: “No differences were noted between even quite heavy marijuana smoking and non-smoking of marijuana.”
Marijuana does not cause serious health problems like those caused by tobacco or alcohol (e.g., strong addiction, cancer, heart problems, birth defects, emphysema, liver damage, etc.). Death from a marijuana overdose is impossible. In all of world history, there has never been a single human death attributed to a health problem caused by marijuana.
The Illegalization of Marijuana: A Brief History By Stephen Siff
Drugs and the “Law and Order” Presidency
Elected to the presidency in 1968 on a promise to restore “law and order” to a nation jolted by riots, protests, and assassinations, Richard Nixon aggressively recruited journalists and media executives to participate in what he declared would be a War Against Drug Abuse.
The public relations push included attempts to strong-arm radio broadcasters to cease playing drug-themed music and recruiting television personality Art Linkletter and (oddly) the pill-popping Elvis Presley as anti-drug spokesmen. (Presley never actually did any work on behalf of the anti-drug campaign but did request that Nixon give him a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. The photo of their meeting has become the most requested item from the National Archives.)
At a White House event for television executives in 1970, Nixon obtained pledges that anti-drug themes would be inserted in twenty prime-time shows, ranging from “Hawaii Five-O” to “Marcus Welby M.D.” (Prior to this time, television programing, like studio films, avoided drug themes.) By applying pressure to television stations and sponsors, the Nixon administration collected $37 million worth of commercial airtime for anti-drug messages by 1971.
Changes in federal drug policy during the Nixon administration loosened penalties for some kinds of drug violations, while expanding the powers of law enforcement (including the creation of no-knock and late-night search warrants) and reshaping the federal anti-drug agencies to be more directly responsive to White House control.
In 1970, Congress passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, which placed marijuana in the most restrictive category of drugs having no permissible use in medical practice. The scheduling of marijuana was suggested by an Assistant Secretary of Health pending the report from a Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, headed by a former governor of Pennsylvania Raymond Shafer with members appointed by the president, speaker of the House, and the president pro tem of the Senate.
The report, which was released in its final form in 1973, called for an end to criminal penalties for marijuana possession and also an end to the government’s anti-drug education efforts, which the report decried as wasted money. White House tapes recorded Nixon pressuring Shafer to reject the committee’s findings, and the president refused to receive the report in public.
Nixon’s director of the Narcotics Treatment Administration recalled to Frontline documentarians that when he joined the administration the president told him, “You’re the drug expert, not me, on every issue but one, and that’s decriminalization of marijuana. If you make any hint of supporting decriminalization, you are history. Everything else, you figure it out. But that one, I’m telling you, that’s the deal.”
There was a tautological aspect to Nixon’s opposition to marijuana. The president, whose preferences ran toward mixed drinks, detested marijuana precisely because the drug was illegal, and to smoke pot was to embrace the lawlessness that he saw as sweeping the country.
“Believe me, it is true, the thing about the drug [marijuana], once people cross that line from [unintelligible] straight society to the drug society, it’s a very great possibility they are going to go further,” Nixon told Linkletter in a private conversation preserved by the White House’s secret taping system. “You see, homosexuality, dope, immorality in general. These are the enemies of a strong society. That’s why the communists and left-wingers are pushing the stuff, they are trying to destroy us.”
As the particular fears that motivated anti-marijuana legislation dissipated, attitudes toward marijuana prohibition became a litmus test for attitudes about the relationship between law and personal judgment. The laws gave the drug an extra attraction for youth experimenting with rebellion, but within the logic of “law and order,” disrespect for the law seemed to be the root of many problems.
Despite Nixon’s unyielding anti-marijuana stance, during the early and middle 1970s, there was a growing consensus that criminal punishments for pot were contrary to the public interest; and medical and legal authorities were disputing the logic of harsh anti-marijuana laws.
The National Parent Teacher Association Congress, American Medical Association, American Bar, American Public Health Association, National Education Association, and the National Council of Churches all passed resolutions endorsing decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.
The Committee for Economic Development and the Consumers Union agreed.
The New York Times, Washington Post, and the conservative National Review all editorialized in favor of decriminalization. The film Reefer Madness—which had been made to scare the nation about the dangers of marijuana—was now being released by pro-marijuana campaigners as a comedy on the midnight movie circuit.
By 1977, the use of the drug seemed so commonplace and the fears so archaic that President Jimmy Carter called for the decriminalization of marijuana. As Carter pointed out in a message to Congress in 1977, anti-marijuana laws cause more harm to marijuana users than the drug itself.
Drugs and the Media in the Age of “Just Say No”
Still, not everyone had grown comfortable with drugs’ increasing prevalence and the loosening of attitudes about them.
In 1976, Marsha “Keith” Schuchard and her husband, Ronald, were appalled when confronted with evidence that their 13-year-old daughter was smoking pot. With a neighbor in their suburban Atlanta neighborhood, Sue Rusche, Schuchard formed Families in Action, a parents’ group that promoted anti-drug education and zero-tolerance policies.
Within a few years, they had formed organizations that offered support to thousands of similar groups around the country. Under commission from the federal National Institute on Drug Abuse, Schuchard wrote a handbook for parent organizations, Parents, Peers, and Pot. More than a million copies were distributed and more than 4,000 parents’ groups formed by 1983.
Schuchard stated in the book that her goal was to protect psychologically vulnerable children from a popular culture that pushed them toward drugs, not to advocate prohibition for adults. However, the fine distinction was lost by politicians who built on the movement’s support.
Ronald Reagan had opposed decriminalization of marijuana as governor of California and, as president, showed no sympathy for drug use or users.
Prompted largely by fear over crack cocaine, Congress passed three major pieces of anti-drug legislation during the 1980s, each more punitive than the last. In 1986, Reagan called for the implementation of drug testing to ensure that schools and workplaces remained “drug-free.”
As in the past, the generalized fear of “drugs” distinguished only between teetotalers and criminals. Drugs were drugs, albeit federal sentencing guidelines made some drugs much worse.
During the Reagan administration, the White House spearheaded an extensive anti-drug media campaign that was soon joined by nonprofit and independent groups. Soon after the election of her husband, First Lady Nancy Reagan took on the mission of spreading an anti-drug message, unveiling her “Just Say No” slogan at an elementary school in 1982.
In the years that followed, Nancy Reagan recited the slogan at rallies and public appearances across the country, in public service announcements designed by the Ad Council, in thousands of billboards, and on dozens of talk shows.
The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, which brought police into schools to lecture against drugs, was also founded during this period, as were clubs in many schools that enticed pupils to sign anti-drug pledges.
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, founded by a group of advertising executives in 1985, introduced its “This is your brain on drugs” public service advertisements a few years later.
Highlights in the media barrage must also include the White House-sponsored “Stop the Madness” music video starring, among many others, New Edition, LaToya Jackson, and Whitney Houston, with a brief appearance by Nancy Reagan.
Government surveys showed that drug use declined during the 1980s, but ending “the scourge of drugs” was still a successful campaign issue for George H. W. Bush when he pursued the presidency in 1988.
Concern over drug use appeared to peak in September the following year, when 64 percent of respondents in a New York Times/CBS News poll identified drugs as the single most pressing issue facing the nation, not long after Bush gave an Oval Office speech on the subject.
The media campaign against drugs persisted well into the 1990s, in every medium imaginable, from television to t-shirts to milk cartons, as a cause ostensibly absent of political overtones.
Evidence is mixed on whether anti-drug media campaigns served their purpose of reducing drug use. A study of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign from 1998 to 2004 found that the $1.2 billion federal initiative was not effective in reducing drug use, and may even had the reverse effect on some youth, by sparking teens’ curiosity.
These programs certainly seem to have been effective in raising the profile of the drug issue and maintaining public concern. Even for a president such as Bill Clinton, who admitted smoking (but not inhaling) marijuana, continuing to warn the public against the threat while pledging an undying effort to fight it must have seemed better politics than suggesting a compromise.
In 1998 and 1999, Clinton’s drug czar, Barry McCaffery, paid out $25 million to five major television networks for writing anti-drug messages into specific prime-time shows, with the White House reviewing and signing off on scripts in advance.
The Road to Legalization?
Over the past few decades, it was possible to joke about weed in the media—there were of course still Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, and Cheech and Chong—but decades of intense anti-drug propaganda have made it awfully hard for anyone to credibly support something called “drugs.”
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, there have been persistent links between political decisions about drug policy and efforts to influence public opinion.
Following the anti-drug campaigns of recent years, it is fascinating to note that today’s liberalization efforts have largely succeeded not by trying to shift attitudes about drugs, but by redefining marijuana as medicine and by focusing on the economic and social costs of the incarceration that has resulted from drug laws.
About 800,000 Americans are arrested annually for marijuana offenses, mostly simple possession.
Few wind up in prison as a result of a first offense, but this encounter with the criminal justice system can have serious consequences, including the loss of eligibility for federal student financial aid and subsidized housing.
And the “three-strikes laws,” which 22 states and the federal government passed between 1993 and 1995 and which mandated stiff prison sentences for a person convicted of a third felony, ensure that marijuana offenses can lead to dire results.
Although black Americans smoke pot at a nearly identical rate as whites, they are nearly four times more likely to be arrested because of it.
“It’s important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished,” President Barak Obama said in a January interview with the New Yorker.
And all taxpayers contribute to the billions of dollars a year required to enforce anti-marijuana laws and punish the offenders. Pot often inspires giggles, but marijuana prohibition has serious implications.
To the extent that these arguments to end the illegalization of marijuana have been persuasive it has largely been the result of voter initiatives, rather than the efforts of politicians.
Further liberalization seems likely. According to Gallup, 58 percent of Americans now favor legalizing marijuana. This has been the first time the firm has recorded a pro-legalization majority since it began asking the question in 1969.
It seems unlikely that “doing drugs” will become acceptable any time soon.
Obviously from a law enforcement (LE) perspective it is more difficult
to get real criminals to talk than drug users who have a monkey on their
back. A real criminal can hold out making the job for LE that much more
difficult. While a drug user will snitch on his whole crew in a matter
of hours to get his next fix. (See: Snitches pictures/locations)
Drug cases keep cops busy, courts busy and jails to over capacity. Which
makes it possible to farm out prison construction and control to
private industries. Private prison companies can then trade prison slave
labor on Wall Street at a profit. Which makes slavery legal.
My state spends more money on incarceration than they do on higher
education. And have made LE profitable through asset forfeiture which is
the equivalent of a snake eating its own tail for nourishment. This
system is unsustainable. And what is worse is that the drug war actually
makes our families less safe since drug dealers can not call the police
like other business owners so they are forced to turn to violence to
settle their debts. Drugs are also not regulated on the black market
causing overdoses due to cheaper cuts like fentanyl. And LE budgets and
time are being used up on non-violent drug users while violent crimes go
unsolved due to a “lack of funds”.
More than 1.4 million murders, rapes, robberies and assaults are
committed around the United States every year, or a violent crime every
22 seconds, the FBI says. Tell your reps to stop wasting tax dollars on
drug wars. To call your Member of Congress: US Capitol Switchboard (202)
224-3121 To locate your Member on-line: U.S. House of Representatives:
www.house.gov U.S. Senate: www.senate.gov
The only way this will ever change is if you become a lobbyist to end
the drug war because the alcohol and pharmaceutical industries lobby
Congress everyday they are open to the tune of $1m a day. People are
only motivated by two things: greed and fear. You and I can not compete
with the drug companies money which leaves fear. Our reps must fear that
they will lose their jobs if they continue to spend our hard earned
dollars on this scam.
Today it is taken for granted that governments will co-operate in the fight against the heroin and cocaine trade.
But 100 years ago, narcotics passed from country to country with minimal interference from the authorities. That all changed with the 1912 International Opium Convention, which committed countries to stopping the trade in opium, morphine and cocaine.
Then, as now, the US stood in the vanguard against narcotics. While the UK’s position is unequivocal today, a century ago it was an unenthusiastic signatory, says Mike Jay, author of Emperors of Dreams: Drugs in the Nineteenth Century.
The real concern a century ago was over alcohol, he argues. “There was a big debate over intoxication as there was concern about the heavy, heavy drinking culture of the 19th Century.”
And opium use was viewed in the mid-19th Century in a very different way from modern beliefs about drug use. It was possible to walk into a chemist and buy not only opium and cocaine, but even arsenic.
If you had been in a major British port in the 18th or 19th Century, you would have seen opium arriving alongside ordinary cargo. In February 1785 The Times listed opium from Smyrna (now Izmir) between oil from Leghorn (Livorno) and peas from Dantzic (Gdansk) in its roundup of goods unloaded at the port of London.
In the early 19th Century, travellers to Norfolk were warned to treat their pint in the pub with caution. Beer could be laced with opium to ward off the malaria that flourished in the Fens.
Opium, the dried residue of poppies, was usually consumed for its anaesthetic properties.
Queen Victoria’s coterie ordered opium from the royal apothecary. She is also believed to have taken cocaine gum with a young Winston Churchill. Prime Minister William Gladstone is said to have taken opium in tea or coffee before making important speeches.
In 1868 the Pharmacy Act brought in restrictions. In theory, it became tougher to get hold of opium – with the user having to provide a name and address and other details to the chemist. But it made little difference.
There was another side to the opium story. It was also smoked recreationally – a practice brought in by Chinese sailors who settled in the East End area of Limehouse. Opium dens became a much mythologised world, where aristocrats could stumble in and discover a cornucopia of vice.
“There were opium dens where one could buy oblivion, dens of horror where the memory of old sins could be destroyed by the madness of sins that were new,” wrote Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray.
But the fashion in drugs was changing from the “downer” of opium to the “upper” of cocaine – hence Arthur Conan Doyle making Sherlock Holmes a cocaine injector.
Marek Kohn, author of Dope Girls: The Birth of the British Drug Underground, argues that Holmes was typical of a view at the time that cocaine was for “brainy, highly-strung” people who needed constant stimulation. It was a “personal shortcoming” but not a sign of the depravity that drugs would later be associated with.
But in the US, cocaine came to be associated with street gangs, alongside racist propaganda that the drug sent black men insane and put white women at risk.
So these domestic concerns helped drive the international agreement in the form of the 1912 treaty. But while it tackled the trade, in the UK at least, the authorities were slow to crack down on individual users.
When World War I broke out, opium and cocaine were still legal drugs in Britain.
The turning point had come more than a year into the war, says Kohn. There was a fear that the drinking culture was harming the war effort. In 1915 the licensing laws were tightened.
The unintended consequence was to create the conditions for the first underground drug scene in Britain, says Kohn. It criminalized a small number of people in London’s theater district and a scene developed in which opium, cocaine, sex and prostitution overlapped. With so many soldiers passing through London, it was little surprise that emergency regulation to ban drugs soon followed.
The fact that opium and cocaine-dealing were closely identified with the Chinese merely fanned the flames in a war-time atmosphere of general xenophobia, Kohn says.
“There was intense paranoia about foreign subversion, ostensibly by the Germans,” says Kohn. “And in the middle of this you have a drug panic in which the ‘outsider’ is central.”
In the years after the war, concern crystallized, driven by a media hungry for scandal. The stories would seem familiar to any modern reader.
A young actress dies from an overdose of cocaine. The inquest whips up a storm of intrigue and exposes the widespread use of drugs among her social circle.
This was the death of Billie Carleton in 1918. The actress had attended an opium party the night before her death and a coroner’s inquest found she had died of a cocaine overdose.
Her friend Reginald De Veulle was charged with manslaughter and conspiracy to supply a prohibited drug. He had bought the drug from a Scottish woman Ada and her Chinese husband Lau Ping You, in Limehouse.
De Veulle was acquitted of manslaughter but found guilty of supplying her with cocaine and sentenced to eight months in prison, Ada was sentenced to five months hard labour while Ping You was fined £10.
The emergency legislation brought in during WWI was made permanent in the Dangerous Drugs Act 1920.
Two years later came another notorious case of a young woman whom the media decided had been seduced and corrupted by a charismatic Chinese entrepreneur known as “Brilliant” Chang.
Freda Kempton, a young dancer, was found dead after taking an overdose of cocaine. At the inquest it emerged that she had been with Chang on the night she died. These two cases hardened feeling against the Chinese community and the sense that they were using drugs to ensnare innocent white women.
The media presented her as a vulnerable ingenue, says Kohn. “There was already a moral panic associated with drugs but it was prostitutes who weren’t seen as sympathetic,” he says. “But Billie Carleton was seen as different, she was portrayed as this waif-like figure when she was nothing of the sort.”
The cases prompted many to become aware of cocaine as a serious menace for young innocent women. But almost as soon as panic reached its peak with the Kempton case it dissipated.
In reality, there was no “drug scene” in Britain back then, says Jay. What existed was confined to a few streets in Soho and a handful of dealers in Limehouse.
And once the drug laws came in banning cocaine and opium, the problem was easily contained by the police.
“Victorian Britain had been awash with opium but you wouldn’t smoke it in a den, you’d get it from the chemist as a gloopy liquid. The opium dens were largely fictional constructs encouraged by stories like Sherlock Holmes and the writings of Oscar Wilde,” Jay notes.
Today, when the efficacy of anti-drug measures is constantly debated, it seems curious that the 1912 treaty was an effective measure. Domestically, in the UK, the police had the upper hand.
The big changes in the West’s attitude to drugs came after World War II, Jay argues.
“The baby boomers were the first generation in history to become real global consumers. People were suddenly going to Morocco to smoke hash, or hitching with lorry drivers who were using amphetamines.”
So the floodgates opened. Where once the authorities were fighting relatively small groups of offenders in a tiny drugs subculture, now they must fight millions of users and powerful international cartels.
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War on drugs a trillion-dollar failure By Richard Branson
(CNN) In 1925, H. L. Mencken wrote an impassioned plea: “Prohibition has not only failed in its promises but actually created additional serious and disturbing social problems throughout society. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic but more. There is not less crime, but more. … The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished.”
Here we are, four decades after Richard Nixon declared the war on drugs in 1971 and $1 trillion spent since then. What do we have to show for it?
The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world, with about 2.3 million behind bars. More than half a million of those people are incarcerated for a drug law violation. What a waste of young lives.
The facts are overwhelming. If the global drug trade were a country, it would have one of the top 20 economies in the world. In 2005, the United Nations estimated the global illegal drug trade is worth more than $320 billion. It also estimates there are 230 million illegal drug users in the world, yet 90% of them are not classified as problematic.
In the United States, if illegal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco, they would yield $46.7 billion in tax revenue. A Cato study says legalizing drugs would save the U.S. about $41 billion a year in enforcing the drug laws.
Have U.S. drug laws reduced drug use? No. The U.S. is the No. 1 nation in the world in illegal drug use. As with Prohibition, banning alcohol didn’t stop people drinking — it just stopped people obeying the law.
About 40,000 people were in U.S. jails and prisons for drug crimes in 1980, compared with more than 500,000 today. Excessively long prison sentences and locking up people for small drug offenses contribute greatly to this ballooning of the prison population. It also represents racial discrimination and targeting disguised as drug policy. People of color are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than white people — yet from 1980 to 2007, blacks were arrested for drug law violations at rates 2.8 to 5.5 times higher than white arrest rates.
How would our society, our communities and daily lives improve if we took the money we use running a police and prison state and put it into education and health? Treating drugs as a health issue could save billions, improve public health and help us better control violence and crime in our communities. Hundreds of thousands of people have died from overdoses and drug-related diseases, including HIV and hepatitis C, because they didn’t have access to cost-effective, life-saving solutions.
A Pew study says it costs the U.S. an average of $30,000 a year to incarcerate an inmate, but the nation spends only an average $11,665 per public school student. The future of our nations and our children should be our priority. We should be helping people addicted to drugs break their habits rather than putting users in prison.
When it comes to drugs, we should focus on the goals we agree on: protecting our kids, protecting public safety and preventing and treating drug abuse and addiction. To help unlock barriers to drug reform, last June, I joined the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which is bringing global leadership to drug reform to make fact-based research public and draw attention to successful alternative approaches. Continue reading: Prohibition Kills
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