The Austin Chronicle

Top 10 Joints

By Jordan Smith, January 6, 2012, News

1) Unhappy Birthday 2011 marked the big 4-0 for the drug war, officially begun under President Richard Nixon on June 17, 1971. How big it's grown! Unfortunately, like too many 40-year-olds, time has not granted this overgrown baby much wisdom.

2) Joint Custody By the time you finish reading this entry, at least one pot smoker will have been arrested. According to calculations made by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition based on FBI crime reports, one drug arrest is made in America every 19 seconds.

3) Do They Vote? For the third year in a row, a majority of voters – 55% – say they favor legalizing pot. In the Angus-Reid poll, two-thirds of voters also said – yet again – that the drug war has been a complete failure. Don't expect elected officials to pay any attention.

4) Scared of Needles Two years after the federal ban was lifted, congressional Republicans in December voted to reinstate a ban on funding for needle-exchange programs, one of the best available harm-reduction strategies to reduce the spread of communicable diseases.

5) Obama Blowback After issuing a directive to federal law enforcement to cease raiding and prosecuting medi-pot patients and caregivers acting within state law parameters, the Obama Department of Justice has reversed itself and is ratcheting up the war on pot in California, leading Americans for Safe Access to sue.

6) High Way According to a new study from researchers in Colorado and Montana, both beer sales and the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities have declined in states where medi-pot is legal. Overall, the research says, traffic fatalities in medi-pot states have declined by 9%.

7) Definition of Insanity According to a memo from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Intelligence and Operations Coordination, removing "key" cartel personnel through arrest or death has no effect on the amount of drugs smuggled into the U.S.

8) Ignorance Is Fed Bliss Four years after a Drug Enforcement Administration judge told the agency head that she should license University of Massachusetts professor Lyle Craker to grow a test crop of pot, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart rejected that finding, arguing that diversion of the test dope is too big a risk.

9) Smith's Exports U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith believes the war on drugs has actually been successful. There's no other way to explain his push this fall to export it abroad via legislation that would allow federal prosecutors to charge American citizens with drug crimes for actions taken overseas – e.g., smoking pot in Amsterdam.

10) Hysterical Staples Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples held a bizarre September press conference to announce that the Mexican border is all but lost to drug traffickers, trotting out two retired Army generals and a host of rancher types who told reporters that hundreds of dead bodies are scattered on the border region. These reports, they noted, are anecdotal – and immigrants often die for lack of water – but should still drive U.S. policy.

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