Pubdate: Sat, 20 Oct 2007
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2007 Independent Media Institute
Author: Paul Armentano
Note: Paul Armentano is the senior policy analyst for the NORML 
Foundation in Washington, DC.
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Walters, John)


Heard the latest from the Feds regarding their multi-billion dollar
war on weed? According to warnings posted on the DEA's new website, today's cannabis is nearly twice as strong as the
pot available in the 1970s and 80s. Sounds like its time for the Drug
Enforcement Administration to don some new duds. How about t-shirts
saying: "I've arrested millions, and all I got was stronger pot?"

Naturally, law enforcement and federal bureaucrats have little sense
of humor when it comes to these matters. "We're no longer talking
about the drug of the 1960s and 1970s," Drug Czar John Walters told
Reuters News Wire. (The Czar failed to explain why if previous
decades' pot was innocuous police still arrested you for it.) "This is
Pot 2.0."

Speaking recently to the Associated Press, DEA chief Mark R.
Trouville, who heads the agency's Miami office, took an even more dire
tone. "This ain't your grandfather's or your father's marijuana," he
said. "This will hurt you. This will addict you. This will kill you."

For our friends at the DEA, here's a news flash. Unlike booze,
sleeping pills, or even aspirin, pot poses no risk of fatal overdose,
regardless of its THC content. (In fact, my physician can prescribe me
a pill called Marinol that's 100 percent THC and nobody at the Drug
Czar's office seems to mind.) Moreover, cannabis consumers readily
distinguish between low potency and high potency marijuana and
moderate their use accordingly -- taking smaller and fewer puffs of
the "good stuff" than they do the "shwag."

Besides, isn't variety the spice of life? Last time I visited my
local, state-sanctioned liquor store I had my choice of a
head-spinning variety of alcoholic beverages, all of various strengths
and sizes. I passed on the Bacardi 151, picked up a pint of vodka (80
proof) and then went next door to the supermarket to buy a six-pack of
beer (7 percent alcohol by volume). Other customers made similar
purchases. Nobody from the White House seemed terribly concerned.

But what the suggestion that today's pot is so addictive that just one
puff is a one-way ticket to drug rehab? In this case, the devil is in
the details.

According to the latest data from federal Drug and Alcohol Services
Information System (DASIS), more individuals are, in fact, enrolled in
drug treatment for pot than ever before. However, this increase is a
direct result of the fact that more Americans are being arrested for
pot than ever before. (For example, a new study published in the
online journal BMC Public Health reports among the 27,000+ adults
entered into Texas drug treatment clinics between 2000 and 2005, a
whopping 70 percent of them were diverted to treatment as a condition
of sentencing, parole, or probation.) Faced with the choice of jail or
attending drug treatment, most offenders -- not surprisingly -- choose
treatment, whether they need it (most don't) or not.

So let's review, shall we? Our federal government wants Americans to
get off the pot. So they spend billions of dollars outlawing the plant
and driving its producers underground where breeders clandestinely
develop stronger and more sophisticated herbal strains than ever
existed prior to prohibition. The Feds then go out and inadvertently
give America's pot farmers billions of dollars in free advertising by
telling the world that their weed is more potent than anything Allen
Ginsberg, Tommy Chong or Jerry Garcia ever smoked in their heyday. In
response, tens of millions of Americans head immediately to their
nearest street-corner in search of a dealer (or college student)
willing to sell them a dimebag of the new, super-potent pot they've
been hearing about on TV.

Perhaps it's time for the DEA to heed their own advice and "just think
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake