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Richard Branson: ‘War on drugs’ has failed — we need a new strategy, and "(we) need our leaders to take a stand and allow a rational debate which recognises that the global war on drugs has been a costly failure," say Branson in the U.K. Standard.

Yesterday, in more than 80 cities around the world people demonstrated against the war on drugs under the banner of "Support Don't Punish," and called for alternative more compassionate science based approaches to treating problems with drugs such as social service and mental health treatment rather than the ideologically based criminal and military crusades causing so much harm today.

Entrepreneur, humanitarian, and founder of Virgin Airlines Richard Branson added his voice in a letter to the Prime Minister of the U.K.  

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Every day, people continue to suffer as a result of prohibitionist drug policies. A few weeks ago I visited Ironwood State Prison in California, a medium-security facility that houses more than 3,000 prisoners, many of them non-violent drug offenders. I spoke to prisoners and guards about the war on drugs and how true reform of prison systems depends on how we address the issue of drug prohibition.

In the UK, our drug laws are driving racial disparity in the criminal justice system. Young black men are subjected to stop-and-search for drugs at six times the rate of white people, despite the fact that drug use is higher among the white population. The mass search of certain communities creates an environment where people see the police as lacking legitimacy.

Where there is limited trust in the police, people are less likely to come forward as victims or witnesses to a crime, and they are more likely to take matters into their own hands. This is all done in the name of finding small amounts of drugs, usually cannabis. ...

There are alternatives. As a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, I have long advocated the use of non-criminal sanctions for drug possession, and for countries to consider regulating drugs to take the market out of the hands of criminals. Countries such as Portugal, the Czech Republic and some states in Australia have all implemented diversionary schemes away from the criminal justice system for possession.

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Consider for a moment this plot of our prison population which has increased almost 10 fold since Richard Nixon launched the diabolical war on American drug users. 2.2 million American are now in prisons - the largest number of any country in the world, and the largest fraction of population of any country in the world. This is an example of the power of the DEA corrupting the soul of America.

Yes, there is more.

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Just Say No To Racism!

HoundDog, Canine Correspondent at Daily Kos writes:

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In addition to all of the other devastating harm our cruel and destructive drug laws have done to our American people, statistics prove beyond any reasonable doubt that or drug laws have been applied unevenly in a grossly racist way, and also disproportionately to the poor, to such an extent as to become a major cause of the perpetuation of poverty and class division in our society.

When it became clear that state and federal laws banning same sex marriage were violations against the 14th amendment guarantees of equal protection, and our political leaders lacked the courage to do the right thing, courageous constitutional lawyers such as Theodore B. Olson and David Boies came forward to demand these rights be protected in the courts, just as other lawyers did decades before when the Supreme Court struck down the laws against miscegenation laws and segregation.

When statistics show such an undeniable, consequencial, ongoing, systemic, and unequal enforcement of our drug law against both minorities and the poor, I call on these same constitutional lawyers to stand up now and protect our poor and minority people who are being devastating by racist drug laws that have one out of every three adult black men engage in our criminal "justice" justice system.

Theodore B. Olson and David Boies wrote in The Wall Street Journal

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For one to say that the Supreme Court should leave the question of marriage equality to the political processes of the states is to say that states should remain free to discriminate—to impose this pain and humiliation on gay men and lesbians and their children—for as long as they wish, without justification. The Constitution forbids such an indecent result. It did not tolerate it in separate schools and drinking fountains, it did not tolerate it with respect to bans on interracial marriage, and it does not tolerate it here.

Opening to them participation in the unique and immensely valuable institution of marriage will not diminish the value or status of marriage for heterosexuals, but withholding marriage causes infinite and permanent stigma, pain and isolation. It denies gay men and lesbians their identity and their dignity; it labels their families as second-rate.

That outcome cannot be squared with the principle of equality and the unalienable right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness that is the bedrock promise of America from the Declaration of Independence to the 14th Amendment, and the dream of all Americans.

This badge of inequality must be extinguished.

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America's drug laws are being enforced in a clearly racist way and disproportionately against the poor. We should be changing them out of compassion, science, medicine, and wisdom to social service and public health models instead of military and criminal models, however, since our political leaders lack the courage to do this the entire system should be challenged and thrown out on the basis of it lack lack of  equal protection.

In the sad event that courts start sending rich white people to prison for 10 year mandatory sentences for non-violent possession counts lets see how long it takes to reform drug laws.

It's time to end this insane war on American drug users now and free the American prisoners of war. Leave no Americans behind! Even if they are black or poor.

Originally posted to PostHuffPost: Connection-Conversation-Community on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 01:18 PM PDT.

Also republished by And Now for Something Completely Different , SciTech, and DKos Cannabis Law and Drug War Reform.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (41+ / 0-)

    Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

    by HoundDog on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 01:18:59 PM PDT

  •  I have NEVER been able to understand (15+ / 0-)

    Why we don't approach this like we do alcohol and tobacco. Both SUBSTANCES are legal and you are free to use them (if you are over the age of 21), what we punish is the BEHAVIOR.  You can get drunk, but you can't DRIVE under the influence. Or disturb the peace etc. Or commit a robbery or assault etc. Why can we not treat drugs the same way? Then we could get help for those people who CANNOT control their behavior and leave those who are quietly getting high and not bothering anyone else ALONE.

    "Free your mind and the rest will follow...."

    by midknightryder13 on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 02:11:31 PM PDT

    •  The same answer as so many absurdities, $$$. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RMForbes, HoundDog, ladywithafan, a2nite

      The alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceutical, textile, petrochemical, and other industries don't want a world where they have to convince people to pay more for their inferior products than they would for cannabis and hemp.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

      by Greyhound on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 05:40:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cannabis certainly has some... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        excellent possibilities as a therapy for various maladies. Legalized recreational smoking might slightly affect alcohol consumption, but I really don't see all that many switching over. I don't see how legalized marijuana smoking would affect cigarette smoking.

        Hemp might find some new niche markets, but materials science has long replaced most of the products that hemp once provided. I don't see all that many going back. Hemp would have to be both much cheaper and much better to displace current products.

        There are many countries in the world where it has always been legal to grow industrial hemp and to manufacture products from it. I don't see all kinds of  hemp industries springing up in those locations to make products that are supposedly superior. Unfortunately, I think hemp's big product days have passed.

  •  This is a powerful diary... (8+ / 0-)

    Thanks HoundDog.

    But it seems you may be preaching to the choir.  Don't stop.

    The republicons moan, the republicons bitch. Our rich are too poor and our poor are too rich. Ferguson Foont

    by Josiah Bartlett on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 02:26:20 PM PDT

    •  Thanks Joshiah. I'm getting increasingly (7+ / 0-)

      frustrated that we are leaving these poor folks
      languishing in jail with no hope.

      I come from an odd school of "slow escalation" so I wasn't "scheduled" to play the "racism" card until next week, and was just going to run the Branson post today, but I lost my temper and started porting in the slavery cartoons from next weeks post.  

      Then I figured what the hell. And spliced in the 14th Amendment thing at the end which was supposed to be the beginning to next Thursday's post, if people hadn't responded to my "fair warning" by then.

      I held back pointing out that President Obama's parents couldn't have been married under if the miscegenation laws hadn't been repealed under the 14th amendment.

      I know that's a stretch for some people, ,and they probably do not get it it but I believe it is valid.

      You say I may be preaching to the choir but few of these  anti drug law post get more than 50 recs, and if I point out that at Attorney General Eric Holder is in charge of the Department of Justice and that dispicable DEA Director Michele Leonhart reports to him and he reports to the President it will fall of to below 20.  

      So it's a whole lot more popular to denounce right-wing racism around here than our own. Which is probably why I'm pushing it harder each week.

      There's a chance that we lose the Senate and the White House in 2016 for the next eight years so he only chance a million American Drug War POWs have is for Barack Obama pardon them, and some say he can't even pardon state prisoners so he may only be able to pardon 100,000 and have to use the bully pulpit to jawbone he governors.

      But we are not on track for that. After I called for a massive Amnesty in January, word went out that he was going to consider some, but the specifications are so strict, one has to have a perfect record, served so many years, it looks like not even 500 might be eligible for it.

      We have to up that to all or 95% of non-violent drug offenders  which would be near 90,000.  And stop putting new ones in.

      Democrats are not strongly behind this. Not even here. Not politic.  

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 03:02:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks HD (6+ / 0-)

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 02:46:14 PM PDT

  •  Enough with WAR already! (7+ / 0-)

    I’m not a big fan of vegetable gardens. Like my chickens, I prefer my salads to be cage free.

    by glb3 on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 02:49:48 PM PDT

  •  I'll say it Loud and say Proud - (7+ / 0-)

    I've been smoking marijuana for 45 years now. I'm 62, and first smoked it in high school when I was 17.

    Needless to say, I enjoy it. It relaxes me. It makes me laugh. It makes me think more introspectively.

    And in those 45 years of marijuana use I've committed 2 crimes. The first was called it 'curfew violation' - I defied a curfew order in the neighborhood around the Ohio State University campus because we were mad as hell and protesting the Viet Nam war and the Kent State shootings. I was not under the influence of MJ at the time.

    The second crime was driving under the influence - of alcohol. Yes, I was foolish and tried to drive home after drinking waay too much. But it's one of my favorite stories: The Cop pulled me over for stopping for a red light. Unfortunately, I stopped one intersection before the red light. I never was a stupid or aggressive drunk, I knew I'd had too much and was driving really, really carefully. One night in the drunk tank did the trick, I've never driven drunk again. And I was not under the influence of MJ at the time.

    I tried other drugs, ups & downs, and didn't care for them. These days, sipping from a glass of chardonnay and toking from my small pipe in the evening leaves me felling quite alright.

    End this stupid war of drugs already! Punish irresponsible behavior, not responsible use or possession - the way we treat use & possession of alcohol.

    David Koch, a teacher and a Tea Partier sit down a table with a plate of a dozen cookies. Koch quickly stuffs 11 cookies in his pockets, leans to the bagger and says "watch out, the union thug will try to steal your cookie".

    by Dave in AZ on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 03:25:52 PM PDT

    •  I have never smoked pot because I am allergic (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RMForbes, HoundDog, ichibon

      to it.  I have never knowingly taken illegal drugs. I strongly agree that THE 'WAR' ON DRUGS STINKS.

      It is ridiculous to ruin peoples lives over a few joints. Locking up nonviolent drug offenders is a hideous waste of money. Innocent people who cannot afford legal representation get railroaded by the courts. Confiscation of property 'involved in drugs' corrupts the police. We could use taxes from pot the way Colorado has used the taxes to balance the state budget.

      Legalization would take a bite out of organized crime. Why are politicians against reducing organized crime?

    •  Peas in a pod (0+ / 0-)

      Hi Dave
      I'm the same age as you and started smoking pot at about the same age,maybe a bit younger. Like you I've been an otherwise good citizen. My only legal trouble was being caught with a hash pipe in a shakedown inspection in the Army. At the time I served, out of 76 men in our unit 75 smoked daily. The lies about marijuana and a long list of other subjects have led me to lose any and all faith in our Government. Bunch of greedy, hypocritical SOBs that ruin lives as a matter of course.

  •  More black men in prison than were in chattel (9+ / 0-)

    slavery. Different era - same faces - same chains. Nixon rejected his own commission on legalization of marijuana. He "didn't want the hippies to win." The whole thing is so psychotic, so deeply ingrained in America. People really buy into the insane propaganda about of the dangers of illegal drug use or getting high.  The most dangerous part is that it is illegal.

    "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

    by shmuelman on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 04:48:24 PM PDT

  •  It's past time to disband the DEA completely (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, Odysseus, ichibon

    The DEA has been a completely redundant and unnecessary federal agency from the beginning and more than 40 years later they still are.

    Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

    by RMForbes on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 05:21:51 PM PDT

    •  I strongly agree RM. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 08:02:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Outstanding diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RMForbes, HoundDog

    on such an important subject.  

    We talk endlessly about drugs wasting lives but the current "remedy" is every bit as destructive and wasteful.

    •  Not exactly, prohibitions create far more damage (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog, ladywithafan

      than any drug could, look at the history of alcohol. It's the prohibition that creates the violence and corruption of society...we should have learned that lesson decades ago. Prohibitions forces normally law abiding people into the illicit markets where the most violent people are able to control most of the marketplace.

      Legalization means regulation and allows for effective education programs while criminalization means armed gangs control the underground markets and normally dismissed propaganda campaigns. Cops just don't make effective drug abuse counselors.

      Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

      by RMForbes on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 05:54:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "War on drugs has failed" - or has it? (0+ / 0-)

    Well, it depends what you thought "the war on drugs" was meant to do.

    If you thought it was intended to reduce drug consumption, it's failed. If you thought it would eliminate drug trafficking, it's failed.

    If you thought it was intended to control portions of the population that might otherwise defy arbitrary restrictions from the powerful - well, you might say it's succeeded.

    This is not a sig-line.

    by Joffan on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 10:10:24 AM PDT

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