“if Biden really believes what he said and wants to do something about it, he has myriad options. Instead, he talks a good game on decriminalizing drugs while doing nothing of consequence.
For a first step, Biden could absolve prisoners serving time in federal facilities for using criminalized drugs. The president needn’t wait until his term is up to issue pardons and clemencies; why not start freeing victims of the U.S. war on drugs right now?
Biden could also encourage members of Congress and leaders in his party to introduce and support measures that could help end America’s failed, discriminatory, and disastrous drug war. These could include “moving marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), a category supposedly reserved for exceptionally dangerous drugs with no accepted medical use, to Schedule II, which indicates that a drug has a high abuse potential but can be used as a medicine, might facilitate research” notes Reason’s Jacob Sullum. And if that change can’t make it past Congress, perhaps Biden could endorse “a less radical approach, embodied in a 2017 bill that attracted bipartisan support in the House, [that would] revise the CSA’s marijuana ban so that it does not apply to state-legal conduct.”
Biden could also bypass Congress on some aspects of ending the drug war. The American Civil Liberties Union urges the new president to “issue an executive order declaring an end to the war on drugs, directing federal prosecutors to no longer pursue drug cases, commuting the sentences of people serving time for drug-related cases, and pardoning people with past criminal convictions for drug-related offenses.””
“Which brings me back to my trip.
I was in my living room when the drugs kicked in, wearing a sleep mask and listening to spacey, ethereal, electronic music. Suddenly, I was like Billy Pilgrim, the time-and-space-traveling G.I. hero of Kurt Vonnegut’s 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five. Every trip is different, and for the next several hours I roamed the known and unknown universe and commingled with the living and the dead, with an emphasis on the latter.
I spent time with an old friend who committed suicide by gun years ago. (His apartment had been surrounded by the police due to overdue rent and antisocial behavior brought on by unchecked alcoholism.) I revisited dark, booze-sloppy periods during which I was distant and inattentive to my sons when they profoundly needed me. I shared a brief-but-welcome hug with my own long-dead father, who, like Vonnegut, served in Europe during World War II and participated in suffering and carnage that I thankfully will never personally know.
Never for a second did I lose touch with basic reality, but past sounds, sights, smells, and especially emotions were all around me. For the first time in more than a quarter-century, I experienced my father’s scent, an idiosyncratic blend of Brut deodorant, Barbasol shaving cream (the “beard buster”), Pall Mall Red cigarettes, and denture powder. I knew it wasn’t real, but it unlocked memories and moments I hadn’t thought about in forever. Later, my girlfriend and I lay down together and shared what we were seeing and what we were feeling, which produced a sense of closeness that was intense and even a little scary in its power. Even at their best, trips are always a workout, in the sense that a long hike up a mountain is a workout. You feel good and tired afterward.
I could go on, but let’s be honest: Descriptions of drug trips, even more than conventional travel stories, are boring as hell to read because they are so ultra-personalized, so filled with barely coherent symbolism, and so indeterminate in their meaning. (As with life itself, you may not know whether something really important happened for days, months, or even years.) The significance of any particular trip is far less than the sum of all of them. Fortunately, we will be taking more and more as support for the war on drugs declines and cities and states (and, eventually, the federal government) move toward legalization. If you’re interested in giving shrooms a try, read Mike Riggs’ “How to Take Shrooms,” first.”
“Unlike smokers of weed or tobacco, a meth smoker doesn’t apply flame directly to the drug; one heats up the outside of the paraphernalia. Traditional pipes, bongs, or bubblers wouldn’t get the job done. Only a narrow range of glassware, such as test-tube-looking devices or “bubble” pipes, are good for meth consumption.
Yet Dawson’s bill applies the same heavy tax to all smoking implements, regardless of whether they could be used to smoke meth. Meanwhile, meth users still have ways to smoke without buying devices subject to that 40 percent tax. The glass tubes that cigars come in can work in a pinch. So can aluminum foil and a plastic straw.
Dawson, who also works as an investigator with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, candidly acknowledges that home-made paraphernalia exists, but seemingly argues that pushing people toward using them would be a virtue.
Using aluminum foil to smoke meth would “create a residue on there, so that would be drug paraphernalia,” he told Radio Iowa. “But what people are doing now is they are buying these glass pipes because if they encounter law enforcement, they can throw it on the ground and smash it right away and destroy the evidence.””
“Having passed the state senate, Dawson’s bill is currently working its way through the committee process in the Iowa House.”
“The 2020 election was an important milestone in unraveling America’s disastrous war on drugs. Across the country, by overwhelming margins, voters came out for legalizing marijuana, removing criminal penalties for psychedelic use, and treating drug addiction as a public health rather than a criminal concern.
The biggest victory was in Oregon, where voters overwhelmingly approved Measure 110, making it the first state to eliminate the possibility of jail time for possessing small amounts of heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, and every other narcotic. Instead, violators could be hit with at most a $100 fine.”
“In Washington, D.C., voters opted by a margin of 3 to 1 to make the use, possession, and cultivation of entheogenic plants and fungi, such as psilocybin mushrooms, law enforcers’ lowest priority.
“It does not change law in any way. It simply says, ‘Look…we, the people, think that the police and the district attorneys should stop arresting and prosecuting people for psychedelic plants. So please do that,” says Moore.
Mississippi, Arizona, South Dakota, New Jersey, and Montana all passed initiatives allowing marijuana to be sold for either medical or recreational use.”
“Voters Oregon approved Measure 109, making it the first state to legalize psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms.”
“In every state where a ballot measure asked Americans to reconsider the drug war, voters sided with reformers. In Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota, voters legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. In Mississippi and South Dakota (separate from the full legalization measure), voters legalized medical marijuana.
In Oregon, voters decriminalized — but not legalized — all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Also in Oregon, voters legalized the use of psilocybin, a psychedelic drug found in magic mushrooms, for supervised therapeutic uses.
In Washington, DC, voters in effect decriminalized psychedelic plants, following the lead of several other cities.
With its vote, Oregon became the first state in the US to decriminalize all drugs in modern times. And marijuana is now legalized in 15 states and DC, although DC still doesn’t allow sales.”
“Instead of actually ending the drug war, the 2020 platform’s emphasis takes the same approach as the 2016 platform in calling for the expanded use of drug courts and diversion programs “for those struggling with substance use disorders.””
“Drug courts, in practice, have been shown that they do not reduce policing encounters; some evidence supports the idea that they reduce incarceration rates or recidivism. A 2018 report from the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) analyzed drug court systems in the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America, and found many cases where drug courts actually increased, rather than reduced, a drug users’ interactions with police and the criminal justice system. The SSRC analysis of five years of New York City drug courts determined that sentences for those who “failed” drug court were two-to-five times longer than those who just accepted a conventional sentence for drug possession. In other words, they would have been better off just pleading guilty.”
“The Democrats say they don’t want to see people incarcerated “solely for using drugs,” but that’s what happens if you test positive for drugs while enrolled in drug court: you get incarcerated. Drug courts and compulsory drug treatment programs are enforced by men with guns, and you can’t end a war if you’re not willing to stop pointing guns at people.”