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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!

New York will be repealing many of the Rockefeller drug laws implemented in the 1970s, including mandatory minimum sentencing for minor drug offenses. New York Governor David Paterson and state legislators say the laws have been discredited:

After 35 years of stuffing prisons with minor drug felons, state legislators have judged the law's mandatory sentencing provisions as expensive and ineffective.

It's part of a reassessment of "tough on crime and sentencing" laws taking place across the United States, which has the highest incarceration rate in the developed world. Canada, ironically, is bucking that trend.

"Canadian policy-makers have picked up the cudgel of minimum mandatory sentences at the same time as Americans are trying to extricate themselves from them because they have proven to be so destructive," says Craig Jones, director of the John Howard Society, which reintegrates inmates in the community.

So why is Canada starting to bringing in these very same "expensive and ineffective" policies?

Canada's Conservative government last year increased the minimum prison time judges must impose for gun crimes. Last month, it reintroduced a bill that imposed minimum sentences for a long list of drug crimes. It includes a six-month sentence for someone caught growing even one marijuana plant for trafficking.

The toughest minimum sentence under the proposed drug law is three years for anyone creating a public safety hazard in a residential area by producing Schedule 1 drugs – such as cocaine, heroine or methamphetamine.

Micheal Cust wrote some time ago about the fact that tougher enforcement of prohibition may actually lead to more violence in the drug war. At a time of national reassessment of a failed experiment in drug policy in the United States, it's baffling to see our government shutting its eyes, plugging its ears and shouting "tough on crime!" to convince Canadians it's doing something to make them safer.

Read the full article here.

Posted by Janet Neilson on March 28, 2009 | Permalink

Comments

First, Janet, stating that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the developed world (a favourite talking point for critics of U.S. policy) is NOT the same as saying that's a bad thing, and if so, WHY it's a bad thing. Maybe the U.S. is just better at catching crooks, and deals them properly stiff punishments when it does. Also, as a nation with a highly heterogeneous population, it has a violence rate higher than most other nations. (Interestingly, though, its burglary and property crime rates are somewhat less than many other countries in the Anglosphere.)

Secondly, you've fallen prey to the old activist tactic of simply saying something over and over again in the hopes it will eventually come true. "Failed, failed, failed," you describe the drug policy, like a broken record, without any meaningful alternative but total legalization and taxation (never tried), or any idea how that would turn out, because NOBODY knows. Also, just because one or two famously liberal states are reassessing their policies doesn't mean the entire country is. Most Americans still support keeping pot illegal.

Your link, by the way, is to the Toronto Star—perhaps the most Left-wing major daily in North America—which in itself should make you suspicious at once. Most of the people quoted are lawyers, university professors, activists, and reporters giving their opinions. I did not find one direct quote from the New York government itself, and if there is one there, the avalanche of commentary from the chattering classes effectively obscured it. Not exactly first-rate journalism.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-03-28 9:06:06 AM


Shane, well said. If we are to debate, then we ought to so intelligently. I don't have to agree with your opinion to respect it.

Posted by: TM | 2009-03-28 9:50:06 AM


"So why is Canada starting to bringing in these very same "expensive and ineffective" policies?"

Because they're not. You give the false impression that Harper wants to introduce "mandatory minimum sentencing for minor drug offenses". Only in your imaginary world, Janet, Harper has proposed no such thing and the sentences he proposes are not in the same league as American ones, you know that. Kindly edit this post.

Harper wants to go from insanely soft on crime to merely preposterously soft on crime; don't impose your freak immorality on me by opposing what the overwhelming majority in this democracy support: meaningful consequences for serious crimes.

Plenty of other countries have far less drug abuse than we do and they do it through summary executions of drug dealers and far more severe penalties than Canada, nearly all of them do in fact; you're welcome to move there if you find jailing drug traffickers at Club Fed for a few months to be too much.

Posted by: Hallo | 2009-03-28 10:42:54 AM


Hallo, your post is confusing. You speak about Janet imposing her morality on you yet you seek to do the same thing. You both have a different morality. She seeks, I believe, to let you live your life by your morality, and would ask the same in return. Yet you are the one who wants to impose your morality on others.

The religion of tolerance does seek to impose its "tolerance" on others through the school system that forces students to learn things that many parents don't want them to learn. And laws that limit freedom of speach. However, Janet is not asking for a new law that will be imposed on others but rather the elimination of a law that is imposed on others. Big difference.

Your last paragraph makes no sense. But then I have had way too much coffee today. You might be saying you are in favor of harsh penalties, such as the death sentence, for drug trafficking.

"The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws." Ayn Rand

You might believe it possible to stop drug use, but until we become a Sharia state, it will not be possible. Even then I doubt it. Many very productive people we all know would now have criminal records had they been caught smoking a joint.

Posted by: TM | 2009-03-28 11:43:37 AM


"You speak about Janet imposing her morality on you yet you seek to do the same thing."

No, there is a key difference: she wishes to impose IMMORALITY on the populace, I want to "impose", if you must, morality supported by the overwhelming majority of the populace. My morality makes the world a much better place, hers makes Hades look like a game of grab ass. Not at all comparable.

Order is to freedom as yeast is to bread: a little goes a long way in baking a bigger loaf. My freedom is seriously jeopardized by freaks like Janet who are OK with a criminal walking after stabbing me or one of my loved ones. It's completely indefensible. Jailing criminals for serious crimes is a perfectly reasonable system not at all at odds with being a freedom lover; arguably it makes us all freer, but that is beyond the scope of this comment.

"You might believe it possible to stop drug use, but until we become a Sharia state, it will not be possible."

But that's factually inaccurate; only a handful of countries practice Sharia, and yet all of them have lower levels of marijuana consumption. It's quite difficult to obtain weed in many if not all countries as compared to Canada. Throw a dart at a map and they're doing a better job at restricting consumption, whether Buddhist or Christian or Muslim or atheist.

Posted by: Hallo | 2009-03-28 12:35:07 PM


Hallo, Janet does not wish to impose immorality on you, only that you don't impose anything on her. Your morality "makes the world a better place" is opinion and not fact.

Do you really think Janet wants to see anyone in you family stabbed?

I agree when you say "Jailing criminals for serious crimes is a perfectly reasonable system and not at all at odds with being a freedom lover."

You say: "But that's factually inaccurate; only a handful of countries practice Sharia, and yet all of them have lower levels of marijuana consumption. It's quite difficult to obtain weed in many if not all countries as compared to Canada."

The fact that you say "lower" means you admit it is not zero. That is exactly my point. You might get consumption close to zero but you never get it there. And the road to zero is a long, expensive one. One that would see the state turn into such a powerful, intrusive, and abusive entity, that today's drug dealers would look mild by comparison.

Posted by: TM | 2009-03-28 1:41:09 PM


Hallo, Janet does not wish to impose immorality on you, only that you don't impose anything on her. Your morality "makes the world a better place" is opinion and not fact.

Do you really think Janet wants to see anyone in you family stabbed?

I agree when you say "Jailing criminals for serious crimes is a perfectly reasonable system and not at all at odds with being a freedom lover."

You say: "But that's factually inaccurate; only a handful of countries practice Sharia, and yet all of them have lower levels of marijuana consumption. It's quite difficult to obtain weed in many if not all countries as compared to Canada."

The fact that you say "lower" means you admit it is not zero. That is exactly my point. You might get consumption close to zero but you never get it there. And the road to zero is a long, expensive one. One that would see the state turn into such a powerful, intrusive, and abusive entity, that today's drug dealers would look mild by comparison.

Posted by: TM | 2009-03-28 1:41:15 PM


Hallo, as TM pointed out, if I wanted to impose immorality on you, I would be proposing laws to force everyone to be immoral. If you're faithful to your spouse or significant other without a law forcing you to be, or you recognize that there's nothing stopping you from being faithful, then you should see that allowing someone to make a bad choice is not forcing them to do it.

"freaks like Janet who are OK with a criminal walking after stabbing me or one of my loved ones. It's completely indefensible"

If I felt inclined to sink to your level I could suggest that you are the one who doesn't care about people who have been the victims of rape, theft and murder. But even if I think that the practical implications of the drug war ARE that more thieves, rapists and murderers will never be prosecuted*, I certainly don't think you are someone who wants those criminals walking on the street. (*And I do think that, by the way. One of the main reasons I would like to see a reallocation of the police resources away from prohibition enforcement is so that they can be put towards investigating, prosecuting and imprisoning those who would commit violent crimes.)

I think you care a great deal about punishing criminals but disagree with me over whether or not drugs should be illegal. In spite of believing this very strongly, though, you apparently can't articulate an argument for your position without resorting to false accusations and name-calling.

Frankly, I think you should give a bit more thought to honesty and civility before you go lecturing anyone on morality.

Finally, regarding your request that I edit my post: I agree that the laws here are not nearly as severe as they are in the states, which is why I did not imply that they are. I think most readers will be able to see that I was specifically talking about mandatory minimum sentences.

Posted by: Janet | 2009-03-28 1:47:58 PM


Shane, I got a good laugh out of reading *you* accusing *me* of sounding like a broken record.

Laughter's good for the soul, so thanks.

Posted by: Janet | 2009-03-28 1:50:41 PM


I know how to revive the economy: build jails for druggies! Lots of them too. That way we 1) create construction jobs; 2) get the unemployable off the streets, and 3) end this silly debate once and for all.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-03-28 1:57:05 PM


You might not be trying to pass laws that would force people to be immoral, Janet, but you would, given your preference, pass laws allowing people to be immoral. There are certain things that for the good of society should not be allowed. As the example of the Opium Wars demonstrates, doing drugs is one of them. But I have seen there is no stratagem you will not try, no level to which you will not sink to pursue this agenda, apparently strictly out of an abstract notion of universal liberty.

Furthermore, you need not fret that inadequate police resources are allocated to violent crimes. The truth is that when the victim cooperates with police (and with rare exceptions, only criminal victims don't), most violent felons are already caught, and virtually all murderers. Even when the prosecution is unsuccessful it is very rare for the police not to know who did it. So to suggest otherwise is a red herring.

As for mandatory minimum sentences, they are put in place when judges have been shown to abuse their judicial discretion. Canada's judges are notoriously soft, possibly because more than a few of them toke up themselves. (Memo to those who say that dope smokers are productive: Successfully advancing through the ranks is NOT the same as doing a good job.) Canada has no truth in sentencing. Mandatory release after two-thirds time served. Double credit for pretrial time served. A faint-hope clause that can see those sentenced to life with no parole for 25 years released in 15. And all of this is assuming you get prison time at all, a relative rarity, even for those with dozens of convictions.

Judges need to wake up. If they wish to keep their so-called "judicial independence" and "judicial discretion," they need to prove they can use it effectively. Simply repeating those phrases over and over, as though performing some arcane incantation, will by itself convince no one. It may be that the mandatory minimums law in New York is being scrapped simply because offenders are already getting stiff sentences and the law is no longer needed. You certainly can't tell by looking at that article in the Toronto Star. The first couple of sentences are statements of fact, and the entire rest of the column is nothing but opinion.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-03-28 2:25:43 PM


You keep using the same activist scrape over and over, Janet, keep harping on the same points, in exactly the same words. I at least attempt to round out the discussion by approaching the subject from a variety of angles, raising several points, e.g. impracticality of repudiating international treaties, no reduction of crime in Canada while pot stays illegal in U.S., standard procedure through which all drugs but pot must pass prior to approval for medical use, the fact that the war on drugs is no less winnable than the war on crime. And with one or two exceptions, no one has even attempted to address these issues. Certainly you have not.

In fact, you make no attempt to debate at all. You retreat from serious discussion, sometimes behind a slammed door with your middle finger raised to the peephole. So don't get too smug, Jan.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-03-28 2:39:11 PM


TM, drug use, like crime, will never reach the zero point. Everyone admits this. But that's no excuse for not pushing it as low as possible. To sit back and fiddle while Rome burns because by trying your hardest you could only save three-quarters of it is just asinine.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-03-28 2:44:04 PM


Shane, I think we would agree on the type of society we would like to see. I just happen to believe that the war on drugs is making it worse, you think it helps. I don't do drugs of any kind by the way, except coffee and wine.

Posted by: TM | 2009-03-28 6:30:43 PM


I have a better idea: have the drug dealers and their accomplices build their own prisons. That would save billions.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-03-28 6:55:55 PM


then start throwing people in there for reading the bible, or some other personal choice they make that is nobody else's business.

There is no more justification for throwing someone in jail for using pot than there is for putting them there for praying.

Religion is a crutch, learn to stand on your own 2 feet.

Posted by: DrGreenthumb | 2009-03-28 8:54:20 PM


"...Religion is a crutch, learn to stand on your own 2 feet..."

were you sitting down to instruct us thus Dr GT?


Many religious groups actually hand out free Bibles in prison,
we have never heard of anyone handing out drugs in church.. and party drugs are never free- and so please tell us, how did prohibition induce that particular swindle?

That you are intoxicated driving on the roads. and otherwise interacting with your fellows is why we have made party drugs illegal..Wipeheads are too drugged up to even notice they are wipeheaded;- we condem & tow unsafe vehicles to the scrapyard, don't let that happen to you oh wise & high Dr Thumb 'o Green

Posted by: 419 | 2009-03-28 9:55:30 PM


Unfortunately, Greenthumb, substances that affect your behaviour in public are very much the public's business. Alcohol may be legal, but you're not allowed to drink it in public. It's forbidden even to have an unopened flask in public, never mind in your car. Would pot smokers, being a lawless bunch to start with, accept such restrictions if pot were given equal standing with alcohol? Of course not.

Sure there is. Driving after prayer isn't dangerous. In fact people just out of Church are often a bit more patient with their fellow motorists, if the parking lot at my parish is any indication. It's also safe to fly after prayer, operate heavy machinery after prayer, go swimming after prayer...Oh, and you're steadier "on your own two feet" after prayer than after toking, too.

What is this hate-on that Leftist punks have for organized religion, especially Christianity? Is it because they don't want the idea that they are their own god challenged?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-03-28 11:47:14 PM


DrGreenthumb, if you feel religion is bad because you think people rely on it as an external source for something you feel they ought to find in themselves, then where does that leave you when you lean on a THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) chemical crutch rather than stand on your own supply of the neurotransmitter anandamide? I'd say it leaves you pinned alone under your own argument.

Posted by: Steve | 2009-03-28 11:57:21 PM


DrG. The best/worst part about your low view of faith, is that some of the most results-producing work for social change, peacemaking, and urban renewal that's being done by folks who might seem left-ish is being done by... wait for it... us Christians. Look up a guy named Shane Claiborne or the Ordinary Radicals movement. Look up Tony Campolo and the EAPE. And I really do mean look them up, you might just find what you've really been looking for DrG. If what you find interests you but you're waffling, just email me and I'll arrange to get you a copy of one of their books.

Go to bed everybody. G'night.

Posted by: Steve | 2009-03-29 12:12:19 AM


OK one more thing then I'll shut up. It's SUnday where I am so here's your Bibble reading for the week, in keeping with the theme, it's a 419 verse, sort of. From 1st John chapter 4, starting at verse 19.

"19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother."

For disambiguation on the term "brother", see Luke 10 verses 29-37.

Posted by: Steve | 2009-03-29 12:26:13 AM


Very good Shane. Keep everyone legislated to your standards.

Posted by: Realist | 2009-03-29 12:43:55 AM


Yo there Realist--( aka: Mr Crabby )


maybe you are not grasping the concept of free floating faith inside formal democracy- that being one person one vote and if that sum total of the polls favours the social directives of the Christians well... THATS DEMOCRACY-- Its like hockey- the highest score gets the cup till next playoffs-- OK so - or baseball, or cricket.. so whatever your cultural perogative thats the way we do things in this corner of the world

Now legalization of marijuana? and I quote President Obama....

NO So if the process of democracy is still not to your liking-- maybe create a new world where your transient whims of what matters where and when can manifest..

Outside of that, have a real nice day and maybe try to get some more fibre in your diet

Posted by: 419 | 2009-03-29 10:27:12 AM


Very good Shane. Keep everyone legislated to your standards. - Someone has to have them, Realist. Can you imagine society if no one did?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-03-29 10:46:28 AM


I don't hate religion, but it is a crutch just like any other, and when people rely on it to get through life it can be just as unhealthy as any drug. Religious fundamentalist , born-again types are quite delusional and I view their condition as a mental illness. They need help.

I'm fully prepared to let them waste their potential to their hearts content though, I just expect the same courtesy in return.

Calling people "wipeheads" to dehumanize them and to justify the hateful things you want to do to them just makes you an ugly bigot.

You are exactly the type of intolerant dicks that make most Canadians unwilling to vote Conservative since bigoted views are common within that party's support base.

Posted by: DrGreenthumb | 2009-04-01 7:52:39 PM


Doc,

1. What you view them as is irrelevant. Christian schools and charities are famed the world over for the good works they do, the Salvation Army, the Catholic Church, and the Red Crescent being but a few of numerous examples. Jews in particular are famous for philanthropy. Religion also binds families and communities together in faith. Drugs, by contrast, serve only to drive people apart.

2. "Courtesy" isn't a word easily associated with you, Doc.

3. Hah! Compared to the bloodcurdling insults you've been flailing people with, "wipehead" is positively heartwarming. You continuously dig for the sliver in another's eye while ignoring the barn-beam in yours.

4. You'll find a lot fewer anti-American racists in the Tory ranks than in the alternatives, Doc.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-04-01 9:24:53 PM


Dr GT-- so you mouth off against people who have some sort of inner faith format, that you don't like. OK- but so what?
then you pull out some reverse prohibitionist lingo along the line of
Its ok by you that people of failh have this, but you expect the same sort of tolerance. So you are cutting a deal are you?
Well guess what, oh noble Wipehead.. the fish ate your bait and are laughing at your naked hook dangling over the side of your garbage barge..ha again

No faith is hatched under a high pressure sodium light hoping to flower in 14 weeks,, nor is is it cooked down in a jungle lab into a white powder, nor compressed into tabs, blotter of caps.. You don't get that do you? Your fascination with dope, drug liberation and the little political rats who whisper in your ear to fight fight fight

but guess what? it isn't a one for one exchange- human faith for your private option to self intoxicate.. you are a cranky whiney little poop-- pacing back in forth in the matchbox of your mind when you mumble on this stale old 70s crap- the 70s was nearly 40 years ago-- approaching a half century mark--

snap out of it, please before the state has to wipe your drugged up senior citizen butt for you-- take note- you are NOT a freedom fighter, you are a log on the road to your own recovery- you whine like a girl about your right to be stoned - and you curse strangers with impure sexual inuendos -- that alerts us you yourself seem to need the help you offer to the faith community.. so carry on yelling down a hole, you and all the other lost cause Wipeheads --

Posted by: 419 | 2009-04-01 10:23:54 PM


You know nothing about me or my religious beliefs, all you know is that I favour returning all plants to their natural legal status. You are a bigot, plain and simple.

I'm actually an active member of my church,(Luthern), and a member of the the church council. I know the Church does good work, I donate a lot of money to the church and to Christian charities every year.

So trying to paint me as some anti-Christian is laughable. I am only pointing out how very hypocritical and anti-Christian YOUR attitude toward your fellow man (who might use the plants God gave him) is. You are just a pathetic bigoted little boy.

Posted by: DrGreenthumb | 2009-04-02 7:41:12 AM


Dr G- you can own this thread now, enjoy

Posted by: 419 | 2009-04-02 9:59:30 AM


Doc,

1. Screamed the pot to the kettle. I know enough about your religious beliefs to suspect that you are your own god.

2. You expect me to believe you're an active member of the Lutheran Church when you can't even spell "Lutheran"?

3. Painting your conduct as decidedly un-Christian, however, is all too credible after one look at your hate-filled rants. God did give men dominion over the plants and animals, but expressly forbade certain uses thereof, bestiality for example. And no one is saying you can't use cannabis to make rope.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-04-02 10:22:50 AM


Ok so now my spelling has some magical effect on my ability to be an active church member??

Also posession of Cannabis is currently illegal so the government IS telling me I can't use it to make rope.

Furthermore, if anyone's conduct here paints them as unChristian it is you and your fellow haters. I can quite confidently say that Christ would not approve of your disdain for your fellow man, nor would He advocate caging human beings over their association with plants given to us by the Father.

If you consider yourself Christian, be glad that Christ will probably forgive you for the hardship you bring upon your fellow man. I'm pretty sure you will understand the error of your ways when you meet Him.

I was hit by a drunk driver almost 10 years ago, and was "dead" for nearly 6 minutes before paramedics revived me. I have been in the presence of God, and am very sure of His existance, and in His acceptance of me.

Fools like you who aim to hurt His people may not be so lucky.

Posted by: DrGreenthumb | 2009-04-02 1:45:57 PM


so you can thank a drunk for showing you the reality of spiritual things..'spose it takes all kinds to fill a 420 meeting

as for your govt allowing you to make rope? the leaf free stalks of cannabis are completely legal, in Canada and the USA so go ahead and make all the rope you want Dr G- nobody can stop you or wants to..

Since when is a differing political opinion rendering a hardship on others that requires Christ to intervene? stop being such a whiner nurse Greenthumb and stand on your own two crutches- those being: religion of public convenience and a morbid fascination with marijuana..

see you on the Torture Channel !

Posted by: 419 | 2009-04-02 2:00:09 PM


Doc,

1. I admit I took a page from my own religion; there aren't too many Catholics who can't spell "Catholic." But you get half points for being able to spell "God."

2. Possession of drug-grade cannabis is illegal. Possession of industrial-grade cannabis, also known as "hemp," is permitted as of 1998, with the proper licenses. Several Canadian companies manufacture hemp goods for sale here and in the U.S.

3a. You have been tearing your way through this blog like a twister, calling people fascists, tell them to "suck people off," and hurling bloodcurdling insults and epithets. Nothing any pro-prohibitionist here has posted remotely compares to your spine-searing catcalls.

3b. Christ most certainly would have disapproved of someone's association with beasts given us by the father, had the association been of a certain kind forbidden in Exodus. The fact that God gave us something is no excuse for misusing it.

4. It's not I bringing the hardship to others. It's they who bring it to themselves. You could use this inane, backwards logic to justify breaking any law at all. And persistent scofflaw that you are, you probably would. I practice what I preach, Doc. You quite pointedly do not.

5. So your argument here is that God loves sinners. Well, thanks for clearing that up. I'm pretty sure we covered this at Sunday School but thanks for the refresher.

6. I do not help create a market for a product I totally do not need that I nevertheless know will cause great bloodletting, Doc. Again, you show yourself utterly unable to see fault with yourself, instead projecting that fault onto others. I think all that pot has blocked a few synapses or something, because you're as hysterical as a woman having a hot flash.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-04-02 2:20:17 PM


P.S. It's entirely possible that being in arrest for six minutes has done something to your brain, as well. First to go would be the higher brain centres, among them the frontal lobe, which controls inhibitions.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-04-02 2:21:10 PM



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