Pro-marijuana activists from the Beltway to Oaksterdam have been circulating, with praise and thanks, George Melloan’s Feb. 21 Wall St. Journal op-ed piece, “Musings About the War on Drugs.” Six of seven members of the WSJ editorial board agree with Melloan, according to a reliable source, but the owners won’t allow a change of line. Letters to the paper have been heavily supportive of Melloan’s libertarian and tactical arguments, which included:
“The drug war has become costly, with some $50 billion in direct outlays by all levels of government, and much higher indirect costs, such as the expanded prison system to house half a million drug-law offenders and the burdens on the court system. Civil rights sometimes are infringed. One sharply rising expense is for efforts to interdict illegal drug shipments into the U.S., which is budgeted at $1.4 billion this fiscal year, up 41% from two years ago…
“A good case can be made that U.S.-sponsored efforts to eradicate coca crops in Latin America are winning converts among Latin peasants to the anti-American causes of Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Their friend Evo Morales was just elected president of Bolivia mainly by the peasant following he won by opposing a U.S.-backed coca-eradication program… More seriously, Mexico is being destabilized by drug gangs warring over access to the lucrative U.S. market…
“Milton Friedman saw the problem. To the extent that authorities curtail supplies of marijuana, cocaine and heroin coming into the rich U.S. market, the retail price of these substances goes up, making the trade immensely profitable–tax-free, of course. The more the U.S. spends on interdiction, the more incentive it creates for taking the risk of running drugs.”
The activists’ admiration for Melloan was typified in a letter from Howard J. Wooldridge of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition that the Journal published March 7:
“As a police officer, I worked the trenches of the war on drugs for 18 years. Mr. Melloan’s comments were right on. I would add that as we chase pot smokers, etc., we have less time to arrest DUIs, pedophiles and people who fly airplanes into buildings. As a detective, 75% of my case load was generated by drug prohibition. Drug gangs now plague medium and even small towns. What part of this policy is benefiting America? None of it.”
To the right of Wooldridge’s letter (and a complementary one from Jack Cole, also of LEAP), ran George Melloan’s latest op-ed, a four-column exercise in make-believe contending that Saddam Hussein was involved with the bombing of the World Trade Center; that the bombers mailed anthrax to recipients in the US (before taking off); and that the CIA is preventing the American people from learning the relevant facts!
Melloan wants the Administration to make public “captured documents that might reveal what schemes Saddam Hussein had cooked up to retaliate against the U.S. for the indignities thrust upon him during and after his 1991 Desert Storm defeat. Those included a UN embargo, arms inspections, a no-fly zone and occasional bombing attacks.” [Doctors estimate that 500,000 Iraqis, most of them children deprived of medicines, died as a result of these “indignities.”] According to Melloan, “Saddam ITAL may once have END ITAL offered sanctuary to bin Laden himself,” and “CIA denials to the contrary, his emissary ITAL may have END ITAL met with hijacker in chief Mohammed Atta…
“If Saddam was complicit in the plot, what more likely suspect could you find than a dictator who had used poison gas against both Iran and his own people and who was suspected by the United Nations of having caches of lethal chemicals? Those truck convoys that set out for Syria before the 2003 invasion easily could have arried the entire supply. Is it so implausible that Saddam’s envoy Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, an Iraqi government official who worked at the Iraqi embassy in Prague, might have slipped terrorist Atta a packet of weaponized anthrax at the rendezvous that the CIA claims never happened?”
Melloan thinks “a cabal within that dysfunctional bureaucracy [the CIA!] is doing all it can to undermine a Republican president… It has a lot to do with the political guerrilla warfare that (Valerie Plame’s) Democrat husband is waging against the administration.” Melloan’s whacko op-ed ends with a revealing reference to “the jackal mentality that afflicts the Beltway when a president’s poll numbers have been beaten down. One of the shillelaghs being used for that purpose might become far less effective if we ever learn that Saddam was part of the 9/11 plot.” A shillelagh is a cudgel. The man is saying that the CIA has withheld the truth about Saddam Hussein’s villainy so that George W. Bush’s popularity could be “beaten down,” presumably by the liberal media.
Is it pure coincidence that Melloan is musing about an end to the War on Drugs as Bush’s approval rating slips to 30%? Or do he and his friends on the Wall St. Journal editorial board sense the need to place a libertarian fig-leaf over the capitalist marauder’s weaponry to conceal his true nature and ultimate objectives? In the instant that drug-legalization advocates praise George Melloan for supporting their agenda, they confer credibility on his, which is global control by capital enforced by the U.S. military. Credibility cuts both ways.
Gratitude For the Devil
I did not anticipate that questioning George Melloan’s ulterior motives in the Anderson Valley Advertiser would annoy “progressive” activists, but it did, thanks to the Internet. This came from Doug McVay, Director of Research, Common Sense for Drug Policy, and Editor/Webmaster, Drug War Facts:
“The difficult part of building a coalition is saying: ‘I disagree with you about absolutely everything except this one thing, and that’s the one thing that we’re going to work together on. The fact that we oppose each other on everything else will make our position on this the more convincing. If we can stop from killing or trashing each other, we will win.’
“I personally disagree with George Melloan and for that matter the Wall Street Journal in general. But when he agrees with my position on drug policy reform I will trumpet that to the heavens and I will gladly use his agreement with me — shamelessly — to proselytize among those who otherwise agree politically with WSJ Because I think that reforming drug policy is a lot more important than insisting that everyone agree with my personal politics.”
The desire to build a coalition with rightwing politicians is prevalent among reform lobbyists on the East Coast. Their goals are finite, to be achieved via electoral politics, the media, the courts, K Street (guaranteeing ongoing employment in those sectors, and many lunches for Republican staffers). Getting marijuana moved to Schedule 2 will be hailed as the greatest victory since affirmative action (a “solution” to the “problem” that helps 1/10th of the people deserving and in need of help). “Medical marijuana” is similarly alliterative, and also has the potential to be a 10% solution, with doctors writing triplicate prescriptions according to DEA practice standards.
Californians have been fortunate that a small but growing group of doctors has specialized in cannabis therapeutics. The group led by Tod Mikuriya, MD, has done more real organizing -brought more adherents to the medical marijuana movement- than all the functionaries on the payrolls of MPP, DPA et al. The patients, as Phil Denney, MD, has observed, become organizers in turn as they explain to friends, loved ones and acquaintances that their cannabis use really is medicinal and proving by their own example that getting a doctor’s approval is do-able. The real movement grows by conversation and personal example. Almost anyone who has ever gotten seriously involved with a cause can recall who turned them on to it… Yet the pro-cannabis doctors, with one exception, have gotten no funding from the reform organizations that spend millions annually on lobbying efforts.
I wrote to McVay that I’m not in touch with anybody who’s on the WSJ wavelength to impress with quotes from Melloan. But I knew plenty of rightwing cops and DAs when I worked at the Hall of Justice, and I can imagine a conversation with a couple of them about the Melloan column. It’s a plausible scenario -I had a bulletin board outside my office and instead of just posting clips about SFDA (the traditional single-issue approach) I posted other articles relevant to the law-enforcement mission, and Melloan’s well might have made the board. So there I am tacking up press clips and Murphy and Clark come by and read Melloan over my shoulder. My commentary: “Why now, Murph? Why is this bloodthirsty motherfucker coming out for drug legalization now? Oh, here it is: Evo Morales! The natives are getting restless in South America! And Bush’s approval ratings are down to 30%-the natives are getting restless here, too. Didn’t I always tell you guys they’d reschedule pot when the ruling class really needed a sop to throw the masses? ‘Let’s take their jobs, take their pensions, take their medical care, and if we let them smoke their pot in peace, they’ll say “Thank you.”‘ And Murphy and Clark would laugh understandingly, I’m pretty sure.
Kubby’s Out of Jail
Steve Kubby was let out of Placer County jail Monday, March 6, after serving 40 days of a four-month sentence. Good behavior and overcrowding at the jail were the ostensible reasons for releasing him; the fact that he’d lost 25 pounds in custody may have factored into the decision.
Kubby has a rare form of adrenal cancer that has been in remission for some 30 years thanks to cannabis use, he and his doctors are convinced. Kubby and his wife and two daughters left for Vancouver after his conviction in 2000 for possession of a peyote button and a psychedelic mushroom. The Kubbys, who lived in South Lake Tahoe, had been busted for growing 256 plants in their basement; a Placer County jury voted not to convict on cultivation-for-sale charges. Kubby’s prescription for Marinol was honored during his recent stint in jail, and his blood pressure, which had spiked sharply at first, was brought under control. He left singing the praises of Sheriff Ed Bonner and the jail staff who, according to Kubby, were much less cynical about medical marijuana than their counterparts had been in 1999, when he first served time.
In a letter to his jailers seeking to distance himself from the negative publicity his incarceration had generated, Kubby wrote that he had “developed a profound respect for the professional and highly dedicated staff and officers here.” He still faces charges in connection with failing to appear at his sentencing in 2001, but as of this writing, Steve Kubby is a free man, and full of hope for the future.