Fighting an Unwinnable ‘War’

Kerrod Gream On Tuesday, Tony Abbott made a public statement in relation to the war on drugs saying “We are ensuring that the war on drugs is fought as fiercely as we humanly can. It’s not a war we will ever finally win. The war on drugs is a war you can lose – you may not ever win it, but you’ve always got to fight it.” But didn’t think to question as to why we have to fight this war on drugs.

The war on drugs claims many victims, through abuse and overuse, as well as locking people up for non-violent crimes. Prohibition causes more problems than the reason behind the prohibition. We should be asking why we’re stopping people making decisions for themselves, is it to protect them from themselves? If it’s the latter then we have to ask how locking them up and ruining any future career prospects for non-violent crimes helps the individuals.

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Rebelling Against A Red Media


Keith Topolski looks at how Rob Ford can admit to drug use, yet retain steady approval as Toronto Mayor.

Basic human psychology tells us that people don’t like to be wrong. They don’t like to be told they’re wrong, either.

In 2010, the city of Toronto was a basketcase because it was being used to create a socialist utopia. As Kelly McParland in the National Post writes:

Voters were fed up with eight years of financial profligacy by a left-wing council that treated the city like a cookie jar they could use to finance personal fantasy projects. Grass roofs, bike lanes, taxpayer-financed self-glorifying retirement  parties, legal crusades on the public dime to defend the wounded feelings of oversensitive councillors, an arrogant union environment in which labour bosses assumed they could have their way if they simply issued enough threats.

 Consequently, the mainstream residents of Toronto (that is, anyone whose politics are to the right of Karl Marx) elected Rob Ford as Mayor.

It is worth remembering that, when he was elected in 2010, Rob Ford’s rather questionable personal behaviour was put out for all to see and, yet, he still pulled 47% of the vote, ahead of the preferred candidate of the progressive establishment, who had a spotty record when it came to spending public money.

I raise this because it goes to the heart of why Ford was elected and why progressives despise him with a hatred rivalled only by the intensity with which Fairfax loathes Tony Abbott.

See, Rob Ford is a fiscal liberal in every true sense of the word. He went after the union movement and pulled them in to line. He repealed a $60 car registration tax implemented by the left. He subcontracted out half the city’s garbage collection. He declared Toronto’s transit an essential service, which, under local laws, transit workers were banned from going on strike.

It’s enough to make any conservative shed a tear of joy. And, of course, enough to make any genuine progressive apoplectic.

Which explains why the progressive media (Sorry for the tautology) have made such a big deal out of going after Ford, and why the rest of the media just don’t get the whole debacle.

To properly understand where the concept of Ford Nation comes from, all we have to do is simply look at the electoral map from Rob Ford’s 2010 victory.

As you can see, The pre-1997 edition of Toronto was Marrickville on steroids. However, in 1997 the old Toronto City Council merged with surrounding councils to form a megacouncil which takes in almost all of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Since then, it has been the progressive Marrickville type issues which very few people have time to worry about (And which they wouldn’t care about even if they had the time) dominating inner Toronto, and more mainstream issues, like roads, rubbish, childcare and taxes, which dominate Ford Nation in the suburbs.

This divide has motivated the inner city to try and take back ‘their’ city, and their media arm has pursued Rob Ford to hell and back. I can’t put it any better, so I’ll let Michael Coren of the Toronto Sun say it:

It says a great deal, however, that a mayor of Toronto with more hidden skeletons than Hannibal Lecter can still run the city most efficiently and far more economically than a leftist predecessor who was a squeaky clean gentleman. It’s that, of course, that so irritates the grimy coalition so enraged at Ford.

Contrast this with the rather softer reception Justin Trudeau has had since he admitted, almost proudly, that, as a serving Member of Parliament who is sworn to discharge his duties in accordance with the law,  to puffing on a joint in breach of the law.

No, Justin gets off easy because he’s part of the progressive love-in. Speaking of love-ins, Justin’s old man, Pierre, Canada’s most famous ex-PM, was no slouch in that department, but everyone thought that was adorable for some reason.

No, judging from the coverage of other scandals, it seems Rob Ford’s real crime has been to be a politician who preaches the virtues of small government, and also delivering on a smaller government.

This is where Ford Nation’s loyalty should end, though.

Ford has delivered what he said he would. Surely, now, is the time to let him go.

Well, actually, no. This is simply the Pauline Hanson phenomenon repeating itself.

When Hanson first came onto the scene, she outlined a philosophical framework which was, save for one or two observations about affirmative action, overwhelmingly out there.

Instead of go after the policies, Labor went after the person. And conservative Australians, who had some sympathy for Hanson’s arguments but not enough to vote for her, were pushed into her corner in order to defend her from the bullying of the big bad leftie.

This is exactly the reaction that Ford Nation is having in defending a man who has, really, behaved in an indefensible manner.

The political apparatus working against Rob Ford even includes the Toronto police chief, who made comments which, if were made about any private citizen, would immediately create grounds for mistrials until the apocalypse.

Federal Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair is even trying to link Ford to Stephen Harper over this episode, simply because all conservatives must now be crack smokers if one of them is. Can’t see why that argument wouldn’t stand up.

So it has come to pass that Rob Ford, a man who should now be in rehab and addressing his considerable personal problems, will continue as Mayor, in a diminished capacity, while the leftist media use him for target practice.

I have always believed that voters can forgive most things in politicians, but never hypocrisy.

However, Rob Ford continues as Mayor with the blessing of, what should be, the very type of conservative voters who would hound a drug addicted hypocrite from office.

This is what happens when a broad movement, in this case the Toronto leftie elite, treat average people with contempt.

If the anti-Ford brigade are to have any chance of stopping Rob Ford, incredulously, being returned as Mayor next year, they must ask themselves, in the manner of Michael Sheen’s portrayal of Tony Blair, “How much Why must do they hate us if they like this lot guy more?”

Keith Topolski is a regular contributor to Menzies House, with a particular focus on Canadian politics.

Andrew Bolt is right on drugs

TerpstraIn a follow-up to News Ltd columnist Andrew Bolt's recent article about drugs, Ben-Peter Terpstra presents his three-point plan to combat drug abuse. Many, if not most Australians will agree with both journalists, but not our authorities, it seems.

I don’t always agree with Andrew Bolt. But, when it comes to drugs, well, he does make a strong case for a get-tough approach. Or as the Herald Sun columnist clearly articulates, “The ‘war on drugs’ can’t be said to be lost just because some people still take them. It’s like saying laws against murder have failed because some people still kill.” 

I mean, what’s next? “Rape is a part of life, so legalise it”? 

Following the drugs-first libertarian argument, we’d end up with anarchy, including LSD for primary-school students.

Keep in mind too that celebrity twits openly talk about their personal drug use in Australia, meaning that our drug laws aren’t scary enough. 

So, here’s my novel plan:

First, enforce the laws we already have on the books. 

Second, introduce tougher sentences and enforce them, Singapore-style. 

Third, prepare to witness a big drop in crime. 

Of course, a real war on drugs has never been launched in my lifetime because our look-at-my-compassion elites feel it’s their duty to mother drug users, as opposed to their long-suffering victims. 

Notably, Bolt advances the argument that our self-styled experts on drugs aren’t being frank either: “When Hong Kong legalised opium, almost one-third of the Chinese on the colony were said to be users. When America gave up the much-rorted Prohibition, drinking rose, as did deaths by boozing, says the US National Bureau of Economic Research. Let the drug legalisers be frank. If we legalise drugs, more people are likely to use them.”

Moreover, it’s illogical to portray drug use as just a private liberty matter when so many drug users are sucking the life out of our social security. They, in my experience, often smell too.

And that’s the problem isn’t it? After all, many smelly drug-addicts are government-dependent citizens, with no real prospects because they have fried their brains.  

Perhaps, some junkies didn’t plan for this, but results speak louder than intentions. Indeed, when taxpayers are forced to pay for overcrowded public hospitals, it’s time to get tough. 

Remember: families have a right to safe roads, small businesses have a right to operate in safe streets and you have a right to be as safe as a Singaporean. 

Coming from a Dutch background, I suspect Bolt understands that appeasement has irreparably damaged Europe. I’ve witnessed it firsthand. Bolt isn’t anti-liberty. He’s just against drugs-first libertarianism.

Ben-Peter Terpstra contributes to many publications including MH and Quadrant.

His blog: B.P. Terpstra.


Teen Cannabis Use Lowers IQ, Despite Claims to Contrary

If ever you stumble upon a radio talkback discussion on the effects of pot smoking tune in, it's marvellous comedy. It's like honey to long-term potheads who go on air to extol the virtues of smoking dope.

The announcer: Welcome Fred and how long have you been smoking dope?

Fred: Hey man, like, er, how long was what man – what was the question?

Announcer: Do you think cannabis effects your brain?

Fred: Hey man, I've been toking daily, sometimes all day, for 40 years man, and to tell you the truth, my brain is sharper than ever it was before when it wasn't as sharp as now. I get good ideas now, but I forget most of 'em.

Announcer: Fred, do you have job, do you work?

Fred: Work, did you say, shit man, I grow me own and that's bloody work, a full time job man.

Announcer: I think we'll leave that one there listeners, I can hear the police knocking down Fred's door. GC.Ed.

A new study published in the scholarly journal PNAS questions the conclusion ofa paper from last year that was widely seen as greatly strengthening the evidence that regular cannabis use beginning in adolescence and continuing throughout young adulthood causes a decline in IQ by the late 30s.

In the original study, co-author of this article Madeline Meier and her colleagues assessed changes in IQ and specific cognitive abilities between adolescence and the age of 38 in 1,037 New Zealanders. All the subjects were born in Dunedin in 1972 or 1973.

Toke more:

Get the government out of our brains


Dom Vasta questions why the United Nations has the right to tell us what chemicals we can have inside our own bodies:

N,N-dimethyltryptamine or DMT is a hallucinogen, it is also a commonly occurring trypamine in nature and structurally similar to serotonin, it is found in in the human body at mg/L concentrations in the cerebral spinal fluid, it’s exact function is still unknown but there’s no doubt of it’s importance in the brain. The active dose of DMT is 4mg intravenously, the average human has far more than this. It’s relatively easy to extract from the numerous plants that contain it, which are found on nearly every continent on Earth.

This brings us to the main problem: The 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic substances. It lists it as a schedule 1 substance; this means that DMT is illegal throughout all member nations, effectively banning people from having possession of it anywhere in the world. While it's not clear whether or not the UN convention was provided with this information before they banned it, the fact that the UN can ban a substance that occurs naturally in the human body as commonly as amino acids, shows that the government will just ban things left and right if given the power.

Without all relevant information people can be convinced that banning water under its chemical name, dihyrdogen monoxide, is a good idea. Special interest groups will always have the ear of the government for their own private motives and will use tactics of omission and sometimes even blatant lies in the cases of drug and gun control, to get their way. So why should they be able legislate what is in the public’s best interest? If the government followed the 1971 convention to the letter, they would have to remove the substance from every person’s spinal cord, a very invasive procedure made completely necessary to enforce an ill thought up law. But how is this different from police today? They have a right to search you on only the suspicion of carrying drugs. It’s only a small step from there to searching you for drugs in your system, and in many cases they do. Roadside drug tests are becoming as common as RBTs, while alcohol has a relatively short half life, the fact that DMT occurs naturally in the body makes it impossible to tell whether the person is using it as a hallucinogen or had no intention to ever use it at all. DMT isn’t the only endogenous substance (produced inside the body)  that is regulated in the interest of protecting people many steroids and hormones are already controlled substances, available only by prescription.  It’s not a big step to apply this to supplements, which could have huge impacts on many people’s wellbeing.

While professional medical training may be needed to diagnose hormone deficiency, self medication with amino acids like tryptophan and fatty acids like omega-3 are used frequently to improve brain function, and these are substances which are not produced in the body but must be taken from outside sources, yet if someone feels that adding more DMT to their system is a pleasurable experience they are to be thrown in jail according to a 40 year old convention. So, why should the UN, or even our own government, be allowed to tell us what we are and aren’t allowed to have inside us, particularly when the substances in question are already produced inside us, not to mention essential for proper mental health.

Dom Vasta is a "freedom loving student" from Brisbane, Australia, who is currently studying Engineering and Science at the University of Queensland. He supports liberalization of drug and gun laws

Marijuana Carbon Footprint: Indoor Pot Production Uses 1 Percent of U.S. Electricity, Study Says

Pot-smoking environmentalists take note: Grass might not be green. A new study reveals that indoor marijuana production carries a shockingly large carbon footprint.

GOOD reports that Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researcher Evan Mills, Ph.D., has released a surprising new independent report, “Energy up in Smoke: The Carbon Footprint of Indoor Cannabis Production.” Mills reports that indoor Cannabis production uses 1% of the nation’s entire electricity consumption. This comes to energy expenditures of $5 billion per year.

While 1% may not seem like a lot, the report claims that smoking one single Cannabis joint is equivalent to running a 100-watt light bulb for 17 hours. That Cannabis cigarette carries two pounds of CO2 emissions.

You can read the remainder of the huffington Post article here.

Not a lot of “Green” in smoking the “Green”.

So does that make Nimbin Australia’s no1 CO2 emissions emitter?

Via the Huffington Post

Andy Semple

Speak without fear and Question with Boldness

The Human Cost of the War On Drugs

To commentators here who have denied the existence of a War on Drugs, here is a map of botched drug raids that have recently led to deaths of innocents, complied by the Cato Institute

 Click on each marker on the map for a description of the incident and sources.

Death of an innocent. Death or injury of a police officer. Death of a nonviolent offender.
Raid on an innocent suspect. Other examples of paramilitary police excess. Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.


View Original Map and Database

if you are interested in further facts, you can read the Cato Policy Paper: Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Drug Raids

(Posted by TVA)

Portuguese drug decriminalization

An in depth study has just been released on the effects of drug decriminalization in Portugal.  

The issue of decriminalizing illicit drugs is hotly debated, but is rarely subject to evidence-based analysis. This paper examines the case of Portugal, a nation that decriminalized the use and possession of all illicit drugs on 1 July 2001. Drawing upon independent evaluations and interviews conducted with 13 key stakeholders in 2007 and 2009, it critically analyses the criminal justice and health impacts against trends from neighbouring Spain and Italy. It concludes that contrary to predictions, the Portuguese decriminalization did not lead to major increases in drug use. Indeed, evidence indicates reductions in problematic use, drug-related harms and criminal justice overcrowding. The article discusses these developments in the context of drug law debates and criminological discussions on late modern governance.

h/t Marginal Revolution 

(Posted by TVA)

Why illegal drugs should be legalized

The war on drugs is an enemy of civil liberties, writes Sukrit Sabhlok.

John Stuart Mill’s classic work, On Liberty, examines “the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual” and concludes: “The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.”
In a democracy, however, the tyranny of the majority often tramples individual freedoms. If 51% of the people agree on a proposed measure that is oppressive towards some minority, in the absence of any constitutional limitation, that measure will become the law of the land.

And so it is with the ‘War on Drugs’. If we leave aside the legal drugs, only a minority of people are attracted to mind-altering substances. Of those aged 14 and over, 39.1% have tried marijuana, 8.8% have tried amphetamines, 4.3% have tried cocaine and 2.2% have tried heroin. These figures, from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, help explain why prohibition persists: there are few votes in advocating rights for “unfashionable” minorities. Although 46.4% of Australians have tried an illicit drug at some point in their life, there seems to be an element of cognitive dissonance among drug users, with many supporting a policy of prohibition. 
The War on Drugs should be opposed on two grounds. 
First, the statutes enforcing prohibition violate several principles that guide our criminal law; for instance, that there must be a victim, and that the accused are innocent until proven guilty. 
Second, to the best of my knowledge, prohibition has not succeeded in any nation which it has been tried. In Australia, in spite of a total sum of $13 billion being spent between 1976 and 2000, studies continue to show that drugs are easily available, increasing in purity and the number of overdose deaths has increased, not decreased.
If the drug warriors think that jail time is enough to “win” the War on Drugs, they need to think twice. Capital punishment for mere possession is probably the only way to significantly reduce drug usage. But even Singapore, which uses capital punishment to deter drug offences, has failed to end either the supply or demand of drugs. In any case, is a society where people are put to death for using drugs the kind of society we want to live in?
The misnamed ‘War on Drugs’ is in reality a war on our families. It is nonsensical to speak of waging a war against marijuana or heroin when it is the users of these drugs that are marginalised by political leaders and humiliated by police violating their civil liberties.
For those who value the rule of law and limited government, the War on Drugs is an enemy of civil liberties. Police and courts are empowered to reverse the burden of proof, so the accused are no longer innocent until proven guilty. In addition, drug prohibition diverts scarce economic resources away from taxpayers. It is time we tried something different.
Sukrit is an Arts/Law student at the University of Melbourne and a director of Liberty Australia.

The case for medicinal marijuana

The debate in Australia needs to begin, writes Chris Browne.


It’s a bit taboo, particularly in Australia, to talk about legalising a prohibited substance. 

With debate raging around the world about the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, it is high time we had that same debate here, too. 

Recently I have been reading a plethora of articles from the United States regarding the legalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes and wondered why we can’t discuss it so openly here. 

But in mid-January Australian columnist and former newsreader Tracey Spicer broke convention and wrote a powerful argument in favour of the legalisation of medicinal marijuana. 

She argued succinctly for the debate to begin in Australia at a political level as a matter of urgency. I couldn’t agree more. 

Tracey reported that cannabis has been used in Chinese medicine since the 3rd Century AD. It is now used for medicinal purposes in many western countries and increasingly throughout the United States. The recent acceptance by the US Department of Justice to recognise state laws that legalise medicinal marijuana is yet another step in the right direction in that country. 

But what about Australia? 

The Herald Sun reported in January that a group of Victorian doctors are seeking approval to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers with Sativex – a marijuana-based mouth spray. Their chances of success are, at best, slim. 

This is because of the social and political taboo surrounding ‘drugs’. Yes, the campaigns against the recreational use of street drugs are necessary. But what many people don’t consider in the marijuana debate is that GPs are already prescribing ‘drugs’ that are notoriously worse. 

Drugs like morphine, which is a highly addictive opiate, or over-the-counter nasal decongestants that contain pseudoephedrine, which is an amphetamine, are just two examples. 

These types of drugs are dangerous and have the well-documented capacity to be fatal. However, when administered in measured doses as prescribed by medical professionals, the risks are often manageable and serious side-effects are infrequent. 

The same can be said for marijuana.  

Early last year while in Latin America I met a fascinating Peruvian man who claimed that using marijuana in measured doses as a medicine had greatly reduced his dependence on epilepsy medication and decreased the frequency of seizures. 

I’m not a neurologist and have no way of qualifying the viability of using marijuana to treat epilepsy, but I must say his argument was convincing. This was especially so after he invited me to view his extensive collection of published information on the medicinal use of marijuana that he had consulted prior to trialling the alternative treatment. 

In many nations around the world, marijuana is legally used in various forms (in modern medicine it is rarely smoked) to help sufferers of diseases including cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s, to name a few. 

It is time that we removed the stoner movie stereotype of the giggling, red-eyed, snack-eating teenagers from our minds and instead began a rational debate both in society and in the Federal Parliament on the role that marijuana can play in medicine. 

The longer we wait for political leaders and medical professionals to discuss the use of alternative medicines like marijuana, the longer more Australians have to suffer as a result of their inaction.

Chris Browne is Editor-in-Chief of Menzies House.