Legalize it in Oregon

The good news: Oregon may have a marijuana legalization measure on the ballot soon. The bad news: It would give the state a monopoly on cannabis sales:

[Legalization advocates] plan to put the issue on the 2010 ballot with an initiative called the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act.

If they can gather 87,000 signatures to put it on the ballot, and voters then approved the initiative, the act would set up the Oregon Cannabis Control Commission. The new agency would sell pot to buyers 21 and over, with 90 percent of the profit going to the state’s general fund and 10 percent for drug treatment.

Activists last put a legalization measure on the ballot in 1986. It got just 26 percent support. But after decades fighting to legalize pot in Oregon, they believe the public has come around.

Have we learned nothing from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission? If we do this, it will take us forever to get new, artisinal brands of pot on the market, “coffeehouse” owners will lose money for months while they wait for licenses, and all the coolest cafes will open in California.

Here’s my idea for a compromise measure: Attach a rider eliminating the OLCC, transferring all its employees to the OCCC. Pot smokers are more relaxed than drinkers anyway, making them much better equipped to deal with lazy agency bureaucrats.

For a glimpse of what happens when the government is the sole distributor of a good, be sure to check out Doug’s write-up of the current state of liquor sales in Washington state. It’s hard to find stories that make the OLCC look good in comparison, but this is one of them.


Am I a drug paraphernalia-owning domestic terrorist?

No, I’m not. But our government thinks I might be. For I have in my possession a plastic bag with some pipe tobacco in it. That seems innocent enough, but people could also use such a bag for coins, or stamps, or even put their weed in it. From Philadelphia:

In the city’s toughest neighborhoods, narcotics officers routinely bust mini-marts and bodegas for selling tiny ziplock plastic bags.

Police consider the bags to be drug paraphernalia. But many store owners say they bought the bags legally from tobacco wholesalers and other distributors and thought they could sell them.

At issue is whether the buyer is using the bags for drugs or for legitimate items like coins, jewelry, stamps and small amounts of tobacco.

“The question is whether the item is for a legal function or an illegal function,” said Tennessee-based lawyer Robert T. Vaughn, an expert on drug-paraphernalia laws.

To be safe I should probably keep the tobacco in a shoebox or a paper bag. I would hate to have such a suspicious item in my car if a cop pulled me over for sporting a Ron Paul bumper sticker:

A new document meant to help Missouri law enforcement agencies identify militia members or domestic terrorists has drawn criticism for some of the warning signs mentioned.

The Feb. 20 report called “The Modern Militia Movement” mentions such red flags as political bumper stickers for third-party candidates, such as U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for president last year; talk of conspiracy theories, such as the plan for a superhighway linking Canada to Mexico; and possession of subversive literature.

“It seems like they want to stifle political thought,” said Roger Webb, president of the University of Missouri campus Libertarians. “There are a lot of third parties out there, and none of them express any violence. In fact, if you join the Libertarian Party, one of the things you sign in your membership application is that you don’t support violence as a means to any ends.”

The latter story probably won’t cause any real harm, but the anti-baggie crackdown has had tragic consequences for Philadelphia store owners. Many of them are vulnerable immigrants who have been victimized by thuggish anti-narcotics cops. The corrupt officers have allegedly cut the wires to surveillance cameras while conducting busts, stolen property, and threatened victims who report them. All of this not even to prevent people from buying illegal drugs, but just to prevent them from having bags to keep them in. The absurdity of the War on Drugs knows no bounds.

[Links via Radley Balko, of course.]


Congress celebrates Repeal Day

Radley notices that the House of Representatives is considering a resolution to recognize the upcoming 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. Read the whole thing here. Who else but Congress could make Repeal Day sound so boring? One excerpt:

Whereas passage of the 18th Amendment, which prohibited `the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors’ in the United States, resulted in a dramatic increase in illegal activity, including unsafe black market alcohol production, organized crime, and noncompliance with alcohol laws;

In unrelated news, a record 873,000 Americans were arrested on marijuana charges last year.

Raise a glass on Repeal Day



An amusing story from Canada:

Ten thousand copies of a food magazine were recalled in Sweden after a mistake in one of its recipes left four people poisoned, the magazine said Thursday.

“There was a mistake in a recipe for apple cake. Instead of calling for two pinches of nutmeg it said 20 nutmeg nuts were needed,” Matmagasinet’s chief editor Ulla Cocke told AFP.

“We know that four adults ate one cake made from this recipe, and they didn’t feel well,” she said, adding that “this is obviously very regrettable.” […]

When Matmagasinet first discovered the mistake it immediately sent out letters to its 50,000 subscribers and placed a leaflet inside the copies sold in the store, cautioning that “high doses of nutmeg can cause poisoning symptoms.”

“At first we thought this would be enough, because we didn’t really think anyone would bake or eat this cake, since so much nutmeg would give it a horrible, bitter taste, and because it is simply not that easy to get hold of that much nutmeg,” Cocke said.

An entry on this blog about the psychoactive effects of nutmeg has been a draw for Google hits, presumably from people wondering if they can get high on the spice. The short answer is you can, but it’s not pleasant. As one user put it:

I could by this time feel a warmth on my eyes and looked in the mirror to notice they were red and bloodshot, again a very familiar experience to a marijuana user. Nutmeg’s physical effects mimic the marijuana high, but the overall effect more strongly resembles flu.

But by all means, knock yourself out.

[Via BoingBoing.]


Getting on the wagon

I think this cure would leave me unfit to consume anything, not just alcohol, but it’s worth a shot if you’re desperate:

c. 1500 According to J.D. Rolleston, a British medical historian, a medieval Russian cure for drunkenness consisted in “taking a piece of pork, putting it secretly in a Jew’s bed for nine days, and then giving it to the drunkard in a pulverized form, who will turn away from drinking as a Jew would from pork.” [Quoted in Roueche, op. cit. p. 144]

The rest of the drug timeline is here.