Welcome Ryan Grim, HuffingtonPost.com and Host Scott Morgan, FlexYourRight.org and StopTheDrugWar.org

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America

Scott Morgan, Host:

There’s as much to like about this book as there is to despise about the drug war, which makes This is Your Country on Drugs a fascinating read for anyone endeavoring to better understand the origins of the drug policy predicament that continues to captivate and confound American culture. Ryan Grim takes the reader on a fast-paced journey through the history of our nation’s love-hate relationship with drugs, exploring the economic, political, and cultural dimensions of both drug use and the enormous war that seeks to shield us from its consequences.

The modern drug war debate is decidedly lacking in historical perspective, which is unfortunate since, as Grim emphasizes, the truth behind drugs and drug policy is characterized by familiar patterns and pendulum effects that ought to make this a less confusing topic than it tends to be. Grim explains that when the temperance movement began gaining momentum during the 19th century, use of opium and morphine became more widespread and enjoyed a surprising degree of social acceptance as substitutes for alcohol. Then, as those drugs fell out of favor, cocaine and heroin emerged and were initially regarded as promising alternatives to the problems with the other popular drugs of the time. From one generation to the next, the lessons of the past are quickly learned and forgotten again, enabling the same or similar substances to trigger one so-called “epidemic” after another.

Meanwhile, policy-makers struggle to keep up, often drafting new laws amidst fits of hysteria years after the latest drug threat passed its peak. The panic-driven political opportunism that drug policy critics lament today began long before our time, and the tactics of the anti-drug demagogues haven’t changed since. As Grim notes, our first federal drug law, The Harrison Narcotics Act, was immediately followed by the first fraudulent government drug data in the form of false studies claiming that drug use had declined dramatically. Nearly a century later, federal drug warriors can be counted on to mutilate and mischaracterize any and all facts and figures at their disposal, and they do so in pursuit of the same agenda as their predecessors: to boost public morale, secure continued funding, and justify the constant sacrifice of life and liberty that our ongoing anti-drug crusade requires.

Mixed motives abound, however, and the story of drugs in America often finds our government waging war against itself and not just the addicts and suppliers typically identified as the enemy. Grim chronicles the military’s WWII-era collaboration with prominent mafia figures, in which international heroin trafficking was ignored in exchange for military intelligence, as well the better-known story of the CIA/crack cocaine controversy that rattled the American press in the mid-nineties. Today, the ongoing battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan provides another example of the willingness to sacrifice anti-drug alliances in the face of conflicting political agendas. Under the microscope, the war on drugs is far from the straightforward battle of good vs. evil we learned about in our 6th grade DARE class. Heroes and villains can be found on all sides of the drug war battlefield, but as long as there remain billions to be made or wasted under prohibition, the most self-interested players tend to take the upper hand.

Nevertheless, after decades of divisive drug war politics, brutal turf wars and escalating incarceration rates, we find ourselves as surrounded and fascinated by drugs as ever before. One of the book’s great strengths is Grim’s first-person exploration into psychedelic culture, beginning with the event that launched his journalism career: the discovery that LSD vanished almost entirely from the American drug scene in 2001. The revelation that one man had single-handedly produced almost all the acid in the country, and that the feds had quietly achieved one of the most dramatic victories in drug war history by capturing him, clashes with much of what we understand about illicit drug markets. It’s a story as strange and captivating as the substance itself, but it’s one drug war event that probably won’t be repeated anytime soon. Acid is now back on the scene, and those on the supply side tend to learn the lessons of history more readily than their pursuers.

Today, the internet has blown open the floodgates to a more open and accountable discussion of drugs and drug policy in America. With more facts than ever at our fingertips, anyone can become an advocate for reform from the comfort and anonymity of their couch. The political weaponry relied upon for generations by drug war propagandists now struggles to withstand the rising tide of well-informed dissent that first emerged in blogs and social networks before finding favor in the mainstream press. In the short time since This is Your Country hit the shelves, the Drug Czar himself has called for an end to the “drug war” metaphor and the legalization of marijuana appears all but inevitable amidst escalating campaigns, including a November vote in California that could open an important new chapter in American drug war history.

Ryan Grim joins us today to discuss his work at a very interesting time and I’m excited to hear his perspective on both the past and future of drugs and drug policy in America. Let’s get started.

108 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Ryan Grim, This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America”

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Welcome, everyone. To kick things off, I’d like to hear Ryan’s thoughts on the surging drug policy debate that’s emerged over the past year or two. We’re seeing a shift in the polls on issues like marijuana legalization and the media seems to be embracing the idea to an extent we’ve never seen before. How do you think this increased interest in the issue came about?

BevW September 30th, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Ryan, Welcome back to the Lake.

Scott, Welcome to the Lake and for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

Jon Walker September 30th, 2010 at 12:33 pm

welcome to the lake Ryan and Scott

ubetchaiam September 30th, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Welcome Ryan; haven’t read the book but as a hippie back in the 60′s and a well seasoned ‘trip taker’, it’s something I’ll pickup.

This intrigues me as I don’t understand; please clarify: “the Drug Czar himself has called for an end to the “drug war” metaphor “

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 12:37 pm
In response to Scott Morgan @ 1

First, thanks much to Jane for having me back here. I’m a big FDL fan and repeatedly impressed by the reporting and analysis the bloggers, reporters and readers are able to put out here on such a steady basis.

But yes, you’re right that there’s a floodgate feel right now. Those in drug policy reform must be feeling a bit like the Koch brothers, who’ve been throwing hundreds of millions of dollars up against the wall for decades trying to create some kind of Tea Party movement, and they’ve finally got (a few very loud) people on their side. There’s a big difference, though: people are coming around on drug policy by themselves, without any well-funded national campaign. It’s a genuinely organic evolution of public opinion, and it’s one you could see coming a few years ago. I write in the book that marijuana has been part of the public consciousness, part of the popular culture, longer than any other widely used drug save alcohol. For baby boomers and anyone born beyond, they’ve had personal experience – either they or people they know – with pot, and that has a powerful ability to combat propaganda. Having Bush in the White House for eight years held back the floodgates, it slowed time, so to speak. By the time he left, though, only people who are now in their late 60s didn’t grow up with pot as a ubiquitous thing. But – and we have to give Obama credit here – the new administration’s decision to follow its campaign promise and (mostly) block the DEA from raiding pot clubs in states where medical marijuana is legal unleashed things: Colorado has a booming industry and states who had resisted passing their own laws got a big boost from the feds backing off. New Jersey’s law is now going into effect, as is D.C.’s and a number of other states are getting close. The difficulty of regulating medical marijuana, especially since it’s still illegal at the federal level, has led and will continue to lead to policy setbacks and challenges. But those challenges have been overcome in some places – Oakland and San Fran, for instance – and can be overcome in others. The danger is a backlash that puts everything back under ground. But if people move cautiously and remember history, the future belongs to those who advocate treating pot like alcohol, such as groups like Just Say Now here at FDL.

Gregg Levine September 30th, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Welcome back, Ryan. I am a big fan of this book.
Scott, thanks for hosting today.

dakine01 September 30th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Good afternoon Ryan and Scott and welcome to FDL this afternoon.

Ryan I have not had an opportunity to read your book but am one of those folks who has, shall we say, “enjoyed” various substances over the years. And forgive me if you address this in the book

As someone who experimented then decided that if I were going to use anything it would be the green leafy substance, I know the myth was that Harry Anslinger was looking at the empire of the FBI established by J Edgar and wanted in on it so the “Reefer Madness” world came about.

Is this myth true? It sure seems like way to many people bought that BS and have thrived on it over the last 70 plus years.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 12:41 pm
In response to ubetchaiam @ 4

What Kerli said is that the metaphor of “war” is the wrong one to use and that the government should focus on treating addiction and reducing demand. Of course, the war still rages, both here and in Mexico, and, as Radley Balko has written about frequently, local police forces are becoming increasingly militarized. But the shift away from the language of war does matter and it’s a step forward.

Glad you’re interested in reading the book. For anybody buying it, you can avoid Amazon (I figure I don’t need to explain why it’s a good thing to avoid Amazon) by going here http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780470167397 (My royalties are no different through amazon or anywhere else, though.)

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 12:43 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 5

From my perspective as a blogger, I feel like I’ve literally watched the media’s approach to the issue evolve almost overnight. I remember a few years ago, I could put up a post a reform perspective on the latest drug policy news and often bring in a mountain of traffic. Often, I was one of only a few voices on the web making certain types of arguments. Now it’s everywhere. I feel like I’m working alongside major news outlets as well as other drug policy bloggers. It’s strange and exciting to hear so many new voices.

egregious September 30th, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Welcome to Firedoglake – glad you could join us!

ubetchaiam September 30th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

But another example -perhaps in your book- is the actions of the VA; as a vet and MM patient, I truly appreciated the V.A. Easing Rules for Users of Medical Marijuana

solerso September 30th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Cant wait to read this book. It sometimes seems to me that most Americans think drug use was invented “in the 60′s” probably by Timothy Leary and Ho Chi Mihn, and the entire issue is framed within the context of the “right” “left” culture war, and blown up with barely or not at all concealed racism in the sterotypes of “Urban” crime and gangs selling Crack, which was invented in 1983,(probably by willie horton) just before reagan launched his rerun for the presidency.End the drug war, its racist, classist and it dosent work.

Michael Whitney September 30th, 2010 at 12:45 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 8

in addition to the fact that while they can change the rhetoric, the funding remains virtually unchanged.

the war goes on, we’re just not allowed to talk about it like that

sounds familiar…

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 12:45 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 7

Ironically, Anslinger initially objected to going to war on pot. He thought it was trivial and not worth his time and that he’d be able to build an empire going after bigger drugs. He eventually did become persuaded, though, that pot was the way in and that there was enough of it to occupy his time. And while Hoover is certainly one model, early drug warriors waxed romantic about the Eliot Ness-like battlers of booze and wanted their own war.

dakine01 September 30th, 2010 at 12:46 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 8

Not that it matters, but I’ve long been of the opinion that everything should be legalized and the money being wasted on interdiction and prison should be turned to education and treatment.

But then I might be an idiot

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Isn’t it interesting though that we’re hearing a different tone from the White House?

Cujo359 September 30th, 2010 at 12:47 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 8

local police forces are becoming increasingly militarized.

On both sides of the border, I think. Has anyone done a study recently of the number of people killed in “no knock” raids on marijuana producers/sellers, versus the number who have died of the medical or inebriating effects of marijuana? I suspect that contrast would be a sobering one.

ubetchaiam September 30th, 2010 at 12:47 pm

As the Huffington Post’s senior congressional correspondent, what kind of reception is your book getting in D.C.?

Would you consider giving 535 of them away?

solerso September 30th, 2010 at 12:47 pm
In response to Scott Morgan @ 16

are we?

blenkinsop September 30th, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Ryan, thanks for stopping by. Have you read Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow” and if so what did you think of it?

solerso September 30th, 2010 at 12:49 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 15

No your a genius. At least if genius is defined by the ability to conceptualize the best solution to a problem

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 12:50 pm
In response to solerso @ 19

The drug czar has been talking a lot about not fighting a war anymore. It’s nonsense, of course, in terms of the reality on the ground, but it shows how unpopular that term has become.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 12:50 pm
In response to ubetchaiam @ 11

Yes, very good point. The VA is allowing patients in states where medical marijuana is legal to use it without jeopardizing their benefits. That’s huge. It’s the first federal agency to acknowledge the medical benefit of marijuana, which undermines them in court dramatically.

I recently ran into someone I’ve known for several years who was very high in the VA under the Bush administration, and when he saw me he smiled widely and asked if I’d heard about the decision. He had long been opposed to it, but even he had come around, he said.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 12:51 pm
In response to Scott Morgan @ 9

Even people in the drug czar’s office talk about the issue of medical marijuana in the past tense. They analyze how it is they lost, but they acknowledge that they have, indeed, lost.

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Ryan, I’m interested in your thoughts on the K2/Spice situation, which seems to have replaced salvia as the legal drug menace of the day. It’s carved out an enormous market as an effective pot substitute that won’t show up on a drug test. What do past drug scares teach us about the current debate over K2/spice?

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

And speaking of funds, Obama is continuing a budgetary gimmick of the war. When they say that they’re spending XX amount on enforcement and XX on treatment and demand reduction, they don’t count prison costs (!). But they do include treatment costs. Add in prison, and the disparity is clearer.

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 12:55 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 24

Well, that seems easy enough to me. They lost because what they were doing was clearly wrong and cruel. I wonder what their analysis is.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 12:55 pm
In response to Scott Morgan @ 25

It’s worth noting that the effort to ban salvia, while it’s certainly ongoing, has very little traction, and I think that’s part of the public’s declining interest in the drug war. K2 may get a similar reprieve. If it’s described as a legal version of pot, people might not say, ‘well, let’s make it illegal,’ and instead will say, ‘Wait, pot’s still illegal?’

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 12:57 pm
In response to Scott Morgan @ 27

They think they didn’t play up the camel’s-nose-under-the-tent argument enough, that they spent too much energy trying to debunk pot as medicine, a debate they couldn’t win. I don’t think they could’ve won either way.

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 12:57 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 26

Drug Czar Kerlikowske says it takes time to make the budget match the rhetoric. I’m still trying to figure out what that means, but my first guess is that it’s a brutal task to break the criminal justice system’s dependence on anti-drug funding.

solerso September 30th, 2010 at 12:58 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 24

When we as a society can evaluate the benefit to harm and realtive efficacy of Drugs based on scientific, chemical, biological, psychological, MEDICAL data, and not political benefit or harm, then the REAL drug “war” will have been won.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 12:58 pm
In response to Cujo359 @ 17

I’m not sure, but if anybody would know, it’s this guy, whose blog and writing I highly recommend: http://www.theagitator.com/

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:00 pm
In response to blenkinsop @ 20

I have not. Should I?

ubetchaiam September 30th, 2010 at 1:00 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 28

Since I had no idea what K2/Spice was, I had to look it up.

Outside of the drug testing, why would anyone use a chemical product if a natural one was available? BUT, it does seem part of need by governments everywhere to not have their citizens see the society through an altered perception; did you come across Huxley’s “doors of Perception in your book research?

eCAHNomics September 30th, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Haven’t read all the comments yet, so forgive if this has already been asked. Would a lot more ‘drugs’ be legal if the CIA didn’t need them to be illegal, so the CIA could use them to enlarge their budget?

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:01 pm
In response to ubetchaiam @ 18

ha, I would be happy to give 535 away, even if I assume they’d sit on somebody’s book shelf.

Jon Walker September 30th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

the level of minority incarceration due to drugs plays a remark role in preventing social mobility for minorities. I’m curious how big of an effect if has on reducing the chances a person born in poverty in America can move up compared to europe

DWBartoo September 30th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Thanks for joining us, Ryan.

I agree with Michael @ 13.

The rhetoric may or may not be “changing” on the “official” level … but the war goes on.

The War on Drugs was the first “endless” war, a means of testing the political waters, as it were.

Pot smokers were (and are) scapegoated for political gain. Anti-drug tactics launched a number of political careers. And accusations of drug use is still a very potent political “got ya!”. Even today, snide comments out of the WH speak of critics as needing “drug testing”.

DW

Tammany Tiger September 30th, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Several books I’ve read pointed to “parents’ groups” (not identified further) as one of the driving forces that led lawmakers to pass tougher drug laws in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Were these true grassroots organizations (like MADD was in its early years), or was some right-wing organization behind them?

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 1:04 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 35

My gut reaction to these kinds of questions is that the drug war is a money-loser for governments overall, even if there’s profit to be made in specific areas. The collateral damage and political risk in that kind of strategy is reckless and ultimately less viable than just regulating it out in the open. If the government wants in on drug profits, just tax it already.

DWBartoo September 30th, 2010 at 1:04 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 35

Damned fine question, and appropriate as well, “looking forward”, eCAHN.

DW

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:04 pm
In response to ubetchaiam @ 18

The reception in Washington has actually been good. A lot of people thought I was crazy to write it and that it make me a less credible reporter, but that hasn’t been the case, and I think it speaks to what Scott was talking about earlier. Public opinion is now divided evenly, roughly, on whether pot should be illegal. So agreeing with half the country can’t be a disqualifying opinion.

DWBartoo September 30th, 2010 at 1:05 pm
In response to Scott Morgan @ 40

They don’t want such monies “out in the open”, Scott, that is precisely the point.

DW

eCAHNomics September 30th, 2010 at 1:06 pm

To supplement my 35, would several other drugs be legal if big PhRMA didn’t have control of congress? For example, I am told that morphine is a better, cheaper, fewer side effects painkiller than the fancy expensive ones that the drug corps produce. Is that accurate?

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:06 pm
In response to Jon Walker @ 37

I didn’t look at Europe much, but that would be an interesting question to research. But it’s certainly a huge problem. When I was a reporter at washington city paper, I’d often be in the court house doing record searches, and the people normally at the other computers were employers running criminal searches on applicants. You can imagine what happens to someone’s application if a drug conviction pops up.

ubetchaiam September 30th, 2010 at 1:07 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 39

FWIW, MADD is against Prop 19 in CA. They’ve gone way beyond drunk driving and are now the equivalent of the prohibitionists.

eCAHNomics September 30th, 2010 at 1:07 pm
In response to Scott Morgan @ 40

The USG is NOT a monolith & the CIA is secret, so it can do whatever it wants regardless of whether it’s in the USG’s interest or not.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:08 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 38

Words and tone do matter, though, I think, and portend what could be coming. And note when Gibbs said that the professional left should be drug tested, he only meant that they were talking nonsense and shouldn’t be listened to, not that they should be put in jail.

ubetchaiam September 30th, 2010 at 1:08 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 42

“The reception in Washington has actually been good.”; glad to hear it. Thx.

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 1:10 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 43

The most credible allegations of CIA involvement in the drug trade still don’t involve them making big profits. Rather, there’ve been alleged cases of CIA allowing insurgents to fund themselves with drug money when it suits our political agenda. That the CIA is directly cashing in on the drug trade isn’t the typical narrative.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:11 pm
In response to ubetchaiam @ 34

I talked to a store owner who sells it and he said most of his customers are soldiers with PTSD, cops and others worried about drug testing — which is a huge concern, especially in this economy. It’s also much cheaper than normal pot. But you’re right, it’s synthetic and who knows how safe it is. But that’s another consequence of the drug war: pushing people into more dangerous activity in order to avoid the negative consequences of drug laws.

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 1:13 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 42

Exactly. I’m so tired of seeing this issue erroneously framed as the fringe political fixation of a bunch of doped up idealists. In case anyone missed the memo, we’re winning. Being on the winning side of a national political debate is good for your resume.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:13 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 44

Morphine is actually prescribed, though tightly controlled. Big Pharma, however, keeps supply low to keep prices up, which leads to a shortage of morphine in many countries, particularly third world countries, which leads to intense, needless pain across the globe. There’s geopolitics at work, too: Turkey grows much of the world’s medicinal poppy crop and doesn’t want new countries doing it. Otherwise, that would be a pretty simple solution to Afghanistan’s “poppy problem.” The farmer’s could simply sell their product to pharmaceutical companies. But that would cut into Pharma profits.

mzchief September 30th, 2010 at 1:14 pm
In response to Scott Morgan @ 25

Thank you all for being here and holding this salon today.

More data new to me (re the K2 etc.). Frank Herbert’s Dune and the book’s treatment of the Spice wars therein takes on a whole new meaning for me now that I have done quite a bit of recent research on cannabinoids …

DWBartoo September 30th, 2010 at 1:16 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 48

Gibbs meant to use the cultural “back-story” to denigrate and dismiss.

To a degree it worked.

Yes, a change in tone may portend change, and after 59 years of watching this sorry tale of social abuse and intellectual dishonesty I am convinced it is time to “Just say Now”.

Inevitably, this assault upon reason, tolerance, and understanding, THIS war WILL end.

DW

eCAHNomics September 30th, 2010 at 1:16 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 53

Thanks. That’s exactly the story I’d put together (though I had forgotten the Turkey part, so thanks for that reminder). But I wasn’t sure I had my facts straight since I cobbled it together from bits & pieces.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:17 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 35

No, I don’t think the CIA has budget problems lately. But it’s worth noting that the DEA has more foreign bureaus than the CIA or any other agency. I suppose, though, America could legalize drugs for its own people but continue the war abroad. That wouldn’t outside the realm of historical behavior.

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 1:17 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 51

I recently visited Louisiana, where legislation against K2/spice was passed, and immediately, a new line of products emerged with slightly different ingredients. Now it’s back on the shelves. What interests me about this is that it looks like the ingenuity of the drug culture is overwhelming enforcement.

Jane Hamsher September 30th, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Ryan & Scott, thanks so much for being here today. Having been waging the Just Say War campaign for several months now, I totally agree — it is not a “fringe political fixation of a bunch of doped up idealists.” The number of people who support this issue and feel strongly about it is enormous.

It’s going to be a really compelling issue over the next few years, and your book is perfectly timed, Ryan.

Can’t recommend it highly enough — it’s a great read.

Jane Hamsher September 30th, 2010 at 1:18 pm

BTW, for anyone who wants to read it, you can buy Ryan’s book here:

http://www.amazon.com/This-Your-Country-Drugs-History/dp/0470167394

tjbs September 30th, 2010 at 1:20 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 55

Mr. Obama, “Tear down this war.”

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Ryan, I’m interested in your thoughts on Prop 19 in California. This thing is huge. What happens if it passes? What if it fails?

wmd1961 September 30th, 2010 at 1:21 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 36

I’ve sent drug policy books to a Senate staff member after meeting with them in person at the Senator’s office. And follow up showed they had read the books… IIRC one was David Musto’s exposition on prohibition – the American Disease.

Coordinate with Bill Piper in DPA’s Washington office on getting copies to appropriate staff next January.

eCAHNomics September 30th, 2010 at 1:22 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 57

Having thought about my Q a little bit after Scott’s responses, I’ve refined it. The stuff I’ve read about the CIA involvement in drugs is the operations division. They don’t need a lot of supplement money to conduct some of their scuzziest work. So it may not be so much about the amount they rake in, but the purpose they want to put it toward.

DWBartoo September 30th, 2010 at 1:22 pm
In response to Scott Morgan @ 50

As may be, Scott, although friends of mine who were in Vietnam might well question your statement.

And, frankly, typical narratives are not something we find large amounts of regarding “black budget” operations. “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” might actually be applicable when it comes to the activities of the CIA and other “agencies” which operate in the twilight of respect for humanity.

DW

eCAHNomics September 30th, 2010 at 1:25 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 65

See what you think about my refinement of the Q in 64. We were typing at the same time.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:25 pm

This is completely unrelated: But I’ve got some (congressional) news to report. A Reid aide just told me they’re going to nominate Ted Kaufman to replace Elizabeth Warren on the bailout oversight panel.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:28 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 39

The “parents groups” were no joke. And, like most movements, they were a mix of grassroots, genuine concern and profiteering. There’s no question that many parents in the 70s, who themselves didn’t grow up with pot everywhere, reacted with fear at what they saw. And pot use was almost double what it is now, so there was something to react to. But they were well funded by booze and pharma and tobacco companies. I have the details in my book, but that was the major money behind the Partnership for a Drug Free America

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:29 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 64

Certainly, if your interest is to infiltrate shadowy organizations, the drug war is a good thing. But if your purpose is to eradicate shadowy organizations, legalizing drugs would be a better way to do that. So there’s an incentive problem, you’re right.

Tammany Tiger September 30th, 2010 at 1:29 pm
In response to ubetchaiam @ 46

FWIW, MADD is against Prop 19 in CA. They’ve gone way beyond drunk driving and are now the equivalent of the prohibitionists.

MADD’s “mission creep” has been condemned by none other than Candy Lightner, who founded the organization.

kindGSL September 30th, 2010 at 1:30 pm
In response to Cujo359 @ 17

I don’t think they’re sharing that information.

Tammany Tiger September 30th, 2010 at 1:31 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 68

But they were well funded by booze and pharma and tobacco companies. I have the details in my book, but that was the major money behind the Partnership for a Drug Free America.

Thanks for your response, Ryan. I look forward to reading your book.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:31 pm
In response to wmd1961 @ 63

that’s a great idea, I’ll do that

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 1:33 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 68

Fortunately, parents today have more experience to draw on. The current anti-drug movement is run by a small handful of hysterical nutjobs, and control of the debate is slipping ever further from their grasp. Efforts to rally post-baby boom parents into a frenzy over marijuana policy just isn’t going to yield the same results we saw in the 70′s and 80′s.

kindGSL September 30th, 2010 at 1:33 pm
In response to solerso @ 31

And when we can do that for drugs, a hot button issue, we can do it for all of our other unsolved problems too.

DWBartoo September 30th, 2010 at 1:33 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 66

I would not strongly disagree.

(Working on me political jargoneering, I am)

;~DW

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:34 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 70

MADD is a good example. I write in the book about how they are no different than other temperance groups from the 18th, 19th, and 20th Century. These organizations, many of which were driven by people we’d consider today progressive or liberal, began moderate and very quickly moved to absolute. Within ten years of the Temperance Union’s founding, in fact, the group “redifined” temperance to mean total abstinence. And that certainly happened to MADD, which is now a neo-prohibitionist group. I try to flesh out in the book what it is about the American psyche that drives groups toward that absolute position.

Jon Walker September 30th, 2010 at 1:34 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 72

It is the partnership for an America free of non-patented drugs

eCAHNomics September 30th, 2010 at 1:35 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 69

As near as I can tell, the CIA ops job is to create shadowy orgs. There’s not one I’ve read about (over a dozen books) that has been to a good purpose.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:36 pm
In response to Scott Morgan @ 74

Right. And I think a lot of why that is goes back to the first question you asked me that led to my answer in #5. Parents in the 70s believed the hype. Parents today don’t.

DWBartoo September 30th, 2010 at 1:36 pm
In response to kindGSL @ 75

Then “drugs” is where we must begin, KindGSL, for you are correct, when reason wins out, we all benefit.

DW

kindGSL September 30th, 2010 at 1:37 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 36

Make it a project and ask for donations. Think of something to support if you get more than the cost of books, and

GOOD LUCK!

Tell us where to send in money and I will donate some. This is a project I have wanted done for a long time. There is no excuse for congress to pass laws that are so harmful to people and be so incompetently ignorant about it.

Besides, I bet most of them would read it. They probably want to vote to legalize, just don’t know how to take the heat. Done as a group it is easy.

eCAHNomics September 30th, 2010 at 1:37 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 77

Heh. I refer to that kind of thing generically as ‘bad religion driving out good,’ meaning the only way to generate enthusiasm is to become more & more extreme, which is where the people are who will work the hardest for the cause.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:38 pm
In response to Scott Morgan @ 50

That’s what all the evidence I’ve gathered indicates. Drug money is also a stable way to fund an organization — or to allow it to fund itself — than congressional approps. So it’s more about looking the other way. And why wouldn’t they? It’s not their job to intercept drug shipments and they know as well as we do there’s no real point in doing so.

kindGSL September 30th, 2010 at 1:39 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 39

I bet they were Christians. Some of the more wacky ones have BIG issues with pot.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:40 pm
In response to kindGSL @ 82

I’ve actually talked to Jane about doing something similar to this and my publisher’s open to giving discounts. I’ll be in touch if we come up with something that’d work.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:41 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 83

Right — how long can you motivate someone to fight to moderation? Or temperance? You’ll always be outflanked within the organization.

kindGSL September 30th, 2010 at 1:42 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 48

Oh yeah? Is that why we are having an increase in raids?

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I’m not saying the raids have ended but there are fewer. Anybody have stats?

eCAHNomics September 30th, 2010 at 1:44 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 87

I like the way you rephrased it. Kevin Phillips describes it in American Theocracy, only in the case of religions, the extremists leave the mainstream religions & start their own.

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 1:45 pm
In response to kindGSL @ 82

They probably want to vote to legalize, just don’t know how to take the heat.

It really isn’t any more complicated than that. The political anxieties that obstruct progress in Washington are more instinctive than anything. As polls continue to shift, it should become easier to persuade our political culture to beginning pushing the issue in a new direction. That’s why advocates need to stop claiming that it’s “political suicide” to support reform. As long as politicians believe that, they aren’t going to do anything.

kindGSL September 30th, 2010 at 1:46 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 64

Like feeding it to FOX News to get exactly the coverage they want.

BevW September 30th, 2010 at 1:52 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon.

Ryan, Thank you for returning and discussing your new book.

Scott, Thank you for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:
Ryan’s website
Scott’s website

Ryan’s book

Thanks all.

ubetchaiam September 30th, 2010 at 1:53 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 57

“America could legalize drugs for its own people but continue the war abroad. That wouldn’t outside the realm of historical behavior.” ; there’s your next book ! *G*

mzchief September 30th, 2010 at 1:55 pm
In response to mzchief @ 54

As truth appears to be increasingly stranger to me than any fiction I’ve ever read, I’ve done more updates in the comments of “Pre-Clinical Study Shows Marijuana Compound Inhibits Tumor Size, Growth and Metastasis of Human Cancer” which has turned into kind of a one-stop shopping on-line citation regarding just how valuable cannabinoids really are … and to whom.

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 1:56 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 89

It’s hard to calculate due to ambiguities in terms of who’s conducting the raids. Often, local authorities and DEA are both present with one agency or the other running point. The presence of a couple DEA agents doesn’t always make it a federal raid, so the media coverage is confusing at times.

Regardless, the medical marijuana industry has grown so much in recent years that we’d be gaining ground even if the raids had continued at the same level we saw under Bush.

kindGSL September 30th, 2010 at 1:56 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 70

I’m glad to hear that.

I think we should look at this organization as an example of what ‘they’ do.

If we look around, we will see that they do it to just about all of our institutions and groups. It is a very serious problem and we are just going to have to learn to get a lot better about recognizing it and doing something to prevent it.

I remember when I met with SDS leaders, labor, CodePink, a Tea Partier, etc. sorry I don’t remember if or what other groups were there. I thought it was very cool, had a lot of fun. It was an SDS function, so the rest of the groups were invited. I sat next to the Tea Partier while the rest of the group had never even heard of it.

We were doing planning for activism and it was overwhelmingly obvious to me that the woman from CodePink was an FBI type spy. She had one stupid, counter productive (to all of my goals) suggestion after another. I decided if she was on the planning committee, count me out.

We need to all learn how to spot them. I don’t think the other people at that meeting saw her as a fake. I think they thought she was CodePink for real.

Ryan Grim September 30th, 2010 at 1:58 pm
In response to BevW @ 93

Thanks everybody for being here today, and thanks to Scott, perhaps the best drug policy blogger out there, and to Jane and Bev for hosting. (And not a single 420 joke!) If I missed anybody’s question, please feel free to write me at ryan@huffingtonpost.com. Keep up all you’re doing here.

DWBartoo September 30th, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Thank you, Ryan, for joining us, come back often if you may find you have the time.

Thank you Scott, as well, and join us when you may.

DW

kindGSL September 30th, 2010 at 1:59 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 79

Valerie Plame.

eCAHNomics September 30th, 2010 at 2:01 pm
In response to kindGSL @ 100

That was intelligence gathering, not operations. Operations are things like the Afghan operations against the Soviets.

Scott Morgan September 30th, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Thanks so much for the great discussion everyone.

kindGSL September 30th, 2010 at 2:04 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 86

I like to try to make things like this into something average people can get involved in.

If we did it as a fundraiser and made a lot more than the cost of books, perhaps it could go to ads for the right candidates, or?

You can see I used to do fundraising in PTA and scouts. This it the perfect kind of thing to turn into a media event. The point is to build one thing on another to rather push the whole mess.

kindGSL September 30th, 2010 at 2:16 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 89

I can’t find it now, but I read recently that the raids were ticking up and just not being reported in order to give the impression you now have. I’m sorry I can’t find it now, I thought it was in a major paper like the LA Times.

kindGSL September 30th, 2010 at 2:21 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 101

Well that makes it easy to know what to cut.

wmd1961 September 30th, 2010 at 2:21 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 73

Strangely enough it was Senator Lugar’s office that engaged with me.

Bill and I kept a dialogue going with his staffer until the staffer was sent to Iraq. I suspect that Lugar was briefed as a result of his staff’s work.

wmd1961 September 30th, 2010 at 2:22 pm
In response to Ryan Grim @ 89

ASA is probably a good source for stats.

goldstandard September 30th, 2010 at 4:13 pm

War on drugs? What war on drugs. The cartels that control the flow of drugs are doing quite well considering we now have a standing army in Kandahar where 90% of the worlds heroine comes from. If we’re so against drugs and we already have the forces there, why not burn the poppy fields down and teach the Afghans how to grow food rather than drugs? silly question I know. I guess it’s our turn to keep the drugs flowing while someone or group continues to move heroine out of the country while we continue to lose our blood and treasure in the arm pit of the world.

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