Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Memory loss in the FDA medical marijuana "announcement"

On April 20, 2006 the FDA issued a well-reported, terse, anonymous announcement that marijuana had no medical value and was unsafe.

Would you be at all surprised if you knew that on April 12, 2006, the FDA wrote to the principal medical marijuana activists, Americans for Safe Access, that

"we would need additional time to complete our response to your appeal. At this time we are continuing to prepare our response but require additional time to coordinate Agency review." ?
Hmm, maybe FDA's April 20th announcement reflected severe short-term memory loss at the FDA. Certainly they revealed long-term memory loss -- the extensive Institute of Medicine report on Marijuana and Medicine requested and paid for the the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (the "drug czar").

This letter was the sixth such letter from FDA saying it needed an additional 60 days to respond to ASA's appeal of May 2005 of FDA's thrice-delayed denial of ASA's petition of October 4, 2004, to HHS to correct its statements about the medical value of marijuana.

The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness has a nice overview of the procedural history of Americans for Safe Access Data Quality Act (DQA) petition with links to the petition and the various HHS unresponsive responses.

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Execute drug users, says government reporter for GA newspaper

Justin Boron, the government reporter for the Clayton News-Daily, Jonesboro, GA, in the context of praising the FDA medical marijuana announcement, endorses the execution of drug users. (Clayton County, population of 267,000 in 2004, is now less than 25 percent white, is a rapidly growing suburb of Atlanta, GA. Jonesboro is about 15 miles from downtown Atlanta. In 2000, the county was about 40 percent white, and the population was only 236,000 (182,000 in 1990).)

Boron writes about the critical problems society faces that require, in his view, that drug users be executed,

If I were dictator of this country, I would not only outlaw drug users and addicts, but I would execute them as well, so they don't needlessly overcrowd jails. In the case of juveniles and marginal offenders that don't necessarily deserve death, I would banish them to an island. Like on the television show "Lost," they would live there under the loose supervision of some shadow administration. But they would basically be on their own to survive.

Then, the world's drug-free population would get some badly needed relief on the freeway. We wouldn't have to deal with the slow and oblivious, impaired drivers.

Time spent on trips to the gas station would be knocked down to nothing now that we wouldn't have to wait in line while some somnambulant marijuana smoker searches for change in his pocket.
These last comments sound satirical in Jonathan Swift-sense, but read in the context of the entire column, they seemed quite serious to me. Maybe executing drug users is a subject that I find hard to find funny.

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The danger of misunderstanding the "problem"

What is the drug problem?

Seeing it as a crime problem means that it has criminological and criminal justice roots and solutions. The analysis uses criminal justice conventions. The experts are criminal justice experts.

Seeing it as a public health problem means that it has public health roots and solutions. The analysis uses public health conventions. The experts are public health experts.

Seeing it as a problem of human liberty means that it has roots in liberty and oppression. The analysis uses the conventions of human rights. The experts are experts in rights: lawyers and philosophers.

Of course, the drug problem is a collection of problems. The problems and solutions are in tension with each other. The expert in a single dimension of the problem is important, but given exclusive deference, and not balanced with other expertise, risks presenting an unbalanced analysis.

Consider the tension between criminal justice and public health for a moment. Criminal justice (with the exception of genuine community-oriented policing) has traditionally and habitually been case oriented. Offenders are typically individual offenders. It is the individual's wrongful acts and culpability that trigger a case: an investigation into a crime, a prosecution of a case, the sentencing (punishment) of an offender. Offenders commonly violate community norms. Traditional offenses directly, intentionally or recklessly harmed victims through violence or other injury. Thus there is a long association of the use of force and coercion to apprehend and control offenders. The use of force in criminal justice is typically axiomatic and unquestioned, indeed, it is unconsciously inherent.

In public health, the focus is typically upon a community: a population or subpopulation. And the goal is typically the reduction of the incidence of disease in the population. Rarely is the goal the complete eradication of the disease because there is a recognition of the ecological nature of infectious agents: they live and spread in the population due to the generally common behaviors of the population (living, studying or working in the same environment -- breathing the common air; consuming food and water from common sources).

In public health, the use of force is not inherent. The legitimacy of the use of force for public health has waxed and waned. During epidemics force was used to enforce quarantine and to take other measures. Mass inoculation has been accompanied by threats of coercion.

Modern public health has incorporated a much less tolerant view toward coercion. Coercion is, if acceptable, reserved as a last resort in support of an intervention. In criminal justice, the application or imminent threat of coercion is one of the primary elements of intervention.

Imagine, imagine, imagine that drug problems were primarily understood, analyzed, debated, and acted upon in public health terms. What would the drug problem look like after ten years, twenty years, thirty years in which the leadership of drug policy making, commentary and oversight were men and women trained and experienced in public health -- from the White House to the street. Imagine that instead of hundreds of thousands of police officers involved in "drug enforcement" there were hundreds of thousands of public health workers involved in "drug harm reduction."

The goal and measure of success in public health is the decrease in health risks. With those goals in place for twenty years, and the public and private organizations charged with addressing the drug phenomenon assessed primarily on the reduction of health risks (including the association of violence with drug use and drug distribution), what would our drug policies look like? What would our drug problem look like?

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Monday, April 24, 2006

FDA's medical marijuana announcement gets blasted in editorials

The FDA's anonymous announcement last week that marijuana has no medical value has been blasted in editorials. Not only The New York Times but the Chicago Tribune and the St. Petersburg (FL) Times have blasted the FDA.

So much for the "mainstream media"......

Rush Limbaugh reports,

"The FDA says there's no -- zilch, zero, nada -- shred of medicinal value to the evil weed marijuana. This is going to be a setback to the long-haired, maggot-infested, dope-smoking crowd."

The man caricatures himself, doesn't he? The "evil weed marijuana." You know this is tongue-in-cheek. After all, what could have been his "gateway" to Oxycontin?

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Police torture captured on tape; 5 deputies go to prison

On July 8, 2004, five police officers -- sheriff's deputies, auxiliary police, local police -- went to the home of Eugene Siler, in Campbell County, northwest of Knoxville, Tennessee, ostensibly to arrest him for a probation violation.

Siler's wife and son were in the home, and were allowed to leave. Before Mrs. Siler left, she surreptitiously turned on a tape recorder.

The recording, which you can hear from a link from the Knoxville News Sentinel, or the excellent, 60-page transcript which law enforcement made of the recording, reveal police officers systematically torturing Siler. On almost every page of the transcript is an indication of Siler being beaten. They threaten to break his finges. The officers get a car battery charger and hook it up to his testicles and his nose. They threaten to shoot him.

After Siler complained, the officers lied about the beating -- until word of the tape recording came out.

All of the officers have been sentenced to multi-year terms in federal prison.

The News Sentinel website also has copies of various documents in the case, such a sentencing memos.

Joshua Monday, the officer who seemed to inflict most of the beating, defended himself at sentencing,

Mr. Monday was a law enforcement officer in a county besieged by the drug epidemic sweeping this nation, and his frustration overcame his better judgment on July 8, 2004.
Monday received a sentence of 72 months. Is there a drug epidemic in the county? It arrests more people for drug offenses than for any other crime -- even drunkenness and DUI.

This case is an aberration, of course, but since such recordings are rare it is hard to assess how common aberration this behavior is. But a reading of Drug War Chronicle's Corrupt Cop of the Week column demonstrates that this behavior occurs nationwide. Of course, DRCNet's Drug War Chronicle had the story in early 2005.

Thanks to Chris Largen of Prescription Pot for the tip.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

On the FDA medical marijuana rant, The New York Times gets it

The New York Times editorial today reports on the continued shameful manipulation of science and scientific agencies by the Bush Administration. The Times notes how the FDA statement of April 20 was developed completely contrary to the usual FDA approach of appointing an independent review panel.

An analogy occurred to me -- stretched, far fetched perhaps:

  • The torture of Iraqi detainees fails to get useful intelligence.
  • The pressure of powerful Members of Congress like Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), and the White House "drug czar" John Walters, on an ostensibly independent agency like the FDA fails to produce useful intelligence about the question of whether marijuana has medical value and a safety profile that merits its use by the public.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Neil Young's next album criticizes President Bush. Fox News defends Bush: Neil Young addicted to marijuana

Neil Young's forthcoming album, Living With War, contains political commentary criticizing President Bush. Brit Hume's Fox News commentary in defense of the President: Young is addicted to marijuana.

Well, that settles that.

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FDA's 4-20 announcement on medical use of marijuana

Is 4-20 (April 20) going to replace April Fool's Day (April 1) as a day of absurdities?

The government seems to be taking that approach.

Yesterday FDA issued a statement that it concurs in DEA's determination that marijuana belongs in Schedule I of the schedules of Controlled Substances.

There was no report of an actual review of the scientific literature. No scientist's name was associated with the statement. The FDA statement completely ignored the detailed scientific report by a select panel of highly regarded scientists for the Institute of Medicine of the National Research Council issued in 1999.

The New York Times covered the FDA statement. All of the scientists whose views they reported took issue with the FDA statement. The article concluded,

Dr. Daniele Piomelli, a professor of pharmacology at the University of California, Irvine, said he had "never met a scientist who would say that marijuana is either dangerous or useless."

Studies clearly show that marijuana has some benefits for some patients, Dr. Piomelli said.

"We all agree on that," he said.

The Associated Press story quoted Bruce Mirkin from MPP who nailed the issue,

Bruce Mirken, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, said Thursday: "If anybody needed proof that the FDA has become totally politicized, this is it. This isn't a scientific statement; it's a political statement."

Mirken said "a rabid congressional opponent of medical marijuana," Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., asked the FDA to make the statement.

Souder, chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on drug policy, has said the promotion of medical marijuana "is simply a red herring for the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Studies have continually rejected the notion that marijuana is suitable for medical use because it adversely impacts concentration and memory, the lungs, motor coordination and the immune system."

The FDA statement noted "there is currently sound evidence that smoked marijuana is harmful." It also said, "There are alternative FDA-approved medications in existence for treatment of many of the proposed uses of smoked marijuana."

Mirken responded, "There is abundant evidence that marijuana can help cancer patients, multiple sclerosis patients and AIDS patients. There is no scientific doubt that marijuana relieves nausea, vomiting, certain kinds of pain and other symptoms that don't respond well to conventional drugs, and does it more safely than other drugs.

"For the FDA to ignore all that evidence is embarrassing," Mirken said. "They should be red-faced."

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Colombian coca cultivation greater than U.S. knew

It's an old media rule, "If the news is bad, release it on Friday." People don't pay as much attention to the news on Saturday as they do the rest of the week. So on Friday, April 14, the U.S. government released its estimate of coca cultivation in Colombia last year. They found 38,6000 hectares of coca growing in regions of Colombia where they never looked before.

Coca growing in the area where they looked previously, and sprayed herbicide, had gone down by 8 percent, a total of 8,700 hectares.

The U.S. has been fighting coca cultivation in Colombia for almost twenty-five years. I toured American-supported drug eradication in Colombia in August 1983. America is spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on a small fleet of aircraft (about 100 planes and helicopters) to eradicate the coca fields with herbicides. The U.S. State Department has been reporting annally for years on the extent of coca cultivation and on American efforts to destroy it. Reporting in 1999, for example, the State Department reported Colombian coca cultivation,

In 1998, these crops were estimated to be 101,800 hectares and 6,100 hectares respectively. In 1999 there were estimated to be 122,500 hectares of coca and 7,500 hectares of poppy.
The logical first step in an eradication and reportin program is to locate where coca is grown. You can't destroy it if you haven't found it. You can't report on it accurately if you haven't adequately canvassed the areas where it can be grown.

The most recent report is that in 2005, 144,000 hectares of coca were grown!

* * *

It has been attributed to H.L. Mencken that,
No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence [or taste] of the American people. (Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 15th ed., 1980, p. 772)
I am sure that there are wits who have written corollaries to the effect that "The bureaucracy is even dumber than you feared." We would assume, for example, that with decades spending hundreds of millions of dollars per year, the U.S. government would have made locating the extant coca fields not only a first step, but a continuing part of the process. Our assumption would have been wrong -- until last year.

ONDCP now reports,
In an effort to improve the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the estimate, this year's survey expanded by 81 percent the size of the landmass that was imaged and sampled for coca cultivation.

Think about this. Enough of Colombia was not already being examined for coca cultivation that they could increase the area in which they were looking for coca by 81 percent. Can we assume that they still are not looking at the entire nation?

As a result the U.S. found 38,600 hectares of coca being cultivated that they never knew about in areas in which they had never been looking. This amounted to 26.8% of all the coca that was cultivated. If this is at all typical, it suggests that perhaps for years the U.S. was underestimating the amount of coca being grown by about a quarter, and overestimating its success in eradicating coca by similar amounts.

I feel so naive. I continue to be shocked that the oversight of the program has been so inept. In Congress, at the White House, in the agencies, no one manages the anti-drug programs properly. No one in charge really cares.

* * *
The U.S. government insists that this is good policy. Yet they note,

The effect of the coca eradication program was to reduce the amount of production in traditional growing areas and force producers, which include illegal armed groups such as the FARC, to more isolated fields where expenses associated with transportation and start-up increase the production cost and reduce potential profit.
These "more isolated fields" are parts of the Amazon watershed! The result of the U.S. coca eradication program is to increase the destruction of rain forest that helps moderate the global climate.

Growers of coca and opium, over the past 20 years, have destroyed 2.3 million hectares of rainforest to create new fields for cultivation in fleeing from law enforcement efforts, according to a 2002 briefing by Rand Beers, then assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs.

This deforestation can lead to drought in the U.S.!

The State Department posts on its website the evidene that their policies are leading to environmental trouble, but no one in Congress is challenging them.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

No, I'm not the dumbest Senator! (I was the best undercover DEA agent)

Here's one of the classic stories I heard when I came to Washington in 1979.

In 1974, New Times magazine reported the U.S. Senator William L. Scott of Virginia had been voted by his colleagues the "dumbest" Senator. He called a press conference to deny the charge. Probably only he was surprised that this did not bury the story.

Now the D.A.R.E. Generation Diary reports a former DEA agent, Lee Paige, who has become famous for shooting himself in the foot on April 9, 2004 on videotape during a drug education program in Orlando, Florida is suing DEA for violating the Privacy Act. He says that the videotape was turned over the DEA and that DEA returned the videotape to the person who made it -- minus the video and audio of the shooting. Thus DEA had exclusive control of the only record of the event, he argues, and its release violates the Privacy Act.

Paige says the video got onto the Internet. He alleges that Google has 347,000 hits for "DEA Agent Shoots Himself." (This seems to be a characteristic exaggeration -- I only saw 187,000 hits, but that number should now be going up.) In addition he alleges that the video has been widely broadcast on television.

The complaint, which he has filed pro se in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia is a hoot. He says that he has been subject to ridicule.

Thanks to the Smoking Gun for posting it. Go there to see and hear the video of Lee Paige, who describes himself as "once regarded as one of the best undercover agents, if not the best, in the DEA," shoot himself on the foot in front of a roomful of kids! He doesn't panic. The show must go on. Watch the crowd reaction when, exercising his characteristic good judgment, he starts to get a assault weapon.

You can understand why some folks at DEA could not resist the temptation to release this to the public, even if the release did violate the Privacy Act.

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Pretty young blonde (a police officer) tricks high school students to sell her pot

The Falmouth, MA police approached the local high school to plant a pretty, young, blonde police officer undercover, posing as a student to buy drugs from students, reports The Boston Globe. The new "student" told students her mother was dead and that her father was away in the Navy, that she was new in town and was lonely and depressed and asked them to help her get me some pot.

Nine teenage boys -- all boys -- were arrested, four 17-year olds, four 16-year olds, and a 14-year old.

Did the school's teachers seek police help to curb an out-of-control drug scene? No.
Did the school administration go to the police to seeking to find on-campus drug dealers? No.
The police said that "some parents" complained about "rampant" drug use.

According to the Globe, the school superintendent said that 85% of the students reported that they had not used marijuana in the past month, about typical for Massachusetts 12-17 year olds.

This trust-destroying raid may well disrupt the school environment more than the marijuana use that existed in the school. Every student feels betrayed and suspicious. Every new student will enter that school under a cloud of potential distrust for several years.

Couldn't this situation have been handled with more wisdom and compassion? If these boys had been called to a private interview in the principal's office with their parents present,
don't you think that they would have been thoroughly deterred from future drug dealing, without making an arrest? The shock of being discovered, confronted with their parents present, and told of the risk of prosecution and its consequences, would be complete deterrence for most kids.

Before a school permits the police to mount a sensational made-for-TV sting --
Has it ensured that it has an effective drug and alcohol prevention curriculum (something other than the famously ineffective D.A.R.E.)?
Are counselors readily available for students who are at risk for drug use -- such as an orphan with an absent parent who feels isolated in a new school?
Are constructive after school activities widely available to students with varied interests and talents?

The goal of drug policy at our schools should be to give our students rich and healthy futures. Falmouth police and schools have just thrown a legal hand grenade into the lives of nine young people whose conduct, while illegal and unwise, does not merit imprisonment or life long criminal sanction.

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Honoring Howard Wooldridge

One of LEAP's most accomplished speakers is retired officer Howard Wooldridge. He moved to the Washington suburbs last year to work full-time educating Members of Congress and their staff about our drug policy. Unfortunately LEAP could not find a way to pay his expenses, so he is doing something else.

But when travel costs and a modest honorarium can be found, Howard will speak, and Boy, does he make a positive impression.

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More surveillance: over your head, car, house, garden, campus, campsite, beach, back yard, etc.

NPR reported on the development for domestic police use of drones equipped with cameras. At about $30,000 per unit, according to a report on BoingBoing.net, this surveillance equipment is much cheaper than a helicopter at $2-3 million apiece and about $2800 per hour to operate.

Since the early 20th century when telephone wiretapping began, the Supreme Court has linked Fourth Amendment protections to expectations of privacy.

What happens when we no longer have any expectation of privacy?

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Our inconsistent thoughts about botched paperwork

The San Jose Mercury News reports on the travails of Longino Acero, 47, who has been repeatedly been prosecuted, and forced to plead guilty, for failing to register as a convicted child molester. The clerk in his 1978 case for the misdemeanor of soliciting lewd and lascivious acts with an adult wrote down the wrong parenthesis of the penal code provision for which he was convicted.

Because Acero had a lengthy criminal record for other types of offenses, his claim that he was not convicted of child molestation was consistently disregarded by probation officers, police, and his own attorneys. Consequently he was forced to plead guilty and was incarcerated for failing to register three times. Two of these prosecutions arose out of arrests for jaywalking -- crossing the street outside a crosswalk!

Unfortunately this situation is widespread. Criminal history records, especially court records which have historically been entered by hand in busy courtrooms, are known to most criminal justice practitioners to be widely inaccurate. Yet it is logical that they are accepted as accurate by courts.

Statutes designed to harshly punish recidivists, such as "three strikes and you are out," with their powerful appeal to the crime-fearing, justice-demanding public, are especially likely to risk grave injustice because the records upon which they depend are actually unreliable.

Society and the criminal justice system are keen to harshly punish the failure of the convicted child offender to file the paper work notice of his new address. But we are indifferent to systematically correcting erroneous criminal justice paperwork, or to satisfy the due process requirement to verify the paperwork when records are challenged by the accused.

This is a sadly inconsistent way to think about paperwork, isn't it?

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Cuba seeking credit with U.S. for anti-drug effort

Reuters is reporting, via MSNBC that Cuban officials are seeking credit with the U.S. for intercepting drug shipments that are destined for the U.S.
Two Cuban officials are quoted in the story. They say that Cuba will not sign a U.S.-inspired Caribbean-wide anti-drug agreement because, they imply, its terms undermine Cuban sovereignty. Cuba is willing, they say, to sign a bilateral anti-drug agreement with the U.S. They say that every time Cuban authorities make a drug seizure they notify U.S. anti-drug agencies in Florida.

Why is this in the news? My guess is that in the elaborate chess game of the U.S.-Cuban conflict, Cuban political strategists are looking to get credit with Americans for whom the drug issue is important. This could include the constituents of Republican Members of Congress who have traditionally been the most intensely anti-Castro. South Florida, the home of the most Cuban-Americans has been a locus of intense anti-drug politics since the 1980s.

Or this "news" may be designed to attempt to position Cuba as more friendly to the U.S. than Hugo Chavez' Venezuela.

It is unlikely that this is in the news because a reporter wanted to track down the explanation of a diminution in the availability of cocaine and marijuana in the U.S., and this was the result of a great deal of digging. (Especially there has not been a dramatic decline in such availability.)

If Cuba wants to take a greater role in reducing the hemispheric (and U.S.) supply of cocaine, a potentially higher payoff approach probably would be for it to pressure FARC in Colombia to find other sources of revenue than the cocaine trade, and to suppress it in the territory they control.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Is Nothing Sacred?"

On March 31, the ONDCP blog trumpeted a DEA press release, Is Nothing Sacred? that says drug traffickers hid cocaine in statues of the Virgin Mary and tombstones. This is the hook to announce the successful completion of Operation Omni Presence: 11 arrests, and 194 kilograms of cocaine and $474,000 in US currency seized. The press release says DEA was able to

"identify and dismantle all levels of criminal activity, from the Mexican
source of supply to the wholesale distributors and retail dealers in our
local communities."

I wonder how many of the 11 arrests were actually high-level Mexican traffickers and how many were simply the street-level dealers in local communities in the U.S. One must wonder about the significance of the distinction in the press release between "identifying" a level of criminal activity and "dismantling" a level of criminal activity. If this was a typical DEA operation the high-level offenders are not going to prison.

On a higher level, the press release has photographs of the statue of theVirgin Mary before it was smashed open by federal agents, and then photographs of the smashed statues.

Spend a few moments thinking about what is sacred and what is not. If you agree with the Christian Broadcasting Network that encourages you to pray for money, run by Pat Robertson, who sees the Almighty's hand at work in the Bush Administration, then enshrining your investment in cocaine in the image of the Virgin Mary is perhaps not so much a sacrilege, as being prayerful.

Evidently the DEA does not fear that posting the picture of DEA agents with the statue of the Virgin Mary they smashed will incite Christians generally, or Roman Catholics more specifically, to rampage as some Muslims did when defamatory cartoons of the Prophet were published in Europe.

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Questioning the Attorney General about drug war failure

On Thursday, April 6, 2006, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appears before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the Department of Justice. From 1980 to 1988, I wrote questions for the Chairman of the committee to ask the Attorney General about federal drug enforcement. In 1986 I wrote the House version of the federal mandatory sentences for crack and powder cocaine to focus on high level traffickers.

There are about as many crack users now as there were in the late 1980s.
According to data published by the White House in March 2004, Americans are buying more than $30 billion worth of cocaine each year. (Table 41) The price of cocaine has fallen greatly since the late 1980s when it should have gone up, and the purity has gotten better, not poorer. (Table 43)

And, as the U.S. Sentencing Commission noted, there is “a widely held perception” that the federal cocaine law “promotes unwarranted disparity based on race.”

Why has the nation’s cocaine problem stayed so serious? Is federal drug enforcement managed properly? Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI) could ask Attorney General Gonzales these questions about federal drug enforcement:

Mr. Attorney General, in the overall national anti-drug effort, is the most important job of the Department of Justice to prosecute the highest level international drug traffickers – those beyond the ability of state and local law enforcement to investigate? [AG's anticipated answer, yes]

The states made 325,000 drug trafficking arrests in 2003, and they imprison at least 400,000 persons for drug offenses. Do you agree the states can investigate and prosecute many state and local level drug traffickers? [Yes]

The Department of Justice prosecuted about 26,000 drug cases in FY 2003. Should those drug cases be the nation’s most important drug cases? [Yes]

On March 22, 2006, the Justice Department indicted Erminso Cuevas Cabrera, for allegedly supervising the production and distribution of hundreds of thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia. This is the level of drug trafficker that should be typical of the federal government's cocaine enforcement -- those responsible for hundreds of millions of grams of cocaine, is that correct? [Yes]

According to the study of federal cocaine prosecutions in 2002 by the U.S. Sentencing Commission,
there were almost 10,000 federal cocaine prosecutions in FY 2000 (figure 1, p. 33). What was the average quantity of powder cocaine in the federal high-level international trafficker cases in 2000? [I don't know]

Only 16,000 grams, or less than 35 pounds. (figure 10, p. 45) Visualize a 50-pound bag of sand that you could buy at Home Depot. You could put ten bags like that in the trunk of a car. That is local courier quantity – what gets brought to Silver Spring from Baltimore -- nothing approaching the quantity in a single imported load by boat or airplane. 35 pounds is too low for an average for international high level powder cocaine traffickers.

Almost half of the federal cocaine prosecutions in 2000 were crack prosecutions. Of the 4,706 crack cases prosecuted by the Justice Department, what fraction were of national or international scope? [I don't know]

Only 11.6 percent. (figure 8, p. 42).

What fraction were interstate cases involving a region or section of the country? [I don't know]

Only 13.1 percent. (figure 8, p. 42).

The Sentencing Commission found that 75.3 percent of the federal crack prosecutions involved only local or neighborhood trafficking. (figure 8, p. 42) Does that sound like the right proportion of federal cases to you? [No]

What percentage of the federal crack cases are brought against high-level traffickers such as importers, organizers, wholesalers? [You tell me.]

Only 15.2 percent (figure 6, p. 39). Is it possible that the federal government’s failure to focus on and dismantle the high-level international traffickers explains why crack houses are still in business all around the country? Mr. Attorney General, what is the average weight of crack cocaine sold in the entire course of the conspiracy that federal street-level defendants were involved in? [I don’t know]

Fifty-two grams (figure 10, p. 45), the weight of a candy bar. A candy bar crack case is simply not a federal case. When almost a third of the federal cocaine cases involve a candy bar's weight of cocaine, when the real high level traffickers are involved in hundreds of millions of grams, it seems that the Justice Department is AWOL in our national anti-drug effort.

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