Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It's been an amazing Five Years - Drug War Rant

by Pete Guither

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I started Drug WarRant on Sunday, July 27, 2003 with a post about the Hinchey Amendment. I thought maybe I'd post once a week or so -- mostly for myself, but if anyone happened to stop by... I discovered there was way too much to talk about, and people eager to read. In five years, there have been over 2900 posts and 2.6 million page views on this blog.

Boy, have I learned a lot! There's no way to conscientiously write a single-issue blog for five years without coming away with an incredible amount of information about the subject. Through newsreaders, I track hundreds of articles and posts from around the world. I read Supreme Court decisions and scientific studies. Readers send me tips and newsmakers and policy leaders often engage me personally in support or dispute.

My own views have evolved somewhat over time because of that increased knowledge. When I started, I knew that the drug war had serious problems and that marijuana should be legalized, but I had not yet learned that criminal drug prohibition of any kind, as a concept, was provably unsalvageable.

I also had to learn the extent to which I had been lied to by the government and the media -- some intentional, some unwitting. It takes time to sort through the clutter of propaganda to find the truth.

It's been an exciting and frustrating five years. I sometimes forget what I had to go through to learn what I know, and I'm frustrated that so much of the general public can't immediately shrug off decades of accumulated propaganda in order to embrace reform. I find myself wondering why simply telling them the truth in a clear, reasoned, and factually supported way isn't enough. But then I remember that deprogramming is a process.

Certainly, I wish we had made more progress over the years. It is depressing to realize that the 6th Hinchey Amendment is in the works and very little progress has been made in Congress.

And yet, we have done remarkable things. The drug warriors are getting desperate, and are lashing out wildly, making their own situation worse, as the public begins to see their deficiencies and lies. The ONDCP and DEA have even gone so far as to respond to their opponents, and the head of the UNODC attended an international drug policy reform convention, We can no longer be dismissed as druggie hippies. Attention must be paid.

The wonderful addition of LEAP to the movement and the ascendancy of SSDP also had powerful impact, and drug policy reform is being seen everywhere. While much of the media, including the news services, are still willing to pass on the government line, they now often add an opposing voice. OpEds and editorials all over the place are daring to speak our "L" word and the drug warriors are getting bashed right and left.

In the last five years, the U.S. government has shown signs that it may be losing its power to impose its drug war on the rest of the globe, and more countries are daring to resist.

We absolutely own the internet.

The few pathetic attempts on the part of prohibitionists to create an internet presence have been met almost uniformly with ridicule, and to this day, I know of no pro-drug-war site that allows publicly displayed comments. But we're everywhere -- and not just drug policy reform sites and their blogs, but also libertarian, liberal and conservative sites, criminal justice sites, and more.

And it's not just the sites, but all the residents of our online communities who write letters to the editor, comment on online fora, and even comment here at Drug WarRant. I know I couldn't do what I do without you -- not only because of the tips, corrections and feedback I get, but because the comments you leave on my blog provides much of the motivational fuel to keep it going.

So a huge thanks to all my readers, and especially those who stop by in the comments. It means a lot.

There have been a few notable accomplishments here at Drug WarRant in this half-decade. I took down Andrea Barthwell (not once, but twice) and took on the DEA's Museum exhibits (also see articles in the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune) and their Vigil for Lost Promise. I provided useful resource pages for the Raich and Bong Hits 4 Jesus Supreme Court cases. The most popular page on my site continues to be Why is Marijuana Illegal (which is used as a resource for tons of High School and College papers), followed by Drug War Victims. Recent pages that have generated a lot of interest include Deep Thoughts About the Drug War and The Drug Czar is Required by Law to Lie.

The current head of the DEA, Michele Leonhart, can't enter her own name in Google without getting my article about her (same thing is true with former DEA head Karen P Tandy).

Five years. Navel gazing time. Is five years enough? It's a really long time to blog. Should I hang it up?

Uh. Nope. The simple fact is that I cannot at this time stop knowing what I know and getting upset about the fact that the drug war still rages.

So I'll continue finding time late at night and in between my job and all my other passions to have a conversation with you about drug policy reform.

Obviously, I don't do this for the money. I do it because I must. Fortunately, the Google ads cover my out-of-pocket expenses for the blog itself. And I don't need to get paid for my writing/reporting. However, I do like stuff. So while I certainly don't want a cent from anyone who is on a tight budget, if you feel like you've found Drug WarRant valuable to you and desire to express your appreciation in more than words (which are always welcome), you can drop by my wish list or help me buy me some coffee.

Thanks for a great five years. Who knows -- someday we may just be able to make this blog obsolete.
Source: http://blogs.salon.com/0002762/

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