The truth about pot - Coeur d'Alene Press: Luke Malek

The truth about pot

Awakening Remarks

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Posted: Sunday, November 13, 2011 12:15 am

On a fall day in 2002, my childhood friend, Brendan Butler was left dead along a rural road in Kootenai County, strangled to death, and throat slit for good measure. It is still hard for me to envision Brendan as a drug dealer, because most of the images I have in my head of him are of snowball fights and sledding at his parents' home in Hayden, or debating the coolest cars and trucks with him. But I have no illusions: Pot killed Brendan.

In fact violence, whether through the organizations that compete to supply demand for the product or through the negligence and clouded abilities of its users, is a defining characteristic of marijuana. The argument that legalization will debilitate cartels is erroneous; a fiction devised by the cartels themselves to profit from the hatred of their existence. The fiction is furthered by advocates' stating that enforcement of drug laws is the enemy of the vulnerable. The Elks Club has a drug awareness page, and it states, among other things, the following: "An early major marijuana smokers' lobby, NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) admits receiving drug dealer money." NBC reported in April 2010 that the effort is now a multi-million dollar, bipartisan effort.

Monte Stiles, former Deputy United States Attorney addressed this very issue in Coeur d'Alene for the Kootenai Alliance on Families and Children last month. His mission is simple: Combat the misinformation campaign around marijuana. Part of this battle is keeping "medical" marijuana out of our state. As he says on his website, through his work as a prosecutor, he has "been an eyewitness to one of the darkest sides of society - organizations that traffic in human misery" through the sale of substances. Whether or not we are winning the war on drugs right now, he argues, but we can't afford to lose it. Taking government out of the picture is not the lesser evil.

The very reason that American's are skeptical of government is because of the power that is exerted over us. The irony of the libertarian argument for legalization of marijuana is that the power behind the drug trumps the evil of our government. The power behind the push to legalize marijuana is not comprised of the dimwitted foot soldiers in rainbow colors blubbering on about rights. These people are the public face of the campaign, and an inaccurate faade. The power behind the marijuana is the millions of dollars of those who stand to profit from the misery of the vulnerable.

And just as the argument that legalization will dampen that power is erroneous, so is the oft uttered comparison of cannabis to alcohol. The Elks awareness page says it well: "A majority of adults who use alcohol on occasion as a beverage avoid intoxication... Marijuana and illegal drugs are used solely for their intoxicating effects by adults and youth." Use for intoxication is abuse.

As one Kootenai County judge tells the youth that are sentenced in front of him for drug offenses: There are two ways to really mess up your future: "Do poorly in school and develop a substance abuse problem." Marijuana is the first step to a substance abuse problem and one that the marijuana lobby would seek to have normalized. Why? Because once the marijuana damage has occurred to the human brain that allows for lowered inhibitions, addiction and escalating abuse can thrive. And there is no better customer than an addict.

Activists and proponents that frame this issue as a freedom issue are wrong. This struggle is about power and money. The money behind the pro-marijuana movement would have you believe that legalizing marijuana opens up to a bright government-free future. The truth is that normalizing pot use is a dark abyss. With drug cartels, there is no due process. Ask Brendan.

Luke Malek is a Kootenai County native and an attorney. He can be reached at

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  • Buzzkill posted at 11:42 pm on Tue, Nov 22, 2011.

    Buzzkill Posts: 41

    The war on drugs has failed. Prohibition doesn't work. There drug cartels lose all power if pot is legalized, accesible and taxed. The underlying factor in most crimes is alcohol -- not weed. I don't use pot, never have, never will. But I think we waste a whole lot of tax dollars trying to stop people from getting high. Nobody is cracking down on prescription abuse. I call that selective prosecution.

  • kacf95 posted at 4:43 pm on Mon, Nov 14, 2011.

    kacf95 Posts: 1

    Thank you for this excellent article. So true, so important, so timely.

  • justtocomment posted at 1:08 pm on Sun, Nov 13, 2011.

    justtocomment Posts: 1

    This should be titled: An Ignorant Liar and His Unhealthy Anger. Your arguement basically is in other words "If a woman gets raped and killed, her sex organ caused it. If she never had a sex organ, never would have happened. I propose a prohibition on womens gentalia to protect all". It is sad that your friend died do to his innability to surround himself with those of higher quality, but that is that. He died because of prohibition. Otherwise he would have had a safe outlet in which to do business if he could have willed it. Invoking your friends name to spread lies is a negative, sick weapon to use.

    First off, everything is made up of elements & chemical compounds. Even food. With that said booze and cigarettes, even milk are "gateway drugs".

    Second, there is no "gateway". People who do things, do it of their own free will. Dont blame objects that arent cognitive. People have a habit of misplacing blame when it lies directly with the person or society.

  • DaveKAz posted at 10:16 am on Sun, Nov 13, 2011.

    DaveKAz Posts: 1

    I am very sorry for your loss. Our War on Drugs has failed. None of the original ten goals for the War on Drugs have been met. Instead, after one trillion dollars of our tax monies, drugs are more potent, cheaper, and teens report on government surveys that they are easier to obtain than tobacco or alcohol. Twenty million of our citizens have been incarcerated and many have died as SWAT team raids have become common in our country for minor nonviolent drug offenses or on the recommendation of informants who are trying desperately to shorten their sentences. Younger people of color are incarcerated at about three times the rates of whites although whites consume more marijuana than minorities. When the War on Drugs kills more people than do the drugs that they protect us from, it is time to look for a less harmful solution to the problem. The time to do this is now. Not after another twenty years of failed policy. It is time for the federal government to cease its civil war on the American people.

    Our former attorney general in Arizona had considerable experience with arrest and prosecution of Mexican drug cartel members. He estimated that close to 75% of the drug cartel's monies come from marijuana although the cartels traffic humans and heroin, methamphetamines, cocaine and other drugs. I have seen other estimates as low as 60%. The reason that marijuana is such as large part of cartel income is that they are able to grow it in Mexico and to transport it to the USA for less money than other drugs that are produced more typically in other countries and that go through Mexico as a transit point rather than an origination point. The cartels can replace a large load of marijuana that has been stopped for less money than when other drugs are seized that they have had to purchase.

    I hope that we have learned many things about prohibition during the last century. Our first lesson should have been that the futility of prohibiting something that people want. Prohibition creates an underground market and inflates prices. In an underground market disputes are settled through violence and not through the courts.

    The talk of marijuana and brain damage began during the Regan administration. Regan reported a study where monkeys had sustained brain damage after being forced to breathe large amounts of marijuana through gas masks. After six years of freedom of information requests it was discovered that the monkeys had been smothered and the monkeys suffered brain damage due to lack of oxygen rather than from marijuana.

    Marijuana has a remarkable history of use as fiber and medicine and during that time has NEVER killed through overdose. Marijuana was reported by a DEA administrative law judge in 1988 to be safer than many of the foods we consume. Perhaps you did not know that between 1850 and 1900 that close to half of the medicines prescribed in the United States contained cannabis. Between 1840 and 1890 at least 100 medical papers were published on the use of cannabis for the treatment of loss of appetite, insomnia, migraine headache, pain, involuntary twitching, excessive coughing, and withdrawal in cases of opiates or alcohol addiction. Sir William Osler, known as the “father of modern medicine,” proclaimed cannabis to be the best treatment for migraine in his authoritative medical textbook, written in 1915. At that time, there were at least 30 different cannabis preparations made by leading pharmaceutical companies available in America, even though the hypodermic injection of morphine, along with the use of aspirin and other medicines, had already begun to replace traditional herbal medications. Familiar companies such as Parke-Davis and Eli Lilly both sold cannabis preparations as did almost all major pharmaceutical companies of the time.

    George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other founding fathers had repeatedly extolled the many virtues of cannabis. If they were alive today I am sorry to say that both Monticello and Mount Vernon would have been confiscated through the RICO act as they grew marijuana there. Ole George even grew "Indian Hemp" which was the variety that was known at that time for its medicinal qualities and not for its fiber.

    Perhaps someday we will realize how truly inhumane and barbaric it is to deny ANY medicine that provides relief for seriously ill people. Marijuana is one of the finest natural herbal medicines available. Do not deny it to those who would benefit. Again, I am sorry for your loss. I would be angry at alcohol had I lost a loved one from a machine gun battle in Chicago during prohibition. We did, however, find a way to take the money out of alcohol, to provide it to adults, and to tax and regulate it. Disputes regarding alcohol are now resolved through the courts rather than in the streets. We need desperately to do this with marijuana and to find a way to get it to seriously ill people when recommended by a doctor.

  • malcolmkyle posted at 6:59 am on Sun, Nov 13, 2011.

    malcolmkyle Posts: 2

    Historically the prohibition of any mind altering substance has never succeeded in providing what is needed, which is a safer environment for all the users, addicts, their families and society at large. We can therefore safely state: Prohibition will always spawn far worse conditions than those it's ignorant supporters claim to be able to alleviate.

    While it is true that taking any drug (especially alcohol and tobacco) can sometimes indirectly affect others, this exact same argument was used to implement and painfully prolong alcohol prohibition during the 1920s. Alcohol related homicide, violence, wife battering and child neglect were definitely not curtailed, nor were they even slightly ameliorated during this earlier period of such-like, national insanity. Not only did Prohibition exacerbate all of the above problems it also increased usage while bootleggers like many of our present day drug lords became rich and powerful folk heroes as a result.

    Similar to Alcohol Prohibition in the 1920s, Drug Prohibition has given us rampant corruption, off the scale criminality, a bust economy and mass unemployment. On top of all this, it has gifted us the planet's highest incarceration rate, a civil war in Mexico, an un-winnable war in Afghanistan and an even higher rate of drug-use (legal & illegal) than in all other countries, including those that have far more libertarian policies.

    When we regulate (as apposed to prohibit) a substance we do NOT automatically condone it's use; the regulations concerning alcohol and tobacco are there to protect us from the vast increase in criminality that would otherwise exist if these substances were prohibited instead of properly regulated.

    A regulated and licensed distribution network for all mind altering substances would put responsible adult supervision in between children and their otherwise premature access to drug distribution outlets. Regulated and licensed distribution would reflect and respect society’s values thus preventing children obtaining easy access to these dangerous substances. What we need is legalized regulation. What we have at the moment is a non-regulated black market to which everybody has easy access, including our children, and where all the vast profit goes to organized criminals and ruthless foreign terrorists.

    Prohibition Prevents Regulation - Legalize, Regulate & Tax!

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