Photo of the Day

Carry Nation with her hatchet in 1910. This hatchet-wielding crusader is remembered for her attacks on liquor establishments in Kansas and other states during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Lady with the Hatchet

Her name was Carry A. Nation, and instead of changing laws, she went after the offending beverage of the day — liquor — with a hatchet

I felt invincible. My strength was that of a giant. God was certainly standing by me. I smashed five saloons with rocks before I ever took a hatchet

-Carry A. Nation

A self-proclaimed “bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn’t like,” Nation terrorized the nation’s saloon keepers through vandalism for more than a decade.

Nothing could stop her, not divorce, horse whippings, or more than 30 arrests. She was pelted with rotten eggs, chased by lynch mobs, beaten by prostitutes, and vilified by preachers, politicians and the press. She didn’t care. She was on a mission from God.

During Prohibition, the manufacture, transportation, import, export, and sale of alcoholic beverages were restricted or illegal. Prohibition was supposed to lower crime and corruption, reduce social problems, lower taxes needed to support prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and hygiene in America. Instead, Alcohol became more dangerous to consume; organized crime blossomed; courts and prisons systems became overloaded; and endemic corruption of police and public officials occurred.

During the early 1900s there was a social trend building in the public arena toward prohibition of alcohol that manifested itself in the form of a temperance movement. A prominent agitator in the women’s temperance movement was a lady by the name of Carry Nation. Carry believed that she was ordained by God to promote temperance by entering illegal saloons that were flagrantly operating in defiance of the law and destroying their bars and stock.

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Photo Of The Day


Meet the Man Who Got Congress Its Booze During Prohibition

One day in March 1925—five years into the absurd experiment called Prohibition—a dapper man named George Cassiday strolled into the office building of the U.S. House of Representatives, carrying a briefcase and wearing a spiffy light green hat. The cop at the door recognized Cassiday, which wasn’t surprising. Nearly everybody on Capitol Hill knew Cassiday. He was Congress’ favourite bootlegger, working out of the House Office Building, delivering booze to dozens of congressmen, who found a strong drink soothing after long days spent listening to tedious political blather.

On this day, however, the cop stopped Cassiday, inspected his briefcase, found liquor, and arrested him.

When reporters heard that a bootlegger was busted in Congress, they called the House sergeant-at-arms, who described the miscreant as “a man in a green hat.” The next morning, Cassiday became famous across America as “The Man in the Green Hat,” a living symbol of congressional hypocrisy and the follies of Prohibition.

Cassiday pleaded guilty and served 60 days in jail. When he got out, he learned that he’d been barred from the House Office Building. Obviously, he needed another place to work. So he moved to the Senate Office Building. He sold booze there for five years, until 1930, when he was arrested delivering gin to the Senate. This time Prohibition agents confiscated Cassiday’s “little black book,” containing the names of his illustrious customers.

In October 1930—two weeks before the congressional election—the Washington Post announced that it would publish a six-part series written by Cassiday, revealing the juicy details of his adventures as Congress’ “official bootlegger.”

“It will be,” the Post promised, “an astonishing story.”

And it was.

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40 years for the War on Drugs…total failure

We have spent forty years on the ‘War on Drugs’ in this country, and not a single positive outcome has occurred.

It is the same around the world and is leading countries to look at alternatives. Portugal is a classic example, that shows that contrary to the nay-sayers, decriminalisation can actually work in addressing the harm of drugs.

So, in New Zealand people are now having to re-think our approach…the problem though is just a single, old fashioned old fool can hold up any real progress.

Drug law reform. Is there any better example of a heart versus head issue? Logic and rationality tells you that the system does not work, that drugs are a medical issue not a criminal one. But your gut says lock all the junkies and potheads up.

It is Ross Bell’s job to wrestle with these dilemmas. For 11 years he has been chief executive of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, a charitable trust charged with preventing and reducing harms caused by drug use.

The irony is that decriminalisation of drugs can reduce harms more effectively than prohibition. This is where the Drug Foundation now finds itself. Bell’s current angle is that our drug law turns 40 this year and is showing its age. Time for an overhaul.

The Misuse of Drugs Act became law in 1975, during the last days of Bill Rowling’s Labour government. It was that long ago, a time of dancing cossacks, disco and Fleetwood Mac. The big drug scares were heroin and LSD.

During the parliamentary debate, Rowling-era police minister Michael Connelly aired the then-fashionable view that cannabis was a gateway drug. Pot smokers would naturally “graduate” to harder drugs.

But New Zealand was really being a follower and getting behind the United States, Bell says. President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs in 1971. The United Nations agreed on a new drugs treaty in the same year. New Zealand had to keep up.   Read more »

If anyone knows about prohibition it is the Sallies…and they say it doesn’t work

Some very wise words from a Salvation Army boss about prohibition, both of alcohol and cannabis.

Simon Collins takes a break from pimping the poor to talk to to Alistair Herring of the Salvation Army.

A New Zealander who has come home after heading the Salvation Army in Pakistan says prohibition never works, but more restrictions can reduce the harm from drugs and alcohol.

Commissioner Alistair Herring, 63, who returned from Pakistan in April to head the Salvation Army’s NZ addiction services, said Islam’s ban on alcohol did not stop Pakistanis suffering serious addiction problems.

“Muslims are not allowed to hold alcohol licences in Pakistan on the premise that Islam is against addictive substances,” he said. “What tends to happen in reality is that Muslims who want to drink will go to the Christian or non-Muslim community for their alcohol. I have talked to Muslim folk in Pakistan and they acknowledge that it is a problem. There is also a huge drug problem, of course.”

He said Salvationists vowed not to drink or smoke voluntarily “because of who we are and the services we provide”. But compulsion was “quite a different thing”.

“Prohibition is never going to work, has never worked,” he said.

He said he would be “very cautious” about decriminalising cannabis, as proposed by Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, but he acknowledged the inconsistency of laws on cannabis and alcohol.

“I understand the younger generation saying to their parents, ‘So you are against my drug of choice but what about your drug of choice?'” he said. “We tend to want to use a sledgehammer with drugs and a feather duster with alcohol.”

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A reader emails about Legalisation of Cannabis

William emails:

It is increasingly obvious that the prohibition of what legal highs attempt to replicate is shortsighted.

People will continue to do whatever it is that they choose to do, which in this case is experimenting with a plant that has grown naturally for thousands of years. Whether or not this plant is illegal is irrelevant to them.

As it stands, the prohibition delivers three hits to New Zealand. The first is the cost of fighting violent cartels and this cost will only increase. This is a ‘war’ that will not end, so would it not be a better state of affairs if New Zealanders did not break the law and fund violent cartels every time they indulged?

The second hit is the lost revenue because of non-taxation. Instead of giving violent cartels an enormous revenue stream, why does the government not collect tax on the product so as to pay for its detrimental effects? A similar state of affairs exists with both alcohol and cigarettes, both of which would be illegal if judged by the same criteria as marijuana. There would be boosted revenues for the government in G.S.T, income tax and company tax, aside from the thousands of jobs that would be created for those in the industry.  Read more »

Top British Cop calls for end to war on drugs

Prohibition on drugs hasn’t worked, nor did it work on booze. It was ridiculous to even suggest it may have worked. Prohibition has never worked anywhere in the world.

Even countries with the death penalty for drug offences have drug problems. The world over people are starting to wake up to the issue.

Class A drugs should be decriminalised and drug addicts “treated and cared for not criminalised”, according to a senior UK police officer.

Writing in the Observer, Chief Constable Mike Barton of Durham Police said prohibition had put billions of pounds into the hands of criminals.

He called for an open debate on the problems caused by drugs.

The Home Office reiterated its stance and said drugs were illegal because they were dangerous.  Read more »


Sanity on Drugs

Sydney Morning Herald

A former top Australian cop talks sense. The war on drugs has failed. We should stop criminals having a monopoly on drugs by regulating and taxing drugs and putting those who break tax laws in jail for a very long time.

The reality is that, contrary to frequent assertions, drug law enforcement has had little impact on the Australian drug market. This is true in most countries in the world.

In Australia the police are better resourced than ever, better trained than ever, more effective than ever and yet their impact on the drug trade, on any objective assessment, has been minimal.

In the Herald last week, the opposition health spokesman, Peter Dutton, asserted that ”law enforcement does achieve significant results and is not yet at its peak of effectiveness”. I feel compelled to respond, because frankly the evidence does not stack up. In Australia last year, 86 per cent of drug users said that obtaining heroin was ”easy” or ”very easy”, while 93 per cent reported that obtaining hydroponic cannabis was ”easy” or ”very easy”.

The price of street heroin and cocaine decreased by more than 80 per cent in the US and Europe in the past 20 years. Despite a huge investment by the US in drug law enforcement, northern Mexico has descended into a drug cartel battlefield, driven by the demand for illicit drugs within the US. At the local level, our young people can and do purchase illicit drugs with ease and generally with impunity. If this is an effective policy at work, I am not sure what failure would look like.

Maybe Don should move to America

It might be a good idea for Don Brash to move to America. The debate on decriminalisation of Marijuana seems a whole lot more mature than here:

Asked in 1995 to comment on the War on Drugs, William F. Buckley told the New York Bar Association that perhaps it should be ended. Waging it seemed to him counterproductive and unjust. “It is outrageous to live in a society whose laws tolerate sending young people to life in prison because they grew, or distributed, a dozen ounces of marijuana,” he stated. And the magazine he founded soon followed suit. In 1996, National Review published a brave editorial declaring that “the war on drugs has failed,” adding that “we all agree on movement toward legalization, even though we may differ on just how far.” It was brave because just one in four Americans favored legalizing marijuana back then, and most of them weren’t movement conservatives.

Today 50 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana, according to a new poll released by Gallup. That’s a milestone. Among liberals, 69 percent want to end prohibition. Just 34 percent of conservatives agree. The prohibitionist cause is nevertheless doomed by demographics. “Support for legalizing marijuana is directly and inversely proportional to age,” Gallup reports, “ranging from 62 percent approval among those 18 to 29 down to 31 percent among those 65 and older.” The only question is how many more lives prohibition will destroy over how many years before voters end it.

Talking about Prohibition

Don Brash may have raised the standard of debate in positing that we need to decriminalise cannabis, unfortunately the rest of our politicians lacked the necessary maturity to discuss the issue sensible. New Zealand is poorer for the lack of sensible debate.

Andrew Sullivan posted this video today about Prohibition and how that worked, and compares it with the War on Drugs.

Act supports decriminalisation of Cannabis

from NewstalkZb

Act leader Don Brash is calling for the decriminalisation of cannabis.

He says prohibition of the drug hasn’t worked, and policing it costs millions of tax payer dollars and clogs up the court system.

He’s told TVNZ’s Q&A programme there are other ways to restrict the use of marijuana.

“It’s estimated thousands of New Zealanders use cannabis on a fairly regular basis, 6,000 are prosecuted every year, a $100million of tax payers money is spent to police this law,” says My Brash.

Prohibition has never worked anywhere in the world.

I would go a whole step further and legalise it and tax it just like tobacco and alcohol. Then if you treat it just like alcohol and tobacco the Greens will lobby to control it through governmental means removing control from the gangs and other criminal elements.

Stoners now have two choices for meaningful change around cannabis law, the Greens and ACT. The more entrepreneurial drug dealer will support ACT probably and the stoner will support Greens, a win, win situation.