Pharmaceutical Companies and Doctors make Millions for doing what would put you in Jail

war-on-drugsIf you fear that I’ll grow tired of railing against the failed and incredibly destructive War on Drugs then you can rest easy. The War on Drugs has been a total disaster for the vast majority of people in the world and I’m going to tell you why yet again. I’ll also use a news story that is in all the headlines to illustrate my point.

The War on Drugs was designed to stop illegal drug use and make illegal drugs harder to get. From a purely practical perspective it has failed completely. More people use drugs than ever before and they are more readily available than ever before despite flashy news stories about huge drug busts.

Our government has locked up huge numbers of adults for voluntarily purchasing drugs or selling drugs to an eager and willing market. Meanwhile doctors and pharmaceutical companies are doing exactly the same thing and making millions, nah, billions of dollars. More people die overdosing prescriptions drugs than illegal drugs.

Our police officers have been turned from heroes of the community into jackbooted thugs because of The War on Drugs. They tear families apart and terrorize the citizens of their communities. They degrade themselves. They subject themselves to horrible dangers and not infrequently die or suffer terrible injuries that need never have happened. The War on Drugs has not only torn apart the community but the entire police force. The police are forced by City Hall to rely on seized money to fund themselves. This too is a product of the War on Drugs. Police officers no longer say they “Protect and Serve” but merely they “Uphold the Law”. That’s bad for the community and horrible for the officers.

I speak out against the War on Drugs on the behalf of officers. If only they could go back to Protecting and Serving. They would be all the better and so would we.

And while all this horror is going on the doctors and pharmaceutical companies get rich. Rich! Stinking rich. Doing what? Selling drugs that are exactly the same chemically as those arbitrarily made illegal and sold at a huge markup to willing and eager customers. I want law enforcement officers to think about that. You police officers out there who are inclined to get angry at me for my rantings against the War on Drugs. Think about that. The government is using you to suppress competition for doctors and pharmaceutical companies from cheap alternatives to their cash cows. And it’s killing you. Killing your friends. Killing them!

While you’re risking your life to increase the profit of a pharmaceutical company the executives are dining at fancy restaurants and laughing at you. Ask yourself, brave and dedicated officers, why aren’t you busting doctors for selling far more of the exact same drug than any street dealer you will ever encounter? Why are you risking your life for them? Because only when we the people, and that includes you officers, decide that enough is enough will it stop.

We must end the War on Drugs. What an adult does with her or his body is up to them. Perhaps it is detrimental. Perhaps it is stupid. Perhaps it is deadly. But it is their decision.

There is no justification for what is happening and this story illustrates the point yet again.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

Dogs, Butter, Marijuana, the DEA, and Stupidity

Michele LeonhartThe people have spoken in Colorado and Washington State in regards to making marijuana legal. Polls indicate that most people accept the idea it will eventually be legal nationally. There are those who disagree.

Michele Leonhart is one of those. She heads up the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and has come up with a … well … novel argument to try to persuade people. More on that in a moment. Why should we care about what she says?

One good reason is that you’ve been paying her salary since 1980 when she joined the DEA. Her current remuneration for coming up with the incredible nonsense I’m going to explain to you is apparently a secret. I can’t find out how much she makes. My Search-Foo is strong and after fifteen minutes I gave up.

This afternoon in a committee meeting in which she is trying to justify the $3 billion annual budget of the DEA she mentioned that edible marijuana products, which will be increasingly available in homes to be snarfed up by hungry dogs, might pose a threat to them. She justified this by mentioning a study done from 2005 to 2010 in which two dogs that ate a large amount of a “baked product” that used medical marijuana laced butter died. Could it have been a “chocolate” baked product? Maybe? The article doesn’t say. The last line of the study, you might ask?

UDST may be unreliable for the detection of marijuana toxicosis in dogs.

UDST being the test they used to figure out that in five years two dogs died, maybe because they ate chocolate or maybe because the chocolate had marijuana in it. The study found a significant correlation between increased numbers of pot brownies in the house and dogs eating pot brownies, therefore, we need to outlaw pot; brownies are apparently still legal but you never know!

According to Leonhart it’s all about her compassion for the terrible fate that awaits our canine friends should they eat marijuana, which, by the way, is completely non-toxic to dogs, unlike, say, chocolate. Yes, your dog can eat a pile of marijuana with no ill effects. It’s not toxic for dogs or people. The convoluted logic Leonhart relies upon is that a dog high on marijuana might not be able to throw-up the toxic chocolate he ate!

It couldn’t possibly be that Leonhart is grasping at straws so she and her friends can keep their lucrative jobs in the War on Drugs. No, of course not, it’s about the dogs! The poor dogs!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Coming very, very soon: The Broken Throne

Rise of the Mexican Drug Trade

Foreign EntanglementsI’ve posted on numerous occasions why I think the so-called War on Drugs actually promotes criminal activity and engenders huge amounts of violence. I’ve also talked about how my Libertarian philosophy suggests that the United States should not be involved in the internal affairs of foreign countries; even those that are our enemies.

Those two ideas came to a surprising conjunction when I happened to be watching a Hulu show called Bordertown: Laredo and did a little research. It’s a story that is so incredible it can only be true. No one can make this stuff up.

In the 1980’s the most profitable drug was cocaine and the production and distribution of this came primarily from a Columbian drug organization called the Medellin Cartel headed by a fellow named Pablo Escobar. At this time Mexico was not a significant drug supplier to the United States.

Meanwhile, in the country of Nicaragua a fellow named Daniel Ortega and his Sandinista government supported Cuba and their communist agenda. President Reagan decided that we would fund a guerilla organization called the Contras in an attempt to overthrow this government. The Sandinistas and Ortega came into power in 1979 and President Carter agreed to allow the government to pursue its agenda without sanctions. Reagan reversed this policy.

Following so far?

Impartial organizations claimed that the elections in Nicaragua were fair and free although the Reagan administration disputed this and provided financial aid and military training to the Contras. In 1983 the U.S. Congress forbid any more funding on the Contras. The Reagan administration refused to admit defeat and began to channel funds to the rebels through outside sources including selling Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Iran which led the Iran-Contra scandal although this is outside the scope of today’s post.

Meanwhile, it turns out there was a fellow in Mexico who was helping fund the Contras. His name was Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo. Gallardo was a high-level security official in the government of Mexico and, because of his generous donations to the Contras, immune to interdiction from the CIA. In addition to helping President Reagan fund the Contras he was also working directly with the Medellin Cartel to bring cocaine to the United States.

Gallardo essentially created the entire Mexican drug cartel organization that exists today. This is the organization that is behind the vast majority of drugs that are shipped into the U.S. and commits much of the horrific violence that pervades Mexico. The violence funded by the massive appetite for illegal drugs in the U.S. and carried out largely with guns manufactured in the U.S. and smuggled into Mexico. Gallardo’s activities were apparently known to the CIA and other U.S. agencies but allowed to continue because he was giving large amounts of money to the Contras.

Gallardo ordered the capture, torture, and murder of U.S. DEA agent Enrique Carmarena. For this he was arrested and eventually convicted. This led to the splintering of his organization and the Mexican drug wars we see today.

As an aside, a fellow named Oliver North in addition to helping funnel money from Iran weapon sales to the Contras was also in contact with Panamanian strong-man Manuel Noriega who was eventually brought to trial in the United States. There is some evidence to suggest that North was at least aware of the distribution of cocaine into the United States from Panama and allowed it to happen because some of this money was also given to the Contras.

Meanwhile the funding for the Contras to overthrow the apparently fairly elected government of Nicaragua was eventually stopped by the Iran-Contra scandal. However, we continued to support anti-Sandinista efforts and achieved election “victory” as Ortega was defeated in 1996. To this day the United States is trying to influence politics in Nicaragua against the Sandinista government which came back into power in 2006.

I don’t mean to suggest that President Reagan wanted to create the drug situation we now face but I strongly argue that his policies led directly to it. The best intentions often lead to horrible results. No one can say that the Mexican drug cartels would not have arisen even without U.S. policies towards Nicaragua but the results of that meddling are undeniable.

We should stay out of the internal affairs of other nations even if those nations are our enemies. Our meddling does us no good and often results in real harm. Oh, and we should make all drugs legal; manufacture, distribute, and tax them in the same way we do any of our legal drugs.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Drugs in the Water Supply

Clean WaterThere was an interesting study performed by a group of Swedish scientists involving fish living in waters contaminated by pharmaceutical drugs. While the study itself is fascinating it’s the implications of the study that are most worth examining.

It turns out that much of the water we drink here in the United States and in Europe is contaminated by tiny amounts of pharmaceutical residue. By tiny we are talking about parts per billion. This is truly a small amount but it also means that every sip of water, every bite of food soaked in water, or every drink that uses water as it’s base most likely has tiny amounts of pharmaceutical drugs like oxazepam in it. Oxazepam is an ingredient in most benzodiazepines drugs like Valium and Librium. These are commonly prescribed medications and people get rid of them in various ways including flushing expired pills and defecating and urinating unprocessed drugs.

One of the problems is that water processing plants do not even attempt to filter out these impurities; they go directly into the system. A group of studies is now underway to determine the contamination level and if it is detrimental to our health.

I do not want to be an alarmist. The amount of drugs we are talking about is extremely small and there isn’t any evidence yet as to its affect on humans. However, it is affecting the behavior of fish. These drugs are designed to interact with the human body in certain ways and apparently everyone is on a prescription, whether they knew it or not.

We have been pouring pollutants of one kind or another into the air and water in vast quantities. These include greenhouse gases along with toxic substances. All of this cannot be good or right. On the other hand, the results of all these chemicals is the modern world. The very basics of what we consider a comfortable life are largely thanks to plastics, metallurgy, electronics, chemistry. The question becomes at what point are we creating such a toxic environment that we are actually killing ourselves?

This is a question that has been in the public eye since the beginning of the industrial revolution and one that largely remains unanswered.

We continue to pump chemicals into our air and water but we enjoy a lifestyle of tremendous wealth because of these scientific advances. Is there a solution? Can we simply turn off the spigot when billions of dollars in profits are at stake, jobs, livelihoods, comfort, luxury, transportation, energy?

We are moving towards greater awareness of these problems and trying to green our processes. I think almost everyone who reads this will agree that both of these are noble goals. Will we look back at this time and rue our shocking disregard for our own health, the health of our species? Or will we solve all these problems and remember it as a necessary albeit dark part of what will be a golden future?

I’m encouraged that such studies are taking place. I’m encouraged by the apparent majority that want clean energy, clean food, and good water. I’m optimistic but I can’t help but see the naysayers, the angry voices against science, the ever-present lethargy defined by fear of change.

What’s the future? I can’t say. I imagine a utopia where we have defeated disease, death, and toxicity on this beautiful planet. Where every person lives eternally with their life dedicated to achievement. Where the view from space is a beautiful blue marble, perfect and clean. That’s my dream. What’s yours?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt