Perhaps the saddest thing about the WTO fiasco is that it pushed Norm Stamper out as the Seattle police chief--though perhaps if he were still chief, he wouldn't be so willing to advocate for drug policy reform. And Gil Kerlikowske would have never become chief and thus would have never become drug czar. And since it looks like there's a good chance he'll be a good drug czar, which is a little like a politically correct episode of Howard Stern, that would've been a shame. The point is that, all in all, perhaps we're better off this way.
Now a leading member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Stamper sounds off in the (online) pages of the NY Times. In the "Room for Debate" blog, Stamper notes that "any law disobeyed by more than 100 million Americans...is bad policy" and is the only participant who unabashedly argues that the costs of prohibition outweigh the benefits. (The question is whether the combo of legalization and higher THC levels would lead to more addiction.) Sayeth sage Norm:
Potency? Users, benefiting from the immutable law of supply and demand, have created huge market pressure for "quality" marijuana over the past few decades. Legalization opponents are correct that "today's weed is not your old man's weed." But the fear-mongers miss the point, namely that stronger strains of marijuana are already out there, unregulated by anything other than market forces. It's good that responsible consumers know to calibrate their consumption; they simply smoke less of the more powerful stuff. But how about a little help from their government? Purchase booze and you have access, by law, to information on the alcoholic content of your beverage, whether it's .05 percent near-beer or 151-proof Everclear.
Taxing and regulating, he adds, would provide more cash for treatment and education options, as has been the case with tobacco, which fewer people use these days.
Meanwhile, a new iPhone app called Cannabis (it's a metaphor for cannabis) will direct you to the nearest medical marijuana dispensary, or, if you're in a state that hasn't legalized medical marijuana (and 37 states haven't), to the nearest organization that advocates for reform of marijuana laws. You can buy the app here. It costs $2.99.Too bad it can't measure potency.