4/20 was anything but ecstasy for Daniel Chong, a 23 year old engineering student from the University of California in San Diego. Chong was accosted by DEA agents during a drug sweep on a suspected MDMA distribution center.
Chong had gone to a friends house to get high on 4/20, the international marijuana smoking day. Chong passed out, but the next morning the house was raided by DEA agents who found 18,000 MDMA pills, various other drugs, and weapons. The DEA says that they also took 8 other people into custody.
Chong was clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the story doesn’t end there. After being questioned by the DEA Chong was incarcerated in a 5′ by 10′ cell without being charged. Making matters worse he was held there for 5 days without any food or water.
Chong states that he had to drink his own urine to survive. At one point he found a white substance in his cell which he ingested to survive. Authorities later identified the substance as methamphetamine. Chong says that he suffered from hallucinations where anime characters told him to dig into the walls to find water. He then tore apart the walls plastic lining. Chong told the AP “I pretty much lost my mind.” He later told NBC “I didn’t care if I died. I was completely insane.” At that point Chong had lost his will to live. He broke his eye glasses and used a shard of glass to carve sorry mom into his arm, however he only managed to finish the S.
When someone finally came to release Chong he was covered in feces. After being released his ordeal was far from over. Chong was rushed to the hospital where he was treated for dehydration, kidney failure, cramps and a perforated esophagus. In just five days he had lost 15 pounds. Ironically he was treated by the hospital for five days.
William R. Sherman, the top DEA agent in San Diego issued a half-assed apology stating that “he was deeply troubled.”
Chong and his lawyers plan on suing the DEA for $20 million on the grounds that the federal agency tortured him. I hope that Chong gets every red cent. In addition I won’t be satisfied until every DEA agent involved in this debacle is fired and criminally prosecuted for this vicious crime.
In the words of Hunter S. Thompson “We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws.” The time has come to teach these uniformed thugs some respect. If we don’t any of us could be the next victim of the DEA or the police.
By now all of you know that our government loves to waste money. If it’s not on 24 hour surveillance or incessant warfare, then the money is used to incarcerate millions of Americans. When we don’t have enough money to pay for medicare, schools, or social security why are we wasting resources locking so many people up? I like to spend time talking about how we can get out of this huge pile of national debt. A good start would be to release and or dramatically reduce the sentences for non violent offenders.
In 2006, our government spent $68,747,203,000 locking up about 2 million people. With a 150 billion dollar budget shortfall staring us in the face, we may need to re evaluate why we are locking people up. Even China doesn’t incarcerate as many people as the U.S. When we are strapped for cash do we really need to send marijuana dealers to prison for 5 years? It is time to face up to the fact that the war on drugs has failed, and even if we wanted to there is no way to keep it up.
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On June 23rd Representatives Barney Frank and Ron Paul introduced bill HR 2306, or “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011”. To quote Bill Maher “In these hyper partisan times this issue was able to unite a flaming liberal from Massachusetts and a crazy Republican right-winger from Texas. Oh marijuana, is there anything you can’t do?”
HR 2306 would not legalize marijuana, instead it would no longer classify the drug as a federally controlled substance. According to Congressman Barney Frank “Criminally prosecuting adults for making the choice to smoke marijuana is a waste of law enforcement resources, and an intrusion on personal freedom.” Aside from Ron Paul and Barney Frank, the bill is also supported by representatives John Conyers, Steve Cohen, Jared Polis, and Barbara Lee.
In the video posted below Ron Paul debates Stephen Baldwin on the pros and cons of marijuana legalization. Ironically Baldwin was in the film Half Baked.
I think Paul said it best when he said “Drugs are very dangerous, but there are a lot of things that are dangerous. Who should regulate danger? Should we take responsibility for ourselves, or should we let the government take care of us?”
Unfortunately the proposed legislation already appears to be doomed. House Judiciary Committee Chairman ,Lamar Smith, had this to say about the bill “Marijuana use and distribution is prohibited under federal law because it has a high potential for abuse and does not have an accepted medical use in the U.S.” To make matters worse The Office of National Drug Control Policy made this statment to the LA Times “Our concern with marijuana is not borne out of any culture war or drug war mentality, but out of what the science tells us about the drug’s effects. The facts are that marijuana potency has tripled in the past 20 years and teens are using the drug at earlier ages.”
The Blue Scholar Blog wants to know what you think. Should marijuana be federally decriminalized? Please feel free to share your opinions by leaving a comment.
Ever since prohibition began in America, the war on drugs has been a colossal failure. Much like a recidivist most of our politicians have been repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Fortunately not all of our leaders are on the same boat. Regarding U.S. anti-drug efforts in Latin America, Sen. Claire McCaskill had this to say “We are wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we are getting in return”. In the video posted below Ron Paul can be heard criticizing current drug policy. He argues that prohibiting narcotics presents a very real threat to personal freedom.
Not only is the War on Drugs ineffective it is also a huge waste of resources. According to the LA Times Counter-narcotics contract spending increased 32% between 2005 and 2009. That is an increase from $482 million to $635 million. In addition to these expenditures the Department of Defense has spent $6.1 billion since 2005 detecting planes and boats containing illegal drugs. What exactly has this gotten us? The drugs are still flowing into our country with no signs of stopping.
The enormous financial burden of the War on Drugs is staggering. Far more worrisome is the human cost of this war. Countless nonviolent drug offenders have been imprisoned for inordinate lengths of time. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. The report America’s One Million Nonviolent Prisoners states that the level of nonviolent offenders exceeds the combined populations of Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming.
The Blue Scholar Blog wants to know if any of you have been impacted by the War on Drugs. Please feel free to share your experiences and opinions by leaving a comment.