Hillary Clinton Reminds a Hurting Latin America That She Is Opposed to Drug Legalization – Hit & Run : Reason.comNovember 30, 2012
At a forum hosted by Foreign Policy magazine, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reminded the leaders of Latin America, whose countries have been savaged by drug-war violence, that the Obama administration, and Clinton in particular, are opposed to legalizing drugs as a means of making those countries less reminiscent of failed states:
“I respect those in the region who believe strongly that [U.S. legalization] would end the problem,” Clinton said Thursday at a Washington D.C. forum hosted by Foreign Policy magazine. “I am not convinced of that, speaking personally.”
Some Central American leaders have urged the United States to consider other approaches to domestic drug usage — citing ruthless drug cartels that murder thousands of their citizens. Several Central American countries are considering limited legalization of drugs within their borders.
“I think when you’ve got ruthless vicious people who have made money one way and it’s somehow blocked, they’ll figure out another way,” she said. “They’ll do kidnapping they’ll do extortion.”
Speaking about the two states that recently legalized marijuana, Clinton repeated the Obama administration position that they haven’t formulated a response yet.
“This is an ongoing debate,” she said. “We are formulating our own response to the votes of two of our states as you know — what that means for the federal system, the federal laws and law enforcement.”
“I think you can, with a comprehensive strategy succeed in certainly pushing back the tide of violence and corruption that drug trafficking brings,” she said.
Clinton’s statement about ballot initiatives in Colorado and Washington represents the largest number of words a named official of this administration has uttered regarding the single biggest change in drug policy this century. Good on Clinton for acknowleding that it happened.
It’s also fascinating to me how Clinton has shifted on this topic. Here’s what she said during a Mexico City trip in 2009:
“Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians.”
Maerker: In Mexico, there are those who propose not keeping going with this battle and legalize drug trafficking and consumption. What is your opinion?
Clinton: I don’t think that will work. I mean, I hear the same debate. I hear it in my country. It is not likely to work. There is just too much money in it, and I don’t think that—you can legalize small amounts for possession, but those who are making so much money selling, they have to be stopped.
And November 2012: “I am not convinced of that, speaking personally.”
Since when do personal convictions matter in deciding policies that directly affect billions of people?
back in the day it was the lady warriors who campaigned against the evils of alcohol. Today we have soccer Moms and pantsuit brigades who think of vice in the same manner.
THE busy interstate highway that zips through Richmond, Virginia, and up to the crowded cities of the north-east has long been a conduit for handguns bought wholesale in Virginia and sold to drug-dealers in New York. Now I-95 is siphoning northwards another form of contraband: black-market cigarettes.
Because Virginia’s tobacco tax is the second-lowest in America, gangsters buy cigarettes there in bulk and sell them at enormous profit in New York and other high-tax states. At a minimum, they pocket a big chunk of the difference between what Virginia adds in tax—30 cents a packet—and the higher rates imposed elsewhere. New York’s tax, at $4.35 a packet, is the highest in the country.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimates that sales of illegal cigarettes cost government—local, state and federal—nearly $10 billion a year. For the smugglers, profits are better than those from cocaine, heroin, marijuana and guns, according to a report in September by the Virginia State Crime Commission. Moreover, the penalty for doing it—a maximum of five years in jail, under federal law—is considerably lighter than for selling drugs. If the smugglers were trafficking in heroin, they would face life in prison.
The growth of the cigarette-resale racket, known to police as “smurfing”, appears tied to a growing government appetite for cash. Since 2007 at least 27 states have raised their cigarette taxes, often to erase deficits or to cover sharp increases in health-care costs. This spurs the smugglers on. In New Jersey, where a packet of cigarettes carries a tax of $2.70, about 40% of all cigarettes are smuggled in from other states, according to the New Jersey Treasury Department. Maryland, Virginia’s neighbour to the north, reported a fourfold increase in seizures of illegal cigarettes between 2010 and 2012, though one official described the haul as the tip of the iceberg.
Virginia, a big tobacco state since colonial times, has recently declared it illegal to buy and possess, with intent to sell elsewhere, more than 5,000 cigarettes. That may sound a lot, but they are easy to miss. Smugglers can niftily get 600 cartons (that is, ten packs of 20 cigarettes) into a car, and 12,000 into a large van. When gun-running was at its peak, I-95 was known as the “iron highway”. Now it is the new Tobacco Road.
(The Blaze)During a recent episode of “Penn’s Sunday School” (posted on YouTube on Saturday), the popular entertainer and Libertarian unloaded on the Obama administration over its drug policy.
“Now, he has not left this to states’ rights,” Jillette said. “As you know, medical marijuana you can get in California, and the feds are coming in to try to stop this. States‘ rights don’t mean jack s**t to the Obama administration on anything except gay marriage.”
He then posited that Obama’s recent appearance on Jimmy Fallon — where Obama addressed legalizing drugs — was an attempt to make himself look cool and appeal to college kids. He also noted that Obama would not be president if he had been caught and charged for his admitted drug use:
What troubles me about this… I think it’s beyond hypocrisy. I think it’s something to do with class. A lot of people have accused Obama of class warfare, but in the wrong direction. I believe this is Obama chortling with Jimmy Fallon about lower class people. Do we believe, even for a second, that if Obama had been busted for marijuana — under the laws that he condones — would his life have been better? If Obama had been caught with the marijuana that he says he uses, and ‘maybe a little blow’… . This casual attitude towards drugs … that makes him really cool on Jimmy Fallon. Makes him the hip president. … And if he had been busted under his laws, he would have done hard f*cking time. And if he had done time in prison, time in federal prison, time for his ‘weed’ and ‘a little blow,’ he would not be president of the United States of America. And he would not have gone to his fancy-a** college; he would not have sold books that sold millions and millions of copies and made millions and millions of dollars; he would not have a beautiful, smart wife; he would not have a great job! He would have been in f*cking prison, and it’s not a god damn joke! People who smoke marijuana must be set free! It is insane to lock people up.
Jillette went on to say that he’s never done any drugs or even had any alcohol, but that doesn’t stop him from being an advocate for legalizing marijuana.
You can watch the epic, but profanity-laced, rant below (content warning):
(H/T: Fox Nation)
|President Obama appears on a screen at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.
“Legalization [of drugs] is not the answer,” Obama said.
(Fernando Vergara, Associated Press / April 14, 2012 LA Times)
Obama told Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, host of the summit, that he is willing to discuss whether American drug laws are “doing more harm than good in certain places.”
Santos wants the 33 countries participating in the summit to consider alternatives to what many leaders consider the failed war on drugs, possibly including regulating marijuana and even cocaine the way that alcohol and tobacco are.