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Drug Control Policy Critic Proves His Point At Norml Conference

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LOS ANGELES -- Matthew Robinson, author of "Lies, damn lies and drug war statistics: A critical analysis of claims made by the ONDCP," preached to the choir Saturday, presenting his case that's laid out in his book.

Robinson was the featured speaker during the Saturday morning session of the 2007 National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws conference in Los Angeles, where he discussed how the Office of National Drug Control Policy uses questionable data presentation to make it look as though the war on drugs is working.

"When drug use is up they say 'we having financial problems so we need more money'," Robinson said. "They say the same thing when drug use goes down."

He broke up his presentation with eight questions, including if the drug war was balanced or not.

He pointed out that more than 60 percent of the drug war's budget goes to law enforcement.

"To the ONDCP, this is balance," Robinson said. "And not only is the drug war not balanced, it's continually becoming unbalanced under the Bush administration."

Robinson's presentation was accompanied by slides of statistics, where he showed the crowd the "selective presentation of statistics" in ONDCP reports.

"They can't even make up their minds about how they're going to collect data," Robinson said.

One of the questions Robinson looked into was whether the drug war helps drug users with treatment, by again using questionable data in their statistics. He said the report focussed on drug users.

"The drug war does not heal drug users," Robinson said. "Users don't need treatment, abusers do," Robinson said.

He also touched on drug arrests.

"The burden on police is increasing every year," Robinson said. "Twenty percent of all state inmates are in for drugs."

And, according to Robinson, the ONDCP manipulates statistics in this category as well by saying Robinson inflated his numbers, but only citing federal arrest numbers.

"Most people who get arrested are arrested are arrested by state and local law enforcement," Robinson said.

Robinson also took on statements made by the ONDCP on that the war on drugs is doing nothing to drive up prices of drugs. "We spend more tax-payer dollars every year, and the stuff is getting cheaper," Robinson said.

Not only was the price of drugs worked into the presentation, but the potency was as well.

"If it's true that the THC in marijuana is increasing does that mean that the drug war makes better pot?" Robinson asked.

The remainder of the morning session was on upcoming marijuana initiatives in various cities, counties and states.

The panel was chaired by NORML founder Keith Stroup, who pointed out there is no national initiative process.

"So we don't have that option on a national level," Stroup said.

The conference's high point was Saturday night at the High Times Magazine "Stony Awards" where the most cannabis-friendly entertainers, movies and shows are honored with, not a statue, but a bong.

Today, the NORML Legal Committee is holding its medical marijuana seminar with topics like how to work with local governments and "Federal considerations."

Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2007 MediaNews Group, Inc.
Contact: letters@times-standard.com
Website: Times-Standard Online - Home
 
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