They’re ‘NOT in jail for possession of marijuana or any other harmless, non-addictive, plant-derived substance’

A reader of my May 10 column in “Firearms News” (formerly “Shotgun News”) — the one headlined “Donald Trump On Guns” — wrote in:

“The column started off great, but as we got closer and closer to the end Vin apparently got wound up listening to his own rhetoric.

“He purports that heroin, cocaine, etc., are somehow harmless and non-addictive drugs derived from plants that pose no threat to society. That is nonsense. He takes the (mostly legitimate) arguments in favor of marijuana and extends them into a diatribe against the so-called War on Drugs. His entire argument about drugs and prison overcrowding are based on totally false data that I am reasonably sure he KNOWS are false. The vast majority of incarcerated drug dealers are NOT in jail for possession of marijuana or any other harmless, non-addictive, plant-derived substance. Unless Vin is delusional he knows that — and so does the editor who let his column go to print filled with falsehoods.


“Then he ends the article by blaming Clinton for military regulations against carrying firearms on military bases. BULLSHIT! Clinton might well have been a lecherous idiot, but he had nothing to do with military regulations that have been in place for decades before he ever entered office. I served in the Navy Reserve in 1965-1966 and was in the Army from December 1967 through January 1984; then worked for the Army as a civilian training specialist from April 1984 until I retired in August 2010. Throughout that entire time, possession of firearms was strictly regulated on all military bases and both concealed & open carry of personally owned firearms were strictly prohibited on military installations with only a few very narrow exceptions on the few bases.

“Throughout that entire time that only occasion I saw where the carry of any non-issue weapon was tolerated was in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (Blackhorse) base camp near Xuan Loc in Vietnam, and even then possession of any non-issue weapon was prohibited by regulations but that particular regulation was mostly ignored on that one base. The regulation against carrying non-issue weapons was often ignored in the field, but it was enforced strictly at most base camps. Anyone who says that the ban on military personnel carrying personally owned weapons on bases started with Clinton is either deliberately lying or is totally ignorant.”

# # #

Ah, fan mail.

There was a followup, calling me a “delusional idiot,” but you get the idea.

The Fearless Drug Warriors are losing, just as the witch-burners finally had to fold their tents and go home. I guess we’ve got to expect them to bang their heels on the floor and shriek a little.

I don’t believe I’ve ever said opium or cocaine can’t be potentially dangerous. I search my recent writings in vain for such a reckless statement. I can’t find it; it’s simply not “in evidence.” The “non-addictive plants or chemicals” for which thousands of Americans are imprisoned and to which I frequently refer include hemp (“marijuana”), psilocybin mushrooms, peyote cactus, LSD, MDA, MDMA, etc.

My points (how many times do I really need to repeat them?) are that NEITHER these substances NOR coca nor the opiates — which certainly can be habit-forming — have ever done as much harm as alcohol — which is legal; that to the extent their more concentrated forms present greater risks those risks are CREATED by the ongoing prohibition our correspondent favors, and that no government in America is properly delegated any power to regulate them, at all.

And that the War on Drugs, while doing no good, has done lots of harm, especially by turning America more and more into a paramilitary police state full of snitches and late-night door-busting.


My references to prison crowding based on the huge wave of Drug-War internees are “totally false”? America has the highest incarceration rate in the world except for some little island in the Indian Ocean -– 716 per 100,000. That means America now imprisons 2.3 million people. We’ve got 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but 22 percent of the world’s jail and prison inmates, according to the International Centre for Prison Studies.

In 2007, taxpayers spent $74 billion keeping those people locked up, and inadequately fed and cared for.


It’s hard to get offense-specific statistics from the state prison systems, but the Bureau of Justice does report that by 2003, 58 percent of American women in prison -– most of them poor, which means they benefited from little in the way of effective lawyering — were locked up for drug offenses. I don’t think many of those ladies were billionaire Drug Duchesses of the Cali Cartel. Do you?


Meantime, the statistics from the booming federal system are interesting and significant: 46.4 percent of the inmates in our federal prison system (85,419 souls) are there for drugs. (Source: Federal Bureau of Prisons, March 26, 2016.) The second largest class of offenders -– those in prison for “weapons, explosives, and arson” offenses -– represent a vastly smaller 16.9 percent.

I carry no brief for arsonists, but we all know the bulk of those “weapons offenders” are there for owning or manufacturing the “wrong kind” of firearms, in a country where “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” In other words, it’s the people who locked them up — each of whom swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution — who ought to be behind the bars, looking out.

Meantime, immigration offenses have now dropped to third place, at 9.2 percent. Basically, an illegal immigrant has to rape or shoot someone to get the attention of federal law enforcement — though that’ll change this summer, as the Democrats try to undercut Trump’s resonance with voters on this issue.

The vast majority of these drug “offenders” are non-violent. (If you kill a cop during a drug bust, they don’t lock you up on mere drug charges. Though of course no one would be dying in drug busts if we went back to the system that prevailed for three quarters of our history, from 1607 to 1914 – that being no drug laws at all.)

Speaking of which, how come it took us 300 years to figure out the terrible “threat to society” posed by someone coming home at the end of the day with aching muscles and wanting to take some codeine, Mr. “No-One-Needs-Any-Drugs-Or-Firearms-Because-I-Say-So”? Your kind promised the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 would just be a “truth-in-labeling” bill, that no one would EVER take away a doctor’s right to prescribe — or an American’s right to consume — any drug of choice. See, that’s why we trust you Fearless Drug Warriors so implicitly, Mr. Letter-Writer. You’re always so honest and forthright about what you’re up to. And the various Marijuana Tax Acts were just to raise revenue, right?


But at least it’s working, right?

Actually, no. Prices for better quality, more concentrated drugs are dropping, meaning the supply system is getting stronger. The U.N. estimates global consumption of opiates, coca, and marijuana increased from 1998 to 2008 by 35, 27, and 9 percent, respectively.

The War on Drugs is over. The pigs lost; the drugs won.

FORTY-SIX PERCENT of federal prisoners are in jail for possessing plant extracts less harmful than alcohol — plants which the government has no delegated power to even regulate or tax, let alone ban. I see no attempt on the part of this champion of the Drug War to show any such delegated power from Article One of the Constitution -– and for good reason. There ain’t none.


Before Prohibition, the Americans who chose to use these plants and their extracts mostly drank beer, smoked opium, or drank coca extracts in coca wine or Coca-Cola, for their moderate consciousness-altering effects. Prohibition created a financial incentive for importers to switch to more concentrated, powerful compounds. More profit per dangerous pound, see.

Prohibition CAUSED users to switch to whisky, morphine, heroin, or inhalable or smokable cocaine. It left them no choice, since it’s hard to “comparison shop” — let alone check a reliable list of ingredients — when you’re buying contraband. (Hard liquor use has been dropping, and wine and beer use resurging, gradually since re-legalization in 1933. The same trend toward easier dose control through use of gentler, less chemically concentrated compounds could be expected to follow re-legalization of anything else.)


Coca trees are plants. Opium poppies are plants. Psilocybin mushrooms are plants. The Bible tells us every flower-bearing plant was put here by God for the use of mankind. All these plants have legitimate — some, downright marvelous — uses. When anyone who’s caught with more than an ounce or two of these plants or their extracts gets jailed under the mandatory minimums as a “dealer,” the Fearless Drug Warriors can no longer get away with telling us, “But we only lock up the dealers!” Since you’ve re-defined practically everyone as a “dealer,” that’s circular.

Besides, would it make any sense to say, “We don’t lock up carrot and tomato USERS, just carrot and tomato DEALERS”? What would carrots cost if you did that? What would cigarettes cost if you did that? (And if you want to start seeing paramilitary “drug busts” of people growing tobacco illegally in their back yards, or stealing car stereos to fund their tobacco habits, just let the Draconian tobacco Prohibition zealots at the FDA and elsewhere keep going in their current direction for a few more years. Oh Goody! ANOTHER War On Drugs!)


This goes back to the laughable 1930s stereotypes of “pushers” tying up kids and forcing needles into their veins against their will, or surreptitiously “slipping marijuana into their tea or tobacco cigarettes” to “turn them into addicts.”

This is horseshit. This is not happening.


Meantime, what breaks up more marriages: opium or coca or LSD or marijuana or alcohol? Alcohol.

Of what substance are most drivers “under the influence” when they kill the vast majority of innocents who die on our highways (leaving aside those who die because they fall asleep at the wheel –- actually a good rationale for re-legalizing amphetamines, which the Air Force has always handed out like candy to its bomber pilots, since those planes cost money.) Are those deadly drivers high on opium or coca or LSD or marijuana or alcohol? Alcohol, of course.

They want to be free to get sauced on THEIR drug of choice -– the deadliest of all, and plenty addictive — but still lock up everybody else. Have totally non-addictive marijuana and peyote and LSD and psilocybin and MDA and MDMA been secretly legalized? Have “federal mandatory minimums” been repealed so users no longer rot in prison for decades -– or die because they’re denied the use of these medicinal plants while awaiting trial?

(Since 1986, the mandatory MINIMUM sentence for a FIRST OFFENSE of “manufacturing, distributing, or ‘possessing with intent to distribute’ — ha! — 10 grams — one third of an ounce — of completely non-addictive LSD, when no death or serious bodily injury was caused, is 10 years. One gram? Five years. A third offense? “Life.” And yes, people die from being deprived of their medicinal marijuana. Look up the death of author Peter McWilliams, aged 50, at the hands of a despicable California judge named George H. King on June 14, 2000.)

I am disgusted by these ignorant, sneering, drunken, bombastic hate-mongers, who call us advocates of restored liberty “delusional idiots” yet love to split hairs as they define which million or so of their fellow Americans they’ll rub their hands with glee to see locked away in the Cornhole Palace for engaging in the perfectly respectable, millennia-old commerce in useful medicinal plants among willing buyers and sellers.

It is not enough to simply end the War on Drugs. Those who have created and enforced it need to be locked up in little cells and force-fed the drugs they hate, against their will. Then we’ll see how they feel about someone restricting THEIR liberty to control THEIR own state of consciousness, for causing a “threat to society” with their burgeoning drug-war police state.

# # #

On the question of which cynical politician disarmed our troops, it looks like our correspondent is on more solid ground in saying Bill Clinton must share the blame.

The Washington Times editorialized on Nov. 11, 2009: “Time after time, public murder sprees occur in ‘gun-free zones’ — public places where citizens are not legally able to carry guns. . . .

“Among President Clinton’s first acts upon taking office in 1993 was to disarm U.S. soldiers on military bases. In March 1993, the Army imposed regulations forbidding military personnel from carrying their personal firearms and making it almost impossible for commanders to issue firearms to soldiers in the U.S. for personal protection. For the most part, only military police regularly carry firearms on base, and their presence is stretched thin by high demand for MPs in war zones. . . .”

That looks like the initial source for “blaming Clinton.”

The Blaze clarified on Sept. 17, 2013:

“Monday’s deadly shooting at the Washington Navy Yard has renewed interest in why most military personnel are forbidden from carrying firearms on military bases. In the aftermath, some have pointed fingers at former President Bill Clinton, but is he really to blame?

“Not according to what we found. . . . It appears this ‘gun-free zone’ type policy can actually be traced back to DoD Directive 5210.56, signed into effect on February 1992 by Donald J. Atwood, deputy secretary of defense under George H.W. Bush.


“The controversial directive states that ‘The authorization to carry firearms shall be issued only to qualified personnel when there is a reasonable expectation that life or DoD assets will be jeopardized if firearms are not carried.’

“Some outlets are citing Army Regulation 190-14, a policy implemented in 1993 that changed policy regarding carrying firearms on the Army’s military bases, to cast blame on Clinton,” The Blaze continues.

“However, that policy specifically notes part of its purpose is aimed at implementing ‘applicable portions of Department of Defense Directive 5210.56,’ which, as previously stated, was put into effect by Bush Sr.’s deputy secretary of defense.”

Thus ends our citation from The Blaze.

So . . . the Clintons shouldn’t be blamed for making things so bad that the shooters at places like Fort Hood and the Washington Naval Yard have to be stopped by CIVILIAN POLICE because the Clintons merely “implemented” a bad Bush policy? Hmm.

Meantime, please note our correspondent’s attempts to shift a discussion about how helpless our disarmed troops have proved to be when assaulted on our stateside military reservations to the different topic of “personally owned, non-issue weapons.” No one has suggested that hundreds of buck privates should be waving around Day-Glo deer rifles and shotguns brought from home as they line up for chow at the mess hall. But in each case, the shooters have been killed or captured by CIVILIAN police.

(Shooter Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood was braced first by civilian police Sergeant Kimberly Munley, who went down with leg wounds, then by civilian police Sergeant Mark Todd , who crippled him. At the Washington Naval Yard there was a “security officer” on site — the shooter killed this former Maryland state trooper and took his Beretta — but the shooter, again, was eventually killed by D.C. CIVILIAN police.)

I’d say anyone in office since 1992 (hell, probably since 1952) who had a chance to reverse this disarming of our troops, and didn’t, shares some blame. Somehow I doubt anyone trying to pick off George Washington’s men in their tents at Valley Forge in 1777 would have met so little armed resistance -– despite the time it took to load a muzzle-loader.

Egypt and U.S. officials display the flight data recorder from EgyptAir Flight 990, Wednesday Nov. 10, 1999 at the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

Egypt and U.S. officials display the flight data recorder from EgyptAir Flight 990, Wednesday Nov. 10, 1999 at the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)


What’s that? “But today’s America isn’t a war zone!”? You been asleep in a cave for that past 15 years? Muslims from the Middle East are coming here and killing Christians and Jews in New York and Texas and Washington (and by diving a passenger aircraft with 216 innocents aboard into the waters off Nantucket island while declaring “I place my fate in the hands of Allah” — see . And people are still PAYING to fly on EgyptAir?) They’re bringing the war back home, baby.

Frankly, I doubt even G.H.W. Bush started this. As late as 1944 I know families could mail an extra sidearm to officers and other personnel overseas; I bet that wouldn’t work now. I suspect we’re probably talking about a sea change that would date from the 1960s.

But surely a more important question than when it started, is why we can’t fix it — immediately. I believe this all started because I quoted Donald Trump saying our military personnel — including at recruiting stations — should be re-armed. Though I always repeat that I retain some doubts about Mr. Trump, I cited that as an example of straight talk and refreshing common sense, which it is. Does the Second Amendment say “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, unless they’re in the armed forces”?

Are the officers afraid that armed soldiers would shoot them, just as today’s politicians are obviously afraid that armed voters might shoot THEM? If so, the answer is a lot more guns, and a whole new crop of officers and politicians. Who do they think is running this show?

3 Comments to “They’re ‘NOT in jail for possession of marijuana or any other harmless, non-addictive, plant-derived substance’”

  1. Rational Review News Digest, 05/20/16 - Syria: Regime troops take rebel stronghold - Thomas L. Knapp - Says:

    […] […]

  2. Technomad Says:

    One reason for the return to whiskey and other hard liquors during Prohibition was that beer was bulkier and harder to transport clandestinely, due to the primitive state of refrigeration at that time.

  3. Rob Gillespie Says:

    Thank you for putting that out, Vin. The only thing I would have added – and I’m sure you’ve said it multiple times in the past – is that regardless of the harm that various drugs inflict on the bodies and minds of their users, those bodies and minds are THEIR property, not the property of the state, and not the property of thugs like your correspondent. It doesn’t matter how much better he – or a gaggle of lying pols or thuggish policemen – knows how other people should run their lives than they do, those lives are not his to run.