• Congressman Garrett (VA-R)

  • Gov. Chris Christy (NJ-R)

  • Colorado 2012

  • California Field Work, Prop 19

COP on the Hill: Stories from the week of February 6, 2015


Stories from the week of February 6, 2015

No longer a wild & crazy guy:  A Capitol police officer has been interested in my issue since I arrived nearly 10 years ago.  He remarked this week that whereas upon my arrival I was considered close to a lunatic (promoting legalization of all drugs), now I am close to mainstream and winning votes.  After only 10 years, I/the message is an overnight success.

From a staffer where the Member voted no:  “Thanks for the email this morning, Howard! I’ll do what I can to preach the good word in this office.”  ….Nice to know the message is being spread, even when I am not there.

The word is ‘Prohibition:’ On Friday 100 gathered at the CSIS (Center for Strategic & International Studies: http://csis.org/ to hear the Drug Czar and the US’s chief delegate on drug issues at the United Nations (William Brownfield).  Brownfield thundered that the world faced two choices:  Legalization or Prohibition.

It was gratifying to hear the word ‘prohibition’ employed to describe current policies. He later stated these four pillars of US policy.  A Summary of his total remarks at the bottom.

  1. Respect the integrity of the existing UN Drug Control Conventions…
  2.  Accept flexible interpretation of those conventions.
  3. Tolerate different national drug policies…accept the fact that some countries will have very strict drug approaches; other countries will legalize entire categories of drugs…
  4. Combat and resist criminal organizations

I met both after the presentation and had a brief chat.

This week’s raw data:

1726  Presentations to Congressional staffers..  20 this week

03  meetings this week

108 chats with other elected officials, state reps, senators, VIPs, etc.     02 this week

Drug Czar Botticelli & Ambassador Brownfield

  •   COP stats since inception: August 2009

58 brief chats with Members of Congress..   0 this week

12 Conversations (five minutes or longer) with Member of Congress..  0  this week

  • 20 major conferences attended..   (United Nations drug conf, CPAC, LULAC, NRA, CBC, ASA, DPA, Dem & Repub. Presidential conventions., National Review,  etc) 0 this week
  • 81 interviews and reports in minor media = blogs, cable TV, weekly papers, etc..    0 this week

53 Radio Interviews..  0 this week

80 published letters to the editor (value per MAPINC in free publicity: $79,000).. 0 this week

 38  Appearances on major TV networks..this week (Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC, Univision, BBC)…0 this week (BBC)

  • 28published interviews in major (daily) newspapers or magazine…this week

      *   2 editorials in daily papers mentioning Howard’s efforts & in support of COP position

  • Weekly attendance at Grover Norquist’s Wednesday brunch attended by 150 conservative leaders.   Named the “Grand Central Station of the Conservative Movement.”
  • Consider being a member of COP at $30.00 or more per year.   All contributions are tax-deductible.  30 dollars buys all the copy paper COP uses in one year.   Law Enforcement’s voice in opposition to current policy is vital on the Hill to achieve a repeal of federal prohibition.  COP provides that voice.  www.citizensopposingprohibition.org

Brownfield’s remarks & analysis by a reporter


State-level cannabis reforms, which gathered steam this month, have exposed the inability of the United States to abide by the terms of the legal bedrock of the global drug control system; the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. This is something that should force a much-needed conversation about reform to long-standing international agreements. But while ostensibly ‘welcoming’ the international drug policy reform debate, it is a conversation the US federal government actually wishes to avoid. The result is a new official position on the UN drugs treaties that, despite its seductively progressive tone, serves only to sustain the status quo and may cause damage beyond drug policy.

The 1961 Single Convention has been massively influential. Almost every state in the world is bound to prohibit cultivation, trade and possession of cannabis and a range of other substances such as coca and opium for anything but medical and scientific purposes. Wherever you are, your drugs laws are probably modeled on this agreement.

The United States has been a staunch defender of this legal regime. The treaties are central to its foreign policy on drugs, including in Latin America. But at home the government has been clear that it will not trample on the will of voters with regard to cannabis, even though this places it in breach of the 1961 Convention. So the US faces a predicament; a treaty breach it does not wish to admit within a system it wishes to protect.

The response is the new ‘four pillars’ approach, set out by Ambassador William Brownfield (Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement):

Respect the integrity of the existing UN Drug Control Conventions…
Accept flexible interpretation of those conventions…
Tolerate different national drug policies…accept the fact that some countries will have very strict drug approaches; other countries will legalize entire categories of drugs…
Combat and resist criminal organizations

Brownfield’s statement received some positive responses, welcoming it as a breakthrough in drug policy reform. However, its attractiveness is superficial and there are important reasons to be cautious.

For US foreign policy on drugs the four pillars make sense in the short term. Through these pillars, the US can appear to embrace reform discussions while changing nothing of substance. US approaches to Latin America that have dominated US attentions can carry on as before. The US gets to continue to have presence in places it has no business being other than to fight the drug trade – the fourth pillar of this ‘new’ approach.

In addition, in defending the ‘integrity of the treaties’, the US can go on using those treaties as a disciplinary tool against producer and transit nations in the region. Under the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, when a country does not fulfill the requirements of the international drugs conventions, the President determines that the country has ‘failed demonstrably’ to meet its obligations, which can lead to sanctions.

Bolivia received such a determination again only a few weeks ago. While explaining the rationale for a more ‘flexible interpretation’ Brownfield said, ‘Things have changed since 1961’. However, the Presidential Determination on Bolivia stressed that the ‘frameworks established by the U.N. conventions are as applicable to the contemporary world as when they were negotiated and signed by the vast majority of U.N. member states’.



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