Did you know yesterday was international Anti-Drug Day? (Technically it's the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, but that's cumbersome.) The UN founded this high holy day for prohibitionists back in 1987—when a lot more people were a lot more deluded about drug use, the drug war, and which one was wreaking havoc on communities across the globe—but governments still use it as an opportunity for dramatic spectacles: burning piles of drugs, public beatings of drug offenders, and executions.
As German Lopez wrote on Vox yesterday:
Around this time each year, several countries report punitive punishments, including the death penalty, against drug dealers. China, for one, used the lead-up to the day to unveil executions and other harsh punishments for drug traffickers in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2010, and 2009. Indonesia in 2008 touted International Anti-Drug Day as it resumed executions for drug traffickers after a four-year hiatus. Other countries, from Saudi Arabia to Malaysia, also use the death penalty as a punishment for drug dealers and users.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has sent mixed messages on these kinds of practices in the past. Yury Fedotov, the agency's chief, said the body opposes the death penalty, but he also praised Iran's anti-drug efforts even though the country executes drug dealers.
Even though anti-drug day was yesterday, it's not too late to celebrate on your own terms. You could always, you know, get stoned. But you could also do yourself and others a favor by familiarizing yourself with the good news from Colorado after six months of legal marijuana (lower crime rates overall and specifically a drop in violent crime, millions in tax revenue, thousands of new jobs, and even former opponents of legal pot are now starting to come around). Or read this 2010 essay by drug-policy expert Sanho Tree about how to get politicians to admit in public that drug prohibition isn't the answer ("we all know what to do, but we don’t know how to get re-elected once we have done it"). You could donate to the Drug Policy Alliance (which produced the Colorado report) or Tree's projects at the Institute for Policy Studies (he's also a prolific Twitter user). You could donate to our hometown People's Harm Reduction Alliance.
And if you work for a bank, you might think about making it easier for legal pot shops to keep their money in your vaults instead of at their shops so things like this don't happen:
A medical-marijuana dispensary was being robbed Wednesday when a security guard fatally shot a man suspected in the robbery attempt, police reported.
The shooting occurred around 12:20 p.m. at Nature’s Cure Inc., in the 5400 block of Century Boulevard.
Two men walked into the clinic and started shooting at the guard. He returned fire and hit one of the robbers in the abdomen, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.
The victim managed to walk to a nearby Westin Hotel and collapsed. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Happy Day After Anti-Drug Day, everyone!