Bull on the Page: The Czech Invasion

My favourite news story of 2013 has the be The Daily Currant’s reporting of Sarah Palin allegedly calling for an invasion of the Czech Republic on Fox News, because the chief suspects of the Boston bombings were Chechen. They did a grand job of ridiculing those who pushed the story around the digital world in record time. A timely reminder for sources to be checked before publishing. And this being Palin, who wouldn’t be taken in by such an outlandish outburst that would have been entirely in character for someone who probably thinks anyone living east of Archangel is a Polak.

It got me to thinking, what would happen if the Czechs invaded Poland? I’m not suggesting a military intervention, rather that we take advantage of some of the common sense that has invaded public life there since 2010. One would hope that anyone with half a functioning brain cell would see fairly clearly that the War on Drugs has been a massive success. If you count failure as success that is. Like many other states and nations, the Czechs realised this and have gone for liberalising possession of drugs for personal consumption. Not just marijuana, but also so-called hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

Here, you can still go to prison for possession of any quantity of any illicit drug. This is supposed to be an effective deterrent, although the stats don’t bear that out. Quite the opposite. The great advantage of having laws like this is that it means you can bump up crime detection stats, arrests, convictions etc.

Czech – land of liberalised drug laws and subtle political art.

A 2010 report from the Institute for Public Affairs looked into the criminal justice issue here in some detail. It argues that criminalisation does not and has not met the ends the means were supposed to produce. Consumption and trafficking have not fallen. This policy costs in excess of 80 million zloty (20 million Euro) annually, and hits young people most. Supporters of this policy would tell you that marijuana is the most dangerous because it creates an escalator effect: start with a bit of pot, and you quickly progress to harder drugs, effectively ruining your life. If it’s illegal, the argument goes, young people won’t do it. Seriously? Since when has saying ‘Don’t do that!’ had any effect on youth?

Consumption of illicit drugs is an important rite of passage for young people the world over. It doesn’t lead to addiction and in most cases is not a lifelong habit, rather something you do until about 30, when you finally grow up.

Laws today are much stricter than in the past. The first act relating to drug consumption and use dates from 1985, when trafficking was an offence but personal possession was not. This was updated in 1997, when possession became an offence but small amounts for personal use did not.

This law was amended in 2000, criminalising any possession. Penalties are regulated by Article 62 of the Act on Counteracting Drug Addiction. While trafficking is the major point of this legislation, less than a quarter of arrests are for trafficking – over half pertain to personal possession. In the field, more than half of prosecutors, probation officers, police and judges agree that it is not an effective deterrent.

So, how would this look in practice? And could we make it economically useful? In the Czech Republic, growing weed has become a cottage industry, though many Czechs bemoan the existence of Vietnamese warehouses more focussed on quantity than quality. Maybe it’s something Poland’s babcias could turn their busy hands to. There’s also a lucrative Czech crystal meth market. Polish drug lords already have much experience in the manufacture of amphetamines and a ready market close by. Make it, sell it, tax it, create jobs. Simple.

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5 thoughts on “Bull on the Page: The Czech Invasion

  • January 25, 2014 at 5:36 pm
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    Mike – Do not disparage Sarah Palin. She and the other leading lights of the glorious Tea Party have mightily contributed to the revival of the American economy since the 2008 financial crisis. Their contribution lies in discrediting their extreme Far Right and preventing it from getting elected. They did not have such intention, but they did it.

    Secondly, Sarah made a lot of money from suckers who pay to hear her lectures and to read her books. In that, she is a wise woman. If she were in Poland, she might have given the Reverend Rydzyk huge
    competition. Perhaps they would have joined forces.

    Reply
  • January 26, 2014 at 5:31 am
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    B.S. Liberal thinking at its worst.

    Kids are precious. Drugs are not; except to the providers.

    Reply
    • January 26, 2014 at 5:43 am
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      Agreed fully as to kids and drugs.

      Otherwise, ROFL. So happens, I am NOT a Liberal in the American sense. And you need to hire detectives to help you find a sense of humor.

      Cheers

      Reply
  • January 26, 2014 at 3:12 pm
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    Ending the insanity of drug prohibition by legalized regulation, respecting the rights of the responsible users, and focusing on addiction as a sickness (just like we do with alcohol and tobacco), may save what remains of our economy and civil institutions, along with countless lives and livelihoods. Prohibition continues unabated for shameful political reasons. It cannot, and never will, reduce drug use or addiction.

    Prohibition has permanently scarred our national character as well as our individual psyches. Our national policies and cultural practices have become pervaded by the fascist/prohibitionist mind-set. A mind-set that has turned our domestic police force into a bunch of paramilitary thugs, who often commit extra-judicial beatings and executions while running roughshod over our rights in order to “protect us from ourselves”.

    When we eventually manage to put the horrors of this moronothon behind us, we’ll need to engage in some very deep and honest soul-searching as to what we want to be as a nation. Many of our freedoms have been severely circumscribed, or lost altogether. Our economy has been trashed and our international reputation for being “free and fair” has been dragged through a putrid sewer by vicious narrow-minded drug warrior zealots who are ignorant of abstract concepts such as truth, justice and decency. We’ll need to make sure that such a catastrophe is never ever repeated. This may mean that public hearings or tribunals will be held where those who’ve been the instigators and cheerleaders of this abomination will have to answer for their serious crimes against our once prosperous and proud nation.

    Reply
  • January 26, 2014 at 9:44 pm
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    I have a few points on the Czech drug laws.

    Firstly, the Czech criminal code decriminilized possession of drugs for personal use already in 1999, when the magic fromula of “amount larger than small” was introduced. The judicial practice was that this meant more then a tenfold of a daily amount used by an average consumer.

    In 2010, the Ministry of Interior adopted a Regulation which specified what “larger than small” actually meant, e.g. 15 grams of marijuana, 1 g of heroin,, 1,5 g of cocain, etc. This regulation made a lot of fuzz in the international newspapers, though it did not change much in reality. Last year, a court in Liberec was deciding a case where the accused had amount larger than what was the amount legal under the Regulation; the court was disatisfied with the fact that it should base its criminal ruling on the basis of a mere Regulation and asked the Constitutional Court to abolish the Regulation as unconstitutional (according to Art. 8(2) “No one may be prosecuted or deprived of her liberty except on the grounds and in the manner specified by law.”) Which the ConCourt did, so the situation is back to pre-2010 state with courts deciding based on the facts of case what consitutes “larger than small” rather than on the Regulation (altough the base amounts in the Regulation will be generally followed by the police and prosecutors also in the future).

    Secondly, the legalization of small amounts of any drugs was less important than legalization of growing own pot. Under the Regulation, up to 5 plants for personal use were considered legal (in fact it remains misdemeanor, but without warrant nobody may enter home to check it, and no judge will ever issue warrant for a couple of marijuana plants). Again, the Regulation was abolished, but the police and prosecutors will continue with the No. 5 since it is the judicial practice anyway.

    Thirdly, the legalization of marijuana, especially of possibility to grow it, actually broke up the need of pot users to be in contact with drug dealers. Therefore legalization effectively became a barrier of marijuana being a starting drug to more serious stuff – nobody offers you anything stronger while selling you weed simply because you grow your own and don’t buy it from anyone.

    Forthly, and what is really curious, the use of drugs in the Czech Republic fell since the legalization. While the number of junkies is about the same, there are less recreational users since it lost the appeal of something forbiden.

    Finally, it is just a different mindset. The Czechs are liberal in ways that are unimaginable not only in Poland but in most other European countries. Drugs, guns, prostitution, freedom of speech (apart from hate crimes), etc… Basically, as long as you don’t harm anyone else, the goverment keeps hands off. You need not only change on drug policy, but complete change of mindset regarding where the government’s place is as regards its intervention into your private life.

    Reply

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