Sunday, January 31, 2010

Misha Glenny debates Michael Hartmann from UNODC

Here's an MP3 of Misha Glenny debating drug policy with Michael Hartmann. The event was organized by the London School of Economics and held on January 18th.

I enjoyed this podcast. It's about an hour and a half long, which is longer than my attention span so I listened to it in a couple of segments.

Hartmann is "manager and senior adviser of the Criminal Justice Programme at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime." His background as a criminal prosecutor certainly helped him during this debate. He articulated his argument well. If you think you might find yourself debating a prohibitionist one day, in a formal setting, it would be worth listening to Hartmann to find out what your opponent might say.

Glenny is a well respected British journalist and the author of McMafia. In an op-ed he once stated that, "In the United States, the most effective group demanding change is Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP, which is made up of current and former police officers, including erstwhile operatives of the Drug Enforcement Agency."

Together these two men offer a high level, international perspective on the drug policy debate.


  1. I get so mad when I listen to these debates!!!!

    The guy with the ONODC was saying unreal things He suggested that we would be putting drugs in cereal, soda and such? He also suggested drugs would be, freely, advertised across the air waves. I also loved it when he tried to use the comparison about the laws in distributing DVD's and CD's being broken on the street corner, all of the time. I never have, personally, heard of anyone getting the death penalty for it, yet! In contrast, the drug war causes plenty of deaths. Does he think so little of human life? He perceives this to be comparable to the drug war fiasco?! I, really, loved the statement that the cannabis was stronger! Does he not realize that it means it will last longer because you smoke less? He acts like a person who is not using all of his brain!? Or, maybe, he is a person who likes to spread more untruths to further his own cause.

    He also started talking about the differences between decriminalization and legalization and then did not even talk about it in his answer! He switched gears in mid stream.

    He also thought that you and me were going to rush out to buy heroin if it is legal tomorrow! Forgetting the fact that amphetamines and morphine(which heroin is a form of) is already legal in our country. He also suggested drugs are more dangerous than cigarettes and alcohol, when there is glaring proof that the statement is wrong.

    I was impressed how respectful the audience, and the questions they asked, were.

    Like you said, it was good to hear what the, misleading, drug warrior thought. It will definitely give me more talking points about exposing the lies that his organization, and any like it, spread around.

  2. Excellent advice on listening to Hartmann in preparation for future debates. It's fortunate for our side that the prohibitionist argument is so repetitive, making it easier to rebut.

  3. I wasn't impressed with either speaker's performance.

    Glenny took the high level approach of "the drug war doesn't work" but IMO failed at dipping into policy mode when it was needed. He should've emphasized sooner that all drugs differ and would need individual regulation. I don't remember a prominent mention of the Transform regulation guide. Hartmann pretty much was allowed to paint the horrible future of drugs everywhere.

    Glenny pretty much let him get away with the ridiculous argument that we need drug prohibition as a peaceful business program for the cartels--if we cut off their cannabis business, they'll somehow move to more damaging crimes on 70% less income. The obvious rebuttal: If diversifying will be that easy at 30% income, what's stopping them now at 100%? Well, they already *are* diversifying, but let's keep sending money down there and hope they stop.

    When all the meth precursors are prescription-only in the U.S. (it's coming) the cartels will get to step up their meth business. More black market money, more violence. Very sad.


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