New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch has vetoed a medical marijuana bill -- again. Now, it's up to the legislature to see if it can muster the votes to override the veto. Chronicle story here.
The Supreme Court has held that people "in the pipeline" -- convicted but not yet sentenced when Fair Sentencing Act reforms took effect -- on federal crack cocaine charges are entitled to be sentenced under the lesser penalties created by the act. Thousands could get sentence cuts. Chronicle story here.
Two Oregon marijuana legalization initiatives are in a mad scramble to make the ballot after being hit with unprecedented high invalidation rates for signatures already handed in. And they only have two weeks to go. Chronicle feature story here.
A new poll has the Washington state pot legalization initiative leading with 50% support, but that doesn't leave a lot of room for a margin of comfort. Chronicle story here.
The Senate has included federal funding for needle exchanges in its Health & Human Services FY 2013 appropriations bill. The House is expected to approve a bill without it, setting up a fight in conference committee down the road. Chronicle story here.
DrugWarFacts.org, a publication of Common Sense for Drug Policy, is an in-depth compilation of key facts, stats and quotes on the full range of drug policy issues, excerpted from expert publications on the subjects. The Chronicle is running a series of info items from DrugWarFacts.org over the next several weeks, and we encourage you to check it out.
A Caravan of Peace calling for an end to failed prohibitionist drug policies in the US and Mexico will leave San Diego in August and arrive in Washington, DC, in September. It's hoping to educate some people along the way and have a lasting impact. Chronicle feature story here.
In giving his blessing to the ticketing proposal, the mayor availed himself of one response to Chicago’s rising crime rate and a police force that has shrunk due to budget cuts — even if it falls far short of providing a far-reaching solution.
Emanuel also no doubt acted knowing there was little political downside to the move. It appeared to appeal immediately to a broad range of people, which certainly factored into the decision of a politician who pays close attention to polling data. [Chicago Sun-Times]
…those who welcomed the mayor’s announcement as a common-sense approach included blacks and Latinos concerned that pot arrests involve them disproportionately; white liberals who long have disdained the “war on drugs” approach; and fiscal conservatives looking at the costs of processing pot cases that usually end up being dismissed anyway.
The idea of arresting people for pot is unpopular with almost everybody these days, and we're starting to see prominent politicians piling on as well, from Rahm Emanuel to the Rhode Island legislature to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
And so we've happened once again upon an excellent opportunity to test the conventional wisdom that fixing marijuana laws will invite a brutal backlash from opportunistic political opponents. As Paul Waldman puts it:
At the moment, there remains a strong incentive to support the status quo, lest you be targeted in your next race as some kind of hippie-lover.
If this is true, then we've got two state governors, a billionaire mayor and an entire state legislature at risk of being stigmatized viciously for their hippie sympathies. But I can't hear anything over the uproarious applause.
Really, when it comes to navigating the politics of marijuana reform, the trick is just to do it. Ignore the people who say it will hurt you politically because it won't at all. Ignore the people who say it sends the wrong message to children because children don't even know what decriminalization means. Ignore any and every stupid thing anybody says in defense of the infinitely idiotic idea that we should be forcibly ripping pot out of people's pockets as a matter of public policy.
The first thing that will happen after you endorse marijuana reform is that you'll get positive press coverage and supportive feedback from constituents. The second thing that will happen is you'll save money and resources while reducing racist drug war harassment and other random injustices. And finally, after all that, when you run for re-election, the whole issue will never even come up. Your opponent will never say you love hippies or call you a pothead or offer you Doritos during a debate. Why? Because pointing out that you advocated marijuana reform would make voters more likely to support you, not less.
For the second time in a year, Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles has denied a life-saving organ transplant to a patient solely because of his or her medical marijuana use. Chronicle story here.
After a brief hiatus, the DEA wrecking ball was back at work in California this week. Also, an important court victory in Colorado, a couple of court losses in Oregon, and Vermont is accepting dispensary applications. And there's a whole bunch more, too. Chronicle story here.
On Thursday, Eric Holder lied to Congress about DOJ's escalating attacks against medical marijuana:
Mr. Holder said federal officials are not going after those who are staying within the confines of their states' medical marijuana laws, but said some have "come up with ways in which they are taking advantage of these state laws."
"We limit our enforcement efforts to those individuals, organizations that are acting out of conformity with state law," Mr. Holder told a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing. [Washington Times]
That statement is simply false, and flagrantly so. It's been widely reported in the press that federal prosecutors have threatened to arrest state officials merely for administering their own medical marijuana laws. One cannot claim that regulators performing their official duties are "acting out of conformity with state law". They are the state. You can't threaten them with arrest and then subsequently claim that enforcement is only directed at those who violate local laws.
Moreover, the feds have raided hundreds of dispensaries without making any effort at all to determine whether state laws are being violated. Most of the time, they're just confiscating money and medicine without even charging anyone. They keep saying the people they raid were breaking local laws, but they aren't proving that to be the case. When have they ever demonstrated that any of these businesses were violating state laws?
This whole just-enforcing-state-laws excuse is the same nonsense we were hearing from the President a month ago, and the Obama Administration's ability to comfortably repeat this crap owes much to the media's total failure to follow up on it.
A trial over a big cocaine bust in Michigan ended up taking out a judge, a prosecutor, and a pair of cops as they constructed a conspiracy of lies to help win their case. Chronicle feature story here.
There may be justice yet for Ramarley Graham, the Bronx teenager killed by police in his own bathroom as he tried to flush a baggie of weed. The cops said they thought he had a gun. He didn't, and now one narc has been indicted for manslaughter. Chronicle story here.
DrugWarFacts.org, a publication of Common Sense for Drug Policy, is an in-depth compilation of key facts, stats and quotes on the full range of drug policy issues, excerpted from expert publications on the subjects. The Chronicle is running a series of info items from DrugWarFacts.org over the next several weeks, and we encourage you to check it out. Chronicle article here.
According to Dr. Bronner's, David Bronner is going to be in jail overnight (ouch), and is being charged with disorderly conduct, blocking a public way, and attempted distribution of marijuana.
If distribution is the charge they bring, things may get interesting. The US federal government bans growing of hemp plants, despite their lack of the psychoactive ingredient THC. But it is legal to import the sterilized seeds and the oil, among other things. It's oil (on bread), ground from the plants on site, that David was providing to people. Can a distribution charge of a food substance that is sold legally right here in the US stand up? The right to sell such food substances was tested and secured, in large part through Dr. Bronner's supported efforts. Perhaps there's some issue with the absence of an opportunity for FDA oversight, but that doesn't sound like a drug distribution charge to me. Perhaps some knowledgeable attorneys can weigh in here.
In the meanwhile, here are six video clips we shot from our smart phones today, followed by a professional one by Robin Bell.
David explains the differences between marijuana and hemp:
In an effort to reduce the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other blood-borne disease, authorities in Kenya will start distributing needles to injection drug users next month. Chronicle story here.