David Bronner, president of the widely-known Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, locked himself in an iron cage with hemp plants (the non-psychoactive type) this morning to protest the federal government's ban on hemp. Dr. Bronner's uses hemp oil in its soaps, imported from Canada. There is a live stream at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hempaction2, though I just got a malware infection message from my browser the site so proceed with caution. David is just being taken away to a police cruiser right now.
In a few moments I will be posting an interview Phil conducted yesterday with David, and a short news report on the action, and photos from this morning, which also discusses an amendment to the federal farm bill being submitted by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY), the first Senate pro-hemp legislation.
Attorney General Holder told the House Judiciary Committee Thursday that Justice is only targeting dispensaries not in compliance with state laws. Medical marijuana advocates called him a liar. Chronicle story here.
This week's exciting news that Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg are backing an effort to end New York City's mindless marijuana arrest crusade didn't exactly result in a round of applause at the FOX News studios. Here's Bill O'Reilly babbling about it.
O'Reilly says the cops "know who the wise guys are," and they're only bothering people who deserve it. That sounds reassuring, oh, except for the fact that NYPD has already searched more young black men than they even have in the entire city. So yeah, they might be catching some of these "wise guys" as O'Reilly so eloquently describes them, but only because they're also searching every other young black man in the city. There is no clever strategy behind it. They're just searching all the black dudes. Stop trying to make it sound sophisticated, Bill.
But the real problem with O'Reilly's logic, and it also highlights the irony of whole ridiculous situation, is that there's no component in this new marijuana decriminalization proposal that would actually require police to stop constantly racially profiling everyone they see. That's not even what this is.
Simple possession is already decriminalized in New York. The measure in question would simply downgrade the more serious charge of "possession in public view" so that racial profiling victims would no longer be charged with the public display of marijuana as a result of police ordering them to empty their pockets. The policy of police racially profiling people and illegally searching them remains intact under this plan. You just get off the hook if any pot is found during the course of police committing misconduct against you.
I'm still in favor of the reform – anything that might stop all these pot busts is great – but it's insane that they're actually going so far as to legalize "public display" of marijuana simply because they can't stop the cops from yanking pot out of people's pockets and then lying about it. New York's marijuana law wasn't really even the problem here and shouldn't actually need to be changed to prevent the racially abusive enforcement and prosecution scheme that's been going on in New York for the past decade.
These were false arrests to begin with and the most appropriate solution would be for police and prosecutors to stop systematically violating people's rights. But apparently that is more difficult than reducing the penalties for marijuana. Wow.
The newest tactic of legalization opponents is to roll their eyes and pretend that reforming our drug laws is a frivolous issue. My latest Huffington Post rant attempts to demolish that argument. Let me know what you think.
Voters in this presidential battleground state won't just decide whether to go red or blue this fall but also green -- as in marijuana.
Whether to legalize marijuana will be on the Colorado ballot in November. President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney have identical stances on pot legalization -- they oppose it. And neither is comfortable talking about it.
Yet Obama and Romney find themselves unwittingly ensnared in the legalization debate -- and both may want to take it more seriously if their race in Colorado is close. [FOXNews]
It's really rather remarkable that one of the hottest debates in American politics right now is something neither major party candidate even dares to discuss. As accustomed as we are to having these issues ignored by people in positions of political power, there really is a point at which you just can't ignore it anymore and I think that might be exactly where we're finding ourselves at this very moment.
After all, if the President himself can't explain our marijuana laws to us in a way that makes sense, what does that say about our marijuana laws? A lot of people are seriously pissed off about this, and the longer Obama fails to defend it, the worse he looks. There is no excuse for a leader's failure to discuss public policy with the public. There just isn't.
And now we have a major swing state in which a legalization measure is polarizing the electorate around this exact issue. Obama and Romney will approach that situation how? By standing there like fools and saying nothing at all? By saying it isn't important, even though the voters think it is? Neither look is particularly flattering.
Saying something even slightly sympathetic about fixing our marijuana laws in some way would probably pick up a not-insignificant number of votes for whoever dared to do it. However loud we must make ourselves to get that point across, it is apparently at least a little louder than this, but that's okay because we're getting steadily better at making noise.
Update: Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is yet another factor here. Unfortunately, Obama and Romney are so similarly disappointing on this issue that we can't even be sure who will be more affected by Johnson's candidacy.
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(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)
Even as public opinion begins to shift in favor of marijuana reform, there remain some among us who just refuse to admit that this issue matters. In this clip, CNN contributor LZ Granderson viciously insults supporters of marijuana policy reform.
It's an arrogant and foolish display that completely misses the point of the drug war debate. It ought to be obvious that people care about this for reasons other than a personal desire to get high. If only pot smokers cared about this issue, it wouldn’t be polling at record levels and affecting the outcomes of important elections. Clearly there's much more at stake here, and those who don't understand the issue should begin by talking less and listening more.
Our marijuana laws cause an almost incalculable amount of destruction and anyone who can't see what's at stake here would be well advised not to call anybody else an idiot.
New York decriminalized pot possession 35 years ago, but NYPD keeps arresting and jailing people for "possession in public view" after forcing them to empty their pockets. Now, the governor and NYC mayor are behind a change in the law to prevent that practice. Chronicle story here.
Detroit elected officials' efforts to block city residents from voting to legalize marijuana have been shot down by the state Supreme Court. The issue should be on the primary ballot in August. Chronicle story here.
A bill that would bring sorely lacking statewide regulation to California's medical marijuana industry passed the Assembly Thursday and now heads to the Senate. Chronicle story here.
A new poll show support for marijuana legalization below 50% in California and suggests some demographic groups that need some attention if it is to receive majority support. Chronicle story here.
The rank hypocrisy of Obama's position on pot has been amplified rather dramatically by last week's revelation that he literally smoked more than his share of it back in high school. It's an important conversation to have, but I think this analysis by Paul Waldman in The American Prospect lands a little off the mark.
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. The incentives on the other side, on the other hand, are almost nil. When was the last time somebody lost a race for being too tough on drugs? The half of Americans who favor marijuana legalization are not an organized voting bloc that gets together to punish its opponents at the polls.
This is almost the opposite of what I've been saying lately, given that in just the past month, two different well-connected democratic candidates have collapsed under the weight of their unpopular drug war posturing. First, Oregon voters roundly rejected Dwight Holton in an attorney general race that focused heavily on his opposition to medical marijuana. Then, just yesterday in Texas, U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes lost the congressional seat he's held since 1996 in a primary challenge from outspoken drug policy reformer Beto O'Rourke.
Really, the whole notion that candidates who support reform will be labeled as "hippie-lovers," is nothing more than a fictitious cliché without a single good example to justify its utterance. Instead, we're witnessing the emergence of the exact opposite, a new dynamic in democratic races wherein a history of defending the drug war is a political liability that can be exploited to powerful effect by candidates who side with the majority of voters in favoring reform.
That's why it's so frustrating to see observers like Waldman, who supports reforming drug policy, nevertheless endeavor to uphold the notion that political realities require our leaders to do the wrong thing. If Obama were to read that analysis and find it convincing, Waldman would have succeeded in helping the President rationalize his refusal to support reform. We're hurting our cause when we say stuff like this, and worse yet, the idea itself isn't even true.
The truth is that a majority of voters actually do want the President to stop waging war on marijuana. It isn't in any politician's political interest to ignore public opinion while defending bad public policy. The smart play is to steer into the changing political current, just as Obama did with gay marriage, and the result is that public opinion itself begins to change that much faster. This is what's known as leadership, and when it comes to reforming our horrible drug laws, our politicians have everything to gain by speaking up and speaking out.
The Senate has passed a bill banning new synthetic drugs. It's already passed the House, and the president is expected to sign it into law shortly. Chronicle story here.
A former El Paso city council member who wants to legalize marijuana has knocked off drug warrior Rep. Silvestre Reyes in the Texas Democratic Party primary. Chronicle story here.
Marijuana decriminalization is just a pair of floor votes away from passage in the Rhode Island General Assembly after companion bills were approved by respective judiciary committees Tuesday. Chronicle story here.
After seven years in an Indonesian prison over nine pounds of marijuana, there are signs that Schapelle Corby could be free by this fall. Chronicle story here.
If you want welfare benefits in Tennessee, you will have to submit to drug screening that could include a drug test under a bill just signed into law. Chronicle story here.
One of the most common questions we get at Flex Your Rights is how to handle a situation in which police claim to smell marijuana. This can happen whether or not you actually have marijuana and police actually smell it, so it's a situation everyone should be prepared for.
My latest YouTube video takes a look at this tricky question.
The police can -- and do -- track your cell phone without a warrant, and they are increasingly resorting to it in the wake of the January Supreme Court decision barring warrantless GPS tracking. Chronicle feature story by Clarence Walker online here.
It's a story so moving you would have to be insane not to feel compassion for Justice Reichbach and patients like him. Unfortunately, long-time drug war defender David G. Evans is insane. In a calmly-worded, yet viciously dismissive letter to the editor, Evans suggests that the judge might be lying about his cancer treatment.
Anecdotal reports may…be inaccurate because of the emotional expectations of the person using marijuana and the placebo effect. In some cases, there may be deliberate exaggeration for ideological reasons.
To even suggest such a thing is offensive beyond words. We're talking about a man who is fighting for his life, a man who dedicated that life to upholding the law, and who turned to marijuana only after being handed a death sentence. From what twisted perspective would one even arrive at the idea that such a person was speaking dishonestly?
Even leaving aside what we already know about marijuana's medical benefits, what kind of monster would question a dying man's account of how he finds comfort? Evans's sickening insinuations are an exhibit in the inhumanity required to judge those who only seek relief from their suffering. Worse, he even attempts to disguise his coldness and cynicism as a form of genuine concern:
It is true compassion to make sure that medicines are safe and effective and that the claims about them are true.
It's an incredible thing to say, premised entirely on the absurd notion that David Evans is entitled to an opinion about another man's cancer treatment. As often as we've seen critics of marijuana's medical use endeavor to embarrass themselves, I can scarcely recall an episode so disgraceful, so pure and vile in its arrogance.
It's awful to think that Justice Reichbach and other patients like him might read the cruel words of people like David Evans. But let's not miss the true meaning behind Evans's senseless message. If you look back at what he wrote, it reveals a great deal about the desperation of anti-drug ideologues like Evans as they angle for attention in a debate that's increasingly been decided already in the hearts and minds of most Americans.
Faced with a powerful story from a credible and sympathetic voice, Evans saw no option other than to call him a liar. He can't even accept the basic fact that sick people find relief from medical marijuana, because even that simple and obvious truth would, by itself, overwhelm every idiotic thing he's ever said on the subject. As hurtful as his words may be, Evans's horrendous example is exactly the reason we're winning this debate.