The Speakeasy Blog
The feds continue to play hardball in California and local elected officials across the state are grappling with the issues. Meanwhile, Vermont moves ahead on dispensaries while New Hampshire's medical marijuana bill can't overcome a gubernatorial veto, and that's not all. Chronicle story here.
A decriminalization bill has passed the New Jersey Assembly, but faces an uphill battle to overcome a veto threat from Gov. Christie. Chronicle story here.
NYPD refuses to stop charging people with misdemeanor marijuana possession after stopping and frisking them and forcing them to empty their pockets so they can be charged with "public possession," so now the Legal Aid Society is suing to make them knock it off. Chronicle story here.
When it comes to slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS, the imperatives of the drug war are a hindrance, not a help, a new report from the Global Commission on Drugs finds. There is a better way, the group says. Chronicle feature story here.
If you haven't yet seen DEA boss Michele Leonhart's frickin ridiculous congressional testimony last Thursday (or even if you have), please click over to Huffington Post where you'll find me ranting about it. 99% of the time when a drug warrior says something silly it doesn't become a big media story, but this one made the cut and for good reason. Check it out, then send the link to somebody cool.
The left-leaning Uruguayan government says it will introduce a bill that would give it a monopoly on legal marijuana sales. Chronicle story here.
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.