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Hemp Civil Disobedience at the White House NOW

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.

Pro-Legalization Cops Seek Assistant Media Relations Director

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Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is seeking a talented and motivated individual to work in our media relations department on a part-time basis. LEAP is a nonprofit organization representing police officers, judges, prosecutors and other criminal justice professionals who want to legalize and regulate marijuana and other drugs after witnessing the failure of the "war on drugs" up close.

The assistant media relations director will report to and work alongside LEAP's full-time media relations director in efforts to inject the voices of pro-legalization law enforcers into high-profile news coverage of the rapidly advancing public debate about failed drug policies.

Specifically, duties will include but are not limited to:

  • Writing op-eds and letters-to-the-editor.
  • Drafting, editing and distributing press releases.
  • Making follow-up pitch calls to reporters and producers.
  • Scanning the news to identify PR opportunities.
  • Using an online media database to generate lists of journalists to contact.
  • Building relationships with journalists.
  • Encouraging prominent bloggers to link to or write about interesting drug policy stories.
  • Posting comments mentioning LEAP on prominent blogs and online news articles.
  • Tracking, circulating and archiving LEAP's news hits.
  • Interacting with supporters on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

Through these and other tactics, the assistant media relations director will help members of the organization's 150-member bureau of law enforcement speakers make their voices heard in the increasingly prominent global drug policy discussion.

The assistant media relations director will preferably -- but not necessarily -- be located in San Francisco, CA or Washington, DC, and will work three days a week (24 hours per week).

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Demonstrated ability to generate positive news coverage for advocacy efforts.
  • Familiarity with diverse news organizations across platforms (print, online, broadcast).
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills.
  • Commitment to LEAP's mission to replace the "war on drugs" with legalized regulation.
  • Social media savvy.
  • Video editing, graphics and web design skills are major plusses.
  • Spanish language fluency a plus but not required.

COMPENSATION:

The assistant media relations director will be compensated at a competitive hourly rate commensurate with experience.

TO APPLY:

Please send a resume, cover letter and (preferably published) short writing sample to Tom Angell, LEAP's media relations director, at media@leap.cc. Interviews are being conducted on a rolling basis, so interested candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. The application deadline is June 15, 2012.

More information about LEAP is available at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

New Biography Says Obama Smoked Pot -- A Lot

President Obama has written about his drug use as a teenager, but excerpts from a new biography of the president portray him as a party hardy high school and college marijuana user. And that has reform advocates calling foul on a president who laughs off serious questions about marijuana legalization and whose Justice Department is cracking down on medical marijuana distribution.

The new biography, Barack Obama: The Story, is written by veteran Washington political journalist David Maraniss and contains extensive material about the president's smoke-filled young adulthood including his leading role in the Choom Gang, with "choom" used as verb meaning to get high.

Obama choomed his way through the Punohao School in Honolulu and Occidental College in Los Angeles, Maraniss reports, citing interviews with the president's erstwhile colleagues. And young Obama wasn't just experimenting; he showed signs of being a serious pothead.

He created a pot-smoking trend among his peers called "TA," short for "total absorption," and also is credited with popularizing the notion of "roof hits," or rolling up all the windows in a car while smoking, then tilting one's head back and sucking the last remnants of smoke from the roof.

Young Barry and his Choom Gang buddies were so serious about their fun that they assessed penalties on their peers for wasting smoke by not inhaling fully. If you wasted smoke, you were penalized by being passed by the next time the joint came around. "Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated," a member of the gang told Maraniss.

The president-to-be was also an eager pot smoker. He was known for elbowing his way in out of turn when a joint was being passed, shouting "Intercepted!" and taking an extra hit.

Obama seemed to retain his marijuana-friendly attitude until he attained the presidency. While there are no stories of him getting baked while editing the Harvard Law Review, he was critical of the drug war while an Illinois senator, and as a presidential candidate, he vowed to not go after medical marijuana in states where it is legal.

But as president, he has converted himself into a full-blown prohibitionist, laughing off marijuana legalization, continuing to fund the drug war at the same high levels (and with the same law enforcement heavy spending ratio), and attempting to export US drug war strategies to violence-wracked areas like Mexico and Central America. And, after a year and a half of relatively benign neglect, his Justice Department has turned on medical marijuana providers with a vengeance.

The publication of the Maraniss excerpts provoked a response from Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, who chided the president for his shifting stance and warned there could be a political price to pay.

"Barack Obama won a lot of hearts and minds some years ago when he talked so openly and frankly about his youthful marijuana use. That contrasted refreshingly with Bill Clinton's hemming and hawing about not having inhaled, much less George Bush's refusal to even acknowledge what old friends revealed about his marijuana use," Nadelmann noted. "But the president has been losing lots of hearts and minds, especially those of young voters, with his striking silence on marijuana issues since he became president -- apart from providing lame excuses for the federal government's aggressive undermining of state medical marijuana laws.

"Most disappointing is his failure to say a word as president about the fact that half of all drug arrests each year are for nothing more than possessing a small amount of marijuana, which is something Barack Obama did lots of in his younger days, or to offer any critical comments about the stunning racial disproportionality in marijuana arrests around the country," Nadelmann continued. "Roughly twice as many people are arrested for marijuana possession now as were arrested in the early 1980s, even though the number of people consuming marijuana is no greater now than then. If police had been as keen on making marijuana arrests back then, it's quite likely that a young African American man named Barry Obama would have landed up with a criminal record -- and even more likely that he would not have his current job."

Recent polls show support for marijuana legalization at 50% or higher, with even higher levels of support among liberals and Democrats. It is time for Obama to address the issue, Nadelmann said.

"President Obama needs to come clean once again about marijuana -- but this time he needs to speak not of his own youthful use but rather of the harmful consequences of today's punitive marijuana policies for young Americans today," he said.

Washington, DC
United States

LEAP Hiring Speakers Bureau Director (Applications Due Tomorrow!)

[Sorry for the late notice -- we just heard about this!]

Job Posting: Speakers Bureau Director (Full Time)
http://www.leap.cc/hiring-speakersbureaudirector/

Application Deadline: Friday, May 11, 2012 Start Date: May 28, 2012

Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area (preferred)


LEAP is an international nonprofit educational organization created to give voice to law-enforcers who believe the US war on drugs has failed and who wish to support alternative policies that will lower the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction. The Speakers Bureau Director performs a combination of duties including policy advocacy, team management, recruiting and training, and cold calling various venues to suggest a LEAP speaker. This position reports to the Executive Director.

Speakers Bureau Director responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Coordinating the speaking engagements for LEAP speakers across the full spectrum of venues, including colleges and universities; civic, professional, and religious organizations; legislative hearings; conferences; and more. Booking is done both directly and through the management of teams of staff and volunteers. It includes pitching venues, arranging all details and making sure all parties have them, and occasionally organizing transportation and lodging. The speakers bureau team is also responsible for obtaining funding from organizations to cover LEAP's speaking expenses and honoraria when possible.
  • Managing the activities of the speakers bureau. This includes recruiting speakers, coordinating the vetting process, initially training speakers, collecting and providing feedback, and making sure that current speakers have all the resources they need to represent LEAP. As part of this management, the speakers bureau director is responsible for reviewing the application process, running the speakers' training web site, writing new speakers' bios, and being available to answer any and all questions and concerns from current speakers.
  • Drafting and keeping up-to-date various internal and external policy documents including testimony, speeches, slide presentations, handouts, fact sheets, and summaries for speakers to use in educating the public. The speakers bureau director is also responsible for staying current on drug policy issues and making sure that the members of the speakers bureau have access to the latest statistics and other preparation and materials.
  • Collaboration both within and outside the organization. LEAP supports reform in dozens of states in partnership with organizations nationwide. The speakers bureau director will work with local and state campaigns in order to coordinate LEAP's role in providing law enforcement support. He/she will also work closely with LEAP's media, outreach and finance directors and office managers to ensure that speakers' activities are covered in the press, reimbursed, and recorded accurately in the organization's records.

Required qualifications include:

  • At least three years of relevant policy advocacy or organizing experience;
  • Excellent communications skills, both written and oral;
  • Excellent interpersonal skills;
  • Demonstrated ability to manage and mentor teams;
  • Enthusiasm, optimism, and a sense of humor;
  • Flexibility and an ability to work in a rapidly-changing environment
  • Demonstrated commitment to social justice issues, preferably drug policy reform;
  • Familiarity with Google Mail and Google Docs;
  • Comfort with selling ideas over the phone and by email;
  • Comfort with frequent conference calls; and
  • Spanish language fluency a plus but not required.

More Information About LEAP

Who we are: Established in 2002 by one Canadian and four American cops, LEAP has become an international organization of law enforcement professionals (police officers; parole and corrections staff; judges; prosecutors; prison wardens; DEA, Homeland Security and FBI agents) with over 60,000 supporters throughout 80 countries. LEAP has over 150 speakers.

What we believe: We believe that drug prohibition is the true cause of much of the social and personal damage that has historically been attributed to drug use. It is prohibition that makes marijuana worth more than gold, and heroin worth more than uranium -- while giving criminals a monopoly over their supply. Driven by the huge profits from this monopoly, criminal gangs bribe and kill each other, law enforcers, innocent civilians and children alike. Their trade is unregulated and they are, therefore, beyond our control. We thus believe in a legal, regulated and controlled system for drugs.

What we do: LEAP has established a speakers bureau of knowledgeable current and former law enforcement professionals who educate diverse audiences about the negative impacts of our current drug policies.

Compensation

Salary based on experience. Benefits include paid vacation, paid sick leave and healthcare package.

To Apply

Applicants should email a resume and cover letter describing the applicant's interest in this position to Shaleen Title at shaleen.title@leap.cc.

4/20 Protest at Obama Oaksterdam-area Headquarters

There is a Bay Area 4/20 demonstration against the Obama administration's war on medical marijuana. It's starting a short time from now at the federal building in Oakland, followed by a march at noon Pacific time to Oaksterdam and Obama campaign headquarters, which is around the corner from Oaksterdam University. There is a film festival and benefit party for California NORML and OU starting at 3:00pm, and another event in the area tomorrow.

Phil is attending and will be posting a Chronicle report this afternoon -- check back. Visit http://www.canorml.org for sign up for their updates. Following is the CANORML announcement:

Fri 4/20 - OAKSTERDAM PROTEST (11:30 - 1:30)
and FILM FESTIVAL (3PM - 8PM)

JOIN US at 11 AM, at the Federal Building in Oakland (1301 Clay St.) to protest the federal attack on Oaksterdam and medical cannabis. At 12 PM we will be marching up to Oaksterdam to make our views known to the President's campaign. Participants are invited to drop by the Oaksterdam Student Union 1915 Broadway for refreshments after 1 PM.

FILM FESTIVAL & 4/20 CELEBRATION - 3 PM - 8 PM at Oaksterdam (1600 Broadway) $10 for benefit of Cal NORML & Oaksterdam U. Featuring: "A NORML Life" (3PM); "California 90420" (4:30 PM) and special premier presentation: "The Green Goddess" (6PM) with in-person Q& A by producer Chris Iverson. Facebook event page

Sat 4/21 DEEP GREEN FESTIVAL at Craneway Conference Center, Richmond - noon -midnite
Festive Earth Day celebration of the 7 dimensions of cannabis. Look for the CalNORML table!

We're Winning Any Time the President is Forced to Say the Word "Legalization"

This MSNBC footage is pretty exciting to see.

Obama got dragged kicking and screaming into this debate, and it's a significant moment even if he didn’t give up any new ground. Just look at what happened here. Obama had to travel all the way to Colombia to argue against legalizing drugs, and he didn’t do a particularly good job. The drug war debate looked nothing like this just a few short years ago, i.e. I do not recall Bill Clinton or George W. Bush being forced into any situations like this one.

The impact of a symbolic moment like this is something we can't exactly measure, but my take on the situation is that the lights are being turned on. People are talking about the drug war more than ever before, which creates a kind of pressure that hasn’t existed in the past.

When both sides of the debate are talking about policy change, that says a lot, even if one side isn't serious about it. Opponents of legalization are now in the awkward position of pretending that there's some kind of 3rd way to handle this, and they're going to look sillier from one day to the next as the problem gets worse under their watch. What happens after the "reforms" offered by the Obama Administration and people like Kevin Sabet fail to save a single life south of our border? We're going to find out.

DPA Grants Program LOIs Due April 26th

The Drug Policy Alliance will allocate roughly $750,000 during the 2012/2013 Promoting Policy Change (PPC) grant cycle. PPC seeks to broaden public support for drug policy reform and will fund organizations who have consistently demonstrated success utilizing strategic and innovative approaches to increase such support. Proposals we fund are those designed to educate the public and policymakers about the negative consequences of current local, state or national drug policies, to promote better awareness and understanding of alternatives to current drug policies, and to broaden understanding of the extent to which punitive prohibitionist policies are responsible for most drug-related problems. Promoting Policy Change is a fund that has a two-tier application process.

We require a letter of intent to initiate the relationship. The deadline for the letter is Thursday, April 26th, 2012 at midnight (eastern). All LOIs must be emailed to grants@drugpolicy.org. The letter should consist of a single page that includes your organization’s name and all contact information; IRS status; a brief description of how your proposal is aligned with DPA's priorities (as described at drugpolicy.org/about-us/advocacy-grants-program); the amount of your funding request; and the organization's specific drug policy goals and deliverables during the fiscal year covered.

If you are invited to apply following submission of your LOI, you will be notified on or about May 15th. The deadline for requested proposals is June 18th, 2012 by 8pm (eastern). Please note that being asked to apply is NOT a guarantee of an award being made. Awards will be made mid to late September.

DPA Grants Program LOIs Due April 26th

The Drug Policy Alliance will allocate roughly $750,000 during the 2012/2013 Promoting Policy Change (PPC) grant cycle. PPC seeks to broaden public support for drug policy reform and will fund organizations who have consistently demonstrated success utilizing strategic and innovative approaches to increase such support. Proposals we fund are those designed to educate the public and policymakers about the negative consequences of current local, state or national drug policies, to promote better awareness and understanding of alternatives to current drug policies, and to broaden understanding of the extent to which punitive prohibitionist policies are responsible for most drug-related problems. Promoting Policy Change is a fund that has a two-tier application process.

We require a letter of intent to initiate the relationship. The deadline for the letter is Thursday, April 26th, 2012 at midnight (eastern). All LOIs must be emailed to grants@drugpolicy.org. The letter should consist of a single page that includes your organization’s name and all contact information; IRS status; a brief description of how your proposal is aligned with DPA's priorities (as described at drugpolicy.org/about-us/advocacy-grants-program); the amount of your funding request; and the organization’s specific drug policy goals and deliverables during the fiscal year covered.

If you are invited to apply following submission of your LOI, you will be notified on or about May 15th. The deadline for requested proposals is June 18th, 2012 by 8pm (eastern).  Please note that being asked to apply is NOT a guarantee of an award being made.  Awards will be made mid to late September.

US Law Enforcement Officials Call on Canadian Prime Minister to Legalize Marijuana

WASHINGTON, DC -- A high-profile group of current and former law enforcement officials from the United States is calling on the Canadian government to reconsider the mandatory minimum sentences for minor marijuana offenses proposed in Bill C-10, arguing that the taxation and regulation of marijuana is a more effective policy approach to reducing crime.

On Wednesday, the law enforcers released a letter outlining their concerns, addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian senators. It is signed by more than two dozen current and former judges, police officers, special agents, narcotics investigators and other criminal justice professionals, all of whom are members of the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). The letter strongly reinforces the failure of U.S. crime policies that those proposed in the Canadian federal government’s Bill C-10 legislation seem to be modeled on.

“Through our years of service enforcing anti-marijuana laws, we have seen the devastating consequences of these laws,” the letter states. “Among the greatest concerns is the growth in organized crime and gang violence. Just as with alcohol prohibition, gang violence, corruption and social decay have marched in lockstep with marijuana prohibition.”

“We were deeply involved with the war on drugs and have now accepted, due to our own experience and the clear evidence before us, that these policies are a costly failure,” the letter continues. “Marijuana prohibition drives corruption and violence and tougher laws only worsen the problem.”

Bill C-10, titled “The Safe Streets and Communities Act,” is currently being heard by the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Among other proposals, the bill calls for stricter mandatory minimum sentences for minor marijuana offenses, including minimum six-month sentences for growing as few as six marijuana plants.

“The Canadian government believes the answer is to get tougher on criminals,” said Norm Stamper, retired chief of police in Seattle, Washington. “But as we’ve learned with our decades-long failed experiment with the ‘war on drugs,’ the stricter sentencing proposed in the bill will only serve to help fill jails. It will not reduce harms related to the illicit marijuana trade, make Canadian streets safer or diminish gang activity.”

Said retired Washington State Superior Court Judge David Nichols: “Policies similar to those in the U.S. and now under consideration in Canada have been costly failures in the United States, wasting tax dollars and bankrupting state budgets. Following our path presents obvious and significant risks to Canadians.”

Among the 28 signers of the letter are many law enforcement officials working in border areas. They pointed to the illegal cross-border marijuana trade as sustaining gang activity in the region.

“Organized crime groups move marijuana to the U.S. from British Columbia and return with cocaine and guns,” said Stamper. “Prohibition continues to fill the coffers of organized criminals, making communities on both sides of the border less safe.”

Eric Sterling, who helped the U.S. Congress write the federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws, cautions: “As counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee during the 1980's, I played a major role in writing the mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws which later turned out to not only be ineffective in reducing drug use, but which directly contributed to the disastrous overincarceration problem in this country. I urge policy makers in Canada to learn from our mistakes.”

Canadian Senator Larry Campbell, a member of LEAP’s advisory board and a former member of the RCMP and its drug squad, added: “I am hopeful that my Senate colleagues will listen to the voice of experience, and take into account the advice from leading U.S. law enforcement officials to avoid mandatory minimum sentences. The U.S. and many of its citizens have suffered greatly due to the inflexible and dogmatic nature of mandatory minimum sentences, and Canada would be wise to learn from and avoid that costly and socially destructive mistake.”

U.S. Becoming More Progressive than Canada with Marijuana Policy

While Canada moves towards stricter sentencing with Bill C-10, many states in the U.S. are shifting in the opposite direction, toward control and regulation of the marijuana trade. The law enforcement officials pointed to the 16 U.S. states and the District of Columbia that have already passed laws allowing medical use of cannabis, the 14 states that have taken steps to decriminalize marijuana possession and the initiatives to fully tax and regulate marijuana that are likely to appear on statewide ballots this November in Washington State, Colorado and possibly California.

“We assume this news will not make you consider closing the borders with the United States,” the law enforcement officials write in their letter.

For a copy of the law enforcement letter, please visit http://www.leap.cc/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/regulation-in-canada.pdf

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate marijuana and other drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence.

More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 22, 2012

CONTACT: Tom Angell, media@leap.cc or Steve Finlay, steve.finlay@leap.cc

Location: 
Canada

YouTube Ignores Cop's First Place Marijuana Legalization Video Question for Obama

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:January 30, 2012
CONTACT:Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or media@leap.cc

YouTube Ignores Cop's First Place Marijuana Legalization Video Question for Obama

Site Finds Time for Questions About Dancing, Late-Night Snacks and Playing Tennis

WASHINGTON, DC-- Today YouTube ignored a question advocating marijuana legalization from a retired LAPD deputy chief of police that won twice as many votes as any other video question in the White House's "Your Interview with the President" competition on the Google-owned site. They did, however, find the time to get the president on record about late night snacking, singing and dancing, celebrating wedding anniversaries and playing tennis.  

Stephen Downing, the retired LAPD police officer and a board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), had this to say about the site ignoring his question: "It's worse than silly that YouTube and Google would waste the time of the president and of the American people discussing things like midnight snacks and playing tennis when there is a much more pressing question on the minds of the people who took the time to participate in voting on submissions. A majority of Americans now support legalizing marijuana to de-fund cartels and gangs, lower incarceration and arrest rates and save scarce public resources, all while generating new much-needed tax revenue. The time to discuss this issue is now. We're tired of this serious public policy crisis being pushed aside or laughed off."

The top-voted video question from Downing is as follows: "Mr. President, my name is Stephen Downing, and I'm a retired deputy chief of police from the Los Angeles Police Department. From my 20 years of experience I have come to see our country’s drug policies as a failure and a complete waste of criminal justice resources. According to the Gallup Poll, the number of Americans who support legalizing and regulating marijuana now outnumbers those who support continuing prohibition. What do you say to this growing voter constituency that wants more changes to drug policy than you have delivered in your first term?" The question can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0IpiATxdR4.

Downing's question came in first place for video questions and ranked second out of all questions (with the overall top spot going to a text question about copyright infringement). Many of the other top-ranking questions were about marijuana policy or the failed "war on drugs," as has been the case every other time the White House has invited citizens to submit and vote on questions via the web. 

Voting in the YouTube contest wrapped up Saturday at midnight EST. In addition to the top-voted marijuana and drug policy questions mentioned above, there were a number of other similar questions that received thousands of votes but were mysteriously deleted after being marked "inappropriate."

More information about the contest and the top-voted questions can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/whitehouse. The Gallup poll referenced in Downing's winning question can be found online at http://www.gallup.com/poll/150149/Record-High-Americans-Favor-Legalizing-Marijuana.aspx.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the war on drugs and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

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