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Call Judiciary Committee Senators TODAY to End Harsh Drug Sentencing!

Update: The committee markup has been postponed until next week -- that means there's still time to call! (Calls needed from AL, AZ, CA, CT, DE, HI, IL, IA, MN, NY, RI, SC, TX, UT, VT.)

Dear friend,

  

Tomorrow -- Thursday, December 12 -- the US Senate Judiciary Committee will meet to discuss mandatory minimum sentencing and S. 1410, the Smarter Sentencing Act. The Smarter Sentencing Act is a bipartisan bill sponsored by committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), which would allow federal judges to bypass the much-criticized mandatory minimum sentences, sparing thousands of nonviolent federal offenders from years or even decades of incarceration. The bill would also extend retroactive sentencing reductions to some federal crack prisoners who had already been sentenced before the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act that reduced crack sentences was passed.

Today is a National Call-In Day for people who have Senators on the Judiciary Committee to call them in support of the bill. Please read the list of committee members below. If you live in one of the states that is on the list, please call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be transferred to the Senator's office. (If you are from Minnesota, Texas or Utah, you have two phone calls to make, as both of your Senators as on the Committee.) There is a phone script below that you can use as a guide for your call. When you are done, or if you are not from one of these states, please post this alert to your web sites or social media, or circulate them to people you know who are from any of these states.

  • Alabama: Sen. Jeff Sessions (urge to vote for S. 1410)
  • Arizona: Sen. Jeff Flake (urge to vote for S. 1410)
  • California: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (urge to vote for S. 1410)
  • Connecticut: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (urge to vote for S. 1410)
  • Delaware: Sen. Christopher Coons (urge to vote for S. 1410)
  • Hawaii: Sen. Mazie Hirono (urge to vote for S. 1410)
  • Illinois: Sen. Richard Durbin (thank for sponsoring the bill)
  • Iowa: Sen. Charles Grassley (urge to vote for S. 1410)
  • Minnesota: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (urge to vote for S. 1410)
  • Minnesota: Sen. Al Franken (urge to vote for S. 1410)
  • New York: Sen. Chuck Schumer (urge to vote for S. 1410)
  • Rhode Island: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (thank for sponsoring the bill)
  • South Carolina: Sen. Lindsey Graham (urge to vote for S. 1410)
  • Texas: Sen. John Cornyn (urge to vote for S. 1410)
  • Texas: Sen. Ted Cruz (urge to vote for S. 1410)
  • Utah: Sen. Orrin Hatch (urge to vote for S. 1410)
  • Utah: Sen. Mike Lee (thank for sponsoring the bill)
  • Vermont: Sen. Patrick Leahy (thank for sponsoring the bill)

Here is a script to use if your Senator is not a sponsor of S. 1410:
"I'm a constituent, and I'm calling to ask the Senator to vote in favor of mandatory minimum sentencing reform, including the Smarter Sentencing Act, S. 1410, at this Thursday's Judiciary Committee markup. The Senator should vote to reform mandatory minimums because they are unfair, expensive, and don't keep us safe. Thank you for considering my views."

And here is a script to use if your Senator is a sponsor of S. 1410:
"I'm a constituent, and I'm calling to thank the Senator for his support of mandatory minimum sentencing reform, including S. 1410, at this Thursday's Judiciary Committee markup. The Senate should vote to reform mandatory minimums because they are unfair, expensive, and don't keep us safe. Thank you for considering my views."

Thank you for taking action! Read our report about why this is such a promising time for sentencing reform, online here. And read more about the upcoming hearing here.

Sincerely,

David Borden, Executive Director
StoptheDrugWar.org
Washington, DC
http://stopthedrugwar.org

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Action Alerts: Farm Bill Hemp and Drug Testing, Mayors Marijuana Resolution

We sent out two action alerts on our email list yesterday. If you've not a subscriber, you can sign up here. (The page says "user account," for participating non-anonymously on our comment boards, but it also gets you subscribed to our list. Subscribing gets you action alerts as well as the email editions of the Chronicle.

As of the time of this writing, both alerts seem to still be current.

[Update: The Hudson SNAP drug testing amendment has passed the House, and the Farm Bill of which it's a part is expected to pass. Efforts to block it now move to the conference committee.]

[And another update: The hemp amendment PASSED! The full House of Representatives!]

I'm pasting them both below. One is about two amendments (one good, one bad) to the federal "Farm Bill" that are likely to be voted on by the House of Representatives sometime today. We have a Chronicle story online here. The other is an alert we sent out for the group Marijuana Majority that asks mayors to support a resolution at the US Conference of Mayors meeting calling on Congress and the administration to respect state marijuana law reforms. The mayors meeting is happening this week, so the resolution will also get voted on anytime. Both alerts target your own elected officials, e.g. the congressmen and mayors for whom you may have voted (US only). Here they are (farm bill first, mayors below):

 


 

 

Dear reformer,

I'm sorry for the double email today, but a lot is happening. We've just gotten word that there are two amendments coming to the floor of the US House of Representatives, possibly as soon as tonight and almost certainly this week. We really want one of the amendments to pass; we really don't want the other to pass. So we're asking you to CALL YOUR U.S. REPRESENTATIVE'S OFFICE ON THE PHONE AS SOON AS YOU GET THIS MESSAGE. Info for doing so is below.

Both amendments are being offered to the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (H.R. 1947). The good one, Amdt. #37 by Reps. Polis (D-CO), Blumenauer (D-OR) and Massie (R-KY), would allow industrial hemp growing for research or other academic purposes in states that allow it. One state that passed a hemp bill recently is California.

The bad one is Amdt. #22 by Reps. Hudson (R-NC), LaMalfa (R-CA) and Yoho (R-FL), which would allow states to require drug testing of all new applicants to the federal SNAP food assistance program. States that have tried this (before it being struck down on constitutional grounds) have found it cost far more than it saved, partly because welfare recipients don't use drugs at higher rates than the general population, as surveys have found. And of course when a low-income parent loses access to food stamps, the entire family is harmed.

Please call your US Representative's office as soon as you get this message, asking for a "Yes" vote on Amdt. #37 (hemp) and a "No" vote on Amdt. #22 (drug testing of food assistance applicants), both to the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act. You can reach your Rep (or find out who your Rep is) through the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Or, you can look up information about your Rep, including the direct phone number for the office, in our online legislative center.

 


 

 

Dear StoptheDrugWar.org supporter:

Later this week, the US Conference of Mayors will vote on a historic resolution calling on Congress and the President to respect state marijuana laws. StoptheDrugWar.org is working with the group Marijuana Majority and others to encourage mayors to support the resolution.

Please visit http://marijuanamajority.com/mayors/?source=drcnet to send an email to the mayor or your town or city supporting this important resolution. When you're done, click on the "call your mayor" link to call your mayor's office on the phone and for talking points to use when you do, and use the share links to let others know about it too. The text of the resolution, and list of mayors already supporting it, are online here.

ALERT: Make Phone Calls to Pass Marijuana Legalization Now!

The news cycle is awash with polls and news about the close race for president. But the most important votes happening next month may be historic initiatives to legalize and regulate marijuana -- and these are also going to be close.

You can help these and other initiatives we're supporting, and I hope that between now and Election Day you'll be able to. First, we have partnered with FireDogLake and the "Just Say Now" campaign to do phonebanking in support of Colorado's Amendment 64 and Oregon's Measure 80. (Other initiatives may be added to the site too.) Visit http://fdl.platform.webstrong.com/dna/network/groups/ to open an account -- select StoptheDrugWar.org as your "group," if you're willing to help us in that way -- and make phone calls from your home or anywhere for legalization! There are two options for Colorado, by the way -- one of them general, the other for women to call other women voters in the state.

There are other state initiatives that need your support, including marijuana legalization in Washington, medical marijuana in Arkansas and Montana and Massachusetts, and an important initiative in California to reform the state's draconian "three-strikes" law. Please visit our Election 2012 Resource Page at http://stopthedrugwar.org/election2012 for links to the campaign web sites where you can find volunteer information; the audio recording of our 9/27/12 teleconference with representatives of the legalization initiatives; and a link to our full election coverage archive page, where you can find feature stories we've published in Drug War Chronicle on almost all of these initiatives, Phil's weekly "Initiative Watch" feature, and more.

Please donate to help StoptheDrugWar.org to continue to grow and support the movement, to continue the press for legalization, and to prepare for the next stage after one or more of these measures passes in November. For donations of $35 or more, you can receive one of the two new books or the video that we're offering --  -- donate $95 or more for all three -- click here for all the details.

Thank you for standing with drug policy reform at this amazing and critical time. I believe that something big will happen this November -- with your help.

Volunteer to Pass Marijuana Legalization This Election

The news cycle is awash with polls and news about the close race for president. But the most important votes happening next month may be historic initiatives to legalize and regulate marijuana -- and these are also going to be close.

You can help these and other initiatives we're supporting, and I hope that between now and Election Day you'll be able to. First, we have partnered with FireDogLake and the "Just Say Now" campaign to do phonebanking in support of Colorado's Amendment 64 and Oregon's Measure 80. (Other initiatives may be added to the site too.) Visit http://fdl.platform.webstrong.com/dna/network/groups/ to open an account -- select StoptheDrugWar.org as your "group," if you're willing to help us in that way -- and make phone calls for legalization! There are two options for Colorado, by the way -- one of them general, the other for women to call other women voters in the state.

There are other state initiatives that need your support, including marijuana legalization in Washington, medical marijuana in Arkansas and Montana and Massachusetts, and an important initiative in California to reform the state's draconian "three-strikes" law. Please visit our Election 2012 Resource Page at http://stopthedrugwar.org/election2012 for links to the campaign web sites where you can find volunteer information; the audio recording of our 9/27/12 teleconference with representatives of the legalization initiatives; and a link to our full election coverage archive page, where you can find feature stories we've published in Drug War Chronicle on almost all of these initiatives, Phil's weekly "Initiative Watch" feature, and more.

Please donate to help StoptheDrugWar.org to continue to grow and support the movement, to continue the press for legalization, and to prepare for the next stage after one or more of these measures passes in November. For donations of $35 or more, you can receive one of the two new books or the video that we're offering --  -- donate $95 or more for all three -- click here for all the details.

Thank you for standing with drug policy reform at this amazing and critical time. I believe that something big will happen this November -- with your help.

Congress Voting on Medical Marijuana THIS WEEK!

protest against federal medical marijuana crackdown, San Francisco, April 2012
Dear reformer:

For the past 16 years states have called for safe access to medical marijuana. But Congress has failed to act, to the detriment of patients and providers.

That could change this week. Supporters of medical marijuana in Congress are offering an Appropriations amendment that would forbid the Dept. of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. The amendment comes at a time when pressure has been mounting on Pres. Obama to explain his administration's crackdown, the latest criticism from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

I'm tired of seeing friends who stood up to help patients lose their livelihoods after federal raids, some even prosecuted and imprisoned. I'm tired of watching DEA officials continue to obstruct FDA-approved research on medical marijuana, research that could have resolved things through that official process long ago. But things will only change if people like you who care about the issue and see through those deceptions speak up.

And so I'm asking for your help. Would you make a phone call today to your US Representative's office, asking for a YES vote on the Rohrabacher-Hinchey-McClintock-Farr medical marijuana amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill, H.R. 5326? Tell your Rep it's time to respect state medical marijuana laws and patients' rights! You can reach your Rep's office (or find our who your Rep is) by calling the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or you can look up the contact info through our online Legislative Center. (Use the "search by zip code" box.)

It couldn't be a more important time. Please call Congress to turn this challenging time in drug policy into a pivotal time for reform instead -- thank you for taking action.

Sincerely,

David Borden, Executive Director
StoptheDrugWar.org
Washington, DC
http://stopthedrugwar.org

P.S. You can help StoptheDrugWar.org by letting us know you've taken action and what your Representative's staffs had to say. You can also help by forwarding this alert and by urging people to sign up for our email list, our Facebook and Twitter pages and our RSS feeds. We also gratefully welcome donations.

Dismayed But Unbowed -- Take Action Today to Save Medical Marijuana

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/oaksterdam-raid-changedotorg.jpg
DEA agents raiding
Dear StoptheDrugWar.org supporter:

In 2008, candidate Barack Obama pledged to respect the right of state and local governments to provide access to medical marijuana for patients, a policy the Dept. of Justice under President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder later put in writing. As you likely know by now, the Dept. of Justice under Obama and Holder has not lived up to that promise, but instead has engaged in a campaign of raids, intimidation and misinformation. Last week, rogue US Attorney Melinda Haag went even further over the top, not only raiding alleged medical marijuana locations in the famous "Oaksterdam" neighborhood, but even attacking institutions like Oaksterdam University and the Oaksterdam Cannabis Museum that don't distribute marijuana.

I'm writing today to ask you three small things:

  1. Sign Oaksterdam founder Richard Lee's change.org petition.
  2. Send a letter to President Obama through StoptheDrugWar.org. This is important so we know who on our list is motivated to help save medical marijuana and what Congressional and state legislative districts you live in.
  3. Pledge to stay tuned to our web site and email list for further actions needed in the campaign to save medical marijuana.

We are dismayed that the Justice Department has flouted the promise President Obama and Attorney General Holder made to patients and their states and cities. But we are unbowed, and we are fighting back -- because time and the truth are on our side. Thank you for your support at this critical moment.

Sincerely,

David Borden, Executive Director
StoptheDrugWar.org
Washington, DC
http://stopthedrugwar.org

P.S. Help StoptheDrugwar.org fight to save medical marijuana with a generous donation for our work. Feel free to select one of the books, videos or StoptheDrugWar.org gift items that we currently offer when you do.

Protest in San Francisco TODAY (Tuesday 4/3 11:00am) to Stop Federal Medical Marijuana Raids!

(formatted PDF copy at http://www.canorml.org/SFUnited.pdf)

SF United Protest Rally & Press Conference at 11:00am on Tuesday, April 3rd 2012!

We are going to send a clear message to the Federal government: Stop interfering with State and local laws for safe access to our medicine! We must unite as an organized and vocal community to push back against this senseless attack on our permitted dispensaries in San Francisco.

-The Details-

Protest Rally starts promptly at 11:00 a.m. Press Conference is from 11:30 a.m. to Noon. We march from City Hall to the Federal Building at 450 Golden Gate Avenue at 12:30 p.m.

Confirmed Guest Speakers:

  • San Francisco Board of Supervisors
  • Assemblymember Tom Ammiano
  • San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera
  • Patient Advocates
  • Landlords
  • Permitted MCD Operators
  • Dale Gieringer - CANORML
  • Steph Sherer - ASA
  • More speakers are confirming their support now!
Please join SF United and City Hall Officials on the Polk street steps of City Hall to stand in support of the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Program. We would love to see you all there. If you can, please bring water, snacks and sunscreen to share with your fellow activists.
Location: 
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

ALERT: Don't Let Congress Backslide on Needle Exchange

Dear drug policy reformer:

One of the most important actions taken by Congress in recent years was the lifting of a ban on the use of federal AIDS grants to support needle exchange programs. We have just learned that as part of the end-of-year Congressional spending package, Republicans are pushing hard to reinstate the ban. If they succeed, it won't reduce federal spending -- this is entirely about the choices state and local officials get to make with the funds that they have -- but it will kill people by promoting syringe sharing by injection drug users and the resulting spread of deadly diseases like Hepatitis and HIV, in turn driving up health care costs related to those diseases.

Please call the White House to urge President Obama to stand firm on this issue and not allow the needle exchange funding ban to be reinstated. The White House comment line number is (202) 456-1414. Here is a sample script for your phone call: "My name is _______. I live in <CITY, STATE>. Thank you for your past support of syringe exchange. I support maintaining current language that allows local officials to make their own decisions to use federal and local Washington DC funds for Syringe Exchange. Please do not allow the Senate or House to change the current law in the Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations negotiations. Thank you."

Please also make the following calls to Congress:

  1. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV): (202) 224-3542
  2. Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL): (202) 224-2152
  3. Charles Schumer, chair of Senate Democratic Policy Committee (D-NY): (202) 224-6542
  4. Your Own Two Senators: (202) 224-3121 for the Congressional Switchboard or look up your Senator's numbers at senate.gov

    Sample script for phone calls to the Senate: "My name is _______. I live in <CITY, STATE>. I support maintaining current language that allows local officials to make their own decisions to use federal and local Washington DC funds for Syringe Exchange. Please do not change the current law in the Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations negotiations. Thank you."
  5. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): (202) 225-4965

    "Thank you for your past support of syringe exchange. "My name is _______. I live in <CITY, STATE>. I support maintaining current language that allows local officials to make their own decisions to use federal and local Washington DC funds for Syringe Exchange. Please do not change the current law in the Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations negotiations. Thank you."

Please email us to let us know what phone calls you've made -- especially if the staffers who take your phone calls offer any indication as to what their bosses' intentions are. Thank you for your taking action.

Email Congress for the National Criminal Justice Commission Act!

Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) has reintroduced the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, legisation to "create a blue-ribbon commission to look at every aspect of our criminal justice system with an eye toward reshaping the criminal justice system from top to bottom." The NCJCA, S. 306 in the current Congress, had broad and bipartisan support and passed the House of Representatives in 2010, but did not make the Senate calendar before the end of the year.

Please use our web form to urge your US Representative and your two US Senators to pass S. 306 so the commission can get started! Please follow-up by calling their offices too -- if you don't know their numbers (or aren't sure who they are), you can reach them by calling the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. And please use our tell-a-friend form to spread the word.

The need for S. 306 is urgent. As Sen. Webb's web site notes:

  • With 5% of the world's population, our country now houses 25% of the world's reported prisoners.
  • The number of incarcerated drug offenders has soared 1200% since 1980.
  • Four times as many mentally ill people are in prisons than in mental health hospitals.
  • Approximately 1 million gang members reside in the US, many of them foreign-based, and Mexican cartels operate in 230+ communities across the country.
  • Post-incarceration re-entry programs are haphazard and often nonexistent, undermining public safety and making it extremely difficult for ex-offenders to become full, contributing members of society.

Every day that passes without criminal justice reform is a day that thousands of people who don't need to be in prison, who may have never deserved to go there, continue to languish needlessly behind bars, separated from their friends and families who want them back. Thank you for taking action.

Call-In: The National Criminal Justice Commission Act

Today is the National Call-In Day to pass a very important bill, Sen. Jim Webb's National Criminal Justice Commission Act. Read more about the NCJCA here.

Last year the Act passed the House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support, but despite having similar support in the Senate did not make the calendar. Please call the US Senate leadership today (or on the first possible business day when you see this) and ask them to prioritize and pass the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, S. 306:

  • US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), 202-224-3542
  • US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), 202-224-3135

When you are done, please use our web site to email your own US Representative and your two US Senators in support of the National Criminal Justice Commission Act. You can also use our web site to look up who your members of Congress are and their phone numbers. Please forward this email to spread the word too.

Following are some taking points to assist you with your call:

  • I am calling to ask the senator to support immediate Senate passage of S. 306, the National Criminal Justice Commission Act.
  • The proposed commission would review the criminal justice system, identify programs and policies that promote public safety, and urge but not mandate reform of policies and practices that aren't working.
  • One policy that needs review is mandatory minimum sentencing. Thousands of offenders receive lengthy mandatory terms. These sentences have filled prisons across the country well beyond capacity.
  • The current incarceration rate comes at a high cost to taxpayers, families and communities.
  • Passage of S. 306 will lead to a more effective and just system. Please pass the bill.

Thank you for supporting this important effort -- send us an email to let us know you took action and how it went!

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