Prohibition

U.S.: Netroots Nation To Address Failed Drug War

NetrootsNationDetroit2014

Friday Panel: Marijuana Arrests: The Gateway to Mass Incarceration

Marijuana arrests and mass incarceration will take center stage at Netroots Nation 2014 this week in Detroit.

On Friday, July 18 at 4:30 p.m., the ninth annual gathering of progressive voices will feature a panel, “Marijuana Arrests: the Gateway to Mass Incarceration.” The panel will feature Kassandra Frederique, a policy coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

Frederique is currently organizing with groups around the state of New York to address bias policing practices, unlawful marijuana arrests and collateral consequences of criminalization.

“I’m thrilled to see Netroots Nation examine the failed war on drugs and how marijuana arrests fuel mass incarceration,” Frederique said. “Netroots Nation is a cutting-edge incubator of ideas and I’m excited to have a rich discussion during the panel and action from folks afterwards.”

Every 48 seconds someone is arrested for marijuana possession in the United States. Most of these arrests are of people of color, despite the fact that white people use and sell marijuana at higher rates. In this panel they will explore how the Drug War and biased policing practices fuel marijuana arrests and, in turn, mass incarceration.

U.S.: Black Police Leaders Say Marijuana Prohibition Damages Minority Communities

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) on Tuesday said that America's marijuana laws are total failures. John Dixon III, police chief in Petersburg, Virginia, speaking at the NOBLE's annual conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said law enforcement is too concerned with busting people for minor marijuana offenses.

"We, as law enforcement professionals, we need to really take a look at how we can decriminalize marijuana, especially user amounts," Dixon said, reports Ryan Smith at MPP. "We are locking people up for a dime bag, for a joint.

"They're put in the criminal justice system which pretty much ruins the rest of their lives," Dixon said, adding that medical professionals should be in charge of dealing with drug use. "Why do I have to lock you up for that? What benefit am I giving you, then? We have to get out of the businesses. That should be the focus of the medical field."

"Sometimes, we've got to say the things that most of law enforcement isn't going to say," Dixon said.

The ACLU has released a study showing that the marijuana laws are disproportionately enforced against minorities across the United States, despite the fact the blacks and whites use cannabis at similar rates.

U.S.: New Poll Shows Young Adults Favor Marijuana Legalization

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A new Reason-Rupe study and survey of 2,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 years old finds 57 percent of this demographic -- known as the millennials --believe the government should allow the recreational use of marijuana. Just 39 percent were opposed.

More than 8 of every 10 millennials -- 83 percent -- think that marijuana users should either face no penalties, be fined, or have to attend rehabilitation. Just 14 percent say marijuana users should go to jail.

The Reason-Rupe report finds 74 percent of millennials say government has a responsibility to guarantee every citizen has a place to sleep and enough to eat. Seventy-one percent favor raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, and 69 percent say it is government's responsibility to provide everyone with health care insurance.

Sixty-eight percent say government should ensure everyone makes a living wage; 66 percent say raising taxes on the wealthy would help the economy, and 58 percent say the government should spend more on assistance to the poor even it means higher taxes.

Sixty-two percent of millennials describe themselves as socially liberal, while 27 percent say they are socially conservative. The gap is much narrower on economic issues, with 49 percent of millennials identifying themselves as economic liberals and 36 percent labeling themselves as economic conservatives.

Massachusetts: Smell Of Marijuana Cannot Justify Search of Car

MarijuanaGavel

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Police officers in Massachusetts can no longer rely on the odor of unburnt marijuana as probable cause to justify a vehicle search, the state's Supreme Judicial Court unanimously ruled on Wednesday -- even if the smell is "strong" or "very strong," the justices said.

The court had already ruled in the Commonwealth v. Cruz decision in 2011 that the smell of burnt marijuana was not, in itself, sufficient evidence to stop pedestrians or search vehicles, reports John R. Ellement at The Boston Globe. The court said in that ruling that it would be "legally inconsistent" to allow the cops the make warrantless searches after they smell burned marijuana, when citizens had decided through a statewide referendum that law enforcement should "focus their attention elsewhere."

The court on Wednesday said it is now extending that same reasoning to cases where the owner has not yet started smoking the marijuana. The justices acknowledged that cannabis has a pungent aroma, but said that odor, by itself, does not allow police to determine whether a person has more than an ounce with them. Possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is not a crime in Massachusetts, where voters chose to decriminalize pot in 2008.

New York: Elected Officials, Community Groups Announce Legislation To End Racist Marijuana Arrests

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Comprehensive Legislation would also Address Racial Bias, Collateral Consequences, and Fix Loopholes in NY Marijuana Laws

Despite Dramatic Drop in Stop and Frisk, NYPD on Track to Arrest as Many People in 2014 as Previous Year... and Racial Disparities Persist

Elected officials, community members and the coalition, New Yorkers for Public Health & Safety, will rally on Wednesday, July 9, on the Steps of New York City Hall, to call for comprehensive reform to address racially biased marijuana arrests and devastating collateral consequences.

Last year, there were nearly 30,000 marijuana possession arrests in New York City alone. Based on first-quarter data obtained from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, the NYPD is now on track to make nearly as many marijuana possession arrests in 2014 as it did in 2013, with similarly shocking racial disparities.

Proposals to fix New York’s marijuana possession law have stalled in Albany the past few years. With the continued staggering racial disparities and Governor Cuomo’s recommitment to ending marijuana arrests, Assembly member Camara and Senator Squadron along with community members and advocates are calling for reforms that not only end racially bias marijuana arrests but also address the racial bias in the NY criminal justice system and deal with the devastating collateral consequences of these racially biased arrests.

What Does the Fairness and Equity Act Do?

Washington: First Recreational Marijuana Stores To Open Tuesday

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The first stores where adults can legally purchase marijuana in Washington State are set to open on Tuesday, roughly six months after Colorado launched what is so far seen as a successful effort to regulate sales of the drug there. The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) on Monday issued the state's first 24 marijuana retailer licenses.

At least three retail shops will open on Tuesday, reports Tony Dokoupil of NBC News: Cannabis City Seattle, Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham and The Freedom Market in Kelso.

The state faces a huge backlog for licenses, with only 18 license reviewers trying to process thousands of applications. The first grower approvals didn't happen until March, which left very little growing time to stock the shelves.

That's given rise to a predictable shortage of recreational marijuana, and more and more irate entrepreneurs. Some have already gone under as opening day was delayed again and again, due largely to Washington's foolish decision to scrap the existing medical marijuana market and create the recreational marijuana market from scratch.

U.S.: Marijuana PTSD Researcher Abruptly Fired From University of Arizona

SuzanneSisleyMarijuanaResearcher

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A prominent marijuana researcher who only months ago had received rare federal approval to study the effects of cannabis on patients with post traumatic stress disorder has been abruptly fired by the University of Arizona.

Professor Suzanne A. Sisley's dismissal puts her research at risk, and has caused dismay among medical marijuana advocates, reports Evan Halper at The Los Angeles Times.

Dr. Sisley, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry, said she was fired after her research created unwanted attention for the university from legislative Republicans who control its funding.

"This is a clear political retaliation for the advocacy and educaiton I have been providing the public and lawmakers," Sisley said. "I pulled all my evaluations and this is not about my job performance."

University officials refused to explain the non-renewal of Sisley's contract, but claimed their motives weren't political.

"The university has received no political pressure to terminate any employee," claimed University of Arizona spokesman Chris Sigurdson, who noted that university supported a 2013 legislative measure permitting such studies.

Dr. Sisley got letters from university officials on Friday, telling her that she will be terminated from her job on September 26. The letters offered no explanation beyond citing guidelines which permit the university to fire its employees.

Global: Day of Action Sees More Than 80 Cities Protest The Drug War

Support.Don'tPunish.

Citizens Take to the Streets on June 26 to Protest Current Drug Policies and to Call for an End to the Senseless Criminalization of Drug Users

Thousands of activists will take to the streets in more than 80 cities on June 26 to fight harmful drug laws that have caused health crises, instability and mass incarceration around the world.

Mass demonstrations and other actions are planned in New York, London, Paris, Warsaw, Mexico City, Kathmandu, Rome, Phnom Penh, Tbilisi, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow and more than 70 other cities. The actions include peaceful demonstrations, street performances, public meetings and workshops, social media campaigns and advertisements on public transportation and billboards.

The events are scheduled for June 26, which is the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The U.N.’s anti-drugs day is used by many governments to justify violent crackdowns and to promote harsh punishments. It has even been marked with public executions and beatings of drug offenders in some countries.

The “Support. Don’t Punish: Global Day of Action” seeks to reclaim this day and promote a more effective and humane approach to drugs that is based on public health and human rights.

U.S.: Award-Winning Filmmaker to Discuss Drug War, Mass Incarceration with Drug Policy Expert

EugeneJarecki(TheHouseILiveIn)

Eugene Jarecki, Award-Winning Filmmaker, and Drug Policy Alliance’s asha bandele Discuss Impact of The House I Live In and the Next Steps to Take in Ending the Drug War and Mass Incarceration

Eugene Jarecki, the award-winning filmmaker and director of the The House I Live In, on Monday will join the Drug Policy Alliance’s asha bandele for a discussion on the film’s impact. DPA says its quarterly town hall-style conference calls are designed to ensure that the organization is bringing before the widest audiences, the most influential members in our community and allowing for an open discussion with those who are on the ground and reforming Drug War policies.

The teleconference with Jarecki is the second in DPA's national webinar series, and follows an initial discussion which was held in March with Michelle Alexander and can be heard here. The conversation was picked up by national media including CNN, The Huffington Post, Upworthy and AlterNet.

Global: More Than 80 Cities Worldwide To Protest Drug War On June 26

Support.Don'tPunish.

Citizens Take to the Streets on June 26 to Protest Current Drug Policies and to Call for an End to the Senseless Criminalization of Drug Users

Thousands of activists will take to the streets in more than 80 cities on Thursday, June 26, to fight harmful drug laws that have caused health crises, instability and mass incarceration around the world.

Mass demonstrations and other actions are planned in New York, London, Paris, Warsaw, Mexico City, Kathmandu, Rome, Phnom Penh, Tbilisi, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow and more than 70 other cities. The actions include peaceful demonstrations, street performances, public meetings and workshops, social media campaigns and advertisements on public transportation and billboards.

The events are scheduled to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which is also June 26. The U.N.’s anti-drugs day is used by many governments to justify violent crackdowns and to promote harsh punishments. It has even been marked with public executions and beatings of drug offenders in some countries.

The “Support. Don’t Punish: Global Day of Action” seeks to reclaim this day and promote a more effective and humane approach to drugs that is based on public health and human rights.

Albania: Police Storm 'Lawless' Marijuana Village

AlbanianPoliceSurroundMarijuanaVillage

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Albanian government is sending hundreds more police to what they call a "lawless" southern village where suspected marijuana growers fired rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and machine guns in response to a police drug raid.

Police said on Tuesday they are adding reinforcements around Lazarat, upping their numbers from 500 to 800, after sporadic shooting continued overnight, wounding one special forces officer, reports Llazar Semini of the Associated Press.

Six men were arrested on suspicion of participating in the shootout and of attacking a local television crew, according to Albanian authorities.

Hundreds of police stormed the town on Monday, 140 miles south of the Albanian capital city, Tirana, after about 30 suspected marijuana growers opened fire with heavy weaponry during the raid.

Police in the small Balkan nation said they destroyed 11,000 marijuana plants, and found cannabis stored in barrels and sacks.

Gangs based in Lazarat are said to produce about 900 metric tons of cannabis annually, worth about 4.5 billion euros ($6.1 billion American) -- roughly half of Albania's GDP. The Albanian government has in the past few weeks launched a nationwide War On Pot to uproot the cannabis plantations.

Colombia: Santos, Advocate for Drug Policy Reform, Re-Elected As President

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President Santos Has Been at the Helm of Promoting Hemispheric Debate on Alternatives to War on Drugs

Colombia on Sunday re-elected President Juan Manuel Santos, who is widely praised for having launched peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), aimed at ending five decades of armed conflict. Since assuming office in 2010, Santos has also become one of the most vocal critics of the War On Drugs, and has repeatedly called for a new approach to drug policy.

In 2011, shortly after becoming President, Santos made the boldest remarks on drug policy of any sitting head of state by saying, "A new approach should try and take away the violent profit that comes with drug trafficking… If that means legalizing, and the world thinks that's the solution, I will welcome it.”

In April 2012, President Santos used his platform as host of the Summit of the Americas to invite other regional heads of state to reflect on the war on drugs and to contemplate “the different scenarios and possible alternatives to confront this challenge with more efficiency,” reminding them that “In spite of all the efforts, the illicit drug business is still buoyant, drug addiction in all countries is a serious public health issue, and drug trafficking is still the main provider of funding for violence and terrorism."

Global: Former UN Secretary General's West Africa Commission On Drugs Calls For Decrim

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West Africa Commission On Drugs Calls Drug War a Failure and for Treating Drug Use as Health Issue

The drug policy reform movement received a global push on Thursday with the release of the West Africa Commission on Drugs statement calling for decriminalization of low-level non-violent drug offenses and broader drug policy refom. Initiated by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, the Commission is chaired by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasango and includes other former heads of state as well as a distinguished group of West Africans from the worlds of politics, civil society, health, security and the judiciary.

The report, Not Just in Transit: Drugs, the State and Society in West Africa, concludes that drug use must be regarded primarily as a public health issue; highlights the need for treatment rather than punishment for drug use; states that the consumption and possession of drugs for personal use should not be criminalized; and that West Africa must not become a new front line in the failed “War On Drugs.”

At the report’s release in Dakar, Senegal, chair of the Commission Obasanjo said, “We call on West African governments to reform drug laws and policies and decriminalize low-level and non-violent drug offenses.” Kofi Annan agreed: “Most governments’ reaction to simply criminalize drug use without thinking about prevention or access to treatment has not just led to overcrowded jails, but also worsened health and social problems.”

U.S.: Federal Survey Dispels Myth That Rolling Back Prohibition Increases Teen Marijuana Use

YRBS(YouthRiskBehaviorSurvey)

Biennial CDC survey finds rate of current marijuana use among U.S. high school students remained flat despite state marijuana policy reforms and significant increase in public support for making marijuana legal

Continued decline in teens’ use of alcohol and cigarettes suggests regulating marijuana could be more effective at preventing teen use than current prohibition policies

A biennial federal government survey released on Thursday dispels the myth that rolling back marijuana prohibition laws will lead to an increase in teen marijuana use.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found the rate of current marijuana use among U.S. high school students remained flat from 2011 to 2013. During that period of time, voters in Colorado and Washington adopted and implemented laws making marijuana legal for adults; state legislatures in Rhode Island and Vermont approved and implemented laws decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana; and national polls showed significant increases in public support for ending marijuana prohibition.

“This debunks the theory that openly discussing the benefits of legalizing marijuana for adults will result in more teen use,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “The public dialogue surrounding marijuana is more balanced and honest than ever before. We should be encouraging teens to take part in it, not shielding them from it.”

U.S. Atty. Gen. Holder Urges Reduced Sentences For Nonviolent Drug Offenses

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Follows on Footsteps of White House’s Recent Call For Clemency Candidates

The U.S. Department of Justice has thrown its support behind an initiative from the federal Sentencing Commission that would reduce sentences for potentially thousands of nonviolent drug offenders who are currently in federal prison.

Last month, the U.S. Sentencing Commission approved a proposal that will reduce sentences for future drug offenders. Attorney General Eric Holder has now announced his backing for a separate proposal by the Commission that would apply retroactivity to these recently reduced sentences.

The proposal could affect between 20,000 and 50,000 nonviolent offenders currently in jail, and save taxpayers an estimated $2.4 billion.

“As a former, first-time, nonviolent drug offender I applaud Attorney General Eric Holder for supporting the retroactive proposal being considered by the U.S. Sentencing Commission," said Anthony Papa of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), who served 12 years under New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws. Papa was given clemency by Gov. Pataki in 1997.

"Many prisoners that would become eligible have paid their debt to society and deserve a second chance to be reunited with their families and become productive tax-paying citizens," Papa said. "This move would help correct sentencing laws that have broken our criminal justice system and led to the mass incarceration of many low-level nonviolent drug offenders.”

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