Drugs and "Drug War"

Alaska, Oregon, and DC: A Marijuana Legalization Trifecta in 2014?

By Phillip Smith |  StopTheDrugWar.org
 

Labor Day has come and gone, and the 2014 election is now less than two months away. Marijuana legalization initiatives are on the ballot in two states — Alaska and Oregon — and the District of Columbia.

For the marijuana reform movement, 2014 is a chance for a legalization trifecta on the way to an even bigger year in 2016, but there is also the risk that losing in one or more states this year could take the momentum out of a movement that has been on a seemingly unstoppable upward trend.

The Initiatives

Citing Failed War on Drugs, World Leaders Call for Widespread Decriminalization

Global commission condemns "harsh measures grounded in repressive ideologies"

by Deidre Fulton, Commondreams staff writer
http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/09/09/citing-failed-war-drugs-worl...

In the face of a failed War on Drugs, a global commission composed mostly of former world leaders recommended on Tuesday that governments decriminalize and regulate the use of currently illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and psychedelics.

Crime, Bias and Statistics

by Charles M. Blow

Discussions of the relationship between blacks and the criminal justice system in this country too often grind to a halt as people slink down into their silos and arm themselves with their best rhetorical weapons — racial bias on one side and statistics in which minorities, particularly blacks, are overrepresented as criminals on the other.

What I find too often overlooked in this war of words is the intersection between the two positions, meaning the degree to which bias informs the statistics and vice versa.

The troubling association — in fact, overassociation — of blacks with criminality directly affects the way we think about both crime and blacks as a whole.

A damning report released by the Sentencing Project last week (http://www.sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/rd_Race_and_Punishment...) lays bare the bias and the interconnecting systemic structures that reinforce it and disproportionately affect African-Americans.

Medical Marijuana States See Less Opiate Pain Killer Overdose Deaths

Overdose deaths from opioids decreased by an average of 20 percent one year after the law’s implementation, 25 percent by two years, and up to 33 percent by years five and six.

by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

The enactment of medicinal marijuana laws is associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates, according to data published online Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine.

A team of investigators from the University of Pennsylvania, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore conducted a time-series analysis of medical cannabis laws and state-level death certificate data in the United States from 1999 to 2010 — a period during which 13 states instituted laws allowing for cannabis therapy.

To Terrify and Occupy

How the excessive militarization of the police is turning cops into counterinsurgents

by Matthew Harwood
 

Jason Westcott was afraid.

One night last fall, he discovered via Facebook that a friend of a friend was planning with some co-conspirators to break in to his home. They were intent on stealing Wescott's handgun and a couple of TV sets. According to the Facebook message, the suspect was planning on “burning” Westcott, who promptly called the Tampa Bay police and reported the plot.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the investigating officers responding to Westcott’s call had a simple message for him: “If anyone breaks into this house, grab your gun and shoot to kill.”

Two-Thirds of Americans Say Private Consumption of Marijuana Should Be Legal

by Paul Armentano

55% of those surveyed also said that they supported statewide laws seeking to tax and regulate the production and sale of cannabis to adults.

PALO ALTO, CA — Sixty-six percent of Americans believe that adults ought to legally be able to consume cannabis in the privacy of one’s own home, according to results of a recent nationwide HuffingtonPost/YouGov survey.

Seventy-two percent of self-identified Democrats and 70 percent of Independents said that the private consumption of cannabis should be legal.

Republican respondents endorsed private consumption by a margin of 50 percent to 39 percent.

Fifty-five percent of respondents — including 62 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Independents — also said that they supported statewide laws seeking to tax and regulate the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults, such as those recently enacted in Colorado and Washington.

By contrast, only 37 percent of Republicans said they supported such a plan.

New York Times Editorial Board: Repeal Prohibition, Again

The paper of record goes on the record unequivocably in favor of legalization of marijuana.

by the New York Times Editorial Board

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.

Landslide Burys Prohibition, New Poll: Over 60% of Americans Support Retail Marijuana Sales in Colorado

by Paul Armentano

DENVER, CO — More than six out of ten Americans – including majorities of self-identified Democrats, Independents, and Republicans – support the regulation and retail sale of marijuana in Colorado, according to the findings of a nationwide HuffPost.com/YouGov poll released Tuesday.

Colorado voters in 2012 approved a statewide initiative legalizing the personal consumption and cultivation of the plant. The measure also allows for the state-licensed commercial production and retail sales of cannabis to those over the age of 21. Commercial cannabis sales began on January 1st of this year. To date, these sales have generated nearly $11 million in tax revenue.

ASA Gives D Grade to Illinois Medical Marijuana Law

Americans for Safe Access, the national medical marijuana patient's right organization has just released a national compilation of its evaluation of state medical marijuana laws. Although Illinois had a MMJ provision in its cannabis laws since the late 1970s, it was never more than a bit of window dressing and totally ineffective in protecting patients from prosecutors bent on running up their conviction rates. They simply ignored that part of the law, while prosecuting patients under the provisions of the law they are personally inclined to enforce.

That changed in 2013 when after years of trying, Illinois passed and Governor Quinn signed a MMJ law. While a small advance from the dreadful status patients faced previously, it is struggling to get off the ground, with significant doubts as to its ability to create improved access for patients, supply their needs at a reasonable cost, and prevent law enforcement abuse of patients.

ASA summarizes the current situation like this:

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