When talking to Bill Maher, Brad Pitt mentioned that, were he running for mayor of New Orleans, he would run on a platform of supporting gay marriage and legalizing marijuana. While the entire interview (embedded below, start watching at 1:20) focuses mostly on the former issue, most of the arguments Pitt cites apply equally well to legalization of marijuana.
Later in the interview, Bill Maher recounts a party he attended with Pitt, at which Pitt demonstrated his skills as ‘an artist’ of rolling joints.
While Brad Pitt says he has given up smoking in order to be a better parent, he seems not to have forgotten the importance of the right to smoke in peace. Kudos to him. That said, I’d like to see him put his money (and actions) where his mouth is. For Brad Pitt, garnering huge amounts of support for the cause should be a walk in the park compared to some of the other challenges he’s taken on.
Georgia Representative Tommy Benton has voiced support for caning and executing marijuana offenders. When his constituents contacted him to voice their opposition, he responded by turning their names over to the local sheriff so that they ‘could be on the lookout’.
In other words, he has just violated the First Amendment (freedom of speech) and the Eighth Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment) in one fell swoop.
Twitter users can spread the word using the tag #TommyCane
Some state senators in New York don’t understand the recent reforms of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Instead, they are referring to them as the ‘Drug Dealer Protection Act’.
Of course, this is completely absurd. The reforms simply removed mandatory minimum sentences which limit judicial power. Of course, judges still have the power to sentence people to long, harsh terms in prison – they just also now have the power not to sentence them when they deem it inappropriate. It’s the way most aspects the judicial process work – for some reason, some people like to think drug policy should be treated differently. (Of course, some people also think that drug possession should not be treated as a criminal issue in the first place, but that’s a separate matter).
The Drug Policy Alliance has set up a very quick form through which you can let New York legislators know that the public opposes reversing these reforms. Full text of the email from gabriel sayegh appears after the jump.
Today, a federal judge sentenced Charles Lynch to one year and one day in prison (366 days).
Mr. Lynch legally distributed medical marijuana under state law in California. However, because he violated federal law, he was tried in a federal court. In court, he was barred from presenting the key evidence: distribution of medicinal marijuana in California is legal.
A few months ago, Attorney General Eric Holder revealed that the Obama administration would only target those who violate both federal and state law. Lynch’s trial began over a year ago, and Holder did not specify the fate of those whose sentences were still pending.
If the polices have shifted, what is the point of keeping Lynch in prison? In the future, people like Mr. Lynch will never even have to stand trial, let alone be sentenced (assuming the Obama administration honors this promise). Therefore, Obama should pardon Mr. Lynch, just as Ford pardoned Nixon, relieving him from any criminal record or time in prison.
Call the White House Comment Line at (202) 456-1111 and tell Obama that you expect him to pardon Charles Lynch outright. Sample script below:
Hello. My name is ________ and I am calling because Attorney General Holder previously stated that the Obama administration would not punish individuals who distribute and use medical marijuana legally under state law. Charles Lynch was sentenced today to a year in prison for this very charge. While his arrest occured before Obama took office, I expect Obama to pardon Mr. Lynch to demonstrate his dedication to this change in policy.
(Note: While I respect NORML’s request that commuting the sentence would be acceptable, I disagree. Commuting just saves Lynch the prison time, but it does not acknowledge that conviction should never have happened in the first place. Therefore, I expect nothing less than a full pardon for Mr. Lynch).
In a mind-boggling political swerve, Governor Schwarzenegger of California says that he is ‘open to debate’ on legalizing marijuana, ‘if information is available’ about it and countries that have legalized it. (See video, circa 6:00 into the stream).
Ignoring the technicality that no country has legalized marijuana outright (The Netherlands technically still outlaws marijuana in theory, but it is effectively legalized in practice). Countries (and states) that have relaxed their marijuana laws have all experienced success with these policies.
It’s not a matter of the data not being available. Plenty of studies from very reputable sources have analyzed the data and come to the same conclusion: relaxing marijuana laws is the way to go. It’s just a matter of getting our politicians to listen.
In an official press release, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has expressed support for open debate of California’s marijuana policy:
QUESTION: A recent Field Poll came out showing a majority of Californians support legalizing and taxing marijuana use. Especially with the money problems the state is having, is it time for the state to start legalizing and taxing marijuana use?
GOVERNOR: No. I think that it’s not time for that, but I think it’s time for a debate. I think all of those ideas of creating extra revenues, I’m always for an open debate on it. And I think that we ought to study very carefully what other countries are doing that have legalized marijuana and other drugs, what affect it had on those countries, and are they happy with that decision. Or, like for instance in Austria, I’ve heard that they are unhappy with that and they want to roll back some of the decisions that were made in European countries. I’ve had dialogue with experts over there where I was born. So I think that one ought to look at all that. And it could very well be that everyone is happy with that decision and then we can look at that. And if not, we shouldn’t do it. But just because of raising revenues, we have to be very careful not to make mistakes at the same time.
Coming down on the heels of Tom Ammiano’s introduction of the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act (Assembly Bill 390), this begs a critical question: Does this mean that the governor supports legalizing marijuana? Allen St. Pierre , the Executive Director of NORML, appears on CNN to debate this very point with Kevin Sabet. You decide:
On Tuesday, the Mexican Senate passed a bill that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, as well as of certain other drugs. Felipe Calderón, the President of Mexico, sponsored the bill, which means that he will certainly sign the bill if it passes through the lower house. The Mexican Congress already passed a similar bill in 2006; however Vicente Fox (then-President of Mexico) vetoed the measure.
This bill would send low-level drug dealing cases to state courts, making the offfenses no longer federal crimes.
If passed, this law could provide a new incentive for the federal government – or even especially state governments in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas – to adapt local laws in order to make the drug trade from Mexico less profitable. (Hint: one way to do that would be to provide a legal market for drugs within those states!) One of those states is already ahead of the curve with Assembly Bill 390, introduced by Assemblyman Ammiano.