Posts filed under ‘Uncategorized’

Glenn Greenwald on Legalizing Marijuana

Courtey of Salon.com, Glenn Greenwald brings us a list of phrases equally stupid as ‘If you want to legalize marijuana, that just means you want to get high’. 

Among the list:

(5) Anyone who believes abortion should be legal just wants to have reckless sex without consequences.  

and

(7) Anyone who opposes unrestrained government surveillance must be doing bad things in private that they want to hide.

Thanks to Mr. Greenwald for the amusing – but still accurate – article. You’d be surprised how often I hear comments like the first one, and it still surprises me too. But I guess this gets at the notion of what a civil liberty is.

March 30, 2009 at 6:39 pm Leave a comment

Does Marijuana Legalization Stand a Chance in Massachusetts?

From Phishhook:

I hate to be all Sobering Suzie, buuut:

This bill has no chance of getting a favorable report from a committee, let alone passing both the House and the Senate. 

In Massachusetts, any citizen can file a bill through their local legislator. If the legislator agrees with the bill, they can file it as a normal bill, solicit cosponsors, write letters and provide testimony to committees, contact Leadership, etc. If the legislator does NOT agree with the bill, they can file it “By Request.” When a bill is filed by request, it means that they do not agree with the bill, and are solely filing it on behalf of their constituent. 

This bill was filed By Request — in the House and in the Senate (it’s the same bill in both, filed for the same, single community member). 

Neither bill has a single cosponsor, and neither the Representative nor the Senator who filed the respective House and Senate bills will do anything to advocate for them. The whole process of allowing citizens to file bills through their local electeds is largely a facade. Bills filed By Request NEVER even get out of committee. It will be burried in a study order next March, and will die with thousands of other bills.

Now, on the other hand, if there was ever an appetite for a bill like this in MA, it is right now. The state is overwhelmingly liberal (the republican party comprises a little bit more than 10% of the legislature), and needs badly new revenue. However, if this IS something that could happen in MA, it won’t be these bills that do it. 

But hey, at least it was decriminalized this past November with a ballot initiative (2-1 no less).

The anonymous poster who left this message has a point, but I’m not convinced that it’s a lost cause. Keep in mind that, just a few weeks before Question 2 passed, police officials were launching a smear campaign and the polled support had dropped by 30 points in some demographics. And in January 2008, who would even have predicted that Massachusetts would have enough signatures on the measure to put it on the ballot, let alone support it by 65%?

I look at Sobering Suzie’s post as challenge rather than a blockade. It’s clear to me that, if any two states can legalize marijuana, California and Massachusetts are certainly well-equipped. Both have very progressive laws regarding marijuana, both have decriminalized possession to some extent, and both have high rates of marijuana use. (It should be stated that this last point is probably a reason that Question 2 passed more than it is a result of it).

It is possible to pressure officials into taking action on a bill such as this. The key is to make them realize that their constituents’ support rests on it. In some sense, it is also pretty easy to get this point across to local officials. So, while I think that the fate of the bill is by no means certain, if we put pressure on legislators, it is still very much in the cards.

March 28, 2009 at 11:02 am 1 comment

Obama Insults Internet Voters

While it would have been a shock to see Obama declare his intent for legalizing marijuana in the town hall meeting today, his actual response was even more shocking. (The video is also available on YouTube).

“There was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation, and I don’t know what this says about the online audience” – Obama

What does it say about the online audience? It says that we’re serious. Marijuana was not just one high-ranking question. It was more like fifteen high-ranking questions.

It says that we’re aware of our economic troubles. It says that we understand the consequences of Prohibition. It says that we are intelligent enough to vast sums of money being wasted on a completely counterproductive war (not to mention the opportunity cost of all the tax revenue).

Obama just cracked a joke that reinforces the ‘stoner’ stereotype. This is a slap in the face of everyone who supports drug policy reform – be they users of marijuana or not. 

It’s pretty easy to contact the President, by email, online form, written letter, or (best of all) a phone call. Tell Obama how disappointed you are.

 

Dear Mr. Obama,

I was extremely disappointed by your town hall talk this morning. In your response, you managed to brush off fifteen of the top questions on the Open for Questions forum. In doing so, you also insulted the people who took you at your word when you opened a forum to hear our voices.

The fact that so many people support marijuana policy reform is not a joke. It shows that we are concerned citizens who care about the economy, about crime, and about civil liberties. Mr. Obama, you yourself have admitted to smoking marijuana. To imply – as you did – that everyone who supported these fifteen questions is a marijuana smoker, and then to imply that this is a laughing matter is blatantly disrespectful to many, many people who helped you win your seat in the Oval Office.

Two states voted to reform their marijuana laws during the 2008 election: Michigan and Massachusetts. In both states, more voters supported the marijuana policy reform laws than the Obama/Biden ticket. Please do not insult and alienate such a large audience. We voted on these questions because we wanted to hear a respectful answer. What we got was a slap in the face and the realization that our president is completely unwilling to listen to an enormous plurality of his constituents.

We are extremely offended by your response, and we hope that you will apologize to all the online voters – both those who smoke marijuana and those who do not –  and subsequently reaffirm your campaign trail commitment to reforming marijuana policy.

 

Sincerely,

__________

March 26, 2009 at 4:07 pm 2 comments

Marijuana Tops Open for Questions Again

Open for Questions is open again, and you can ask Obama questions directly. Voting ends tomorrow morning at 9:30, and he will answer the questions at 11:30.

It should come as no surprise that marijuana is an important topic. Fifteen questions about drug policy reform are in the top ten of their category. That is, the top two questions under ‘Green Jobs and Energy’, the second question under ‘Jobs’, the top four questions under ‘Financial Stability’, and the top seven questions under ‘Budget’. 

Clearly, people understand that marijuana policy reform is important for a variety of reasons. Make sure Obama receives this message so loudly that he cannot brush the question off again. Vote now.

The current top questions per category:

Budget:

  1. “With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy? Do we really need that many victimless criminals?”
  2. “Mr. Obama, Thank you for allowing us to ask our questions to you, unfiltered. What is your stance on legalizing marijuana federally, taxing it and regulating much like alcohol and tobacco? I believe that the Drug War has failed, and needs overhaul.”
  3. “I am not a marijuana user, but I do believe that making marijuana legal could provide some relief as to it could be heavily taxed and regulated. Legalization of marijuana will also be a detriment to the drug cartels in Latin America.”
  4. “Have you considered legalizing marijuana and taxing/regulating it like alcohol? Marijuana is America’s largest cash crop. The tax revenue from marijuana sales would provide a massive source of new revenue and cut the insane costs of the “Drug War.””
  5. “Mr. President, we the people continue to ask you this general question, please do not fail to respond: Will you allow science and common sense to reign and end this failed WAR ON DRUGS starting with the legalization and taxation of Marijuana?”
  6. “Should the recreational use of marijuana be legalized and taxed if it will help California reduce its budget deficit? How will you and the federal government respond if such a law is passed by the California legislature?”
  7. “Are you willing to seriously consider the idea of curtailing the failed & expensive drug war in favor of a fair, responsible policy of decriminalization? With Mexican gangs, drug-related disease, & addicition going unchecked we need another solution.”

Green Jobs and Energy:

  1. “”Will you consider decriminalizing the recreational/medical use of marijuana(hemp) so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and a multi-billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?””
  2. “Has your administration given any serious thought to how legalizing marijuana could help solve the economic crisis? We could tax this green product and create an influx of cash while reducing violence created by the war of drugs & illegal trafficking”

Financial Stability:

  1. “Would you support the bill currently going through the California legislation to legalize and tax marijuana, boosting the economy and reducing drug cartel related violence?”
  2. “Has the administration given any thought to legalizing marijuana, as a cash crop to fuel the economy? Why not make available, regulate, and tax something that that about 10 million Americans use regularly and is less harmful than tobacco or alcohol.”
  3. “Growing up I have noticed many around me always talk about legalization of marijuana, and I always thought, why not put a tax stamp on it. If marijuana was legalized it could really change a lot of things. America had the same problem with Alcohol.”
  4. “Could legalizing marijuana and laying a tax on it, given restriction allow the government make back some of the glaring debt considering it’s inelasticity and the history of economics of prohibition?”

Jobs:

  1. “As a student, who like so many others works full time and attends school full time, only to break even at the end of the month. What is the government doing to make higher education more affordable for lower and middle class families?”
  2. “What are your plans for the failing, “War on Drugs”, thats sucking money from tax payers and putting non-violent people in prison longer than the violent criminals”

March 25, 2009 at 6:43 pm 1 comment

Eric Holder Renews Commitment to Drug Policy Change

On Thursday, US Attourney General Eric Holder explicitly stated the Obama administration’s new stance on medicinal marijuana. While his earlier comment left some room for ambiguity, the new statement makes the chance in policy unequivocal:

“The policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law, to the extent that people do that and try to use medical marijuana laws as a shield for activity that is not designed to comport with what the intention was of the state law. Those are the organizations, the people, that we will target. And that is consistent with what the president said during the campaign.”

For the time being, this will allow states to effect their own medicinal marijuana laws properly. However, because this is strictly a policy of the Obama administration, the goal of lifting the federal ban on medicinal marijuana remains important because future administrations could reverse this policy. Still, this policy change will facilitate the legislative change that needs to follow. This is a very important step in the quest for drug policy reform.

March 23, 2009 at 2:14 pm Leave a comment

Rally to End the Rockefeller Drug Laws

On Wednesday, March 25th, there will be a rally to end the Rockefeller Drug Laws outside Governor Paterson’s office in New York City. The event description, as given by Drop the Rock, is as follows:

 

Rally to End the Rockefeller Drug Laws

Wednesday, March 25 at 1:00pm
Governor Paterson’s NYC Office
633 3rd Ave. (3rd Ave. between 40th and 41st sts.)
Rockefeller Rally Flyer

In 2002, Senator David Paterson was arrested in an act of civil disobedience organized by the Drop the Rock Campaign promoting the sweeping overhaul of the Rockefeller Drug Laws outside of the New York City offices of then-Governor George Pataki. 

On Wednesday, March 25, hundreds of family members, formerly incarcerated persons, doctors, lawyers, and advocates will return to this site to urge him and legislative leaders to end the Rockefeller Drug Laws this year.  

The word from Albany is that lawmakers are getting closer to a final package, we need a strong showing in the streets now more than ever to remind the state’s leaders of the stakes of failing to end these laws once again.

Please join us as we say NO to over 35 years of injustice.

For more information contact Caitlin Dunklee atcdunklee@correctionalassociation.org or (212) 254-5700 ext. 339.

March 22, 2009 at 7:11 pm Leave a comment

California Committee Will Hear Testimony on Marijuana Bill

A week from Tuesday, on March 31, the Committee on Public Safety and Health will hear testimony 0n Assembly Bill 390. The committee consists of seven members, and their vote determines the fate of this revolutionary bill. NORML is running a letter campaign for the bill; you can both send your assemblyman a letter and contact the committee

It goes without saying that the passage of this bill would mark the single biggest step in drug policy reform and ending the war on drugs to date. Take the few minutes required to send a letter. It could have a huge impact.

March 20, 2009 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

Kellogg’s Takes a Hit… but Not a Hint

According to an email sent by the Drug Policy Alliance:

 

The Kellogg’s public image has taken a huge hit, after the company refused to renew Michael Phelps’ contract because of his marijuana use. The advertising industry’s own leading journal recently reported that Kellogg’s treatment of Phelps was more damaging than the peanut recall.

 

Our calls have worked – partially. Kellogg’s has taken a hit, but not enough of one to encourage them to recant their statement. Executive Directory Ethan Nadelmann has been requesting a meeting with Kellogg’s, but they have refused. Tell Kellogg’s that you expect them to meet with Ethan Nadelmann to discuss their actions regarding Michael Phelps.

March 18, 2009 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

Help Connecticut Decriminalize Marijuana

Connecticut is ready. As reported earlier, a groundbreaking poll demonstrated that Connecticut voters support the decriminalization of marijuana – perhaps even more than Massachusetts voters did before Question 2 passed. (I say ‘perhaps’ because there is some room for polling error, and the comparison depends on whether you use the lukewarm polls three weeks before the election or the smashing, 65% support on election day).

But that’s all nitpicking. Connecticut is considering Senate Bill 349, which would create in Connecticut a mirror policy to the one newly implemented in Massachusetts. If you would like to see Connecticut decriminalize marijuana, contact your state senator and ask them to support the bill. NORML has a good form letter available. Here is an alternative:

Dear Senator ___________ (name of Senator)

A recent study published by Quinnipiac University demonstrated that 58% of Connecticut voters support using fines, rather than arrests, to enforce minor marijuana possession laws. Thirteen other states have enacted similar decriminalization laws without an increase in marijuana use.

The Connecticut Law Review Commission has published a report stating ‘The legislature should review and further consider as a strategy option establishing the offense of infraction for adults twenty-one years of age or older who possess one ounce or less of marijuana.’ Senate Bill 349 is an opportunity to enact appropriate penalties for marijuana possession while reducing state expenses. I urge you to adjust our marijuana policies to reflect more approriately the gravity of the offense by supporting Senate Bill 349.

Sincerely,

______________ (your name)

The bill was introduced by Senators Martin Looney and Toni Harp.

March 16, 2009 at 10:16 pm 1 comment

Oregon Considers Legalizing, Taxing, and Regulating Marijuana

California might have to hurry up if it wants to be the first state to legalize marijuana. While Assembly Bill 390 is still in its early stages there, House Bill 3274 in Oregon would legalize (and regulate) marijuana within the state, adding a tax of $98/ounce – in other words, $3.50 per gram. According to The Raw Story, it would ‘direct the state to establish and operate a marijuana production facility…The state would control potency and pharmacy distribution’. Oregon Live reports:

“Oregonians have voted to authorize the use of medical marijuana, yet the Legislature has failed to provide adequate safeguards for citizens who have a legitimate need for it,” said Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie, in a prepared statement. 

House Bill 3274 would levy a $98 per ounce tax on marijuana, to cover the state’s production and distribution costs.

“Many patients have no assurance that their marijuana is not laced with pesticides or other toxic chemicals,” said Rep. Jim Thompson, R-Dallas. “If passed into law, this legislation will implement safe standards to dispense the drug through a tightly-controlled system.”

Rep. Ron Maurer, R-Grants Pass, and Rep. Chris Harker, D-Beaverton, are also sponsors of the bill.

They’ve hit the nail on the head with regard to a glaring problem with any decriminalization of marijuana or legalization for medicinal use (perhaps even, I might argue, in the Netherlands). While it is legal for people to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes,  obtaining the medicine still requires some form of illegal activity. And, as with most illegal activity, this comes with some form of risk. I think that most patients would be willing to pay an extra $3.50 per gram in order to be able to buy their joint at a local pharmacy, complete with the knowledge that it has not been laced with any other substance.

And here, we have a great example of how the legal market could run an underground market out of business.I can’t imagine a person who would want to save $3.50 so badly that they would rather go through all of the risks of the illegal drug trade. With one swift gesture, the government could protect its citizens’ safety, protect its citizens’ civil liberties, destroy the largest component of the illegal drug trade, increase national security, and make a tidy profit from it all. All while advertising the merits of being bipartisan.

Now if only clearing up the economy were that easy.

March 16, 2009 at 10:11 am Leave a comment

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