Posts tagged ‘decriminalization’

Brad Pitt Says ‘Stop The Nonsense’, Endorses Legalization of Marijuana

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.

August 17, 2009 at 10:26 am Leave a comment

Governator Supports Marijuana Legalization Debate

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:



May 10, 2009 at 1:54 pm Leave a comment

Mexico May Decriminalize Marijuana

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.

May 1, 2009 at 6:57 pm 1 comment

Bipartisan Bill for Drug Policy Reform Introduced

Senate Bill 714, also known as The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009, has been introduced to the Senate by Jim Webb (D) of Virginia and Arlen Specter (R) of Pennsylvania. The purpose of the bill is as follows:

The Commission shall undertake a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system, make findings related to current Federal and State criminal justice policies and practices, and make reform recommendations for the President, Congress, and State governments to improve public safety, cost-effectiveness, overall prison administration, and fairness in the implementation of the Nation’s criminal justice system.

But wait, there’s more:

In conducting the review, the Commission shall make such findings as it deems appropriate, including…an examination of current drug policy and its impact on incarceration, crime and violence, sentencing, and reentry programs, to include an analysis of the general availability of drugs in our society, the impact and effectiveness of current policies on reducing that availability and on the incidence of crime, and in the case of criminal offenders, the availability of drug treatment programs before, during, and after incarceration…

In other words, if the commission is reasonably well-conducted, it should confirm thousands of other pieces of research which also demonstrate that current drug policy – specifically, current policy with respect to marijuana – is entirely counterproductive. I’m fairly confident of this simply because I remember the Shafer Commission, conducted under Nixon.  The findings of that report included:

[T]he criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use. It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only ‘with the greatest reluctance.

And yet, nothing was done about it. So why should we be more confident now?

Well, for starters, we have a president who is more likely to be amenable to drug policy changes (despite the town hall debacle last week). Even if Obama refuses to relegalize marijuana, it should certainly be easier to decriminalize marijuana under his administration than in past administrations – particularly if yet another commision recommends it.

Have a bipartisan bill of this type introduced is definitely an improvement. It’s not much in itself – it’s just a start – but it’s an important step forwards.

April 2, 2009 at 10:00 am 1 comment

Repeal of Rockefeller Drug Laws – Senate Votes Tomorrow

The Drug Policy Alliance just sent an email reminding all New Yorkers that the state legislature votes tomorrow on a repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Contact your legislators and Governor Paterson to ensure that this repeal passes. (The DPA’s automated feature will send your letter to both your state senator and Governor Paterson in one go).

March 30, 2009 at 1:59 pm Leave a comment

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

Massachusetts Seeks to Legalize, Regulate, and Tax Marijuana

California’s got company. Not two months after Question 2 went into effect, decriminalizing marijuana, Massachusetts may legalize the marijuana industry – subject to a tax, of course. Senate Bill 1801 and House Bill 2929 have been introduced. 

65% of Massachusetts voters supported the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana in November. Depending on what measure you use, Massachusetts is one of the smokiest states (this chart measures marijuana use in the past year, placing Massachusetts at #5).

NORML has very clear letters that you can send to your elected officials. You can send the letters using NORML’s automated feature, but for your convenience, they are also reproduced below. (Remember to specify House Bill 2929 or Senate Bill 1801 in the letter, and remember that you can also contact your state legislators using the link at the top of the page).

 

I’m writing to urge your support for House Bill 2929/Senate Bill 1801. This measure seeks to tax and regulate the use of marijuana by adults age 21 and over. If approved this measure would: 1) Raise tens of millions of dollars in annual tax revenue for the state of Massachusetts; 2) Restrict access to marijuana to those under age 21; 3) Improve public safety by redirecting law enforcement efforts to focus on more serious crimes; and 4) Institute reasonable regulation consistent with the state and federal constitution. In November, 65 percent of voters in Massachusetts endorsed a statewide initiative reclassifying marijuana possession as a fine-only offense under state law. Passage of House Bill 2929/Senate Bill 1801 would bring greater control to this law by imposing proper state restrictions on the sale and use of marijuana by adults. House Bill 2929/Senate Bill 1801 is a fiscally conservative, common sense proposal that seeks to bring control to Massachusetts’ untaxed, unregulated marijuana market. I look forward to hearing from you that you will support House Bill 2929/Senate Bill 1801.

March 23, 2009 at 9:44 pm 2 comments

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