Posts tagged ‘drug policy reform’

Georgia Representative Recommends Caning and Death Penalty for Marijuana Offenses

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.

To give you an idea of how brutal this punishment is, we have some pictures, courtesy of NORML and CORPUN. (Warning: Pictures are located after the jump due to their extremely graphic nature).

Twitter users can spread the word using the tag #TommyCane

(more…)

August 12, 2009 at 10:04 pm 1 comment

Governator Doesn’t Believe Information on Marijuana is Available

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.

May 27, 2009 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment

NORML Demonstration on Marijuana Legalization to be held Tomorrow in New York

Tomorrow, NORML will present a $14 billion check to the US Treasury, representing the expected tax revenue from legalizing and taxing marijuana. The press conference will be held at 8 AM, and the check will be presented at 4:20. More details can be found on the NORML website.

April 14, 2009 at 3:04 pm Leave a comment

What Gay Marriage in Vermont Means for Marijuana Legalization in Massachusetts

This is not the ‘liberalism is winning in one New England state so therefore it’ll win in the rest!!’ argument.

Rather, I am drawing this from the very end of a front-page New York Times article from Wednesday, the day after Vermont voted to override Governor Jim Douglas’s veto of a gay marriage bill.

The bill would have been a few votes shy of the required number for a veto, but three Democrats switched their positions and voted in favor of a veto. Representatives Jeff Young and Robert South were among the two who reversed their earlier votes.

Unfortunately, the online version of the article (linked above) leaves out the very last sentence from the print version, and I can’t seem to find an online copy of the printed version anywhere. (If anyone can search the NYTimes database more efficiently than I can and finds it, please let me know). This is the conclusion as printed on April 8:

Representative Robert South, a freshman Democrat from a conservative district, said he reversed his position after 228 of his constituents reached out and urged him to support the override, compared with 198 who urged him to oppose it.

“It was very difficult for me,” Mr. South said, “because the marraige equality bill, as far as I’m concerned, has split the state. I see how close my numbers are for and against same-sex marriage, and it’s divided my constituents, and that’s what upsets me.”

He added that he might well lose his seat over the vote, saying, “I probably sealed my fate.”

Emphasis is mine. What we have here is proof positive that, given enough pressure, legislators can willing to change their minds. Furthermore, we have proof that, for state legislators, the difference between a ‘yay’ and a ‘nay’ can be very, very small: in this case, a margin of 30 people. This is a great example of the multiplying effect of contacting your elected officials – when you place a phone call, your efforts do not just represent one person. Rather, they stand in for the opinions of several others as well.

‘Sobering Suzie’ may be right, as I pointed out, that the Massachusetts bills to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana may not stand a chance at the moment. (House Bill 2929 and Senate Bill 1801). But that does not mean that the probabilites are fixed – if all it takes is a margin of 30 people to swing a single legislator’s vote to override a veto that protects the civil liberties in an entire state, then the odds are in our favor. I am willing to bet that we have enough constituents in Massachusetts willing to pressure their legislators into sponsoring the bill. (Check your legislators’ names and contact information). The same applies to any other farfetched drug policy reform legislation in any other state. The odds are a challenge, not an obstacle, and, from the looks of it, a very feasible challenge at that.

April 9, 2009 at 11:40 am 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


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