Posts tagged ‘politics’

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

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

New York Legislators Don’t Understand Meaning of’Reform’

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.

(more…)

June 18, 2009 at 3:01 pm Leave a comment

Obama’s ‘Change’ Not So Different from Bush Polices

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).

June 11, 2009 at 2:33 pm Leave a 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

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

Drug Tests May Be Imposed on Welfare Recipients

Eight – yes, eight – states are considering making welfare recipients pass drug tests in order to receive welfare money. West Virginia, Kansas, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Hawaii, and Oklahoma all are considering or are in the process of enacting such laws. (Arizona already failed in January to pass a bill that would enact this policy).

At first, this proposal seems like a sensible way to make sure that the poor, who are receiving financial assistance from the government, do not ‘waste their money on drugs’. However, it simply singles out the poor for an activity common to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

There is no debate that the rich and poor alike use drugs. However, poor people are more likely than the rich to be on welfare (what an understatement). Arrests for drug charges are already dramatically skewed by race and socioeconomic class. While the basic fact remains that nobody should be punished for issues such as marijuana use, the fact that a person on welfare should lose a crucial part of their day-to-day budget for it is as preposterous as the Rockefeller Drug Laws in New York.

You might argue ‘But why should they be allowed to waste government money?’ That depends on your definition of the word ‘waste’. Is it wasting money when they instead buy tobacco and alcohol? Or lottery tickets? What someone does with their money is their own business – absent harm to others – and if you want to ensure that they use it ‘properly’ (according to your defintion of that word), then that’s what food stamps are for. (That’s another debate that I won’t start here).

Drug tests, simply put, are an invasion of privacy. Assuming that one’s use of marijuana does not interfere with one’s job, it should not be a factor in employment decisions (and the same logic applies to welfare). This is the same policy that most companies have regarding tobacco and alcohol use – as long as a person does not show up to work drunk or smoke in the office, their use of these two drugs is considered acceptable. If someone does not show up to work while high or otherwise let their use of marijuana affect their work performance, their use of this drug should be considered acceptable as well.

If you live in one of the states that are considering this legislation, please contact your legislators and inform them of your opposition. A sample script/letter is follows (you can modify the text to fit the situation in your state).

 

Dear ____________________

I am shocked to hear that legislators in ________ (your state) are considering subjecting welfare recipients to drug testing. This is an invasion of privacy, as well as discrimination against lower socioeconomic classes.

People of all levels of income and all races use drugs such as marijuana, just as people of all levels of income use tobacco and alcohol. The idea that the poor should be singled out for using one of these drugs goes against the idea of equality that this country stands for.

Whatever the reasons a welfare recipient may have for buying and using drugs, this decision should not threaten his or her means of survival. Such policies only serve to entrench welfare recpients further in poverty.

This policy will not reduce drug use. It will reduce the number of eligible welfare recipients, but at a huge, immeasurable cost to society by increasing the number of people who live in extreme poverty and have no access to government assistance. I urge you to oppose this policy.

Sincerely,

____________

April 6, 2009 at 8:30 pm 1 comment

Older Posts


Calendar

April 2020
S M T W T F S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Posts by Month

Posts by Category