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Bad Precedent: When the Fourth Amendment Doesn't Apply [FEATURE]

Drug War Chronicle - Mon, 12/23/2019 - 15:46
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pemCriminal Court amp; Legal Affair Investigative Journalist Clarence Walker can be reached at a href=mailto:newswriter74@yahoo.com?subject=Drug%20War%20Chronicle%20articlenewswriter74@yahoo.com/a./em/ppThe Fourth Amendment should have protected suspected Indianapolis methamphetamine dealer Paul Huskisson when DEA agents without a search warrant and without any a href=https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/exigent_circumstances target=_blankexigent circumstances/a, such as fear of imminent danger or injury to officers, flight of the suspect, or destruction of evidence, raided Huskisson#39;s home, discovered pounds of meth, and arrested him for it./pp[image:1 align:right caption:true]Under the Fourth Amendment#39;s a href=https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/exclusionary_rule target=_blankexclusionary ule/a, when such evidence is unlawfully gathered the evidence cannot be used by the government in criminal cases./ppBut in a stunning blow to the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, that same unlawful seized evidence was indeed used in court against him, and Huskisson now sits in federal prison serving a 20-year sentence in FCI Lexington Kentucky./ppIn a 2019 decision, a three-judge panel of the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago; two of the justices, appointed by Clinton, including one appointed by Donald Trump, invoked a rarely used legal argument known as a href=https://definitions.uslegal.com/i/independent-source-rule/ target=_blankindependent source doctrine/a to get around the Fourth Amendment violation, creating a floodgate of legal implications that has defense attorneys and legal scholars concerned./ppWSNC 90.5 radio host of #39;The Public Morality Show,#39; Byron Williams, a href=https://www.journalnow.com/opinion/columnists/byron-williams-a-harmful-constitutional-shortcut/article_c21a8b88-e03d-5e68-9eb4-2dbbb318358c.html target=_blankcondemned the decision/a in Huskisson#39;s case in a scathing article published in the Winston-Salem Journal./ppquot;Do we want to become a nation where obtaining a warrant before entering someone#39;s home is optional?quot;/ppquot;The ends cannot justify the means,quot; Williams said./ppHere#39;s how we got here:/ppstrongThe Bust/strong/ppAccording to court documents and case testimony, the raid on Paul Huskisson had its genesis in the February 5, 2016 arrest by DEA agents of one Anthony Hardy on assorted meth charges, including conspiracy. Desperate to cut a deal, Hardy confessed his role in a dope smuggling scheme, even leading DEA agents to a cache of drugs and guns. Hardy implicated two other men, one of whom was Huskisson, who was previously unknown to the DEA./ppAnd Hardy had plenty to say about Huskisson. He told DEA agents that he had scored substantial amounts of meth from him at least six times in the previous five months for $8,000 a pound, that he had purchased meth both at Huskisson#39;s house and at a business owned by one of Huskisson#39;s family member called #39;No Limit#39; LLC, and that Huskisson was expected to receive a shipment of quot;10 to 12 poundsquot; the following day./pp[image:2 align:left]Hardy then took his snitching to the next level by volunteering to do a controlled buy for the DEA. DEA Special Agent Michael Cline prompted Hardy to call Huskisson on a recorded phone call to set up a buy to ensure Huskisson would sell dope to him, and Huskisson agreed to sell quot;10 to 12 pounds.quot; After several more recorded calls, the pair agreed to meet at night on February 6, at Huskisson#39;s place./ppWith undercover DEA agents already in place near Huskisson#39;s house, Agent Cline tailed Hardy#39;s car as he drove to 612 Laclede Street, where Huskisson lived, arriving 5:30 or 5:45 p.m. Hardy went into the house, and the assembled DEA agents waited. Half an hour later, Cline spotted a car pull into Huskisson#39;s driveway and watched two men (later identifed as Jezzar Terraz-Zamarron and Fred Aragon) exit the visible vehicle carrying a cooler and enter the house./ppTen minutes later, a nervous Anthony Hardy came out the door and gave a prearranged signal to DEA Agent Cline to indicate he#39;d seen the meth. On that signal, DEA agents armed with high-powered weapons stormed the home, forcing the men inside onto the floor. Meanwhile Cline faked arresting Hardy to disguise Hardy#39;s role as an informant. While milling around in Huskisson#39;s home like characters readying for the next act, DEA agents and Indiana State Police investigators observed in the kitchen in plain sight an open cooler with #39;ten saran-wrapped packages of meth./ppAll three men were arrested./ppPaul Huskisson was subsequently indicted for possession with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine in violation of the federal statute 21 U.S.C. 841(a)./ppWhen those DEA agents entered Huskisson#39;s home and found the meth they had no search warrant whatsoever that allowed them to legally be there. They didn#39;t bother to get one quot;until later,quot; Cline testified at trial./ppstrongAn Effort to Have the Evidence Thrown Out/strong/ppBefore going to trial, Huskisson#39;s attorney filed a motion to suppress the drug evidence, arguing the drugs were found only after the DEA entry team entered Huskisson#39;s house without a search warrant and without any exigent circumstances -- a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment#39;s requirement for lawful searches. He also argued that DEA agents had included that tainted evidence, that a href=https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/fruit_of_the_poisonous_tree target=_blankfruit of the poisonous tree/a, into the affidavit for the search warrant that they obtained after the fact from a judge, quot;an hour or so later.quot;/ppDEA agent Michael Cline was unable to testify at the motion hearing, so Indiana State Police investigator Noel Kinney substituted for Cline. Pertaining to the warrant obtained after agents rushed into the house, Kinney testified inconsistently regarding the emex post facto/em warrant, contradicting himself badly about the intent of the search and other government evidence./ppUnder questioning by defense attorney John L. Tompkins, Kinney first testified the task force#39;s original plan was to apply for a warrant even if Huskisson refused consent to search, and no matter whether law enforcement saw evidence of drug activities in the house./ppquot;Depending on the conversation with Mr. Huskisson, and, if he granted consent to search, we would continue the search of the residence,quot; Kinney testified./ppquot;What would#39;ve happened if Mr. Huskisson hadn#39;t given consent,quot; defense attorney Tompkins, asked./ppquot;If he didn#39;t give consent, we would#39;ve secured the residence and obtained a search warrant,quot; Kinney said./ppThis testimony strongly suggests that DEA agents intended to enter the house and search for drugs without a warrant./ppBelatedly realizing the incriminating implications of his testimony, Kinney then offered another alternative, claiming the plan was to apply for a warrant only if the DEA found meth in Huskisson#39;s home -- and if Huskisson had refused consent to search./ppAt this point, Huskisson#39;s attorney seized the moment to pounce on Kinney./ppquot;So, if you didn#39;t get consent you was going to start the process of obtaining a warrant?quot; Tompkins asked incredulous./ppdiv class=image_holder right style= width: 200pximg src=https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/judge-jane-magnus-stinson.jpg hspace= vspace= alt=https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/judge-jane-magnus-stinson.jpg class=inline /div class=image-captionJudge Jane Magnus Stinson/div/div quot;Yes,quot; Kinney replied./ppquot;So, no part of the plan was to obtain a warrant prior to entry into Huskisson#39;s residence?quot; Thompson asked, again./ppquot;That#39;s correct, yes,quot; the investigators#39; replied./ppDespite the testimony about the warrantless search, US District Court Judge/ppJane Magnus-Stinson ruled against throwing out the evidence against Huskisson, holding that independent source doctrine in essence trumped the Fourth Amendment./ppstrongOn Appeal/strong/ppBased in part on the evidence developed through the warrantless search, Huskisson was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in 2017. Both men arrested with Huskisson on February 6, 2016, were also convicted and sent to prison. Huskisson#39;s lawyers immediately appealed his conviction./ppFiling a counter appeal, government prosecutors argued that the issuance of the warrant after the illegal entry of Huskisson#39;s home by (DEA Agents) was based on an independent source for the meth evidence, thus making independent source doctrine applicable. Independent source doctrine in criminal cases creates an exception to the Fourth Amendment#39;s exclusionary rule./ppIndependent search doctrine and the exception to the exclusionary rule was created in a 1988 US Supreme Court case, a href=https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/487/533/ target=_blankMurray v. United States/a (487 U.S. 533), with the opinion authored by arch-conservative jurist Justice Antonin Scalia. In that case, police in Boston had probable cause to stop two vehicles carrying marijuana as they exited a warehouse. Police then forced entry into the warehouse without a warrant and saw several wrapped bales that they suspected were drugs./ppAfter seeing the bales, the officers left the warehouse and got a warrant based on their suspicion that more drugs were stored in the building. But in the affidavit for that search warrant, the police never mentioned that they had already entered the warehouse without a warrant and saw only stacked bales./ppStill, Scalia ruled for the police, holding that the Fourth Amendment doesn#39;t require the exclusion of evidence found during a warrantless illegal search if that evidence is also found during a later search with a valid search warrant./ppAnother case, this one on probable cause for searches, also came into play as appeals court judges pondered the issues before them in Huskisson#39;s case. In 2010, judges of that same 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals held in a case involving drugs stored in an apartment, a href=https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1533684.html target=_blankUnited States v. Etchins/a that#39;s even though police illegally entered the apartment without a warrant and without the consent of the resident and remained in the apartment until a warrant was issued hours later, that quot;because the officers#39; search relied on a later-arriving warrant based on information sufficiently unrelated to the initial entry, the evidence discovered in Etchin#39;s apartment was untainted by the officers#39; illegal behavior. quot;We therefore conclude that the district court properly denied the defendants#39; motions to suppress and, finding no error in the sentences imposed, we affirm.quot;/ppEven as it denied Etchins#39; appeal, the appeals court conceded that quot;we do not doubt that the officers#39; warrantless entry violated the Fourth Amendment, but probable cause existed to search Etchins#39; apartment when officers unlawfully entered the first time. Therefore, the evidence discovered in Etchins#39; apartment was untainted by the officers#39; illegal behavior.quot;/ppRelying mostly on Murray, but also on Etchins, on June 5th 2019, the 7th Circuit found that although Drug Enforcement (DEA) agents should#39;ve obtained a search warrant prior to entering Huskisson#39;s home to get the dope, yet the panel insisted the unlawful evidence was still admissible under independent source doctrine, and that prior probable cause had already been established, tilting their decision in favor of the police./ppThe 7th Circuit concluded that prior evidence of police informant Anthony Hardy#39;s initial admissions to DEA agent Michael Cline about his drug-dealing history with Huskisson, including Hardy#39;s nine phone calls to Huskisson to set up the meth deal including Hardy#39;s pre-bust signal to Cline at the scene were sufficient for probable cause prior to the officers entering Huskisson#39;s home./pp[image:4 align:left caption:true]Another key point the justices took into consideration was Hardy#39;s story of drugs he saw in Huskisson#39;s house after Hardy arrived, which, taken together, justified the resort to independent source doctrine because the DEA had already established probable cause against Huskisson without a warrant in hand./ppquot;Though the government should not profit from its bad behavior, neither should it be placed in a worse position than it would otherwise have occupied,quot; the panel held./ppThese same judges weren#39;t even swayed by the glaringly inconsistent statements made by the police sergeant who testified agents planned to search Huskisson#39;s house without a warrant even if he refused to consent to a search. Rejecting/ppHuskisson#39;s appeal, the justices affirmed his conviction on federal drug charges in Indianapolis as result of the DEA investigation./ppIn effect, the appeals court held that police had established probable cause that Huskisson was dealing drugs, so the illegal search was okay. But probable cause should only give law enforcement the ability to obtain a search warrant, not give the police automatic permission to enter someone#39;s home without one./ppStill, the panel was critical of the DEA. quot;We do not condone this illegal behavior by law enforcement; the better practice is to obtain a warrant before entering a home. Ordinarily, the evidence found here would be excluded. But, because the government had much other evidence of probable cause, and had already planned to apply for a warrant before the illegal entry; therefore, the evidence is admissible.quot;/ppstrongTroubling Precedents/strong/ppLegal scholars and defense attorneys are troubled by the line of cases that resulted in allowing illegally seized evidence to be used in criminal prosecutions./ppquot;There are so many examples of police taking advantage of loopholes in Supreme Court doctrines that it must be incentivizing police in some cases to conduct illegal searches where they would otherwise seek a warrant,quot; Ryan W. Scott, professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington, told the Chronicle./ppWashington, DC-based criminal defense attorney and appellate expert Steve Leckar, explained how the problem is rooted in the 1988 Supreme Court decision in Murray./ppquot;Here#39;s the problem,quot; Leckar told the Chronicle. quot;In Murray, the US Supreme Court said independent source doctrine can be used.quot;/ppProfessor Scott concurred in pointing to Murray./ppquot;The Supreme Court#39;s answer in Murray was that police ( like the agents in Huskisson#39;s case) still should prefer to obtain a warrant up front because then the police wouldn#39;t have to bear the additional burden of establishing that both the showing of probable cause and their decision to seek a warrant were totally independent of the evidence the police recovered,quot; he said./ppAttorney Leckar said the line of decisions is deeply concerning. quot;This ruling gives police a green light to enter homes unannounced without a warrant, with the risk of confronting armed citizens,quot; he noted. quot;Decisions like this allow the police to bust into people#39;s homes#39; willy-nilly with little fear of being held accountable in a civil lawsuit,quot; Leckar added./ppHe also worries that as officers become more aware of how independent source doctrine can be used to get around the exclusionary rule, they may be incentivized to create a story filled with half-truths to create questionable probable cause in order to make a warrantless entry into a person#39;s residence or place of business./ppLeckar was also critical of the appeals court panels#39; reasoning. quot;The problem with this court#39;s decision is the belief the police shouldn#39;t be put in a worse position, but the fact of the matter is the officers identified no reason that prevented them from getting a warrant within a timely manner,quot; he argued. quot;They said they were going to get a warrant, but that#39;s easy to say. What evidence was there of that?quot;/ppquot;Why bother getting a warrant right away if you can just conduct the search illegally, confirm that you were right, and then get the evidence admitted anyway?quot; Professor Scott added. quot;To be clear, independent source doctrine affects only the admissibility of evidence; it doesn#39;t mean the police are legally free to enter the homes of suspected drug dealers without a warrant,quot; he explained./ppHuskisson is appealing to the US Supreme Court. Its his last hope, but his prospects there are cloudy at best./ppJournalist Clarence Walker Jr. wishes Drug War Chronicle readers and everyone a safe, wonderful, blessed Christmas and prosperous New Year in 2020./ppAny comments? Reach Clarence Walker at: anewswriter74@yahoo.com/a/p /div /div /div
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US: Canada Banker Is Pot's Money Man

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 12/23/2019 - 08:00
Wall Street Journal, 23 Dec 2019 - Graham Saunders is a man in high demand. When U.S. cannabis companies need financing they can't find elsewhere, they turn to this Toronto banker who operates far from Wall Street. Since the spring of 2016, Mr. Saunders's team at Canadian boutique firm Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. has helped finance more than half of all pot deals in the global equity markets, raising more than $5 billion from investors, according to Dealogic.
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Chronicle AM: SD MMJ initiative Qualifies for Ballot, New Zealand Pill Testing Study, More... (12/20/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Fri, 12/20/2019 - 20:39
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pSouth Dakota voters will get to decide on okaying medical marijuana next year, Chicago legal sales are set to begin January 1, New Zealand#39;s government pays for a pill-testing study, and more./pp[image:1 align:right caption:true]a href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/trump-administration-moves-to-deny-asylum-over-misdemeanor-marijuana-offenses/ target=_blankTrump Administration Moves to Deny Asylum Over Misdemeanor Marijuana Offenses/a. As part of its crackdown on immigration, the Trump administration has proposed changing immigration policy to prevent people convicted of various misdemeanor and felony offenses from claiming asylum in the US. That would include any marijuana offense except for a first offense involving possession of less than 30 grams. The proposal is open to public comment through January 21./ppa href=https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/poll-most-new-mexicans-support-legalizing-recreational-pot/article_fe8aab3e-22b0-11ea-a3e9-cb717a696699.html target=_blankNew Mexico Poll Show Very Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization/a. A new poll from Change Research has support for marijuana legalization in the Land of Enchantment at a whopping 73%. This just a month ahead of a legislative special session where the governor is expected to back a legalization bill./ppa href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/vermont-house-speaker-says-majority-of-lawmakers-back-legalizing-marijuana-sales/ target=_blankVermont House Speaker Says Majority of Lawmakers Back Legalizing Marijuana Sales/a. House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D) said Thursday that there is enough support in her chamber to pass a marijuana sales legalization bill this year. But Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D) has said the legislation isn#39;t a priority in his chamber. On Thursday, he said the Senate is in quot;wait and see modequot; on what changes the House may make./ppa href=https://www.kwqc.com/content/news/Chicago-council-rejects-bid-to-delay-Jan-1-marijuana-sales-566362311.html target=_blankChicago City Council Rejects Delay; Legal Marijuana Sales Will Begin January 1/a. At a contentious meeting Wednesday night, the city council rejected a bid to delay marijuana sales until July 1. The move came a day after a council committee approved the delay, citing complaints that minorities were losing out on ownership of city marijuana businesses. Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) opposed the delay, saying diversity could be addressed without delaying the sales rollout./ppstrongMedical Marijuana/strong/ppa href=https://www.kotatv.com/content/news/Petitions-to-get-medical-marijuana-on-South-Dakota-ballot-are-validated-566363061.html target=_blankSouth Dakota Medical Marijuana Initiative Qualifies for November 2020 Ballot/a. For the third time, state voters will have the opportunity to legalize medical marijuana via the ballot box. Secretary of State Steve Barnett (R) announced Thursday that a medical marijuana initiative, a href=https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Qbo3-t5u6xBFKosUvGjAEKW0n-6CWnXA/view target=_blankInitiated Measure 26/a, has qualified to appear on the November 2020 ballot. The measure is supported by New Approach South Dakota and the Marijuana Policy Project./ppstrongInternational/strong/ppa href=https://themusicnetwork.com/new-zealand-pill-testing/ target=_blankNew Zealand Government Will Fund Pill-Testing Study/a. The New Zealand government has funded a study to research pill-testing at music festivals, marking the first time such a study will have been done in the country. Under current law, festival promoters can be charged for allowing recreational drug use at their events, but authorities have at times turned a blind eye to the harm reduction practice and the national police approve of the study. It will be conducted by a criminology team from the Victoria University of Wellington./p /div /div /div
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Chronicle AM: SAFE Banking Act Challenge in Senate, FL Marijuana Legalization Bill Coming, More... (12/19/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 12/19/2019 - 21:19
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pA bipartisan pair of senators file a pair of marijuana bills, a key Senate Republican is demanding changes to the House-passed SAFE Banking Act, and more./pp[image:1 align:left caption:true]strongMarijuana Policy/strong/ppa href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/key-senate-chairman-lays-out-possible-marijuana-banking-bill-changes/ target=_blankSenate Banking Committee Chair Wants Changes in SAFE Banking Act/a. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), head of the Senate Banking Committee, said Wednesday he opposes the SAFE Banking Act in its present form. The act has passed the House and is now before the committee. Crapo said he wants some changes, including a two percent THC limit on products in order for businesses to qualify for access to the banking system, which would effectively deny access to all sectors of the industry except hemp and CBD products. Crapo also floated denying banking access to companies selling high-potency vaping devices or products, such as edibles, that may appeal to children./ppa href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/elizabeth-warren-files-marijuana-bills-for-veterans-and-immigrants/ target=_blankSenators Gardner and Warren File Marijuana Bills for Immigrants and Veterans/a. Democratic presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner have teamed up to file a pair of bills aimed at protecting immigrants and veterans who work in the marijuana industry. One bill would adjust current immigration policy to clarify that working in the industry would not be grounds for denying naturalization. The second bill would bar the Department of Veterans Affairs from denying housing loans to veterans who work in the industry./ppa href=https://wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu/post/florida-senator-says-legislature-should-legalize-recreational-marijuana-plans-file-bill-soon target=_blankFlorida State Senator to File Legalization Bill/a. One of the Sunshine State#39;s biggest legislative advocates for marijuana reform is ready to file a legalization bill in the coming session. Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) said he wants the legislature to legalize marijuana so the legislature could vet the proposal, instead of allowing legalization to occur via an initiative. He said he expected to have the bill filed within two weeks./p /div /div /div
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This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 12/18/2019 - 21:42
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pA Tennessee deputy goes on a bizarre crime spree, a California cop gets busted for the fondling the breasts of a dead overdose victim, and more. Let#39;s get to it:/pp[image:1 align:right]In Chattanooga, Tennessee, a href=https://newsmaven.io/pinacnews/cops-in-cuffs/tennessee-sheriff-s-deputy-arrested-on-44-charges-including-rape-and-stalking-Mtflax-DHUirAe-jys3Fig/ target=_blanka Hamilton County sheriff#39;s deputy was arrested last Tuesday/a on 44 criminal charges, including 25 felonies, for actions he took in the course of official duties. Deputy Daniel Wilkey faces charges of rape, extortion, stalking and assault. In one case, he found a woman in possession of a small amount of marijuana. He offered not to arrest her if she would would allow him to baptize her in his underwear. The woman said she felt she had no choice but to agree, so she went with him into the lake, where he stripped to his underwear and submerged her in the lake with his hands on her back and her breasts. He is charged with stalking, assault, extortion, and false imprisonment in that case. In another case, he faces felony rape and misdemeanor assault charges for performing a body cavity search on a black motorist he pulled over./ppIn Los Angeles, a href=https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2019/12/13/LAPD-officer-charged-for-fondling-body-of-dead-woman/4381576225949/ target=_blankan LAPD officer was arrested last Thursday/a for allegedly fondling the breasts of a woman who had died of a drug overdose. Officer David Rojas, 27, allegedly quot;touched the woman#39;s breastquot; when alone with the body while on the October 20 call. He was arrested by LAPD#39;s Internal Affairs Division after it reviewed his body camera footage. He is charged with one felony count of having sexual contact with human remains./ppIn Little Rock, Arkansas, a href=https://katv.com/news/local/arkansas-prison-officer-charged-with-smuggling-marijuana-into-lockup target=_blanka state prison guard was arrested Monday/a on charges he smuggled marijuana into the prison. Jordan Davis, 22, was charged with one felony count of furnishing, possession or delivering prohibited articles. He got caught trying to smuggle 12 grams of marijuana and 17 grams of tobacco that were wrapped in plastic and hidden inside his pants./ppIn New York City, a href=https://nypost.com/2019/12/15/ex-nypd-sergeant-admits-she-ran-drugs-with-tekashi-6ix9ine-court-papers/ target=_blanka former NYPD sergeant pleaded guilty November 27/a to running drugs for the notorious Nine Trey Blood gang. Ex-cop Arlicia Robinson admitted transporting more than 100 grams of heroin from the Bronx to Manhattan last July. Robinson was indicted in November 2018 on three narcotics counts. It#39;s not clear from the reporting which one she copped to./p /div /div /div
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Chronicle AM: DC MJ Sales Appear Blocked Again, RI Senate Leader Says No Legalization Next Year, More... (12/18/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 12/18/2019 - 20:46
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pIt looks like Congress will once again block the District of Columbia from taxing and regulating legal marijuana sales, a key Rhode Island senator just says no to legalizing pot there next year, and more./pp[image:1 align:left caption:true]strongMarijuana Policy/strong/ppa href=https://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/plan-to-decriminalize-marijuana-possession-may-be-considered-by-indiana/article_4616a7f7-4fb4-53bc-a5cb-13d01947773b.html target=_blankIndiana Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Filed/a. State Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) filed a marijuana decriminalization bill Monday. She said it was appropriate because neighboring Illinois and Michigan have already legalized marijuana. Her bill would make possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana a ticketable infraction with a small fine and no jail time; instead of a misdemeanor crime with penalties of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for a first offense. The bill is not yet available on the legislative web site. The ten-week Indiana legislative session begins January 6./ppa href=https://www.providencejournal.com/news/20191217/ruggerio-ri-senate-wont-support-legalizing-marijuana-in-2020 target=_blankRhode Island Senate Leader Says No Marijuana Legalization Next Year/a. Senate President Dominic Ruggiero (D) said Tuesday there would be no marijuana legalization bill passed in the legislature next year. quot;No,quot; he said when asked whether 2020 would be the year it happens. quot;I want to see what is happening in Massachusetts. I am not crazy about the medical marijuana program in this state. I don#39;t think people have a handle on it... If we can#39;t handle medical marijuana, there is no way we can enforce the laws for legalization.quot; Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) has said she plans to propose legalization in her upcoming state budget -- as she did last year, only to see the proposal die in the General Assembly./ppa href=https://www.fox5dc.com/news/congress-blocks-legal-dc-pot-sales target=_blankWashington, DC, Likely Won#39;t Get Legal Marijuana Sales Next Year/a. On Monday, House Democrats unveiled their 2020 appropriations bill for the District of Columbia, and the bill continues the ban on DC creating a regulated and taxed market for legal marijuana. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) criticized the bill and said the District should have the same right to implement marijuana legalization as anywhere else in the country: quot;Well it#39;s just another reason why we have to march towards statehood,quot; she said. quot;Until we are autonomous and a state just like everyone else in America, we can always have this interference from Congress!quot;/p /div /div /div
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The Top Ten Domestic Drug Policy Stories of 2019 [FEATURE]

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 12/18/2019 - 04:01
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pAs the clock ticks down toward 2020, it#39;s worth taking a moment to look back and reflect on what has gone on in the world of drug policy this year. From marijuana to psychedelics to the lingering overdose crisis to the emergence of a new vaping-related illness, a lot happened. Here are ten of the biggest highs and lows of 2019, in no particular order:/pp[image:1 align:left caption:true]strong1, For the First Time, Marijuana Legalization Wins a Congressional Vote/strong/ppIn November, a href=https://judiciary.house.gov/news/press-releases/house-judiciary-passes-more-act-decriminalize-marijuana-federal-level target=_blankthe House Judiciary Committee made history/a when it approved the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (a href=https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3884 target=_blankH.R. 3384/a). The bill would effectively legalize marijuana at the federal level by removing it from the Controlled Substance Act#39;s drug schedules. It would also require federal courts to expunge prior convictions and conduct resentencing hearings for those still doing federal marijuana time. And it would assess a five percent tax on marijuana sales to create a fund to aid to people and communities most impacted by prohibition./ppThere#39;s a href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/watch-live-lawmakers-preview-historic-vote-to-end-federal-marijuana-prohibition/ target=_blanka good chance the MORE Act will get a House floor vote/a before the end of this Congress, but even if it does, its prospects in Sen. Mitch McConnell#39;s Senate are dim at best. Still, step by step, Congress by Congress, the end of federal marijuana prohibition is drawing nearer./ppstrong2. Marijuana Banking Bill Passes the House/strong/ppIn September, a href=https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2019/sep/26/house_passes_safe_banking_act target=_blank_the House passed the SAFE Banking Act/a, which would allow state-legal marijuana businesses to get access to banking and other financial services. The vote was 321-103, with near unanimous support from Democrats, as well as nearly half of Republicans./ppThe vote came although some civil rights and drug reform groups had called for it to be put off until more comprehensive marijuana or criminal justice reform, such as the MORE Act (see above) could be enacted. They argued that passage of a narrowly targeted financial services bill could erode momentum toward broader reforms. The MORE Act did win a House Judiciary Committee vote, but has yet to get a House floor vote./ppAnd while SAFE passed the House, it must still get through the Senate, where it is not clear whether it will be allowed to a vote, much less whether it can pass. A companion version of SAFE, a href=https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/1200 target=_blankS.1200/a, was introduced in April by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and a bipartisan group of 21 original cosponsors. It currently has 33 total cosponsors. In September, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) a href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/gop-senate-chair-says-he-plans-marijuana-banking-vote/ target=_blanksaid/a his committee would take up the cannabis banking issue this year and is working on preparing a new bill, but now it#39;s December and little has happened./ppstrong3. Legalization in the States Didn#39;t Have a Great Year/strong/ppAt the beginning of 2019, prospects looked good for as many as a half-dozen states to get legalization bills passed, but the year turned out to largely be a dud. Hopes were especially high in New Jersey and New York, where Democratic governors supported legalization, but it didn#39;t come to pass this year in either state. In Albany, they#39;ll be back at it next year, but in Trenton, it looks like a href=https://www.nj.com/marijuana/2019/11/voters-will-decide-next-year-if-new-jersey-should-legalize-weed-top-lawmaker-says.html target=_blankthe legislature is going to punt/a, opting instead to put the issue directly to the voters next year in a legislative referendum./ppOne state did make it all the way to the finish line: a href=https://www.alternet.org/2019/06/its-official-illinois-legalizes-marijuana/ target=_blankIllinois/a. After a legalization bill sailed through the legislature in the spring, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed it into law in late June. With that signature, Illinois became the first state to create a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce through the legislative process, rather than through a voter initiative. (Vermont#39;s legislature legalized possession and cultivation but not sales in early 2018.)/ppGetting bills through a state legislature is emhard work/em, and it sometimes takes years. Still, that hard work that didn#39;t quite make it over the top this year, is laying the groundwork for legalization in places like New Jersey and New York -- and maybe more -- next year. And next year is an election year, which means initiative campaigns that can bypass legislative logjams will be in play. There are already active campaigns in Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota and South Dakota, although none have yet qualified for the ballot. Look for 2020 to be a better year when it comes to freeing the weed./ppstrong4. Pot Prohibition Isn#39;t Dead Yet: Despite Legalization, Marijuana Arrests Up in Latest FBI Crime Report/strong/ppIn late September, a href=https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomangell/2019/10/01/marijuana-arrests-increased-again-last-year-despite-more-states-legalizing-fbi-data-shows/ target=_blankthe FBI released its annual Uniform Crime Report for 2018/a, and once again, marijuana arrests were on the rise -- despite legalization in 11 states and DC, and decriminalization in 15 more states. There were some 663,367 marijuana arrests in 2018, up from 659,700 in 2017 and 653,249 in 2017. In all three years, simple possession cases accounted for about nine out of ten pot busts. Before 2016, marijuana arrests had been going down for more than a decade. Clearly, there is still work to do here./ppstrong5. US Supreme Court Unanimously Reins in Asset Forfeiture/strong/ppIn a February victory for proponents of civil libertarians, the US Supreme Court ruled in ema href=https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-1091_5536.pdf target=_blankTimbs v. Indiana /a/emthat the Eighth Amendment#39;s Excessive Fines Clause applies to states, thereby prohibiting state and local governments from collecting excessive fines, fees and forfeitures. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion. quot;The protection against excessive fines guards against abuses of government#39;s punitive or criminal law-enforcement authority,quot; Ginsburg wrote. The case involved the seizure of a $42,000 Land Rover over a drug sale of $225./ppThere was more progress on the asset forfeiture front on the state level, too: Bills to either end civil asset forfeiture entirely or to restrict it passed this year in a href=https://www.alreporter.com/2019/06/13/ivey-signs-civil-asset-forfeiture-law/ target=_blankAlabama/a, a href=http://www.justiceactionnetwork.org/gov-hutchinson-signs-landmark-civil-asset-forfeiture-reform-bill-law/ target=_blankArkansas/a, a href=https://www.freep.com/story/news/politics/2019/05/09/gretchen-whitmer-signs-bills-limit-asset-forfeiture-drug-cases/1155329001/ target=_blankMichigan/a, and a href=https://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/gov-burgum-signs-bill-reforming-forfeiture-in-north-dakota/article_a033efb7-e67b-58d8-a968-5436fd1b3fbe.html target=_blankNorth Dakota/a, and in September, a a href=https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/2019/10/15/civil-asset-forfeiture-sc-unconstitutional-circuit-judge-rules/3988345002/ target=_blankSouth Carolina circuit court judge ruled civil asset forfeiture unconstitutional/a, setting up a fight in state appeals courts there./ppstrong6. Thousands of Federal Drug Prisoners Go Free Under First Step Act/strong/ppPresident Trump signed the First Step Act into law at the end of last year, but the sentencing reform measure#39;s true impact was felt in July, when a href=https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2019/sep/9/first-step-act-update-over-1600-sentences-reduced-3000-prisoners-released/ target=_blankthe Bureau of Prisons released more than 3,000 prisoners/a and reduced the sentences of nearly 1,700 more. Almost all of those released were drug offenders. The First Step Act was aimed at redressing harsh sentences for federal prisoners excluded from the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced -- but did not eliminate -- the infamous crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity, but which did not include prisoners sentenced before its passage. Three states -- Florida, South Carolina and Virginia -- accounted for a whopping 25 percent of sentence reductions, and more than 90 percent went to African-American men./pp[image:2 align:right caption:true]strong7. Psychedelic Decriminalization Becomes a Movement/strong/ppAfter emerging in 2018, the movement to decriminalize natural psychedelics mushroomed this year. In May, voters in Denver narrowly approved the a href=https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5bb4f9c27046803ce123a760/t/5c6360158165f54e1f1b090a/1550016533926/DPMDI.pdf target=_blankDenver Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Initiative/a, making clear that they wanted to quot;deprioritize, to the greatest extent possible, the imposition of criminal penalties on persons 21 years of age and older for the personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms.quot; The measure also quot;prohibits the city and county of Denver from spending resources on imposing criminal penalties on persons 21 years of age and older for the personal use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms.quot;/ppThat surprise victory sparked interest across the country, and the following month a href=https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/447033-oakland-second-city-to-decriminalize-hallucinogenic-magic-mushrooms target=_blankOakland/a followed suit, only this time it was the city council -- not the voters -- who decriminalized magic mushrooms and other natural psychedelics. In September, a href=https://www.illinoispolicy.org/chicago-city-council-calls-for-decriminalization-of-magic-mushrooms/ target=_blankChicago/a became the next city to get on board, with the city council unanimously passing an advisory resolution expressing support for research on the potential use of psychoactive plants and pledging support for adult use of the substances. Meanwhile, activists in a href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/four-more-major-cities-take-steps-to-decriminalize-psychedelics/ target=_blankthree more major cities/a -- Berkeley, Dallas, and Portland -- were pushing psychedelic decriminalization measures, either through ballot initiatives or city council actions. By December, Decriminalize Nature, the group behind the movement, reported that a href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/nearly-100-cities-are-considering-decriminalizing-psychedelics-map-shows/ target=_blankmore than 100 cities/a across the country are now seeing efforts to open up to psychedelics./ppAnd it#39;s not just cities. In two states, psychedelic reformers have filed initiatives aimed at the November 2020 ballot. In the Golden State, the a href=https://www.oag.ca.gov/system/files/initiatives/pdfs/19-0016%20%28Psilocybin%202020%29_0.pdf target=_blankCalifornia Psilocybin Mushroom Initiative/a, which would decriminalize the possession, use, and gifting of magic mushrooms and the chemical compounds -- psilocybin and psilocin -- has been cleared for signature gathering. It has until April 21 to come up with 623,212 valid voter signatures to qualify for the November 2020 ballot. Just across the border to the north, the a href=https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2018/dec/10/oregon_initiative_would target=_blankOregon Psilocybin Service Initiative/a, which would allow magic mushrooms to be grown with a license, and would allow for therapeutic use of psilocybin, is in the midst of signature gathering. It needs 112,020 valid voter signatures by July 2 to make the ballot. The Oregon measure in October got a nice a href=https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2019/09/dr-bronners-soap-company-donates-150000-to-oregons-2020-legal-psychedelic-mushroom-initiative.html target=_blank$150,000 donation from Dr. Bronner#39;s Magic Soaps/a./ppstrong8. Overdose Deaths Decline Slightly, But Are Still Way Too High/strong/ppIn July, a href=https://www.apnews.com/f73358f266b84992902b660a94002c76 target=_blankthe CDC reported 2018 drug overdose death numbers/a and found that they had declined from 2017#39;s record high of more than 70,000 to just under 68,000, a five percent decrease. The a href=https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm target=_blanklatest data from CDC/a, which measured drug deaths in the 12-month period ending in April 2019 showed deaths at 67,000, suggesting that the decline continues, but at a glacial pace. Still, the number of overdose deaths is about seven times higher than it was in 1995, at the start of the prescription opioid epidemic./ppThe recent decline has been driven by a decrease in heroin and prescription opioid overdoses, although overdoses involving the synthetic opioid fentanyl increased, as did those involving the stimulant drugs cocaine and methamphetamine. Many overdoses involved more than one drug, with benzodiazepines often implicated./ppa href=https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR3117.html target=_blankIf some researchers are right/a, fentanyl overdoses could balloon to an even higher level, if distribution of the highly potent substance takes hold in the western US. Most users take fentanyl unknowingly, after it#39;s been used to cut street heroin or counterfeit pills./ppstrong9. Vaping-Linked Illness Emerges, Sparking Broad Anti-Vaping Backlash/strong/ppIn the summer, reports of vaping or e-cig users being struck down by a mysterious, lung-damaging condition began to emerge. By the end of October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a href=https://www.alternet.org/2019/10/heres-the-truth-behind-the-vaping-crisis-and-the-governments-bizarre-reaction-to-it/ target=_blankreported/a more than 1,600 cases of lung-damaged vapors, with the death toll rising to 34. (That number has since risen to 47.) The CDC also gave the condition a name: e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury (EVALI)./ppA likely culprit soon emerged: a href=https://www.leafly.com/news/health/vape-pen-lung-disease-advice-consumers target=_blankblack market THC vaping cartridges/a contaminated with new additives, particularly thinners including propylene glycol (PG) and polyethylene glycol (PEG), vitamin E acetate, and medium chain triglycerides (MCT oil). The FDA has begun investigating a href=https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2019/09/05/contaminant-found-vaping-products-linked-deadly-lung-illnesses-state-federal-labs-show/ target=_blankvitamin E acetate/a, while public health officials in New York have found the substance in a href=https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/05/health/vaping-illness-lung-vitamin-e.html target=_blanka majority of seized vape cartridges/a there. The FDA also a href=https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/08/05/2019-16658/harmful-and-potentially-harmful-constituents-in-tobacco-products-established-list-proposed-additions target=_blankannounced/a in August that it is proposing adding propylene glycol as a quot;respiratory toxicantquot; in its list of harmful tobacco product ingredients./ppWhile the CDC and the FDA responded to the outbreak with recommendations targeting the suspect products, elected and public health officials in a number of states responded by going after not black market marijuana vaping cartridges but legal flavored tobacco vaping products./ppa href=https://www.cbsnews.com/news/vaping-massachusetts-product-sales-banned-temporarily-today-2019-09-24/ target=_blankMassachusetts/a banned all vaping products, a href=https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/09/04/michigan-bans-flavored-vaping-products-what-know/2207323001/ target=_blankMichigan/a banned flavored emnicotine /emproducts, a href=https://finance.yahoo.com/news/york-court-blocks-state-ban-054922585.html target=_blankNew York/a banned flavored e-cigarettes, a href=https://www.oregonlive.com/news/2019/10/oregon-will-ban-flavored-vaping-products-oct-15.html target=_blankOregon/a banned all flavored vaping products for six months, as did a href=https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Rhode-Island-issues-emergency-rules-to-ban-vaping-14494931.php target=_blankRhode Island/a, while a href=https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-7526277/Washington-fourth-state-ban-flavored-e-cigarettes.html target=_blankWashington/aissued a four-month ban on flavored vaping products. President Trump threatened to move toward a national ban on flavored vaping products, but has since a href=https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trump-pulls-back-from-flavored-vaping-ban/2019/11/17/30853ece-07ae-11ea-924a-28d87132c7ec_story.html target=_blankchanged course/a, even a href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/trump-says-drug-prohibition-doesnt-work-during-vaping-meeting/ target=_blankmaking an anti-prohibitionist argument/a to do so./ppIn its a href=https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html#latest-outbreak-information target=_blanklatest update/a, the CDC reports the number of EVALI cases has risen to nearly 2,300 and the death toll has climbed to 47. But unlike those state governments that reacted with flavored vaping bans, the CDC takes a different approach: It points the finger strongly at vitamin E acetate, recommends that people not use THC vaping products at this point -- especially if obtained informally or in the black market -- and also warns people not to add any products to vaping cartridges that are not intended by the manufacturer./ppstrong10. /strongstrongSafe Injection Sites Win an Important Preliminary Legal Battle/strong/ppIn a case involving a proposed safe injection site in Philadelphia, a href=https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/judge-rules-philadelphia-supervised-injection-site-does-not-violate-federal-law/2019/10/02/7f2cd210-e569-11e9-b403-f738899982d2_story.html target=_blanka federal judge ruled/a that it would not violate federal law. With the backing of city officials and former Gov. Ed Rendell (D), the nonprofit group Safehouse pressed forward with plans for the facility even though the Justice Department had warned that it would not allow any safe injection sites to move forward. The Justice Department sued in February to halt the project, arguing that it violated the federal quot;crack house law.quot;/ppBut US District Judge Gerald McHugh ruled that the quot;crack housequot; provision of the Controlled Substances Act does not apply to the group#39;s bid to assist opioid users. quot;No credible argument can be made that facilities such as safe injection sites were within the contemplation of Congressquot; when that body wrote the law in 1986 or amended it in 2003, McHugh wrote. quot;I cannot conclude that Safehouse [the safe injection site] has, as a significant purpose, the objective of facilitating drug use. Safehouse plans to make a place available for the purposes of reducing the harm of drug use, administering medical care, encouraging drug treatment and connecting participants with social services.quot;/ppWhile the Justice Department has appealed the ruling, it is a good omen, and the case is being carefully watched in cities such as Denver, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, all of which are pursuing similar plans./p /div /div /div
Categories: Latest News

Chronicle AM: New Pot Polls Look Good, Pot Initiative Action, Dutch Push for Legal Ecstasy, More... (12/17/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Tue, 12/17/2019 - 21:12
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pProtections for state-level marijuana legalization programs gets stripped from a federal funding bill, two new polls have strong national support for legalization, a Dutch political party is pushing for the legalization of Ecstasy and soft drugs, and more./pp[image:1 align:right caption:true]strongMarijuana Policy/strong/ppa href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/majority-of-americans-support-marijuana-legalization-two-more-new-polls-show/ target=_blankMajority of Americans Support Marijuana Legalization, Two More Polls Show/a. Two new polls show solid majorities for marijuana legalization. A Fox News poll has 63% supporting legalizing quot;the recreational use of marijuana at the national level,quot; while a Marist/NPR/PBS poll had 62% saying legalizing marijuana is quot;a good idea.quot; That#39;s in line with most polls in recent years./ppa href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/house-passed-marijuana-amendments-stripped-from-congressional-spending-bills/ target=_blankHouse-Passed Marijuana Amendments Stripped from Congressional Spending Bills/a. A number of marijuana-related provisions, including one that would have provided protection for tribal and state-legal recreational marijuana, have been stripped from large-scale spending legislation after negotiations with the Senate. Negotiators did agree to keep a long-running rider that protects state-level medical marijuana programs./ppa href=https://www.wkyt.com/content/news/Kentucky-lawmakers-proposes-bill-to-legalize-marijuana-use-money-to-public-pensions-566275711.html target=_blankKentucky Marijuana Legalization Bill Filed/a. State Rep. Cluster Howard (D-Jackson) has pre-filed a bill to legalize marijuana and use tax revenues to fund the state#39;s retirement system. All license and wholesale tax revenues would go either to the Kentucky Employees Retirement System (75%) or the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System (25%). The bill would legalize the possession of up to an ounce by adults and set up a system of state-regulated cultivation, processing, testing, and sales./ppa href=https://wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu/post/group-lacks-signatures-put-recreational-pot-2020-ballot target=_blankFlorida Marijuana Legalization Initiative Falls Short on Signatures/a. The Regulate Florida campaign to put a marijuana legalization initiative on the 2020 ballot has fallen short. On Monday, the campaign conceded that it would not make a January 1 deadline for handing in signatures. A second a href=https://makeitlegalflorida.com/read-the-amendment/ target=_blanklegalization initiative/a, sponsored by Make It Legal Florida, is still alive./ppa href=https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/new-jersey/articles/2019-12-16/new-jersey-lawmakers-to-vote-on-cannabis-referendum target=_blankNew Jersey Legislature Approves 2020 Marijuana Legalization Referendum/a. Large majorities of lawmakers on Monday approved a proposed ballot question on whether to legalize marijuana. That means voters will decide the issue in November 2020. They also approved a bill to expunge records for low-level drug offenses./ppa href=https://www.kansas.com/news/business/article238460353.html target=_blankNorth Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative Approved for Signature Gathering/a. Secretary of State Al Jaeger (R) on Monday approved the Legalize ND a href=https://legalizend.homesteadcloud.com/the-measure target=_blankmarijuana legalization initiative/a for signature gathering. Now, the group needs 13,500 valid voter signatures by July 6 to get the measure on the 2020 ballot. It would allow any person over the age of 21 to use, possess, and transport up to two ounces of prepared marijuana, but it would ban home growing of the plant./ppa href=https://www.tulsaworld.com/petition-filed-to-legalize-recreational-marijuana-in-oklahoma-copy/article_bb5e5c63-c933-55bd-b284-f91ad0d474ff.html target=_blankOklahoma Marijuana Legalization Initiative Filed/a. Sooner State activists have filed a marijuana legalization initiative, a href=https://www.sos.ok.gov/documents/questions/806.pdf target=_blankState Question 806/a, that would legalize the personal possession and cultivation of marijuana, as well as set up a system of state-regulated and -taxed sales. Organizers have until September 4 to come up with 178,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the 2020 ballot./ppstrongInternational/strong/ppa href=https://nltimes.nl/2019/12/17/governing-party-recruiting-celebs-push-ecstasy-soft-drug-legalization-repor target=_blankDutch Coalition Party to Push for Legalizing Ecstasy, Soft Drugs/a The D66 Party, a member of the governing coalition, is moving to legalize soft drugs and Ecstasy in a bid to reduce drug crime and health harms. The party is asking Dutch celebrities to support a national manifesto on which it is working. Current drug policy is failing and quot;no longer tenablequot;, according to the D66. quot;We have to face the reality: people use drugs in the Netherlands. It is important that we not label these people as criminals, but focus on providing information,quot; the party said. quot;In the manifesto we opt for a regulated drug market, such as regulation of ecstasy. Only in this way can we minimize health risks and tackle drug crime.quot;/p /div /div /div
Categories: Latest News

Chronicle AM: CA Initiative Would Legalize Magic Mushroom Sales, Senate GOP Cartel Bill, More... (12/16/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Mon, 12/16/2019 - 20:44
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pThe latest version of California#39;s psilocbyin decriminalization initiative turns it into a legalization initiative, a group of Senate Republicans file a bill to treat drug cartels like terrorist organizations, and more./pp[image:1 align:left caption:true]strongPsychedelics/strong/ppa href=https://decrimca.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/California-Psilocybin-Decriminalization-Initiative-4.4.pdf target=_blankCalifornia Psilocybin Decriminalization Initiative Now a Legalization Initiative/a. The latest version of the a href=https://decrimca.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/California-Psilocybin-Decriminalization-Initiative-4.4.pdf target=_blankCalifornia Psilocybin Decriminalization initiative/a includes language that would legalize the production and sale of magic mushrooms, as well as decriminalizing their possession and use. quot;The personal, spiritual, religious, dietary, therapeutic, and medical use of Psilocybin Mushrooms by adults, including but not limited to the cultivation, manufacture, processing, production of edible products and extracts (with or without solvents) derived from Psilocybin Mushrooms, distribution, transportation, possession, storage, consumption, social consumption, on-site consumption, public events, farmers#39; markets, and retail sale, whether or not for profit, shall be lawful in this state and is a matter of statewide concern,quot; the initiative now says./ppstrongAsset Forfeiture/strong/ppa href=https://insiderfinancial.net/indiana-police-used-400k-in-asset-forfeiture-funds-to-boost-their-own-pay-benefits-audit-finds.html target=_blankIndiana Police Used $400K In Asset Forfeiture Funds to Boost Their Own Pay and Benefits, Audit Finds/a. A federal audit of Indiana law enforcement#39;s use of federal asset forfeiture funds has found that police unlawfully used nearly $400,000 of those monies to increase their own pay and benefits. The federal quot;equitable sharing programquot; that distributes the funds does not allow police to use those monies for such expenses./ppa href=https://wellstonjournal.com/kansas-lawmakers-sending-asset-forfeiture-payments-for-research.html target=_blankKansas Lawmakers Punt on Asset Forfeiture Reform, Seek Review Instead of Passing Legislation/a. After an audit this past summer criticized law enforcement for taking advantage of vague asset forfeiture laws, lawmakers debated whether to enact legislation to remedy the situation. Now, they#39;ve decided not to act this year, but to instead ask a judicial advisory group to review any potential changes. The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony last month on several measures, including one to require a conviction before property is seized, but opted to send the bills to the Kansas Judicial Council, an advisory committee in the judicial branch. Chairman Blaine Finch said the council would be able to study the bills more extensively than the Legislature would./ppstrongForeign Policy/strong/ppa href=https://www.cotton.senate.gov/?p=press_releaseamp;id=1269 target=_blankSenate Republicans File Bill to Impose Sanctions on Drug Cartels/a. Led by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), a group of nine Republican senators last week filed the a href=https://www.cotton.senate.gov/files/documents/Significant%20Transnational%20Criminal%20Organization%20Designation%20Act%20(Dec%2011,%202019).pdf target=_blankSignificant Transnational Criminal Organization Designation Act/a, legislation that would subject certain foreign criminal organizations like drug cartels to sanctions, including immigration, financial and criminal penalties. The process would be similar to the system used for designating entities as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs). Passage of the bill would allow the federal government to impose on the most significant Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) the same sanctions that apply to FTOs./ppstrongInternational/strong/ppa href=https://thethaiger.com/news/national/justice-minister-says-hell-speed-up-kratom-decriminalisation target=_blankThai Justice Minister to Speed Up Kratom Decriminalization/a. Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin says he will speed up the decriminalization of kratom. He said the Justice Ministry has formed a committee to study kratom-based medicines. quot;I will proceed with this project as soon as possible because legalization will truly benefit society,quot; he said. Although kratom is not considered a scheduled drug by UN treaties, it has been illegal in Thailand since 1943, with possession punishable by up to a year in jail./ppa href=https://www.lusakatimes.com/2019/12/16/zambia-legalises-marijuana-growth-for-exports-and-for-medical-purposes-only/ target=_blankZambia Legalizes Marijuana Production, But for Export and Medical Purposes Only/a. The government has approved a proposal to legalize marijuana production, but it will be restricted to exports and medical purposes. The government wants a $250,000 annual license fee from companies wishing to get into the business. Approval came last Wednesday during a cabinet meeting./p /div /div /div
Categories: Latest News

Canada: Pot in Canada: Legal, But Not Profitable

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 12/16/2019 - 08:00
New York Times, 16 Dec 2019 - SMITHS FALLS, Ontario - When Canada became the first major industrialized nation to legalize recreational marijuana, visions of billions of dollars in profits inspired growers, retailers and investors, sending the stock market soaring in a so-called green rush. A year later, the euphoria has vanished.
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US TN: Drug Crisis Ravages Rural America And Fills Its Jails

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 12/14/2019 - 08:00
New York Times, 14 Dec 2019 - MORRISTOWN, Tenn. - The Hamblen County Jail has been described as a dangerously overcrowded cesspool of a dungeon, with inmates sleeping on mats in the hallways, lawyers forced to meet their clients in a supply closet and the people inside subjected to horrible conditions every day. And that's the county sheriff talking.
Categories: Latest News

Chronicle AM: NJ MJ Referendum Set to Advance, Dirty Detroit Narcs, MA Pot Vaping Resumes, More... (12/13/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 22:05
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pItaly legalizes hemp and CBD products, Trinidad and Tobago moves toward marijuana decrim, New Jersey legislators are busy on two fronts, and more./pp[image:1 align:right caption:true]strongMarijuana Policy/strong/ppa href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/senators-demand-update-from-dea-on-marijuana-growing-applications/ target=_blankSenators Demand Update from DEA On Marijuana Growing Applications/a. A group of Democratic senators led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have sent a letter to the DEA, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar#39;s office), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) demanding that they provide an update on efforts to expand the number of authorized marijuana grows for research purposes. The letter notes that DEA announced more than three years ago that it would begin approving additional research grows, but has yet to issue any new licenses. The agency says the volume of new applications requires that it develop alternate rules before issuing any new licenses./ppa href=https://www.bostonglobe.com/2019/12/12/marijuana/mass-marijuana-stores-given-ok-resume-sales-some-vaping-products/ target=_blankMassachusetts Pot Shops Okayed to Resume Sales of Some Vaping Products/a. The state#39;s Cannabis Control Commission has amended a November ban on marijuana vaping products, now allowing stores to sell them but only if they are manufactured after this date and have been tested for contaminants./ppa href=https://nj1015.com/monday-vote-on-marijuana-legalization-question-set-in-legislature/ target=_blankNew Jersey Legislature Holds Hearing on Marijuana Referendum/a. Legalization supporters outnumbered foes Thursday as the legislature held hearings in both chambers on whether to put a constitutional amendment on the November 2020 ballot letting voters decide on whether to free the weed. Votes on the measure are expected in both houses on Monday./ppstrongExpungement/strong/ppa href=https://www.njspotlight.com/2019/12/legislature-clears-the-way-for-expunging-minor-drug-offenses/ target=_blankNew Jersey Drug Expungement Bill Headed for Monday Vote/a. After an Assembly committee passed a bill, a href=https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/A9999/5981_I1.HTM target=_blankA-5981/a, Thursday without hearing any testimony, the measure heads for floor votes in both houses on Monday. The bill would make it easier for people to rid their records of minor drug and other offenses. Under its quot;clean slatequot; provision, all prior non-serious crimes could be sealed after a decade, while those involving smalltime marijuana or hashish possession could be expunged immediately. For minor drug offenses that occur after the bill is passed, a judge would immediately remove them from a person#39;s record./ppstrongForeign Policy/strong/ppa href=https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-resolution/142 target=_blankSenate Committee Passes Resolution for Sanctions Against Philippine Officials Involved in Imprisonment of Drug War Critic Sen. Leila de Lima/a. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved the Free Leila resolution (a href=https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-resolution/142 target=_blankSenate Resolution 142/a), which calls for the applications of sanctions under the Magnitsky Act against Philippines officials responsible for quot;orchestrating the arrest and prolonged detentionquot; of Filipina drug war critic Sen. Leila de Lima. The resolution also calls for sanctions against members of the security forces and Philippine officials responsible for extrajudicial killings during President Rodrigo Duterte#39;s bloody drug war. The resolution is non-binding but signals strong revulsion toward the behavior of the Duterte government./ppstrongLaw Enforcement/strong/ppa href=https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2019/12/detroit-police-drug-unit-investigated-for-stealing-money-from-dealers-planting-drugs.html target=_blankDetroit Narcs Accused of Corrupt Policing/a. A raid on the Detroit Police Department#39;s narcotics unit in August has uncovered dirty dealing there. Investigators have found a half-dozen instances of narcs stealing money from alleged drug dealers and two where drugs were planted on suspects. One former narc was arrested the day of the raid on federal charges he took bribes from a drug dealer, and Chief James Craig said he#39;s looking at the unit that the officer was assigned to. quot;Sadly, as we continue our probe, we think it#39;s going to grow in terms of magnitude,quot; Craig said./ppstrongInternational/strong/ppa href=https://www.thelocal.it/20191213/italy-legalizes-cannabis-light target=_blankItaly Legalizes Hemp, CBD Products/a. Parliament this week legalized the production and sale of cannabis products containing less than 0.5% THC. The law will go into effect January 1. Former rightist Interior Minister Matteo Salvini had vowed to shut down shops selling what the Italians call quot;cannabis light,quot; but now parliament has thwarted that effort./ppa href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/trinidad-and-tobago-lawmakers-approve-marijuana-decriminalization-bill/ target=_blankTrinidad and Tobago Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Decriminalization Bill/a. The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill that would decriminalize the possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana. People caught with more than 30 but less than 60 grams would pay a fixed fine. The bill would also allow for the personal cultivation of up to four plants and provide a pathway for expungement of previous small-time marijuana offenses. The bill now heads for a Senate vote later this month. But it also contains provisions that would impose new penalties against possession and distribution of other substances, such as LSD, MDMA and ketamine./p /div /div /div
Categories: Latest News

Is This the Worst State in America on Drug Policy? [FEATURE]

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 23:30
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pWith endless miles of farmland shading into ever higher and drier terrain as one moves West, then on to the Badlands and then the Black Hills, South Dakota has a certain austere beauty. Not so in its approach to drugs. When it comes to drug policy, it is one of the ugliest places in the country./pp[image:1 align:right caption:true]The staunchly conservative state holds the dubious distinction of being the only state to twice defeat a medical marijuana initiative (although activists are giving it another shot this year, and a more wishful legalization initiative, too). And it is being sued by the state ACLU over the a href=https://www.alternet.org/2017/07/conduct-shocks-conscience-south-dakota-forcibly-catheterize-toddler-drugs/ target=_blankforced drug testing of toddlers/a and arrestees alike./ppSouth Dakota also boasts the nation#39;s only law making ingestion -- not possession -- of a controlled substance a felony, which helps explains the reflex resort to drug testing arrestees: A positive drug test becomes a prosecutable offense. While a href=http://sdlegislature.gov/docs/interim/2019/documents/DORC09232019-A.pdf target=_blank10 other states/a have ingestion laws on the books, none of them make it a felony./ppAnd now, a a href=https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2019/09/18/state-jail-bookings/ target=_blanknew report from the Prison Policy Initiative/a finds that South Dakota jails more people per capita than any other state, that almost half of all arrests are drug- or alcohol-related (compared to 29 percent nationally), and that people of color -- in this case, primarily Native Americans -- are disproportionately arrested at a rate far above the national average./ppAccording to the report, South Dakota jailed 2,888 people per 100,000, nearly twice the national average of 1,506, and narrowly edging out Mississippi, which had 2,814 per 100,000. (Other states that jailed more than one out of 50 of their residents were Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.)/ppBut jail is just the gateway to the incarceration complex, and when it comes to long-term stays behind bars, South Dakota displays the same sort of worrying numbers. According to the ACLU of South Dakota, the state#39;s prison population has a href=https://www.aclusd.org/en/blueprint target=_blankincreased more than five-fold/a since the beginning of the drug war era 50 years ago. And despite 2013 reforms designed to reduce the prison population, it stubbornly stays near an all-time high reached in 2017./ppIn fact, a href=https://50stateblueprint.aclu.org/assets/reports/SJ-Blueprint-SD.pdf target=_blanknew prison admissions/a spiked upward by 49 percent between 2015 and 2018. These numbers are largely attributable to drug prosecutions, with nearly one in three prisoners doing time for drugs in 2015, up from one in four the year before./ppAs the ACLU noted, quot;This increase was driven almost entirely by a rise in the number of people whose most serious offense was unauthorized ingestion of a controlled substance.quot;/ppThat#39;s right -- South Dakota is spending millions of dollars to incarcerate people not for drug dealing, not for drug possession, but for having used drugs and still having traces of them in their system./ppAnd it#39;s doing so in a href=https://50stateblueprint.aclu.org/assets/reports/SJ-Blueprint-SD.pdf target=_blanka stunningly racially disproportionate manner/a. Native Americans make up only 7 percent of the state#39;s population but constitute nearly one-third (31 percent) of the state prison population. Similarly, the state has a tiny African American population (2 percent), but black South Dakotans made up 8 percent of the prison population. The imprisonment rate for both African Americans and Native Americans was seven times that of the state#39;s overwhelmingly white population. For the state#39;s Latino population, the imprisonment rate was three times that of whites./ppIn a a href=https://www.aclusd.org/en/press-releases/prison-policy-initiative-report-highlights-need-criminal-justice-reform-south-dakota target=_blankpress release/a in October, the state ACLU reported that it#39;s just as bad in the state#39;s jails, with Native Americans making up roughly half of all jail admissions and accounting for the majority of all drug- and alcohol-related arrests in the state. The group noted that Native Americans between ages 15 and 64 are jailed at 10 times the rate of white people in South Dakota./ppquot;It#39;s time to come to terms with the significant racial disparities that are so ingrained in our criminal legal system,quot; said said Libby Skarin, ACLU of South Dakota policy director. quot;This is not something that can be mitigated by solely reducing the number of arrests in South Dakota. Our elected officials need to acknowledge the realities of these racial disparities and commit to tackling them head-on.quot;/ppState leaders grasp that there is a problem here. The state legislature has set up an interim study group to examine the state#39;s approach to drug offenses, which a href=https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/2019/08/20/south-dakota-addiction-treatment-decreasing-ingestion-drug-punishment/2034274001/ target=_blankmet for the first time in August/a. The group includes legislators, law enforcement, court administrators, the South Dakota attorney general and the secretary of the Department of Corrections, but not public health officials or actual drug users./ppThe panel heard even more disturbing numbers about drug prosecutions. There were 2,104 people convicted of drug possession statewide last year, a more than five-fold increase from 2009, even though drug use levels have remained relatively stable over that period. That is leading panel members to wonder about the role of local prosecutors in generating such large increases in prosecutions./ppquot;Though drug use is undoubtedly a serious issue, we can#39;t incarcerate our way out of addiction,quot; said the ACLU#39;s Skarin, quot;The enormous amount of money South Dakota spends on jailing people for drug-related offenses is disproportionate and causes more harm than good to individuals struggling with addiction, their families and their communities.quot;/ppThat#39;s why the ACLU is supporting initiatives such as reclassifying ingestion as a misdemeanor./ppquot;Reclassifying ingestion as a misdemeanor and investing the resulting savings of state funds in diversion and treatment programs designed to combat addiction would go a long way in helping to solve the underlying problems leading to drug abuse,quot; Skarin said./ppPennington County (Rapid City) public defender Eric Whitcher is on the same page as the state ACLU. a href=https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/2019/08/20/south-dakota-addiction-treatment-decreasing-ingestion-drug-punishment/2034274001/ target=_blankHe told the interim panel/a that 73 of his last 100 drug possession cases involved only trace amounts of not enough of the drug to be able to be weighed and that if such cases were not charged as felonies, his office could operate with significantly fewer felony prosecutors./ppquot;We are an outlier,quot; Whitcher said of South Dakota. quot;We are creating more felonies for the same conduct than our neighboring states. What impact does that have on their lives?quot;/ppDropping ingestion from a felony to a misdemeanor would be a step in the right direction, but it#39;s an awfully small step. South Dakota has a long, long way to go to get on the right side of drug policy, and no natural beauty can hide that./p /div /div /div
Categories: Latest News

West of the Mississippi, Meth -- Not Fentanyl -- Is the Deadliest Drug [FEATURE]

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 23:19
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pAccording to a a href=https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr68/nvsr68_12-508.pdf target=_blankreport/a released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released last week, while fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine continue to account for most fatal drug overdoses in the Eastern US, it#39;s a very different story once you cross the Mississippi River. Throughout the Western US, more people are dying from methamphetamines than those other three drugs./pp[image:1 align:left caption:true]The report, which examined the more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017, identified fentanyl as the deadliest drug nationwide, followed by heroin. Between them, the two opioids accounted for about 60 percent of all fatal overdoses. The third leading killer drug, cocaine, was involved in slightly more than 20 percent of overdoses. Meth came in fourth, accounting for 13.3 percent of overdoses nationwide./ppOf the five geographic regions in the report east of the Mississippi, fentanyl was the leading killer, with heroin and cocaine alternating in second and third places. Meth never made it higher than fifth place among killer drugs in the East. It didn#39;t even make the top 10 in Region 1 (New England) or Region 2 (New York and New Jersey), was in 7th place in Region 3 (the Mid-Atlantic states), and 5th place in Region 4 (the South) and Region 5 (the Midwest)./ppIn the West, though, Region 7 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska) was the only region where meth wasn#39;t the leading cause of overdose deaths. There, it came in second behind fentanyl. But from Houston to Honolulu and San Diego to Sioux Falls, meth reigned supreme. In both Region 7 and Region 6 (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas), meth accounted for more than one-fifth of all overdose deaths, while in Region 8 (Northern Plains and Rockies), it accounted for more than a quarter of all ODs. In Region 9 (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada) and Region 10 (Pacific Northwest and Alaska), meth was responsible for more than a third of all ODs./ppOverall, the East has a significantly higher rate of drug overdose deaths. The age-adjusted death rate per 100,000 ranges from a low of 9.1 in the Southeast to a high of 22.5 in New England, while in the West, all regions except Region 7 had death rates of 1.7 or lower./ppClearly, many, many more drug users per capita are dying in the east, and the situation there, especially with fentanyl, requires and deserves serious attention. a href=https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR3117.html target=_blankIf some researchers are right/a, the western US is at risk of developing bigger fentanyl problems too, which could balloon opioid overdoses to even greater levels. Nevertheless, if anything is to be done about drug overdose deaths in the western US, dealing with methamphetamine is a key issue./p /div /div /div
Categories: Latest News

Chronicle AM: MLB Drug Testing Accord, US Charges Former Mexican Top Cop for Cartel Bribes, More... (12/12/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 22:20
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pMajor League Baseball and its players#39; union have reached a drug testing agreement, Wisconsin#39;s GOP Senate leader kills a medical marijuana bill, and more./pp[image:1 align:left caption:true]strongMarijuana Policy/strong/ppa href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/legalizing-marijuana-has-majority-support-in-kansas-poll-finds/ target=_blankKansas Residents Want Marijuana Legalization, Poll Finds/a. The annual Kansas Speaks survey, conducted by Fort Hayes State University, finds that 63% of respondents either quot;strongly supportquot; or quot;somewhat supportquot; legalizing and taxing marijuana for adult use. Only 26% quot;somewhat opposequot; or quot;strongly opposequot; it. The state doesn#39;t even have legal medical marijuana yet./ppstrongMedical Marijuana/strong/ppa href=https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2019/12/11/gop-medical-marijuana-proposal-snuffed-out-senate-leader-fitzgerald/4397355002/ target=_blankWisconsin GOP Senate Leader Snuffs Out GOP Medical Marijuana Bill/a. Republicans Rep. Mary Felzowski and Sen. Kathy Bernier tried Wednesday to get a medical marijuana bill moving, only to be shot down by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald once again rejected the bill, saying he personally opposed and that he didn#39;t think it would pass the GOP-controlled Senate./ppstrongDrug Testing/strong/ppa href=https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2019-12-11/opioid-testing-marijuana-mlb-manfred-minor-league-drug-policy target=_blankMajor League Baseball, Players Union Agree on Drug Testing Policy/a. Major League Baseball and the players#39; union have agreed on a new drug testing policy that will add opioid testing for major leaguers and will not punish either minor or major league players for marijuana use. The move comes five months after the death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs from an opioid overdose./ppstrongInternational/strong/ppa href=https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/former-top-mexican-cop-charged-protecting-el-chapo-s-cartel-n1099081 target=_blankUS Charges Former Mexican Top Cop with Taking Sinaloa Cartel Bribes/a. The US has charged former Mexican federal police overseer Genaro Garcia Luna with taking millions of dollars in bribes from Joaquin quot;El Chapoquot; Guzman#39;s Sinaloa Cartel. He was arrested Monday in Texas after being indicted last week by a federal grand jury in Brooklyn on three counts of cocaine trafficking conspiracy and one count of making false statements for helping the cartel operate quot;with impunityquot; in Mexico. Garcia Luna served as Mexico#39;s secretary of public security from 2006 to 2012 and has been living in the United States since 2012. If convicted, he faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and the maximum of a life sentence./p /div /div /div
Categories: Latest News

How to Legalize Ecstasy -- and Why [FEATURE]

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 21:10
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pEvery weekend, a href=https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/26/class-a-drugs-return-in-popularity-to-levels-not-seen-for-10-years target=_blankhundreds of thousands/a of young club- and concert-goers buy and consume black market pills and powders they hope are MDMA, the methamphetamine relative with a psychedelic tinge known on the streets as Ecstasy or Molly. A tiny percentage of them -- a few dozen each year in the a href=https://thedea.org/mdma-risks-science-and-statistics-technical-faq/mdma-molly-ecstasy-use-and-death-rate-statistics/ target=_blankUnited States/a or a href=https://www.statista.com/statistics/470824/drug-poisoning-deaths-mdma-ecstasy-in-england-and-wales/ target=_blankBritain/a -- die. It doesn#39;t have to be that way./pp[image:1 align:left caption:true]Granted, those numbers are miniscule when compared with the tens of thousands who die each year in the US using opioids, benzos, and stimulants like cocaine and meth, much less from the legal substances alcohol and tobacco. But that relative handful of deaths could almost certainly be eliminated by bringing Ecstasy in from the cold -- making it legal and regulated instead of subjecting its users to black market Russian roulette./ppAnd now somebody has a plan for that. The British a href=https://beckleyfoundation.org/mdma-report/ target=_blankBeckley Foundation/a, which has been advocating for research into psychoactive substance and evidence-based drug policy reform for the past two decades, has just released a new report, a href=https://beckleyfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/MDMA_Roadmap_To_Regulation-Digital-Copy-0512.pdf target=_blankRoadmaps to Regulation: MDMA/a, that takes a good, hard look at the drug and charts a path to a saner, less harmful way of handling Ecstasy than just prohibiting it, which, the report notes, quot;has never meaningfully disrupted its supply, nor its widespread use.quot;/ppThat#39;s because, despite it being illegal, for many, many people, Ecstasy is fun. And the Beckley report does something rare in the annals of drug policy wonkery: it acknowledges that. quot;Hundreds of thousands of people break the law to access its effects, which include increased energy, euphoria, and enhanced sociability,quot; the report says./ppThe authors concede that Ecstasy is not a harmless substance, and take a detailed dive into acute, sub-acute, and chronic harms related to its use. They point to overheating (hyperthermia) and excess water intake (hypnoatraemia) as the cause of most Ecstasy deaths, and they examine the debate over neurotoxicity associated with the drug, very carefully pointing out that quot;there is evidence to suggest that heavy use of MDMA may contribute to emtemporary/em impairments in neuropsychological functions.quot;/ppBut they also point out that most of the problems with Ecstasy are artifacts of prohibition: quot;Our evidence shows that many harms associated with MDMA use arise from its unregulated status as an illegal drug, and that any risks inherent to MDMA could be more effectively mitigated within a legally regulated market,quot; they write./ppThe most serious harmful effect of treating Ecstasy use and sales as a criminal matter is that users are forced into an unregulated, no-quality-control black market and they don#39;t know what they#39;re getting. Tablets have been found with as little as 20 milligrams of MDMA and as much as 300 milligrams. And much of what is sold as MDMA is actually adulterated with other substance, including some much more lethal ones, such as PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine) and PMMA (paramethoxymethamphetamine). This is how people die. As the authors note:/ppquot;The variability in MDMA potency and purity is a direct result of global and national prohibitionist policies. Recent developments around in situ drug safety testing are an attempt to mitigate the risks of such variability. These risks, such as overdose and/or poisoning, are by no means inevitable or inherent to the drug. If MDMA were clinically produced and legally distributed, users would be assured of the product content and appropriate dosage and be able to make more informed decisions regarding their MDMA use. In this way the principal risks we associate with MDMA use would be greatly reduced.quot;/ppBut the report also addresses a whole litany of other prohibition-related harms around Ecstasy that exacerbate the risks of its use. From making users less likely to seek medical help for fear of prosecution to making venues adopt quot;zero tolerancequot; policies that actually increase risks (such as drug dog searches that encourage users to take all their drugs at once before entering the venue) to the rejection of pill testing and other harm reduction measures, prohibition just makes matters worse./ppIn addition to harms exacerbated by prohibition, there are harms emcreated/em by prohibition. These include quot;a lucrative illegal MDMA market that generates wealth for entrenched criminal organizations,quot; the saddling of young users with criminal records, the risk that people who share or sell drugs among their friends could be charged as drug dealers, and the development of black markets for new psychoactive substances (NSPs), many of which are more dangerous than Ecstasy. Also not to be forgotten is the loss of decades of research opportunities into the therapeutic use of MDMA, research that was showing tremendous potential before the drug was prohibited in the mid-1980s./ppProhibition of Ecstasy is not only not working but is making matters worse. So what should we do instead? Beckley is very clear in its conclusions and recommendations. First, these preliminary steps:/pulliReschedule MDMA from Schedule I to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act (the Misuse of Drugs Regulations in Britain) in order to reduce barriers to research and to improve our understanding of its physiological effects./liliquot;Decriminalize the possession of MDMA and all drugs to remove the devastating social and economic effects of being criminalized for drug possession or limited social supply.quot;/liliUse decriminalization to comprehensively roll out drug safety testing (pill testing) and other proven harm reduction measures./li/ulpOnce those preliminary steps are done, it#39;s time to break big:/pulliAward licenses to selected pharmaceutical manufacturers to produce MDMA under strict manufacturing requirements./liliAllow licensed MDMA products to be sold at government licensed MDMA outlets. The report suggests pharmacies in the first instance./liliFor harm reduction purposes, retail outlet staff would need to be specially trained to educate users on the risks associated with MDMA./liliUsers who wish to purchase licensed MDMA products would be required to obtain a quot;personal licensequot; to do so. Such a license would be granted after an interview with trained sales staff demonstrates that the would-be user understands the risks and how to reduce them./liliDevelop adults-only MDMA-friendly spaces where the risks associated with the drug can be combatted with the full panoply of harm reduction measures./liliquot;User controlsquot; to encourage responsible MDMA use. These would include quot;a strictly enforced age limit, pricing controls, mandated health information on packaging and at point of sale, childproof and tamperproof packaging, a comprehensive ban on marketing and advertising, and a campaign to minimize the social acceptability of driving under the influence of MDMA and to promote alternatives such as designated drivers.quot;/liliquot;Sales of MDMA would be permitted to adults over 18 years of age. Prohibitive penalties would be in place to restrict underage sales.quot;/liliEducation campaigns focusing on MDMA safety and responsible use that would cover sales outlets and schools and universities. Such campaigns would include information about how to recognize and manage adverse events related to MDMA products./liliMonitor and evaluate the impact of these changes to continue an evidence-based approach and allow feedback into policymaking./li/ulpThere you have it, a step-by-step plan to break with prohibitionist orthodoxy and create a legal, regulated market for a popular recreational drug. Whether you or I agree with every plank of the plan, it is indeed a roadmap to reform. The evidence is there, a plan is there; now all we need is the political pressure to make it happen somewhere. It could be the United Kingdom, it could be the United States, it could be the Netherlands, but once somebody gets it done, the dam will begin to burst./p /div /div /div
Categories: Latest News

Chronicle AM: US Afghan Opium Fiasco, New Zealand LSD Microdosing Trials, More... (12/11/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 21:45
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pExpungements for past minor pot offenses are beginning in Chicago, clinical trials on LSD microdosing are about to get underway in New Zealand, Kentucky#39;s new Democratic governor moves to restore voting rights for ex-felons, and more./pp[image:1 align:right caption:true]strongMarijuana Policy/strong/ppa href=https://abc7chicago.com/kim-foxx-to-file-motions-for-first-cannabis-conviction-clearances-wednesday/5745632/ target=_blankIllinois#39; Largest County Begins Marijuana Expungements/a. Cook County (Chicago) State#39;s Attorney Kim Foxx filed the first motions Wednesday to expunge past low-level marijuana convictions under provisions of the state#39;s marijuana legalization law. The law allows for people convicted of possession of under 30 grams prior to legalization to have their records referred for pardon and expungement, providing they were nonviolent offenses. People convicted of possession of more than 30 grams or who committed a violent offense will have to have their convictions reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Hundreds of thousands could see their convictions cleared./ppa href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/vermont-should-legalize-marijuana-sales-top-health-department-official-says/ target=_blankVermont Should Legalize Marijuana Sales, Top Health Official Says/a. Cynthia Seivwright, director of the state Department of Healthrsquo;s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs, said Monday allowing legal marijuana sales in the state would better protect public health than current policy does. The state has legalized possession and cultivation, but not sales. quot;Without the regulation, we donrsquo;t know whatrsquo;s in it,quot; Seivwright said. quot;We canrsquo;t control the potency of it. We canrsquo;t control the access, and we definitely donrsquo;t want children and adolescents to have access to ithellip;.We at the Health Department support a regulated system.quot;/ppstrongPsychedelics/strong/ppa href=https://happymag.tv/world-first-lsd-microdosing-study-to-go-ahead-at-auckland-university/ target=_blankNew Zealand to Host First Clinical Trial on LSD Microdosing/a. Researchers at the University of Auckland have received final approval for clinical trials on the effects of microdosing. The researchers aim to discover whether microdosing can have positive effects on mood, creativity, and awareness. quot;Users report improvements in mood, wellbeing, improved attention and cognition, so those are the things we will be measuringhellip; Wersquo;ll be giving microdoses on very tightly controlled prescriptions to take at home mdash; itrsquo;ll be a more realistic assessment of what microdosing actually does,quot; said lead researcher Suresh Muthukumaraswamy/ppstrongForeign Policy/strong/ppa href=https://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/in-documents-us-officials-said-almost-everything-they-did-to-end-opium-farming-in-afghanistan-backfired-1.610472 target=_blankDocuments Show US Officials Said Almost Everything They Did to Fight Opium in Afghanistan Backfired/a. In a cache of confidential government interviews and other documents obtained by the Washington Post, dozens of American military and political officials admitted that their efforts to dismantle the Afghan opium economy did not work, and in many cases made things worse. The Post reported that quot;of all the failures in Afghanistan, the war on drugs has been perhaps the most feckless.quot;/ppstrongSentencing Policy/strong/ppa href=https://www.axios.com/kentucky-restoring-voting-rights-to-100000-felons-88f63c86-4c66-426f-ae2e-798925cade4e.html target=_blankKentucky Governor to Restore Voting Rights to 100,000 Ex-Felons/a. Gov. Andy Beshear (D) vowed during his inaugural address Tuesday to restore voting rights to Kentuckians with felony convictions. That could mean as many as 100,000 new voters for the Bluegrass State. Kentucky is one of only two states that have lifetime bans on voting for ex-felons (the other is Iowa). Beshear is finishing work started by his father, Steve, who while governor back in 2015 issued an executive order to restore voting rights to 100,000 convicted felons. But that order was suspended by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin days after taking office in 2016./p /div /div /div
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Chronicle AM: House Resolution Condemns Racist Drug War, Prison Racial Disparities Shrink, More.... (12/10/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Tue, 12/10/2019 - 21:28
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pMichigan legal pot sales are off to a hot start, a House resolution demands Congress apologize for racist drug war, a new report finds declining racial disparities in incarceration, and more.nbsp;/pp[image:1 align:right caption:true]strongMarijuana Policy/strong/ppa href=https://www.foxbusiness.com/sports/mlb-revised-drug-policy-weed-legal-report target=_blankMajor League Baseball on Verge on Okaying Marijuana Use/a. The league has already abandoned testing for marijuana for the major leagues, but now it and the players#39; union have reportedly agreed to remove it from the list of banned substances for minor leaguers as well as part of a wider deal involving opioid use in baseball. Until now, minor league players had been subject to a 25-game suspension for the first positive pot test, 50 games for the second, 100 games for the third, and a lifetime ban for a fourth offense. This isn#39;t a done deal yet, but both sides said they hoped it would be by year#39;s end./ppa href=https://www.freep.com/story/news/marijuana/2019/12/09/recreational-marijuana-sales-michigan-exceed-1-6-million-first-week/2634432001/ target=_blankMichigan Legal Marijuana Sales Off to Roaring Start/a. After only eight days of legal marijuana sales, Michiganders have bought more than $1.6 million worth of weed. And that#39;s in only five retail shops already open in the state. Three of those shops either sold out their inventory or had only limited supplies of marijuana products. That $1.6 million in sales brought in more than $270,000 for the state in the form of marijuana excise and sales taxes. The state House Fiscal Agency estimates that once the legal marijuana market is fully established, sales will approach $950 million annually, with the state taking in $152 million in pot taxes each year./ppstrongDrug Policy/strong/ppa href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/lawmakers-file-resolution-demanding-congress-apologize-for-the-racist-war-on-drugs/ target=_blankLawmakers File Resolution Demanding Congress Apologize for Racist War on Drugs/a. House members led by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) introduced a House resolution on Friday calling on Congress to admit that the war on drugs has been a racially biased failure, provide justice to those negatively impacted by it and apologize to communities most impacted under prohibition. The resolution says quot;the House of Representatives should immediately halt any and all actions that would allow the War on Drugs to continue.quot; It has 20 sponsors, including Karen Bass (D-CA), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus./ppstrongSentencing Policy/strong/ppa href=https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-racial-gap-shrinks-but-black-people-still-more-likely-to-go-prison-20191209-lczdexnz6zacvfz2kbjcdnzday-story.html target=_blankRacial Disparities in Incarceration Narrow, But Black People Still More Likely to Be Imprisoned, Study Finds/a. A a href=https://counciloncj.foleon.com/reports/trends-key-findings/overview/ target=_blanknew report/a from the Council on Criminal Justice finds that racial disparities in incarceration rates shrank between 2000 and 2016, but that blacks were still five times more likely to be incarcerated than whites. The black-white imprisonment ratio dropped from 8.3-to-1 in 2000 to 5.1-to-1 in 2016. On a less positive note, black defendants are getting longer state prison sentences even as the number of arrests or incarcerations among black people steadily decreases./p /div /div /div
Categories: Latest News

Chronicle AM: OR Drug Decriminalization Initiative, ND Marijuana Legalization Initiative, More... (12/6/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 21:50
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pA second North Dakota pot legalization initiative has submitted language to state officials, the Beckley Foundation publishes a report on getting to legal Ecstasy, and more./pp[image:1 align:left caption:true]strongMarijuana Policy/strong/ppa href=https://www.grandforksherald.com/news/government-and-politics/4808569-Legalize-ND-submits-legal-marijuana-petition-to-secretary-of-state-for-approval target=_blankNorth Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative Submits Language/a. A group that wants to legalize marijuana has submitted its a href=https://legalizend.homesteadcloud.com/the-measure target=_blankinitiative/a language to state election officials for their approval. Legalize ND#39;s initiative would legalize the possession of up to two ounces by people 21 and over, allow localities to opt out of allowing marijuana sales, and ban personal cultivation. It would also impose a 10% excise tax on marijuana sales. State officials now have seven days to review the initiative and decide whether to approve it for circulation. Once that happens, the group would have to come up with 13,452 valid voter signatures by July 6, 2020, to qualify for the November 2020 ballot./ppstrongEcstasy/strong/ppa href=https://aboutmanchester.co.uk/an-innovative-report-mapping-how-a-strictly-regulated-legal-market-for-mdma-products-would-work-has-been-published/ target=_blankBeckley Foundation Issues Report on Creating a Legal, Regulated Market for MDMA/a. The Britain-based Beckley Foundation has published an innovative report, a href=https://beckleyfoundation.org/mdma-report/ target=_blankRoadmaps to Regulation: MDMA/a, that maps out how a strictly regulated market for MDMA products could work. The report covers the risks and harms associated with MDMA use as well as setting out the benefits of alternative, non-prohibitionist policies for the future./ppstrongDrug Decriminalization/strong/ppa href=https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2019/12/signature-gathering-begins-for-oregon-initiative-to-decriminalize-small-amounts-of-all-drugs.html target=_blankOregon Drug Decriminalization Initiative Begins Signature Gathering/a.Signature gathering has begun for an initiative that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs. The 2020 Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act (a href=http://oregonvotes.org/irr/2020/044text.pdf target=_blankInitiative Petition #44/a) needs 112,020 valid voter signatures to qualify for the November 2020 ballot. Proponents said they would see how signature gathering goes for the next month before deciding whether to press forward./p /div /div /div
Categories: Latest News

Chronicle AM: Yang on Safe Injection Sites, Bloomberg on Marijuana, More... (12/5/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 22:18
div class=field field-type-text field-field-body div class=field-items div class=field-item odd pMichigan pot shops see high demand on opening day, Democratic contenders stake out drug policy positions, Maine finally has all pot business applications ready, and more./pp[image:1 align:left caption:true]/ppstrongMarijuana Policy/strong/ppa href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/michael-bloomberg-backs-decriminalization-as-marijuana-views-evolve-amid-presidential-run/ target=_blankMichael Bloomberg Backs Decriminalization as Marijuana Views Evolve Amid Presidential Run/a. Faced with criticism over his past positions on marijuana, former New York City mayor and Democratic presidential contender Michael Bloomberg has now come out in support of decriminalization, which still leaves him lagging behind most of the Democratic pack. quot;He believes no one should have their life ruined by getting arrested for possession, and, as a part of his reform efforts that drove incarceration down by 40 percent, he worked to get New York State laws changed to end low-level possession arrests,quot; a spokesman said. quot;He believes in decriminalization and doesnrsquo;t believe the federal government should interfere with states that have already legalized.quot;/ppa href=https://www.wabi.tv/content/news/Maine-marijuana-growers-one-step-closer-to-selling-with-Thursday-milestone-565830931.html target=_blankMaine Says All Marijuana Licenses are Now Available/a. More than three years after voters legalized marijuana, the state has finally made available all applications for marijuana cultivation, products manufacturing and retail facilities. That means the state could see pot shops open by the spring./ppa href=https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2019/12/purchase-limits-imposed-as-michigan-recreational-marijuana-shops-are-overwhelmed-with-demand.html target=_blankMichigan Pot Shops Forced to Impose Purchase Limits as Demand Overwhelms/a. High customer volume is forcing marijuana retailers to limit purchases so there will be enough weed to go around. The four shops that opened Sunday saw combined sales of $221,000 that first day. Each of the four shops has had to turn customers away, too. Some customers waited as long as four hours to get inside./ppstrongMedical Marijuana/strong/ppa href=https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/florida-senator-introduces-bill-69963/ target=_blankFlorida Senator Introduces Bill Providing Broad Employment Protections to Medical Marijuana Users/a. A bill recently introduced by state Sen. Lori Berman (D) Would provide various protections to job applicants and employees who use medical marijuana. The measure is a href=https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/962/BillText/Filed/PDFSenate Bill 962/a./ppstrongHarm Reduction/strong/ppa href=https://www.marijuanamoment.net/andrew-yang-calls-for-investments-in-safe-injection-sites-for-illegal-drugs/ target=_blankAndrew Yang Calls for Investments in Safe Injection Sites/a. Entrepreneur and Democratic presidential contender Andrew Yang says he supports government funding for safe injections sites as part of an effort to counter the country#39;s overdose epidemic. quot;I would not only decriminalize opiates for personal use but I would also invest in safe consumption sites around the country,quot; Yang said Thursday./ppem(This article was prepared by StoptheDrugWar.org#39;s 501(c)(4) lobbying nonprofit, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this website. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)/em/p /div /div /div
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