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US CT: Column: Respondents Face Off on Legalizing Pot, How to

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 04/01/2016 - 07:00
New Haven Register, 01 Apr 2016 - Thanks, all of you spirited online commenters and phone-callers, for your varied and assertive messages reacting to my column last week in which I endorsed a proposed state law to legalize marijuana in the Nutmeg state. Somebody called me a "liberal" (ouch!) and hung up. Another person branded me "a well-known leftist" (I plead guilty to that, too) who has "a false regard for mankind, coupled with the usual cynical disregard for what your proposed policies would do to real living and breathing people."
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US: Legalize It All

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 04/01/2016 - 07:00
Harper's Magazine, 01 Apr 2016 - How to Win the War on Drugs In 1994, John Ehrlichman, the Watergate co-conspirator, unlocked for me one of the great mysteries of modern American history: How did the United States entangle itself in a policy of drug prohibition that has yielded so much misery and so few good results?
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Chronicle AM: DC Smoke-In Saturday to Press Obama, VT Legalization Bill Hearing, More... (3/31/16)

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 03/31/2016 - 20:56

DC activists plan to smoke-out the White House Saturday, Vermont's legalization bill gets a hearing this evening, California's historic Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana will soon be able to reopen, and more.

[image:1 align:right]Marijuana Policy

DC Rally Saturday Will Feature Smoke-In, Mass Civil Disobedience. DC marijuana activist Adam Eidinger, the man behind the District's successful marijuana legalization initiative, is leading a protest Saturday in front of the White House to protest President Obama's lack of action on undoing pot prohibition. "Obama - he smokes, maybe not now, but he did smoke," Eidinger said. "So for him to oversee an enforcement regime that has arrested five million people for marijuana... I'm very motivated because I think it's a discriminatory practice." Eidinger and the DC Cannabis Campaign have moved their 4/20 celebration to 4/02 because Obama is "a big zero" on further marijuana reforms. They will be marching to the White House with a 51-foot joint and will engage in mass pot smoking at 4:20pm.

Vermont Legalization Bill Gets Hearing This Evening. The House Judiciary and Government Operations committees will be hearing testimony on the legalization bill, Senate Bill 241, between 5:00pm and 7:00pm this evening. Each speaker will be limited to two minutes. The bill passed the Senate last month, and Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) says he supports the measure.

Washington State Legal Marijuana Sales Exceeded $700 Million Last Year. The marijuana market research group ArcView has pegged the state's legal marijuana sales at $709 million in 2015. That accounts for nearly half of legal adult use sales nationwide.

Medical Marijuana

California Historic Marin County Dispensary Cleared to Reopen. The Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana has won a federal court case that should clear the way for it to reopen soon. The dispensary, the first to operate in the state under the auspices of Proposition 215, was forced to shut down in 2011 during an offensive by then US Attorney Linda Haag. But in a Monday ruling, US District Judge Charles Breyer held that the injunction used to close it is unenforceable because it conflicts with a 2014 budget amendment approved by Congress that bars the Justice Department from going after law-abiding marijuana operations in states where they are legal.

Kansas Protest for Veteran Whose Kids Were Taken Away Over Medical Marijuana Use. US Navy veteran Raymond Schwab, who lost custody of his five kids after his mother-in-law took them and reported them as abandoned to state officials, told a crowd of supporters Wednesday at the state capital in Topeka that he lost custody because of his use of medical marijuana to treat PTSD, not because of minor legal scrapes. Schwab accused the state of "illegally kidnapping" his kids as he was preparing to move his family to neighboring Colorado, where medical marijuana is legal. He said the state has ordered him not to use medical marijuana for four months if he wants the kids back. Schwab is now two weeks into a 30-day vigil at the statehouse. He isn't the only medical marijuana parent to face problems in the state; just last week, Garden City resident Shona Banda sued the state, the city, and the police department over the seizure of her son after he spoke out in school about his mother's medical marijuana use.

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US CA: California: Wave Of Overdoses From A Disguised Drug

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 03/31/2016 - 07:00
New York Times, 31 Mar 2016 - A powerful synthetic drug that is being disguised and illegally sold as a prescription painkiller has caused six deaths and 22 overdoses in Sacramento County, Calif., in less than a week, an official said. The episodes, which were reported starting March 24, have been scattered throughout the county of 1.5 million people, said the official, Laura McCasland, a spokeswoman for the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services.
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US: Obama Commutes Sentences For 61 Drug Offenders

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 03/31/2016 - 07:00
New York Times, 31 Mar 2016 - WASHINGTON - Ismael Rosa, a salsa singer serving a lifetime prison sentence for drug crimes, had often promised his lawyers that he would sing for them if he ever won his freedom. On Wednesday, Mr. Rosa was brought to the warden's office at the Federal Correctional Institution in Pekin, Ill., and was told that President Obama had granted him clemency. On the phone with his lawyer, the lyrics from a gospel hymn finally slipped past his lips as tears streamed down his face.
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US: Obama Gives Clemency To 61 More Drug Offenders

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 03/31/2016 - 07:00
Washington Post, 31 Mar 2016 - President Obama commuted the sentences of 61 inmates Wednesday, part of his ongoing effort to give relief to prisoners who were harshly sentenced in the nation's war on drugs. More than one-third of the inmates were serving life sentences. Obama has granted clemency to 248 federal inmates, including Wednesday's commutations. White House officials said that Obama will continue granting clemency to inmates who meet certain criteria set out by the Justice Department throughout his last year. The president has vowed to change how the criminal justice system treats nonviolent drug offenders.
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US MD: At Last, Inmate To Get Early Release

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 03/31/2016 - 07:00
Washington Post, 31 Mar 2016 - Byron Lamont McDade had a powerful advocate in his corner. The judge who sent him away for more than two decades for his role in a Washington-area drug ring personally pleaded McDade's case for early release. On Wednesday, President Obama responded, and McDade is heading home to Maryland this summer - eight years before his prison term was to expire.
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US NM: Editorial: There's A New War On Drugs

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 03/31/2016 - 07:00
The New Mexican, 31 Mar 2016 - One step, one person at a time, participants in the Longest Walk 5 are bringing attention to the problems of substance abuse and domestic abuse in Native communities in the United States. An initiative of the American Indian Movement, walkers arrived in Santa Fe on Tuesday, taking a break in the 3,600-mile walk to share their mission. The 30-plus participants will be in the area through Friday, when AIM founder Dennis Banks will take part in a governors conference for the Eight Northern Pueblos Council. On Wednesday, Banks and other walkers met with students at the Institute of American Indian Arts. There is a benefit concert from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday at Cities of Gold Hotel & Casino in Pojoaque, featuring Danny T and The Stealing Thunder band. Entrance is $5 or a bag of supplies for walkers - a good deal, as well as a chance to learn more about the struggles facing Native people all across the country.
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US CA: Column: Cannabis' Big Minority Problem

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 03/31/2016 - 07:00
SF Weekly, 31 Mar 2016 - Tikisha Ong wants to change the world. The East Bay 30-something wants to become something rarer than a Silicon Valley unicorn: a black person in a position of ownership in the medical cannabis industry. No honest conversation about drugs can neglect race. If decades of blatantly biased arrest and incarceration statistics, the odd coincidence of the crack epidemic and then poverty ravaging once-middle-class black neighborhoods, and clear and cogent arguments like Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow did not convince you of the direct connection between drug prohibition and white supremacy, the recent revelation in Harper's that the drug war was cooked up by Nixon administration operatives specifically to "disrupt" blacks and the left made this undeniable. And thus far, the "Green Rush" of economic opportunity presented by the legitimization of marijuana has been lily-white.
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US CO: Column: Dear Stoner: Where Can I Buy Infused Butter?

Top Stories (MAP) - Thu, 03/31/2016 - 07:00
Westword, 31 Mar 2016 - Dear Stoner: Why do dispensaries have shitty weed for $20 a gram and the really good stuff on sale sometimes? I got an eighth for $25 yesterday that was way better than the top-shelf stuff. D.J. Dear D.J.: Beauty is in the eye of the nug-holder. Maybe you didn't think whatever was on that shelf smelled great, but not everyone enjoys the same scents. My roommate hates the musty smells of OGs and the funk of UK Cheese, while I absolutely adore them. Hard to believe that a pothead doesn't like the smell of OGs, I know, but they're out there, man.
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Chronicle AM: More Obama Commutations, SC Town Pays Big for Killing Teen in Pot Bust, More... (3/30/16)

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 03/30/2016 - 20:55

The president has commuted sentences for another 61 federal drug offenders, Maine legalizers are fighting to get their signatures validated and their initiative on the ballot, a South Carolina town pays out big for the death of a local teen in a small-time pot bust, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Maine Senate Approves Marijuana DUID Bill. The Senate voted 19-14 Wednesday to pass LD 1628, which establishes a blood level for THC over which the driver is presumed to be impaired. The bill sets the limit at 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, the same as the states of Colorado and Washington. The bill now goes to the House.

Maine Legalization Campaign Gets Hearing On Invalidated Signatures. At a court hearing Wednesday, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol fought to get more than 17,000 invalidated signatures reinstated. The campaign accused Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap of using an "unconstitutionally vague" interpretation of election laws to invalidate the signatures -- all of which were notarized by the same person. Dunlap said the notary's signature didn't match his on-file signature. By invalidating the 17,000 signatures, Dunlap ensured that the initiative campaign would not qualify for the November ballot. The court has until April 11 to render a decision.

Oregon Governor Signs Marijuana Edibles Bill. Gov. Kate Brown Tuesday signed into law Senate Bill 1511, which allows people 21 and over to purchase edibles and extracts at dispensaries. The bill also allows recreational pot stores to sell medical marijuana tax-free to registered patients.

Medical Marijuana

Rhode Island Patients Protest Proposed Medical Marijuana Tax. Protestors gathered at the State House Tuesday to just say no to Gov. Gina Raimondo's (D) plan to impose a tax on patient and caregiver growers. "We have pain, we have cancer, taxing us is not the answer," they chanted. Under her plan, caregivers would have to pay $350 per plant and patients who grow their own would have to pay $150. The protest took place just before the House Finance Committee took up the proposal.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Full Transcript of President Obama's Atlanta Remarks on Heroin and Pain Pills. The White House has released the full transcript of the discussion panel in which President Obama took part Tuesday as part of the National Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta. Click the title link for the transcripts.

Law Enforcement

Family of Zach Hammond Settles Police Killing Lawsuit. The South Carolina teenager was shot and killed by police last summer as he sat in his pick-up truck. The teenage girl who was his passenger was the target of an attempted bust over the sale of a bag of weed, and police shot Hammond as he attempted to pull away from the scene. His family has settled the lawsuit for $2.1 million. State investigators last year concluded that the killing was justified, but the city has just paid up.

Sentencing

Obama Pardons More Drug Offenders. President Obama today granted clemency to 61 more federal drug offenders, more than a third of whom were serving life sentences. That brings to 248 the number of sentences commuted by Obama, more than the six previous presidents combined. He was also set to meet today with people whose sentences had been commuted by previous presidents to discuss their experiences with reentry and how the process can be strengthened. On Thursday, he will hold a Life After Clemency briefing at 2:00pm EDT, which can be viewed live at www.whitehouse.gov/live.

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US MI: Column: May You Live In Interesting Times

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/30/2016 - 07:00
Metro Times, 30 Mar 2016 - March 31 marks a new day in Detroit for medical marijuana. It's the last day for Medical Marijuana Caregiver Centers to apply for a license to operate in the city. Before this, provisioning centers multiplied in a gray area of the law where they weren't exactly legal but were tolerated. That's an outgrowth of how Michigan's medical marijuana law played out when the courts ruled patients can have marijuana but didn't allow for venues to sell it. It's right in line with the weird machinations prohibitionists have always gone through to keep people away from the weed.
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US CA: Emeryville and San Leandro to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/30/2016 - 07:00
East Bay Express, 30 Mar 2016 - Both East Bay Cities Are Ending Their Long-Standing Prohibitions on Medical Pot and Embracing the Fast Growing Industry. During a special study session on March 15, Emeryville city councilmembers called for an urgency ordinance to immediately legalize the delivery of medical marijuana into Emeryville by existing regional providers. "I have heard from people who are in pain," said Councilmember Nora Davis, referring to Emeryville patients who have had trouble obtaining cannabis because of the city's twenty-year ban on medical marijuana.
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US CO: Column: Council Bans Cannabis Clubs Knowing Full Well

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/30/2016 - 07:00
Colorado Springs Independent, 30 Mar 2016 - A marathon session at City Hall on March 22 featured Council dissenters of all stripes: those who pushed back against Councilor Andy Pico's resolution opposing refugee resettlement; those with a petition demanding repeal of the recently enacted Pedestrian Access Act; those who bemoaned the proposed land-swap deal with The Broadmoor; and finally, those pleading, once again, for Council to leave cannabis clubs unshuttered. None of that was resolved except for the club issue (but not in the way most urged). Clubs opened up all over town, even after the six-month moratorium on new marijuana business licenses began in September. (The city couldn't stop issuing a license that didn't exist.)
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US WA: Editorial: It's Time to Start Talking About Legalizing

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/30/2016 - 07:00
Seattle Weekly, 30 Mar 2016 - In August 1988, a middle-aged drug counselor named David Purchase started handing out needles to junkies in Tacoma. He thus began the first needle exchange program in the U.S.-and became a criminal, since distributing drug paraphernalia was a misdemeanor under state law. As needle exchanges caught on, critics, including the first President Bush, objected that the program tacitly condoned illicit drug use. Purchase didn't care. AIDS deaths in the U.S. alone numbered in the tens of thousands. "We're going to keep doing what we do," he told The New York Times. "Our goal is to save lives," he said, even if that meant jail time.
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US: Obama Takes Crusade Against Opioids On Road

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/30/2016 - 07:00
New York Times, 30 Mar 2016 - ATLANTA - President Obama, confronting a national epidemic of heroin and prescription drug abuse, met here Tuesday with recovering addicts, doctors and law enforcement officials to underscore his determination to tackle a problem some critics say he left until too late in his administration. "We are seeing more people killed because of opioid overdose than from traffic accidents - I mean, think about that," Mr. Obama said at a meeting of the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit. "It has to be something right up at the top of our radar screen."
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US CA: Will Oakland's Legal Weed Industry Leave People of

Top Stories (MAP) - Wed, 03/30/2016 - 07:00
East Bay Express, 30 Mar 2016 - In the Wake of the War on Drugs, State Laws and Industry Culture Are Preventing Black and Latino Folks From Entering Oakland's Burgeoning, Hugely Profitable Cannabis Market. On a Tuesday evening in January, people gathered at SoleSpace in downtown Oakland for a panel titled, "Shades of Green: The State of Cannabis in California for People of Color." Supernova Women -- a recently formed organization led by female entrepreneurs of color working in cannabis -- organized the event, and it brought out an avid, intergenerational crowd of mostly Black and brown folks with varying levels of interest and experience working in the industry.
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Chronicle AM: New Obama Opioid Initiative, DOJ Backtracks on Forfeiture Reform, More... (3/29/16)

Drug War Chronicle - Tue, 03/29/2016 - 20:50

The drug czar uses a recycled and updated version of the gateway theory to oppose marijuana legalization, the Justice Department restarts its Equitable Sharing asset forfeiture program, the president announces a new package of initiatives to fight heroin and opioid death and addiction, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Drug Czar Leans On Gateway Theory Variant to Explain Opposition to Legalization. In a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last week, Office of National Drug Control Policy head Michael Botticelli reaffirmed the Obama administration's opposition to marijuana legalization, using a familiar, if discredited, argument to do so: "I think the evidence is pretty clear that early use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana -- often used together -- significantly increases the probability that someone will develop a more significant addictive disorder later in their life," he said. "Early substance use actually effects brain development and predisposes people for more significant vulnerabilities later in their life." That sounds a whole lot like an updated version of the roundly criticized gateway theory.

Hawaii Resolution Seeks Study on Marijuana and Driving. Rep. Cindy Evans (D-North Kona) and 15 other lawmakers have introduced a resolution asking the state health department to study the effect of marijuana on driving. State law bans people from driving under the influence of impairing drugs, but there is no threshold set for marijuana because there is no widespread consensus on what an acceptable level might be.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Obama Announces New Moves to Fight Heroin and Opioid Abuse. In a speech in Atlanta today, President Obama unveiled a package of new initiatives to help stem the tide of death and addiction from prescription and non-prescription opioids. These initiatives are above and beyond the $1.1 billion in new spending he proposed last month. The package includes expanded access to medication-assisted treatment (methadone, buprenorphine) for addicted users, doubling the cap on the number of patients to whom a doctor may prescribe buprenorphine, increasing the number of doctors who can prescribe it, funding an increase in access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone (Narcan), ensuring that substance abuse and mental health benefits are offered for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, and $7 million for the Justice Department to conduct law enforcement operations aimed at heroin distribution.

Asset Forfeiture

Justice Department Resumes Equitable Sharing Program -- More Money for Cops. The Justice Department has announced it is resuming its program that allows state and local law enforcement agencies to do an end run around state asset forfeiture laws by handing investigations over to the feds. State laws may mandate that seized funds go in the general fund or other specified funds, but under the federal program, 80% of the seized funds go to the seizing law enforcement agency, not the state's general or other specified funds. Law enforcement lobbying groups had been loudly protesting the program's shutdown last fall, claiming they needed the windfalls to do their jobs. Now, the program is back on line.

Harm Reduction

Overdose Reversal Drug Naloxone Has Saved 2,500 Lives in North Carolina. In less than three years, some 2,500 North Carolinians have had their heroin or prescription opioid overdoses reversed by people using naloxone (Narcan), the North Carolina Harm Reduction Center reported today. As of today, the number stands at 2,503. "Through distributing naloxone with NCHRC, I have been able to save the lives of many of my friends, loved ones and peers," says Kendra, a volunteer distributor in Wilmington. "Without this amazing group of people and this life-saving drug, many people who are very close to me may not have had a second chance at life. In the last few months alone I have had close to 100 reversals reported to me personally and many of those people are now in recovery because they were ready to make a change in their lives after overdosing."

International

Mexican Popular Support for Marijuana Legalization Rising, But Still Low. This year's officially-supported debate on marijuana legalization appears to be having an impact. Mexico has never been a legalization-friendly country, and in October, daily polls had support for legalization at only 7%, with 92% opposed. But six months later, after the issue has been publicly debated, pro-legalization sentiment has increased four-fold, to 29%, with opposition dropping to 66%. The trend is in the right direction, but there's still a long way to go.

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US WA: Editorial: Is Decrease in Pot Grows Important? Yes, It

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 03/29/2016 - 07:00
Yakima Herald-Republic, 29 Mar 2016 - The news seemed almost anachronistic in this era of relaxed ordinances and attitudes about marijuana. Last week, law enforcement officials announced that illegal marijuana production in Washington state has plummeted - even though large numbers of plants still flourish on the state's public lands. But the cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana are legal in this state, right? So why does it matter? It matters because not-so-savory elements are involved in the state's massive illegal grows, It also matters to maintain the structure of the state's marijuana legalization - given the flaws of a law that expands the availability of an intoxicating substance and runs afoul of federal law.
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CN ON: Edu: A Look Into Brockas Drug Culture

Top Stories (MAP) - Tue, 03/29/2016 - 07:00
The Brock Press, 29 Mar 2016 - While it would appear that drug use is a prominent feature of student life, quantitatively, it seems that drug use is actually decreasing at university campuses as well as Brock University specifically. According to Campus Security, there have been approximately 87 instances of controlled drug and substance abuse infractions in 2015, which has decreased considerably from 2014 (126 infractions) and 2013 (100 infractions). "The drugs and or drug calls that we respond to on campus generally involve marijuana. We have also come across cocaine, ecstasy, prescription drugs, however, these are very few incidents that we are aware of," said Donna Moody, director of Brock University Campus Security Services.
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