“You are being watched” H.R. 4310: National Defense Authorization Act

 

The link hereto is a direct link to the PDF Document of the new “Patriot Act”, revised effective June 19, 2012 for the fiscal year of 2013.

There is much discussion about what is happening with this legislation.

H.R. 4310: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

112th Congress, 2011–2012

To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2013 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction,

and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes.

Sponsor:
Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon [R-CA25]
Status:
Passed House

 

Here’s the added clause in question:

“Nothing in the AUMF or the 2012 NDAA shall be construed to deny the availability of the writ of habeas corpus or to deny any Constitutional rights in a court ordained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution for any person who is lawfully in the United States when detained pursuant to the AUMF and who is otherwise entitled to the availability of such writ or such rights.”

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/ndaa-americans-indefinite-detention2012-11#ixzz2DfrztPqV

 

 

Use the above link to Twitter your Congressman and tell them to end indefinite detention.  It could be you!

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Kentucky Mayor Danny Sparks Busted for Selling Marijuana Near School

 

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By Heather Manes, Thu, November 29, 2012

The mayor of a Kentucky town was arrested Wednesday evening for selling marijuana near a school, according to police.

 

The arrest took place after Danny Sparks, the mayor of Olive Hill in Carter County, sold the drugs to an undercover witness working with police.

Sparks faces a class D felony charge for trafficking marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school.

According to the police chief Bobby Hall, the bust took place in a parking lot next to an elementary school.

Sparks resigned Wednesday night after his arrest.

Hall said the arrest came after a series of tips were submitted to FADE drug task force officers, which is a coalition between five police departments.

“We had been looking into it for some time,” he said.

Sparks was re-elected mayor of 2,000-population town in 2010, and has been serving at least a decade, according to Hall.

“We’ve got drug problems, lawsuits, floods, this town has seen it all,” Hall said. “This is the last thing this town needs to deal with, it’s an embarrassment.”

 

CONTINUE READING….

WORLD WAR D

From:  LinkedIn

 

 

Jeffrey Dhywood has sent you a message.

Date: 11/29/2012

Subject: Making sense of the fast-evolving drug policy debate

2012 has been quite an amazing year for drug policy reform and events are accelerating at breakneck pace after the historic marijuana legalization victories in Colorado and Washington.

 

World War D. The Case against prohibitionism, roadmap to controlled re-legalization

The domino effect is about to get started in the US, in Latin America and the rest of the world. A major global initiative will be launched on December 5, with the support of presidents Santos of Colombia and Perez Molina of Guatemala, as well as a dozen of ex-heads of states including Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

If you want to make sense of the rapidly evolving global drug policy debate, “World War-D” gives you a global understanding of all the facets of the issue, bringing common sense and sanity to an issue often shrouded in misconceptions, preconceptions and taboos. More importantly, “World War-D” gives you in-depth analysis of practical, pragmatic and realistic alternatives to prohibition, alternatives that can eliminates the harm related to drug trafficking while managing and minimizing the harm related to drug abuse. As prohibition is starting to crumble at the edges, no other book offers such depth and breadth of understanding.

Become a better informed activist and support global drug policy reform!

 
Order your own copy of “Word War-D”

The reference book on the War on Drugs and prohibition
A guide to psychoactive substances and substance abuse
A blueprint for global drug policy reform and controlled legalization

Order “World War-D” on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984690409/

With the holiday season fast approaching, you can give a gift of common sense and sanity to your loved ones, your friends and your relatives.

Tired of useless, senseless stockings stuffers? With our holiday discount, “World War-D” is now even affordable enough to be given away as meaningful stuffers this holiday season!

Order your own copy of “World War-D” at our already discounted price of $9.99 for the eBooks version (e-pub, kindle or PDF) or $14.99 for the print version (448 pages, 6×9 paperback), and get your 2nd copy for 50% off the cover price, or $5.99 for the eBook and $9.99 for the paperback version. Order 3 books or more, and get a 50% discount off your entire order.
Stay tuned and keep up the fight! Thank you for your continued support.

Jeffrey Dhywood
Investigative writer,

Author of “World War D – The Case against prohibition, roadmap to controlled re-legalization”
Download a free 50-page excerpt: http://www.world-war-d.com/.

“World War-D” on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984690409/

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/worldward

Follow me on Twitter: @JDhywood

My readers routinely comment that “World War-D” should be required reading for politicians and lawmakers and strongly recommend it to those who want to understand all the facets of the issue and grasp its global complexity. No matter where you stand on drug prohibition, you will get a much clearer understanding of the issue in all of its multi-faceted complexity and with a global perspective. See readers’ reviews: http://www.world-war-d.com/reviews/readers-reviews

 

*******************************************************

*I am posting this as a public service to fellow activists.  I have not read the above book and can make no claims for or against it.  I am receiving no money for this endorsement.  ShereeKrider

Why Are We Testing Newborns for Pot?

The science is alarmingly inconclusive, but the punishment for mothers is severe.

November 23, 2012  |  

Employees at US hospitals are testing more and more newborns for cannabis exposure. And, with alarming frequency, they are getting the wrong results. So say a pair of recent studies documenting the unreliability of infant drug testing.

 

 

In the most recent trial, published in the September edition of the Journal of Clinical Chemistry , investigators at the University of Utah School of Medicine evaluated the rate of unconfirmed "positive" immunoassay test results in infant and non-infant urine samples over a 52-week period. Shockingly, authors found that positive tests for carboxy THC, a byproduct of THC screened for in immunoassay urine tests, were 59 times less likely to be confirmed in infant urine specimens as compared to non-infant urine samples. Overall, 47 percent of the infant positive immunoassay urine samples evaluated did not test for the presence of carboxy THC when confirmatory assay measures were later performed.
Immunoassay testing – the standard technology used in workplace drug testing – relies on the use of antibodies (proteins that will react to a particular substance or a group of very similar substances) to document whether a specific reaction occurs. Therefore, a positive result on an immunoassay test presumes that a certain quantity of a particular substance may be present in the sample, but it does not actually identify the presence of the substance itself. A more specific chemical test, known as chromatography, must be performed in order to confirm any preliminary analytical test results. Samples that test positive on the presumptive immunoassay test, but then later test negative on the confirmatory test are known as false positives.
False positive test results for cannabis’ carboxy THC metabolite are relatively uncommon in adult specimens. Among newborns’ specimens, however, false positive results for alleged cannabis exposure are disturbingly prevalent.
In April, researchers at the University of North Carolina reported in the journal Clinical Biochemistry that various chemicals present in various baby wash products, such as Johnson’s Head-to-Toe Baby Wash and CVS Baby Wash, frequently cross-react with the immunoassay test to cause false positive results for carboxy THC.

“[The] addition of Head-to-Toe Baby Wash to drug-free urine produced a dose dependent measureable response in the THC immunoassay,” the investigators concluded . “Addition of other commercially available baby soaps gave similar results, and subsequent testing identified specific chemical surfactants that reacted with the THC immunoassay. … Given these consequences, it is important for laboratories and providers to be aware of this potential source for false positive screening results and to consider confirmation before initiating interventions.”

Following the publication of the UNC study, researchers at the University of Utah screened for the presence of baby soap contaminants in infant urine. Surprisingly, they didn’t find any . Rather, they concluded that the disproportionately high rate of false positive test results discovered among their samples were the result of a cross-reaction with some other yet-to-be determined constituent. They cautioned: “Until the compounds contributing to positive urine screen results in infants are identified, we encourage the use of alternative specimens for the detection and investigation of neonatal exposure to cannabinoids. Screen-positive cannabinoid results from infant samples should not be reported without confirmation or appropriate consultation, because they cannot currently be interpreted.”
Yet despite these warnings, in many instances, hospitals fail to confirm the results of presumptive drug tests prior to reporting them to state authorities. (Because confirmatory testing is more expensive the immunoassay testing, many hospitals neglect to send such presumptive positive urine samples to outside labs for follow-up analysis.) Ironically, such confirmatory tests are required for all hospital employees who test positive for illicit substances. But presently, no such guidelines stipulate that similar precautions be taken for newborns or pregnant mothers. Explains Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women : “NAPW has had calls from numerous parents who were subjected to intrusive, threatening, and counterproductive child welfare interventions based on false or innocent positive test results for marijuana. We have learned that pregnant patients receive fewer guarantees of accuracy than do job applicants at that same hospital.” 

Regardless of whether or not the drug screen results are confirmed, the sanctions for those subjects who test positive are often swift and severe. Typically, any report of alleged infant exposure to cannabis will trigger a host of serious consequences ranging from the involvement of social services to accusations of child endangerment or neglect. In some instances, mothers whose infants test positive for carboxy THC will lose temporary child custody rights and be mandated to attend a drug treatment program. In other instances they may be civilly prosecuted. At least 18 states address the issue of pregnant women’s drug use in their civil child neglect laws; in 12 states prenatal exposure to any illegal drug is defined by statute as civil child abuse. (One state, South Carolina, authorizes the criminal prosecution of mothers who are alleged to have consumed cannabis, or any other illicit substance, during pregnancy and carry their baby to term.) 
Of further concern is the reality that the hospital staff’s decision to drug test infants or pregnant mothers appears to be largely a subjective one. There are no national standards delineating specific criteria for the drug testing of pregnant women, new mothers, or their infants. In fact, the only federal government panel ever convened to advise on the practice urged against its adoption. As a result, race and class largely influence who is tested and who isn’t. A study published in the  Journal of Women’s Health reported that "black women and their newborns were 1.5 times more likely to be tested for illicit drugs as non-black women," after controlling for obstetrical conditions and socio-demographic factors, such as single marital status or a lack of health insurance. A separate study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported similar rates of illicit drug consumption during pregnancy among both black and white women, but found that “black women were reported [to health authorities] at approximately 10 times the rate for white women.”
How many mothers have been accused of child neglect or abuse because of false positive drug test results? Nobody knows for sure. But no doubt some mothers have been penalized solely as a result of the test’s inherent fallibility – and many more are likely to face similar sanctions in the future. That’s because the practice of drug testing infants for cannabis exposure remains a relatively popular even though there exists limited, if any, evidence to justify it.
“No child-health expert would characterize recreational drug use during pregnancy as a good idea,” writes Time.com columnist Maia Szalavitz. “But it’s not at all clear that the benefits, if any, of newborn marijuana screening – particularly given how selectively the tests are administered – justify the potential harm it can cause to families.”
Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform agrees, telling Time.com that the emotional damage caused by removing an infant child from their mothers, as well as the risk of abuse inherent to foster care, far outweigh any risks to the child that may be caused by maternal marijuana use during pregnancy. 
In fact, the potential health effects of maternal marijuana use on infant birth weight and early development have been subject to scientific scrutiny for several decades. One of the earliest and most often cited studies on the topic comes from Dr. Melanie Dreher and colleagues, who assessed neonatal outcomes in Jamaica, where it is customary for many women to ingest cannabis, often in tea, during pregnancy to combat symptoms of morning sickness. Writing in the journal  Pediatrics in 1994, Dreher and colleagues reported no significant physical or psychological differences in newborns of heavy marijuana-using mothers at three days old, and found that exposed children performed better on a variety of physiological and autonomic tests than non-exposed children at 30 days. (This latter trend was suggested to have been a result of the socio-economic status of the mothers rather than a result of pre-natal pot exposure.)
Separate population studies have reported similar results. A 2002 survey of 12,060 British women reported, “[C]annabis use during pregnancy was unrelated to risk of perinatal death or need for special care.” Researchers added that “frequent or regular use” of cannabis throughout pregnancy may be associated with “small but statistically detectable decrements in birthweight.” However, the association between cannabis use and birthweight failed to be statistically significant after investigators adjusted for confounding factors such as the mothers’ age, pre-pregnancy weight, and the self-reported use of tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and other illicit drugs.”

THIS STORY CONTINUES THRU THIS LINK….PLEASE CONTINUE READING

Rand Paul: Relax Marijuana Penalties, Allow States To Determine Pot Policy

 

 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) continued to field questions this week about a possible entrance into the 2016 Republican presidential mix, reinforcing his views that legal penalties for marijuana offenses should be reduced and that states should be responsible for crafting their own laws regarding the plant.

In an interview with ABC, Paul said that while he did not personally support marijuana being legalized, or even used, for that matter, he did believe that punishments surrounding it were overly harsh.

"I think for example we should tell young people, ‘I’m not in favor of you smoking pot, but if you get caught smoking pot, I don’t want to put you in jail for 20 years,’" Paul said.

The senator went on to argue that states such as Washington and Colorado, which both voted to legalize and tax marijuana earlier this month, should be permitted to have their moves stand, despite running contrary to federal laws determining the drug to be an illegal substance.

"States should be allowed to make a lot of these decisions," Paul said. "I want things to be decided more at a local basis, with more compassion. I think it would make us as Republicans different."

He made similar comments in an earlier interview with Politico, saying that he planned to reach across the aisle to Senate Democrats in hopes of addressing his concerns with marijuana sentencing legislatively.

Both Paul and his father, retiring Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), have been outspoken proponents of states’ rights and compassion when it comes to marijuana laws. They’ve also both been avid supporters of legalizing the production of industrial hemp, a non-psychoactive relative of marijuana that has been caught up in the wider net of drug laws.

CONTINUE READING…

Mexico Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced By Lawmaker

Reuters  |  Posted: 11/15/2012

Marijuana Legazliation Mexico

In this Oct. 25, 2012 photo, soldiers stand in a marijuana plantation found during a reconnaissance mission before burning the plants near the town of Lombardia in Michoacan state, Mexico. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)

 

By Noe Torres

MEXICO CITY, Nov 15 (Reuters) – A leftist Mexican lawmaker on Thursday presented a bill to legalize the production, sale and use of marijuana, adding to a growing chorus of Latin American politicians who are rejecting the prohibitionist policies of the United States.

The bill is unlikely to win much support in Congress since a strong majority of Mexicans are firmly against legalizing drugs, but may spur a broader debate in Mexico after two U.S. states voted to allow recreational use of marijuana last week. U.S. officials have said it remains illegal and that they are reviewing the state actions.
The split between local and federal governments in the United States is feeding a growing challenge in Latin America to the four-decade-old policies that Washington promoted, and often bankrolled, to disrupt illegal drug cultivation and smuggling.
“The prohibitionist paradigm is a complete failure,” said Fernando Belaunzaran, the author of the bill from the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), who presented the proposal in Mexico’s lower house of Congress.
“All this has done is spur more violence, the business continues. The country that has paid the highest costs is Mexico,” he said in a telephone interview.
A conflict between drug gangs and security forces has killed more than 60,000 people during the six-year rule of outgoing President Felipe Calderon, who has repeatedly demanded the United States to do more to curb demand for illegal drugs.
Frustration with U.S. policy deepened after voters in Washington state and Colorado approved the recreational use of marijuana.
Still, there is little popular support for marijuana legalization in Mexico. Recent polls show two-thirds or more of Mexicans are opposed to making it legal. Several other bills to legalize the drug have been rejected in recent years.
Mexican leftists form the second biggest bloc in the lower house, behind the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that won the presidency in an election in July. The leftist coalition has more seats than Calderon’s conservatives.
“It is important to open the debate, but I do not think this will advance,” said political analyst Fernando Dworak. “In reality, it is just not part of the legislative agenda.”
Across Latin America, there is a growing view that Washington’s “war on drugs” is not working.
Uruguay’s government submitted a legalization bill to Congress this week that would put the state in charge of marijuana cultivation and distribution, while also allowing for individuals to grow plants at home.
In September, Calderon and the leaders of Colombia and Guatemala – historically three of the most reliable U.S. partners on drug interdiction – called on world governments to explore new alternatives to the problem.
The chief advisor of incoming President Enrique Pena Nieto, Luis Videgaray, said last week that the votes in Washington and Colorado mean Mexico must rethink its approach to the trade, though he said Pena Nieto was opposed to legalization of drugs.
Last week, the governor of Chihuahua, one of the Mexican states worst hit by drugs violence, told Reuters Mexico should legalize export of marijuana. The governor, Cesar Duarte, is an ally of Pena Nieto, who takes office on Dec. 1. (Additional reporting by Michael O’Boyle; Editing by Jackie Frank)

CONTINUE READING…

US Supreme Court to consider challenge to 1965 Voting Rights Act

By Tom Carter
12 November 2012

 

On Friday, the Supreme Court announced that it would consider a legal challenge to the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act ranks among the most significant reforms that emerged from the upheavals of the civil rights period. The act overruled and abolished the myriad state laws designed to disenfranchise black voters in many Southern states, and established a strict regime of federal oversight for those areas of the country that had a history of discriminatory voting practices.

The Voting Rights Act followed on the heels of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed racial segregation in schools, workplaces and other institutions. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks were in attendance when President Lyndon Johnson signed the act into law on August 6, 1965. Soon after its enactment, the Supreme Court ruled that the act was constitutional.

In the period leading up to the enactment of the act, demands for the abolition of the racist institutions maintained in the southern region of the United States won broad and determined support in the working class, both inside the United States and internationally.

One of the stricter provisions of the act, known as “Section 5,” requires certain local authorities with a history of voter discrimination to obtain “pre-clearance” from the federal government before enacting any laws or regulations that pertain to voting. The purpose of Section 5 is to prevent those authorities from reenacting the antidemocratic legislation that existed before the passage of the act.

Since 1982, the “pre-clearance” provisions have been invoked more than 2,400 times to prevent state and local laws and regulations from being enacted, including several times in the run-up to last week’s presidential elections.

In July of this year, the Voting Rights Act was successfully invoked on appeal to block a reactionary voter ID law in the state of Texas that could have prevented 1.5 million people from voting in that state. (See “Voting rights in America under attack”) Similar legislation was recently blocked in Florida and South Carolina.

The Voting Rights Act has always been a thorn in the side of right-wing local administrations, particularly in the southern region of the US, and in recent years the attacks on the act have grown bolder. This year, the state of Texas argued through one of its attorneys that it should be free to enact literacy tests, which are strictly prohibited by the 1965 act.

In 2009, Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts stated that “things have changed in the South” and that he thought certain provisions of the Voting Rights Act raised “serious constitutional questions.” Supreme Court commentators have generally understood this statement to mean that the court will welcome cases challenging the act.

The challenge to the Voting Rights Act accepted by the Supreme Court on Friday was brought by Shelby County, Alabama. The suit alleges that legislation signed into law in 2006 by President George W. Bush reaffirming and reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional because the problems that the act sought to address have already been cured. Naturally, a decision on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act would affect not just that county in Alabama, but tens of millions of voters throughout the South. Naked short-term political interests are no doubt in play, as the direct beneficiary of any weakening of the Voting Rights Act would be the Republican Party, and, in particular, its various Southern groupings.

The emerging pretext for weakening or abolishing the Voting Rights Act—namely that “things have changed” and that voting rights are more or less secure—should be viewed with the deepest skepticism. Voting rights in the US are, in fact, under mounting attack, as documented by a recent World Socialist Web Site report: “The 2012 elections and the assault on voting rights in the US”.

Reactionary “Voter ID” laws such as were recently passed in the state of Indiana threaten to disenfranchise millions of voters. Meanwhile, restrictive ballot access laws in effect in many states limit access to the ballot to those parties with millions of dollars to spend petitioning and litigating in court. Parties fortunate enough to secure ballot access return the following election to find that the ballot access requirements have been raised.

In all, 13 Republican congressmen retained their seats in last week’s elections because they were the only candidates on the ballot.

The borders of congressional districts are redrawn almost every year (a process known as “gerrymandering”), resulting in voting districts with absurd spaghetti-like shapes. Many people in the recent elections went to the same polls they visited in previous years only to discover that they were now voting in a different district.

Last week’s election, like many previous elections, was plagued with myriad troubles, and details are still emerging of voter intimidation, malfunctioning voting machines, confusing directions, misleading automated phone calls (voters were reminded on election day to “vote tomorrow”), discouraging long lines at the polls (four hours in one area of Detroit), and official results at odds with exit polls.

In one cellphone video posted on YouTube, a voter repeatedly attempts to cast a vote for Obama using a touchscreen voting machine, but even though the voter’s finger clearly touches Obama’s name, the screen repeatedly selects Romney’s name instead.

A decision by the Supreme Court overturning or weakening the Voting Rights Act would open the floodgates for antidemocratic and discriminatory laws and regulations to be enacted at the local level around the country, and would constitute a further blow to democratic legal protections won by the working class in earlier struggles. Most importantly, such a decision would add momentum to the campaign by the ruling class to strip down or eliminate all significant social reform legislation dating from the 20th century.

A decision in the case is expected by June.

CONTINUE READING….

Marijuana Law Introduced to Uruguay Congress

By PABLO FERNANDEZ Associated Press

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay November 16, 2012 (AP)

Uruguay came one step closer to turning the government into the country’s leading pot dealer on Thursday, as lawmakers formally introduced to Congress a framework for regulating the production, sale and consumption of marijuana.

The proposal is much more liberal than what Uruguay’s government initially proposed months ago, when President Jose Mujica said only the government would be allowed to sell pot.

The draft law would instead create a National Cannabis Institute with the power to license individuals and companies to produce and sell marijuana for recreational, medicinal or industrial uses. It would foster marijuana growing clubs to provide the weed to their members. And most significantly, it would allow anyone to grow a limited amount of marijuana in their own homes, and possess marijuana for their own consumption.

“The thrust is the same, to create state-controlled markets. This provides the legal framework,” Colette Youngers, a drug policy expert at the Washington Office on Latin America who came to Montevideo to advise lawmakers and others drafting the proposal, told The Associated Press. “The main difference is that they have incorporated the idea of cultivation for personal use, and also the cannabis clubs, which was not in the initial proposal.”

Uruguay Marijuana.JPEG

AP

A marijuana grower shows plants he is growing… View Full Caption

Uruguay still hopes to drive big-time drug dealers out of the marijuana business and enable pot smokers to buy their weed legally without having to feed the illegal and violent industry that provides addicts with harder drugs such as cocaine and its derivatives.

It also still wants to track pot consumption through a confidential database — perhaps by giving people accounts and cards with magnetic stripes that would track purchases while concealing user’s identities, she said.

The proposed law would allow anyone to grow up to possess up to 40 grams (nearly 1.5 ounces) of pot for their own consumption, and grow six pot plants in their own homes, producing up to 480 grams (a little more than a pound) of marijuana at a time. People could join clubs of up to 15 pot smokers who together could grow up to 90 plants and stockpile 7,200 grams (254 ounces, or nearly 16 pounds) a year. The identity of pot buyers would remain protected by law.

Aspects of the proposal are similar to the law voters just approved in the U.S. state of Colorado, which also enables individuals to grow six plants at a time for personal use. In contrast, Washington state’s new law does not allow individuals to grow pot. But these states and Uruguay all represent a significant shift in public opinion about marijuana, said Youngers.

“The government is still investigating what is going to be the best way to implement this,” Youngers said. “This is an experiment. No country has done this before. So they need to have a law that lays out the framework, but have the flexibility to adjust this as they implement it.”

Ruling party Deputy Sebastian Sabini told the AP that opposition lawmakers were invited Thursday to present alternatives to the proposal. He expects it to be quickly forwarded by the Commission on Addiction to the full lower house of Congress, which will pass the law next month. Uruguay’s Senate would then take it up early next year, and if it passes, developing the necessary infrastructure and regulations would take much of 2013. Mujica’s ruling Broad Front coalition enjoys ample majorities in both houses, so passage isn’t in doubt.

CONTINUE READING….

Law, Science, and the Coming Brawl Over Marijuana

The federal government is on the wrong side of science over medical marijuana. Until that changes, there’s no chance for legalization.

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Colorado’s newly-passed Amendment 64 contemplates a brave new world in which adults in the state will be able to lawfully smoke small amounts of marijuana purchased from licensed (and heavily taxed) local retailers. But that world isn’t even scheduled to begin until 2014, and only then if there are significant changes in the many assorted ways in which federal law criminalizes recreational marijuana possession and use. There is the legal component to the issue. There is the political component to it. And of all the paths forward there is one that is clearest and the most fair. What are the odds that it is the one Washington now chooses?
Since Colorado (and Washington state) legalized the use of recreational marijuana last week, the national conversation about what comes next has focused primarily on the obvious conflict between federal and state authority. On the one hand, we have the Controlled Substances Act, the venerable federal statute that for the past four decades has labelled marijuana as a “Schedule 1” substance on par with heroin. And on the other hand we have a clear policy choice made by voters in the election of 2012 that marijuana should be treated like alcohol. There’s been a rebellion out west, in other words, which the feds are destined to win.
But there is another conflict here that’s been splayed open by the ballot initiatives, one which is more fundamental to the future of lawful marijuana use than any argument the feds will now use to stop the state initiatives. It’s the ongoing conflict over the science of marijuana, over the quality of proof of its medicinal values, which is central to the coming court fights. Until the Drug Enforcement Administration changes its marijuana classification, until lawmakers recognize its therapeutic uses, reformers like those in Colorado and Washington will be crushed in court.
The federal policy choice on marijuana’s classification is the horse. The Justice Department’s coming use of that policy against the states is the cart. And that’s why the timing of the state initiatives is so compelling. Just last month, a few weeks before the election, a panel of three federal judges in Washington, D.C., heard oral arguments in a case on this very point called Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration. The feds say that studies of the virtues of medical marijuana are not rigorous enough to warrant a change in DEA policy. The reformers say there is enough proof, and testimony, to justify the change.
So far, the case hasn’t gotten nearly as much coverage as it should have, and as it would have had the hearing been held this week (last Tuesday, Massachusetts also became the 18th state to legalize the use of medical marijuana). But here’s all you need to know about the institutional forces of the law which are working against the reformers. Referring to the DEA, Judge Merrick Garland asked a question a million judges before him have asked when evaluating whether to push a federal agency to do something it hasn’t before wanted to do: “Don’t we have to defer to their judgment?”
Their judgment. The Colorado and Washington initiatives are the most forceful and populist responses yet to the antiquated judgment of DEA policy makers. The state measures also are a repudiation of Congress’ discriminatory marijuana laws and the law-and-order lobby’s priorities. And even if the new state laws stand today on poor legal ground–let’s face it, they do–the success of the initiatives out West already has sent a strong political message to Washington on marijuana policy: You can’t go back. You can no longer stay still. The only choice left is to figure out the smartest way to go forward.
Something’s gotta give. Right now, a White House that prides itself on being on the right side of science when it comes to global warming is on the wrong side of science when it comes to medical marijuana. Right now, a Congress that praises states’ rights is hampering the ability of states to experiment with new sources of revenue. Right now, the federal government in all its forms is taking a position which may have made sense in the early 1970s but which is now directly at odds with the testimony of thousands of military veterans who say marijuana helps ease their pain.
The faces of the movement aren’t just the young voters out West who think it’s absurd that they can drink alcohol but can’t get high. They aren’t just the entrepreneurs in Colorado who are making the marijuana industry a burgeoning, tax-revenue-generating retail industry. They aren’t the conservative figures who want to stop paying the prison costs of incarceration for marijuana offenses. They are also American war veterans like Michael Krawitz. He’s a disabled plaintiff in the ongoing DEA lawsuit in Washington. Here’s how The Guardian explains why:

Krawitz had been receiving opiate-based pain relief from the VA until they discovered a prescription for medical marijuana he had received while abroad. They asked him to take a drug test and when he refused, they stopped his treatment. “It said right there in the contract that if they find illegal drugs in your system they they will not give you any pain treatment,” he said. “I found that offensive. I’ve been getting this pain treatment for years.”

The Colorado and Washington measures aren’t likely a tipping point for marijuana legalization. But they may be a tipping point toward a federal drug policy that recognizes that marijuana is different from heroin–and even that would be a long-overdue step in the right direction. The Justice Department soon will challenge the state initiatives in court and the feds almost certainly will win. No federal judge wants to be the one to declare marijuana “legal” before Congress or the DEA does. What the White House ought to do in the meantime, however, is demand a broad new review of the federal government’s marijuana policies.
At a minimum, such a review ought to embrace the following truths, which appear to millions of Americans, including millions of young people who came out to vote for President Obama, to be self-evident. The Controlled Substances Act didn’t come down from the mountaintop. Marijuana’s “Schedule 1” classification isn’t engraved in stone. And the DEA and its policy experts are hardly the Sanhedrin. Whatever else they mean, the Colorado and Washington laws mean the time has come for the feds to better justify a drug policy that has lost key pillars of its factual and political support.
If the administration undertakes this sort of review–“hopefully, the historic in in Colorado will help pressure the federal government to bring a more science-based approach to drug laws,” coyly says Brian Vicente, one of the attorneys behind Amendment 64–it will help insulate the White House from progressive complaints about the coming federal litigation to block the two legalization measures. And it will hardly outrage conservatives, many of whom, like the Koch brothers, support legalization efforts. Such a review, you could say, is the very least the President could do for all those people who came out to vote for him these past two cycles.
That, anyway, is the larger view. For a closer look, I asked Professor Sam Kamin, who teaches at the University of Denver Law School, to share his thoughts on what’s likely to happen next in Colorado. Kamin has closely followed Colorado’s successful embrace of medical marijuana as well as its new dance with outright legalization. Here is a (slightly) edited transcript of our email interview:
COHEN: The voters have spoken. Colorado’s Constitution is changed. But isn’t the next step legislation and regulation within the state to determine how it is all going to work? I’m sure you’ve thought about happens now within the state government. As specifically as you can, please walk me through the next few weeks and months.

KAMIN: Everything now depends on what the federal government does next. We know that our governor has been in conversations with the Attorney General Holder about what the Justice Department will do next, but so far he has not been particularly forthcoming about what he has learned. If the federal government indicates a willingness to permit Washington and Colorado to proceed with legalization- and I very much doubt that it will–then the legislature and administrative agencies in these states will begin work on how the industry will be taxed and regulated. This should not be a particularly complicated task; Colorado has regulated and taxed medical marijuana since 2010. Little would need to change about this regulation except removing the requirement that those seeking to buy marijuana from a licensed retailer obtain a doctor’s recommendation first.

COHEN: The average citizen in Colorado who voted for this Amendment is wondering when she’ll be able to buy marijuana and smoke it legally without a medical certification. Is that completely dependent upon how the coming legal fight plays out? And is the expectation that the feds will challenge the initiative at the point of sale? 

KAMIN: I think this is the crucial question. The federal government has always had the power to shut down state experimentation with marijuana legalization. Marijuana remains a controlled substance whose sale and manufacture are prohibited by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Thus, every sale of marijuana in every state–whether it has legalized marijuana for medical purposes or otherwise–remains a federal crime. The federal government could thus arrest every person who sells marijuana in these states or at least arrest enough of them to make the others reconsider their choices.

A less confrontational approach would be to file suit–as the federal government did in Arizona to enjoin the enforcement of SB 1070–to prevent the implementation of Amendment 64.  Interestingly, there is little the federal government could do about Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana–the federal government lacks the power to force the states to criminalize any particular conduct. The states are under no obligation to mirror the CSA or to help the federal government enforce it. Thus, the states may presumably repeal their marijuana prohibitions without running afoul of federal law.

However, the second part of Amendment 64–requiring the state to set up procedures for the licensing of recreational marijuana dispensaries–is more problematic. The federal government could allege that such state-level sanctioning of marijuana businesses would constitute an impermissible obstacle to the enforcement of the CSA. Where state and federal law conflict, the federal law is supreme.

COHEN: The Justice Department has said since the election that Amendment 64 doesn’t change federal law and of course it doesn’t. Is there any way for the initiative to survive without a change to the federal classification of marijuana as a controlled substance on par with heroin? How can Colorado and Washington (state) move Washington to reevaluate that classification?

KAMIN: A little-understood aspect of the marijuana legalization movement is that the reclassification of marijuana would likely prove fatal to the legalization movement. Currently, marijuana is a Schedule I narcotic, a drug whose manufacture and sale are strictly prohibited. If it were re-classified to a less serious category it would then be available as medicine, likely subject to a doctor’s prescription. Of course, such a rule, which the federal government would likely enforce more strictly than it has the current prohibition, would forbid the licensing of recreational dispensaries in the states. Marijuana law reform has been proceeding along parallel tracks–in the courts, Congress and in the states–and those different tracks are beginning to create tensions.

COHEN: Look into your crystal ball. What’s the most likely outcome here? If there is to be a surprise, legally or politically, what do you figure it will be?

KAMIN: I imagine we will see something less than the dramatic federal response described above. I imagine the federal government will offer the states a return to the status quo prior to November 6. That is, I can imagine the Justice Department telling the states that it will continue to grudgingly permit the states to continue with medical marijuana but that full legalization is a bridge too far. This was essentially the message that Attorney General Holder sent to the California voters who ultimately rejected Proposition 19 in 2010. It was a difficult message for the Obama administration to send in a presidential election year in a swing state, however. With the election now passed, we may see a repeat of 2010. Like everyone else, though, I’m simply guessing.

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Marijuana Party political candidate has a new source of financing

Bob erb marijuana party millionaire

Canadian Bob Erb speaks to CBC News about his $25-million lottery prize. (CBC/Screengrab)

A Canadian man and former Marijuana Party political candidate has a new source of financing for his fight to legalize it: a $25-million lottery prize.

Bob Erb of Terrace, British Columbia, won the money on Friday night, splitting the $50-million jackpot with a group of oil workers in neighboring Alberta.

“I just went in, checked the lottery ticket — 25 and a whole bunch of zeroes,” Erb said, according to CBC News.

“I pulled the ticket out (of the machine) and I said, ‘Oh my God. I think I won $25 million.’”

He collected his money today from B.C. Lottery Corporation, but the winning ticket almost didn’t happen.

More from GlobalPost: Pensioner finds $23-million lottery ticket in her car just in time

On his way to his father’s funeral in Calgary, Erb purchased tickets from a gas station stop during the trip. A store clerk misunderstood his request, and gave him an extra ticket.

“He (cashier) was going to delete that one. I said ‘I might as well take it, it might be the one,’” Erb told his hometown newspaper, The Standard.

A seasonal construction worker, Erb said he intends to continue working. He plans to spend money on charity, family, oh, and “the legalization, decriminalization of marijuana.”

Erb ran for the B.C. Marijuana Party in the 2001 provincial election, finishing third among five candidates with 810 votes in the electoral district of Skeena. The winner had 8,653 votes.

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