Category Archives: Drug War

NORML Forms Multi-State Workplace Drug Testing Coalition

by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator February 14, 2017

The fact that 190 million Americans now live in states where marijuana has been legalized to some degree is raising a number of questions and issues about how to integrate the American workforce and marijuana consumers rights in regards to drug testing. With medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and recreational marijuana for adult use in 8 states and Washington DC, millions of responsible and otherwise law-abiding adults remain at risk of being excluded from the workforce due to a positive drug test — even where the use does not affect an individual’s job performance or has taken place days or weeks prior to the test.

NORML believes that this practice is discriminatory and defies common sense. As a result, a growing coalition of NORML Chapters in California, Oregon, Colorado and Washington have come together to advocate for necessary legislative and workplace reforms to protect responsible marijuana consumers.

NORML’s Workplace Drug Testing Coalition’s efforts will focus on these four areas:

  1. Reform workplace drug testing policies
  2. Expand employment opportunities for marijuana consumers
  3. Clarify the difference between detection technology and performance testing
  4. Highlight off-duty state law legal protections for employees

“Even though marijuana is legal and readily available in several states, consumers are being unfairly forced to choose between their job and consuming off the clock as a result of out-of-date employment practices,” said Kevin Mahmalji, National Outreach Coordinator for NORML. “That is why many NORML chapters active in legal states are now shifting their attention to protecting honest, hardworking marijuana consumers from these sort of antiquated, discriminatory workplace drug-testing practices, in particular the use of random suspicionless urine testing.”

Employer testing of applicants or employees for trace metabolites (inert waste-products) of past use of a legal substance makes no sense in the 21st century.  This activity is particularly discriminatory in the case of marijuana where such metabolites may be detectable for weeks or even months after the consumer has ceased use.

With the 2017 Legislative Session underway, this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. Legislation has already been introduced in Oregon and Washington, and is gaining traction in those states.

“Random suspicionless drug testing of applicants or employees for past marijuana use is not just unfair and discriminatory, it’s bad for business,” said attorney Judd Golden of Boulder, Colorado, a long-time NORML activist and Coalition spokesperson. The modern workforce includes countless qualified people like Brandon Coats of Colorado, a paraplegic medical marijuana patient who never was impaired on the job and had an unblemished work record. Brandon was fired from a Fortune 500 company after a random drug test, and lost his case in the Colorado Supreme Court in 2015. The Court unfortunately found Colorado’s lawful off-duty activities law that protects employees for legal activities on their own time didn’t apply to marijuana use.

California NORML is also expecting legislation to be introduced this session to address this issue. Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML said, “One of the most frequently asked questions we have been getting since Prop. 64 passed legalizing adult marijuana use in California last November is, ‘Am I now protected against drug testing on my job?’ Sadly in our state, not even medical marijuana patients are protected against job discrimination, and it’s a priority of Cal NORML to change that. We are hoping to get a bill introduced at the state level and are working with legislators, unions, and other reform groups to make that happen.”

NORML Chapters across the country are advocating on behalf of the rights of responsible marijuana consumers against discrimination in the workplace. “Our coalition was formed with the intention of not only educating legislators, but also with businesses in mind.  It is important they know testing for marijuana is not mandatory, and that employers have testing options,” said Jordan Person, executive director for Denver NORML. The Denver chapter is currently working with companies that offer performance impairment testing of workers suspected of on-the-job impairment or use rather than unreliable bodily fluid testing to help provide options for employers.

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For decades drug testing companies and others have pushed their agenda through a campaign of misinformation. Until now there has never been an organized effort to challenge the profit- driven ideology of those who seek to benefit from intrusive drug screening. Mounting evidence continues to prove there is no logical reason why adult marijuana consumers should be treated with any less respect, restricted more severely, and denied the same privileges we extend to responsible adults who enjoy a casual cocktail after a long day at the office.

For legal questions, please contact Coalition spokesperson Judd Golden at juddgolden@outlook.com. For other marijuana related questions or an interview, please contact Kevin Mahmalji at kevinm@norml.org.

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Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (hereafter known as the Patriot Act, because that name is long and dumb)

Data shows Patriot Act used more often to justify drug warrants, not terrorism ones

by Miranda Nelson on September 8th, 2011 at 11:24 AM

 

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New York Magazine has put out an incredibly detailed compendium of 9/11 information on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attacks that left over 3,000 people dead. The September 11 attacks, as you’re well aware, were the impetus (or used as justification, depending on how cynical you are) for pushing through the USA PATRIOT ACT, which was hurriedly signed into law on October 26, 2001.

One of the main focuses of the Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (hereafter known as the Patriot Act, because that name is long and dumb) is Title II, which is all about surveillance. That’s right: even though those dastardly terrorists who hate our freedom came from overseas (as was the rhetoric beaten into the collective consciousness post 9/11), the U.S. government thought it was prudent to pass a bunch of surveillance laws so it could spy on its own citizens.

Let me quote the relevant section before we proceed:

SEC. 213. AUTHORITY FOR DELAYING NOTICE OF THE EXECUTION OF A WARRANT.

…(b) DELAY- With respect to the issuance of any warrant or court order under this section, or any other rule of law, to search for and seize any property or material that constitutes evidence of a criminal offense in violation of the laws of the United States, any notice required, or that may be required, to be given may be delayed if–

(1) the court finds reasonable cause to believe that providing immediate notification of the execution of the warrant may have an adverse result (as defined in section 2705);

Delayed-notice search warrants: we won’t tell you we’re breaking into your house to look around if we think there will be adverse results, like you calling up your terrorist buddies to let them know we’re on to you.

Something seems wrong with this graph (courtesy New York Magazine).

But between 2006 and 2009, do you know how many times the Patriot Act was used to issue delayed-notice warrants relating to terrorists and related activities? That would be a whole 15 times—even though the act mentions the word terrorism 161 times and terrorism 175 times.

Aside: did you know that not a single person has been brought to justice on American soil for those deaths?

In the same time period, New York Magazine reports that 1,618 delayed-notice search warrants were issued in relation to drugs and related activity. If you had any doubts about the true mandate of the Patriot Act, doubt no longer. Congratulations America on using a senseless tragedy to justify targeting marijuana users!

And why am I concluding that these people are primarily low-level marijuana offenders and not cocaine smugglers or meth manufacturers? The statistics on arrests and imprisonment make it clear: in 2006, 829,627 marijuana-related arrests were made in the United States, 89 percent of which were for mere possession. Not for growing or selling. Just for holding onto the stuff. In 2010, 50,383 arrests were made in New York City alone for possession.

The Patriot Act: great for the War on Drugs, bad for anyone who likes to smoke a joint, laughable in regards to stopping terrorism.

Follow Miranda Nelson on Twitter at @charenton_.

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Cannabis convict Eddy Lepp free from prison

Lepp, age 64, hailed as a “marijuana martyr” by supporters

 

By Lisa M. Krieger | lkrieger@bayareanewsgroup.com

PUBLISHED: December 7, 2016 at 9:59 am | UPDATED: December 8, 2016 at 9:16 am

 

Image result for eddy lepp

 

SAN FRANCISCO — Free after eight years of federal imprisonment, one of the nation’s most celebrated cannabis convicts came home to California on Wednesday, walking off a United Airlines flight into the warm embrace of supporters — and a profoundly changed world.

Charles “Eddy” Lepp, a defiant 64-year-old Vietnam vet and ordained Rastafarian minister, was convicted on federal felony charges in 2007 for doing something that California now considers legal because of last month’s passage of Proposition 64: growing marijuana.

 

“I’m very honored. I’m very humbled. Thank you so much for caring,” Lepp told friends and family at San Francisco International Airport, tears streaming down his creased cheeks.

Then he vowed to fight for national legalization of cannabis and presidential pardons for first-time nonviolent drug offenders.

“Just because I went to federal prison doesn’t mean I got off the horse,” said Lepp, who will be on drug-monitored probation for five years. “It is still a long, long ride — and I’ll be there when it’s done.”


Read the full story and find more California cannabis news at TheCannifornian.com.

SOURCE LINK

Class-action suit challenges constitutionality of civil forfeiture

Fatima Hussein , IndyStar 10:17 p.m. EST November 27, 2016

 

Criminal defense attorney Jeff Cardella wears his beliefs on his sleeve, in the form of a pair of large, pastel yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” cuff links.

In between explanations of his libertarian principles, the 34-year-old Cardella  said his clients may not always be the most sympathetic individuals, but they deserve their rights, too.

Cardella filed a federal class-action lawsuit this month, on behalf of Leroy Washington, whose vehicle was taken by police in September. Washington was arrested and charged with resisting law enforcement, dealing in marijuana and obstruction of justice.

The suit argues that the Indiana law that allows police to seize property from alleged drug dealers and others, regardless of their guilt or innocence, violates criminal defendants’ constitutional right to due process.

It “allows the executive branch to seize and hold the vehicle of an owner for several months without affording the owner the right to a postseizure preforfeiture hearing to challenge the seizure,” according to the complaint.

It’s an argument that could, if it prevails in court, have a sweeping effect on law enforcement.

Criminal defense attorney Jeff Cardella stands in front

Criminal defense attorney Jeff Cardella stands in front of the Justice Statue at the Birch Bayh Federal Building and United States Courthouse on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. (Photo: Michelle Pemberton / IndyStar)

According to Justice Department data, Indiana State Police seized more than $2.2 million in personal property from Indiana residents in 2014. In Marion County, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department seized roughly $48,022 in personal property that year, according to the data.

The suit, limited specifically to vehicles in IMPD possession, does not seek monetary damages. Rather, Washington wants law enforcement to give back his vehicle, and the vehicles of countless individuals whose property was seized under Indiana’s civil forfeiture laws.

Cardella also seeks a reduction in the period of time law enforcement can hold property without stating a reason for seizing it.

“It’s a matter of protecting the constitutional rights of my clients,” said Cardella, a professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, who is vehemently opposed to “unjust government taking.”

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, Mayor Joe Hogsett and IMPD Police Chief Troy Riggs are named defendants in the complaint.

Curry told IndyStar that there are a variety of reasons why the law, as it exists today, is reasonable and constitutional.

“There are protections built in the law to protect innocent people,” Curry said. “An aggrieved party could ask for an emergency hearing to get their property back.”

However, experts and civil libertarians such as Cardella argue that civil forfeiture laws may be due for U.S. Supreme Court review.

Civil forfeiture around the country

Today, all states allow for forfeiture and there are more than 400 federal forfeiture statutes. Legal opinions written on the matter show an inconsistency as to what is and is not a violation of an individual’s property rights.

On a federal level, writing for a six-justice majority in Kaley v. United States, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan stated that a criminal defendant indicted by a grand jury has essentially no right to challenge the forfeiture of her assets, even if the defendant needs those very assets to pay lawyers to defend her at trial.

The dissenters in the case were strange bedfellows, ranging from traditionally conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and the more liberal Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

There is also room for interpretation at the state level.

In Indiana, former Chief Justice Randall Shepard, who wrote the Supreme Court ruling in another civil forfeiture case, said criticisms of asset seizure may be legitimate in some places. But instances vary from one jurisdiction to another. “There are places where it’s used more forcefully than most people would think is appropriate,” Shepard said.

Because the process is characterized as “civil forfeiture” rather than “criminal forfeiture,” he said, property can be taken regardless of the guilt or innocence of the accused party, which raises concerns.

“The relative ease of effecting such forfeiture and the disposition of the assets have become a matter of public note,” Shepard wrote.

Washington, through Cardella, argues that the length of time that police have to possess individuals’ property unduly burdens property owners.

Under Indiana law, the executive branch can hold a vehicle for up to six months. If the state decides to file a forfeiture claim against the vehicle within the first 180 days, the vehicle is held indefinitely until the case is concluded, which can often be several additional months, according to court documents. ​

“I think there is a widespread misunderstanding (that civil forfeiture) is not a unilateral act,” Curry told IndyStar. He explained that most of individuals whose property is seized are drug dealers and the like.

However, case law throughout the country suggests that Indiana’s laws — when it comes to the length of time that law enforcement can hold onto a vehicle — may be unconstitutional.

In a 2002 U.S. Court of Appeals opinion authored by Sotomayor, the court held that the Constitution demanded a speedy process to determine whether the government was likely to win the forfeiture claim.

In the case, Krimstock v. Kelly, three automobile owners challenged a New York City policy that allowed the city to seize motor vehicles from individuals accused of certain crimes involving motor vehicles and then to hold the vehicles — sometimes for years — in hopes of gaining title in civil forfeiture proceedings.

The U.S. Supreme Court has passed on making a substantive ruling on civil forfeiture matters, specifically pertaining to vehicles.

INDIANAPOLIS STAR

In some cases, police seize cars, homes — with no charges filed

Challenges coming from all sides

And Cardella’s isn’t the only suit challenging Indiana’s statute.

Sam Gedge, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian nonprofit based in Arlington, Va., filed a lawsuit in February (Jeana M. Horner, Dennis Jack Horner, et al. v. Terry R. Curry, Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, et al.) in Marion Superior Court charging the IMPD and prosecutors with violating the Indiana Constitution by not forwarding all civil forfeiture proceeds to the state’s common school fund.

Instead, the county is keeping 100 percent of the money in a “policing for profit” scheme, the institute said.

INDIANAPOLIS STAR

Indy civil forfeiture lawsuit will proceed

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department divvy up all the money received from civil forfeitures based on a 30/70 split, according to the lawsuit.

The case has yet to be decided.

Regarding Washington and Cardella’s lawsuit, Gedge said, “There are two fundamental problems which make it a serious assault on property rights: It allows law enforcement to seize property, that’s ripe for abuse. And what makes the process more pernicious, (is that law enforcement) is seizing a direct stake in property.”

Cardella, said while it’s not likely that the case will go to the Supreme Court, “I hope it does.”

Cardella, who lives in a rural area outside of Indianapolis, said he prizes his privacy and freedoms as an American.

Citing the Join, or Die political cartoon of a snake cut into pieces drawn by Benjamin Franklin in 1754, Cardella believes in the collective power of the people to unite against tyranny and unfairness.

He sees current civil forfeiture laws as the government’s way of trampling on citizens’ rights.

“This is the kind of case that made me want to go to law school.”

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Marijuana backers worry over AG Sessions

Marijuana backers worry over AG Sessions

Supporters of liberalizing marijuana laws worry their relationship with the federal government is about to get a lot more contentious as members of the incoming Donald Trump administration signal they will take a harder line on drug policy.

During the Obama administration, Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch agreed not to enforce some drug laws in states where marijuana is legal. That is likely to change under Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), President-elect Trump’s nominee to become attorney general.

Sessions is considered one of the staunchest pot opponents in the Senate, a hard-line conservative who once remarked that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “OK” until he learned members smoked marijuana. At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this year, Sessions said he wanted to send a message that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

“Sessions doesn’t appear to have a very enlightened view about the war on drugs, so that’s somewhat discouraging,” said Pete Holmes, Seattle’s city attorney and one of the driving forces behind Washington’s decision to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

“When you hear the kind of knee-jerk biases expressed by a guy who will be the nation’s top law enforcement official, it’s scary.”

Supporters of liberalizing marijuana laws have scored big wins in recent years, as voters in both red and blue states have loosened marijuana laws. After November’s elections, more than half of states will allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and eight states will allow marijuana for recreational purposes. 

The legal marijuana industry is becoming a billion-dollar boon for businesses and investors and a reliable new source of revenue for cash-poor cities and states. Earlier this month, voters in Massachusetts, Maine, California and Nevada joined Washington, Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

But marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, and pro-pot advocates have maintained an uneasy truce with the Justice Department under President Obama.

As attorney general, Sessions has a host of options for changing the federal government’s posture toward marijuana.

He could follow precedent set by Holder and Lynch and let states chart their own path, or, on the other extreme, he could tell governors that any state that issues a license to permit marijuana sales would stand in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. 

Sessions could revisit the Cole memo, the August 2013 memorandum written to federal prosecutors by then-deputy Attorney General James Cole that lays out the Justice Department’s priorities in prosecuting drug cases. The Cole memo allowed prosecutors to skip cases in states that institute regulatory and enforcement systems to oversee marijuana sales.

To legal pot opponents, the Cole memo — and other steps the Obama Justice Department has taken — is an abdication of responsibility to implement federal law.

“We want to see federal law enforced. I think a clear letter asking states to stand down until Congress changes the law makes the most sense, and I think governors in these states would gladly oblige,” said Kevin Sabet, who heads Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that opposes legalization.

The debate over marijuana legalization is a proxy, however imperfect, for the larger question of states’ rights.

Legal marijuana backers say they hope Sessions and Trump let the states experiment as the founders intended.

Sessions co-sponsored a bill introduced by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) last year that would have allowed states to challenge proposed federal rules under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which reserves rights for the states. That gives some legal marijuana backers at least a glimmer of hope that the incoming administration won’t crack the whip.

“Voters in 28 states have chosen programs that shift cannabis from the criminal market to highly regulated, tax-paying businesses. Sen. Sessions has long advocated for state sovereignty, and we look forward to working with him to ensure that states’ rights and voter choices on cannabis are respected,” said Aaron Smith, who heads the National Cannabis Industry Association in Denver. 

But opponents of marijuana liberalization say they see their own encouraging signs that the tide toward legalization may be turning.

“We’ve all wondered whether the Trump presidency would be ‘states rights’ or ‘law and order’ when it comes to drugs,” Sabet wrote in an email. “The Sessions pick makes many of us think it may be the latter.”

Even with Sessions overseeing the Justice Department, legal marijuana proponents are likely to continue pursuing liberalization through ballot measures and state legislatures. 

Marijuana legalization measures are already circulating in Ohio, Texas, Mississippi and Missouri. Legislatures in states like New Jersey, Vermont, Delaware and Rhode Island are likely to take up marijuana legalization bills in upcoming legislative sessions.

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Apparent overdose in Ohio McDonald’s parking lot captured on Facebook live

 

 

 

Alyssa Raymond, WKYC 12:30 PM. CST November 19, 2016

SANDUSKY – A desperate search for help from the man seen in a Facebook Live stream who overdosed in a McDonald’s Parking lot in Sandusky Thursday evening.

The video and the man’s story are a powerful reminder of the heroin and opioid epidemic here in Northeast Ohio. The problem is real and so we want to warn you that we wanted to show you a clear picture, which some of you may find hard to watch. 

But the man on the ground and his family say they are glad this video is out there.

This is real life and people are dying. 

There have been 30 overdoses in 30 days in Sandusky.  Four people died. 

The family of the man you see on the ground wants everyone to share this story and this video.  They want the truth about heroin out there.

In an eleven and a half minute Facebook Live stream, you see a 27-year-old man gasping for air after overdosing on heroin.  That man lying there, seemingly lifeless, is Michael Williams.  Like so many, he watched the video over and over again.

“I was fighting back the tears,” said Michael Williams.  “I got goosebumps and teary eyed.  Like I said, I am a strong individual, and it was hard to watch.”

His older sister, Amber Roesch, found it hard to watch too.

“Watch that video and share it because that is terrifying,” said Roesch.

She hopes users all over the country see what happened to her brother.

“I do not want to have to bury him,” said Roesch.  “He needs help now.”

Amber says a week ago he told her he needed help, and he said it again today.

“I definitely have a problem,” said Williams.  “If I could get the help right now, I would definitely go.  I need it I want it.”

Michael’s family expected the worse when they received that phone call.  But EMS and Narcan saved his life.  Amber says they tried to thank everyone including Eddie Wimbley, the man who recorded it all.

“I hope it is like a wakeup call,” said Wimbley.  “I just do not understand how people can do something knowing that they could possibly die.”

Michael says he started using heroin four months ago.  Before that, he drank a lot and took pain pills.  But when he lost his job, he turned to something cheaper.  Michael will tell you, he never thought it would happen to him, but it did.

You might be wondering why Williams can’t just go out and get the help he needs.  He says he recently lost his job so he does not have insurance and he was told a lot of places would not take Medicaid.  His family told me it costs around $800 a day for him to go to an inpatient facility, which they say that’s what he needs, but cannot afford.

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Petitioning to keep Kratom OUT of the Controlled Substance Act and Schedule I – We only have until December 1st!

kratom-plant

Recently I published an article with information pertaining to the rescheduling of Kratom by the U.S. Government via the DEA into Schedule I Status.

Fortunately the change was at least held off long enough for people to be able to make their comments on the subject.

The link to REGULATIONS.GOV where the DEA/Federal Government is accepting comments is only going to be active until December 1st so don’t forget to make your comment soon!

Additionally there is another petition to keep Kratom off the Controlled Substance list.  The link to that petition is here:

Do not place Kratom on the Controlled Substance List

Please sign this petition as well!

We are anti-prohibitionist’s!

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Legalize all narcotics now: War on drugs is war on people, says BMJ

Published time: 15 Nov, 2016

Doctors have an “ethical responsibility” to back the legalization of drugs, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has advised for the first time.

An editorial in the BMJ, the UK’s most widely-read medical journal, argues that laws against drug use have harmed people across the world, while stressing that drug addiction should be viewed as a health problem and police involvement must end.

The BMJ says the “war on drugs” has failed and “too often plays out as a war on the millions of people who use drugs.”

© Sukree Sukplang Free heroin given to drug addicts in Britain’s first supervised ‘fix rooms’

The call for reform reflects a shift in medical opinion. In June, Britain’s two leading health bodies, the Royal Society for Public Health and the Faculty of Public Health, called for the personal use of drugs to be decriminalized.

The group said criminalizing users deters them from seeking medical help and leads to long-term harm, such as exposure to hard drugs in prison, the breakup of families, and loss of employment.

Drug deaths in Britain are presently at an all-time high.

The BMJ says that the number of heroin fatalities has doubled in the past three years because of government policies. Official figures show that 579 people died from using heroin in 2012, compared with 1,201 in 2015.

The journal’s editor in chief, Fiona Godlee, says: “There is an imperative to investigate more effective alternatives to criminalisation of drug use and supply.”

© Steve Dipaola ‘War on drugs’ has failed, decriminalize now – UK health experts

She added that the government should “move cautiously towards regulated drug markets where possible” and doctors should “use their authority to lead calls for a pragmatic reform informed by science and ethics.”

Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg writes in the BMJ that the government could consider introducing a version of the Portuguese movement, where drug users are referred to treatment rather than being punished. Drug deaths have fallen in Portugal by 80 percent.

Last month, Glasgow councilors and police approved a plan to open the first “shooting gallery” or “fix room” in Britain, which will allow heroin addicts to inject safely under supervision.

The facilities aim to tackle drug-related deaths, the spread of infection among users, and the amount of needles and injecting equipment left in public areas.

There are about 90 similar injecting facilities operating worldwide, including in Australia, Germany, France, Holland, and Switzerland.

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Legal Marijuana Poses a Problem for Gun Buyers

Firearm purchases by drug users are prohibited by federal law; Alaska Republican is taken aback

By

Gary Fields and

Kristina Peterson

Updated Nov. 14, 2016 6:04 p.m. ET

37 COMMENTS

Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s husband and sons ordered her a new Benelli 12-gauge shotgun as a gift, but when the Alaska Republican—and enthusiastic duck hunter—went to pick it up, she was puzzled by a question on the federal background form she had to fill out.

The form asked if she used marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, both of which are legal in Alaska. If she answered yes, she would be unable to get the gun, because federal law prohibits anyone who uses illegal drugs from buying a firearm.

The senator doesn’t use pot, but she was taken aback by the notion that an activity that is legal in her state could block gun ownership. “I don’t like marijuana—I voted against legalization—but we passed it,” Ms. Murkowski said in an interview. “Now, you’ve got this conflict.”

The legal, recreational use of marijuana passed in four states on Tuesday with another three states passing it for medicinal use. Lance Rogers, manager of the cannabis law practice for law firm Greenspoon Marder, explains how that could influence efforts to legalize pot in other states.

The scope of that conflict just grew, as voters in eight states last week approved marijuana-related ballot initiatives. Now, 28 states and Washington D.C., allow marijuana use in some form, including eight that allow recreational use. Yet federal law still holds that anyone who uses marijuana, even medicinally, is doing so illegally and can’t buy a gun.

That is upsetting advocates for both gun owners and pot smokers, groups that don’t always find themselves on the same side of the cultural divide.

“This idea that you somehow waive your Second Amendment rights if you smoke marijuana” is wrong, said Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, which advocates marijuana legalization. “In particular, if you are using marijuana as a medicine, the idea that you have to choose between your health and the Second Amendment is offensive.”

“The Gun Control Act prohibitions are governed by the Controlled Substances Act, and marijuana remains an illegal, controlled substance under federal law,” said Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr.

Justice oversees the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which regulates licensed gun dealers; as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which runs background checks; and the Drug Enforcement Administration, which classifies drugs.

The marijuana-gun issue is one of the stranger outcomes of an unusual conflict between state laws, which increasingly allow marijuana use, and federal law, which continues to view pot-smoking as a crime.

At issue are the applications that would-be gun buyers must fill out when they visit licensed firearms dealers. Question 11(e) on ATF Form 4473 asks whether the purchaser is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana.

Under ATF guidance distributed to gun dealers, anyone who answers affirmatively can’t buy a firearm. If a dealer has reason to believe the would-be gun purchaser is a marijuana user, the ATF says it is the dealer’s responsibility to halt the sale of a firearm or ammunition.

“There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by State law,” the guidance says.

The issue can be tricky, especially for those who oppose drug use but support gun rights. Perhaps for that reason, gun-rights groups have been relatively quiet on the issue. The National Rifle Association, for example, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Officials at Gun Owners of America highlight the medicinal-marijuana issue. “GOA finds it very troubling that the Obama administration would use medical issues to ban law-abiding Americans from owning firearms,” said the group’s executive director, Erich Pratt.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled recently that banning gun sales to medical marijuana users doesn’t violate their Second Amendment rights. Marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law, the court noted, meaning it has “no currently accepted medical use in treatment.” The DEA reaffirmed that status just last August.

Ms. Murkowski wrote Attorney General Loretta Lynch in March urging her to reconsider the policy. “In my judgment, the disqualification of an entire class of marijuana users acting consistent with state law from possessing any firearm merits a review of federal legal policy,” she wrote.

Mr. Carr said the Justice Department responded to the senator’s letter in October. “It is not the department’s general practice to release publicly private communications with members of Congress.”

Ms. Murkowski said she understands the concerns about gun owners using marijuana, but said similar dangers could arise regarding alcohol. The conflict will likely intensify, she added, as more states approve marijuana use.

Marijuana advocates say legal users of the drug are discriminated against in other ways as well, from child custody and banking to student loans and public housing.

“Even if you’re a progressive who doesn’t like guns or a libertarian who doesn’t like public housing, you should still be outraged by the discrimination that people who use marijuana face,” said Tom Angell, founder of Marijuana Majority, which supports legalization.

Write to Gary Fields at gary.fields@wsj.com and Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@wsj.com

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It’s high time: If we can legalize marijuana, why can’t we end the misguided War on Drugs?

America’s wasted more than $1 trillion on demonizing drugs, many of which, like weed, have real medical benefits

Thor Benson

It's high time: If we can legalize marijuana, why can't we end the misguided War on Drugs?

On Election Day, my home state of California voted to legalize recreational cannabis, as did Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada. So the 2016 elections represented a substantial victory for the legalization movement, which has managed to pass referendums in seven states. With 57 percent of the country now supporting marijuana legalization, according to Pew, it seems likely there will be a nationwide victory sometime in the next few years. However, the War on Drugs is far from over.

Even if marijuana is legalized throughout the United States, there will still be numerous drugs in this country that remain very much illegal, and Americans will suffer because of this. Drugs like psilocybin mushrooms, LSD and MDMA have all demonstrated great potential when it comes to medical benefits, and shown little potential for harm. Still, the idea of legalizing those drugs any time soon seems as likely as Donald Trump hosting a quinceañera.

“LSD, psilocybin and MDMA, when combined with psychotherapy, have tremendous medical potential for treating psychiatric illnesses in people for whom other treatments have failed,” Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), told me in an email. “These psychedelic drugs need to be legalized, both through scientific drug development studies designed to obtain FDA approval for prescription use and through political means so that they are legalized for non-medical purposes like personal growth, spirituality, couples therapy, creativity, innovation, and celebratory experiences.”

Researchers in Switzerland found in 2014 that LSD can be helpful for patients dealing with end-of-life anxiety related to a terminal illness. The same sort of conclusion has been drawn for psilocybin. Psilocybin has also proven useful for treating severe depression. MDMA has shown great promise for treating PTSD, when used alongside psychotherapy. All of the drugs remain illegal in the United States, and there has been little effort to change that.

Let’s not stop there, though. The War on Drugs has cost America well over $1 trillion since it began under Richard Nixon. This war has been the main cause of our country’s mass incarceration problem. As it is often noted, we have 5 percent of the world’s population and roughly 25 percent of its prisoners. You cannot have a War on Drugs, you can only have a war on people. As Gore Vidal famously used to say of the War on Terror, you cannot have a war on a noun, as that is like saying you’re at war with dandruff. Too many can’t get jobs because of criminal records or lose decades of their lives over small offenses.

We must legalize all drugs. You cannot regulate a drug that is not legal, and you cannot stop addiction by throwing citizens in cages and putting in no effort to rehabilitate them. I am not arguing for the selling of meth and heroin at your local Target store, but I am arguing for a scenario where you are not put in cuffs for having one of those drugs in your pocket.

Portugal decriminalized all drugs nearly decades ago, and the country has not spiraled into hellfire and cannibalism. In fact, drug use decreased, drug-related deaths went down and the instances of HIV infections decreased severely. Of course, the country also initiated harm-reduction programs and invested in reducing addiction, but it appears decriminalizing the drugs didn’t turn every corner into a wanton cocaine party. Perhaps we could learn from this example.

Thanks to abuse of prescription painkillers, this country faces a widespread opioid crisis — and all those drugs are legal. While we divvied out legal pills that people didn’t really need to fill the pockets of greedheads, as Hunter S. Thompson called them, we locked up people using a different version of the same drugs. Many who got addicted to painkillers while on prescription turned to heroin when they couldn’t be prescribed them any more or couldn’t afford them. The whole system is toxic.

I’m calling for a true legalization movement. No longer should lives be ruined because of some minor drug experimentation or because a citizen who needed to make an extra buck sold some substances to a willing buyer. The legalization of marijuana will be a milestone, especially since it’s the most popular drug out there, but we cannot stop there. We should murder the War on Drugs and burn its cadaver. This “war” has been one of the biggest policy failures in American history, and we’ve known this for quite some time. Let’s grow up and move forward. We cannot call ourselves the land of the free when we represent the land of the detained.

More Thor Benson.

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