Category Archives: Politics

What is ALEC?

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About ALEC

The American Legislative Exchange Council is America’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism.

ALEC’s activities, while legal,[14] received public scrutiny after being reported by liberal groups in 2011 and after news reports from outlets such as The New York Times and Bloomberg Businessweek described ALEC as an organization that gave corporate interests outsized influence.[8][9] Resulting public pressure led to a number of legislators and corporations withdrawing from the organization.


ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through the secretive meetings of the American Legislative Exchange Council, corporate lobbyists and state legislators vote as equals on ‘model bills’ to change our rights that often benefit the corporations’ bottom line at public expense. ALEC is a pay-to-play operation where corporations buy a seat and a vote on ‘task forces’ to advance their legislative wish lists and can get a tax break for donations, effectively passing these lobbying costs on to taxpayers.

Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations.

Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills.

ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.

 

 

ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy’s ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.

Corporate Board

For a more complete list of current and former ALEC formerly “Private Enterprise” Advisory Council (formerly “Private Enterprise” Board of Directors) members, see the “Private Enterprise” Board of Directors list. Advisory council corporations have included (members as of June 2014 in bold):[1][2][3]

 

 

 

 

Reference Links:

http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/What_is_ALEC%3F

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/ALEC_Corporations

https://www.alec.org/meeting/2017-spring-task-force-summit-charlotte-north-carolina/

https://www.alec.org/about/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Legislative_Exchange_Council

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“He told me he would have some respect for states’ right on these things,”

“He told me he would have some respect for states’ right on these things,” Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), told Politico. “And so I’ll be very unhappy if the federal government decides to go into Colorado and Washington and all of these places. And that’s not [what] my interpretation of my conversation with him was. That this wasn’t his intention.”

 

Elizabeth Warren demands Jeff Sessions respect state marijuana law

Posted 1:57 PM, March 4, 2017, by Tribune Media Wire

By Ese Olumhense

States need ‘immediate assurance’ from Sessions and Department of Justice

A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday, urging their former colleague not to undo a 2013 policy permitting states to set their own recreational marijuana regulations.

Led by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the push is a response to recent mixed messages from the Trump administration on whether it will enforce federal law which still bars recreational marijuana use, or leave the decision to implement the federal policy to the states.

Sessions, speaking to the National Association of Attorneys General on Tuesday, had said he was “dubious about marijuana.” Less than a week before, at a White House briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer cautioned that “greater enforcement” of the federal statute could come and later likened recreational pot use to the opioid addiction crisis happening across the country.

For some senators, however, the possibility of “greater enforcement” signals an intrusion into states’ rights in a way that is concerning.

“It is essential that states that have implemented any type of practical, effective marijuana policy receive immediate assurance from the [Department of Justice] that it will respect the ability of states to enforce thoughtful, sensible drug policies in ways that do not threaten the public’s health and safety,” the group wrote.

Though legal in some states, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug

Eight states and Washington, D.C. have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Twenty-eight states in total have comprehensive medical marijuana laws, and 17 have limited use or limited criminal defense laws for marijuana that is used for a medicinal purpose.

Federal law, however, still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, one with “no currently accepted medical use.” As recently as August, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) refused to change that designation — meaning the federal government is still armed with the authority to arrest, charge, and prosecute pot growers, buyers, or sellers in states where marijuana is legal.

Sessions has been a fierce opponent of marijuana for any use and his confirmation prompted fears that the DOJ would follow the example set by former Attorney General John Ashcroft, who served under George W. Bush, and target dispensaries in places where recreational pot use is legal.

Sessions did little to quell those fears on Tuesday, slamming the argument made by pot proponents that marijuana has medical benefits.

“Give me a break,” Sessions said, referring to a Washington Post article on marijuana as a treatment for opiate addiction. “This is the kind of argument that’s been made out there, just almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana, or even its benefits. I doubt that’s true. Maybe science will prove I’m wrong, but at this point in time you and I have a responsibility to use our best judgment.”

Senators’ concerns of overreach may be overblown

Though the senators’ letter was celebrated by some constituents on social media, the concern may be overblown.

Politico reported Thursday that behind closed doors prior to his confirmation Sessions assured some GOP senators that Department of Justice will not be implementing “greater enforcement” measures for recreational marijuana. The attorney general’s previous comments had bothered some conservative officials, who felt that a decision to crack down on legal pot would be an unwelcome overreach.

“He told me he would have some respect for states’ right on these things,” Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), told Politico. “And so I’ll be very unhappy if the federal government decides to go into Colorado and Washington and all of these places. And that’s not [what] my interpretation of my conversation with him was. That this wasn’t his intention.”

Upending the Obama-era legal pot directive would not only be unpopular with some senators, but unfavorable to the majority of Americans. It would also be difficult, as the DEA only has about 4,600 employees, which would likely need to coordinate big, costly operations in states in which law enforcement has no laws against marijuana to enforce. A federal crackdown in the courts might also eliminate many of the regulations and oversight set by states which permit the use of marijuana.

On the flip side, making marijuana legal for recreational use nationwide would generate millions in tax revenue, advocates claim, and allow for more oversight into a growing industry. Just one year after becoming the first state to allow the purchase and sale of marijuana, Colorado raked in $53 million in revenue

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The Congressional Cannabis Caucus

 

Pot Presser

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., left, and Dana Rohrabacher, D-Calif., two of the four U.S. congressmen who have launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. Photo by Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call,Inc

 

With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to promote sensible cannabis policy reform and to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

The official establishment of a Congressional Cannabis Caucus represents yet another step forward toward ultimately reforming cannabis policy at the federal level. The creation of this caucus is yet another manifestation that our political power is growing — even inside the beltway.

Click here to email your Congressional Representative and urge them to join the Cannabis Caucus today.

NORML has been in this fight for over 47 years, representing the position that responsible adults who choose to consume marijuana should not be be persecuted or stigmatized. Throughout the country, our chapters are organizing to advocate for state level reforms. NORML represents a growing community of individuals who are coming together and working toward the mutual goals of building a more just and verdant society. 

The end of marijuana prohibition will not come overnight. In fact, the forces of prohibition remain strong and the misinformation campaign that has spanned from Reefer Madness to D.A.R.E. is deeply entrenched in the psyches of lawmakers and voters alike. But just as we have for decades, we will not be deterred. 

In order for our state and federal laws to be more reflective of the cold truths of reality and science rather than hysteria and racism, we must continue to educate our legislators and neighbors alike. Having a coalition of lawmakers in Washington, DC who will go on the record in support of advocating for cannabis freedom is something we haven’t had before, but it is an event that is long overdue. 

So let’s keep building. 

CONTINUE TO NORML

Send a message to your member of Congress now and tell them to join the Cannabis Caucus and support sanity in marijuana policy.

NORML and the NORML Foundation: 1100 H Street NW, Suite 830, Washington DC, 20005
Tel: (202) 483-5500 • Fax: (202) 483-0057 • Email: norml@norml.org

 

RELATED:

Pro-Pot Lawmakers Launch a Congressional Cannabis Caucus

Tom Huddleston, Jr.

12:10 AM Central

Four members of the U.S. congress are banding together to protect the growing marijuana industry.

A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus in a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday afternoon. Republican congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (California) and Don Young (Alaska) joined Democrats Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) and Jared Polis (Colorado) to launch the new group. They are dedicated to developing policy reforms that can bridge the gap that currently exists between federal laws banning marijuana and the laws in an ever-growing number of states that have legalized it for medical or recreational purposes.

“We’re stepping forward together to say we’ve got to make major changes in our country’s attitude toward cannabis,” Rep. Rohrabacher said at the start of the press conference. “And if we do, many people are going to live better lives, it’s going to be better for our country, better for people, and it makes economic sense at a time when every penny must count for government.”

Various polls show that a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana in some form, and a strong showing in November’s elections pushed the number of states that have legalized medical cannabis to 28, while another eight have voted for recreational legalization. (Notably, each of the four congressmen forming the Cannabis Caucus represent districts in states that have legalized both medical and recreational pot.)

In recent years, under President Barack Obama, federal law enforcement mostly left individual states alone to enact and enforce their own marijuana legislation. Three years ago, Congress passed a bill that prohibited the Justice Department from using federal funds to target cannabis operations that comply with local laws.

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Jeff Sessions confirmed to be the next attorney general

By Ashley Killough, Tom LoBianco and Ted Barrett, CNN

Updated 10:25 PM ET, Wed February 8, 2017

Washington (CNN)The Senate voted Wednesday to confirm Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama as the next attorney general, surviving a vocal push by Democrats to derail his nomination.

The 52-47 vote was mostly along party lines, though one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin, joined the Republicans to back their Alabama colleague.

Who voted for and against Sessions

    The final vote for Sessions — one of Trump’s closest advisers and his earliest supporter in the Senate — came after 30 hours of debate from Democrats and a stunning fight between liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Senate Republicans which ended in her being forced to sit down after she was accused of impugning Sessions.

    Sessions said he would resign from his office 11:59 p.m. Wednesday and the White House is scheduled to swear him in Thursday morning.

    “It was a special night,” Sessions told reporters on Capitol Hill after his confirmation. “I appreciate the friendship from my colleagues — even those who, many of them who didn’t feel able to vote for me. They were cordial, and so we continue to have good relations and will continue to do the best I can.”

    The fight over Sessions nomination spurred some of the most jarring, and at times personal attacks, rooted in allegations that Sessions was a racist — claims the Alabama senator and his supporters have fiercely denied. Even early in the nomination process, one of Sessions’ colleagues, Cory Booker, became the first sitting senator to testify against another sitting senator during his confirmation hearing.

    Shortly before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to sing the praises of Sessions, after Democrats spent hours criticizing him.

    “He’s just a likable guy, one of the most humble and most considerate people you’ll ever meet,” McConnell said. “He’s a true Southern gentleman.”

    While some left-leaning groups issued statements promising to stand up and continue raising awareness about their disagreements with Sessions, Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe questioned how effective they could be in trying to keep up the fight.

    “What are they going to do? He’s the attorney general. Where does the fight start? Where’s the ammunition?” He said to reporters.

    In the debate Tuesday evening, after Republicans already blocked a Senate filibuster, Warren reignited that debate by reading from a 1986 letter Coretta Scott King sent opposing Sessions for a federal judgeship.

    “‘Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,'” Warren read from King’s letter. McConnell accused Warren of impugning Sessions on the Senate floor — a violation of Senate rules — and after a series of procedural votes, she was forced to sit down and stop debating.

    Warren’s censure and subsequent reaction continued to largely overshadow the Sessions fight in the hours before his vote, but the Massachusetts Democrat told CNN’s Manu Raju said Sessions, whom she served with in the chamber, is just the latest example of a poor Cabinet choice.

    “We may not have the votes to stop him,” she said, “but we sure as hell need to make it clear to the Republicans and to the American people exactly who Donald Trump is putting in charge of our government.”

    Sessions was ultimately blocked from a federal judgeship and carried that battle scar into Wednesday’s final confirmation battle.

    Democrats not done yet on nominees

    Democrats are expected to repeat the same 30-hour debate plan for Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Price and could easily drag the fight over Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin into the weekend.

    Tuesday, Betsy DeVos was confirmed, 51-50, in a battle that sparked impassioned protests and the flooding of Senate switchboards by angry Democrats and liberal activists.

    The tactics have yet to work in actually defeating any of Trump’s Cabinet picks, but they have fired up a base of Democratic and liberal activists irate over a series of Trump actions, not least of which was picking a Republican mega-donor in DeVos to run the Department of Education.

    “When you get millions of calls and demonstrations and a nominee is exposed for being who they are, it’s going to have a profound and positive effect, even if she gains office. So we’re very happy with the results and we’re going to continue them,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday.

    But Republicans have chafed at what they call “historic obstruction” and have argued that Trump needs his team in place.

    “This is the slowest time for a new Cabinet to be up and running since George Washington. This level of obstruction at the beginning of an administration is really record-setting in a very unfortunate way. It’s really time for our friends on the other side to get over the election, let this administration get up and get running,” McConnell said Tuesday.

    The only nominee who appears to be in any trouble at this point is Labor secretary pick Andrew Puzder, who is embroiled in controversy following news that he hired an undocumented worker to clean his house and was forced to pay back taxes. A series of Republicans on the Senate panel tasked with vetting him declined to say Tuesday whether they still supported Puzder.

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    Obama says marijuana should be treated like ‘cigarettes or alcohol’

    By Christopher Ingraham November 30 at 12:33 PM

     

    In an “exit interview” with Rolling Stone magazine, President Obama said that marijuana use should be treated as a public-health issue similar to tobacco or alcohol and called the current patchwork of state and federal laws regarding the drug “untenable.”

    “Look, I’ve been very clear about my belief that we should try to discourage substance abuse,” Obama said. “And I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.”

    Obama has made comments to this effect before. In a 2014 interview with the New Yorker magazine he said that marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.” More recently, he told TV host Bill Maher, “I think we’re going to have to have a more serious conversation about how we are treating marijuana and our drug laws generally.”

    In the Rolling Stone interview published this week, Obama also reiterated his long-standing position that changing federal marijuana laws is not something the president can do unilaterally. “Typically how these classifications are changed are not done by presidential edict,” he said, “but are done either legislatively or through the DEA. As you might imagine, the DEA, whose job it is historically to enforce drug laws, is not always going to be on the cutting edge about these issues.”

    The Drug Enforcement Administration recently turned down a petition to lessen federal restrictions on marijuana, citing the drug’s lack of “accepted medical use” and its “high potential for abuse.” Congress could resolve the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws by amending the federal Controlled Substances Act, but it has declined to do so.

    Marijuana legalization advocates have been frustrated at what they see as Obama’s unwillingness to use his bully pulpit to advocate for their cause. “It would have been very helpful if he had taken more concrete positive action on this issue before it was almost time to vacate the Oval Office,” Tom Angell of the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority said in a statement. “That this president didn’t apply pressure on the DEA to reschedule marijuana this year will likely go down as one of the biggest disappointments of the Obama era.”

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    There is little disagreement on either side of the legalization debate that personal marijuana use should be treated primarily as a public-health issue. Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), the nation’s leading anti-legalization group, says that it “seeks to establish a rational policy” for marijuana use and possession that “no longer relies only on the criminal justice system to address people whose only crime is smoking or possessing a small amount of marijuana.”

    But there is vehement disagreement over what such a “rational policy” would look like. SAM advocates for a policy of decriminalization of marijuana use, but not full-scale commercial legalization. Groups like the Marijuana Policy Project, on the other hand, are pushing for the creation of Colorado-style commercial marketplaces where it is completely legal to buy, sell and consume marijuana.

    Obama has been hesitant throughout his second term to push for one approach or the other. His Justice Department has created a policy explicitly allowing states to legalize marijuana as they see fit, but he has made no effort to alter the strict federal prohibition on marijuana that complicates any effort to create a legal nationwide marijuana industry.

    Pro-legalization advocates are worried that the current Justice Department policy of noninterference on marijuana legalization could be reversed by an incoming Trump administration stocked with harsh critics of such legalization. Trump himself has said that the matter should be left up to the states.

    In the Rolling Stone interview, Obama hinted that he may be more vocal on the issue once he leaves office. “I will have the opportunity as a private citizen to describe where I think we need to go” on marijuana, he said.

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    A prayer for Election Eve 2016

     

    mj feasibility study

     

    May a “Higher Power” be with Us,
    On this, the Eve of Our Election,
    We must pick a Leader for the USA,
    “In God We Trust”!

    Let us not forget how hard we fought to get here,
    And the Men, Women and Children who suffered and died,
    So that we may have the Freedom,
    To choose Our way from here.

    It is not only Our Right,
    It is Our Patriotic Duty,
    To fight to keep the Constitution alive,
    Lest we loose Lady Liberty’s bright light,
    Lest we forever lose Our right to a free life.

    Lord, be with us as we make our decisions,
    Keep us strong and focused,
    And let us not be pushed into a Political trap,
    Lest we forever lose Our right to a free life.

    And Lord, be with our Leaders as they must make decisions that could kill us,
    Make them see clearly Lord,
    Not to take away the food and medicine that sustains us,
    Beseech them Lord, to free the Cannabis!

    Lest we forever lose Our right to a free life.

    reoeal

    Drug Policy Action Congressional Voter Guide

     

    Image result for Drug Policy Action logo

     

    U.S. Reps Graded on Seven Bills Affecting Marijuana, Hemp, and New Psychoactive Substances
    Congressional Support for Drug Policy Reform Surges; Reps Earning Perfect Grade Doubles in Two Years

    Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–October 25, 2016.  Today, Drug Policy Action released its 2016 Congressional Voter Guide which grades members of Congress on how they voted on seven key drug policy reform votes in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2015 and 2016 (there were no drug policy votes on the Senate floor that could be scored).

    A record number of U.S. House Representatives earned a perfect score (“A” grade) – more than double the number of Representatives who earned a perfect score from Drug Policy Action in 2014. More than half of all U.S. Representatives (177 Democrats and 64 Republicans) earned a “C” or better.

    CONTINUE TO ARTICLE SOURCE….

    CONTINUE TO DPA VOTER GUIDE WEBSITE!

    Clinton Gave Thumbs Down to Legal Marijuana, Leak Shows

    By Tom Angell on October 10th, 2016

     

    Image result for marijuana and hillary clinton

    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton spoke out against legalizing marijuana in a paid speech, hacked emails from her campaign show.

    During an on-stage Q & A session with Xerox’s chairman and CEO in March 2014, Clinton used Wall Street terminology to express her opposition to ending cannabis prohibition “in all senses of the word”:

    URSULA BURNS: So long means thumbs up, short means thumbs down; or long means I support, short means I don’t. I’m going to start with — I’m going to give you about ten long-shorts.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Even if you could make money on a short, you can’t answer short.

    URSULA BURNS: You can answer short, but you got to be careful about letting anybody else know that. They will bet against you. So legalization of pot?

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Short in all senses of the word.

    The excerpt comes from an internal Clinton campaign memo highlighting potentially problematic passages from her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, General Electric, Deutsche Bank and other major corporations.

    Other excerpts from the 80-page document, published by Wikileaks after a hack on Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email account, show the former U.S. secretary of state admitting she is “far removed” from the struggles of the middle class, arguing that politicians need to have separate positions on issues in public and in private and supporting “open trade and open borders.”

    Over the course of the past year, the Clinton campaign forcefully refused calls to release the speech transcripts from her Democratic primary opponent, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who supports legalization and has introduced legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition.

    That the campaign flagged the candidate’s opposition to legalization as a potential problem demonstrates a growing understanding by political operatives that marijuana law reform is now a mainstream issue, one which is supported by a majority of Americans and a supermajority of Democratic primary voters.

    While Clinton has made no secret in public appearances that she isn’t ready to endorse full legalization, she has usually framed her position as taking a wait-and-see approach, wanting to give laws like those in Colorado and other states a chance to work before she makes up her mind about ending prohibition.

    The leaked Xerox excerpt, in contrast, positions her as strongly opposed to legalization.

    But the remarks were made two-and-a-half years ago, just two months after legal marijuana sales began in Colorado, so it is possible that Clinton’s personal view of legalization has legitimately softened in the interim.

    During the course of her presidential campaign, Clinton has highlighted support for letting states set their own cannabis policies without federal interference and has pledged to reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act if elected.

    But advocates have pushed the candidate to go even further by offering a personal endorsement for the policy of legalization, arguing that doing so could help Clinton win back support from wayward millennial voters who are supporting Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson or Jill Stein of the Green Party, both of whom have made support for ending cannabis prohibition centerpieces of their campaigns.

    The newly-leaked documents showing Clinton’s strong opposition to legalization in a private appearance, combined with comments from the candidate’s daughter Chelsea last month implying that marijuana use can lead to death, could present an added sense of urgency for Clinton to evolve on the question of ending prohibition prior to Election Day.

    To see what else Hillary Clinton has said about cannabis law reform, check out Marijuana.com’s comprehensive guide to the candidates.

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    A Libertarian View of Cannabis and Drugs

    by Keith PrestonPolice State/Civil Liberties, Therapeutic State, Uncategorized • Tags: war on drugs

    By Sean Gabb

    Libertarian Alliance

    (Written early in the 21st century for a Roger Scruton publication)

    The libertarian position on drugs is simply stated. People should have the right to do with themselves as they please. This necessarily includes the right to take any drugs they please – for recreation or for medication. No one else automatically has the right to interfere with such choices, unless they can be shown to involve force or fraud or some attack on the whole community that threatens its dissolution.

    Taking drugs in consenting company is not an act of the first kind – it causes no one else the sort of harm against which they can legitimately demand protection. Nor is it an act of the second kind. We are told endlessly that drugs are a danger to social stability – that they lead to crime and degradation and so forth. There is no evidence for this claim.

    The British past provides a compelling example. Until 1920, drug use was uncontrolled. Between 1827 and 1859, British opium consumption rose from 17,000lb to 61,000lb. Workmen mixed it in their beer. Gladstone took it in his coffee before speaking. Scott wrote The Bride of Lammermoor under its influence. Dickens and Wilkie Collins were both heavy users. Cannabis and heroin were openly on sale. There was no social collapse. There were few deaths from taking drugs. Most deaths involving opium were individual accidents, and even these were negligible – excluding suicides, 104 in 1868 and thereafter to 1901 an annual average of 95. Hardly anyone even recognised that a problem might exist.

    The claim that drugs are bad for a society falls. The opposite is true. Criminalisation is bad. All the ills now blamed on drugs are more truly blamed on the illegality of drugs.

    When drugs are illegal, only criminals will supply them. And when criminals are allowed to dominate an entire market, they will be able – indeed required – to form extended, permanent structures of criminality that could never otherwise exist. They will then make drugs both expensive and dirty.

    Drugs will be expensive because bribes, transport inefficiencies, rewards of special risk, and so forth, all raise the costs of bringing drugs to market. Therefore much of the begging, prostitution and street crime that inconvenience Western cities.

    Drugs will be dirty because illegal markets lack the usual safeguards of quality. When a can of beer is stamped “8 per cent alcohol by volume”, this does not mean anything between 0.5 and 30 per cent. Nor will caustic soda be used to make it fizzy. Brewers have too much to lose by poisoning or defrauding customers. Drug dealers can afford to be less particular.

    Therefore frequent overdosing. Therefore poisonous additives. Therefore, the frequent transmission of aids even today by the sharing of dirty needles.

    Moving from the costs of the crime resulting from illegality, we come to the costs of enforcement. These also are massive.

    In the first place, the Police need to become a virtual Gestapo if they are to try enforcing laws that create no victim willing to complain and help in any investigation. They need powers to stop and search people and to search private homes that would never be necessary to stop things like burglary and murder. They need to get involved in entrapment schemes. They are exposed to offers of bribes frequently too large to be turned away. In one way or another, the War on Drugs leads to the corruption of every enforcement agency sent into battle.

    And that War cannot be won. The British Customs and Excise have no land border to worry about. They can track every boat and aeroplane that enters British territory. They have far wider powers of investigation than the regular Police. Even so, they themselves estimate that they stop fewer than three per cent of the drugs smuggled into the United Kingdom every year.

    In the second place, we have the war on money laundering. Since it is impossible to stop the import and sale of the drugs, attention has switched in recent years to stopping the profits of the trade from being enjoyed. The idea now is to confiscate these profits and use them for further investigations. However, before the money can be taken, it must be found. This requires surveillance and control over all financial transactions. Because any one of us might be a drug dealer trying to launder dirty money, we must all provide endless documentation when we open bank accounts. We are not allowed to pay in large amounts of cash without facing an inquisition from the bank clerks. Our banking details are open to official inspection virtually on demand.

    Just as with drugs, the war on money laundering is also a war on freedom. In this case, it frees the authorities from the requirements of due process. The confiscations of alleged drug money are increasingly made without any pretence of a trial. In America, civil asset forfeiture, has become legalised theft of the plainest kind. In Britain, we are moving towards a similar breach of Common Law rights.

    Moreover, the fact that our financial transactions can now be monitored gives the authorities an entirely new power over us. Its means of exercise are not yet in place. But we are moving fast into a world where all our purchases can be stored in a database. We can try to avoid this surveillance by using cash. But there are experiments in both Britain and America to see how anonymous cash can be replaced by cards that leave a record of every transaction.

    Therefore, on the grounds both of individual freedom and of social utility, there is no argument whatever for continuing with the present War on Drugs. It is a War that benefits only criminals and a few drug enforcement agencies, and that harms every one of the rest of us, whether or not we take drugs.

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    9 States to Vote Soon on Expanding Legal Access to Marijuana

    SAN FRANCISCO — Sep 28, 2016, 2:35 AM ET

    Marijuana National Vote

    From California, with its counterculture heritage, to the fishing ports and mill towns of Maine, millions of Americans in nine states have a chance to vote Nov. 8 on expanding legal access to marijuana. Collectively, the ballot measures amount to the closest the U.S. has come to a national referendum on the drug.

    Five states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — will consider legalizing the recreational use of pot. Three others — Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota — will decide whether to permit marijuana for medical purposes. Montana will weigh whether to ease restrictions on an existing medical marijuana law.

    As the most populous state, with a reputation for trend-setting, California is attracting the most attention — and money — in an intensifying debate over Proposition 64.

    Silicon Valley tycoons and deep-pocketed donors with connections to the legal medical marijuana industry are among the top financial backers of a pro-pot campaign that has raised almost $17 million. Opponents have raised slightly more than $2 million, including a $1.4 million contribution from retired Pennsylvania art professor Julie Schauer.

    Advocates on both sides say passage in California would likely ignite legalization movements in other states, especially when the tax dollars start adding up. California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated the state could collect up to $1 billion a year in marijuana taxes.

    "As California goes, so goes the nation," said University of California, Berkeley political science professor Alan Ross.

    If "yes" votes prevail across the country, about 75 million people accounting for more than 23 percent of the U.S. population would live in states where recreational pot is legal. The jurisdictions where that’s already the case — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state and the District of Columbia — have about 18 million residents, or 5.6 percent of the population. Twenty-five states allow medical marijuana.

    According to national polls, a solid majority of Americans support legalization. Gallup’s latest survey gauged support at 58 percent, up from 12 percent from when the question was first posed in 1969. Gallup says 13 percent of U.S. adults report using marijuana at present, nearly double the percentage who reported using pot in 2013.

    California voters rejected an attempt to legalize recreational marijuana in 2010 after campaign leaders struggled to raise money and support for a four-page ballot measure hastily written by the owner of a small medicinal marijuana store.

    This time, the 62-page ballot measure was crafted by political professionals and has the backing of many elected officials, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is running for governor in 2018. Current Gov. Jerry Brown says he’s close to announcing his position.

    The measure would allow people 21 and older to legally possess up to an ounce of weed and grow six marijuana plants at home. Pot sales would be subject to various tax rates that would be deposited into the state’s Marijuana Tax Fund. Most of that money would be spent on substance-abuse education and treatment. Some would be used to repair environmental damage caused by illegal growers.

    Opponents argue that the measure will do more harm than good by opening a marijuana market dominated by small farmers to corporate interests and encouraging children to use the drug through pot-laced sweets like gummy bears, cookies and brownies.

    The proposal "favors the interests of wealthy corporations over the good of the everyday consumer, adopting policies that work against public health," said Kevin Sabet, co-founder of the California-based advocacy group Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

    Napster founder and early Facebook investor Sean Parker has contributed more than $3 million to the legalization effort, which has also attracted sizable contributions from an organization backed by billionaire George Soros and another backed by Weedmaps, which rates pot stores throughout the state.

    "It’s a huge deal and it’s long overdue," said Steven DeAngelo, owner of one of the nation’s largest medicinal marijuana dispensaries and a Proposition 64 supporter.

    In most of the states with marijuana ballot measures, polls have shown the "yes" side leading. Sabet believes opponents of legalization would attract more support if they could narrow a large fundraising gap and spread their cautionary messages. He does not buy the other side’s argument that nationwide legalization will come sooner or later.

    "Repeating that this is inevitable, and repeating they are so excited, is part of their narrative to makes folks like us feel helpless," he said.

    Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project, a leading pro-legalization group, said his side has a chance to win in most of the nine states, but some losses will not derail the movement.

    "Even if a measure doesn’t pass, support will grow," he said, citing failed ballot measures in Oregon and Colorado that preceded the victories for legalization.

    "Most people believe marijuana should be legal. It’s a question of whether opponents do a good job of scaring them out of doing it now," Tvert added. "We might see people opt to wait a couple more years."

    All five states voting on recreational marijuana have seen intense debate over the effect of legalization in the states that have already taken that step.

    Opponents of the ballot measures make an array of claims, contending, for example, that Colorado’s legalization of pot has coincided with an increase in crime in Denver and fueled a jump in the number of traffic fatalities linked to marijuana use.

    However, an analysis by three academic experts, published this month by the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, asserted that the impact of legalization has been minimal.

    "The data so far provide little support for the strong claims about legalization made by either opponents or supporters," the analysis said.

    Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron, one of the co-authors of the study, predicted Californians would approve Proposition 64, but he was less certain of the outcome in his home state of Massachusetts, where the Republican governor, Charlie Baker, and the Democratic mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, have teamed up to oppose legalization.

    Miron said it’s difficult to predict when legalization might get support in Congress or surge to approval in a majority of states.

    "I’m not sure if this November will get us to the tipping point. It may be two or four more years," he said. "Certain things seem impossible, until all of a sudden they are possible, and they happen fast."

    ———

    Crary reported from New York.

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