Look what FOX News did !

 

Published on Dec 6, 2012

Fox News created a news story with a test they designed to measure the accuracy of stoned drivers. I knew they would skew the truth of the test, so this video shows the undercover footage I took, to show how Fox News created this test to fail and reported false news to the state of Colorado on stoned drivers.

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As pot goes proper, a history of weed

 

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CANNABIS IN THE COLONIES

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp and puzzled over the best ways to process it for clothing and rope.

Indeed, cannabis has been grown in America since soon after the British arrived. In 1619 the Crown ordered the colonists at Jamestown to grow hemp to satisfy England’s incessant demand for maritime ropes, Wayne State University professor Ernest Abel wrote in "Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years."

Hemp became more important to the colonies as New England’s own shipping industry developed, and homespun hemp helped clothe American soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Some colonies offered farmers "bounties" for growing it.

"We have manufactured within our families the most necessary articles of cloathing," Jefferson said in "Notes on the State of Virginia." "Those of wool, flax and hemp are very coarse, unsightly, and unpleasant."

Jefferson went on to invent a device for processing hemp in 1815.

TASTE THE HASHISH

Books such as "The Arabian Nights" and Alexandre Dumas’ "The Count of Monte Cristo," with its voluptuous descriptions of hashish highs in the exotic Orient, helped spark a cannabis fad among intellectuals in the mid-19th century.

"But what changes occur!" one of Dumas’ characters tells an uninitiated acquaintance. "When you return to this mundane sphere from your visionary world, you would seem to leave a Neapolitan spring for a Lapland winter – to quit paradise for earth – heaven for hell! Taste the hashish, guest of mine – taste the hashish."

After the Civil War, with hospitals often overprescribing opiates for pain, many soldiers returned home hooked on harder drugs. Those addictions eventually became a public health concern. In 1906, Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act, requiring labeling of ingredients, and states began regulating opiates and other medicines – including cannabis.

MEXICAN FOLKLORE AND JAZZ CLUBS

By the turn of the 20th century, cannabis smoking remained little known in the United States – but that was changing, thanks largely to The Associated Press, says Isaac Campos, a Latin American history professor at the University of Cincinnati.

In the 1890s, the first English-language newspaper opened in Mexico and, through the wire service, tales of marijuana-induced violence that were common in Mexican papers began to appear north of the border – helping to shape public perceptions that would later form the basis of pot prohibition, Campos says.

By 1910, when the Mexican Revolution pushed immigrants north, articles in the New York Sun, Boston Daily Globe and other papers decried the "evils of ganjah smoking" and suggested that some use it "to key themselves up to the point of killing."

Pot-smoking spread through the 1920s and became especially popular with jazz musicians. Louis Armstrong, a lifelong fan and defender of the drug he called "gage," was arrested in California in 1930 and given a six-month suspended sentence for pot possession.

"It relaxes you, makes you forget all the bad things that happen to a Negro," he once said. In the 1950s, he urged legalization in a letter to President Dwight Eisenhower.

REEFER MADNESS, HEMP FOR VICTORY

After the repeal of alcohol prohibition in 1933, Harry Anslinger, who headed the federal Bureau of Narcotics, turned his attention to pot. He told of sensational crimes reportedly committed by marijuana addicts. "No one knows, when he places a marijuana cigarette to his lips, whether he will become a philosopher, a joyous reveler in a musical heaven, a mad insensate, a calm philosopher, or a murderer," he wrote in a 1937 magazine article called "Marijuana: Assassin of Youth."

The hysteria was captured in the propaganda films of the time – most famously, "Reefer Madness," which depicted young adults descending into violence and insanity after smoking marijuana. The movie found little audience upon its release in 1936 but was rediscovered by pot fans in the 1970s.

Congress banned marijuana with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Anslinger continued his campaign into the ’40s and ’50s, sometimes trying – without luck – to get jazz musicians to inform on each other. "Zoot suited hep cats, with their jive lingo and passion for swift, hot music, provide a fertile field for growth of the marijuana habit, narcotics agents have found here," began a 1943 Washington Post story about increasing pot use in the nation’s capital.

The Department of Agriculture promoted a different message. After Japanese troops cut off access to Asian fiber supplies during World War II, it released "Hemp For Victory," a propaganda film urging farmers to grow hemp and extolling its use in parachutes and rope for the war effort.

COUNTERCULTURE

As the conformity of the postwar era took hold, getting high on marijuana and other drugs emerged as a symbol of the counterculture, with Jack Kerouac and the rest of the Beat Generation singing pot’s praises. It also continued to be popular with actors and musicians. When actor Robert Mitchum was arrested on a marijuana charge in 1948, People magazine recounted, "The press nationwide branded him a dope fiend. Preachers railed against him from pulpits. Mothers warned their daughters to shun his films."

Congress responded to increasing drug use – especially heroin – with stiffer penalties in the ’50s. Anslinger began to hype what we now call the "gateway drug" theory: that marijuana had to be controlled because it would eventually lead its users to heroin.

Then came Vietnam. The widespread, open use of marijuana by hippies and war protesters from San Francisco to Woodstock finally exposed the falsity of the claims so many had made about marijuana leading to violence, says University of Virginia professor Richard Bonnie, a scholar of pot’s cultural status.

In 1972, Bonnie was the associate director of a commission appointed by President Richard Nixon to study marijuana. The commission said marijuana should be decriminalized and regulated. Nixon rejected that, but a dozen states in the ’70s went on to eliminate jail time as a punishment for pot arrests.

"JUST SAY NO"

The push to liberalize drug laws hit a wall by the late 1970s. Parents groups became concerned about data showing that more children were using drugs, and at a younger age. The religious right was emerging as a force in national politics. And the first "Cheech and Chong" movie, in 1978, didn’t do much to burnish pot’s image.

When she became first lady, Nancy Reagan quickly promoted the anti-drug cause. During a visit with schoolchildren in Oakland, Calif., as Reagan later recalled, "A little girl raised her hand and said, ‘Mrs. Reagan, what do you do if somebody offers you drugs?’ And I said, ‘Well, you just say no.’ And there it was born."

By 1988, more than 12,000 "Just Say No" clubs and school programs had been formed, according to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library. Between 1978 and 1987, the percentage of high school seniors reporting daily use of marijuana fell from 10 percent to 3 percent.

And marijuana use was so politically toxic that when Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992, he said he "didn’t inhale."

MEDS OF A DIFFERENT SORT

Marijuana has been used as medicine since ancient times, as described in Chinese, Indian and Roman texts, but U.S. drug laws in the latter part of the 20th century made no room for it. In the 1970s, many states passed symbolic laws calling for studies of marijuana’s efficacy as medicine, although virtually no studies ever took place because of the federal prohibition.

Nevertheless, doctors noted its ability to ease nausea and stimulate appetites of cancer and AIDS patients. And in 1996, California became the first state to allow the medical use of marijuana. Since then, 17 other states and the District of Columbia have followed.

In recent years, medical marijuana dispensaries – readily identifiable by the green crosses on their storefronts – have proliferated in many states, including Washington, Colorado and California. That’s prompted a backlash from some who suggest they are fronts for illicit drug dealing and that most of the people they serve aren’t really sick. The Justice Department has shut down some it deems the worst offenders.

LEGAL WEED AT LAST

On Nov. 6, Washington and Colorado pleased aging hippies everywhere – and shocked straights of all ages – by voting to become the first states to legalize the fun use of marijuana. Voters handily approved measures to decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce by adults over 21. Colorado’s measure also permits home-growing of up to six plants.

Both states are working to set up a regulatory scheme with licensed growers, processors and retail stores. Eventually, activists say, grown-ups will be able to walk into a store, buy some marijuana, and walk out with ganja in hand – but not before paying the taxman. The states expect to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for schools and other government functions.

But it’s not so simple. The regulatory schemes conflict with the federal government’s longstanding pot prohibition, according to many legal scholars. The Justice Department could sue to block those schemes from taking effect – but hasn’t said whether it will do so.

The bizarre journey of cannabis in America continues.

Johnson can be reached at https://twitter.com/GeneAPseattle

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/12/06/2433411/as-pot-goes-proper-a-history-of.html#storylink=cpy

$1.5B worth of marijuana confiscated in Appalachia

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By Roger Alford on December 05, 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies confiscated more than $1.5 billion worth of marijuana this year in central Appalachia, a region where widespread unemployment may be turning some people to pot farming.

Ed Shemelya, head of marijuana eradication in the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, released preliminary figures Tuesday showing that aerial spotters guided ground crews to more than 760,000 plants during the 2012 growing season in the mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

They also arrested more than 400 growers in the region.

Shemelya said nearly 430,000 of this year’s marijuana plants were found in Kentucky, a substantial increase for that state over 2011. The figures showed more than 192,000 plants were confiscated in West Virginia and more than 147,000 in Tennessee.

The overall haul was down from last year, when law enforcement eradicated 1.1 million plants valued at more than $2 billion. But the total for this year is expected to rise. The final tally will be available by mid-January.

The Appalachian region, a haven for moonshiners during Prohibition, has a near-perfect climate for marijuana cultivation, plus remote forests that help growers camouflage their crops.

Marijuana can be lucrative, at least for those who don’t get caught. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration estimates the street value of an average mature plant at $2,000.

Shemelya said counties where the most marijuana was eradicated tended to be the ones that are struggling economically.

"I think economic conditions in Appalachia drive the marijuana trade, and will continue to do so until such time that we start to see a recovery in Appalachia," he said.

Double-digit unemployment rates are common in coalfield counties in Kentucky. At last count, Bell, Harlan, Jackson, Knott, Leslie, Magoffin and Letcher counties had unemployment rates ranging from 13 percent to 15.5 percent.

The federal Office of Drug Control Policy concentrates resources in the Appalachian region because so much marijuana is grown there — often in small plots of fewer than 100 plants that can easily be tended by a single grower. Only California produces more of the clandestine crop than Appalachia.

"Our climate, hydrology, soil are ideal for cultivating cannabis," Shemelya said. "You can’t find a better mix for cultivating cannabis anywhere in the country."

CONTINUE READING…

“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!

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)

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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.

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"Overgrowing the Government"

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