Tag Archives: marijuana

Arizona court: Hashish not included in medical marijuana law

Image result for hashish

An Arizona court has ruled that medical marijuana patients can still face arrest when in possession of hashish because it isn’t mentioned or included by name in a voter-approved pot initiative passed in 2010.

The Arizona Court of Appeals handed down the decision Tuesday in the case of Rodney Jones, a cardholder in the state’s medical marijuana program who was arrested in March 2013 at a Prescott hotel and indicted on a count each of cannabis possession and drug paraphernalia possession.

Police said at the time they had found Jones had 0.05 ounces of hashish in a jar, according to the appeals court ruling. After spending a year in jail, Jones waived his right to a jury trial in the case. He was later convicted and sentenced to more than two years in prison with credit for time served.

In his appeal, Jones had sought to have his conviction and sentence overturned by the court. But two of the judges on the three-member appeals court panel rejected his request, saying that the state’s medical marijuana act approved in 2010 “is silent” on hashish.

“If the drafters wanted to immunize the possession of hashish they should have said so,” the ruling said. “We cannot conclude that Arizona voters intended to do so.”

Hashish is a resin extracted from cannabis plants, and it is often used in oils and other medical marijuana products that are a part of the nation’s burgeoning, multibillion pot market.

The ruling had found that hashish is recognized under state law as a narcotic distinct from marijuana by the Legislature because of its potency levels.

Jones’ attorney did not immediately return a call requesting comment Wednesday.

Sarah Mayhew, who represented the Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice in supporting Jones in the lawsuit, said the parties would appeal the case to the Arizona Supreme Court.

“There are several things in this ruling that are just flat-out wrong,” said Mayhew, also an attorney in the Pima County Public Defender’s office.

She said the court had sought to apply marijuana and cannabis definitions in the state’s criminal code to the language drafted by medical marijuana advocates in the 2010 ballot initiative.

Voters had approved the medical marijuana act in order to provide broad protections to people seeking to access pot for medicinal reasons, she said.

By taking this step, the court narrowed the intent of the voters, Mayhew argued.

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Canadians Who Smoke Legal Weed Could Be Banned From U.S. For Life

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By Jason Lemon On 6/26/18

Marijuana will be legal for recreational use in Canada on October 17, but despite legalization, Canadians who admit using cannabis could be banned permanently from entering the U.S.

“It’s basically black and white—if you admit to a U.S. border officer at a U.S. port of entry that you’ve smoked marijuana in the past, whether it’s in Canada or the U.S., you will be barred entry for life to the United States,”

immigration lawyer Len Saunders told CTV News on Tuesday.

Saunders said he believes U.S. border agents will begin asking the question more frequently once Canada’s new marijuana legislation is implemented later this year. However, Canadians also have the right not to answer the question, he said. Although the questioned individual may be denied entry to the U.S. after refusing to answer, it will only be for that day and not a permanent ban, Saunders explained.

Prior to Ottawa’s decision to legalize recreational cannabis last week, conservative Canadian lawmakers met with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. According to reports, Sessions warned the elected officials that Canadians could face problems at the U.S. border if legalization moved forward.

Despite the fact that nine states and the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana—and 29 states have legalized it for medical purposes—cannabis remains completely illegal under U.S. federal law. While the administration of former President Barack Obama implemented guidelines against prosecuting marijuana businesses that were legal on the state level, Sessions has taken a tougher stance.

The Canadian government has warned citizens on its website that legal cannabis use could still cause problems when traveling abroad. “Cannabis is illegal in most countries,” the website said. “Previous use of cannabis, or any other substance prohibited by local law, could result in a traveler being denied entry to their destination country.”

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Banned Canadians could still apply for temporary waivers to visit the U.S., according to Saunders. But their visa-free travel access would forever be revoked under current immigration laws.

Commenting on Canada’s decision to legalize marijuana, Hannah Hetzer, senior international policy manager at Drug Policy Alliance, told Newsweek it would be bizarre for the U.S. federal government to take a strong stand against the move.

“It would be very hypocritical for the U.S. federal government to come out staunchly against Canada’s legalization and be incredibly vocal about it,” Hetzer said, “because it puts the U.S. government in an uncomfortable position, where it’s still illegal on the federal level [but legal for recreation and medical use in many states].”

Beyond the legal disconnect in the U.S., the majority of Americans have tried marijuana at some point in their lives, according to polls. A 2017 poll by Marist and Yahoo News found that 52 percent of Americans over the age of 18 have used cannabis in the past. Additionally, 44 percent admitted that they continue to use the drug. Comparatively, statistics in Canada show that only 49.4 percent of men and 35.8 percent of women admit to having tried pot.

Just over 60 percent of Americans support legalized recreational marijuana, according to a January poll by Pew Research. Likewise, there is growing bipartisan political support for decriminalization and legalization.

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Russia Says Canada Weed Legalization Is a ‘Breach’ of International Legal Obligations

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By Jason Lemon On 6/25/18

Russia has come out strongly against Canada’s decision to legalize recreational marijuana, calling the move a “breach” of its “international legal obligations.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that a number of international conventions, to which Canada is a signatory, require privy nations to restrict the use of cannabis and other drugs to only medical and scientific purposes.

“We expect Canada’s partners in the G-7 to respond to its ‘high-handedness’ because this alliance has repeatedly declared its adherence to the domination of international law in relations between states,” the ministry said in an official statement.

Last week, Canada became the second nation in the world and the first member of the wealthy G-7 to pass legislation to legalize recreational marijuana. The U.S. neighbor plans to implement the new regulations on October 17. Uruguay was the first nation to legalize recreational marijuana, with legislation passed in 2013.

Canada has previously endorsed the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention of Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 U.N. Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. The U.S. is also a prominent signatory of the conventions. Despite the legalization of recreational marijuana in nine states and the nation’s capital, the U.S. claims to be abiding by the conventions as cannabis remains completely illegal at the federal level.

Although President Barack Obama’s administration instructed federal law enforcement not to interfere in lawful marijuana businesses in states where it has been legalized, President Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has urged federal agents to do the opposite. Opposition to legal marijuana at the federal level has also caused tensions with national banks and lawful cannabis businesses in the U.S.

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Top U.S. banks have refused to do business with Uruguayan banks that manage money from legal cannabis sales. U.S. banks have cited federal regulations against drug trafficking and money laundering. Sessions also reportedly warned Canadian lawmakers prior to Ottawa’s vote, saying that legalization could cause problems for Canadian citizens when entering the U.S.

Although it remains unclear whether banks will take a similar stance when it comes to Canada, Hannah Hetzer, senior international policy manager at Drug Policy Alliance, believes the U.S. neighbor’s prominence could shelter it from a similar fallout.

“It really remains to be seen if U.S. banks will do the same for Canadian banks,” Hetzer told Newsweek. “We might just see that U.S. banks decide to say nothing in this case,” she said but added that “it could create an obstacle” if banks decide to take a stance against Ottawa’s new policy.

Hetzer also argued that citing federal anti-trafficking and money laundering laws to block business surrounding legal marijuana is counterintuitive. She explained that legalization and regulation work precisely to combat and undermine the criminal market.

The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment when asked by Newsweek about how it would respond to Canada’s decision. The U.S. Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

When it comes to Russia’s condemnation, Hetzer said she believes this will add up to little more than critical statements. “Canada is aware that there will be international opposition from some countries,” as well as that its move could “violate international drug control treaties,” Hetzer said. “But like Uruguay, Canada has said they are [legalizing marijuana] for the health and safety of their citizens,” she pointed out, explaining that the preamble to the international drug control treaty says that the health and welfare of mankind must be taken into consideration.

With just over 60 percent of Americans supporting legalized recreational marijuana, according to a January poll by Pew Research, and growing bipartisan support for decriminalization and legalization, some have suggested that the U.S. could potentially move to legalize at the federal level as well.

“Having a huge legal market in a mature, democratic neighbor is going to be a very significant signal to some of the holdouts that we have currently,” Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who leads the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, told Mother Jones prior to Ottawa’s decision. “It’s another step—not toward just legalization but also normalizing it.”

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GENUINE U.S. MARIJUANA PARTY T-SHIRTS From Cave City Kentucky!

GENUINE U.S. MARIJUANA PARTY T-SHIRTS !

On April 20th, 2018 I received the following email from “Stripe”.

“Thanks for using Stripe.While we hate to give you anything less than a great experience, it does seem that your business is in violation of the Stripe Services Agreement, section A.7.b (“Prohibited Businesses and Activities”). Specifically, we are unable to accept payments for marijuana dispensaries and related businesses as mentioned here: https://stripe.com/prohibited-businesses.  These regulations are firm, so we sadly have no flexibility with them.”

As a result of the word “Marijuana”, which frequently appears on this website, as well as Cannabis, Hemp and a few other subjects that are not deemed appropriate for banking services, I have not been able to secure any local (U.S. based) “Merchant services”.

This means that I have no way to process online payments because my “Bank” (which shall remain unnamed) cannot accept a flow of money from a “Marijuana based website” either!

I was advised by someone I spoke to at a “merchant service company” that I would probably have to use an “offshore” bank account, which I will not do.

Therefore, for the foreseeable future, until the U.S. Government does something to open up the banking system to people like myself, I will only be able to process a sale via Cash, Check or Money Order.

This is very unfair to small businesses which are dependent upon the banking system!  However, those who are large Corporate entities seem to be managing to keep their businesses flowing…How, I am not sure?  I suppose they all have “offshore accounts”??

If you would like to purchase a “U.S. Marijuana Party” T-SHIRT, they are still for SALE!

The sad news is that the only way that I can complete the purchase for you is if you can send $25.00 (TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS AND NO/CENTS) IN CHECK OR MONEY ORDER MADE OUT TO:

SHEREE KRIDER LLC

and mail to:  70 Mammoth Cave Loop, Cave City, Kentucky  42127.

If you have questions please email to shereekrider@usmjparty.com, or text me at 270-834-7332.

I would appreciate any sales I can get as I collect NO income for the websites and other work I do online and it helps to pay for the websites and other costs.

Please do allow four weeks for delivery just in case I have to have some printed up!

Thank You!

Today I introduced my bill to allow cannabis use in public housing…

Today I introduced my bill to allow cannabis use in public housing in DC and states where it’s legal for medical and/or recreational use. I signed the bill with Sondra Battle, a DC resident who lives in Section 8 housing and is prescribed cannabis to treat her fibromyalgia. pic.twitter.com/iyvUzpPMvA

— Eleanor Holmes Norton (@EleanorNorton) June 19, 2018

Congressional Bill Would Allow Marijuana Use in Public Housing

Published June 19, 2018  By  Kyle Jaeger

The signing ceremony took place with two members of the pro-legalization group DCMJ as well as Sondra Battle, a D.C. resident who uses cannabis to treat her fibromyalgia, according to a press release.

“I thank Sondra Battle and our DCMJ advocates for joining me to mark the introduction of what I am calling the ‘Sondra Battle Cannabis Fair Use Act,’” Norton said. “Residents like Sondra should not fear eviction from federally-assisted housing simply for using cannabis to treat their medical conditions.”

“Our bill recognized today’s realities and proven needs. Individuals who live in states where medical and/or recreational marijuana is legal, but live in federally-assisted housing, should have the same access to treatment as their neighbors.”

CONTINUE READING…

See the full text of Norton’s new bill below:

Marijuana Public Housing Bill by MarijuanaMoment on Scribd

Canada just became the 2nd country in the world to legalize marijuana

Canada marijuana

Jeremy Berke  25 m

  • Canada just became the second country in the world to legalize marijuana nationwide. Legal sales are set to begin October 17.
  • The bill passed Canada’s Senate 52-29 on Tuesday evening.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during his 2015 campaign to legalize marijuana.
  • Marijuana stocks surged on the news on Wednesday morning.

Canada is the second country in the world to legalize marijuana, paving the way for recreational sales throughout the country.

Canada’s Upper House of Parliament on Tuesday evening approved the revised bill 52-29, making Canada the first G7 country to legalize marijuana. Uruguay did so in 2013.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that legalization would officially take effect on October 17, citing provincial requests for more time to develop retail infrastructure.

“It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana — and for criminals to reap the profits,” Trudeau said in a tweet on Tuesday evening. “Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate.”

What the bill does

Bill C-45, known as the Cannabis Act, legalizes marijuana but leaves it up to each province to decide how to sell it. Some provinces, like Ontario, are planning on provincially run outlets, while others, like Alberta, will open up marijuana retail to the private sector.

The federal government set a minimum age of 18 to purchase marijuana, though some provinces have indicated they will raise the age to 19, mirroring liquor-purchase laws. The bill makes the distribution and sale of marijuana to minors an offense.

marijuanaIt’s Canada’s moment. REUTERS/Andres Stapff

Recreational sales are expected to begin in eight to 12 weeks, according to Reuters.

The bill was part of a promise that Trudeau’s Liberal Party made during the 2015 campaign to keep marijuana out of young people’s hands and move the illicit market into a regulated framework.

“I’m feeling just great,” Sen. Tony Dean, who sponsored the bill in Canada’s Senate, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “We’ve just witnessed a historic vote for Canada. The end of 90 years of prohibition. Transformative social policy, I think. A brave move on the part of the government.”

Activists applauded the move

Cannabis activists cheered the move on Wednesday morning.

“Canada should be applauded for taking bold and decisive steps towards ending the failed prohibition of marijuana,” Hannah Hetzer, the senior international policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. “Canada’s progress will galvanize support for drug policy reforms in the US and all around the world.”

Erik Altieri, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, echoed Hetzer’s sentiment.

“We applaud Canada for showing federal legislators in the United States what can be accomplished with true leadership and dedication to sound public policy,” Altieri said in a statement.

Marijuana stocks are surging

Marijuana stocks surged on the news on Wednesday morning.

The Canadian Marijuana Index, an aggregate measurement of all publicly listed marijuana stocks in Canada, was up 3.3% as of 10:45 a.m. The overall North American index, which includes US stocks, was up 2.3%.

Golden Leaf Holdings, a cannabis company listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange, was the biggest gainer, with the stock surging 6.8%.

Legalized marijuana is expected to be a boon for Canada’s economy. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, one of the country’s largest banks, predicts that Canada’s legal marijuana market will be a $6.5 billion industry by 2020.

Several Canadian marijuana firms, including Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth Corporation, are seeing a wave of investor excitement around marijuana legalization. Marijuana companies have been capitalizing on that liquidity to go on acquisition sprees.

Read more cannabis industry coverage:

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The House Just Passed a Bill That Could Make Kratom Illegal

Kratom Pills

By Peter Hesson June 18, 2018

Kratom, an herbal drug used by chronic pain patients and people with opioid use disorder, has been on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s chopping block for years, but it could become illegal a lot sooner than expected. On Friday, 239 members of the US House of Representatives voted to pass H.R.2851, the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act — SITSA Act for short — which is intended to help fight the growing opioid epidemic in the US. Unfortunately, it could also have the side effect of giving the Department of Justice broad authority to make kratom illegal.

The SITSA Act, which has not yet been approved by the Senate, would expand the Controlled Substances Act to include one additional category of drugs: Schedule A. Currently, the CSA includes five categories — or “Schedules” — of drugs, numbered I through V. Schedule I contains illegal drugs like heroin and LSD, and Schedules II through V contain drugs that could be abused but are available with prescriptions (for instance, oxycodone is Schedule II and Ambien is Schedule IV).

See also: Kratom Could Be Illegal Before It Gets a Chance to Solve the Opioid Crisis

Under the SITSA Act, the Justice Department could quickly place any analogues of existing drugs into Schedule A. An analogue is any drug that has a similar chemical structure and an “actual or predicted” effect that’s similar to a drug that’s already scheduled. That’s what worries advocates of kratom, an herbal drug that is not currently illegal but has opioid properties.

On its face, the bill is focused squarely on synthetic opioids that are fueling the opioid crisis. The only specific drugs it lists are 13 chemical analogues of fentanyl, the powerful opioid that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention blames for a large portion of the recent increases in opioid overdose deaths. If passed, the SITSA Act will give the Justice Department broad authority to quickly assign these fentanyl varieties a similar legal status as fentanyl, making it possible to swiftly prosecute anyone distributing substances that aren’t actually illegal.

But as concerned critics have pointed out, the SITSA Act also opens the door for an even broader interpretation of the law, in which the Justice Department could quickly add other chemicals to Schedule A without much oversight. Compounds can remain for up to five years in that category until there’s sufficient research to back up a permanent scheduling decision.

This is what kratom advocates are specifically worried about. In February, the US Food and Drug Administration warned that kratom is chemically similar to opioids and could therefore fuel the opioid crisis. As Inverse has reported, experts question the FDA’s assessment of the danger posed by kratom. Nevertheless, if the SITSA Act passes, that FDA report could be all the evidence the DEA needs to place kratom into Schedule A. At that point, the Justice Department would have five years to place it into a more permanent category.

The #SITSA Act (HR 2851) attempts to address the very real problem of synthetic #opioid overdoses in the U.S., but we believe that its methods are misguided.
Read our letter to House reps to learn more about our opposition: https://t.co/5txjpifMNF pic.twitter.com/38D7oa7dM9

— FAMM Foundation (@FAMMFoundation) June 14, 2018

In an open letter to Congress published on June 14, Human Rights Watch, the ACLU, the NAACP, and over a dozen other organizations expressed opposition to the bill, arguing that it would disproportionately punish drug users rather than manufacturers or distributors. “The legislation attempts to address the very real problem of synthetic opioid overdoses in the United States, but we believe that its methods are misguided,” the letter reads. “Instead of punishing people who use drugs and low-level dealers, legislation should focus on expanding treatment opportunities and targeting the international drug trade.”

Additionally, the SITSA Act includes language outlining criminal penalties (fines and prison time) rather than treatment or rehabilitation. So, while the prime motivation behind the SITSA Act may be public health, it could do more harm than good by further criminalizing drug addiction instead of helping expand treatment resources for people who need them.

And as far as kratom goes, if the rules of the SITSA Act eventually make it illegal, then researchers will have a much harder time investigating whether it could actually be a safer alternative to opioids.

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Marijuana Banking Measure Rejected By Congressional Committee

Tom Angell , Contributor

A powerful congressional committee voted on Wednesday to reject a measure to protect banks that open accounts for marijuana businesses from being punished by federal financial regulators. Supporters then scrambled to craft a more limited measure focused on medical cannabis businesses, but it was ultimately withdrawn before a vote could take place.

PHOTO: TOM SYDOW

PHOTO: TOM SYDOW

The broader measure would have prevented the U.S. Department of Treasury from taking any action to “penalize a financial institution solely because the institution provides financial services to an entity that is a manufacturer, producer, or a person that participates in any business or organized activity that involves handling marijuana or marijuana products” in accordance with state or local law.

After a lengthy and impassioned debate during which at least 19 lawmakers spoke, it was defeated on a voice vote by the House Appropriations Committee.

Despite the fact that a growing number of states are legalizing marijuana for recreational or medical use, many financial institutions have remained reluctant to work with cannabis businesses for fear of running afoul of money laundering laws under ongoing federal prohibition.

As a result, many marijuana growers, processors and retailers operate on a cash-only basis, which can make them targets for robberies.

The issue is “not whether or not one approves of marijuana,” said Rep. David Joyce (R-OH), the chief sponsor of both banking amendments, before the vote. “This is about public safety and financial transparency.”

Either rider, if it were successfully attached to legislation to fund the Treasury Department for Fiscal Year 2019, would have provided added assurance to banks that federal officials won’t close them down for working with the cannabis industry.

A similar measure was approved by the full House of Representatives in 2014 by a margin of 231 to 192, but was not included in final spending legislation that year, and congressional Republicans have since blocked floor votes on most cannabis measures.

In the lead up to the Wednesday banking vote, several advocates and Capitol Hill staffers expressed confidence in interviews that the measure would pass. But a number of likely Republican supporters were absent during the debate, and others who are sympathetic to marijuana law reform expressed varying concerns about the specific proposal. As a result, supporters did not force a roll call tally following the defeat on a voice voice.

Joyce then went back to the drawing board and crafted the narrower medical-focused amendment, which he hoped would find enough support to pass. But after a brief debate on the second proposal, Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) asked Joyce three times to withdraw the amendment instead of forcing a vote. The Ohio congressman twice pressed ahead and said he wanted the committee to weigh in on the measure, only to give in at the last moment and pull the measure.

By seeking to adopt the language in the appropriations panel, before the overall spending bill heads to the Rules Committee, which is where marijuana amendments have gone to die for the past several years, advocates were attempting to circumvent an effective blockade that has prevented progress on cannabis reform in the House.

In a similar move last month, the Appropriations Committee approved a measure to protect state medical cannabis laws from Justice Department interference following several instances of that measure being blocked by the Rules Committee.

In a separate sign of the mainstreaming of marijuana politics on the other side of the Capitol, on Wednesday the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies included that far-reaching medical marijuana language in the initial version of the Justice Department funding bill as introduced by Republican leaders, meaning that no vote or amendment will even be necessary to advance the provision in that chamber this year.

The Senate panel is scheduled to take up its version of the Treasury Department funding bill, which is called the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, next week.

The Fraternal Order of Police, which opposes legalization, sent a letter this week urging House lawmakers to reject the cannabis banking move.

Letter to @USRepRodney & @NitaLowey advising them of our strong opposition to any amendment that would allow the marijuana industry full access to the American banking system. Drug cartels will be given the opportunity to launder money under the guise of marijuana normalization pic.twitter.com/y5a0gHPIUi

— National FOP (@GLFOP) June 12, 2018

PLEASE CONTINUE READING…

To acknowledge that the War on Drugs has been a failed policy…

Untitled

Text: H.Res.933 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

There is one version of the bill.

Text available as:
Shown Here:
Introduced in House (06/12/2018)

115th CONGRESS
2d Session

H. RES. 933

To acknowledge that the War on Drugs has been a failed policy in achieving the goal of reducing drug use, and for the House of Representatives to apologize to the individuals and communities that were victimized by this policy.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

June 12, 2018

Mrs. Watson Coleman (for herself, Ms. Bass, Mrs. Beatty, Mr. Blumenauer, Ms. Clarke of New York, Mr. Cleaver, Ms. Fudge, Ms. Gabbard, Mr. Hastings, Ms. Jackson Lee, Ms. Jayapal, Mr. Jeffries, Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, Ms. Kelly of Illinois, Mr. Khanna, Mrs. Lawrence, Mr. Lawson of Florida, Ms. Lee, Mr. Lewis of Georgia, Mr. Ted Lieu of California, Mr. McEachin, Ms. Moore, Ms. Norton, Mr. Payne, Mr. Pocan, Mr. David Scott of Georgia, Mr. Serrano, and Mr. Thompson of Mississippi) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


RESOLUTION

To acknowledge that the War on Drugs has been a failed policy in achieving the goal of reducing drug use, and for the House of Representatives to apologize to the individuals and communities that were victimized by this policy.

    Whereas, until the early 1900s, most of today’s illegal substances were not regulated by the Federal Government, and there was no “War on Drugs”;

    Whereas, in the 1930s, the first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry J. Anslinger, who was a strong opponent to marijuana, pushed a heavy propaganda campaign to demonize marijuana use, stating that it caused people to be violent and criminals;

    Whereas much of this propaganda was racially charged against the Mexican-American community, for example as Commissioner Anslinger testified to the 75th Congress in 1937 that, “I wish I could show you what a small marijuana cigarette can do to one of our degenerate Spanish speaking residents. That’s why our problem is so great; the greatest percentage of our population is composed of Spanish-speaking persons, most of who are low mentally, because of social and racial conditions”;

    Whereas, in 1937, the 75th Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act which criminalized marijuana, and laws passed during the following years were introduced to institute mandatory minimum sentences for those who bought, sold, and used the drug;

    Whereas over the course of the next few decades, studies conducted by scientists did not find any connection between the use of marijuana and violent behaviors, and in 1973 the Shafer Commission Report on Marijuana and Drugs concluded that, “The Commission believes that the contemporary American drug problem has emerged in part from our institutional response to drug use. … We have failed to weave policy into the fabric of social institutions.”;

    Whereas despite mounting evidence, the Federal Government’s approach to the abuse of drugs continued to be one of criminalizing drug abuse instead of treatment;

    Whereas, on June 18, 1971, President Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs, stating that drug abuse is “public enemy number one”;

    Whereas the Federal Government’s attitude toward drug use as a criminal problem only intensified with stricter drug laws, and the Government put little to no focus on treating those impacted;

    Whereas the War on Drugs was admitted to be a move by the Nixon administration to attack his political opponents, and in 1994, President Richard Nixon’s aide John Ehrlichman admitted in an interview that the War on Drugs was a tool to arrest and manipulate Blacks and liberals stating, “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”;

    Whereas in 1986, the 99th Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act establishing, for the first time, mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted of having specific amounts of cocaine;

    Whereas, in 1989, drug czar William Bennett announced a $7,900,000,000 plan to combat the drug epidemic, but 70 percent of that amount went to hiring more law enforcement personnel and building prisons;

    Whereas that money could have been better used to help provide treatment to the victims of those on heroin, cocaine, and other drugs;

    Whereas, in 1986, the 99th Congress increased the sentences for dealing and possessing crack cocaine, and in a few years, enhanced law enforcement presence loomed over and aggressively policed communities of color;

    Whereas to this day, these laws greatly target communities of color, dramatically increasing the incarceration rate of these communities and imposing a stigma that people of color are the main users of drugs, despite White Americans using at a similar if not greater rate;

    Whereas Professor of Sociology at the University of California Santa Cruz, Craig Reinarman, and Professor of Sociology at Queens College, Harry G. Levine, studied the use of crack cocaine in the United States and later published in their book, entitled “Crack in America”, which stated that, “In the spring of 1986, American politicians and news media began an extraordinary anti-drug frenzy that ran until 1992. Newspapers, magazines and television networks regularly carried lurid stories about a new ‘epidemic’ or ‘plague’ of drug use, especially of crack cocaine. They said this ‘epidemic’ was spreading rapidly from cities to the suburbs and was destroying American society. It is certainly true that the United States has real health and social problems that result from illegal and legal drug use. But it is certainly also true that the period from 1986 through 1992 was characterized by anti-drug extremism.”;

    Whereas the use of opiates such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, heroin, and fentanyl has skyrocketed since the late 1990s and the amount of prescription opioids legally sold nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, despite no change in the amount of pain that Americans reported;

    Whereas the National Center for Health Statistics suggested that there were more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016, and that a majority of these deaths come from synthetic opioids like fentanyl;

    Whereas these drug overdoses have become the leading cause of accidental death, surpassing car accidents;

    Whereas, on March 29, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive order to establish the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, and in a preliminary report the Commission has recommended that the opioid crisis, among other things, should be “declared a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act”;

    Whereas many scholars, journalists, and civic leaders have addressed the strong contrast to the urgency of helping those impacted by opioids compared to those who were impacted by crack cocaine and other substances during the War on Drugs;

    Whereas the terminology used to describe those impacted by the opioid epidemic is “victims”, and the terminology used to describe those impacted by the War on Drugs is “criminals”;

    Whereas if the concept of equity was considered, meaning that individuals fairly receive what they need in order to create a level playing field, the same funds and support going to help those impacted by opioids will also go to help those impacted by heroin, cocaine, and the other drugs classified in the War on Drugs;

    Whereas as stated by Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson, “White brothers and sisters have been medicalized in terms of their trauma and addiction. Black and brown people have been criminalized for their trauma and addiction.”;

    Whereas, on October 26, 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, which allows access to the Public Health Emergency Fund at the Department of Health and Human Services, which has only tens of thousands of dollars; and

    Whereas there has been no formal action by the United States Government to treat the epidemic of drug abuse and the War on Drugs as a health issue: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that—

(1) the War on Drugs has failed to achieve its goal of reducing drug use;

(2) the War on Drugs has created conditions in the United States that has allowed the opioid epidemic to be as deadly as it is;

(3) the War on Drugs is a racially charged policy that has led to the mass incarceration of millions of Americans, disproportionately affecting communities of color, stigmatized these communities as the cause of the drug problem, and has economically, politically, and socially crippled these communities for decades;

(4) in order to help those impacted, drug use has to be seen as a health issue and not a criminal issue;

(5) the House of Representatives should seek to hereby reconsider all laws associated and consistent with the War on Drugs, and prioritizes effective, evidence-based health policy solutions for individuals and communities suffering from addiction;

(6) the House of Representatives should enact civil remedies and restorative justice for any individual who has been incarcerated or otherwise punished through the Federal criminal justice system due to laws associated and consistent with the War on Drugs;

(7) Congress affirms that all individuals suffering from the disease of addiction be treated humanely, with equity and respect as all people struggling with any other health matter; and

(8) the House of Representatives hereby apologizes to the individuals and communities harmed through the War on Drugs and acknowledges that actions by this body have demonized and crim­i­nal­ized addiction for more than 80 years instead of accurately treating it as a health concern.

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The NJWeedman is dead. Long live … NJRepealBailReformMan?

The NJWeedman is dead. Long live … NJRepealBailReformMan? (JEFF EDELSTEIN COLUMN)

By Jeff Edelstein, The Trentonian

Posted: 05/29/18, 1:58 PM EDT

The NJWeedman is dead. Long live the NJBailReformMan. Or the NJRepealBailReformMan. Or the NJEighthAmendmentMan.

Or something like that. You get the idea.

“The war on weed is won. It’s over,” Ed Forchion (formerly NJWeedman) told me yesterday. “The government hasn’t quite quit yet, and things still need to be tweaked, but it’s over. Now I have a new beef; I want to see bail reform repealed in New Jersey.”

Very short, very quick, very incomplete look at bail reform in New Jersey: Strange bedfellows, from former Gov. Chris Christie to the ACLU, worked together to pretty much end cash bail in the state. Only people deemed dangerous, based on a points system, would be held in jail prior to trial. All others would be released.

Seemed pretty good on the surface.

Except not so much, according to Forchion, who just spent 447 days in prison without the possibility of bail because he was deemed a “threat” to the informant who was set to testify against him in a marijuana case. (Not so BTW: Forchion was found not guilty of witness tampering last week.) (Also this: Forchion has a federal civil rights lawsuit winding its way through the courts right now, and when that’s all said and done, don’t be surprised if Forchion ends up with a large cash settlement.) (And there’s about 14.3 zillion other things Forchion has going on, from wanting to reopen his Trenton restaurant to waiting to see if Trenton is going to pursue other cases against him, but that’s all backburner stuff for him because …)

“All a cop has to say now is you’re a danger to the community and the judge can detain you,” Forchion said. “I knew a guy in jail who was caught for stealing toothbrushes from a dollar store. He was deemed a danger to his community. Guys there because of drunken incidents, danger to the community. It just goes on and on and on.”

And you know who he said isn’t stuck in no-bail limbo? Heroin users and kids with guns.

“For the heroin addicts it’s like Grand Central Station,” he said. “They come in, spend three days puking everywhere, then get released. And kids with guns … I guess possession of a gun is not considered a violent act, so these kids, gangbangers, are being released after cops find a MAC-10 under their seat.”

In Forchion’s eyes, the state of New Jersey completely “eviscerated” the 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which plainly states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” What it means, courtesy of ConstitutionCenter.org: “(P)rohibits the federal government from imposing unduly harsh penalties on criminal defendants, either as the price for obtaining pretrial release or as punishment for crime after conviction.”

Forchion is stone convinced New Jersey’s bail reform flies directly in the face of the Constitution.

“It gave the prosecutor’s office tools to imprison you for two years. It’s the return of the dungeon act. It was a good attempt, but sometimes when I look at lefties, they’re just too gullible, too soft, and don’t look at the opposite side to see how something can be turned into evil,” Forchion said. “Alex Shalom from the ACLU, he’s good guy, a left-leaning nice guy who was part of the negotiations. He got taken advantage of. This is the ACLU’s ugly baby, but there’s no way they will admit that. Listen: You give people an inch and they’ll take a mile. The prosecutors offices in this state are taking miles now. The state of New Jersey destroyed the 8th Amendment. Now anyone can get thrown in the dungeon. There is no violence on my jacket at all. And if they were able to do this to me, someone who is so outspoken and has the ear of the media, it can happen to anyone.”

So Forchion, not one to sit on the sidelines, is planning on jumping right into the bail reform fight.

“I’m dedicating myself to upending bail reform,” he said.

He’s working closely with Dog the Bounty Hunter (really) who’s also vehemently opposed to the new law. Dog and his wife Beth will be helping Forchion set up speaking engagements across the nation. Bail bondsman are afraid New Jersey’s law could be replicated elsewhere.

“Of course, bail bondsman have a different stake in the game here,” Forchion noted. “But an enemy of an enemy is a friend.”

Forchion admits the old system had negatives, but “at least it was there. Bail was an option.”

Now in New Jersey, a law meant to keep people out of jail while they await trial is — at least according to Forchion — being used to keep people in jail.

“They can just detain you, throw you in the dungeon, and that’s it,” he said. “So I have new beef. Bail reform. Not sure when it will be, but my next protest will be outside the ACLU’s offices in Newark.”

So yeah. After nearly 20 years, The NJWeedman is dead, long live … well, we’re still working on the name. NJRepealBailReformMan is just a mouthful.

Jeff Edelstein is a columnist for The Trentonian. He can be reached at jedelstein@trentonian.com, facebook.com/jeffreyedelstein and @jeffedelstein on Twitter.

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