Archive for the ‘Obama’ category

National Lawyers Guild Calls For Ending Cannabis Criminalization

June 26th, 2013

The criminalization and prohibition of cannabis has been an abject failure and should be ended as a federal public policy, according to the findings of a new report issued this week by the National Lawyers Guild.

States the report:

“The NLG believes that ending the prohibition of cannabis would offer multiple benefits. Legalization would help transform the marijuana industry … into a stable regulated one. It would significantly reduce infringements on civil liberties and lower the arrest and incarceration rates of people of color. Changing the criminal status of marijuana would lower the costs of law enforcement and protect people from entering the criminal justice system. Finally, legalization would remove restrictions currently impeding [the] study of medical marijuana and allow more users to acquire treatment if necessary. Each of these goals is consistent with sound economic, criminal justice, and public health policies.”

The authors of the report recommend rescheduling cannabis from its present Schedule I illicit classification, revisiting the United State’s involvement in international drug control treaties, and ending the practice of civil asset forfeiture by law enforcement agencies. The report also call for the passage of additional statewide legislative and initiative efforts depenalizing marijuana use and possession.

Full text of the report, “High Crimes: Strategies to Further Marijuana Legalization Initiatives,” appears online here.

U.S. Mayors Approve Marijuana Resolution: End the Federal Government Crackdown

June 25th, 2013

The U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously passed a resolution on Monday, June 24 criticizing the failure of marijuana prohibition and demanding that the federal government respect states’ and cities’ marijuana laws.

The resolution, “In Support of States Setting Their Own Marijuana Policies Without Federal Interference,” calls for the Obama administration to allow states and localities to “set whatever marijuana policies work best to improve the public safety and health of their communities.” The resolution was introduced by San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and co-sponsored by eight mayors representing cities ranging from Seattle, WA to Binghamton, NY.

“In November, voters in my city and state strongly approved a ballot measure to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana,” Republican Mayor Steve Hogan of Aurora, CO said in a statement after the vote. “The bipartisan resolution we passed today simply asks the federal government to give us time to implement these new policies properly and without interference.”

The resolution cited a recent Gallup poll’s finding that 64% of Americans believe states should be able to reform their marijuana policies without federal interference.

This is not the first time that the mayors’ conference has taken a stance on federal drug policy. In 2007, the conference declared the War on Drugs a failure and called for a health-centered reorientation of drug policy.

WA Delegation To Feds: Clarity On Marijuana Legalization

June 20th, 2013

yes-we-cannabisNearly eight months after Washington voters passed a binding cannabis legalization initiative with an impressive 55% showing, the federal government is still yet to have made any definitive public statements as to what it is going to do regarding what is now such a clear conflict: between established federal laws and customs prohibiting any use, cultivation or sale of cannabis, for whatever reason–personal, medical and banning domestically-cultivated industrial hemp–and states whose citizens are leading the way at apparently dismantling a certainly failed 75-year-old federal prohibition against cannabis.

Frustrated by a lack of federal response and political leaderships seven members of the Washington’s congressional delegation have written a letter to the Obama Administration (specifically Attorney General Holder, who told Congress in public testimony months ago that the administration would have public statements “soon”)  seeking guidance and clarity.

The members of the Senate and Congress who’ve signed the letter are both Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, as well as Representatives Adam Smith, Jim McDermott, Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer.

Apparent opponents of reform, Representatives Rick Larsen, Dave Reichert, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Doc Hastings did not sign onto the letter.

In other news regarding Washington moving forward with their cannabis legalization efforts as directed by the voters, the soon to be renamed ‘WA Liquor and Cannabis Control Board’, held public hearing yesterday that can be viewed and watched here:

WA Liquor Control Board

WA Liquor Control Board YouTube channel

 

 

 

 

Organization of American States Report Urges U.S. to Reform Drug Policies

May 22nd, 2013

Last Friday, the Organization of American States (OAS) gathered in Bogotá, Colombia for the release of its $2 million report, ”The Drug Problem in the Americas,” which characterized marijuana as a relatively benign drug.

The 400-page study concluded that if the United States was sincere in its desire to reduce drug violence in the western hemisphere, then it would have to seriously rethink its stance on marijuana and look into more rational drug policies:

“It would be worthwhile to assess existing signals and trends that lean toward the decriminalization or legalization of the production, sale, and use of marijuana. Sooner or later decisions in this area will need to be taken.”

insulza1

Jose Miguel Insulza

The discussion is long overdue, according to OAS Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza, and most Latin American leaders – “whose countries suffer the bloody brunt of the largely failed U.S.-led drug war” – agree.

This is not the first time the Obama Administration has been asked by its neighboring governments to consider adopting more lenient marijuana policies in order to help combat the violent drug cartels that plague Latin America. The question was raised at last year’s Summit of the Americas.

The response from American officials was typical: making marijuana legal is not an option they will consider.

Rafael Lemaitre, spokesman for the White House’s drug czar, said in response to the report that “any suggestion that nations legalize drugs like heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine runs counter to an evidenced-based, public health approach to drug policy and are not viable alternatives.”

It is hardly “evidence-based” to lump marijuana in with the other drugs mentioned in that statement. Studies have conclusively shown that marijuana is objectively safer than all of them, including legal alcohol. Nor is it in the interest of public health to continue allowing the marijuana industry to be controlled by violent criminal organizations.

Latin America can attest to the fact that this drug war has a real body count. The United States needs to take responsibility for its failed policies and be willing to listen to its neighbors.

Government Accountability Office Says The Drug War Isn’t Working; Did Anybody Think It Was?

April 26th, 2013

The federal government’s anti-drug efforts are inefficient and ineffective, according to a just released report issued by the Congressional watchdog agency, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).

As if we didn’t know.

The GAO report assessed whether the Obama administration’s anti-drug strategies, as articulated by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (the ONDCP aka the Drug Czar’s office) in its 2010 National Drug Control Strategy report, have yet to achieve its stated goals.

The answer? They haven’t.

States the GAO:

“The public health, social, and economic consequences of illicit drug use, coupled with the constrained fiscal environment of recent years, highlight the need to ensure that federal programs efficiently and effectively use their resources to address this problem. ONDCP has developed a 5-year Strategy to reduce illicit drug use and its consequences, but our analysis shows lack of progress toward achieving four of the Strategy’s five goals for which primary data are available.”

In particular, the GAO criticized the administration for failing to adequately address rising levels of youth marijuana consumption. The GAO also rebuffed the ONDCP’s allegation that increased rates adolescent marijuana use are a result of the passage of statewide laws decriminalizing the plant or allowing for its therapeutic use.

“Other factors, including state laws and changing attitudes and social norms regarding drugs, may also affect drug use. We examined studies on three of these other factors, which we refer to as societal factors, which may affect youth marijuana use. … The studies that assessed the effect of medical marijuana laws that met our review criteria found mixed results on effects of the laws on youth marijuana use. … [S]tudies that assessed the effect of marijuana decriminalization that met our review criteria found little to no effect of the laws on youth marijuana use.”

You can read the full GAO report here.

Help Stop DEA Raids for Good

April 26th, 2013

Just this week, DEA agents raided two medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego. The raid came one day after the owner of one of the facilities testified at a city council hearing on regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries.

Ironically, it also comes as the Obama administration announces their new drug control strategy, which they call a “21st century approach to drug policy.” To hear them tell it, we’re now focused on treatment and prevention rather than arrests and prosecutions. Of course, that’s not true, and no one knows that better than medical marijuana providers in California and elsewhere. Fortunately, there is a way to change all that.

Ask your elected officials in Congress to support H.R. 689.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has introduced the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act. If passed, his bill would reschedule marijuana, recognizing its medical value, and prevent the DEA from going after patients, doctors, or dispensaries.

It’s vital that your representatives in Congress know that you support medical marijuana and that people who provide doctor-recommended medicine to sick people are not criminals. Please write your elected officials today, and when you’re done, forward this to friends so they can do the same.

Brookings Institute: Marijuana Policy and Presidential Leadership: How to Avoid a Federal-State Train Wreck

April 12th, 2013

As previewed last week on NORML’s blog, the Brookings Institute is convening a cannabis policy forum on Monday, April 15.

In advance of the symposium, Brookings has released a comprehensive legal review and critical analysis of the current national and state laws that prohibit cannabis use, cultivation and sales.norml_remember_prohibition_

Excerpts from the Brookings’ press release and description of the issues tackled by Brookings scholar and noted legal writer and commentator Stuart Taylor, Jr. are found below.

Mr. Taylor’s thoughtful and dynamic analysis and policy recommendations are here.

Of equal value and incredibly informative are two accompanying appendixes:

Appendix One: The Obama Administration’s Approach To Medical Marijuana: A Study In Chaos

Appendix Two: Conflicts Of Laws: A Quick Orientation to Marijuana Laws At The Federal Level and CO and WA

Stuart Taylor, Jr. examines how the federal government and the eighteen states (plus the District of Columbia) that have partially legalized medical or recreational marijuana or both since 1996 can be true to their respective laws, and can agree on how to enforce them wisely while avoiding federal-state clashes that would increase confusion and harm communities and consumers.

* * *

This paper seeks to persuade even people who think legalization is a bad idea that the best way to serve the federal interest in protecting public health and safety is not for the federal government to seek an end to state legalization. To the contrary, Taylor asserts, a federal crackdown would backfire by producing an atomized, anarchic, state-legalized but unregulated marijuana market that federal drug enforcers could neither contain nor force the states to contain.

In this broad-ranging primer on the legal challenges surrounding marijuana legalization, Taylor makes the following points:

  • The best way to serve the federal interest in protecting public health and safety is for the federal government to stand aside when it comes to legalization at the state-level.
  • The federal government should nonetheless use its considerable leverage to ensure that state regulators protect the federal government’s interests in minimizing exports across state lines, sales outside the state-regulated system, sales of unduly large quantities, sales of adulterated products, sales to minors, organized crime involvement, and other abuses.
  • Legalizing states, for their part, must provide adequate funding for their regulators as well as clear rules to show that they will be energetic in protecting federal as well as state interests. If that sort of balance is struck, a win-win can be achieved.
  • The Obama Administration and legalizing states should take advantage of a provision of the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to hammer out clear, contractual cooperation agreements so that state-regulated marijuana businesses will know what they can and cannot safely do.
  • The time for presidential leadership on marijuana policy is now. The CSA also gives the administration ample leverage to insist that the legalizing states take care to protect the federal interests noted above.

Stuart also surveys (1) what legalizing states can and cannot do without violating federal law; (2) the Obama’s administration’s approach to medical marijuana and; (3) current marijuana law at the federal level and in Colorado and Washington State.

 

Federal Legislation Reintroduced to Legalize and Reschedule Medical Cannabis

February 15th, 2013

Members of Congress reintroduced legislation this week to protect state-authorized medical marijuana patients from federal prosecution.

House Bill 689, the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, would ensure that medical cannabis patients in states that have approved its use will no longer have to fear arrest or prosecution from federal law enforcement agencies. It states, “No provision of the Controlled Substances Act shall prohibit or otherwise restrict in a State in which marijuana may be prescribed or recommended by a physician for medical use under applicable State law.”

The measure also calls for the federal government to reclassify cannabis so that it is no longer categorized as a Schedule I prohibited substance with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. It states: “Not later than one year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration shall, based upon the recommendation under paragraph (1), issue a notice of proposed rulemaking for the rescheduling of marijuana within the Controlled Substances Act, which shall include a recommendation to list marijuana as other than a Schedule I or Schedule II.”

In January, a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied petitioners request to overturn the Obama administration’s July 2011 rejection of an administrative petition that sought to initiate hearings regarding the reclassification of marijuana under federal law.

Separate federal legislation, House Bill 710: The Truth in Trials Act, which provides an affirmative defense in federal court for defendants whose actions were in compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their state was also reintroduced this week in the US House of Representatives.

Those who wish to contact their member of Congress in support of these federal measures can do so by clicking here.

HuffPost: Obama’s Big Marijuana Mess

January 28th, 2013

Huffington Post reporters Ryan Grimm and Ryan Reilly publish one of the most comprehensive and insightful pieces to date on the current friction between state and federal laws regarding cannabis in America, and conclude that federal prosecutors at the regional level—not elected policymakers or department leaders in Washington—are largely creating an ad hoc enforcement policy from state-to-state.

 

Industrial Hemp Reform Emerging From Marijuana Legalization Election Victories

January 20th, 2013

One of the major public policy and business fronts to end cannabis prohibition in America is to pressure the federal government to allow American farmers the same ability to cultivate industrial hemp like farmers in the United Kingdom, France, Russia and even Canada do under current so-called anti-drug international treaties. Ninety percent of hemp used in the United States is cultivated and imported from Canada.

What sane reason can be employed by the federal government to ban industrial hemp cultivation when Canadian farmers can prosper from cultivating it?

Numerous states–just like with decriminalization, medicalization and legalization–have passed industrial hemp reform laws that run afoul of the federal government’s anti-cannabis policies. This has created upward political pressure on Congress to introduce needed hemp law reform.

Check out this recent Washington Post article profiling lobbying efforts to get hemp legalized.

You can help out by signing the White House petition to bring the matter of industrial hemp law reform before the Obama Administration for a public reply.

See the dozen or so state hemp laws here.

To learn more about hemp and law reform efforts in states and Congress check out VoteHemp.