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DrugWarRant.com, the longest running single-issue blog devoted to drug policy, is published by the Prohibition Isn't Free Foundation
September 2018
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This is what a cannabis equity program looks like

Under the leadership of Cannabis Control Commissioner Shaleen Title, Massachusetts has revealed the “nation’s first statewide “social equity” program to help minorities and people convicted of drug offenses work in the legal marijuana industry.”

Massachusetts crafts ‘social equity’ program to help minorities and drug offenders enter marijuana industry

Massachusetts state law requires the Cannabis Control Commission to promote full participation in the industry by people disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and enforcement. The commission is already giving priority in review of licensing applications to “economic empowerment” applicants who come from areas and groups that have been overly affected by marijuana arrests. […]

There are four tracks in the program: one for owners/entrepreneurs; one for management and executive level careers; one for entry level jobs or people looking to re-enter society after incarceration; and one for people with existing skills that can be transferred to the cannabis business. The final track has separate categories for professional skills like law or accounting and trade skills, like drivers, plumbers or electricians. It is also designed to help inventors of cannabis accessories.

Each track will offer training on industry-specific challenges and skills.

This is impressive work. It’s so much harder to do it this way, but represents a desire to not just legalize, but partially make up for the decades of damage from marijuana prohibition.

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Weed the People

New York Daily News editorial today: End the war on pot: We welcome the push to legalize and regulate marijuana

After many decades of treating as a crime the personal possession and use of a drug that is a negligible threat to public safety, New York is awakening to the folly of — and racial disparities widened by — its approach.

We are part of this awakening, which is why we welcome the push to legalize and regulate marijuana. By every honest measure, the substance has more in common with alcohol and tobacco than it does harder drugs that are rightly illegal.

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Playing flamingo

I’ve been away from the couch for a bit, as I somehow managed to significantly pulverize the bones in my left leg just from falling off a bicycle. I’m home now, trying to figure out how to do everything in a wheelchair with an extended leg brace (the only other option is standing on one leg).

For those interested in the details of my little adventure, I have written a story in the form of a letter to my Aunt Betty:

A little tale of a bicycle… trip

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Absurd ideas from the White House

The ACLU weighs in:

The White House announced a new proposal today for policies that respond to the opioid addiction crisis, including possibly imposing the death penalty for those charged with dealing drugs.

Jesselyn McCurdy, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office, had the following reaction:

“The opioid crisis is a serious problem that requires a serious solution. But the draconian law enforcement provisions included in this proposal are unconstitutional and absurd. […]

“The administration has, once again, put out a potentially disastrous and ill-thought-out policy proposal into our national discussion. The idea of executing people who sell drugs is ineffective, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle understand that.”

This was a completely moronic idea 20 years ago. Now it’s moronic and tone-deaf.

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DEA twitter account promotes Anslinger

Via Tom Angell

Tom responds

https://twitter.com/tomangell/status/971840775939149824

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The changing political realities of drug policy

At my talk on Saturday, I mentioned the local political dust-up I got caught in back in 2004 (some of the regulars here may remember this – Link).

There was a Congressional representative in my area in Illinois with a particularly nasty record in drug policy, and he was being opposed by a candidate who had indicated possible support for medical marijuana and decriminalization (not legalization). At the time, that was a pretty good change, and so I endorsed the challenger on Drug WarRant. Thought nothing of it.

The incumbent used my endorsement in attack ads, claiming that the challenger was endorsed by a drug legalization “group” and had values completely out of touch with Illinois. The challenger returned my small personal donation to his campaign and said the endorsement was similar to when the Ku Klux Klan endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1980!

Now flash ahead 14 years…

Tom Angell reports: The New Politics Of Marijuana Are Emerging In Illinois

Marijuana was once seen as a third-rail issue of politics: You touch it, you die. Not that many years ago, many candidates for public office ran as far and as fast as they could from cannabis issues out of fear they would be attacked as soft on drugs or soft on crime. […]

Contenders in the March 20 primary got into a testy Twitter exchange on the issue over the weekend, with JB Pritzker, widely seen as the front-runner in the race, accusing opponent Chris Kennedy of merely pretending to back legalization, and Kennedy telling his supporters not to believe the other campaign’s claims.

As Tom notes, part of the sudden desire for politicians to suddenly get on top of legalization could have a little bit to do with polling numbers.

New Illinois poll results released yesterday:

The poll found that 66 percent of Illinois voters favor legalizing recreational marijuana if taxed and regulated like alcohol while 32 percent are opposed. There were 3 percent of voters who were unsure.

Back in 2004, when I ran into those problems, the national Gallup poll numbers (don’t have them for Illinois at the time) were 64% opposed, 34% in favor.

A different time.

It’s really interesting to see some of the campaigns this year in Illinois. For example, we’re finally losing Lisa Madigan and Attorney General (long overdue – she’s the one who spearheaded the execrable Illinois v. Caballes case where the Supreme Court ruled that the 4th Amendment doesn’t apply as long as the police get permission… from their dog.)

So the race is crowded (6 on the Democratic side) and they’re all pretty much an improvement. This one, for example is a real breath of fresh air in an Attorney General race – it’s Aaron Goldstein, a former Public Defender!

For far too long our criminal justice system has not been just to people accused of crimes, to the victims of crime and to the public. I will accomplish real criminal justice reform that ends mass incarceration, eliminate the unjust and unfair drug war, and reform the cash bail process that discriminates against people with limited means. I will accomplish real, long overdue, police reform to ensure that police represent (rather than intimidate) the good citizens of our state.

Mass incarceration benefits no one. Many of the people who are in prison are serving their sentence for a non-violent, typically drug-related offense. We must treat the root causes of these crimes like drug addiction, mental health, income inequality, a lack of opportunity and education funding.. Someone who is incarcerated for a non-violent offense comes out of prison not rehabilitated, but with a record and even more likely to fall back into criminal behavior than before. Meanwhile, taxpayers have spent millions of dollars to house inmates while feeling no safer than they were before. We must reduce the prison population by focusing on deferment programs, rehabilitation, and mental health and addiction treatment.

The so-called “drug war” has been one of the worst domestic policies in the last 50 years. We have not reduced the use of drugs while creating a black market that funds street gangs so that they can purchase guns. Further, the drug war has been administered in a way that discriminates against African-Americans, Latinos and the poor. We must legalize marijuana and treat drug addiction as a mental health issue and not a criminal one.

And he repeats his commitment to marijuana legalization:

I believe marijuana should be legalized. One doesn’t have to be a user of marijuana to understand that the war on drugs—and the criminalization of marijuana in particular—has been an abysmal failure. Far too many of our citizens have been convicted and imprisoned for using marijuana, although little evidence exists to support our draconian drug laws.

Ironically, rather than helping our citizens, criminalization of marijuana has encouraged the development of a huge and chaotic black market, with its inevitable consequences of gang violence and harm to many innocent bystanders. For these reasons, and based on the experience of other states that have legalized marijuana, I believe it is time to legalize marijuana in Illinois. It should be regulated—based on clear scientific evidence—to ensure that legal pot does not create any significant health or public safety risks to the people of Illinois and that the marijuana industry is run fairly and lawfully.

As Attorney General, I will consult with attorneys general from states that have legalized marijuana to ensure that Illinois adopts best practices in the production, distribution and sales of marijuana, and that any tax revenue Illinois derives from the sale of marijuana is used for purposes that benefit all the people, not just the few who are politically connected.

What a breath of fresh air. I don’t know what his chances are, but the fact that people like him are running makes me feel just a touch more optimistic.

And no, just to be on the safe side, I’m not endorsing him.

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Thanks, Illinois Libertarians

Just finished a wonderful speech for the Illinois Libertarian Convention luncheon. Really attentive and engaged audience — particularly the three little children in the front row, who asked all sorts of very good questions (“Why do you need a tank in a small town?” “When the SWAT team comes, do they give you a chance to explain whether you have drugs or not first?” “If marijuana can be used for medical things, why did they say it was so bad?” “Did the police officer who shot that lady go to jail?”) and one of them gave me a drawing he made!

The title of the talk was “The Drug War’s Assault on Liberty.”

And I included a bunch of “Guitherisms,” which seemed to be well received, and lightened things up a bit.

Thanks couch-mates for your suggestions, and welcome any Illinois Libertarians who have arrived here based on my talk. If you have any questions from the talk that you didn’t get to ask, please feel free to ask them in comments.

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Neil Woods on the ‘American’ drug policy

There’s a nice video, published by Business Insider UK of former undercover police officer Neil Woods (chairman of LEAP UK) talking about drug policy. Can’t embed the video, but here it is on Facebook.

Neil Woods: In the UK we used to lead the world in drug policy. It was called the British system, and it was a fairly simple premise – if someone has a problem with drugs, they get medical help.

That British system was destroyed by American moral imperialism. American foreign policy insisted that everyone follow their lead in how to deal with drugs, and that meant criminalising people.

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Texas coach doesn’t want Colorado athletes

Even as we progress, there are always some of these neanderthal throwbacks who show up:

Texas college baseball coach: Stay home, Colorado high school potheads

Actual email written from Texas Wesleyan baseball coach Mike Jeffcoat to a prospective student:

“Thanks for the interest in our program. Unfortunately, we are not recruiting players from the state of Colorado. In the past, players have had trouble passing our drug test. We have made a decision to not take a chance on Student-athletes from your state. You can thank your liberal politicians. Best of Luck wherever you decide to play.”

The university has disassociated itself with his comments.

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Speech Prep

Couch friends: As I’ve mentioned before, I will be the luncheon speaker at the 2018 Libertarian Party of Illinois Convention this Saturday.

I’ve got a number of points I’m looking to cover, based on past presentations I’ve given, but I’m always looking for ways to punch it up.

What’ve you got? In particular, what’s the best data out there that would be of interest to those advocating political positions in Illinois right now, either regarding public perception/priorities or the state’s pressing issues, where drug policy reform could be a winner? (Or national interests that would affect Illinois.)

What would you want to hear me talk about?

Thanks!

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