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December 2009
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Good News

bullet image Congress to end syringe exchange ban!; Pelosi deems shift a top priority

Have we got good news for you! The House and Senate joint 2010 appropriations bill released late last night completely removes the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange in the U.S.

The bill also nixes the 1,000-foot rule that would have banned syringe exchange programs within 1,000 feet of schools, recreational centers, daycares, playgrounds and video arcades.

“This is a wonderful and amazing victory,” said the AIDS Institute’s Carl Schmid. Two weeks ago, Schmid met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s staff, who said removing the “1,000 foot rule” was a top priority for the Speaker.

The appropriations bill still has to pass the full Congress, but Schmid said with all the earmarks that Congressmembers have in the bill “it’s very slim” that the bill won’t pass.

In the conference committee Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) tried to keep the ban completely in place, but that amendment was voted down 15-9 in a party line vote.

bullet image Congress allows DC to implement 1998 medical marijuana law

(US Senate) Removing Special Restrictions on the District of Columbia: Eliminates a prohibition on the use of local tax funds for abortion, thereby putting the District in the same position as the 50 states. Also allows the District to implement a referendum on use of marijuana for medical purposes as has been done in other states, allows use of Federal funds for needle exchange programs except in locations considered inappropriate by District authorities, and discontinues a ban on the use of funds in the bill for domestic partnership registration and benefits.

Washington DC already has a medical marijuana law in place from 1998. This allows it to be implemented.

bullet image The other drug lobby celebrates

Funding for the White House “drug czar’s” ad budget has been slashed by more than a third of its size last year. Studies have repeatedly shown that these ads actually cause teens to use more — not fewer — drugs.

bullet image Prosecution: No More Crack Pipe Felonies for Houston

Beginning January 1, prosecutors in Harris County, Texas, will no longer file felony drug charges against people found with less than one one-hundreth of a gram of illegal drugs. Currently in Houston, people caught with trace amounts of drug or holding crack pipes with drug traces are routinely charged with felonies.

But under a new policy promulgated by Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos, police are instructed to instead issue Class C misdemeanor tickets to people caught in possession of crack pipes or trace amounts of drugs. That means arrestees will face only a $500 fine, not the up to two years in state jail mandated by the felony charge.

The cops are not happy. “It ties the hands of the officers who are making crack pipe cases against burglars and thieves,” said Gary Blankinship, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union.

Can you get any more blatant that that? Apparently it’s too much work to actually, you know, investigate burglaries.

bullet image Are you feeling good about the world today? Maybe because it’s United Nations’ (UN) International Anti-Corruption Day

Seems to me, though, that it would instead be a better plan to have one day each year for corruption and the rest be anti-corruption.

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18 comments to Good News

  • jfrolang

    I thought for sure I was going to see “April Fools” or something similar at the bottom of this post. So much good news at once!

  • what was that sound? I could swear I heard a brick crash to the ground. Whoa! There went another one! THUD…

    One of the least mentioned yet most egregious cases against cannabis from our gummint was that of congress holding hostage the votes of WDC citizens on their Measure 59.

    I mean holding ballots hostage? Why don’t they just hide a study showing a possible cure for cancer for 25 years…? What country is this again?

  • Duncan

    “Why don’t they just hide a study showing a possible cure for cancer for 25 years…?”

    1974 was 35 years ago.
    ———————————————————
    Wow, I never thought I’d actually be a District resident. Man they want some rent in the city. Oh well, cheap at twice the price now!

  • just me

    HOLY COW !! Is that the fat lady warming up the pipes?

  • Paul

    This is certainly good news. The only sad part was this:

    “The appropriations bill still has to pass the full Congress, but Schmid said with all the earmarks that Congressmembers have in the bill “it’s very slim” that the bill won’t pass.”

    God alone knows how much money was wasted greasing the way for this tiny piece of liberty to squeak through congress. Congress sucks.

    I did enjoy this comment, though:

    “The cops are not happy. “It ties the hands of the officers who are making crack pipe cases against burglars and thieves,” said Gary Blankinship, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union.”

    Poor cops! To think they will be forced to arrest people for their true crimes, instead of something they can just trump up on the spot.

    A lot of cops suck, too.

  • DdC

    Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’

    Keep movin’, movin’, movin’,
    Though they’re disapprovin’,
    Keep them doggies movin’
    Don’t try to understand ’em,
    Just rope and throw and grab ’em,
    Soon we’ll be living high and wide.
    Boy my heart’s calculatin’ Rawhide!

    California Tax and Regulate Cannabis Initiative Suspends Signature Gathering–Because They Have Enough Already!
    The Tax and Regulate Cannabis 2010 initiative, sponsored by Oakland medical marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee, has laid off its paid signature gatherers, saying they already have sufficient signatures to qualify for the November 2010 ballot.

    Deputy Drug Czar: “I hate this job”
    Dec 9 2009
    DRCNet: The New York Times has a rather strange visit with Deputy Drug Czar Tom McClellan in which he says he only took the job because his son had recently died from a drug overdose and now admits that he hates working there…

    Thank You Cheryl…

    Pot Users Invade Barr Office October 22, 1999

    Three medical marijuana users and their supporters blocked the door to the Cobb County Republican’s Washington office Thursday to protest his attempts to block implementation of a referendum that would permit seriously ill people in the nation’s capital to use marijuana legally if their doctors recommend it.

    Capitol police arrested Jim Miller of Silverton, N.J., after he lifted his wife, Cheryl Miller, from a wheelchair and placed her on a sleeping bag in the doorway to Barr’s office. He was charged with demonstrating within a Capitol building, a misdemeanor.

    Two other admitted medical marijuana users, Jacki Rickert of Mondovi, Wis., and Gary Storck of Madison, Wis., joined Cheryl Miller on either side of the door.

    Another half-dozen protesters entered Barr’s office and began chanting, “Stop arresting patients,” and “Bob Barr you’ve gone too far.”

    Council Cautious on Legal Marijuana

  • Paul

    DDC: I liked the Deputy Drug Czar story.

    But the Bob Barr story is very old, and he’s had a change of heart. He ran for president on the Libertarian ticket, and now advocates legalizing drugs.

  • @Duncan… yes 1974 was 35 years ago. Thanks! But the story came out around 1999/2000… thus the 25 years…

  • DdC

    Change of heart doesn’t erase History.

  • Paul

    DdC: No, it doesn’t, but let’s welcome friends and allies wherever we find them.

  • DdC

    And let it be a lesson to ALL drug worriers,
    your cowardice acts may come back and bite you in the ass some day. I welcomed Bob after they denied Kubby, didn’t impress me. Not a priority. We can only see what he does. I know what he has done and I know the people he has done it too.

    Pelosi deems shift a top priority

  • kaptinemo

    Allan, I recall quite well how the Berlin Wall came down. First, just a few guys bravely knocking chinks in the Wall with claw hammers and chisels. When they weren’t shot, then some started bringing sledges. When they weren’t hurt, some brought jackhammers. And finally a huge section of the Wall was cracked apart and swung aside with industrial construction equipment.

    I shouldn’t have to say that we, here and in other places, we drug law reformers, have been the guys with the claw hammers. It’s been damned cold and lonely, not to mention occasionally dangerous. but now, more people are bringing hammers, and they’re soon to be followed by more with sledges. When the media fully realizes that the public is with us, they’ll bring the jackhammers. When the pols realize the swing the media has taken, then will come the construction equipment.

    But it all got started by the guys with the claw hammers. Who now know where the wall is weakest, and where to concentrate the needed force to finally breach it and knock it down for good.

    I said this months before, and it’s even more true today than it was then: NOW IS THE TIME. Conditions for drug law reform have never been better, for a number of reasons I won’t belabor, as we all know them. it’s time to deliver the coup de grace to this monster before it rallies again.

  • yeah Kap… the Berlin Wall is the great metaphor for us. Others come to mind… Apartheid for instance. Injustice cannot stand!

    And “aye aye, Kap’n!” Aim for the eyes (we tried early on to stab it in the heart, but… it has none) to blind it. When it is blinded then we knock it down. Once down, we slay it… in a psychedelic nod to Lewis Carroll, appropriate for our battle in this, the Tulgey Wood:

    One, two! One, two! And through and through
    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
    He left it dead, and with it’s head
    He went galumphing back.

    “And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
    Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
    O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
    He chortled in his joy.

  • Dreau Preau

    You should have posted what Gary Blankinship says next, that basically “crackheads are, by and large, burglars and thieves.”

    Well golly I wonder why that is? Maybe because the price of crack is horribly inflated from production to sale due to its black market status, while we shun crackheads from treatment facilities with threats of arrest by Mr. Blankinship?

  • Let’s not overlook another important aspect of this bill: the complete elimination of funding for abstinence-only sex education. Pretty huge, right?

  • LTR

    I wish The Tax and Regulate Cannabis 2010 would not qualify for the 2010 ballot. I would much prefer an initiative that:

    1) …levied a state sales tax on every marijuana transaction. The fact that only local governments can at least initially directly tap into marijuana sales is a travesty and a huge weakness to the initiative. One of the main arguments for legalizing marijuana state-wide in California is their huge debt and annual deficits. I have no clue what activists were thinking when they crafted that portion of the initiative text, but what a mistake! A latter section seems to leave room for revisions that would could allow a state to impose a sales tax, but it would require a new law passed by the legislature. Perhaps I misread the initiative?

    2)…happened in 2012 or 2014 instead. It’s still too soon. 56% support in a poll in California can evaporate is the initiative doesn’t have strong financial backing. I would have much preferred local activists to wait until NORML, MPP, and the DPA crafted an initiative and backed it. I wonder what the national groups will do at this point since it appears like it will be on the ’10 ballot. If it fails it will look really bad for the movement after all the positive press this year.

  • DdC

    Babysteps dude, wisha wanna woulda coulda it is.
    Any ConPromise is less that Victory.
    Babysteps, your dealing with primates.

  • Hope

    LTR. I think that kind of failure you’re talking about is a thing of the past. I’ve noticed lately that we’re back on our feet the minute we get knocked down anymore. Immediately. It’s understood. It’s a given. We’re coming back again and again until it’s done right.

    Every time it happens.

    Immediately.