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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
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November 2018
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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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The answer is ‘no’

CBS News Moneywatch brings it up: Should employers keep testing workers for pot?

According to executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which favors eliminating marijuana preemployment screening, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to find qualified applicants who don’t smoke weed at a time when unemployment is at a 17-year low.

“While it is good policy to ban drugs and alcohol in the workplace, what workers do after hours — as long as it does not impair the company’s operations or productivity, or otherwise do harm — should not have any bearing on how workers are viewed by their employers,” Andrew Challenger, a vice president at the firm, said in a press release.

It’s really time to end this practice that has been more about profits for drug-testing companies than workplace safety. Finally, companies are starting to realize that their most productive workers are those who feel valued and respected, and may not be those who mindlessly turn their entire lives over to the Corporation.

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Open Thread

Sorry for my absence from the couch recently. I’ve been taking a bit of a break to deal with other things.

I’m currently the musical director for a wonderfully bizarre production: “Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play” by Anne Washburn at Illinois State University.

I’m also working on musical direction for the delightfully complex “Floyd Collins” by Adam Guettel and Tina Howe at Heartland Theatre.

On March 3, I’ll be the Luncheon Speaker at the 2018 Libertarian Party of Illinois Convention, speaking about the Drug War and talking about DrugWarRant.com.

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Good riddance to the Cole Memo

There’s been a lot of talk about how Attorney General Jeff Sessions has eliminated the Cole Memo – an advisory document intended to reduce the focus on federal prosecutions of state-legal cannabis operations as long as a list of guidelines were followed.

In reality, the Cole Memo was limited, vague, and had no force of law – any Attorney General could overturn it at will (as Sessions has done). It was the appearance of the federal government respecting state law without having to actually, you know, do it.

The good thing about Sessions’ tone-deaf action is that it’s woken a lot of people up to the absurdity of still having a federal prohibition that could allow prosecutors to arrest citizens for openly following state law. Sessions has managed to anger liberals, conservatives and libertarians through his action.

Perhaps the absence of the Cole Memo, and the outrage following its repeal, will finally get Congress to act and do something meaningful.

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Out with the old, in with the new

A strange year, to say the least.

2017: The Year Pot Policy Stood Still as Opioids Ravaged the Nation – a year-in-review from Rolling Stone.

The take-away quote:

While many federal lawmakers have called for overhauling the criminal justice system and for rethinking the government’s relationship with substances like marijuana, 2017 saw little to no action on drug policy.

“Status quo year,” Democratic Representative Jared Polis tells Rolling Stone. “It was a year of stagnation.”


Civil liberties predictions for 2018 – in an annual tradition for Radley Balko, he puts together a post of ridiculous predictions of the most outrageous things that couldn’t possibly happen, and you quickly realize that they all actually occurred this past year.

Stunningly disheartening.


Here’s wishing everyone on the couch a better new year. Take the time to celebrate what you have, and then continue your work on improving the world.

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