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If I wanted to win the hearts and minds of farmers in Latin America and Afghanistan, I probably wouldn’t start by destroying their fields and removing their only hope of feeding their families.Guitherisms, the longest running single-issue blog devoted to drug policy, is published by the Prohibition Isn’t Free Foundation

September 2017
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Open Thread

I’ve been busy on other projects. Still a lot of speculation out there regarding the directions that this administration will take… talk of eliminating the ONDCP, Spicer’s comments about enforcing federal laws against states that legalize marijuana, yet seeming support for state medical laws, etc.

The key value that we have is that for years now, we have worked across party lines and found ways to make drug policy reform attractive regardless of party affiliation. We found allies in forfeiture reform and prison reform in conservative camps and allies for leaving states alone in liberal camps. This makes it harder for someone to simply step in and ignorantly try to undo our efforts – they’ll find opposition from a variety of sides.

We need to keep up the effort, particularly in finding allies in seemingly unlikely places.

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Showing true colors on asset forfeiture

A friend sent me this article, not so much about the disagreement between President Trump and a Senator, but the underlying discussion that led to it.

Texas Democrats Angered by Trump’s Remark on Destroying Senator’s Career

“Mr. President, on asset forfeiture,” Sheriff Eavenson said, in an exchange that was observed by reporters and filmed, “we’ve got a state senator in Texas that was talking about introducing legislation to require conviction before we can receive that forfeiture money, and I told him that the cartel would build a monument to him in Mexico if he could get that legislation passed.”

“Can you believe that?” Mr. Trump responded, then added, “Who’s the state senator?”

Sheriff Eavenson did not reply. “Do you want to give his name?” Mr. Trump said. “We’ll destroy his career.” Laughter then broke out.


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Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

So, President Trump has announced his nominee for the bench: Judge Neil M. Gorsuch.

A lot can happen between announcement and confirmation, so obviously nothing is certain yet, but it’s worth taking a look.

There are a lot of potential problems with this nominee, but there are also some potential bright spots (all from a surface and cursory reading of his Wikipedia entry).

He tends to favor state power over federal power, which is a bonus in this particular phase of drug policy reform. Additionally, he has written against judicial activism – in particular the notion of using the courts as a way to change culture in a way to serve society best, when that should be done at the ballot box. That also seems positive considering most drug policy reform has been happening at the ballot box and in the states. Additionally, he has written against the notion of federal agencies interpreting ambiguous laws instead of the courts.

In criminal law, he understands the importance of mens rea (the idea that the defendant knows that they are breaking a law), something which has been noticeably disappearing from a lot of drug laws.

Again, it’s important to note that Supreme Court rulings that affect drug policy cannot be neatly categorized as right vs. left, but rather tend to focus on more complicated issue of state vs. federal power, individual freedom, the power of federal agencies, etc.

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Your next Attorney General?

[Via Radley Balko]

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Ethan Nadelmann stepping down from Drug Policy Alliance

Ethan Nadelmann’s Farewell Letter to Drug Policy Alliance Staff

The time has come for me to step aside as executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

This is just about the toughest decision I’ve ever made but it feels like the right time for me personally and also for DPA. It’s almost twenty-three years since I started The Lindesmith Center and approaching seventeen years since we merged with the Drug Policy Foundation to create DPA. We’ve grown from little more than an idea into a remarkable advocacy organization that has built, led and defined a new political and cultural movement.

Transitions like this are never easy but I am confident that DPA will continue to flourish. Our finances are strong and our donor base more diversified than ever before, with new sources of potential funding rapidly emerging. The talent, experience and commitment of staff and board are extraordinary. Our mission and vision are as relevant today as when we started, even as our many victories present new challenges and opportunities. […]

End of an era. I’ve been working in drug policy for quite some time now, and Ethan was always head of the DPA. I’ve had the good fortune to meet him and work with him a few times, and always enjoyed our interactions.

Passionate about his beliefs.

As a reminder, here’s his excellent Ted talk:

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Odds and Ends

Tom Angell has been consistently ahead of the pack on all things related to marijuana news and politics – he’s had a great connection with lawmakers as well. Now he has a new email newsletter, currently titled “Generic Marijuana Newsletter.”

You can view it here and, if you wish, hit subscribe in the upper left corner (requires confirming a valid email address).

Obviously, everyone’s thinking and talking about what’s going to happen with drug policy with President Trump. It appears to me, that it’s going to take a bit of time to know for sure – things are so chaotic right now, with a lot of upheaval.

It’s interesting, though, seeing people try to predict. Check out this article in Business Insider: Don’t expect nationwide marijuana legalization under the Trump administration. Once you read the article, you realize that the author has no clue what will happen.

Of course, this is all up for change. If Trump’s attorney general appointee, Senator Jeff Sessions, is appointed, he could direct the DEA to take a more hardline stance. And if President Trump himself decides to take a more hardline stance, that would also impact how the DEA operates when it comes to federal marijuana policy. To be clear, neither Sessions nor Trump have indicated as much.

There’s been a lot of talk about “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids,” a report by the National Academy of Sciences that reviewed 10,000 scientific abstracts to actually get some consensus on the science of marijuana rather than the usual cherry-picking to prove a point. Coverage in Forbes.

Nick Jikomes at Leafly gives a fairly detailed overview of the report. Here’s What the National Academy’s Medical Cannabis Report Actually Says

If you want to read it yourself, you can download theentire pdf file here (simply log-in as a guest).

Personal note: I apologize if you’ve tried to reach me and haven’t gotten a response. I’m about 800 emails behind right now and working to get caught up.

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President Obama’s pardons and commutations

Obama grants final 330 commutations to nonviolent drug offenders

Obama didn’t seriously focus on pardons and commutations until 2014, two years into his second term. But, on Thursday, his last full day in office, Obama announced 330 more commutations, bringing his total number of clemencies to 1,715. He has granted commutations to more people than the last 12 presidents combined, more than 500 of them to inmates with life sentences.

“By restoring proportionality to unnecessarily long drug sentences, this administration has made a lasting impact on our criminal justice system,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates. “With 1,715 commutations in total, this undertaking was as enormous as it was unprecedented.”

I’m one of those who criticized President Obama for his lack of pardons and commutations in his first term, so I must say I’m pleased to be able to report this.

This is an overdue recognition of the injustices that have been served by the drug war.

It’s also only a drop in the bucket.

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More bad ideas

DEA Experts Call for Better Link Between Drug and Terrorism Policy

Executive Editor Tom Julia interviewed Mike Chapman, Richard Fiano, Derek Maltz and Steve Murphy for 90 minutes about federal drug policy and how the Trump Administration can better combat the dual — and increasingly linked — threats of illicit drug trafficking and the funding of international terrorism. […]

Asked what advice they would give president-elect Trump to use DEA’s strengths more effectively, Maltz and others urged a better understanding of how profits from the illicit drug trade are being used to fund terrorist groups.

“If you understand the link and how too break it, you can target your resources more effectively to fight both terrorism and drug trafficking,” said Maltz.

[Thanks, darkcycle]

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If you have to go to the inauguration, you might as well…

Marijuana legalization supporters to hand out 4,200 joints at Trump inauguration

Marijuana legalization activists in the nation’s capital plan to hand out thousands of joints during President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration as a way to raise awareness of about the fragility of legal pot under his administration.

The advocacy group behind the ballot initiative that legalized pot in Washington, D.C., in 2014 will take to the streets Jan. 20 to give away 4,200 joints — or somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 ounces of marijuana.

“We are forced to do this type of publicity stunt because the Trump administration hasn’t mentioned marijuana once since he was elected,” said DCMJ founder Adam Eidinger. “It reminds people that the public wants change, and the politicians aren’t doing it.”

The giveaway raises awareness on two distinct fronts — first the fact that despite D.C. voters legalizing marijuana in 2014, it remains illegal to buy or sell the drug in the nation’s capital because of action taken by Congress that bans local lawmakers from passing new marijuana laws. Secondly, activists hope to align with Trump supporters who also support marijuana legalization in their home states so they can work together to push the Republican administration to expand legalization and address outstanding regulations that hinder pot-related businesses.

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Highs and lows of 2016

Interactive Map: International Drug Policy Developments of 2016


Nice global perspective on developments. A lot is still going on.

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