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February 2016
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History of Presidential candidates supporting marijuana

Reason has an interesting piece looking at the various candidates, past and present, to support significant marijuana law reform:

Marijuana Legalizers Who Ran for President

Three days after Bernie Sanders unveiled legislation to repeal the federal ban on marijuana, Hillary Clinton proposed moving marijuana to a slightly less restrictive legal category. The former secretary of state’s faint echo of the Vermont senator’s bold bill—the first of its kind in the Senate—underlined how timid Clinton has always been on the subject of drug policy reform. Although the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has had second thoughts about the mandatory minimum sentences she used to champion, the woman who a few years ago explained that we can’t legalize the drug trade because “there is just too much money in it” clearly is not ready to call off the war on weed, even though that is what most Americans seem to want.

The dueling marijuana proposals also showed that Sanders, whose chances of winning his party’s presidential nomination are remote at best, is nevertheless pushing Clinton to address issues she would prefer to ignore.

The article covers a variety of candidates, past and present, in addition to Sanders and Clinton, including Mike Gravel, Gary Johnson, Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, and Rand Paul.

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Rosenberg under fire

This has been building for a little while now, thanks in large part to Tom Angell who started a petition to have the DEA chief removed…

DEA chief says smoking marijuana as medicine “is a joke”

DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg on Wednesday rejected the notion that smoking marijuana is “medicine,” calling the premise a “joke.”

“What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it’s not,” Rosenberg said in a briefing to reporters. “We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine — that is a joke.”

As more and more states experiment with loosening marijuana laws, Rosenberg said that people shouldn’t conflate the issue of legalizing recreational marijuana with medicinal marijuana.

“There are pieces of marijuana — extracts or constituents or component parts — that have great promise” medicinally, he said. “But if you talk about smoking the leaf of marijuana — which is what people are talking about when they talk about medicinal marijuana — it has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine.”

16,000 People and Counting Want DEA Chief Fired for Calling Medical Marijuana a ‘Joke’

More than 16,000 people have signed a petition demanding that the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) be fired for calling medical marijuana a “joke” last week. […]

Medical marijuana advocates quickly criticized Rosenberg, complaining that the DEA blocks medical and scientific research on weed. Many of the petition’s signatories include patients with chronic illnesses who say pot has changed their lives.

‘It worries me that he is so ignorant as to say that it’s a joke. My daughter’s medicine is not a joke to me.’

“While it’s nothing new for drug war bureaucrats to oppose sensible marijuana policies, Rosenberg’s comments go way too far,” the petition, posted on, reads. “Medical marijuana is not a “joke” to the millions of seriously ill patients in a growing number of states who use it legally in accordance with doctors’ recommendations.”

The petition calls for President Barack Obama to “fire Chuck Rosenberg and appoint a new DEA administrator who will respect science, medicine, patients and voters.

Of course, if they were to actually appoint a new DEA administrator who did those things, probably the first thing they’d do is shut down the DEA, or at least significantly change its focus.

The petition was started by Tom Angell, a leader of the pro-pot advocacy group Marijuana Majority. Angell told VICE News he hopes the number of signatures — including one by singer Melissa Etheridge — will “get the White House to take note that this administration’s DEA head is saying things that are offensive to millions of American families who have benefited from medical marijuana.”

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The maturation of legalization

I think this kind of thing is nice to see…

Mini joints: This Colorado mountain shop’s idea is a huge success

“We thought it would be really great to have something portable that had just enough for you and a few friends,” Andrew Salini, chief operating officer at High Country Healing, said in a recent interview.

“Not everyone wants to smoke a gram. It’s a little intense,” Joe Lindsey, director of customer relations at HCH, said in a recent interview. “They see these Mini Js and they think, ‘That’s just right for me.’ ”

The downsizing of cannabis portions is not a new concept for the rapidly evolving marijuana industry. To address safety concerns regarding wildly popular marijuana edibles, Colorado regulators rolled out new rules in February requiring manufacturers to individually wrap edibles or demark products in increments of 10 milligrams (or fewer) of psychoactive component THC.

It’s been an about-face for the industry that, in the early months of legalization, was in a race to make the strongest edible.

Those who want the quantity can still get it, but as legalization gets past the initial novelty, it doesn’t always have to be about bigger and more. And that’s particularly good for the casual user and the experimenter.

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DEA to take ‘new’ approach

Just got this news release from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration: “DEA set to announce comprehensive strategy to deal with heroin, r/x abuse, violent crime.”

And the release said”

Special Agent in Charge Gary Tuggle of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division announced today that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will be the first city in the nation where the DEA will implement a new comprehensive strategy to address prescription opioid abuse, heroin use, and violent crime. [emphasis added]

Wow. They finally have come up with a new strategy. Wonder what it’ll be?

Oh wait, they tell us:

The goals of the new strategy include stopping the deadly cycle of prescription opioid and heroin abuse by eliminating the drug trafficking organizations and gangs fueling violence on the streets and addiction in communities.

Um… really? This sounds vaguely familiar. Sure you haven’t tried this before? With a complete lack of success?

Oh, there’s more:

The strategy will also include partnering with healthcare professionals and engaging and strengthening community and social service organizations that are best positioned to provide long-term help and support for building drug-free communities.

Yeah, no, that sounds pretty familiar as well, and that “drug-free communities” thing hasn’t worked before either.

So they’re going to have a press conference to announce this tomorrow. All you media types will probably want to rush over to Allison Park, Pennsylvania to catch the details on this revolutionary new initiative.

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A reminder of the tradeoffs when you invest in a drug war

The War on Drugs Could Be Making Our Communities More Dangerous by Justin Glawe at

“Sexual assault just isn’t at the top of the agenda,” says Ilse Knecht of the Joyful Heart Foundation, a sexual assault victim advocacy group.

She’s not the only one calling for a redirection of resources.

“We’ve been advocating that money be made available for robbery units, homicide units, sexual crime units,” said Neill Franklin, director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a national coalition of former police officers and criminal justice reform advocates. “How about using some of that money to analyze the rape kits that are sitting on shelves waiting to be looked at?” […]

Franklin and other reformers are disturbed by the recent uptick in homicides, and are pushing for more resources to go toward preventing the killings and achieving justice for the victims and their families.

“In the 1960s and 1970s, we were solving nine out of 10 murders,” Franklin said. “Now, in some places like Baltimore, it’s more like three out of ten. Federal dollars that are going to law enforcement agencies need to be reevaluated, pulled back from drug enforcement, and redirected toward preventing and solving violent crime.”

The drug war gets all the extra funding – the asset forfeiture funds, the Byrne grants, etc. All the task forces, SWAT teams and other resources put into the drug war take away from police efforts on solving violent crimes, including murder and sex crimes.

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The New York Times has something to say

And they say it well.

Excellent editorial: The Push for Legal Marijuana Spreads by the editorial board.

Support for making marijuana legal is increasing around the world, and that is a good thing. […]

Laws banning the growing, distribution and possession of marijuana have caused tremendous damage to society, with billions spent on imprisoning people for violating pointlessly harsh laws. Yet research shows that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol and tobacco, and can be used to treat medical conditions like chronic pain. […]

What’s needed now is responsible leadership from President Obama and Congress. They ought to seriously consider the kind of legislation Mr. Sanders has proposed. His bill would remove marijuana, or “marihuana” as it is called in federal law, from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which is meant for drugs that have a high potential for abuse and no medical use. […]

A growing group of activists, judges and lawmakers is showing the world a path to more sensible drug policies. Mr. Obama and Congress should join them.

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Better than Ohio

Pot legalization bid in California gains powerful backers

“This is the one to watch. This is the one,” California Cannabis Industry Association Executive Director Nate Bradley, whose organization is endorsing the measure, said. “This one has this broad-based coalition behind it, the funding behind it…and still allows for a free market in the cannabis industry.’

The measure would allow adults 21 and over to buy an ounce of marijuana and marijuana-infused products at licensed retail outlets and also to grow up to six pot plants for personal recreational use.

Yeah, that’s more like it.

Although I’m still waiting for some state to pass the “Regulate Cannabis Like Tomatoes Act.”

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I still fully stand by my statement from 2012 (not about Ohio, but still relevant):

“Until we crack that wall and have some real legalization out there, I’ll take anything — even an initiative legalizing marijuana use for people aged 47-51 on alternate Tuesdays in their bathrooms, if that’ll help it pass. Might as well start somewhere.”

That said, I’m really glad that this Ohio circus is over.

Let’s move on and get something good passed.

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More absurdities

Maia Szalavitz has a great article at Vice: Why Is it Still Illegal to Visit the US if You Admit to Using Drugs?

I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories of people being denied access to the U.S. for merely admitting they used drugs, even though our current President has done as much. It’s a stupid and outdated customs inquiry.

Here’s a part of the article I really enjoyed:

VICE asked the Office of National Drug Control Policy (better known as the drug czar’s office) for comment on Shelly’s case and the law in this area. Drug Czar Michael Botticelli is a recovering alcoholic: His admission to occasional marijuana and cocaine use as well would mean that he himself would not be allowed entry into the country because of his past—were he not already an American citizen.

Since he has spoken widely about fighting the stigma associated with addiction and because he advocates reducing barriers to rehabilitation, I was curious about Botticelli’s views on this practice, which seems to punish both honesty and recovery. But his office declined to comment. [emphasis added]

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It’s the individual outrages that add up

So many stories like this one.

Magistrate Snatches Newborn From Mother Who Used Cannabis Tea for Pain Relief

Before she gave birth to her daughter, Nova, at Cleveland’s Fairview Hospital on September 26, Hollie Sanford used cannabis tea to relieve severe sciatic nerve pain. Her research convinced her marijuana was a safer choice than the painkillers she had been prescribed, and she may be right about that. […]

But Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Magistrate Eleanore Hilow, who ordered Nova’s separation from her parents because the baby and her mother tested positive for a marijuana metabolite at the hospital, does not seem interested in what science shows about cannabis and pregnancy.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Hilow rejected the recommendation of county social workers, who are usually the bad guys in cases like this. […]

“There is no need to remove this child from her parents in order to protect her,” an assistant county prosecutor wrote in an October 23 motion. “At this time, removal would only serve to disrupt the bond the child would develop with her parents during this important period in her life…Rather than protecting the child, removal may be more harmful to her both in the present and in the future.”

Hilow was unmoved by that argument.

We often hear people say “not that many are in prison for possessing marijuana” as if that’s a counter to the need for legalization.

And yet, people like this are harmed every day, in so many ways, simply because of marijuana’s illegal status.

That means that we must take every step we can to challenge and change the laws.

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