Today, the House passed legislation reducing the two-decades-old sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses. The Senate passed an identical bill in March and the legislation is now heading to President Obama, who supports the reform effort. […]
Before the changes, a person with just five grams of crack received a mandatory sentence of five years in prison. That same person would have to possess 500 grams of powder cocaine to earn the same punishment. This discrepancy, known as the 100-to-1 ratio, was enacted in the late 1980s and was based on myths about crack cocaine being more dangerous than powder. […]
Advocates pushed to totally eliminate the disparity but ultimately a compromise was struck between Democrats and Republicans to reduce the 100-to-1 disparity to 18-to-1. The compromise also eliminated the five year mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of five grams of cocaine (about two sugar packets worth). The repeal of that mandatory minimum is the first repeal of a mandatory minimum drug sentence since the 1970s.
It’s a halfway measure, but it’s still extremely significant. Finally, politicians actually voting to reduce a prohibition measure.
And there’s no outcry… no threats to run “druggie” ads against those who passed it… no riots from concerned voters. It’s almost as though they wouldn’t have had to resort to a halfway measure.
The House also passed the Webb Criminal Justice Commission. Great news, but it still needs to pass the Senate.
An interview with Major Neill Franklin, new Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
A federal-state law inconsistency shouldn’t stop Californians from legalizing marijuana by Hanna Liebman Dershowitz. Excellent piece in the LA Times.
Instead of hewing to a misguided and unworkable federal hegemony in this area, encouraging innovation at the state level would be a more rational federal policy. And to be clear, legal scholars have long disagreed with Kleiman’s conclusion that the feds must and will intervene to try to quell state action in this area.
States need not shrink from countering federal policy on marijuana. California can show leadership in driving needed reforms, as it has before. In other words, the law need not be the law if you’re willing to stick your neck out. Cautious academics and politicized public employees will always embrace the status quo, joined by risk-averse politicians who misconstrue a lack of constituent “noise” on this issue as satisfaction with current law, not fear. But voters know better.
Not only can Californians regulate and tax marijuana, we should.
Here’s a challenge for my loyal readers.
I need an organization.
It doesn’t generally work for bloggers to send out a press release and the title of “blogger” doesn’t work well in trying to get OpEds, etc. If, however, you’re the Executive Director of Concerned Citizens for Legislative Reform, then you get some respect even if your entire organization is a web page… or less. It’s stupid, but it’s true.
Take a look at Bishop Ron Allen of the International Faith-Based Coalition or Al Crancer of Crancer and Associates, for that matter. Andrea Barthwell had about a dozen of them.
So come up with an organization name. It could be something complementary to Drug WarRant that shows our focus (probably should avoid the word “rant,” though), or it could be something abstract like RAND that would be further explained. This is not going to replace Drug WarRant, but give us an organization name when we need one.
The one to come up with the final name for the organization will be offered an honorary officer position in it.