Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Posts Tagged ‘marijuana

Email from MPP: Decriminalization of marijuana

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An email just received from the Marijuana Policy Project:

I’m pleased to announce that the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy (CSMP) has launched its long-awaited campaign to pass a statewide marijuana “decriminalization” initiative in Massachusetts in November 2008.

With your help, CSMP plans to reduce the penalties in Massachusetts so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana will be punishable by only a small fine — like a parking ticket — with no arrest, no additional penalties, no lawyer’s fees, and no court appearances. Click here to read a news story about the campaign.

MPP is currently assisting CSMP in collecting signatures to put the initiative on the November 2008 ballot, and we need you to be part of the campaign. Will you please visit www.SensibleMarijuanaPolicy.org to donate $10 or more today?

And if you live in Massachusetts, CSMP needs you to volunteer to collect signatures or to make a particularly sizable donation. If you don’t live in Massachusetts, CSMP needs you to donate money to support the signature-gathering effort.

Massachusetts law requires that CSMP collect 66,593 valid signatures between September 15 and November 21, 2007. CSMP will then have to collect an additional 11,099 signatures in the spring of 2008 in order to place the decriminalization initiative on the November 2008 ballot. Because validity rates for signatures hover around 55%, this means the committee actually needs to collect about 140,000 raw signatures to qualify the initiative for the ballot. And because it costs us $3 to gather each signature, CSMP needs the help of both generous donors and committed volunteers to make this $420,000 project happen.

Signature-gathering can be a very difficult process, but the momentum is clearly on our side. Since 2000, Massachusetts residents have approved 41 out of 41 local marijuana-related initiatives by an average of 63% of the vote. Of these, 30 urged state legislators to support legislation to make the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a citation and a small fine, as opposed to arrest and jail. This string of local victories — as well as growing support for such legislation in the state legislature and in the news media, including the Boston Globe — means that Massachusetts is ready for this statewide initiative.

MPP, the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy, and a coalition of Massachusetts advocates, legislators, and other policy makers are excited to move forward with this campaign. Would you please lend your support today?

Written by Leisureguy

9 October 2007 at 9:12 am

Posted in Drug laws, Election, Government

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McCain on medical marijuana

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An email from the Marijuana Policy Project:

Last week, at a campaign event in New Hampshire, when medical marijuana patient Linda Macia asked U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) whether he would end the federal government’s arrests of patients and providers in the 12 medical marijuana states if he were to be elected president, he said the following:

“Well, first of all, you’ll have to show me a case where people are going in and arresting people who are dead and dying . . . I haven’t heard of such a case, nor has anyone I know of heard of such a case, so it must be a very well-kept secret.”

You can read some news coverage of the encounter here.

Sen. McCain’s condescending and uninformed comments are just the latest in his clash with MPP’s forces in New Hampshire, Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana, which is a nine-month campaign to pressure the presidential candidates to take strong, public, positive positions on medical marijuana in advance of the New Hampshire primary — the first in the nation — expected to be no later than January 8, 2008.

Would you please consider funding our pressure tactics in New Hampshire?

In April, Sen. McCain pledged “to let states decide” whether to allow medical marijuana, only to flip-flop in August, claiming that “there’s other ways of relieving pain and applying medical help” than marijuana. A few days later, he brusquely dismissed a follow-up question from MPP, saying, “I don’t think everyone came here today to hear about marijuana.”

As a result, we have awarded Sen. McCain an “F” in our new report card on the presidential candidates for his ignorance and heartlessness regarding the federal government’s war on the sick and dying.

Overall, however, our New Hampshire campaign has seen much success: To date, 10 of the 17 Democratic and Republican candidates have already pledged to end the federal government’s arrests of medical marijuana patients if elected president — including all eight Democratic candidates. Please visit our campaign Web site for the complete voting guide.

The work we’re doing in New Hampshire comes at a critical juncture, as federal intrusion into medical marijuana states is on the rise. This summer, armed DEA agents raided patients and dispensaries in Los Angeles County and San Mateo, California, and in Portland, Oregon. And another raid occurred in Sacramento last week.

Most appallingly, in late August a drug task force staffed by the DEA and local law enforcement officials raided the home of a paraplegic medical marijuana patient in Malaga, New Mexico — the most recent state to legalize medical marijuana.

And in July and September, the DEA also began threatening landlords in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara who lease space to medical marijuana dispensaries — activity that’s legal under California state law — with federal prison time and property forfeiture, a move condemned in a Los Angeles Times editorial as “a deplorable new bullying tactic.”

Lobbying for change in our national priorities must be done, and MPP is doing it in New Hampshire, on Capitol Hill, and in targeted congressional districts nationwide. And our New Hampshire campaign is unique: We’re the only drug policy reform organization that’s systematically influencing the presidential candidates to take positive positions on medical marijuana.

Please consider making a donation in support of our campaign today. With your help, in January 2009 we’ll inaugurate a new president who is committed to ending the arrests of medical marijuana patients and providers.

Written by Leisureguy

4 October 2007 at 7:44 am

Posted in Drug laws, Election

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Can we afford to keep marijuana illegal?

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Following is an email I received from the Marijuana Policy Project. As we close in on a $10 trillion national debt, our legislators should be looking for ways to cut costs and increase revenues. And after 80 years of war on this drug, do the figures below indicate that the current approach is working at all?

A new report that MPP co-released yesterday shows that marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers $41.8 billion annually in law enforcement expenses and revenues lost to government at all levels.

The analysis, by researcher Jon B. Gettman, Ph.D., is based primarily on government estimates of the U.S. marijuana supply, prices, and arrests. (MPP and Dr. Gettman made international headlines in December 2006 when we co-released his analysis showing that marijuana is the top cash crop in the U.S.) Click here to read some news coverage of Gettman’s latest report.

Key findings of “Lost Taxes and Other Costs of Marijuana Laws” include:

• Marijuana arrests constitute 5.54% of all U.S. arrests, costing taxpayers $10.7 billion in criminal justice expenses annually.

• The total U.S. marijuana supply is 14,349 metric tons annually, with a retail value of $113 billion.

• Marijuana prohibition diverts the entire $113 billion in sales from the legal economy, costing $31.1 billion in lost tax revenues annually.

This documentation of our nation’s failed marijuana laws comes just after the FBI reported a record 829,627 marijuana arrests in 2006.

The evidence against marijuana prohibition keeps mounting. Funding and promoting cutting-edge research like this and getting it into the news and into the hands of lawmakers takes financial support from people like you — people who are motivated to turn common sense and cutting-edge research into action.

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2007 at 10:14 am

Posted in Drug laws, Government

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Skip violent crime, focus on marijuana

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An email from the Drug Policy Alliance:

According to recently released statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), marijuana arrests reached an all-time high last year. This news comes despite a rise in violent crime for the second consecutive year. Yet, last year alone, 829,625 Americans were charged with marijuana offenses according to the recently released FBI Uniform Crime Statistics. Eighty-nine percent of those charges were merely for simple possession.

This poses the question: shouldn’t law enforcement focus on the rising violent crime rate instead of wasting precious resources and manpower going after people for marijuana?

Close to 100 million Americans—including more than half of those between the ages of 18 and 50—have tried marijuana at least once. Military and police recruiters often have no choice but to ignore past marijuana use by job seekers. In fact, the FBI recently announced it is changing its policy of not hiring people with a history of marijuana or other illegal drug use because the policy disqualifies so many people the agency cannot fill needed positions.

Marijuana prohibition is unique among American criminal laws. No other law is both enforced so widely and harshly and yet deemed unnecessary by such a substantial portion of the populace. Millions of Americans have never been arrested or convicted of any criminal offense except this. Enforcing marijuana laws costs an estimated $10-15 billion in direct costs alone.

Punishments range widely across the country, from modest fines to a few days in jail to many years in prison. Prosecutors often contend that no one goes to prison for simple possession—but tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of people on probation and parole are locked up each year because their urine tested positive for marijuana or because they were picked up in possession of a joint. Alabama currently locks up people convicted three times of marijuana possession for 15 years to life. There are probably— no firm estimates exist—100,000 Americans behind bars tonight for one marijuana offense or another. And even for those who don’t lose their freedom, simply being arrested can be traumatic and costly. A parent’s marijuana use can be the basis for taking away her children and putting them in foster care. Foreign-born residents of the U.S. can be deported for a marijuana offense no matter how long they have lived in this country, no matter if their children are U.S. citizens, and no matter how long they have been legally employed. More than half the states revoke or suspend driver’s licenses of people arrested for marijuana possession even though they were not driving at the time of arrest.

With violent crime on the rise, arresting marijuana users at such alarming rates does nothing to make Americans feel safer.

Written by Leisureguy

27 September 2007 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Drug laws

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Good news from the interminable drug war

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An email from Marijuana Policy Project:

Late last week, Congress passed a measure involving the FDA that did not include a dangerous amendment that could have undermined the 12 state laws that are protecting medical marijuana patients from arrest and jail.

The FDA bill’s passage marks the defeat of the greatest threat the medical marijuana movement has ever faced.

The threat was in the form of an amendment that was authored by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and attached to the Senate version of the FDA bill back in April. The House thankfully omitted Sen. Coburn’s amendment from its version of the FDA bill, and the final bill that President Bush is expected to sign also did not include Sen. Coburn’s amendment.

This victory is the result of MPP’s tireless work on Capitol Hill — and your calls, e-mails, and faxes to your members of Congress. Also important were the behind-the-scenes calls from major MPP allies to key members of Congress.

If you haven’t yet made a donation to MPP this year, would you please consider giving $10 or more today to support our important work in Congress?

The defeat of Sen. Coburn’s amendment feels really, really good. He is perhaps the number-one opponent of medical marijuana in the U.S. Senate; for example, last year he told MPP’s lobbyist that “marijuana is not a medicine, and the doctors and scientists who say it is one are smoking it themselves.”

Sen. Coburn’s amendment was a thinly veiled attempt to undermine the medical marijuana laws in 12 states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington — by placing them under the authority of the FDA (in addition to the DEA), while not providing the same approval process for marijuana as for other drugs seeking FDA approval as prescription medicines.

If the Coburn amendment had become law, a federal agency could have sued, say, the Oregon government for the purpose of persuading a federal judge to shut down Oregon’s medical marijuana ID card program that has done so much to protect more than 10,000 patients in the state.

MPP and its allies on Capitol Hill successfully worked with members of the House and Senate to remove the offending provision from the final version of the bill — making new legislative allies in the process. The House passed the final FDA bill on Wednesday, and the Senate passed it on Thursday.

Again, this success would not have been possible without your support — in the form of contacting your legislators, and in the form of financial contributions. Influence in Congress is not easily gained.

Please make a donation to MPP today so that we can continue to push forward with ending marijuana prohibition in this country.

Just today, the FBI released its annual Uniform Crime Reports, which documented that our nation just hit a new all-time high for marijuana arrests in the U.S. — 829,627 arrests by local and state police (not the feds) in 2006 alone. That’s one marijuana arrest every 38 seconds.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2007 at 2:27 pm

Posted in Congress, Drug laws, Government, Medical

Tagged with ,

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