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  • ShereeKrider 1:46 am on April 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Canadian Cannabis Act, , , , medical, personal use,   

    Canada takes action to legalize and strictly regulate cannabis 


    News Release

    From Health Canada

    Proposed legislation would provide regulated and restricted access to cannabis and crack down on impaired driving

    April 13, 2017              Ottawa, ON      

                                                               Government of Canada

    The current approach to cannabis does not work. It has allowed criminals and organized crime to profit, while failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth. In many cases, it is easier for our kids to buy cannabis than cigarettes.

    That is why the Government of Canada, after extensive consultation with law enforcement, health and safety experts, and the hard work of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, today introduced legislation to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis.

    The proposed Cannabis Act would create a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada. Following Royal Assent, the proposed legislation would allow adults to legally possess and use cannabis. This would mean that possession of small amounts of cannabis would no longer be a criminal offence and would prevent profits from going into the pockets of criminal organizations and street gangs. The Bill would also, for the first time, make it a specific criminal offence to sell cannabis to a minor and create significant penalties for those who engage young Canadians in cannabis-related offences.   

    In addition to legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis, the Government is toughening laws around alcohol- and drug-impaired driving. Under the Government’s proposed legislation, new offences would be added to the Criminal Code to enforce a zero tolerance approach for those driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs. Additionally, the proposed legislation would authorize new tools for police to better detect drivers who have drugs in their body.

    Subject to Parliamentary approval and Royal Assent, the Government of Canada intends to provide regulated and restricted access to cannabis no later than July 2018.

    The Government will invest additional resources to make sure there is appropriate capacity within Health Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Department of Public Safety to license, inspect and enforce all aspects of the proposed legislation. These additional resources will also allow the Government to undertake a robust public awareness campaign so that Canadians are well informed about the dangers of driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs.

    Working in partnership with provinces, territories, municipalities and local communities, the Government will also make appropriate investments to train and equip law enforcement so that Canada’s roads and highways are safe for all Canadians.

    In the months ahead, the Government will share more details on a new licensing fee and excise tax system. It will also continue to engage with all levels of government and Indigenous Peoples.

    Quotes

    “As a former police officer, I know firsthand how easy it is for our kids to buy cannabis. In many cases, it is easier for our children to get cannabis than it is to get cigarettes. Today’s plan to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis will put an end to this. It will keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, and stop criminals from profiting from it.”
    Bill Blair
    Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

    “Today, we are following through on our commitment to introduce comprehensive legislation to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis and to create new laws to punish more severely those who drive under its influence. The Cannabis Act reflects an evidence-based approach that will protect Canadians’ public health and safety. By tackling alcohol- and drug-impaired driving with new and tougher criminal offences, Canadians will be better protected from impaired drivers and the number of deaths and accidents on our roads will be reduced.”
    The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould
    Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

    “The bills we propose today are aiming at putting drug dealers and organized crime out of the cannabis business. It will allow law enforcement to focus on other serious offences, including the distribution of cannabis to children and youth and driving under the influence of drugs. Drug-impaired driving puts the lives and the safety of drivers and passengers at risk every day, and we will lead a wide-ranging campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while impaired. The proposed Bill will also provide more tools and stronger laws to punish more severely drivers who drive under the influence of drugs, including cannabis. We will continue to work with our law enforcement, provincial and territorial partners and stakeholders to develop a consistent enforcement approach and to provide support in building capacity across the country.”
    The Honourable Ralph Goodale
    Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

    “The Cannabis Act will help keep our children safe and address the health risks associated with cannabis. The proposed legislation would allow Canadian adults to possess and purchase regulated and quality-controlled cannabis products, while prohibiting sales to young Canadians and any products, promotion, packaging or labelling that could be appealing to young people.”
    The Honourable Jane Philpott
    Minister of Health

    Quick Facts

    • The Cannabis Act proposes that legal sales of cannabis would be restricted to people who are 18 years of age and over. Provinces and territories could increase the minimum legal age of sale, purchase and consumption.
    • The movement of cannabis and cannabis products across international borders would remain a serious criminal offence.
    • Following Royal Assent, the Government intends to bring the proposed Act into force no later than July 2018. At that time, adults would legally be able to possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis in public, and to grow up to four plants per household at a maximum height of one metre from a legal seed or seedling. Until the new law comes into force, cannabis will remain illegal everywhere in Canada, except for medical purposes.
    • The provinces and territories would authorize and oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis, subject to minimum federal conditions. In those jurisdictions that have not put in place a regulated retail framework, individuals would be able to purchase cannabis online from a federally licensed producer with secure home delivery through the mail or by courier.
    • The proposed legislation would amend the Criminal Code to modernize and simplify the transportation provisions, strengthen the criminal law responses to impaired driving, and facilitate the effective and efficient investigation and prosecution of drug- and alcohol-impaired driving.
    • To facilitate detection and investigation of drug-impaired driving, law enforcement officers will be authorized and equipped to use oral fluid drug screeners at the roadside.

    Related Products

    – 30 –

    Contacts

    David Taylor
    Office of the Minister of Justice
    613-992-4621

    Media Relations
    Department of Justice Canada
    613-957-4207
    media@justice.gc.ca

    Andrew MacKendrick
    Office of the Minister of Health
    613-957-0200

    Media Relations
    Health Canada
    613-957-2983

    Scott Bardsley
    Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
    613-998-5681

    Media Relations
    Public Safety Canada
    613-991-0657
    media@ps-sp.gc.ca

    Public Inquiries:
    613-957-2991
    1-866 225-0709

    SOURCE LINK

     
  • ShereeKrider 1:48 am on February 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: brain cancer, Cannabidiol, Cannabis Therapy, Epidolex, Glioblastoma multiforme, GW Pharmaceuticals   

    The Next Big Brain Cancer Drug Could Come from Marijuana 


    Sy Mukherjee

    9:44 PM Central

    Image result for marijuana

    GW Pharmaceuticals (gwph, +2.63%) is already well on its way to winning the first-ever U.S. approval for a cannabis-derived therapy. But an early trial suggests that these treatments could also be an effective way to fight one of most devastating forms of brain cancers: glioblastoma multiforme.

    The U.K.-based company unveiled preliminary data Tuesday from a mid-stage study on an experimental drug combining cannabidiol and THC, the “high” producing element of marijuana. Results so far show that the drug boosted brain cancer patients’ median survival rates by about six months compared to a placebo. Typically, this type of cancer ravages the brain and (on average) leaves 70% of patients dead within two years of being diagnosed.

    Click here to subscribe to Brainstorm Health Daily, our brand new newsletter about health innovations.

    “We believe that the signals of efficacy demonstrated in this study further reinforce the potential role of cannabinoids in the field of oncology and provide GW with the prospect of a new and distinct cannabinoid product candidate in the treatment of glioma,” GW CEO Justin Gover said in a statement.

    GW is already interpreting the results as a reason to expand its foray into cancer treatment. The company’s most advanced drug candidate, Epidiolex (for treatment of severe epilepsy related to a number of rare disorders), is closest to reaching the U.S. market. But the firm has staked out more far-reaching ambitions in an environment where cannabis-based products have been increasingly accepted.

    For one, Gover thinks that cannabidiol-based therapies show plenty of promise in behavioral disorders like schizophrenia, he told Fortune last year.

    Marijuana’s effect on cancer still isn’t all that clear. A big recent review by American scientists suggests the drug is effective for treating pain and nausea in cancer patients but doesn’t necessarily treat (or cause) cancer. However, GW’s drug isn’t just a bowl of weed to be smoked – it contains concentrated derivatives and is undergoing the kind of clinical testing that could provide insights hampered by U.S. policy towards studying cannabis.

    CONTINUE READING…

    http://fortune.com/2016/09/26/gw-pharmaceuticals-marijuana-therapy/

     
  • ShereeKrider 10:09 pm on December 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    The Reintroduction of Psychedelic Drugs Into Society. — News Leak 


    For thousands of years, human beings have sought after and experienced altered states of consciousness. Meditation, sleep deprivation, fasting and the use of psychedelic substances have all been used in order to alter the mind and body’s regular functions and bring about these altered states. Until fairly recently, the physiological changes in the body underlying these effects, especially in regards to psychedelic substances, were largely unknown due to a significant lack of thorough research into them.

    via The Reintroduction of Psychedelic Drugs Into Society. — News Leak

     
  • ShereeKrider 5:24 pm on December 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Ananda Hemp Comments on Recent DEA Ruling 


    News provided by

    Ananda Hemp

    Dec 19, 2016, 11:26 ET

     

    LEXINGTON, Ky., Dec. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Last Wednesday, December 14th, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a ruling on the coding of “marihuana extracts.” Many questions have arisen in the marketplace from those concerned that the intention of the agency was to seemingly classify hemp-derived extracts containing Cannabidiol (CBD) Schedule I substances.

    Ananda Hemp and our parent company Ecofibre have sought legal advice and believe the Final Rule published by DEA doesnot change the legal status of CBD as this can only be done by a scheduling action which has NOT occurred. We are within the belief that the ruling was a mere administrative action and not an attempt to bypass any Congressionally imposed laws such as the 2014 Farm Bill, or any other necessary judicial process.

    We strongly believe that our farming operations and products obtained under those operations are, and will continue to be, compliant and legal in all 50 states:

    • Cannabidiol (CBD) is not listed on the federal schedule of controlled substances;
    • Sec. 7606 of the Farm Bill defines hemp as distinct from marijuana and is therefore removed from the definition as a controlled substance when grown under a compliant state program;
    • The 2015 Congressional Appropriations act and corresponding 2016 Appropriations Act specifically defunded the DEA and other governmental agencies from interfering with the processing, use, or sale of industrial hemp that was cultivated in compliance with section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill;
    • The code assigned to “marihuana extract” in the rule is “Administration Controlled Substances Code Number” for the purposes of identification of substances on registration forms;
    • Therefore, the Final Rule published on December 14th was not a scheduling action but rather an administrative action related to record keeping

    Ecofibre has been working in the state of Kentucky since 2014 and operated under the full extent of section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill. To date the company has invested millions of dollars in the region and created a broad range of jobs and farming salaries in Central Kentucky. This year we contracted 500 acres of industrial hemp production and have recently completed yet another successful harvest season. Our brand, Ananda Hemp, has recently entered the marketplace in good favor with consumers and channel partners as we now endeavor to enter into the market research phase of our 5-year pilot program.

    Our company will continue to scale our operations in Kentucky and the USA alike by continuing to contract industrial hemp production with American farmers and bringing quality, domestically-produced products to market for sale in all 50 states.

    About Ecofibre

    Ecofibre is an Australian company that maintains one the world’s largest and most diverse seed banks of cannabis sativa germplasm, which includes several certified industrial hemp cultivars.

    Ecofibre has strong research partnerships with several leading Universities and currently utilizes its licenses to grow industrial hemp for the purposes of research and production.

    Ecofibre is privately funded by some of Australia’s leading business leaders as well as Joy and Barry Lambert, the most noted cannabis philanthropists in the industry.

    Contact
    Eric Wang
    +61 (0)403 570 377 
    eric.wang@ecofibre.com.au

    About Ananda Hemp

    Ananda Hemp is a premier provider of health and wellness products that are exclusively derived from industrial hemp cultivated compliantly in Kentucky, USA under the accordance of section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill.

    Contact
    John Ryan
    +1 858 405 8615
    john@anandahemp.com

    SOURCE Ananda Hemp

     
  • ShereeKrider 7:28 pm on December 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: authority, , , , Marketwired,   

    DEA Hurts Growing Industry and Exceeds its Authority Regarding Scheduling Controlled Substances; Enacts Final Rule Seeking to Make Any Extract of the Cannabis Plant a Schedule 1 Drug 


    Hoban Law Group

    December 14, 2016 19:29 ET

    DEA Hurts Growing Industry and Exceeds its Authority Regarding Scheduling Controlled Substances; Enacts Final Rule Seeking to Make Any Extract of the Cannabis Plant a Schedule 1 Drug

    DENVER, CO–(Marketwired – December 14, 2016) – On December 13, 2016, the DEA issued its Final Rule, “Establishment of New Drug Code for Marihuana Extract,” which serves to potentially devastate developing businesses and consumer, textile and manufacturing industries related to cannabinoids. Robert Hoban, a cannabis, cannabinoid and hemp lawyer and expert as well as an adjunct professor of law at The University of Denver, states the DOJ and DEA cannot unilaterally make law and schedule controlled substances, thus causing this Final Rule to exceed the DEA’s authority. Instead, such actions require an act of Congress.

    As is the case here, the DEA is an agency that has previously sought to exceed its authority contrary to applicable law. It is anticipated that this “final ruling” and determination will be challenged both in court and administratively across the country. With 28 states that already have medical cannabis laws on the books, 8 states passing adult use laws in the November election, and numerous other states enacting industrial hemp legislation, the industry is up for the challenge of litigation against any government agency that operates contrary to prevailing law and enforcement policies.

    The DEA’s Final Rule seeks to broadly expand and override existing definitions of controlled substances by newly creating a “Marihuana Extract” classification. The effect of this Final Rule appears to be incorporation of any and all cannabinoids from the Cannabis plant as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, despite the fact that many such cannabinoids are naturally occurring derived from non-“marihuana” portions of the plant or or from entirely different plants altogether. Problematically, the Final Rule fails to acknowledge there exist certain parts of the plant, and certain types of the plant — namely, industrial hemp — which cannot and should not be treated as a “Marihuana Extract.” Notably, the DEA has sought to unilaterally create laws before, and has lost, when challenged.

    Hoban surmises, “The feeling is that this is an action beyond the DEA’s authority and we believe this is unlawful and we are taking a course of action for our clients. This Final Rule serves to threaten hundreds, if not thousands, of growing businesses, with massive economic and industry expansion opportunities, all of which conduct lawful business in reliance upon the Federal Government also acting pursuant to law, and as ordered by the Ninth Circuit in 2003 and 2004. We will see the Federal Government in court.”

    Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2016/12/14/11G125277/Images/Hoban_Photo-82fa3561cc6d93ea991b06d3c4c27235.jpg

    Contact Information

     
  • ShereeKrider 4:27 pm on December 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , delayed notice search warrants, , , ,   

    Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (hereafter known as the Patriot Act, because that name is long and dumb) 


    Data shows Patriot Act used more often to justify drug warrants, not terrorism ones

    by Miranda Nelson on September 8th, 2011 at 11:24 AM

     

    null

    New York Magazine has put out an incredibly detailed compendium of 9/11 information on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attacks that left over 3,000 people dead. The September 11 attacks, as you’re well aware, were the impetus (or used as justification, depending on how cynical you are) for pushing through the USA PATRIOT ACT, which was hurriedly signed into law on October 26, 2001.

    One of the main focuses of the Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (hereafter known as the Patriot Act, because that name is long and dumb) is Title II, which is all about surveillance. That’s right: even though those dastardly terrorists who hate our freedom came from overseas (as was the rhetoric beaten into the collective consciousness post 9/11), the U.S. government thought it was prudent to pass a bunch of surveillance laws so it could spy on its own citizens.

    Let me quote the relevant section before we proceed:

    SEC. 213. AUTHORITY FOR DELAYING NOTICE OF THE EXECUTION OF A WARRANT.

    …(b) DELAY- With respect to the issuance of any warrant or court order under this section, or any other rule of law, to search for and seize any property or material that constitutes evidence of a criminal offense in violation of the laws of the United States, any notice required, or that may be required, to be given may be delayed if–

    (1) the court finds reasonable cause to believe that providing immediate notification of the execution of the warrant may have an adverse result (as defined in section 2705);

    Delayed-notice search warrants: we won’t tell you we’re breaking into your house to look around if we think there will be adverse results, like you calling up your terrorist buddies to let them know we’re on to you.

    Something seems wrong with this graph (courtesy New York Magazine).

    But between 2006 and 2009, do you know how many times the Patriot Act was used to issue delayed-notice warrants relating to terrorists and related activities? That would be a whole 15 times—even though the act mentions the word terrorism 161 times and terrorism 175 times.

    Aside: did you know that not a single person has been brought to justice on American soil for those deaths?

    In the same time period, New York Magazine reports that 1,618 delayed-notice search warrants were issued in relation to drugs and related activity. If you had any doubts about the true mandate of the Patriot Act, doubt no longer. Congratulations America on using a senseless tragedy to justify targeting marijuana users!

    And why am I concluding that these people are primarily low-level marijuana offenders and not cocaine smugglers or meth manufacturers? The statistics on arrests and imprisonment make it clear: in 2006, 829,627 marijuana-related arrests were made in the United States, 89 percent of which were for mere possession. Not for growing or selling. Just for holding onto the stuff. In 2010, 50,383 arrests were made in New York City alone for possession.

    The Patriot Act: great for the War on Drugs, bad for anyone who likes to smoke a joint, laughable in regards to stopping terrorism.

    Follow Miranda Nelson on Twitter at @charenton_.

    CONTINUE READING…

     
  • ShereeKrider 2:09 am on November 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Radiation oncologist tells panel that former cancer patient’s trials changed his perspective on medical cannabis 


    09/21/2016 06:02 PM

    526275994

     

    FRANKFORT — A radiation oncologist says his experiences watching a cancer patient ultimately lose her battle with the illness while also defending herself against charges of growing marijuana caused his perspective on medical cannabis to change completely.

    Dr. Don Stacy, who practices in the Louisville area, told the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare on Wednesday that the woman, a 25-year-old female, had developed head and neck cancer.

    And after various prescriptions did nothing to help her cope with complications of her chemotherapy and radiation treatment, she found relief in marijuana.

    The cancer ultimately disappeared, and she married and had a kid.

    But her ending wasn’t a happy one.

    “Unfortunately her cancer recurred after treatment,” Stacy, medical liaison for the Alliance for Innovative Medicine, told lawmakers. “Her husband abandoned her. She then started aggressive treatment again to try to control her recurring disease, which led to a variety of severe side effects. Based on her experience initially, she decided to try to restart to smoke cannabis again.”

    The woman, who was sexually assaulted in that time, eventually began growing marijuana at her home, sparking the interest of law enforcement.

    “She was arrested, her child was taken away from her, and she ended up dying of her cancer.”

    Stacy said the woman wasn’t the only patient who informed him of marijuana use, adding that the patients who self-report using cannabis say it is “highly effective at minimizing their symptoms” that can include nausea and pain.

    Medical marijuana is legal in 25 states and the District of Columbia, and the issue has shown marginal progress in recent legislative sessions.

    But lawmakers indicated that they’ll need to see more before signing onto a bill legalizing pot for medical use.

    Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, said he’s keeping an open mind on the topic and wants to see more clinical trials on medical marijuana. Groups like the American and Kentucky medical associations and those advocating for victims of multiple sclerosis have also said additional trials are needed, Alvarado said.

    “They claim it improves (symptoms of multiple sclerosis), and when I’ve asked their folks what is your official stance as an organization, they say we want more studies on this topic to know if it’s going to work or not,” he said.

    Senate Majority Whip Jimmy Higdon, who read from a recent Politico article authored by his son, James Higdon, on South Carolina Senator and former presidential candidate Lindsey Graham’s evolution on the subject, says he’s on the fence about medical cannabis.

    One important factor will be how it’s defined in legislation.

    “Bills like Sen. (Morgan) McGarvey’s bill, I could support a bill like his that deals with end-of-life issues for Hospice patients,” said Higdon, R-Lebanon.

    McGarvey’s bill, Senate Bill 304, would have created a classification of medically necessary marijuana and a task force to craft enabling legislation, specifically for end-of-life scenarios, for the 2017 session. SB 204 and other previous efforts to legalize medical cannabis haven’t gotten past their respective committees.

    In July, Sen. John Schickel, a Union Republican and chair of the Senate Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee, held an informational heaing on the issue in hopes of advancing debate during the legislative interim.

    Rep. Tom Burch, who chairs the House Health and Welfare Committee, said lawmakers will continue to grapple with the subject in upcoming sessions “until we finally do something about it.”

    “In 1974 I voted to criminalize marijuana, so I was one of the bad guys I guess,” said Burch, D-Louisville.

    CONTINUE READING…

    LISTEN TO VIDEO NEWS INTERVIEWS AT THIS LINK

     
  • ShereeKrider 4:39 am on November 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Petitioning to keep Kratom OUT of the Controlled Substance Act and Schedule I – We only have until December 1st! 


    kratom-plant

    Recently I published an article with information pertaining to the rescheduling of Kratom by the U.S. Government via the DEA into Schedule I Status.

    Fortunately the change was at least held off long enough for people to be able to make their comments on the subject.

    The link to REGULATIONS.GOV where the DEA/Federal Government is accepting comments is only going to be active until December 1st so don’t forget to make your comment soon!

    Additionally there is another petition to keep Kratom off the Controlled Substance list.  The link to that petition is here:

    Do not place Kratom on the Controlled Substance List

    Please sign this petition as well!

    We are anti-prohibitionist’s!

    sk

     
  • ShereeKrider 1:25 pm on November 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Drug Legalization, Marijuana Legalization, , Politics News, The War on Drugs   

    It’s high time: If we can legalize marijuana, why can’t we end the misguided War on Drugs? 


    America’s wasted more than $1 trillion on demonizing drugs, many of which, like weed, have real medical benefits

    Thor Benson

    It's high time: If we can legalize marijuana, why can't we end the misguided War on Drugs?

    On Election Day, my home state of California voted to legalize recreational cannabis, as did Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada. So the 2016 elections represented a substantial victory for the legalization movement, which has managed to pass referendums in seven states. With 57 percent of the country now supporting marijuana legalization, according to Pew, it seems likely there will be a nationwide victory sometime in the next few years. However, the War on Drugs is far from over.

    Even if marijuana is legalized throughout the United States, there will still be numerous drugs in this country that remain very much illegal, and Americans will suffer because of this. Drugs like psilocybin mushrooms, LSD and MDMA have all demonstrated great potential when it comes to medical benefits, and shown little potential for harm. Still, the idea of legalizing those drugs any time soon seems as likely as Donald Trump hosting a quinceañera.

    “LSD, psilocybin and MDMA, when combined with psychotherapy, have tremendous medical potential for treating psychiatric illnesses in people for whom other treatments have failed,” Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), told me in an email. “These psychedelic drugs need to be legalized, both through scientific drug development studies designed to obtain FDA approval for prescription use and through political means so that they are legalized for non-medical purposes like personal growth, spirituality, couples therapy, creativity, innovation, and celebratory experiences.”

    Researchers in Switzerland found in 2014 that LSD can be helpful for patients dealing with end-of-life anxiety related to a terminal illness. The same sort of conclusion has been drawn for psilocybin. Psilocybin has also proven useful for treating severe depression. MDMA has shown great promise for treating PTSD, when used alongside psychotherapy. All of the drugs remain illegal in the United States, and there has been little effort to change that.

    Let’s not stop there, though. The War on Drugs has cost America well over $1 trillion since it began under Richard Nixon. This war has been the main cause of our country’s mass incarceration problem. As it is often noted, we have 5 percent of the world’s population and roughly 25 percent of its prisoners. You cannot have a War on Drugs, you can only have a war on people. As Gore Vidal famously used to say of the War on Terror, you cannot have a war on a noun, as that is like saying you’re at war with dandruff. Too many can’t get jobs because of criminal records or lose decades of their lives over small offenses.

    We must legalize all drugs. You cannot regulate a drug that is not legal, and you cannot stop addiction by throwing citizens in cages and putting in no effort to rehabilitate them. I am not arguing for the selling of meth and heroin at your local Target store, but I am arguing for a scenario where you are not put in cuffs for having one of those drugs in your pocket.

    Portugal decriminalized all drugs nearly decades ago, and the country has not spiraled into hellfire and cannibalism. In fact, drug use decreased, drug-related deaths went down and the instances of HIV infections decreased severely. Of course, the country also initiated harm-reduction programs and invested in reducing addiction, but it appears decriminalizing the drugs didn’t turn every corner into a wanton cocaine party. Perhaps we could learn from this example.

    Thanks to abuse of prescription painkillers, this country faces a widespread opioid crisis — and all those drugs are legal. While we divvied out legal pills that people didn’t really need to fill the pockets of greedheads, as Hunter S. Thompson called them, we locked up people using a different version of the same drugs. Many who got addicted to painkillers while on prescription turned to heroin when they couldn’t be prescribed them any more or couldn’t afford them. The whole system is toxic.

    I’m calling for a true legalization movement. No longer should lives be ruined because of some minor drug experimentation or because a citizen who needed to make an extra buck sold some substances to a willing buyer. The legalization of marijuana will be a milestone, especially since it’s the most popular drug out there, but we cannot stop there. We should murder the War on Drugs and burn its cadaver. This “war” has been one of the biggest policy failures in American history, and we’ve known this for quite some time. Let’s grow up and move forward. We cannot call ourselves the land of the free when we represent the land of the detained.

    More Thor Benson.

    CONTINUE READING…

     
  • ShereeKrider 12:04 pm on October 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACLU, , Human Rights Watch, , , ,   

    Every 25 seconds in the United States, someone is arrested for the simple act of possessing drugs for their personal use… 


    Interview: Why the US Should Decriminalize Drug Use

     

    Summary

     

    Neal Scott may die in prison. A 49-year-old Black man from New Orleans, Neal had cycled in and out of prison for drug possession over a number of years. He said he was never offered treatment for his drug dependence; instead, the criminal justice system gave him time behind bars and felony convictions—most recently, five years for possessing a small amount of cocaine and a crack pipe. When Neal was arrested in May 2015, he was homeless and could not walk without pain, struggling with a rare autoimmune disease that required routine hospitalizations. Because he could not afford his $7,500 bond, Neal remained in jail for months, where he did not receive proper medication and his health declined drastically—one day he even passed out in the courtroom. Neal eventually pled guilty because he would face a minimum of 20 years in prison if he took his drug possession case to trial and lost. He told us that he cried the day he pled, because he knew he might not survive his sentence.[1]

    ***

    Just short of her 30th birthday, Nicole Bishop spent three months in jail in Houston for heroin residue in an empty baggie and cocaine residue inside a plastic straw. Although the prosecutor could have charged misdemeanor paraphernalia, he sought felony drug possession charges instead. They would be her first felonies.

    Nicole was separated from her three young children, including her breastfeeding newborn. When the baby visited Nicole in jail, she could not hear her mother’s voice or feel her touch because there was thick glass between them. Nicole finally accepted a deal from the prosecutor: she would do seven months in prison in exchange for a guilty plea for the 0.01 grams of heroin found in the baggie, and he would dismiss the straw charge. She would return to her children later that year, but as a “felon” and “drug offender.” As a result, Nicole said she would lose her student financial aid and have to give up pursuit of a degree in business administration. She would have trouble finding a job and would not be able to have her name on the lease for the home she shared with her husband. She would no longer qualify for the food stamps she had relied on to help feed her children. As she told us, she would end up punished for the rest of her life.

    ***

    Every 25 seconds in the United States, someone is arrested for the simple act of possessing drugs for their personal use, just as Neal and Nicole were. Around the country, police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other crime. More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests each year. And despite officials’ claims that drug laws are meant to curb drug sales, four times as many people are arrested for possessing drugs as are arrested for selling them.

    As a result of these arrests, on any given day at least 137,000 men and women are behind bars in the United States for drug possession, some 48,000 of them in state prisons and 89,000 in jails, most of the latter in pretrial detention. Each day, tens of thousands more are convicted, cycle through jails and prisons, and spend extended periods on probation and parole, often burdened with crippling debt from court-imposed fines and fees. Their criminal records lock them out of jobs, housing, education, welfare assistance, voting, and much more, and subject them to discrimination and stigma. The cost to them and to their families and communities, as well as to the taxpayer, is devastating. Those impacted are disproportionately communities of color and the poor.

    This report lays bare the human costs of criminalizing personal drug use and possession in the US, focusing on four states: Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and New York. Drawing from over 365 interviews with people arrested and prosecuted for their drug use, attorneys, officials, activists, and family members, and extensive new analysis of national and state data, the report shows how criminalizing drug possession has caused dramatic and unnecessary harms in these states and around the country, both for individuals and for communities that are subject to discriminatory enforcement.

    There are injustices and corresponding harms at every stage of the criminal process, harms that are all the more apparent when, as often happens, police, prosecutors, or judges respond to drug use as aggressively as the law allows. This report covers each stage of that process, beginning with searches, seizures, and the ways that drug possession arrests shape interactions with and perceptions of the police—including for the family members and friends of individuals who are arrested. We examine the aggressive tactics of many prosecutors, including charging people with felonies for tiny, sometimes even “trace” amounts of drugs, and detail how pretrial detention and long sentences combine to coerce the overwhelming majority of drug possession defendants to plead guilty, including, in some cases, individuals who later prove to be innocent.

    The report also shows how probation and criminal justice debt often hang over people’s heads long after their conviction, sometimes making it impossible for them to move on or make ends meet. Finally, through many stories, we recount how harmful the long-term consequences of incarceration and a criminal record that follow a conviction for drug possession can be—separating parents from young children and excluding individuals and sometimes families from welfare assistance, public housing, voting, employment opportunities, and much more.

    Families, friends, and neighbors understandably want government to take actions to prevent the potential harms of drug use and drug dependence. Yet the current model of criminalization does little to help people whose drug use has become problematic. Treatment for those who need and want it is often unavailable, and criminalization tends to drive people who use drugs underground, making it less likely that they will access care and more likely that they will engage in unsafe practices that make them vulnerable to disease and overdose.

    While governments have a legitimate interest in preventing problematic drug use, the criminal law is not the solution. Criminalizing drug use simply has not worked as a matter of practice. Rates of drug use fluctuate, but they have not declined significantly since the “war on drugs” was declared more than four decades ago. The criminalization of drug use and possession is also inherently problematic because it represents a restriction on individual rights that is neither necessary nor proportionate to the goals it seeks to accomplish. It punishes an activity that does not directly harm others.

    Instead, governments should expand public education programs that accurately describe the risks and potential harms of drug use, including the potential to cause drug dependence, and should increase access to voluntary, affordable, and evidence-based treatment for drug dependence and other medical and social services outside the court and prison system.

    After decades of “tough on crime” policies, there is growing recognition in the US that governments need to undertake meaningful criminal justice reform and that the “war on drugs” has failed. This report shows that although taking on parts of the problem—such as police abuse, long sentences, and marijuana reclassification—is critical, it is not enough: Criminalization is simply the wrong response to drug use and needs to be rethought altogether.

    Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union call on all states and the federal government to decriminalize the use and possession for personal use of all drugs and to focus instead on prevention and harm reduction. Until decriminalization has been achieved, we urge officials to take strong measures to minimize and mitigate the harmful consequences of existing laws and policies. The costs of the status quo, as this report shows, are too great to bear.

     

    CONTINUE READING

     

    LINK TO PDF VERSION OF REPORT (205 PAGES)

     
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