July 8, 2014
Everything Wrong With Andrew Cuomo's Medical Marijuana Law

LTMC: The bill is a joke.  As suggested above, the bill prohibits doctors from prescribing marijuana in smoking form, meaning that patients will have to pay beaucoup dollars to pharmaceutical companies to get the “proprietary marijuana solutions.”  Many of the people who could benefit from medicinal marijuana will not be able to access it because of the secondary costs associated with procuring and utilizing the legally prescribable forms of the drug.  Patients can also expect to fill out paperwork for insurance companies that almost certainly won’t cover the “proprietary marijuana solutions” or the machines needed to use it  without a prior authorization, which will deter doctors from suggesting it, and patients from asking for it.

(Source: prettayprettaygood)

July 7, 2014
"[A]fter an extremely slow start using his clemency powers, the president has issued criteria for jailed nonviolent drug offenders to be eligible. More than 18,000 prisoners have applied, but the Republican-led House of Representatives passed an amendment in May preventing the use of federal funds for screening applications."

Matt Welch (via letterstomycountry)

A response to the quote above from laliberty:

The blue #politics tag caught my eye here before I read the actual quote. I thought “what could reason’s Matt Welch have said to make it through the partisan censors at the #politics tag?”. Then I read it and realized it was all about showing Obama as some good guy and Republicans as obstructionists… and it all made perfect sense. 

Let’s not forget that, as noted in the Welch piece linked to above (in fact, earlier in the very paragraph this quote was strategically extracted from), (1) “Obama’s Justice Department raided more medical marijuana dispensaries than Bush’s ever dreamed of, while the president himself literally laughed out loud at the prospect of legalization for recreational use,” (2) the president has the power to pardon criminals and, as one presidential candidate once promised, pardoning non-violent drug offenders is something that can be done from the oval office, and (3) even if he didn’t have such power, Obama has repeatedly shown his willingness to circumvent Congress whenever it suits him and has flaunted such willingness repeatedly (he’s “got a pen,” remember?). That republicans have blocked funds is ultimately a tiny road block, since (as I understand it) there is nothing stopping the administration from redirecting DOJ resources and directives away from those many aforementioned drug raids, away from further federally prosecuting drug offenders, and toward screening applications - or, instead, doing their own due process. Indeed, that Holder and the ACLU have asked for applications is an extra step that only serves to push accountability away from the president - after all, what is the DOJ for? Furthermore, as president, that makes him de facto head of his party. For years, his party had control of both houses while he was in office. Indeed, it was under these circumstances that Obamacare was able to be crammed through the Senate without a single Republican vote. Since presidential clemency ultimately does nothing to change unjust drug laws or set president, that would have been the opportune time to make real changes to laws that punish the peaceful consumption of plants by consenting adults. Then again, they wouldn’t have been able to blame Republicans if it didn’t pass.

Forgive me if I’m not so eager to declare Obama as some righteous drug war liberator.

LTMC: I think your suspicions about the intention behind this “strategically extracted” quote are a bit misplaced.

First, some of your skepticism appears to be based on a misunderstanding of the clemency process.  The process for securing a pardon begins with a Petition for Clemency, Commutation, or Pardon, which is submitted to the DOJ.  It’s not an “extra step” to push accountability away from the President.  It’s a step that has always been a part of the process.

Second, it’s true that the White House can unilaterally redirect funding from different Agencies to give affect to its enforcement priorities.  However, this power is subordinate to Congress’s power to place express restrictions of funding to Executive Agencies.  Congress’s ability to limit the use of federal funds by other branches is the main historic tool by which Congress can limit executive power.”  Congress can tell the President how an Executive Agency must spend its money, or whether it can spend money at all.  So the amendment that was passed in the House is not merely a small roadblock.  The amendment banned the use of federal funds to expand the number of staff attorneys at the Office of the Pardon Attorney so they could process more clemency applications in a shorter amount of time.  This has the direct effect of causing  prisoners who are eligible under the new clemency guidelines to rot in jail for longer periods of time than they would otherwise have to.  So yes, the Republicans deserve to be criticized for this. If Obama looks better by comparison on this particular issue, it’s because he made a good drug policy decision for a change.

Third, regarding editing of this quote: I pulled this quote from Matt Welch’s piece because it was a point of information that I thought was relevant for anyone concerned with drug policy.  I edited the quote because the other information in that paragraph wasn’t relevant to the issue of Executive Clemency.  To be honest, I also don’t know how anyone could look at this quote and think it was clipped to make Obama look good.  The quote begins with: "after an extremely slow start using his clemency powers[.]"  That’s not a flattering lead.  If I was trying to make Obama look like a "righteous drug war liberator," I would have clipped that opening sentence, so there wasn’t even a suggestion of failure on Obama’s part. 

I have no interest in making Obama look good.  I’ve criticized his administration countless times—including for the previous conspicuous absence of Drug War pardons, and his position on Drug Prohibition generally.  I’ve taken heat from the liberal side of Tumblr on numerous occasions for stuff I’ve written about the guy—including when I suggested that Ron Paul was a better Presidential candidate on numerous issues that most self-identifying liberals claim to care about.  Perhaps the editor who selected this quote promoted it because they thought it made Obama look good in comparison to the GOP-led House.  But that’s certainly not the primary reason I pulled the quote from Welch’s article.

(via laliberty)

July 7, 2014
"[A]fter an extremely slow start using his clemency powers, the president has issued criteria for jailed nonviolent drug offenders to be eligible. More than 18,000 prisoners have applied, but the Republican-led House of Representatives passed an amendment in May preventing the use of federal funds for screening applications."

Matt Welch

July 5, 2014
humansofnewyork:

"If it wasn’t for this job, I’d still be on heroin. A few years ago, one of my bosses came to me, and he said: ‘You’re approaching a crossroads in life, and pretty soon there will be no turning back.’ Then he told me: ‘Go to rehab right now. And your job waiting for you when you get back.’""What was the boss’s name?""Robert DelPrete."

LTMC: Human boss is human.

humansofnewyork:

"If it wasn’t for this job, I’d still be on heroin. A few years ago, one of my bosses came to me, and he said: ‘You’re approaching a crossroads in life, and pretty soon there will be no turning back.’ Then he told me: ‘Go to rehab right now. And your job waiting for you when you get back.’"
"What was the boss’s name?"
"Robert DelPrete."

LTMC: Human boss is human.

July 2, 2014
Pot researcher abruptly fired by University of Arizona

From the article:

The University of Arizona has abruptly fired a prominent marijuana researcher who only months ago received rare approval from federal drug officials to study the effects of pot on patients suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

The firing of Suzanne A. Sisley, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry, puts her research in jeopardy and has sparked indignation from medical marijuana advocates.

Sisley charges she was fired after her research – and her personal political crusading – created unwanted attention for the university from legislative Republicans who control its purse strings.

“This is a clear political retaliation for the advocacy and education I have been providing the public and lawmakers,” Sisley said. “I pulled all my evaluations and this is not about my job performance.”

University officials declined to explain why Sisley’s contract was not renewed, but objected to her characterization.

Read More

June 29, 2014
"My Aunt has been an addict for more than half of her life. It caused a lot of chaos in our lives. I had never met her when she was sober, She was addicted before I was born. I asked my mum one day why she still tried? And she said “When people look at her all they see is an addict… But when I look at her, all I see is my baby sister.”"

HONY Comments

Related: The End Of The Addict

June 25, 2014
"Aggressive enforcement of the War on Drugs has lost its public mandate, as 67 percent of Americans think the government should focus more on treatment than on policing and prosecuting drug users. This waning public support is warranted, as evidence continues to document how the War on Drugs has destroyed millions of lives, unfairly impacted communities of color, made drugs cheaper and more potent, caused countless deaths of innocent people caught up in drug war-related armed conflict, and failed to eliminate drug dependence and addiction. The routine use of heavily armed SWAT teams to search people’s homes for drugs, therefore, means that law enforcement agencies across the country are using this hyper-aggressive form of domestic policing to fight a war that has waning public support and has harmed, much more than helped, communities."

ACLU - The Excessive Militarization Of American Policing

June 25, 2014
A SWAT Team Blew a Hole in My 2-Year-Old Son

From the article:

After our house burned down in Wisconsin a few months ago, my husband and I packed our four young kids and all our belongings into a gold minivan and drove to my sister-in-law’s place, just outside of Atlanta. On the back windshield, we pasted six stick figures: a dad, a mom, three young girls, and one baby boy.

That minivan was sitting in the front driveway of my sister-in-law’s place the night a SWAT team broke in, looking for a small amount of drugs they thought my husband’s nephew had. Some of my kids’ toys were in the front yard, but the officers claimed they had no way of knowing children might be present. Our whole family was sleeping in the same room, one bed for us, one for the girls, and a crib.

After the SWAT team broke down the door, they threw a flashbang grenade inside. It landed in my son’s crib.  […] It’s been three weeks since the flashbang exploded next to my sleeping baby, and he’s still covered in burns.  There’s still a hole in his chest that exposes his ribs. At least that’s what I’ve been told; I’m afraid to look.

My husband’s nephew, the one they were looking for, wasn’t there. He doesn’t even live in that house. After breaking down the door, throwing my husband to the ground, and screaming at my children, the officers – armed with M16s – filed through the house like they were playing war. They searched for drugs and never found any.

Read More

June 25, 2014
The war on drugs is lost – legalise the heroin trade

From the article:

In 2012 the International Institute for Strategic Studies published Drugs, Insecurity and Failed States: The Problems of Prohibition, concluding that “the present enforcement regime is not only failing to win the ‘war on drugs’, it is also a major cause of violence and instability in producer and transit countries”. Afghanistan exemplifies this in spades. The opium trade is corrupting Afghan institutions at all levels – arming insurgents and warlords, and undermining security and development.

In short, the war on drugs has failed in Afghanistan, and without removing the demand for illicit opium, driven by illicit heroin use in consumer countries, this failure is both predictable and inevitable. If we cannot deal effectively with supply, then the only alternative would seem to be to try to limit the demand for illicit drugs by making a supply of them available from a legally regulated market.

Half of the world’s opium is grown for the legal opiates market of which the UK grows 3,500 hectares. This legitimate drug trade does not fund the Taliban and warlords, and there is no reason why it cannot be expanded to include non-medical trade and use.

I am not the first former ambassador who has served in a drug-producing country to call for an end to prohibition. In 2001 my colleague Sir Keith Morris, the former UK ambassador to Colombia, told the BBC that if drugs were legalised and regulated the “benefits to life, health and liberty of drug users and the life, health and property of the whole population would be immense”.

Many more have made the same plea. In 2002 the home affairs select committee called on Britain to initiate a debate at the United Nations on alternatives to drug prohibition – including legal regulation. One of its members was David Cameron MP.

I understand why some politicians are reluctant to take up this debate. Before going to Afghanistan my own instincts told me that it could not be right to decriminalise drugs. But my experience there has convinced me that all political parties need to engage seriously, without trying to score points off each other.

I was deeply moved when I came across an article written by a mother who had lost both of her sons to heroin overdoses. In the unregulated prohibited market there is no quality control, no purity guide, and no safer use advice. Had her two boys been able to acquire their heroin from a doctor, they might well still be with us. In fact thousands of dependent users around Europe are already prescribed heroin, including a handful in the UK, with great benefits to them and society as a whole.

May 30, 2014
Colorado Makes an End Run Around the FDA

LTMC: If I had to recommend a right-leaning publication, The American Conservative is by far my favorite of the bunch.  They pick up where the old National Review (roughly pre-Jonah Goldberg) left off in terms of thoughtful analysis and journalism, as well as a comments section that isn’t absolutely atrocious.  Even when I disagree with their points, I find myself disagreeing without being completely disgusted by what I’ve read.  I feel like I could have a conversation with them without internet favorites like “libtard” and “republicunt” making an appearance.

(Source: theamericanconservative)

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