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Why California Decriminalized Recreational Pot: 5 Theories (Opinion)

Location: 
CA
United States
Getting busted for having an ounce or less of marijuana in California is no longer that big a deal, or even a crime, under a new law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Instead of facing a misdemeanor charge, people caught will a small amount of marijuana will now get, at most, a $100 fine. With everything else on his plate — a big budget deal, a landmark health insurance exchange — what might have motivated Schwarzenegger to decriminalize marijuana now?
Publication/Source: 
The Week (FL)
URL: 
http://theweek.com/article/index/207764/why-california-decriminalized-recreational-pot-5-theories

Big Brother to Watch Over Medical Marijuana in Colorado?

Colorado is proposing to enact a medical marijuana tracking system in which everything from marijuana grows to patient purchases to the manufacture of pot brownies would be under constant remote video surveillance where agents could monitor it all. The proposal is giving medical marijuana advocates the creeps.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/big-brother-poster.jpg
The proposal comes in the form of draft regulations promulgated by the Department of Revenue's new Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division. The division was created by legislation passed this year and signed by Gov. Bill Ritter (D) on June 7. Its purpose is to strengthen oversight over Colorado's growing medical marijuana industry.

The system would be the first in the country to track medical marijuana "from seed to sell," Julie Postlethwait, a spokeswoman for the division told the Denver Channel. The goal would be to prevent people using forged medical marijuana cards and to quickly track down pot contaminated with mold or marijuana food protects that are tainted. "We want to protect the patient. This is medicine," Postlethwait said.

"This in the long run legitimizes and helps the industry," she added. "They're caregivers. They want to provide the best quality medicine out there."

But medical marijuana advocates criticized the proposal as costly and overly intrusive.

"There is no conceivable justification for this system," said Robert Chase, a leader of the Colorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers. "It goes beyond the systems that we use to control opiate narcotic drugs, which are demonstrably much, much more dangerous. There are valid concerns about the Big Brother issue," Chase said.

Chase pointed to other provisions in the draft proposal requiring medical marijuana to be transported in tamper-proof containers and to make growers and dispensary employees provide fingerprints at each step in the supply chain.

"It's a highly intrusive process of having to give fingerprints and being under constant video surveillance. It invokes George Orwell's '1984,'" Chase said. "The whole thing is preposterous," he said.

The draft regulations are not a done deal; indeed, they are very much a work in progress. The division has formed a working group of medical marijuana growers, providers, caregivers, patients, doctors, and law enforcement to continue to work on the draft rules.

The Medical Marijuana Work Group will hold hearings on October 4 and 21 in Lakewood. The public can attend, but not address, those hearings.

CO
United States

California Governor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) Thursday signed into law a bill that decriminalizes the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. The bill reduces simple possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction.

Currently, small-time pot possession is "semi-decriminalized" in California. There is no possible jail sentence and a maximum $100 fine. But because possession is a misdemeanor, people caught with pot are "arrested," even if that means only they are served a notice to appear, and they must appear before a court.

That has happened to more than a half million Californians in the last decade, and more than 60,000 last year alone. Every one of them required a court appearance, complete with judge and prosecutor. That costs the cash-strapped state money it desperately needs.

Under the bill signed today, SB 1449, by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), marijuana possession will be treated like a traffic ticket. The fine will remain at $100, and there will be no arrest record.

In a signing statement, Schwarzenegger said he opposed decriminalization for personal use -- and threw in a gratuitous jab at Proposition 19, the tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative -- but that the state couldn't afford the status quo.

"I am signing this measure because possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is an infraction in everything but name," said Schwarzenegger. "The only difference is that because it is a misdemeanor, a criminal defendant is entitled to a jury trial and a defense attorney. In this time of drastic budget cuts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, and the courts cannot afford to expend limited resources prosecuting a crime that carries the same punishment as a traffic ticket."

"Gov. Schwarzenegger deserves credit for sparing the state's taxpayers the cost of prosecuting minor pot offenders," said California NORML director Dale Gieringer. "Californians increasingly recognize that the war on marijuana is a waste of law enforcement resources."

The law goes into effect January 1. Even if Prop 19 passes in November, it leaves in place misdemeanor charges for smoking in public or in the presence of minors. Those misdemeanors would become infractions under the new law.

Sacramento, CA
United States

Legal Medical Marijuana Distributor Convicted of... Marijuana Distribution?!? [FEATURE]

The second time was the charm for anti-medical marijuana San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. Last year, she failed to convict San Diego medical marijuana dispensary operator Jovan Jackson on distribution charges. But on Tuesday, after Dumanis convinced the trial judge to not allow Jackson to mention medical marijuana in his defense, a state court jury found him guilty of three counts of marijuana possession and distribution.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/jovan-jackson.jpg
Jovan Jackson
Jackson's attorney announced Wednesday that he will appeal the decision. It is about time for a state appellate court to clear up some of the confusion around the state's medical marijuana Compassionate Use Act, said Dale Gieringer, head of California NORML.

"The verdict doesn't surprise me since they rigged the trial," said Gieringer. "It will be appealed, and it's probably a good appellate case. I think it's time for an appellate court decision on all this, or a new law to clarify the legality of marijuana distribution. Until we change the law, we have to rely on the courts."

"By refusing him a defense, the district attorney and the court have railroaded Jackson and ensured his conviction," said Americans for Safe Access (ASA) chief counsel Joe Elford, who submitted an amicus brief in support of Jackson prior to his trial. "Jackson was denied a fair trial," Elford continued. "His conviction and the basis on which the court relied in refusing him a defense -- that sales are illegal under state law -- should absolutely be appealed."

Jackson was the operator of the Answerdam Alternative Care Collective, a San Diego medical marijuana dispensary. He was arrested in 2008 in one of Dumanis' anti-medical marijuana raids, but was acquitted last December. He was arrested again during a series of raids in September 2009, and this time, Dumanis was able to convince Judge Howard Shore to not allow Jackson to mention medical marijuana in his defense.

"After the embarrassment of losing the first trial against Jovan Jackson, District Attorney Dumanis was desperate for a conviction," said Eugene Davidovich, head of the San Diego ASA chapter, and another dispensary operator whom Dumanis prosecuted but failed to convict. "Jackson should not have been denied a defense and should not be used as a scapegoat for the district attorney's misguided position that medical marijuana sales are illegal."

"We believe the basis on which the judge refused to allow the medical marijuana defense is flawed," said ASA spokesman Kris Hermes. "It had to do with an interpretation of the medical marijuana program act that is based on the collective and cooperative cultivation statute only allowing distribution, not sales. If anyone had half a brain, they would see that it exempts collectives and co-ops from prosecution for a variety of charges, including sales. That was the basis of our amicus brief filed before the trial, but apparently never considered by Judge Shore."

"The DA down there is on a crusade to somehow convict people of medical marijuana," said Gieringer. "She's hoping she can score a victory in court on this. The law is certainly vague, and that has given her lots of opportunities, but until now, she had struck out on her jury trials, although she did get a bunch of defendants to plead guilty on minor charges."

"To be fair, as aggressive and mean-spirited as Dumanis has been, she is part of a culture in San Diego that has a sordid history of hostility around these issues," said Hermes.

The pattern of hostility can be seen in the county Board of Supervisors' failed 2006 lawsuit to avoid having to implement the state medical marijuana ID card program, and in continued aggressive action against dispensaries in the area. In 2007 and 2008, during the Bush administration, there were more than 50 raids against dispensaries. Most recently, Dumanis worked with the Obama administration to conduct 20 raids on dispensaries in San Diego on September 9, 2009, which resulted in the failed prosecution of Davidovich and the successful second prosecution of Jackson.

But as hostile as San Diego has been to medical marijuana, things are changing. Both the San Diego City Council and the county Board of Supervisors are now developing medical marijuana distribution ordinances that would regulate the very activity for which Jackson was convicted. In June, a San Diego grand jury issued recommendations calling on local governments to implement the state medical marijuana law. In particular, the grand jury called for the city and county to develop a "program for the licensing, regulation and periodic inspection of authorized collectives and cooperatives distributing medical marijuana."

The second time may have been the charm for Dumanis in the Jovan Jackson case, but if local governments act to implement the state's medical marijuana law, it may well be the last hurrah for her anti-medical marijuana crusade.

San Diego, CA
United States

Why So Many Mayors Are Now Targets in Mexican Drug Prohibition War

Location: 
Mexico
Raul Benitez, a security expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, says that the spate of recent deaths may be no coincidence: It comes as the federal government is increasing intelligence capabilities and taking a harder look at collusion between traffickers and local police and authorities, as it looks to centralize the police force. Therefore, many mayors who once may have turned a blind eye to trafficking exploits in their towns might now be refusing to cooperate. “If the mayor is an obstacle, that is when the problem starts,” says Mr. Benitez.
Publication/Source: 
The Christian Science Monitor (MA)
URL: 
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2010/0928/Why-so-many-mayors-are-now-targets-in-Mexican-drug-war

New Jersey Patients Fume Over Medical Marijuana Law Delays [FEATURE]

One of outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine's last acts before leaving office in January was to sign New Jersey's Compassionate Use Act Medical Marijuana Act, allowing qualified patients in the Garden State to use medical marijuana. The law was supposed to go into effect on July 1, and if Corzine had remained governor, most everyone involved in the process agrees that would have happened.

NJ patients share victory hug after medical marijuana bill passes, January 2010 (courtesy cmmnj.org)
But New Jersey voters chose to replace the Democrat Corzine with Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who has been dragging his feet. This summer, Christie asked for a six to 12-month delay in implementing the bill. The legislature gave him three months, until October 1.

That means only that the state Department of Health will then begin drafting regulations. It will have another 90 days after that to do so, pushing the law's effective date to January 1. But even that date is a chimera; given that registered patients will have to get their medicine from a state-licensed dispensary, or alternative treatment center, and given that marijuana takes a minimum of roughly three months to grow, even if potential dispensary operators are ready to go on January 1, it will be sometime in the spring of 2011 at the earliest before New Jersey patients are able to take advantage of the law.

Christie has also been floating proposals to change various aspects of the law. Last month, he proposed making Rutgers University the monopoly supplier. That proposal disturbed patients and advocates, but ultimately went nowhere when Rutgers declined the invitation, citing concerns about federal law. Christie has also raised concerns about New Jersey suffering the same allegedly dire experience California has gone through with its Wild West medical marijuana experience.

But the New Jersey law is already one of the strictest in the nation. It limits access to medical marijuana to people with a specified list of diseases, it limits the amount of marijuana patients can possess to two ounces per month, and it does not allow patients or their caregivers to grow their own medicine. Instead, at least six state-licensed alternative treatment centers, two in each region of the state, will grow and distribute medical marijuana.

Patients and advocates are watching uneasily as the state moves at a leisurely pace toward implementation. They are not happy with the tightness of the law, they are not happy with the delays, and they are casting a suspicious eye on Christie.

"Even in a best case scenario, patients won't be getting medical marijuana in New Jersey until maybe March or April of 2011 from these alternative treatment centers," said Ken Wolski of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey, the primary patient advocacy group in the state.

"Christie has been dragging his feet," said Wolski. "He had to appoint a new health commissioner, so he asked for a six to 12-month delay. He said he doesn't want New Jersey to turn into California, but we don't see how that could happen because the New Jersey law is so tight and the alternative treatment centers will be so strictly regulated by the Department of Health. A majority of the legislature accepted his reasons, but only gave him three months."

"The governor asked for an extension of six months to a year, and we fought that off," said Roseanne Scotti of the Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey office, which also lobbied for passage of the bill. "There was talk then of other changes; Christie was saying he needed changes in the law to be able to let Rutgers do it, and we've heard rumors of other changes. But our sponsor, Sen. Scutari, has been very adamant. The law doesn't need any more changes. It is the law, and they need to implement it," she said.

"We did not support the idea of a monopoly at Rutgers or anywhere else, and that continues to be our position," said Scotti. "When we talked to the health department, they seemed to be leaning toward trying to limit it in some way, which we are fighting against. You can't just decide on your own you're going to limit the people who do this."

The Teaching Hospitals of New Jersey floated a proposal in which they would become the sole dispensers of medical marijuana. The Drug Policy Alliance also opposed that.

"We met with them and asked them how they think they could legally do that, since they would be violating federal law," said Scotti. "They didn't have any answer for that. If they want to be a dispensary, even if they want to open several, we are not opposed to that, but we are not in favor of any kind of monopoly."

While the Christie administration talks about opening six dispensaries across the state, there is no limit on the number of dispensaries potentially allowed. The bill specifies only at least six.

"We're advocating that competition is good, that anyone who is capable of producing a good product and meeting the understandable security needs of the state should be able to provide services to patients in need," said Scotti. "The Christie administration seems to be latching onto the six, but that isn’t the law."

Marta Portuguez of Roselle Park is one of the law's potential beneficiaries. The 49-year-old woman suffers from 10 different illnesses, including gastroparesis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Her symptoms include muscle spasms, attacks of nausea, and severe pain.

"The diseases are my constant companions," she said. "I'm on pain medications, and the doctors don't allow me to work. Not that I could -- I find it impossible to sit for more than half an hour."

Portuguez turned to medical marijuana on the advice of a family member who knew someone very ill whose doctor had recommending trying it. "I didn't really know anything about it, but the more research I did, the more clear it became that it would be a great help. My stomach is dead, and I needed medication I don't have to take orally," she explained.

"They brought some to me and it was like a miracle," Portuguez exclaimed. "I went from horrific pain 24-7 even with morphine, to almost no pain, almost immediately. I could be rolled up in a ball shaking and puking my guts out, and when I use it, that immediately starts dissipating. It's quite remarkable. I can sit down with my husband and children and enjoy a movie. I have a little bit better quality of life; I'm not always so sick."

But because marijuana is illegal, Portuguez is unable to get regular access to it. "I don't have it all the time," she said. "It's sporadic. I'm not comfortable with the fact that it's illegal, that's why it's so important for it to be legalized. It's about compassion and helping your fellow human beings."

Portuguez has been waiting for the law to be implemented, and when informed that it would be next spring at the earliest before medical marijuana would be available in New Jersey, she didn't take the news well.

"I think that's outrageous," she said, her voice quivering. "I get very upset. The governor is not doing the right thing. I understand that there are things that need to be followed, but how can somebody get up there and say he's going to try to stop the law we passed? How can they keep delaying and not consider the suffering they are making people go through? I think he's doing it because he doesn't have anyone ill in his family. Then, and only then, will he really understand. It's the Compassionate Use Act, but they're not acting very compassionate."

While the delay in implementing the law is painful, it is not a surprise, said Scotti. Nor is it a surprise that patients and advocates are keeping the heat on.

"I've seen lots of regulations in New Jersey and other states take this long," she said. "It's not unusual, but we are constantly checking in with the health department and with legislators and talking to Sen. Scutari about keeping the pressure on. Our patients are very vocal and active."

Although patients and advocates are pushing hard to get the Compassionate Use Act up and running, they are also quick to point out its flaws. "While we're happy that marijuana is officially recognized as medicine in the Garden State, the law has a lot of shortcomings," said Wolski. "The legislature was very wary of allowing medical marijuana in New Jersey and went with the most restrictive law in the nation."

"The main problem is that home cultivation was taken out, which means that patients are unable to grow their own like they are in the 13 other states," said Wolski. "We see that as an important part of health care reform. Home cultivation would take the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries out of the equation and empower patients to help themselves."

Wolski also cited the quantity limits as inadequate for some patients. "The two ounce a month limit will be adequate for maybe half the patients," he said. "Hospice patients have tremendous needs for the constant medical care marijuana can bring to them, and limiting chronic pain patients to two ounces a month is not enough."

The number of conditions qualifying for medical marijuana use has shrunk, too, Wolski explained. While the final version of the bill includes seizure sufferers, cancer patients, glaucoma patients, HIV/AIDS sufferers, and people with multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gerhrig's Disease), it does not include other neurological disorders, nor does it cover mental or emotional conditions.

"The Assembly Health Committee limited the law to three neurological conditions, but if medical marijuana is neuroprotective, it should be neuroprotective for all neurological conditions," said Wolski, a registered nurse. "And bipolar disease, ADHD, PTSD, anxiety disorders, they don't qualify, and that's a real shame. I think the Department of Health will address the issue of qualifying conditions, but we have our work cut out for us."

"Our fondest hope is that the law will be implemented the way it was written, and that the Department of Health's regulations will reflect the wording of the law to establish at least six nonprofit alternative treatment centers," said Wolski. "Our expectation is that this is what's going to happen, but there are fears the governor is trying to take over the medical marijuana industry," he said, alluding to Gov. Christie's abortive plan to have Rutgers University monopolize production.

New Jersey has a medical marijuana law. It may not be the best medical marijuana law, but it is a medical marijuana law and it will provide protection to at least some patients. Warts and all, New Jersey patients and advocates are working as hard as they can to get it up and running as soon as they can.

NJ
United States

Alabama Patient Facing 10 Years for a Gram of Medical Marijuana [FEATURE]

Activists in Alabama have been trying for years to get a medical marijuana bill passed there. Last year, for the first time, a bill made it out of committee. Next year, they will try again, but even if they succeed, it will be too late for Michael Lapihuska.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/michael-lapihuska.jpg
Michael Lapihuska, facing camera, wearing Alabamans for Compassionate Care t-shirt
Lapihuska, cursed with depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), grew up in Alabama, but left the state after serving 13 months for possessing five grams of marijuana in 2003. The now card-carrying medical marijuana patient from California was arrested on marijuana possession charges again on December 15 in Anniston, Alabama, as he visited his family for the holidays.

Lapihuska was stopped by a police officer and accused of hitch hiking as he walked down a road. The officer demanded he be allowed to search Lapihuska, and he complied. The search came up with a prescription bottle containing one gram of marijuana. Lapihuska explained that he was a registered California medical marijuana patient and produced a patient ID card.

But Alabama justice doesn't recognize medical marijuana, and Lapihuska was charged with his third marijuana possession offense, this one worth between two and 10 years in state prison. Under Alabama law, a first marijuana offense is a misdemeanor, but a second possession offense is a felony punishable by a year in prison. A third possession offense is a felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison.

"Alabama is a terrible, terrible place when it comes to drug laws," noted Loretta Nall, a long-time Alabama drug reform activist and leader of Alabamians for Compassionate Care, a medical marijuana activist group that has taken up Lapihuska's cause.

Lapihuska's public defender is urging him to cop a plea in which he would be sentenced to one year, with the sentence suspended and two years probation. But that deal also includes drug testing, and that's a deal-breaker for him. "Everyone says just take the probation, but if I did that, I'd end up in prison anyway for failing the drug test," he said.

"This is Anniston, Alabama," said Laiphuska. "There is no way I'm going to win this case. But my doctor told me this was my recommended medicine. If I was prescribed Oxycontin, or morphine, or Xanax and was walking down the road, they would have had to give my medicine back. I broke the law, but I think the law is wrong. I'm looking at two to 10 years for a gram of marijuana prescribed by my doctor?"

Lapihuska has been stuck in Alabama since December while awaiting trial. It hasn't exactly been fun, he said. "I've been miserable and anxious. I just want to go someplace where my medicine is safe and legal and I'm not at risk for using the medicine that works best for me."

In addition to repeated stints behind bars for using marijuana, Lapihuska has been hospitalized for mental health reasons 20 to 30 times, he said. "I've been on all sorts of medication. Most of my life has been eaten up with anxiety. They've tried Xanax, Thorazine, all kinds of things. They even gave me an anti-Parkinson's disease medicine and told me I would have to take it the rest of my life. I would sleep 16 hours a day on those meds, I'd be shaking," he recalled.

"But now, I feel better than I've ever felt," he said. "I ride my bicycle 50 to 150 miles a day. And now they're arresting me for the thing that cures me."

Unless he or state prosecutors relent, Lapihuska goes to trial October 28. If it comes to that, the Alabama medical marijuana community will do what it can, just as it has been beating the bushes to publicize the case already.

"Here in Alabama, our only hope of helping Michael out if this goes to trial is to do some jury nullification work," said Nall. "When he goes to trial, myself and other members of ACC will do some handouts at the courthouse to inform people about the true nature of the situation, that he was not just some guy smoking weed. We hope to find one person on the jury to vote to nullify."

Nall and ACC, for whom Lapihuska has been volunteering while he awaits trial, have been laying the groundwork for that by getting the story out. "We got a great article in the Anniston Star," she said. "That generated nothing but wonderful comments on the web site and three letters to the editor, all positive. We've been getting a lot of positive feedback on Facebook, too."

Lapihuska's plight may help the cause of advancing medical marijuana at the statehouse. Rep. Patricia Todd, sponsor of last year's medical marijuana bill, said she would reintroduce it for the session that begins in March. She would try to make it more palatable to law enforcement, she said.

"I'll pre-file the bill after the first of the year," Todd said. "We plan to sit down with law enforcement and health people, and may make some changes to appease law enforcement. I think the bill will start out with three dispensaries around the state, to be regulated by the health department. I think patients being able to grow will be part of it. The main heartburn the health department has is how to regulate it, how to know who's growing what."

While movement on medical marijuana in the legislature has been painfully slow, Todd expressed guarded optimism that her bill would move next year. Last year, for the first time, it got out of a House committee. But much depends on the outcome of the November elections.

"If the Republicans take over the legislature, the bill is going nowhere," she said. "If the Democrats keep control, it'll still be an uphill battle. We got it out of committee last year; this year, I hope we can get it to a floor vote."

"It should be coming up very early in the session," Todd said. "Attitudes are changing. Legislators watch the news, and we have a pretty good grassroots effort going. The main fear last year was that we don't want to be like California, with a dispensary on every corner, and I think we will have addressed that.

Todd said that had her bill passed last year, Lapihuska wouldn’t be facing the problems he is. "Our bill has the reciprocity clause in, and that would protect Michael and people like him," she said.

"It's totally ridiculous," said Todd. "He had a card that identified him as being able to use medical marijuana. I'm trying to change this, but this is the Deep South," she sighed.

If Lapihuska is sent to prison, it will be a tight squeeze. Alabama's prisons are at 180% of capacity, Todd noted.

"Our corrections commissioner makes the point to the legislature each year that he wishes we would quit passing laws to incarcerate more people," she said. "But I'm the only one who ever votes against them. Most of our elected officials are afraid they will be perceived as soft on crime, but the war on drugs isn't working, we have more people addicted than ever before. I think marijuana should be legal, and I'll keep on fighting."

So, it appears, will Michael Lapihuska -- unless he can persuade prosecutors to offer a sweeter deal. "I would accept two years of unsupervised probation in California, but for me to have to stay here and do drug rehab for my doctor approved medication, that's ridiculous. And with drug testing, if I use my medicine, I violate probation."

Anniston, AL
United States

Rockefeller Repeal Leader Wins NY Democratic AG Nomination

New York state Sen. Eric Schneiderman, author of last year's Rockefeller drug law reform legislation, won the Democratic Party nomination for state attorney general in last week's primary election. Scheiderman won 34% of the vote in a five-person race, besting Nassau County prosecutor Kathleen Rice, who came in second with 32%.

Eric Schneiderman
He will face Republican nominee Staten Island prosecutor Dan Donovan in the November 2 general election. In his victory speech, Scheiderman vowed to follow "the same aggressive, progressive approach" as current Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is favored to win the governor's race.

While all five Democratic attorney general candidates vowed to take a hard line on public corruption, help prevent another Wall Street crisis, and protect New Yorkers from terrorism, Schneiderman also played up his drug reform credentials.

On his issues page, Schneiderman touts his authorship of Rockefeller reform legislation, adding that the laws "were not only unfair and unsustainable, but an economic and moral threat to every New Yorker," and advertisements running during the campaign cited it as well. The New York Times also cited Schneiderman's championing of Rockefeller reform among its key reasons for endorsing him in the primary.

Scheiderman goes into greater detail in his Agenda for the Office of New York Attorney General. In addition to touting his role in Rockefeller law reform and in cosponsoring the law that forbids law enforcement agencies from keeping files on innocent people who have been stopped and frisked, Schneiderman vows to monitor and report on stop and frisk searches and to examine the criminal justice system for system-wide biases. He also promises to ease rehabilitation and reentry for ex-convicts and to promote a color-blind criminal justice system.

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

NY
United States

Gov. Schwarzenegger Urged to Sign Sterile Syringe Bill

Location: 
CA
United States
Actor and author Christopher Kennedy Lawford, the cousin of California’s First Lady Maria Shriver and nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy, has called on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign legislation to allow pharmacies to sell sterile syringes to adults.
Publication/Source: 
Philippine Daily Inquirer (Philippines)
URL: 
http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/breakingnews/view/20100913-292034/Schwarzenegger-urged-to-sign-sterile-syringe-bill

Maine Police Chief Wants Cocaine Misdemeanors to Be Felonies

Portland, Maine, Police Chief James Craig is pushing to increase some crack and powder cocaine offenses from misdemeanors to felonies, but he isn't exactly receiving a warm reception from lawmakers concerned about prison overcrowding. He told the Portland Press Herald Tuesday that he plans to meet with other police chiefs, prosecutors, and legislators to plot his brave push backward into the 20th Century.

Looking Backwards: Portland Police Chief James Craig
Under Maine law, first time possession of up to four grams of crack and 14 grams of powder cocaine is a misdemeanor. A second offense is a felony, as is possession of more than those amounts.

"Crack cocaine breeds violence," Craig said. "Crack cocaine will destroy this community if we don't stay ahead of it."

He cited recent incidents in the city that he attributed to cocaine users. He said three home invasions, three robberies, and a stabbing in a recent one-week period were committed by coked-out individuals.

Rep. Anne Haskell (D-Portland), co-chair of the Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, told the Press Herald she would listen to Craig's proposal, but expressed concern about costs.

"I'd be glad to have a conversation with Chief Craig and take a look at the kinds of things he's seeing. He's the person on the ground," she said. "If what he's seeing out there is what's happening, then folks ought to be held accountable, but we would have to find the money to do that," she said.

But Sen. Stan Gerzofsky (D-Brunswick), the committee's senate chair, was more wary. "We're not going to start enhancing some of these crimes to fill up our prisons more than we have now," he said. "The legislature was very good at enhancing crimes and the time served, and we got ourselves in a pretty good mess."

Times have changed when cops looking for longer sentences for drug users are met by skepticism in the legislature.

Portland, ME
United States

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School