The Drug Debate

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Transform publication: A Comparison of the Cost-effectiveness of the Prohibition and Regulation of Drugs

Transform Drug Policy Foundation has published their new report "A Comparison of the Cost-effectiveness of the Prohibition and Regulation of Drugs" -- the full pdf is here: http://www.tdpf.org.uk/TransformCBApaper.pdf. It looks at heroin and cocaine only (due to data limitations), although other drugs are discussed.

Decriminalization is a Huge Success in Portugal

On Friday, I had the opportunity to hear Glenn Greenwald speak at the Cato Institute regarding his Cato-sponsored report, Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies. You can read the report here and Cato also has a downloadable MP3 of the event.

The back-story here is that Portugal implemented an across-the-board drug decriminalization policy back in 2001. There's been very little discussion and research regarding its impact, hence Cato recruited Greenwald (a genius and extremely popular political blogger) to study Portuguese drug policy. His findings thoroughly illustrate the efficiency of decriminalization towards addressing key drug policy goals, while refuting the myth that removing harsh penalties will lead to increased consumption.

The whole thing utterly shatters most, if not all, arguments that continue to be advanced in support of tough drug laws here in the U.S. and around the world. I found a couple points particularly interesting:

1. When Portugal began looking at alternative policies to address  a growing drug problem, they did not consider legalization because it was determined that such a policy would violate international treaties. It's a small country that can't afford to be belligerant. This just goes to show, once again, the extent to which prohibition is not a consensus policy at the international level, but rather an idealogical approach that less powerful nations have been forced to accept.

2. The decision to implement a decriminalization policy emerged through discussion of empirical data, rather than emotional arguments about morals, civil liberties and so forth. I don't know how representative this is of what approach would be most effective in establishing more reasonable policies here in the U.S., but it's certainly worth taking a look at the context in which decriminalization triumphed over other policy options.

4:20 Drug War NEWS + Century of Lies! 04/06/09

4:20 Drug War NEWS + Century of Lies! From 90.1 FM in Houston 60+ radio affiliates in the US, Canada and Australia & at www.kpft.org. Today Marks 36,581 Days of DRUG WAR! Century of Lies, 04/05/09: Roger Goodman, a Washington State Rep. and director of the King County Bar Associations' drug policy group, discusses regulation and rules necessary to end drug prohibition + US Senator Jim Webb outlines the need to reform America's prison industrial complex. LINK: http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/?q=node/2359 4:20 Drug War NEWS 04/06/09 to 04/12/09 now online (3:00 ea:) Select online at www.drugtruth.net Sun - Cliff Schaffer 3/3 Sat - Cliff Schaffer 2/3 Fri - Cliff Schaffer, founder of druglibrary.org & marijuanabusinessnews.com discusses ways & means to end drug war 1/3 Thu - Phil Smith with the Corrupt Cop (and Judges) story Wed - Terry Nelson reports for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (and CNN, Fox, etc.) Tue - US Senator Jim Webb 2/2 Mon - US Senator Jim Webb calls for new direction for our prison industrial complex 1/2 - courtesy NPR Next - Century of Lies on Sunday, Cutural Baggage on Wednesday: - Cultural Baggage 12:30 PM ET, 11:30 AM CT, 10:30 MT & 9:30 AM PT: Glenn Greenwald report on Portugals success on drugs - Century of Lies 8 PM ET, 7 PM CT, 6 PM MT, 5 PAM PT: Guest: TBD Hundreds of our programs are available online at www.drugtruth.net, and www.audioport.org Check out our latest videos via www.youtube.com/fdbecker Please become part of the solution, visit our website: www.endprohibition.org for links to the best of reform. "Prohibition is evil." - Reverend Dean Becker, Drug Truth Network Producer Dean Becker, 713-849-6869, www.drugtruth.net

Canada: With Conservative Government Pushing Tough Crime Package, Liberal MP Responds With Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

The Conservative government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has introduced a crime and drugs package it had hoped to quickly push through Parliament, but with opposition, the Liberals stalling and the New Democratic Party (NDP) opposing, passage is starting to look much less certain. Meanwhile, a leading Liberal MP has introduced a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession.

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Libby Davies
The pair of government bills, C-14 and C-15, would impose mandatory minimum sentences on some violent and gang crimes and on some drug crimes, respectively. The latter would impose a mandatory minimum sentence of one year for someone possessing as little as one marijuana plant, if that plant were to be determined to be destined for distribution.

The Conservatives are hoping to capitalize on a spate of highly-publicized, prohibition-related crimes of gang violence in the Vancouver area to push their agenda, but it is starting to look like the Liberals and NDP won't go along despite earlier indications they would not fight the Conservative package.

But last Friday, NDP Vancouver East MP Libby Davies lambasted C-15 during a lengthy parliamentary speech, and on Wednesday, Liberal Health Promotion critic Dr. Keith Martin, MP for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, BC, announced he would introduce a bill for the decriminalization of marijuana this week.

"The 'war on drugs' approach, characterized by zero tolerance, has been a complete failure," said Martin. "It has not reduced the rate of violent crime or drug use, nor has it saved money or lives. To realize meaningful change on our city streets, we must decriminalize the possession of small amounts of pot. This will cause drug abuse to be addressed in the public health system, rather than through the courts. It will sever the connection between organized crime and drug users. This bill is bad news for criminal gangs because it would collapse the demand for drug product," Martin argued.

"In the medical profession our first principle is 'do no harm,'" Martin continued. "We are actually doing terrible harm if we continue to address substance abuse uniquely as a criminal issue from the federal level. The blinders have to come off; we have to take a medical perspective if we are going to turn this thing around."

That would be fine with MP Davies, who serves as the New Dems' drug policy critic. Citing statistics showing a large increase in the number of Canadians who reported having used illegal drugs in the past 15 years, Davies called prohibitionist policies "completely ineffective" and pointed to the US as a bad example. "We only have to look south of the border, where the so-called war on drugs has unleashed billions and billions of dollars and where we see massive numbers of people incarcerated, to see what a failure it is."

Citing successes with Canada's four pillar approach -- prevention, treatment, law enforcement, harm reduction -- Davies said the Conservative bill would be "a radical departure" and that the Conservatives were playing the politics of fear. There is no question that it is the core of the Conservative government's agenda around crime. It is about the political optics. I have called it the politics of fear."

Instead of responding with heavy-handed sentencing measures, why not go in a different direction, Davies asked. "We dealt with the marijuana decriminalization bill [when the Liberals were in power]. I know there are members in the House who were on the committee. We heard there were 600,000 Canadians who had a record for possession of marijuana. Why are we not at least beginning there and saying we will decriminalize and then legalize marijuana? We would begin at a place where there is strong public support. We should change the regime we have."

Davies also called out the Liberals to help defeat C-15. "I am very interested to see what the Liberal caucus does with this bill," she said. "I hope that we can defeat it. I hope we can say it is not the right way to go. The NDP does not think the bill should go through. It is not based on good public policy. It is going to be harmful and expensive. It is really time to embark on a common sense approach and accept the overwhelming evidence that the war on drugs has caused more death, pain, harm and crime than we can bear. It is time to stop it."

The mandatory minimum bills are now before the House of Commons Justice and Human Rights Committee. No hearings or vote have yet been scheduled.

Marijuana: Connecticut Decriminalization Bill Wins Committee Vote

A bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession in Connecticut leapt its first hurdle Tuesday night, passing 24-14 in the legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee after a hearing last week. The bill, SB 349, passed after being amended to not apply to minors and by reducing the amount of pot in question.

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Gov. Rell showed great cruelty to patients with her veto of Connecticut's medical marijuana bill, so it's not surprising she wants to continue persecuting non-medical users too.
As originally filed, the bill would have made possession of less than an ounce an infraction punishable only with a fine, while possession of between an ounce and a quarter pound would be a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine and one year in jail. But in debate Tuesday, sponsors accepted both the amendment regarding minors and one reducing the decrim amount to one half ounce.

The Connecticut committee vote comes just months after neighboring Massachusetts became the latest state to decriminalize. The effort is being pursued vigorously by some Democratic legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney (D-New Haven), who is one of the bill's sponsors. Looney and others argued that the state could save $11 million a year in policing, judicial, and probation costs by issuing tickets for offenders instead of requiring arrests and court hearings.

House Republican leader Lawrence Cafero (R-Norwalk), a former expulsion officer for the Norwalk schools, opposed the measure, saying he had seen high-achieving students turn into poor students after becoming regular pot smokers. "I've seen kids who are getting high at 7:00 in the morning, sometimes at 12 years old,'' Cafero told the committee. "It ruins a lot of lives. It ruins a lot of families. It's not a matter of efficiency. It's not a matter of money. It's a matter of lives.''

Pulling out all stops, Cafero also refrained the "not your parents' marijuana" argument and the "sending the wrong message" argument. "What is the message that we as a legislature will send when we decriminalize marijuana?'' Cafero asked. "That sends a wrong message.'' Cafero even complained that if the bill passes, a person speeding on Connecticut highways could face a larger fine than someone possessing "15 marijuana joints."

That last debating point drew a sharp retort from Sen. Edwin Gomes (D-Bridgeport), who argued it was entirely appropriate for a speeder to pay a higher fine than a pot smoker. "That person who is speeding should be fined more than someone who has less than a half ounce of marijuana because he is more of a hazard to the public,'' said Gomes.

Another bill supporter, Rep. Ernest Hewett (D-New London) said stopping people who wanted to smoke marijuana was all but impossible and that lawmakers should focus on more serious drug problems. "I think alcohol is the real problem. We're just disregarding that,'' Hewett said.

The bill must still win floor votes in both houses of the General Assembly, and even then, it faces the likelihood of a veto by Gov. Jodi Rell (R), who has never met a marijuana reform bill she liked. Two years ago, she vetoed medical marijuana legislation that had passed both houses. Tuesday night, one of her spokesmen suggested strongly she would veto this one if it made it to her desk. "Whether it's little or a lot, it is an illegal substance, and the governor does not support the bill,'' said Christopher Cooper after the vote.

Feature: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly -- New York Rockefeller Drug Law Reform on the Verge of Passage

A week ago today, New York Gov. David Paterson (D) and state Assembly and Senate leaders announced they had reached an agreement on reforming the state's draconian Rockefeller drug laws. The agreement marked a partial retreat from the reforms envisioned in an Assembly bill passed earlier this year, but still offers a significant improvement over the status quo.

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long road to freedom: 2001 protest of Rockefeller drug laws, Albany (courtesy indymedia.org)
The measure was to have been voted on this week as part of the state's budget bill, but that hasn't happened yet, and that's making advocates nervous. While the consensus among advocates seems to be that the bill doesn't go far enough, most want to see it passed as a step in the right direction.

The Rockefeller drug laws were enacted in 1973 and mandate extremely tough prison sentences for the sale or possession of relatively small amounts of drugs. Although allegedly aimed at "drug kingpins," tens of thousands of people have been imprisoned under them, most of them low-level nonviolent offenders. Currently, some 12,000 people are doing time for drug offenses in New York, and they constitute one-fifth of the prison population. Nearly 90% of them are black or Hispanic.

Partial reforms in 2004 and 2005 did little to halt the imprisonment juggernaut. While providing some relief for some drug offenders, those reforms resulted in even more people being sent to prison on drug charges than before.

"While much more moderate than the reform bill passed by the Assembly last month, this proposal constitutes an important step forward in developing more effective drug policies based in public health and safety," said Gabriel Sayegh, project director with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "The legislature and governor should have made the proposal even more expansive, for instance by returning discretion to judges in every drug case, not only low-level cases. We believe, though, that this bill constitutes real reform, and should be enacted."

Under the tripartite agreement, the Rockefeller reform bill would:

  • Return judicial discretion in low-level drug law cases;
  • Expand treatment and reentry services;
  • Expand drug courts;
  • Allow for approximately 1,500 people incarcerated for low-level nonviolent drug offenses to apply for resentencing;
  • Increase penalties for drug "kingpins";
  • Increase penalties on adults who sell drugs to young people.

In the reforms of 2004 and 2005, people serving A-level felonies -- the most serious -- were able to apply for resentencing, but not those serving B-level felonies, who constitute the bulk of Rockefeller prisoners. While the resentencing option would now be open for some 1,500 B-level offenders, that means that more than 10,000 New York drug war prisoners would remain without recourse.

The bill would also allow judges to divert some low-level drug offenders into drug treatment or other alternatives to imprisonment, but only if they convince judges they are addicts. Given that incarceration costs three times as much as treatment, the state stands to save millions if judges exercise that sentencing discretion.

"As a former prisoner under the Rockefeller drug laws, I support this legislation because it will rescue many of the prisoners who fell through the cracks of the prior reforms," said DPA's Anthony Papa. "This proposal will give people convicted of low-level drug offenses a chance to be reunited with their families and become productive tax paying citizens like myself."

"If this becomes law, it will be a big step forward," said Caitlin Dunklee of the Correctional Association of New York and coordinator of the Drop the Rock campaign. "This is the first major reform of the Rockefeller drug laws since their enactment. It dismantles mandatory minimum sentencing in a meaningful way. It also allocates money for alternatives to incarceration and drug treatment," she said.

But the package doesn't include everything reformers sought, Dunklee conceded. "It does leave intact some harsh mandatory minimum sentences for low level drug offenses and will lead to the incarceration of future low-level drug offenders -- about half of them will face mandatory minimums. Also, the retroactivity provisions are too limited; fewer than 1,500 of the more than 10,000 behind bars for drug offenses will be eligible to apply," she said. "We have family members asking when their loved ones are coming home, but very few are going to get out early."

"It's a lukewarm reform," said a disappointed Randy Credico of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Social Justice, long a key player in the Rockefeller repeal movement and now preparing to challenge Sen. Charles Schumer in next year's elections. "New York's criminal justice system needed a giant enema, and all the politicians did was pass gas."

"This proposal is a step forward," said Alan Rosenthal, an attorney with the Center for Community Alternatives, a New York organization that works on alternatives to imprisonment. "It is in the tradition of modest reform coming on the heels of the 2004 and 2005 reforms," he said. "It captures some of the same features, allows some resentencing as those did, but still leaves us with a pretty overbearing structure, and although a lot of attention is paid to treatment versus punishment, it still leaves an awful lot of room for punishment and a lot of people stuck in prison. From my perspective, I would give kudos to the legislators who supported this, but would certainly give fair warning to the public that there is still a lot of work to be done."

Rosenthal pointed out that while the reform would allow judges to exercise discretion, that doesn't mean they will. "Most judges come from a prosecutorial background," he noted. "It's not likely that they have an enlightened view of how counterproductive and destructive prison can be. At this point, I don't think things are going to look much different from when the DAs had the discretion. This will be a tiny spigot, and those judges are going to be trying to figure out who is worthy and who is not, who might look more dangerous because of class, skin color, or ethnicity. That sort of potential for coloring judicial decisions leaves us still needing broader reform and a broader understanding of how to deal with these issues."

Whether such partial reforms should be supported is a thorny question, said Rosenthal. "It is difficult to sit there and know that a smaller percentage than we would like are going to benefit, but it's also difficult to say we're going to hold out for everything knowing that if we do, some people are going to suffer under the yoke of imprisonment," he said. "The downside is the public impression that all that needs to be done has been done. Those still left in prison and their family members who are not getting any relief will understand there is more work to do, but the problem will be our ability to blow air into the balloon of public concern."

Sayegh defended the partial reform as the best that could be achieved. "Our job as advocates is to fight like hell to get the most we can get done. We are committed to that. After a hundred years of prohibition and drug wars, anyone who thinks we can accomplish the extraordinary and impossible in one legislative package is dreaming. We need to make the impossible possible and the possible inevitable, and that implies a process. We are here for the long haul," he vowed.

It may be a long haul. "A lot of people I talk to who are not involved in drug policy have told me they thought this was taken care of in 2004 and 2005," said Nicolas Eyle of ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy, an upstate drug reform group. "It will be the same thing again with this bill, but we still have long sentences, we have a kingpin proposal that sounds like it will fit your normal street corner drug crew, so we'll end up with these retail dealers doing 15-to-life. This bill is a step in the right direction, but it's only a baby step," he said.

Likening the Rockefeller repeal movement to the antebellum Abolitionist movement, Credico said the battle against slavery did not settle for half-measures. "The criminal justice system is the new slave power," he said, "and just like the Jim Crow laws, the drug laws will continue to be used to jail, convict, imprison, and disenfranchise people on a massive level. Everyone -- judges, DAs, defense attorneys, corrections officers, court officers, probation and parole officers, upstate politicians and contractors -- depends on these drug cases to stay busy and keep the prisons filled."

The coerced treatment provisions of the reform package are misguided, Credico said. "The drug reform community wants to use the false language of it's a health issue, but these people aren't sick addicts; they're dime bag desperados, the guys retailing on the street corners. Now, they're going to have to plead guilty and convince judges they're addicts," he argued. "If they can't prove they're addicts, they can still go to jail, and they'll be doing one to nine years. This at a time when we have black youth unemployment in the city at 65%. What else are they supposed to do?"

Like Credico, Dunklee was critical of the provision making only people who convince judges they are addicts eligible for diversion in B-level offenses. "This sets up a distinction between people addicted or not," she said, "and only people who are deemed substance dependent will be eligible for diversion. Those people who maybe don't need treatment, but could instead be helped in other ways will be facing mandatory minimum prison terms. We object strongly to that."

Addressing the increased sentences for "kingpins" and people who sell drugs to minors in the final bill, Dunklee said it was a sop to prosecutors. "Gov. Paterson wanted to avoid appearing soft on crime, so he endorsed sentencing enhancements for people the public demonizes," she said. "When the public hears about selling drugs to minors, they think about the guy in the trench coat in the school yard, not the 21-year-old selling to the 17-year-old. The judges will not be able to look at the circumstances of each case, and the young man will go to jail for a long time, but that's not what the public has in mind."

For Dunklee and Drop the Rock, the battle is not over. "We're not going out of business, we're going to keep the coalition intact," she said. "This partial reform has the potential to take the air out of the movement, but we are going to assess how to continue. Our people are committed to full repeal, and we are open to the possibility of broadening our agenda to include prison downsizing. We are going to be figuring out how to respond to the reforms and the new political climate," she said.

But, given that at this writing, the long-delayed final passage of the bill has not yet occurred and given that the Senate Democrats have a razor thin majority, this ex post facto analysis of the 2009 Rockefeller law reforms may be premature. "The bill hasn't passed yet," cautioned Sayegh. "Of course, they will pass a budget bill, but the question is what is going to be included in it. Right now, there are a number of legislators and prosecutors and rags like the Daily News putting out garbage. There is a lot of opposition to this provision, so we can't take its passage for granted. We're almost there, but we're not there yet," he said.

Drug Truth 04/02/09

The Unvarnished Truth About the Drug War From the Drug Truth Network Cultural Baggage for 04/01/09, 29:00 Cliff Schaffer, founder of DrugLibrary.org and MarijuanaBusinessNews.com discusses how we steer the discussion on how to end the drug war + Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition & the Abolitionists Moment LINK: http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/?q=node/2358 Century of Lies for 03/29/09, 29:00 Dr. David Duncan, professor emeritus at Brown University details the contaminants contained in recreational drugs + Phil Smith of Stop the Drug War with the Corrupt Cop Story LINK: http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/?q=node/2356 Programs produced at Pacifica Radio Station KPFT in Houston, 90.1 FM. You can Listen Live Online at www.kpft.org - Century of Lies, SUN, 8 PM ET, 7 PM CT, 6 PM MT & 5 PM PT: Next: Roger Goodman state rep in Washington - Cultural Baggage WED, 12:30 PM ET, 11:30 CT, 10:30 MT & 9:30 AM PT: NEXT: Guest TBD Hundreds of our programs are available online at www.drugtruth.net, www.audioport.org We have potcasts, searchability, CMS, XML, sorts by guest name and by organization. We provide the "unvarnished truth about the drug war" to scores of broadcast affiliates in the US, Canada and Australia! Check out our latest videos via www.youtube.com/fdbecker Please become part of the solution, visit our website: www.endprohibition.org for links to the best of reform. "Prohibition is evil." - Reverend Dean Becker, Drug Truth Network Producer 713-849-6869, www.drugtruth.net

420 Drug War News + Century of Lies 03/30/09

4:20 Drug War NEWS + Century of Lies! From 90.1 FM in Houston 60+ radio affiliates in the US, Canada and Australia & at www.kpft.org. Century of Lies, 03/29/09: Dr. David Duncan, professor emeritus at Brown University details the contaminants contained in recreational drugs + Phil Smith of Stop the Drug War with the Corrupt Cop Story LINK: http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/?q=node/2356 4:20 Drug War NEWS 03/30/09 to 04/05/09 now online (3:00 ea:) Select online at www.drugtruth.net Sun - Jon Perri of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, on police shooting of unarmed teen pot user Sat - Nicholas Eyle of Reconsider, drug war editorial Fri - Bruce Mirken of MPP regarding 3 steps forward, one step back in marijuana reform Thu - Richard Lee, founder of Oaksterdam University regarding new poll in California with marjority for legalization Wed - Phil Smith with corrupt cop story + Abolitionists' Moment Tue - Terry Nelson of LEAP regarding drug war in Mexico Mon - President Obama & Paul Armentano of NORML Next - Century of Lies on Sunday, Cutural Baggage on Wednesday: - Cultural Baggage 12:30 PM ET, 11:30 AM CT, 10:30 MT & 9:30 AM PT: Cliff Shaffer - how do we end the drug war? - Century of Lies 8 PM ET, 7 PM CT, 6 PM MT, 5 PAM PT: Guest: TBD Hundreds of our programs are available online at www.drugtruth.net, and www.audioport.org Check out our latest videos via www.youtube.com/fdbecker Please become part of the solution, visit our website: www.endprohibition.org for links to the best of reform. "Prohibition is evil." - Reverend Dean Becker, Drug Truth Network Producer Dean Becker, 713-849-6869, www.drugtruth.net

Drug Truth 03/26/09

The Unvarnished Truth About the Drug War From the Drug Truth Network NOTE: NEW DAY/TIME for CENTURY of LIES ! Century of Lies for 03/22/09, 29:00 Martin Jelsma director of Transnational Institute, interviewed at the UN Drug Conference in Vienna by Michael Krawitz + Terry Nelson Reports for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition LINK: http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/?q=node/2340 Cultural Baggage for 03/25/09, 29:00 UN Drug Conference NGO's speak in Vienna, with Professor Fredrick Polak, Terry Nelson of LEAP, Lennice Werth, Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, courtesy Vienna Public RadioLINK: http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/?q=node/2339 Programs produced at Pacifica Radio Station KPFT in Houston, 90.1 FM. You can Listen Live Online at www.kpft.org - Century of Lies, SUN, 8 PM ET, 7 PM CT, 6 PM MT & 5 PM PT: NEXT: Dr. David Duncan - drugs & contaminants that kill - Cultural Baggage WED, 12:30 PM ET, 11:30 CT, 10:30 MT & 9:30 AM PT: NEXT: Guest TBD Hundreds of our programs are available online at www.drugtruth.net, www.audioport.org We have potcasts, searchability, CMS, XML, sorts by guest name and by organization. We provide the "unvarnished truth about the drug war" to scores of broadcast affiliates in the US, Canada and Australia! Check out our latest videos via www.youtube.com/fdbecker Please become part of the solution, visit our website: www.endprohibition.org for links to the best of reform. "Prohibition is evil." - Reverend Dean Becker, Drug Truth Network Producer 713-849-6869, www.drugtruth.net

Marijuana: Legalization Bill Introduced in Massachusetts

And then there were two. Last month, California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced the first marijuana legalization bill in state history. Now, on the other side of the country, Massachusetts lawmakers are joining in the action.

Fulfilling a citizen petition, Massachusetts Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst) has filed House Bill 2929 and Sen. Stanley Rosenberg (D-Northampton) has filed a companion measure, Senate Bill 1801, in the upper chamber. The citizen seeking the bills is Richard Evans, a former board member of StoptheDrugWar.org (DRCNet -- publisher of this newsletter) and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The proposals would "tax and regulate" the state's marijuana industry, with the tax assessed varying according to the potency of the pot. Class C schwag would be taxed at $150 an ounce, Class B smoke would be taxed at $200, and Class A kind bud would fetch $250 an ounce for the state. The taxes could raise nearly $100 million in revenue for the cash-strapped Bay State.

But the proposals also allow for tax-free personal home grows and "gratuitous distribution" to other adults. All commercial grows, importation, processing, and sales would be licensed by a new bureaucratic entity, the Cannabis Control Authority.

"Decades of whispered grumblings about the wisdom and efficacy of prohibition is rapidly giving way to a serious -- really serious public discussion about how to replace it," said Evans, who assisted in drafting the landmark legislation. "Those who consider themselves leaders in government and the media have the obligation to either show how prohibition can be made to work, or join in the exploration of alternatives."

Last November, Massachusetts voters approved marijuana decriminalization with 65% of the vote. Now, their legislators have the opportunity to see if they can advance to the Bay State vanguard by voting for outright legalization. From the Pacific to the Atlantic, let the pincer movement begin.

Visit http://www.cantexreg.com for further information.

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