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TODAY is National Call-In Day: Call Your Representatives NOW

TAKE ACTION

Capital

 

     Today, be one of thousands of people across the country to phone your members of Congress to call for an end to the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Your calls will make an important difference.
 
     This National Call-In Day is part of Crack the Disparity National Month of Advocacy, a month-long coordinated push to eliminate the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.
 
     The current law:

  • overstates the relative danger of crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine;
  • contributes to the growth of our prison population, increasing the financial burden on taxpayers;
  • disproportionately affects African Americans; and
  • uses limited federal resources on low-level street dealers rather than on the major drug traffickers.

      Twenty-three years of a failed policy is long enough!  It's time to end this unjust and disproportionate sentencing policy. To participate call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard right now at 202.224.3121, and ask to speak to your representatives in the Senate and House. Urge them to support and co-sponsor H.R. 265, the Drug Sentencing Reform and Cocaine Kingpin Trafficking Act in the House and legislation in the Senate that eliminates the 100 to 1 disparity between crack and powder cocaine.

    You should place three calls because you have one representative and two senators.
 
     Use this link to help you with your calls to Congress.

Click here for talking points and script

Finally, Congress discusses prohibition!

LEAP logo

"Make sure your legislators are part of the 'Drug War' discussion on Capitol Hill!"

Jack Cole pic

Jack Cole
26-year veteran cop
New Jersey State Police

Take Action

Congress is Debating the Drug War. 
Are Your Representatives Part of the Discussion?


Dear Friends,

The war against the "War on Drugs" is really starting to heat up.  

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition has spent the last two years asking every single congressional office to take a thorough look at the failure of our drug laws, and now it is happening!

Recently on Capitol Hill, Sen. Jim Webb (D-Virginia) introduced a bill to create a blue ribbon commission to initiate a comprehensive review of America's criminal justice and drug policies.  The commission will spend eighteen months studying all aspects of the criminal justice system, report the findings to Congress and offer tangible recommendations for reform, including, possibly, an end to the cruel drug laws that send too many people to prison for too long.

But that's only if we build enough support to pass this important legislation.  

We've made it easy for you to contact your legislators about supporting Sen. Webb's bill.  All you have to do is go to http://www.DrugWarDebate.com and enter in your contact information.  Edit the pre-written letter if you want, and click send.  Then, use our automated system to let your friends know that they can take action too.  That's it.  

If enough of us put this already-bipartisan legislation on our senators' and representatives' radar screens, we can and will make a difference.

The United States is the number one incarcerator in the world, with one out of every one hundred American adults behind bars.  Sadly, the lion's share of this insane level of incarceration is driven by drug prohibition.

Our current policies are not serving the public interest, and the results have been devastating: since the inception of the "war on drugs," more than 38 million arrests have been made for nonviolent drug offenses.  Under Sen. Webb's legislation, the commission will, among other things, "make recommendations for changes in policies and laws designed to....restructure the approach to criminalization of, and incarceration as a result of the possession or use of illegal drugs."

A thorough examination of the criminal justice system as it relates to the failed "war on drugs" will go a long way toward awakening more policymakers about the reasons for reform, and Sen. Webb's efforts are exactly what we need right now.  Please visit http://www.DrugWarDebate.com today to contact your senators and representatives, asking them to support S. 714, the National Criminal Justice Act of 2009.  

And please consider making a donation to help LEAP continue our important efforts.  If you can afford to help, please go to http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com/donate and make as big a gift as you feel comfortable giving.

We can't do it without your help!

Sincerely,

Jack Cole
Executive Director
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

MPP testifies before Congress

Dear Friends:

Yesterday, MPP's Aaron Houston testified before Congress, urging lawmakers to rein in the DEA. You can read his testimony (posted on the House Appropriations Committee's Web site) here, or watch him discuss it below.

Each year, Congress passes a spending bill that funds the Justice Department, including the DEA. At yesterday's hearing about next year's budget, MPP asked Congress to tell the DEA to:

  • Stop interfering with state and local law enforcement in California and other medical marijuana states;
  • Immediately stop the practice of sending letters to landlords of state-legal medical marijuana dispensaries, threatening to seize their assets; and
  • Stop blocking medical marijuana research and approve the application for a medical marijuana research facility at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

MPP was the only reform organization to provide expert testimony at the hearing yesterday. In fact, MPP is the only marijuana policy reform organization with a full-time lobbyist on Capitol Hill. Would you please support this important work by making a contribution today? We appreciate anything you can give.

Thank you,

Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $2.35 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2009. This means that your donation today will be doubled.

Press Release: Reps. Barney Frank and Ron Paul Introduce Hemp Bill HR 1866

VH


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2009

 
   
CONTACT:     Tom Murphy 207-542-4998
                                    tom@votehemp.com
                     Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
                            adam@mintwood.com


Representatives Barney Frank and Ron Paul Introduce
Hemp Farming Legislation - HR 1866

 
WASHINGTON, DC - A federal bill was introduced yesterday that, if passed into law, would remove restrictions on the cultivation of non-psychoactive industrial hemp.  The chief sponsors of HR 1866, "The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009," Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX), were joined by nine other U.S. House members split equally between Republicans and Democrats.
 
 "It is unfortunate that the federal government has stood in the way of American farmers, including many who are struggling to make ends meet, from competing in the global industrial hemp market," said Representative Ron Paul during his introduction of the bill yesterday before the U.S. House.  "Indeed, the founders of our nation, some of whom grew hemp, would surely find that federal restrictions on farmers growing a safe and profitable crop on their own land are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of a limited, restrained federal government.  Therefore, I urge my colleagues to stand up for American farmers and co-sponsor the Industrial Hemp Farming Act," concluded Paul.
 
"With so much discussion lately in the media about drug policy, it is surprising that the tragedy of American hemp farming hasn't come up as a 'no-brainer' for reform," says Vote Hemp President, Eric Steenstra.  "Hemp is a versatile, environmentally-friendly crop that has not been grown here for over fifty years because of a politicized interpretation of the nation's drug laws by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  President Obama should direct the DEA to stop confusing industrial hemp with its genetically distinct cousin, marijuana.  While the new bill in Congress is a welcome step, the hemp industry is hopeful that President Obama's administration will prioritize hemp's benefits to farmers.  Jobs would be created overnight, as there are numerous U.S. companies that now have no choice but to import hemp raw materials worth many millions of dollars per year," adds Steenstra.
 
U.S. companies that manufacture or sell products made with hemp include Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, a California company who manufactures the number-one-selling natural soap, and FlexForm Technologies, an Indiana company whose natural fiber materials are used in over two million cars on the road today.  Hemp food manufacturers, such as French Meadow Bakery, Hempzels, Living Harvest, Nature's Path and Nutiva, now make their products from Canadian hemp.  Although hemp now grows wild across the U.S., a vestige of centuries of hemp farming here, the hemp for these products must be imported.  Hemp clothing is made around the world by well-known brands such as Patagonia, Bono's Edun and Giorgio Armani.
 
There is strong support among key national organizations for a change in the federal government's position on hemp.  The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) "supports revisions to the federal rules and regulations authorizing commercial production of industrial hemp."  The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has also passed a pro-hemp resolution.
 
Numerous individual states have expressed interest in and support for industrial hemp as well.  Sixteen states have passed pro-hemp legislation, and eight states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia) have removed barriers to its production or research.  North Dakota has been issuing state licenses to farmers for two years now.  The new bill will remove federal barriers and allow laws in these states regulating the growing and processing of hemp to take effect.
 
"Under the current national drug control policy, industrial hemp can be imported, but it can't be grown by American farmers," says Steenstra.  "The DEA has taken the Controlled Substances Act's antiquated definition of marijuana out of context and used it as an excuse to ban industrial hemp farming.  The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 will return us to more rational times when the government regulated marijuana, but allowed farmers to continue raising industrial hemp just as they always had."
 
#   #   #
 
More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses can be found at www.VoteHemp.com.
BETA SP and DVD Video News Releases featuring footage of hemp farming in other countries are available upon request by contacting Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

End the D.C. medical marijuana ban

Dear Friends:

A decade has passed since Congressman Bob Barr thwarted the will of D.C. voters by blocking a medical marijuana program, voted into law by nearly 70% of the district. Please help MPP remove the legislation blocking D.C. from implementing its medical marijuana program.

Since 1999, when Congressman Barr's legislation took effect, national support for medical marijuana has grown to nearly 80%, the American College of Physicians (America's second largest medical association) has come out in support of medical marijuana, and even Congressman Bob Barr has switched sides, lobbying with MPP to repeal his own legislation and allow D.C. medical marijuana patients the protections they deserve.

Please take action today. Send an e-mail to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton and ask her to remove the Barr Amendment from the D.C. appropriations bill.

Sincerely,

Ben Morris
Assistant Manager of Government Relations
Marijuana Policy Project
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Press Release: New Bill Allowing Industrial Hemp Farming Expected to be Introduced this Week

VH

VOTEHEMP.COM  
NEWS ADVISORY
April 1, 2009
 
    CONTACT: Tom Murphy 207-542-4998
                             tom@votehemp.com
                   Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
                              adam@mintwood.com 

 

New Bill Allowing Industrial Hemp Farming Expected to be Introduced this Week
 
WASHINGTON, DC - For the third time since the federal government outlawed hemp farming in the United States over 50 years ago, a federal bill will be introduced that will remove restrictions on the cultivation of non-psychoactive industrial hemp.  The chief sponsors, Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX), have circulated a "Dear Colleague" letter seeking support for the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009.  The bill will be identical to HR 1009, which was introduced in the 110th Congress in 2007. 
 
"With so much discussion lately in the media about drug policy, it's surprising that the tragedy of American hemp farming hasn't come up as a 'no-brainer' for reform," says Vote Hemp President, Eric Steenstra.  "Hemp is a versatile, environmentally-friendly crop that has not been grown here for over 50 years because of a politicized interpretation of the nation's drug laws by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  President Obama should direct the DEA to stop confusing industrial hemp with its genetically distinct cousin, marijuana.  While the new bill in Congress is a welcome step, the hemp industry is hopeful that the new leadership in the White House will prioritize the crop's benefits to farmers.  Jobs would be created overnight, as there are numerous U.S. companies that now have no choice but to import hemp materials valued at $360 million in annual retail sales and growing," adds Steenstra.
 
U.S. companies that manufacture or sell products made with hemp include Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, a California company who manufactures the number-one-selling natural soap, and FlexForm Technologies, an Indiana company whose natural fiber materials are used in over three million cars on the road today.  Hemp food manufacturers, such as French Meadow Bakery, Hempzels, Living Harvest, Nature's Path and Nutiva, now make their products from Canadian hemp.  Although hemp now grows wild across the U.S., a vestige of centuries of hemp farming here, the hemp for these products must be imported.  Hemp clothing is made around the world by well-known brands such as Patagonia, Bono's Edun and Giorgio Armani.
 
There is strong support among key national organizations for a change in the federal government's position on hemp.  The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) "supports revisions to the federal rules and regulations authorizing commercial production of industrial hemp."  The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has also passed a pro-hemp resolution.
 
Numerous individual states have expressed interest in and support for industrial hemp as well.  Sixteen states have passed pro-hemp legislation, and eight states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia) have removed barriers to its production or research.  North Dakota has been issuing state licenses to farmers for two years now.  The new bill will remove federal barriers and allow laws in these states regulating the growing and processing of hemp to take effect.
 
"Under the current national drug control policy, industrial hemp can be imported, but it can't be grown by American farmers," says Steenstra.  "The DEA has taken the Controlled Substances Act's antiquated definition of marijuana out of context and used it as an excuse to ban industrial hemp farming.  The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 will return us to more rational times when the government regulated marijuana, but allowed farmers to continue raising industrial hemp just as they always had."
 
#   #   #



More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses can be found at www.VoteHemp.com.
BETA SP and DVD Video News Releases featuring footage of hemp farming in other countries are available upon request by contacting Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.

     
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

The Sentencing Project: "A National Disgrace"

Dear Friend: Yesterday, U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), took a bold step toward a more fair and effective criminal justice system. He introduced a bi-partisan bill with Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) that would create a blue-ribbon commission to conduct an 18-month review of the nation's criminal justice system and offer concrete recommendations for reform. "America's criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace," said Senator Webb. "With five percent of the world's population, our country houses twenty-five percent of the world's prison population. Incarcerated drug offenders have soared 1200% since 1980. And four times as many mentally ill people are in prisons than in mental health hospitals." We agree with Senator Webb's assessment of the criminal justice system. Since his election in 2006, The Sentencing Project has been working with Senator Webb to provide information and analysis on sentencing and drug policy, along with recommendations for reform. We commend Senator Webb for his leadership on this issue, and look forward to working with his office, and other leaders in the House and Senate to advance sentencing reform, examine racial disparity and improve the juvenile justice system. You can help The Sentencing Project continue to advocate for a more fair and effective criminal justice system by making a contribution to our work today. Every day, support from individuals like you is making a difference in The Sentencing Project's work to change the way Americans think about crime and punishment. Thank you. Sincerely, Marc Mauer Executive Director

Criminal Justice: US Senator Introduces Bill to Create Commission for "Top-to-Bottom" Review of Criminal Justice System

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/jimwebb.jpg
Jim Webb at 2007 incarceration hearing (photo from sentencingproject.org)
US Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) yesterday introduced a bill that would create a commission designed to overhaul the US criminal justice system. The bill would create a commission that would have 18 months to do a top-to-bottom review of the criminal justice system and come back with concrete, wide-ranging reforms to address the nation's sky-high incarceration rate, responsd to international and domestic gang violence, and restructure the county's approach to drug policy.

"America's criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace," Webb said in introducing the bill. "Its irregularities and inequities cut against the notion that we are a society founded on fundamental fairness. Our failure to address this problem has caused the nation's prisons to burst their seams with massive overcrowding, even as our neighborhoods have become more dangerous. We are wasting billions of dollars and diminishing millions of lives. We need to fix the system. Doing so will require a major nationwide recalculation of who goes to prison and for how long and of how we address the long-term consequences of incarceration."

Opening with an all too familiar litany of ills plaguing the US criminal justice system-- skyrocketing incarceration, the imprisonment of nonviolent drug offenders, the negative effects of drug prohibition -- the bill calls on the commission to make specific finding regarding:

  • Reasons for increase in the US incarceration rate compared to historical standards;
  • Incarceration and other policies in similar democratic, western countries;
  • Prison administration policies, including the availability of pre-employment training programs and career progression for guards and prison administrators;
  • Costs of current incarceration policies at the federal, state & local level;
  • The impact of gang activities, including foreign syndicates;
  • Drug policy and its impact on incarceration, crime and sentencing;
  • Policies as they relate to the mentally ill;
  • The historical role of the military in crime prevention and border security;
  • Any other area that the Commission deems relevant.

Sen. Webb is also looking for policy change recommendations on drug policy, reentry programs for ex-offenders, prison reforms, and how better to deal with international and domestic criminal organizations.

That Webb should introduce such a sweeping bill comes as little surprise given his history of interest in the field. In 2007, he led a Joint Economic Committee hearing on mass incarceration, and last year, he led another Joint Economic Committee hearing on the economic cost of drug policy, as well as returning to the theme on various other occasions.

The bill does not yet have a number.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums: Knock down drug sentences!

Families Against Mandatory Minimums logo

Friends --

Great news!  The first bill of the new Congress to eliminate mandatory minimums for all drugs was introduced by Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on March 12, 2009.  

H.R. 1466, the Major Drug Trafficking Prosecution Act of 2009, seeks to repeal mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders and to give courts the ability to determine sentences based on all the facts, not just drug weight. It would also refocus federal resources on major drug traffickers instead of low-level offenders.  There is currently no companion bill in the Senate.

We are excited about getting this legislation passed, but we can't do it without your help. It will take time and effort to make this bill become law.  The first step is to ask your representative to become a cosponsor of H.R. 1466. If they already are cosponsors, please take a moment to thank them. FAMM's action center gives you talking points to use in your letters and also lets you know if your representative is already on board. Click here to contact your representative now.

It won't be fast and it won't be easy, but by working together, with commitment and with focus, we can knock down mandatory minimum sentencing laws and insure that the punishment fits the crime once more. 

Thanks for getting involved today!

My best -

Julie 

Julie Stewart

President

Sentences that Fit. Justice that Works.

Latin America: Mexico Prohibition Violence Catches Washington's Eye, New Initiatives Pending

When lawmakers in Washington managed to tear themselves away from the AIG bonus scandal, much of their attention this week was focused on Mexico. With prohibition-related violence there showing no sign of a let-up -- more than a thousand people have been killed already this year -- legislators held a number of hearings this week to assess the threat and see what the Obama administration plans to do about it.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/dea-mexico-poster.jpg
DEA Spanish-language poster targeting Mexican trafficking organization (2007)
At a joint hearing of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control and a Senate Judiciary subcommittee Tuesday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) warned that Mexican drug trafficking organizations posed a direct threat to the US. Citing a recent Justice Department report, he said they have a presence in at least 230 US cities.

But Durbin also said some of the blame resides north of the border. "The insatiable demand for illegal drugs in the United States keeps the Mexican drug cartels in business every day," he said.

"The facts about what is going on in Mexico are staggering, imposing an enormous threat to the United States," concurred Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

In the face of increasingly shrill congressional demands to "do something," Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, who oversees the border as head of the Northern Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee the administration is working on an integrated plan to address the seemingly unending violence, much of it taking place in the border towns of Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, and the Mexican cities on the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

He said likely measures would include efforts to clamp down on the flow of guns into Mexico, tightening border security, and increased support for the Mexican military. "I think we'll have good plans come out of this work this week," he said.

Renuart also hinted that the new plan could involve more boots on the ground in the border region. "Certainly, there may be a need for additional manpower," he said. "Whether that is best suited or best provided by National Guard or additional law enforcement agencies, I think, this planning team will really lead us to," he told the committee.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón has deployed some 50,000 troops in his war against the cartels, including some 8,500 who occupied Juárez and took over policing duties there last week. But Calderón's two-year-old offensive has only led to increasing levels of brutal and exemplary violence. More than 2,000 people died in the cartel wars in 2007, more than 5,000 last year, and the pace of killings this year should yield similar numbers.

But DEA chief of intelligence Anthony Plácido told the joint committee that the escalating violence was a "desperate attempt" by traffickers to fight off the government offensive. "DEA assesses that the current surge in violence is driven in large measure by the government of Mexico's offensive against these traffickers who, in turn, perceive themselves as fighting for a larger share of a shrinking market," he said.

With passage of last year's Mérida Initiative, the US has pledged some $1.4 billion in anti-drug aid to Mexico over the next three years. The first tranche of that aid has already been delivered, providing Mexico with helicopters and sophisticated surveillance equipment.

On Wednesday, in the week's first concrete action to crack down on the border, the Department of Homeland Security announced it was sending 50 Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents to the border to try to cut down the flow of weapons headed south.

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