In the Trenches
Former Baltimore Narcotics Cop Testifies for Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana in Maryland; Tuesday Hearing on Lowering Marijuana Penalty to $100 Fine (Press Release)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 22, 2011
CONTACT: Tom Angell at (202) 557-4979 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Former Baltimore Narcotics Cop Testifies for Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana in Maryland; Tuesday Hearing on Lowering Marijuana Penalty to $100 Fine
ANNAPOLIS, MD -- A former Baltimore narcotics cop will testify before a Maryland House of Delegates committee today in favor of a bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession. The bill, HB 606, sponsored by Del. Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore City), will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee at 1:00 PM EST in Room 100.
Neill Franklin, who did narcotics work with both the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department over a 34-year career, will testify that, "The current laws force police officers in Maryland to waste hour after hour processing marijuana possession arrests. Can you imagine how many more burglaries, rapes and murders we could solve if we put these wasted man-hours toward good use? Marijuana prohibition constitutes a serious threat to public safety."
Franklin is executive director of the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an international group of police officers, judges, corrections officials, border agents and other criminal justice professionals who have witnessed the failures of the so-called "war on drugs" firsthand.
The Maryland bill will lower the penalty for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100. In addition to Del. Anderson, HB 606 has bipartisan support from 20 co-sponsors and has been officially endorsed by the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland.
Maryland spends over $236 million enforcing its marijuana laws every year, according to Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron.
Del. Michael Smigiel (R-Cecil County), a co-sponsor of the decriminalization bill, says that many cops are privately approaching him in support of the idea. "Many police who come before the judiciary say they don't want to have to spend all that time taking someone in for less than an ounce, booking them and going through that whole process, when there are other people out there that they could be spending their time on that are committing serious crimes," he recently told WBAL-TV.
The full text of HB 606 and other information can be found at http://mlis.state.md.us/2011rs/billfile/HB0606.htm
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.
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Medical Marijuana Patient Advocates Hold First-of-Its-Kind Virtual Nationwide Conference (Press Release)
For Immediate Release: February 17, 2011
Contact: Kris Hermes at 510-251-1856 or kris@SafeAccessNow.org
Medical Marijuana Patient Advocates Hold First-of-Its-Kind Virtual Nationwide Conference
Hundreds of activists in more than 20 cities will engage in skills-building and strategic planning
Oakland, CA -- As the issue of medical marijuana heats up across the country, leading patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) will hold a two-day interactive, virtual "Boot Camp" February 19-20 to train hundreds of U.S.-based activists in skills-building and strategic planning.
This first of its kind nationwide conference on medical marijuana will be conducted in more than 20 cities in 9 states, including Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, and Washington, D.C.
ASA has held numerous trainings over its 9-year history, but this will be the group's first decentralized virtual conference in an attempt to better reach patient advocates, building greater breadth and depth in the medical marijuana movement. "I think it¹s really important for people to understand that they are the power," said U.S. Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) in a promotional video for the conference. "Government is lent to us and you hold the power toŠchange the laws of this land," continued Representative Farr.
"If you want to change things, all you have to do is get involved."
Conference participants will be trained in outreach and recruitment, coalition building, leadership development, lobbying public officials, organizing protests and rallies, and working with the media. Once trained, patient advocates will have greater skills with which to develop strategies for protecting and expanding patients¹ rights, as well as adopting medical marijuana policies in states without such laws. "Activists across the country are clamoring for the skills to bring about change at the local and federal level," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "This historic conference is an attempt to satisfy that demand and to build a stronger medical marijuana movement in the U.S."
From grappling with local regulatory ordinances to passing new state medical marijuana laws, the work of patient advocates has been challenging and ongoing. Literally hundreds of local governments in medical marijuana states are deliberating land use laws that dictate how patients can cultivate and obtain their medicine. More than a dozen state governments are also currently considering new statewide medical marijuana laws. "'The ASA Activist Boot Camp' will provide patient advocates with the skill-set and road map to address these political challenges," continued Sherer.
As the country's largest grassroots medical marijuana organization with more than 50,000 members in all 50 states, ASA is also using this conference to help push for a meaningful federal policy. Based on a conviction that Americans deserve the right to choose their own form of health care treatment whether they live in California or Florida, ASA is providing activists with the tools to bring about equal rights for all of the country's sickest and most vulnerable citizens.
Promotional video clip with U.S. Representative Sam Farr:
ASA Boot Camp flyer:
ASA Boot Camp registration info:
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Legalization in 2012: What do YOU think?
Supporters of marijuana policy reform are coming together to produce a statewide ballot initiative that would end cannabis prohibition in Colorado in 2012. No single organization or individual is heading the effort; rather, there is a wide variety of activists, organizations, businesses, professionals, and other stakeholders working together to create and pass the best law possible.
Sensible Colorado, along with SAFER and other allies and organizations, are working to engage everyone possible in the process. We are soliciting input and feedback from the community, which we will bring to the table as an initiative is drafted by some of the most qualified attorneys and advocates from across Colorado and around the nation.
If you would like to take part in the process of putting together the best possible legalization initiative for 2012, please send an e-mail to HERE. Let us know what you do or do not want to see in the initiative, or just let us know if you have any ideas or thoughts on the process. As you can imagine, we probably won’t be able to respond to every e-mail, but we assure you they will all be read and taken into consideration. Submissions must be received on or before February 25, 2011.
I need your help to talk some sense into Congress. While they preach fiscal responsibility, they want to keep giving piles of money to state and local governments to prioritize low-level drug arrests – especially for marijuana possession. Even worse, they want to put the cost on the nation's credit card. You and I will be paying off this foolishness for decades to come if we don't act now.
As I write this, Congress is working on a new federal budget. Right now we have a unique opportunity to cut the funding that helps keep the drug war alive at the local level. If we can get enough people to email Congress, I'm hopeful that we can cut spending, reduce marijuana arrests, and push states to embrace drug policy reform. It would be a three-for-one victory.
Director, Office of National Affairs
Drug Policy Alliance
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 15, 2011
Hearing on Indiana Marijuana Study Bill Today
CONTACT: Morgan Fox, communications manager………………………(202) 905-2031 or email@example.com
INDIANAPOLIS — The first hearing on S.B. 192 took place today to discuss the need to study the marijuana laws in Indiana and find alternatives to arrest and incarceration. S.B. 192 would create a mandate requiring lawmakers to investigate other options to the marijuana laws that put non-violent Hoosiers behind bars and tie up scarce resources that the public would rather see spent on infrastructure. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Dist. 4).
“It has become painfully obvious that our current marijuana laws are not effective,” Sen. Tallian said. “We spend a sizable amount of money every year going after marijuana users and locking them up for a non-violent crime, while more important programs that desperately need funds go wanting. I think we need to take a very close look at the laws we have, determine what is working and what isn’t, and explore every possible alternative. This bill will make sure that we, as lawmakers, commit to this course.”
Over a dozen people testified at the hearings, including policy experts, former law enforcement officers, and medical marijuana patients that suffer from the threat of arrest under the present system. One speaker, C.J. Parker, said, “I am a Gulf War Era Veteran and former police officer who suffers from over 20 diagnosed illnesses, including PTSD, and have been 100% unemployable since 2004 due to the combined effects of my illnesses. I have had no success with the over 30 pharmaceutical medications that have been prescribed to me over the last 9 years, but have found great relief from treating my illnesses with marijuana. It is time my elected leaders take a look at how to allow people like me to live without the fear of arrest.”
A local leader in the marijuana reform community, Joh Padgett, said, “I have been a cannabis [marijuana] therapy patient for many years treating diabetic neuropathy, and pain associated with chronic venous stasis, edema, and a blood clotting disorder that has reduced circulation in my legs by 80%. I co-founded ReLegalize Indiana with our Chairman, Bill Levin, in January 2010 to give a voice to patients in Indiana like me who can benefit greatly from medical cannabis. Proper medical research is something we do well in Indiana and it is time we allowed our world-class researchers and our most vulnerable citizens to study and access a therapy allowed in 15 states and the District of Columbia.”
With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.
Beyond Prohibition Foundation Commends Liberal Party of Canada for Opposing Bill S-10 (Press Release)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 9, 2011
CONTACT: Jacob Hunter at 604.803.4085 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kirk Tousaw at email@example.com
Beyond Prohibition Foundation Commends Liberal Party of Canada for Opposing Bill S-10
Today the Liberal Party of Canada announced that it would vote down Bill S-10, a cornerstone of the Harper Conservative’s incarceration agenda, which would have imposed mandatory jail sentences on non-violent minor drug offenders. The Beyond Prohibition Foundation commends the Liberal Party for standing up to Mr. Harper’s false “soft on crime” slurs and defeating this dangerous, enormously expensive and ideologically-driven legislation.
“We are extremely pleased that the Liberal Party has made its decision on the basis of evidence,” noted Kirk Tousaw, Executive Director of the Foundation, “This punishment plan would not have reduced crime, nor would it have made Canadian safer from the influence of gangs. In fact, the Foundation has long argued that the evidence is clear that ramping up a war on drugs has the perverse effect of making drugs more available, cheaper and more potent while simultaneously increasing the profitability and violent tendencies of organized criminals. Today the Liberal Party of Canada decided to be smart on crime.”
The legislation had previously been the subject of intense criticism during two rounds of testimony before committees of the Senate and House of Commons. Experts from Canada, the United States and abroad testified that other jurisdictions using mandatory jail terms have worse crime and drug problems than Canada, and that these experiments have been expensive failures. Despite this, the Harper Conservatives have been pushing for the legislation for years.
“The Foundation knew that the Conservatives would not listen to expert advice and, therefore, we made a strategic decision early on to appeal to the Liberal Party,” explained Jacob Hunter, the Foundation’s Policy Director. “We believed that the Liberals would understand that making economically and socially smart decisions with Canadian’s tax dollars would be a political benefit, not a liability. Everyone knew that Mr. Harper would attempt to fool Canadians with ‘soft on crime’ rhetoric but the Foundation believes that our citizens are smarter than that. We are very pleased the Liberal Party agrees.”
Earlier this week, the government refused to tell the House how much its incarceration agenda would cost Canadians. “Mr. Harper tried to use fear to sell Canadians on a multi-billion dollar legislative boondoggle by hiding the costs and falsely describing it as targeting only major criminals.
Instead, it would have almost exclusively punished non-violent small time drug offenders. Now that the legislation appears doomed, we urge all Parliamentarians to conduct a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis of drug prohibition. Its time to reject the failed approaches of the past and, instead, to work toward putting criminals out of business by ending the war on drugs,” Tousaw continued.
For Immediate Release: February 9, 2011
Contact: Laura Thomas at (415) 283-6366 or Tommy McDonald (510) 229-5215
SF Mayor’s Hepatitis C Task Force Issues Recommendations for Fighting Epidemic, Including Supervised Injection Facilities (SIF)
SIF Allow People to Consume Their Drugs with Sterile Equipment in Presence of Medically-Trained Staff; Reduce HIV, Overdose Deaths and Public Drug Use, While Not Increasing Drug Use
SF Elected Officials Need to Embrace Science and Public Health Approach
The San Francisco Mayor’s Hepatitis C Task Force issued its report a few weeks ago, with strong recommendations for how San Francisco can better address the hepatitis C epidemic here. There are an estimated 12,000 people living with hepatitis C in San Francisco, most of whom do not know that they are infected. San Francisco has the opportunity to ensure that everyone knows their risk, knows their status, has access to hepatitis C treatment and support if they need it, and has the tools and information that they need to protect themselves from hepatitis C. One of those tools, as recommended by the Task Force, is a supervised injection site, where people could consume their drugs with sterile equipment in the presence of medicallytrained staff.
“Supervised injection facilities reduce HIV and overdose deaths without increasing drug use,” says Laura Thomas, deputy state director, San Francisco for the Drug Policy Alliance. “This has been done around the world and it has been proven to work effectively.”
Supervised injection facilities (SIFs) are operating in many countries around the world. They are not a new idea and the science has shown that they work. Insite, in Vancouver, British Columbia, has been extensively evaluated and has shown that a SIF can reduce public drug use, hepatitis C and HIV risk behaviors, overdoses, and other health problems, while not increasing crime or drug use.
In fact, Insite increased the number of people entering treatment for their problematic drug use. SIFs are a serious and well-researched approach to a significant problem. Politicians who are committed to reducing the harms that drugs create for our communities would be well served by paying attention to the evidence.
“San Francisco has led the way in dealing with HIV. The City needs to take these recommendations seriously and begin to address hepatitis C with the same courage and leadership it has shown for HIV,” Thomas added. “Politics can’t trump science in this case. There are too many lives on the line and here will be a serious price for slow learning curve.
“We need elected officials who are not afraid to do the right thing, and who are willing to put all of the options on the table as we fight the spread of hepatitis C and HIV.”
ACLU Witnesses Brutal Beating of Los Angeles County Jail Inmate Detained on a Non-Violent Marijuana Charge (Press Release)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 8, 2011
CONTACT: ACLU  Will Matthews, ACLU National at (212) 549-2582 or 2666; firstname.lastname@example.org  Sandra Hernandez, ACLU of Southern California at (213) 977-5252; email@example.com
ACLU Witnesses Brutal Beating Of Los Angeles County Jail Inmate By Sheriff’s Deputies
Attack Underscores Need For Systemic Reform And Decrease In Jail’s Population
LOS ANGELES - February 8 - The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC) today condemned a recent brutal beating by two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies of a detainee at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, part of the county jail system.
The violent attack January 24 on James Parker, detained on a non-violent marijuana charge, was witnessed by ACLU/SC’s Esther Lim, who is assigned to monitor all county jails.
“We believe Mr. Parker’s beating is not an isolated incident,” said Hector Villagra, incoming Executive Director of the ACLU/SC. “Rather, it highlights the rampant violence that continues to plague the county’s jails, and demands court intervention to protect detainees from brutal attacks and retaliation. That the ACLU/SC monitor witnessed a brutal attack in plain sight is alarming and can only lead us to conclude detainees are subject to even greater cruelty when no one is looking.”
The beating was made public Monday in a sworn statement submitted in federal court by Lim, who watched through a glass window as deputies repeatedly punched, kneed and tasered Parker while he was lying motionless on the floor.
“Mr. Parker looked like he was a mannequin that was being used as a punching bag,” Lim says in her statement. “I thought he was knocked out, or perhaps even dead.”
Lim hit the glass divider hoping to get the deputies’ attention and stop the attack, but the officers continued to punch and taser Parker.
“Mr. Parker was not fighting with the deputies,” Lim says in her statement, adding he “was not trying to kick, hit or otherwise fight with the deputies.”
Yet deputies continued to order him to “stop resisting” and “stop fighting,” while simultaneously punching and kneeing his limp body repeatedly and tasering him multiple times.
The deputies then wrote in a jail log that Parker had been fighting and resisting, in complete contradiction to what the ACLU witnessed.
“This kind of brutal beating is unacceptable,” said Peter Eliasberg, ACLU/SC managing attorney. “We are also very concerned that shortly after the beating the sheriff’s department issued a log report contradicting what witnesses, including our monitor, saw. The report claims Parker was resisting and fighting with deputies. That is blatantly false.”
Parker now faces charges for allegedly assaulting the very deputies who beat him.
Lim’s statement, along with that of another witness to the beating, was filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, to bolster a motion the ACLU filed in November seeking a federal court order prohibiting jail deputies from retaliating against prisoners through violence or threats.
The ACLU first sued Los Angeles County and its sheriff on behalf of all detainees in the county’s jail system in 1975, charging the conditions of their confinement violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Many remedial orders have been issued over the years in the case, Rutherford v. Block. But the systemic problems plaguing the system have recently become so acute the ACLU in December asked U.S. District Court Judge Dean D. Pregerson to order a new trial in the case based on “an escalating crisis of deputy violence, abuse and inmate suicides” at Men’s Central Jail, another of the system’s facilities. The ACLU contends the problems plaguing the jail system can only be fixed by finding alternatives to incarceration like drug treatment and community-based programs for the low-level, non-violent offenders and detainees with serious mental illnesses that comprise the vast majority of the system’s population, and seeks to prove the jail’s population can be safely, rapidly and radically reduced with existing resources and at great savings to county taxpayers.
A report released by the ACLU in September painted a stark picture of unacceptable levels of violence in the jails, including reports of deputies beating handcuffed detainees, injuring some so badly that they ended up in intensive care. The report also showed retaliation against inmates to be an acute problem. Several prisoners have been severely punished for meeting with representatives of the ACLU, which is the court-appointed monitor of conditions inside L.A.'s county jails.
“The reign of terror we’re uncovering in the Los Angeles County jails is unmatched by any of the hyper-violent prisons and jails across the country we have investigated,” said Margaret Winter, Associate Director of the ACLU National Prison Project. “The brutality there is so blatant and routine that the deputies carried out a vicious beating in full view of a court-appointed monitor. The court needs to take immediate action to ensure the protection of prisoners.”
A copy of the ACLU’s sworn statement, as well as that of the beating’s other witness, is available online at:
*DRUG TRUTH NETWORK PROGRAMS, Feb 6 to Feb 13, 2011*
*Cultural Baggage*, 29:00, Irvin Rosenfeld, author of "My Medicine"
receives 300 marijuana cigarettes from the US government every 25 days + James Gilheany, busted for medical marijuana & "fried" chicken recipe from Sandy Moriarty, head chef at Oaksterdam U
*Century of Lies*, 29:00, Cliff Schaffer of Marijuana Business News & Drug Library + Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance & Aunt Sandys recipe for cannabis tincture
*4:20 Drug War NEWS*, 3:00 each, available at http://www.drugtruth.net on right margin
Sun - Bill Piper with Drug Policy Alliance re Obama's willingess to discussion of drug prohibition Sat - Cannabis flour and "fried" chicken with Sandy Moriarty Fri - Cliff Schaffer, publisher of DrugLibrary.org and MarijuanaBusinessNews.com Thu - Irvin Rosenfeld receives 300 cannabis cigarettes from the US Govt every 25 days Wed - Sandy Moriarty's recipe for cannabis tincture Tue - Mary Jane Borden of Drug War Facts asks: "How are women affected by the drug war?"
Mon - Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition re Obama and drug legalization
With more than 90 broadcast affiliates, DTN invites your station to join, free of charge.
Producer: Drug Truth Network, www.drugtruth.net
Speaker: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition www.leap.cc
It’s here! Americans for Safe Access’ Activist Boot Camp will be happening across the country on February 19th & 20th, bringing together medical cannabis patients and advocates and creating a unified National Call to Action.
The National Call to Action is the nation's first medical cannabis virtual skill-building conference. ASA is hosting this conference virtually to better reach the thousands and thousands of patients and activists who need our trainings - we know that in these tough economic times we'll train with more breadth and depth if we're able to bring ASA to the masses, rather than the masses to ASA.
Registration is now up and running online, so don’t wait to grab your spot! ASA chapters and allied organizations will be hosting events in several cities – so visit http://safeaccessnow.org/activistbootcamp to find the one nearest you.
If you do not see your city listed and are unable to attend any of the other events, you have two options. You can either contact Amber Langston (firstname.lastname@example.org) about organizing your own local Boot Camp, or you can choose "Individual" in the drop-down registration menu - and we will send you the DVD and accompanying materials to view in your own home.
Also, please add us to your Facebook Events and invite your friends! (http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=169621513082893)
Thanks for your work in supporting patients' rights to safe access!
National Conference Director
Americans for Safe Access