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Chronicle AM: Drug Czar Calls Overdoses Top Priority, Just One MA Init Left, More (12/3/15)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #912)
Consequences of Prohibition

The drug czar is concerned about the rising toll of heroin overdose deaths. (
Marijuana Policy

Poll: Marijuana Legalization Not a High Priority for Californians. Californians are more concerned with school funding, increasing the minimum wage, and tax levels than they are with marijuana legalization, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California poll. The poll found that 88% thought school funding was "very" or "somewhat" important, 80% though increasing the minimum wage was, 76% thought extending tax increases was, but only 49% though legalizing pot was. Fully one-third (32%) of respondents said legalization was "not at all important."

Down to One Legalization Initiative in Massachusetts. The legalization situation is clarifying. Bay State Repeal, which had mounted a grassroots effort to get its own legalization initiative on the ballot next year, has conceded that if failed to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. That leaves the Marijuana Policy Project-backed Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol as the sole possible contender next year. The latter group turned in more than 100,000 voter signatures earlier this week; it needs some 67,000 valid ones to qualify for the ballot.

Drug Policy

Drug Czar Says Heroin, Prescription Opiate Overdoses Top Priority. Michael Botticelli, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office), told a congressional hearing Wednesday that heroin and prescription opiates overdoses are the most urgent issue facing his agency. "There is no more pressing issue," said Botticelli, who testified at a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing on the nation's drug policy. "We have seen a reduction in prescription drug misuse among young adults but that has been replaced by a significant increase in heroin overdose deaths. We know some of this is related to the vast supply of very cheap, very pure heroin in parts of the country where we haven't seen it before." He said that more than 8,000 people died of heroin overdoses in 2013 and that he expects last year's figure to be substantially higher.


Massachusetts Poll Shows Broad Support for Repealing Mandatory Minimums. A poll conducted by Suffolk University's Political Research Center for Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) found that voters there support repealing mandatory minimum sentences by a margin of three-to-one. Some 62% supported repeal, while only 21% were opposed. Other poll questions showed broad support for sentencing reforms as well. "Massachusetts voters get it," said Barbara J. Dougan, Massachusetts project director for FAMM. "They know that mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses are a failed public policy. They want these ineffective and expensive laws repealed. The only question left is whether state lawmakers will listen to their constituents."


Malaysian Truck Driver Faces Death Sentence for Less Than a Pound of Pot. Abdul Sukur Saiful Bahri, 38, a driver for a government agency, faces a mandatory death sentence after being charged under the country's draconian drug trafficking laws. He was caught with 305 grams of marijuana, about 11 ounces of weed.

Australian Government Creates National Medical Marijuana Licensing Scheme. The federal government has announced a national licensing plan that will remove the need for states and territories to come up with their own regulatory schemes. The national government will now oversee all regulations for medical marijuana. A bill is being drafted to turn the plan into law. That's expected to happen next year.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

He would be very,very pro medicinal marijuana since the statistical analysis of 15 years of prescription opiate overdoses showed a very substantial link between availability of legal medicinal marijuana and reduction in opiate overdose deaths. Instead he calls MMJ a joke. He's pathetic. 

Obama has been far more accommodating over recreational legalization than medicinal. His legacy on medicinal marijuana is terrible at this point, and to a large extent beyond salvage, as the unnecessary suffering and death he has allowed.can't be undone. He said he would be guided by science but he turned his back on science like he's a Republican in denial of climate change.

Sat, 12/05/2015 - 12:35am Permalink
borden (not verified)

In reply to by saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

It's the DEA chief, Chuck Rosenberg, who called medical marijuana a joke, not the drug czar. Michael Botticelli, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the "drug czar") has not come out for medical marijuana, but he's been respectful toward the issue and toward friends of ours who work on it. Botticell is the first US drug czar since the term was coined to come from a public health background.

Obama's record on medical marijuana is mixed, and the second term has been a lot better than the first. But mainly the feds did continue to let medical marijuana go forward, as they have done for marijuana legalization.

I think the overdose research you've cited is powerful, assuming it continues to hold up under further research. That's the sort of thing that could bring public health people like Botticelli more on board with it.

Sat, 12/05/2015 - 5:35pm Permalink

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