I hope that those of you who mark Thanksgiving had a good holiday. I'm writing today with some time-sensitive action alerts for those of us in the US, with some updates related to our organization, and some observations on recent news.
1. Medical Marijuana Is Under Threat: As you may have read on our web site and from other sources, medical marijuana in the US is facing its greatest threat in years. Since late 2014, legislation currently known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, a clause of the "Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies" (CJS) budget, has protected medical marijuana providers, by forbidding the US Dept. of Justice from spending taxpayer funds to interfere with state medical marijuana laws.
Unfortunately, like other laws related to the budget, the amendment needs to be reauthorized by Congress each year to stay in effect. And while it's passed in the Senate already, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives prevented the well-supported bipartisan measure from getting a vote. This situation means that the fate of the amendment, and perhaps of medical marijuana itself, will be decided by a House-Senate "conference committee" charged with reconciling the two chambers' CJS bills. If that fails to happen, there's no telling what the Jeff Sessions Justice Department under the Trump administration will do.
Our request is for you to call your US Representative's office in Washington, DC and ask them to support medical marijuana by insisting the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment be included in the final version of the Commerce Justice Science appropriations bill. You can reach your rep's office through the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Please email us at [email protected] to let us know, especially if the office tells you anything about what your congressman plans to do. I also hope you'll fill our our write-to-Congress form on this issue here -- that will enable us to let you know if you're in a state or district represented on the conference committee.
There is likely to a Continuing Resolution on the budget by Friday, December 8th, when the current resolution expires. Please take action on this before then.
2. We Still Need Your Help to Stop the Philippines Drug War Bloodbath: Last week I emailed and posted about S. 1055, the "Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counternarcotics Act of 2017," which would impose human rights conditions on law enforcement assistance to the Philippines, while funding good programs there that provide alternatives to the drug war. This week Pres. Duterte signaled that he plans to ramp up his drug war killing campaign again.
President Trump has contributed to the slaughter, first by praising Duterte's anti-drug campaign two times while the killings continued, and then through his silence or near-silence on the matter at the ASEAN Summit earlier this month. That means Congress needs to take action. Please write to Congress in support of S. 1055, and when you're done please ask your two US Senators to pass the bill, and your US Representative to support companion legislation in the House.
We especially need your help if your Representative is on the House Appropriations Committee, or if either of your Senators is on the Senate Appropriations Committee. We need your help triply more even than that, if you live in Tennessee, or in Rep. Ed Royce's Congressional district in the LA/Orange County area.
Here again we are asking you to act before December 8th before the new budget resolution gets done. And please check out our sign-on statement and press coverage to see what else we're doing about this.
3. #GivingTuesday: Last Tuesday, November 28th, was #GivingTuesday, a global campaign by many individuals and organizations to encourage giving to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Thank you to those of you who donated to our organization and other good groups.
I'm going to be honest and say that it has gotten harder to raise money for this kind of work, despite the great progress that we're making. We could use your help. If you've given in the past but not lately, or if you've been thinking of starting to support us financially, maybe now is the time! Our About page and other pages it links to have lots more information on our programs to help you decide.
The online donation forms for our 501(c)(3) nonprofit, DRCNet Foundation, and our 501(c)(4) lobbying nonprofit Drug Reform Coordination Network, support making donations by credit card or PayPal; and you can make a donation on a one-time basis, or for a recurring donation monthly, quarterly or annually. Our mailing address to donate that way instead is P.O. Box 9853, Washington, DC 20016. You can find info on donating stocks in the donations section of our About page.
4. Issue 1000 of the Drug War Chronicle newsletter: You may have noticed that the latest issue of our Drug War Chronicle newsletter, sent out Wednesday, was #998. In less than two weeks we are publishing issue #1000!
If you're a Chronicle regular, please help us mark the occasion by sending a testimonial about how you use the newsletter to further reform. And be sure to check your email or our web site for Phil Smith' review of what's changed during the 20 years since the Chronicle was launched.
Donations to DRCNet Foundation, as linked above, can support the Chronicle, or our other educational and non-lobbying programs.5. Remembering Maurice Hinchey: The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment that I wrote about above, which protects medical marijuana, originally was called the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment. It was named after its first lead Democratic sponsor, Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York state. We were saddened to read news of his passing at age 79.
Another issue Rep. Hinchey worked on was one we played a role in for many years, repealing a provision of the Higher Education Act passed in 1998 that delays or denies financial aid for college to students because of drug convictions. Thanks in part to Rep. Hinchey's support, the law got scaled back in 2006, and legislation to further scale it back passed the House in 2010.
Rep. Hinchey spoke at a press conference we organized outside the US Capitol in May 2002, and at other events for the issue, along with all his other good work. We've missed him in Congress since he retired in 2013, and he will be even more missed now, by us and many others.