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Chronicle AM: Biden for Decrim Not Fed Legalization, Heroin ER Visits Decline, More... (5/17/19)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1067)
Consequences of Prohibition

Joe Biden comes out for marijuana decriminalization, a legalization bill gets introduced in Delaware, heroin-related emergency room visits are declining, Brazil's Congress just approved a retrograde drug law, and more.

Joe Biden moves his marijuana policy partially into the 21st Century. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Joe Biden Supports Decriminalization, But Not an End to Federal Prohibition. Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden supports decriminalizing pot, telling a crowd in New Hampshire Tuesday that "Nobody should be in jail for smoking marijuana." When pressed on whether Biden supports legalizing marijuana, campaign spokesman Andrew Bates told CNN: "As he said [Tuesday], Vice President Biden does not believe anyone should be in jail simply for smoking or possessing marijuana. He supports decriminalizing marijuana and automatically expunging prior criminal records for marijuana possession, so those affected don't have to figure out how to petition for it or pay for a lawyer," Bates said. "He would allow states to continue to make their own choices regarding legalization and would seek to make it easier to conduct research on marijuana's positive and negative health impacts by rescheduling it as a schedule 2 drug," he added. Most other Democratic presidential candidates have come out in favor of legalization.

California Pot Tax Relief Bill Fails in Committee. A bill designed to jumpstart the state's legal marijuana industry by temporarily reducing some taxes appears dead for this session. AB 286, sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta, couldn't get past the Assembly Appropriations Committee by a legislative deadline Thursday, even after Bonta had amended the bill to attract more votes. The bill now will not get a floor vote, even though it is possible it could be revived using legislative maneuvers later in the year.

Delaware Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced. State Rep. Ed Osienski (D-Newark) and cosponsors have filed HB 110, the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, which would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of weed by adults, but which would not allow for home cultivation. The bill envisions a taxed and regulated legal marketplace, with a 15% retail tax. "There is a market for safe and legal marijuana in Delaware, which will have numerous benefits for our state," Osienski said. "We would be establishing a new industry that would create good-paying jobs for Delawareans while striking a blow against the marijuana black market."

Massachusetts Moves Toward Allowing Social Consumption Spaces. The state's Cannabis Control Commission adopted a policy Thursday to launch a pilot program for cannabis cafes. In something of a retreat from a December 2017 plan, licenses will not be available for existing non-marijuana businesses that want to incorporate marijuana, but only for full-fledged cannabis cafes and special events.

Medical Marijuana

Nebraska Legislature Kills Medical Marijuana Bill. Rather than voting on a medical marijuana bill, LB 110, after hours of debate, the unicameral legislature voted to table the bill, effectively killing it. The move came even after the bill's sponsor agreed to suggested amendments limiting available products and delivery methods.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Emergency Visits for Heroin Overdoses Decline in Some States. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that heroin overdose-related emergency room visits declined by 21.5% between April 2017 and June 2018, and that a number of states have also posted declines. Nine mostly eastern states and the District of Columbia reported "significant decreases," the CDC said. CDC speculates that the decline may be tied to less fentanyl-laced heroin and increased availability of overdose-reversing drugs.


Oakland City Council Hearing on Psychedelic Decriminalization Set for Later This Month. The city council's Public Safety Committee is set to consider a resolution that would bar the use of city funds to "assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the use and possession" of psychedelic substances. The resolution would also make psychedelics the "lowest law enforcement priority." The hearing is set for May 28. If approved in committee, the resolution would head to the full council for a final vote.


Brazil Congress Approves Forced Rehab for Drug Users. The Senate has approved a measure that will require drug users to undergo treatment at private or religious centers, as well as toughening penalties for drug trafficking. The Chamber of Deputies had approved the bill earlier this year, and the Senate approved it Wednesday. Drug policy specialists criticized the bill for moving away from a public health approach: "It is a perfect example of how this government seeks to resolve complex issues with simple and wrong solutions," said Leon Ribeiro, a public health psychiatrist and former member of Brazil's National Secretariat for Drug Policy.

(This article was prepared by's 501(c)(4) lobbying nonprofit, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this website. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

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.


Dain Bramage (not verified)

Biden is an old school, Democratic drug warrior.  That's bad.

Biden kicked off his presidential campaign with a lie -- he said he was the most progressive candidate running.

He could have explained how he has come to understand how he was wrong, and how he has changed; but he didn't do that.  He told a bald-face lie.

Democrats, nominating Biden would be a BIG WHOPPING mistake.  

Biden will depress Democratic turnout, I guarantee;  I can feel the total lack of enthusiasm for Biden already.  Then, 2020 will be 2016 all over again, with two shitty candidates.  Two shitty candidates that everybody hates, except for fascist Corporate America.  AND Putin.

Democrats, please don't be stupid like the Republicans, I am begging you!!

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 6:46pm Permalink
Dain Bramage (not verified)

In reply to by Dain Bramage (not verified)

By the way, I have a lot of respect for Hillary Clinton, and she sure was right about Trump being a Putin puppet.  I voted for her.

But I cringed everytime she said something about marijuana legalization.  It was beneath her intelligence; it sounded like a high school report about the dangers of drugs.  To this day, I can't understand why she didn't just come clean about the facts of legalization -- other than she must be under corporate influence.

Hell, if lying, bullshit Trump surrogates like Matt Gaetz and Cory Gardner can memorize and regurgitate a few drug war facts, why couldn't Hillary just tell the truth?  Now, along comes Biden doing the same goddamn thing.

And, he lied again!  He says "Nobody should go to jail for marijuana" (sure sounds like support for legalization, doesn't it?  That's exactly what Biden intended for me to hear.  He intended for me to misunderstand.)  Then, he goes all chickenshit, and sends his spokesperson out to read the "fine print" to us: Schedule II.

You will definitely go to jail over schedule II. 

Schedule II marijuana means medicine for the wealthy, and jail for the poor.

I call "bullshit" on Joe Biden!

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 9:20am Permalink
newageblues (not verified)

Cocaine and morphine are schedule II drugs, how dare Biden claim cannabis is in the same class as those two killers. And how dare he consider killer alcohol users are superior to cannabis users. He's so out of it that he recently clapped enthusiastically for a fanatic drug warrior's risible lie that there's no evidence that availablility of medicinal cannabis reduces opiate overdoses. And you know he'll never lift a finger to disempower the vast black market in hard drugs, with all it's disastrous consequences, he'll continue the policies that have failed for 4 generations now

But the joker is going to have to defend his position in debate with the other Democrat candidates. It's a great opportunity for them to show how out of touch he is with common sense, public opinion, and even more overwhelmingly with Democratic public opinion.

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 7:20pm Permalink
Dain Bramage (not verified)

Who would you rather defend against political attacks from Trump: Joe Biden, or Kamala Harris?

Biden is hard to defend.  Our ONLY argument would be that he is an infinitely better presidential candidate than Donald Trump, which is 100% true, of course -- but we Democrats can and must do better, by putting forth a candidate that we Democrats actually believe in!!

Kamala Harris, on the other hand, could talk Trump into pissing his own pants onstage, I think!  I would love to see her destroy him in debate. And I would have her back all the way.  I think all Democrats would.

Now, if Joe Biden and Trump want to "duke it out" in an alley, fine.  That would be the geriatric fight of the century, put it on pay-per-view!  But do not nominate Joe Biden to be the Democratic presidential candidate.  

Joe Biden is the corporate America "forced pick."  Don't fall for that non-existent "centrist" crowd -- those aren't people, those are corporations.

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 8:58pm Permalink
Dain Bramage (not verified)

In reply to by newageblues (not verified)

Me too.

Now let's talk Republican.  Naturally, the Republicans are going to trash any Democratic candidate.  It's all a bunch of false equivalence from the right, a bunch of "both-siderism", to say that Democrats are as bad as Republicans, when the facts say otherwise.

But I think the Republicans would love to run against Joe Biden, knowing that he has more in common with them (the conservative, corporate types) than he does with his own Democratic base. That makes it sort of a win-win situation for the Republicans, either way.  So naturally, they will want him nominated, even as they talk trash about him.

But Biden is not going to "win over" any Trump supporters.  Is he, Newageblues?


So, we don't need to worry about what the Republicans think of our candidates.

So let's disregard the noise from Trump-land, and nominate a Democratic candidate we can defend with enthusiasm and sincerity!

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 9:33pm Permalink
Dain Bramage (not verified)

See how that works?

Biden, like Hillary, takes a position on marijuana that is so obviously bullshit, that he practically BEGS drug policy reformers to vote third party.  (No sincere drug policy reformer would vote Republican.  That's like being a black Klansman.)

Biden, as Democratic nominee, would not only depress Democratic turnout, he would bleed votes to third parties, which is bad for Democrats.

Biden is bad for Democrats.

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 3:37am Permalink
Dain Bramage (not verified)

One word: "Change."  

If Biden even used the word recently, I missed it.

So.  Another fucking lie from Biden.  If Joe Biden were a "Obama-Biden" Democrat, he would already be claiming credit for the progress we made under President Obama (Exhibit A: cannabis dispensaries -- thousands of them across America.  Before Obama, there were virtually none.  Think that would have ever happened under a McCain or a Romney, or any Republican at all?  Fuck no.)

The fact of a black President of The United States of America -- that in itself represented profound change: it told the world that we WERE NOT the stupid racist assholes we seemed to be.  It told the world that America was a force for good, not evil.


I miss hope.  Let's get some!

Fuck that shit-for-brains Orange Klansman Trump and his Russian criminal syndicate.

Biden has President Obama in a box.  Either Obama must endorse the old, white, male, non-"change" candidate, or he must admit the obvious truth: Obama picked Biden as Vice-President exactly because he was an old white lame doofus,  in order to make himself more palatable to skittish whites.

Well that's fine, it worked.  Kudos to President Obama.

But now, without Obama, Biden is just another establishment, corporate sell-out.

Front runner? We'll see about that!

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 9:07am Permalink
Dain Bramage (not verified)

Howard, I disagree.

Legal cannabis is the right of ALL Americans, not just those lucky enough to live in Blue states.  Indeed, it is a human right. 

I don't recognize the rights of States to prohibit marijuana, any more than I recognize the Feds right to prohibit marijuana. 

Cannabis is a civil right and a human right, not a states right.

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 3:13pm Permalink
Greenness (not verified)

Stop saying that Democrat candidates support legalization. Say that they support some form of rescheduling or descheduling cannabis. There is a big difference between the 2. Even descheduled cannabis does not make cannabis legal at the state level. State laws on cannabis trump federal descheduling. So be specific as to what each candidate supports. Say that so-and-so supports federal legalization that allows states to set their own cannabis laws.

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 5:10pm Permalink

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