A California bill allowing pot shops to sell food and drink goes to the governor, a new report from Harm Reduction International tracks US and EU aid that goes to support the drug war, and more.
Fourteen GOP Lawmakers Tell DEA to Ignore HHS Recommendation, Keep Marijuana Schedule I. A dirty dozen plus two Republican House and Senate members have sent a letter to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram calling on her to reject a recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services to down-schedule the drug. Instead, the conservative lawmakers wrote, marijuana should remain on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
The lead authors on the letter were Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX). They were joined by Sens. Michael Rounds (R-SD), James Risch (R-ID), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ted Budd (R-NC), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Tom Cotton (R-AR), as well as Reps. Chuck Edwards (R-NC), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Hal Rogers (R-KY), Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Andy Biggs (R-AZ).
Any decision to reschedule marijuana "should be based on proven facts and science—not popular opinion, changes in state laws, or the preferred policy of an administration," they wrote, ignoring HHS's science-based review that led to the call for down-scheduling.
"It is irresponsible for HHS to recommend that marijuana be removed from Schedule I. It would also be irresponsible for DEA to act on this recommendation," the letter concludes. "Our country relies on DEA to enforce our nation’s drug laws. We ask you to uphold your mission by rejecting any effort to remove marijuana from Schedule I."
California Marijuana Café Bill Heads to Governor's Desk. After a final concurrence vote in the Assembly to approve amendments made in the Senate, the legislature on Tuesday approved Assembly Bill 374, which would allow marijuana retailers to offer food and drinks in they get local approval. It now heads to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).
The bill would let local governments authorize the preparation and sell of non-marijuana food and drinks. Sale of alcohol would continue to be prohibited, as would the smoking of tobacco.
The bill would also authorize "live musical or other performances on the premises of a retailer or microbusiness licensed under this division in the area where the consumption of cannabis is allowed, and the sale of tickets for those performances."
Led By Colombia and Mexica, 19 Latin American and Caribbean Nations Call for Rethink of War on Drugs. After meeting at the Latin American and Caribbean Conference on Drugs over the weekend, 19 Latin American and Caribbean nations have signed onto a joint statement calling for a rethinking of the war on drugs and instead focusing on "life, peace and development" within the region.
Under the current prohibitionist approach to drug policy, "the expected results have not been obtained when combating the world drug problem, leaving in many cases the underlying problems to be solved and exploiting and exacerbating vulnerabilities of our territories and societies."
The governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela all signed on.
Colombia and Mexico "are the biggest victims of this policy," said Colombian President Gustavo Petro, who likened the drug war to "genocide."
"What I propose is to have a different and unified voice that defends our society, our future and our history and stops repeating a failed discourse," Petro said. He argued that it was wrong to look at drug control "as a military problem and not as a health problem in society."
Supply-side solutions have been counterproductive, he argued. "Every dollar that is dedicated to cutting the supply makes the price grow," he said. "If the price increases, drug traffickers have more money to buy rifles, to buy armored vehicles, to buy missiles, to buy politicians, to buy senators, to buy generals, to buy judges, to buy presidents."
"The fundamental thing to face the scourge of drug addiction and violence is to address the causes, with a new criterion, not to think only of coercive measures," López Obrador, the Mexican president, said at the conference. "We have to put first the criterion that peace is the result of justice. We have to fight first against poverty, against inequality."
America and European Union Have Spent a Billion Dollars in Past Decade to Fight Drug War, Fueling Human Rights Abuses, New Report Finds. Between 2012 and 2021, the US and the European Union spent nearly a billion dollars of their budgets on programs supporting drug control policies, fueling human rights abuses as they did so, according to a new report from Harm Reduction International.
EU funding has been used to support surveillance capabilities in Colombia, Mozambique and the Dominican Republic, and undercover policing in Peru, while American funding has been used by the DEA train police and special units in Vietnam and Honduras, which have been accused of arbitrary arrests and killings.
"When you think about development, you don’t really think about it being used for those kinds of activities – you think of poverty reduction, working towards development goals on health or education," said Catherine Cook, sustainable financing lead at HRI, which monitors the impact of drug policies. "This money is actually being used to support punitive measures – so policing, prisons, essentially funding the ‘war on drugs’, even though we know the ‘war on drugs’ and punitive policies have repeatedly failed."