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Arizona Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Introduced by GOP State Rep John Fillmore

Localização: 
AZ
United States
Under a bill introduced by Representative John Fillmore possession of two ounces or less of marijuana -- by anyone -- would become a petty offense and carry a fine of only $100. Fillmore says that marijuana isn't a gateway drug, as critics unscientifically claim, and all the money and time wasted by law enforcement on marijuana prohibition enforcement would be better spent elsewhere.
Publication/Source: 
Phoenix New Times (AZ)
URL: 
http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2011/02/marijuana_decriminalization_bi.php

Illinois Blacks More Likely to Get Prison for Drugs

An Illinois state panel found Monday that Illinois blacks convicted of low-level drug possession offenses are much more likely to be sentenced to prison than whites. According to the Illinois Disproportionate Justice Impact Study Commission, 19% convicted of drug possession were imprisoned, while only 4% of whites were.

Joliet Prison (image via Wikimedia)
The disparity was even worse in the state's most populous jurisdiction, Cook County. While statewide, blacks were five times more likely to be imprisoned for drug possession than whites, in Cook County, the figure was eight times.

The commission was formed in 2009 to examine incarceration rates between the races. Legislation to create it was sponsored in the state Senate by Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago), who co-chairs the panel.

"It's always disappointing to know the true facts," Hunter said in remarks reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The sentencing disparity comes despite research that shows that blacks and whites nationally use illegal drugs at roughly the same rate, said Pamela Rodriguez, president of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities, a Chicago-based nonprofit that led the commission’s research. She cited a 2008 federal study that 10.1% of blacks and 8.2% of whites reported using illegal drugs.

Rodriguez said the disparity could be partially explained by differences in education and economic status, but that blacks were also more likely to conduct drug transactions in public spaces, where they are easily targeted by police. "Where you have greater enforcement, you have greater arrests," Rodriguez said. "Where you have greater arrests, you have greater prosecutions."

The commission called for funding alternatives to imprisonment as a way to reduce the disparity. The state has programs in place, including drug courts and first-time offender probation, but it needs new revenue to fund them adequately.

Sen. Hunter suggested that the commission would look at using part of local jurisdictions' drug forfeiture funds to pay for alternatives to imprisonment. That would be preferable to leaving them in the hands of police forces, which use them to arrest more drug offenders and seize more funds to arrest more drug offenders and seize more funds in a vicious cycle of drug law enforcement.

Springfield, IL
United States

Georgia Governor Pushing More Alternative Programs for Non-Violent Drug Offenders

Localização: 
GA
United States
Gov. Nathan Deal says he's moving ahead to reduce Georgia's prison population by diverting non-violent drug offenders to other programs. A 2009 national report said drug prohibition related crimes were listed as the primary offense for about 17 percent of Georgia's prisoners. Deal has made it clear he's not interested in springing repeat or violent offenders. But locking up non-violent offenders wastes their lives, strains the state's budget and depletes its work force, he said.
Publication/Source: 
Savannah Morning News (GA)
URL: 
http://savannahnow.com/news/2011-02-01/gov-deal-working-divert-non-violent-drug-offenders-programs-outside-prison

Republican Lawmakers Shifting Tough-On-Crime Stance As State Budget Problems Multiply

In no state is the philosophical U-turn more abrupt than in Oklahoma, where last year the Legislature was barreling in the opposite direction. New Republican Speaker of the House Kris Steele is expected to unveil a package of proposals that would divert thousands of nonviolent lawbreakers from the prison system and ramp up paroles. Similar crash prison reductions are going on from coast to coast. Michigan has shuttered 20 correctional facilities and slashed spending by nearly 7 percent. South Carolina expects to reduce its inmate numbers by 8 percent by putting drug dealers, burglars and hot check writers into community programs instead of behind bars.
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times (CA)
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-ap-us-broken-budgets-prison-problems,0,2779184.story

Former President Alejandro Toledo: Peru Must Consider Decriminalizing Drug Use

Localização: 
Peru
Former president Alejandro Toledo, the frontrunner in Peru's presidential race, said he would consider decriminalizing drug use if elected. Peru currently allows people to possess small amounts of recreational drugs, including cocaine. Toledo said he might loosen them further. A growing number of Latin American countries already have relaxed laws targeting drug consumers in order to focus police resources on traffickers.
Publication/Source: 
Reuters
URL: 
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN2717646120110127

Cut Drug War Spending (Action Alert)

Tell President Obama to stop wasting money on the failed war on drugs.

Email the President

Dear Friends,

In his State of the Union address a few days ago, President Obama said it is time for the federal government to tighten its belt and stop wasting so much money. One of the biggest – and most destructive – wastes of money is the war on drugs. President Obama is working on a new federal budget – urge him to stop wasting money on the failed war on drugs.

In these times of deficits and budget cuts, let’s send a clear message: no more money for marijuana arrests. No more money for laughably stupid anti-marijuana ads. No more money for random drug testing. No more money for SWAT raids on people's homes for suspected drug law violations. No more money for long prison sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses. No more money for the drug war. Period.

Tell the President that our tax dollars should be spent more wisely.

With your help we can eliminate or cut drug war waste and dismantle the war on drugs. Please take a minute to write the White House and tell President Obama to stop wasting your tax dollars on failed drug policies.

Sincerely,

Bill Piper
Director, Office of National Affairs
Drug Policy Alliance

Missoula Jury Pool Creates Uproar Across Nation After Marijuana 'Mutiny'

Localização: 
Missoula, MT
United States
A jury pool's action — and the reaction to it — has serious ramifications for continued prosecution of low-level nonviolent drug crimes, not just in Missoula County but around the country. The story "hit a nerve" around the country, said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the national Drug Policy Alliance that advocates drug law reform. "It shows the emperor-has-no-clothes dimension to what happened. It's an expression of what many people feel — that marijuana possession should no longer be illegal," he said.
Publication/Source: 
The Billings Gazette (MT)
URL: 
http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_c7b4045b-5aad-513d-b8f4-ab5186d39008.html

Treating Mexico's Drug Prohibition War Patients Costs El Paso's County-Run Hospital $4.7 Million

Localização: 
El Paso, TX
United States
Since the start of Mexico's drug prohibition war, 200 people wounded in Mexico have been treated at El Paso's county-run hospital at a cost of $4.7 million, according to the latest figures from the University Medical Center of El Paso. "Local taxpayers are footing the bill for the consequences of a conflict that is occurring on foreign soil," said Jim Valenti, UMC's chief executive officer, and Dr. Jose Manuel de la Rosa, founding dean of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.
Publication/Source: 
Las Cruces Sun-News (NM)
URL: 
http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-news/ci_16971568

80-Year-Old Virginia Republican Lawmaker Leads State's Marijuana Decriminalization Fight

Localização: 
VA
United States
80-year-old Republican Delegate Harvey Morgan, also an assistant clinical professor of pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University, is leading the charge to decriminalize marijuana possession. Legislation proposed by Morgan, known as House Bill 1443, would replace the criminal fine for possession with a civil penalty and eliminate the 30-day jail sentence and criminal record that would follow conviction. "In 2007, nearly 18,000 people were arrested in Virginia for simple possession of marijuana...This places a tremendous burden on law enforcement, prisons and the judicial system. In these times of economic hardship, we need to closely examine how our tax dollars are spent," Morgan said.
Publication/Source: 
The Raw Story (DC)
URL: 
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/virginia-republicans-marijuana-decriminalization/

Florida Drug Czar Office Falls to Budget Ax

newly unemployed drug war bureaucrat seeks position
The Florida Office of Drug Control is going out of business. The four-man fiefdom in the Sunshine State's drug war bureaucracy has fallen afoul of incoming Republican Governor-elect Rick Scott's war on state spending and was notified late last month that it would be out of business come this month.

The office was established by Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and its FY 2010-2011 budget is $551,300. Its charge was reducing substance abuse in Florida and helping set state drug policy. The office put out an annual report, as well as other reports, compiled statistics, lobbied for tighter restrictions on the state's burgeoning pain medicine clinics, and sought funds for prescription monitoring when the state legislature failed to allocate them.

Office director Bruce Grant, Florida's "drug czar," unsurprisingly thought the decision to disband the office was a mistake and sent the wrong message. "It kind of says this is not a priority issue," he said, adding that the state's drug problems are not going away. "It's not a war that's going to be over tomorrow."

The duties of the Office of Drug Control will likely be taken up by law enforcement and the state Department of Health, but that didn't mollify Grant. "Somebody's going to have to pick up the ball," he said. "Frankly, the Department of Health is not the aggressive type of agency to do it."

In the meantime, the incoming governor has surgically excised a layer of drug war bureaucracy and saved Florida taxpayers a half a million bucks a year in the process. It's not much, but it's a start.

Tallahassee, FL
United States

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