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We're Winning Any Time the President is Forced to Say the Word "Legalization"

This MSNBC footage is pretty exciting to see.

Obama got dragged kicking and screaming into this debate, and it's a significant moment even if he didn’t give up any new ground. Just look at what happened here. Obama had to travel all the way to Colombia to argue against legalizing drugs, and he didn’t do a particularly good job. The drug war debate looked nothing like this just a few short years ago, i.e. I do not recall Bill Clinton or George W. Bush being forced into any situations like this one.

The impact of a symbolic moment like this is something we can't exactly measure, but my take on the situation is that the lights are being turned on. People are talking about the drug war more than ever before, which creates a kind of pressure that hasn’t existed in the past.

When both sides of the debate are talking about policy change, that says a lot, even if one side isn't serious about it. Opponents of legalization are now in the awkward position of pretending that there's some kind of 3rd way to handle this, and they're going to look sillier from one day to the next as the problem gets worse under their watch. What happens after the "reforms" offered by the Obama Administration and people like Kevin Sabet fail to save a single life south of our border? We're going to find out.

DPA Grants Program LOIs Due April 26th

The Drug Policy Alliance will allocate roughly $750,000 during the 2012/2013 Promoting Policy Change (PPC) grant cycle. PPC seeks to broaden public support for drug policy reform and will fund organizations who have consistently demonstrated success utilizing strategic and innovative approaches to increase such support. Proposals we fund are those designed to educate the public and policymakers about the negative consequences of current local, state or national drug policies, to promote better awareness and understanding of alternatives to current drug policies, and to broaden understanding of the extent to which punitive prohibitionist policies are responsible for most drug-related problems. Promoting Policy Change is a fund that has a two-tier application process.

We require a letter of intent to initiate the relationship. The deadline for the letter is Thursday, April 26th, 2012 at midnight (eastern). All LOIs must be emailed to [email protected]. The letter should consist of a single page that includes your organization’s name and all contact information; IRS status; a brief description of how your proposal is aligned with DPA's priorities (as described at drugpolicy.org/about-us/advocacy-grants-program); the amount of your funding request; and the organization's specific drug policy goals and deliverables during the fiscal year covered.

If you are invited to apply following submission of your LOI, you will be notified on or about May 15th. The deadline for requested proposals is June 18th, 2012 by 8pm (eastern). Please note that being asked to apply is NOT a guarantee of an award being made. Awards will be made mid to late September.

DPA Grants Program LOIs Due April 26th

The Drug Policy Alliance will allocate roughly $750,000 during the 2012/2013 Promoting Policy Change (PPC) grant cycle. PPC seeks to broaden public support for drug policy reform and will fund organizations who have consistently demonstrated success utilizing strategic and innovative approaches to increase such support. Proposals we fund are those designed to educate the public and policymakers about the negative consequences of current local, state or national drug policies, to promote better awareness and understanding of alternatives to current drug policies, and to broaden understanding of the extent to which punitive prohibitionist policies are responsible for most drug-related problems. Promoting Policy Change is a fund that has a two-tier application process.

We require a letter of intent to initiate the relationship. The deadline for the letter is Thursday, April 26th, 2012 at midnight (eastern). All LOIs must be emailed to [email protected]. The letter should consist of a single page that includes your organization’s name and all contact information; IRS status; a brief description of how your proposal is aligned with DPA's priorities (as described at drugpolicy.org/about-us/advocacy-grants-program); the amount of your funding request; and the organization’s specific drug policy goals and deliverables during the fiscal year covered.

If you are invited to apply following submission of your LOI, you will be notified on or about May 15th. The deadline for requested proposals is June 18th, 2012 by 8pm (eastern).  Please note that being asked to apply is NOT a guarantee of an award being made.  Awards will be made mid to late September.

US Law Enforcement Officials Call on Canadian Prime Minister to Legalize Marijuana

WASHINGTON, DC -- A high-profile group of current and former law enforcement officials from the United States is calling on the Canadian government to reconsider the mandatory minimum sentences for minor marijuana offenses proposed in Bill C-10, arguing that the taxation and regulation of marijuana is a more effective policy approach to reducing crime.

On Wednesday, the law enforcers released a letter outlining their concerns, addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian senators. It is signed by more than two dozen current and former judges, police officers, special agents, narcotics investigators and other criminal justice professionals, all of whom are members of the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). The letter strongly reinforces the failure of U.S. crime policies that those proposed in the Canadian federal government’s Bill C-10 legislation seem to be modeled on.

“Through our years of service enforcing anti-marijuana laws, we have seen the devastating consequences of these laws,” the letter states. “Among the greatest concerns is the growth in organized crime and gang violence. Just as with alcohol prohibition, gang violence, corruption and social decay have marched in lockstep with marijuana prohibition.”

“We were deeply involved with the war on drugs and have now accepted, due to our own experience and the clear evidence before us, that these policies are a costly failure,” the letter continues. “Marijuana prohibition drives corruption and violence and tougher laws only worsen the problem.”

Bill C-10, titled “The Safe Streets and Communities Act,” is currently being heard by the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Among other proposals, the bill calls for stricter mandatory minimum sentences for minor marijuana offenses, including minimum six-month sentences for growing as few as six marijuana plants.

“The Canadian government believes the answer is to get tougher on criminals,” said Norm Stamper, retired chief of police in Seattle, Washington. “But as we’ve learned with our decades-long failed experiment with the ‘war on drugs,’ the stricter sentencing proposed in the bill will only serve to help fill jails. It will not reduce harms related to the illicit marijuana trade, make Canadian streets safer or diminish gang activity.”

Said retired Washington State Superior Court Judge David Nichols: “Policies similar to those in the U.S. and now under consideration in Canada have been costly failures in the United States, wasting tax dollars and bankrupting state budgets. Following our path presents obvious and significant risks to Canadians.”

Among the 28 signers of the letter are many law enforcement officials working in border areas. They pointed to the illegal cross-border marijuana trade as sustaining gang activity in the region.

“Organized crime groups move marijuana to the U.S. from British Columbia and return with cocaine and guns,” said Stamper. “Prohibition continues to fill the coffers of organized criminals, making communities on both sides of the border less safe.”

Eric Sterling, who helped the U.S. Congress write the federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws, cautions: “As counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee during the 1980's, I played a major role in writing the mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws which later turned out to not only be ineffective in reducing drug use, but which directly contributed to the disastrous overincarceration problem in this country. I urge policy makers in Canada to learn from our mistakes.”

Canadian Senator Larry Campbell, a member of LEAP’s advisory board and a former member of the RCMP and its drug squad, added: “I am hopeful that my Senate colleagues will listen to the voice of experience, and take into account the advice from leading U.S. law enforcement officials to avoid mandatory minimum sentences. The U.S. and many of its citizens have suffered greatly due to the inflexible and dogmatic nature of mandatory minimum sentences, and Canada would be wise to learn from and avoid that costly and socially destructive mistake.”

U.S. Becoming More Progressive than Canada with Marijuana Policy

While Canada moves towards stricter sentencing with Bill C-10, many states in the U.S. are shifting in the opposite direction, toward control and regulation of the marijuana trade. The law enforcement officials pointed to the 16 U.S. states and the District of Columbia that have already passed laws allowing medical use of cannabis, the 14 states that have taken steps to decriminalize marijuana possession and the initiatives to fully tax and regulate marijuana that are likely to appear on statewide ballots this November in Washington State, Colorado and possibly California.

“We assume this news will not make you consider closing the borders with the United States,” the law enforcement officials write in their letter.

For a copy of the law enforcement letter, please visit http://www.leap.cc/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/regulation-in-canada.pdf

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate marijuana and other drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence.

More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 22, 2012

CONTACT: Tom Angell, [email protected] or Steve Finlay, [email protected]

Localização: 
Canada

YouTube Ignores Cop's First Place Marijuana Legalization Video Question for Obama

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:January 30, 2012
CONTACT:Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or [email protected]

YouTube Ignores Cop's First Place Marijuana Legalization Video Question for Obama

Site Finds Time for Questions About Dancing, Late-Night Snacks and Playing Tennis

WASHINGTON, DC-- Today YouTube ignored a question advocating marijuana legalization from a retired LAPD deputy chief of police that won twice as many votes as any other video question in the White House's "Your Interview with the President" competition on the Google-owned site. They did, however, find the time to get the president on record about late night snacking, singing and dancing, celebrating wedding anniversaries and playing tennis.  

Stephen Downing, the retired LAPD police officer and a board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), had this to say about the site ignoring his question: "It's worse than silly that YouTube and Google would waste the time of the president and of the American people discussing things like midnight snacks and playing tennis when there is a much more pressing question on the minds of the people who took the time to participate in voting on submissions. A majority of Americans now support legalizing marijuana to de-fund cartels and gangs, lower incarceration and arrest rates and save scarce public resources, all while generating new much-needed tax revenue. The time to discuss this issue is now. We're tired of this serious public policy crisis being pushed aside or laughed off."

The top-voted video question from Downing is as follows: "Mr. President, my name is Stephen Downing, and I'm a retired deputy chief of police from the Los Angeles Police Department. From my 20 years of experience I have come to see our country’s drug policies as a failure and a complete waste of criminal justice resources. According to the Gallup Poll, the number of Americans who support legalizing and regulating marijuana now outnumbers those who support continuing prohibition. What do you say to this growing voter constituency that wants more changes to drug policy than you have delivered in your first term?" The question can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0IpiATxdR4.

Downing's question came in first place for video questions and ranked second out of all questions (with the overall top spot going to a text question about copyright infringement). Many of the other top-ranking questions were about marijuana policy or the failed "war on drugs," as has been the case every other time the White House has invited citizens to submit and vote on questions via the web. 

Voting in the YouTube contest wrapped up Saturday at midnight EST. In addition to the top-voted marijuana and drug policy questions mentioned above, there were a number of other similar questions that received thousands of votes but were mysteriously deleted after being marked "inappropriate."

More information about the contest and the top-voted questions can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/whitehouse. The Gallup poll referenced in Downing's winning question can be found online at http://www.gallup.com/poll/150149/Record-High-Americans-Favor-Legalizing-Marijuana.aspx.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the war on drugs and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

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Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy National Conference 2012

 

'Progress not Prisons'
Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy
National Conference 2012

Calgary, Alberta
March 2-4, 2012

THE PLACE TO CONNECT
for Young People, Activists, Researchers, Service Providers
and Others Looking to Change Drug Policies in Canada and Around the World

************************

To find out more -Click here ...

Youth and students interested in presenting can be a part of the conference -Click here ...

Travel scholarships available for youth and students -Click here ...

'an exciting weekend full of informative presentations, engaging workshops, and more'

Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Data: 
Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:00am - Sun, 03/04/2012 - 7:00pm
Localização: 
Calgary, AB
Canada

Patient Advocates File Appeal Brief in Federal Case to Reclassify Medical Marijuana

 

PRESS RELEASE
Americans for Safe Access
For Immediate Release:
January 26, 2012
Contact: ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford or ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes

Patient Advocates File Appeal Brief in Federal Case to Reclassify Medical Marijuana
Lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit challenges DEA denial to reschedule marijuana for medical use

Washington, DC -- The country's leading medical marijuana advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), filed an appeal brief today in the D.C. Circuit to compel the federal government to reclassify marijuana for medical use. In July 2011, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) denied a petition filed in 2002 by the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC), which was denied only after the coalition sued the government for unreasonable delay. The ASA brief filed today is an appeal of the CRC rescheduling denial.

"By ignoring the wealth of scientific evidence that clearly shows the therapeutic value of marijuana, the Obama Administration is playing politics at the expense of sick and dying Americans," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who filed the appeal today. "For the first time in more than 15 years we will be able to present evidence in court to challenge the government's flawed position on medical marijuana." Although two other rescheduling petitions have been filed since the establishment of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, the merits of medical efficacy was reviewed only once by the courts in 1994.

The ASA appeal brief asserts that the federal government acted arbitrarily and capriciously in its efforts to deny marijuana to millions of patients throughout the United States. ASA argues in the brief that the DEA has no "license to apply different criteria to marijuana than to other drugs, ignore critical scientific data, misrepresent social science research, or rely upon unsubstantiated assumptions, as the DEA has done in this case." ASA is urging the court to "require the DEA to analyze the scientific data evenhandedly," and order "a hearing and findings based on the scientific record."

Patient advocates argue that by failing to reclassify marijuana, the federal government has stifled meaningful research into a wide array of therapeutic uses, such as pain relief, appetite stimulation, nausea suppression, and spasticity control among many other benefits. In 1988, the government ignored the ruling of its own Administrative Law Judge Francis Young who said that, "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man."

Since the CRC petition was filed in 2002, an even greater number of studies have been published that show the medical benefits of marijuana for illnesses such as neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's. Recent studies even show that marijuana may inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Last year, the National Cancer Institute, a division of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, added cannabis to its list of Complementary Alternative Medicines, pointing out that it's been therapeutically used for millennia. The ASA appeal asserts that scientific evidence that  was studied or discovered after 2002 is still relevant and must be considered.

Attorneys David Holland and Michael Kennedy filed the original petition in 2002 on behalf the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, which included several individual patients and groups, such as ASA and Patients Out of Time.

AFI: Several patient-petitioners are available for interviews:

William Britt
Mr. Britt is a 52-year-old resident of Long Beach, California, who developed polio as a child, which caused him to have scoliosis, a fused left ankle, shortened left leg, and bone degeneration in his left hip.  Mr. Britt also suffers from epilepsy, depression and insomnia, and uses marijuana to treat chronic pain in his leg, back, and hip. Marijuana has reduced Mr. Britt's seizures and depression, and helps him sleep. Although Mr. Britt has taken prescription medication such as Marinol, Robaxin, Soma, and Xanax, none has proven as effective as marijuana.

Michael Krawitz
Mr. Krawitz is a 49-year-old resident of Elliston, Virginia, who suffered an automobile accident in 1984 while serving in the United States Air Force.  Mr. Krawitz has been rated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as being totally and permanently disabled. Mr. Krawitz uses marijuana to treat chronic pain and trauma associated with his accident.  He also use marijuana to treat central serous retinopathy. However, because of Mr. Krawitz's medical marijuana use, he has been denied pain treatment by the VA.

Steph Sherer
Ms. Sherer is a resident of Washington, D.C. and the founder and Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). In April of 2000, Ms. Sherer suffered a physical attack that has caused her to suffer from a condition known as torticollis, which causes her to experience inflammation, muscle spasms, pain throughout her body, and decreased mobility in her neck. Because of pain medication she was prescribed, including Soma, Robaxin and Ibuprofin, Ms. Sherer suffered kidney damage. After her doctor recommended medical marijuana, Ms. Sherer successfully reduced her inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. This prompted Ms. Sherer to found ASA in April of 2002 to share what she learned about the medical benefits of marijuana with others. Since then, ASA has grown to more than thirty-five thousand members, including many seriously ill persons who would have benefited from the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but who were deterred from doing so, in part, by the government's statements that marijuana “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

Further information:
ASA appeal brief filed today: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/CRC_Appeal.pdf
DEA answer to CRC petition: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/CRC_Petition_DEA_Answer.pdf
CRC rescheduling petition: http://www.drugscience.org/PDF/Petition_Final_2002.pdf

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With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.

Envisioning America without the War on Drugs

Envisioning America without the War on Drugs-a talk with Ethan Nadelmann

More than 1 billion dollars has been spent on America’s “War on Drugs” since its inception on June 17th 1971.   What would our policies look like if the war on drugs ended tomorrow?  What sorts of opportunities would there be for increased treatment, drug education and harm reduction activities?  In a time of increasingly scarce resources, what could the U.S. do with the money that is now spent on the “War on Drugs?”  How much money do we currently spend on pursuing these often devastatingly harmful policies under the pursuit of the drug war?

This talk is provided for free by Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (Roosevelt University chapter).

Ethan Nadelmann is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the leading organization in the United States advocating for drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights. Nadelmann was born in New York City, received his BA, JD, and PhD from Harvard, as well as a M.Sc. in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and then taught politics and public affairs at Princeton University from 1987 to 1994.  He has authored two books on international criminal law enforcement - Cops Across Borders and (with Peter Andreas) Policing the Globe – as well as many dozens of articles on drug policy in publications such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Science, International Organization, National Review and The Nation. Described by Rolling Stone as “the point man” for drug policy reform efforts, Ethan Nadelmann is widely regarded as the outstanding proponent of drug policy reform both in the United States and abroad.

When:  February 7th, 2012

Time: 4:30 to 6pm

Where: Roosevelt University, Congress Lounge, 2nd Floor

Cost: Free

RSVP: [email protected]

Data: 
Tue, 02/07/2012 - 4:30pm - 6:00pm
Localização: 
430 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60605
United States

Marijuana Legalization Question Takes First Place Again in Obama YouTube Forum

This video question about marijuana legalization from Stephen Downing, former Deputy Police Chief in Los Angeles and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, finished first place today in voting for the White House's "Your Interview with the President" contest on YouTube:

 

 
Marijuana policy has consistently topped the charts in these online votes, and it's not the first time a YouTube or change.gov question on legalization has reached the president's desk. Last year Pres. Obama responded by calling the issue "an entirely legitimate topic for debate." What will Obama do with the question this time?

What's So Funny About the War on Drugs?

For all the progress that's been made towards bringing the drug policy debate into the political mainstream, there remains a tragic tendency among many in the press to burst out laughing at the idea of fixing our disastrous drug laws. The latest embarrassing example comes courtesy of Al Kamen in The Washington Post:

Yes, we know that jobs and the economy are the marquee issues for this campaign. Even major topics such as war and education are getting short shrift among the wannabe nominees.

But those reefer-mad kids over at Students for Sensible Drug Policy are trying to, uh, smoke the candidates out on their favorite subject.
...

Pass the chips, dude. This is some entertaining TV. 

Pass the chips? Wow. I can't speak for Al Kamen, but there's nothing about the War on Drugs that makes me hungry for junk food. Eric Sterling didn't like Kamen's tone very much either and responded with a deservedly harsh letter to the editor:

Regarding Al Kamen’s Jan. 18 column “ ‘Reefer Madness’ for the YouTube Generation”:

This article is consistent with my hypothesis that the rules of professional conduct of journalists or some style manual require that articles about drug policy include a joke about chips, brownies or junk food. Can reporters and editors be so humor-deprived that they always have to joke about laws and policies that every year put hundreds of thousands of cannabis users in handcuffs, give them a criminal record and cost hundreds of millions of dollars on pointless police overtime. Ha, ha, ha, “pass the chips”; I’m dying with laughter.

Kamen's childishness is meant to be cute, I assume, but it plainly belittles a gutsy effort by a concerned group of young Americans to ask valid questions of candidates on the campaign trail. How odd it is that he calls attention to these young activists bravely confronting prominent politicians, only to turn around and insult them. For what…caring about something?

Is the arrest of close to a million Americans a year for marijuana a strange or entertaining thing to be upset about? For that matter, is our world-record incarceration rate and the spiraling costs that go along with it? Is the escalating violence in Mexico amusing to anyone? If these things aren't funny, then we should be applauding rather than laughing when someone works to ensure that we don't ignore these issues entirely when choosing our next president.

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