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Drug Reform Pioneer Arnold Trebach Dies, Dems Reject Marijuana Legalization in Party Platform, More... (7/28/20)

A new poll suggests the New Jersey marijuana legalization initiative is headed for victory in November, drug reform pioneer Arnold Trebach had died, and more.

Drug reform pioneer Arnold Trebach. RIP. (YouTube)
Marijuana Policy

Democratic Party Delegates Reject Marijuana Legalization Amendment to 2020 Party Platform. The Democratic National Committee platform committee on Monday rejected an amendment calling for marijuana legalization. The vote was 106-50. Instead the committee chose to stick with marijuana law reform language adopted in a draft platform last week. That language calls for decriminalizing marijuana possession, expungement of prior convictions, federal rescheduling through executive action, legalizing medical cannabis and allowing states to set their own laws.

New Jersey Poll Has Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization. A new poll conducted by DKC Analytics found 68% support for marijuana legalization via the ballot box in November. That's up from the 61% support the notion had in a Monmouth University poll in April. The ballot question will ask voters in November if they think the state should legalize marijuana and apply the state sales tax to purchases.

Drug Policy

Drug Policy Reform Giant Arnold Trebach Dead at 92. The American drug reform movement has lost one of its pioneers. Arnold Trebach, who died last week at the age of 92, founded the Drug Policy Foundation in 1986, deep in the middle of Ronald Reagan's war on drugs. That foundation has since morphed into the Drug Policy Alliance, the most powerful drug reform organization in the country. As a professor at American University, Trebach took what was then a lonely and courageous stance against drug prohibition and the excesses of drug war and helped launch it toward the mainstream. His 1987 book, The Great Drug War, was a forthright broadside against prohibitionist orthodoxy that laid out the adverse consequences of trying to control the way people chose to alter their consciousness, from mass incarceration to widespread drug testing and humiliating border searches to coercive "drug treatment" centers and beyond. Although he didn't outright call for an end to drug prohibition until the second edition of his book in 2005, his pioneering work laid the intellectual groundwork of the anti-prohibitionist movements that have made such progress in this century. Arnold Trebach was not only a giant of drug reform; he was a friend to us at StoptheDrugWar.org. He will be missed.

AZ Poll Bodes Well for Marijuana Legalization Initiative, China Anti-Drug Crackdown, More... (6/2/20)

An Arizona poll shows strong support for a marijuana legalization initiative there, a Connecticut panel approves adding two new qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, and more.

Connecticut opens the door to two more qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. (Sandra Yruel/DPA)
Marijuana Policy

Arizona Poll Has Near Two-Thirds Support for Marijuana Legalization. If the Smart and Safe Arizona marijuana legalization initiative campaign can manage to make it onto the November ballot, a new poll suggests its prospects for victory are very good. The poll, from the lobbying and consulting firm HighGround, had support for the measure at 65%, with just 25% opposed. The polling came after respondents were given a detailed description of the initiative, as opposed to a generic question.

Medical Marijuana

Connecticut Legislative Committee Gives Final Approval for Two New Qualifying Conditions. The legislature's medical marijuana Regulation Review Committee has given final approval to adding chronic pain and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, an inherited disorder that weakens the body's connective tissues. The additions were approved during a Tuesday video conference. The decision follows the recommendation of the state Medical Marijuana Program's Board of Physicians.

International

China Announces More Than 11,000 Arrests in Anti-Drug Campaign That Began in January. The Chinese narcotics control authority has reported more than 11,000 arrests in a yearlong anti-drug campaign that was launched in January. The campaign is aimed at Yunnan Province in southwestern China, which borders Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle of opium production. By contrast, the US arrests more than a quarter-million for drug offenses arrests during the same period each year.

MN House Leader Files Marijuana Legalization Bill, DC Psychedelic Decrim Campaign Catches Break, More... (5/6/20)

A Republican pollster in Pennsyvania calls on GOP legislators to consider supporting marijuana legalization, new New York City drug testing rules go into effect next week, a Minnesota legalization bill is introduced, and more.

Marijuana Policy

Minnesota House Leader Introduces Marijuana Legalization Bill. House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D) introduced a bill on Tuesday that would legalize adult use of marijuana. The bill, HF 4632, would legalize and tax cannabis sales, and establish the Cannabis Management Board to regulate licensing, inspection, and testing of cannabis products. The regulatory scheme would be "focused on developing micro-businesses and a craft market," according to Winkler. Cannabis-related convictions would be expunged. And home cultivation would be allowed. "We made a commitment to introduce legislation this session, and we wanted to follow through on that commitment," Winkler said in a statement. "Our current priority is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, but after the town halls and discussions around this issue, we still wanted to put a strong bill forward. As we look to come out of this crisis as a better, stronger Minnesota, we need to continue working toward legalizing cannabis for responsible adult use."

Pennsylvania Poll Has Strong Majority for Marijuana Legalization. A Republican-affiliated pollster, Harper Polling, has found that 62% of Pennsylvanians favor marijuana legalization, with even larger majorities favoring the taxation of legal marijuana sales "as a way to address the state's projected budget deficit. "The pollster argues state Republicans might want to embrace legalization. "Far from being an electoral drag, supporting adult use cannabis has positive effects for a Republican legislator," the pollster wrote in a memo. "Meanwhile, a third of Democrats would be more likely to vote for a Republican legislator who they knew 'supported controlling, regulating and taxing the sale of adult use cannabis,'" the memo asserts.

New York City Marijuana Drug Testing Ban Takes Effect Next Week. On May 10, a law passed by the New York City Council -- Int. No. 1445-A -- will take effect and prohibit employers in New York City from requiring prospective employees to submit to drug testing for the active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol. (THC), in their system as a condition of employment. There are exceptions for police officers, child and health care workers, and workers in safety-sensitive positions.

Psychedelics<

DC City Council Approves Bill to Help Psychedelic Decriminalization Initiative Qualify for Ballot in Time of Coronavirus. The council unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that would ease the way for a proposed psychedelic decriminalization initiative by allowing for electronic signature-gathering during the pandemic. The bill allows ballot initiative campaigns to electronically distribute petition sheets to their signature gatherers and let those petitioners return their collections to organizers in digital form. Voters would still have to physically sign printed sheets, but those could then be scanned and sent back to campaign headquarters.

Poll Finds Legalizing Marijuana is Good Policy, WA Drug Decriminalization Initiative Campaign Gets Underway, More... (4/22/20)

A new poll finds most of us think marijuana legalization has been a success, Lebanon's parliament approves medical marijuana and hemp cultivation, and more.

A new poll finds that most Americans think legalizing marijuana has been a successful policy. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Poll Finds Majority of Americans Think Marijuana Legalization Is a Successful Policy. A new YouGov poll of 27,000 adults finds that a majority of Americans believe marijuana legalization laws are a success. Some 19% of respondents said legalization was a "success only," while another 36% said it was "more of a success than a failure." That's 55% between the two. Only 6% said it was a "failure only" and only 13% said it was "more of a failure than a success." That's less than one out of five saying legalization is a failure. About a quarter of respondents had no opinion. The figures held true across all regions of the country. Democrats, however, were much more likely to say legalization was a success (67%) than Republicans (41%)

Drug Decriminalization

Washington State Drug Decriminalization Initiative Campaign Gets Underway. A group of activists calling itself Treatment First Oregon is working to place a drug decriminalization and expanded drug treatment initiative on the November ballot. The measure, Initiative 1715, would use marijuana tax revenues to fund drug treatment. It would also have police refer people caught with drugs to a mandatory assessment to be screened for substance abuse disorder within 72 hours. The campaign will need some 259,000 valid voter signatures by July 3 to qualify for the ballot. The campaign says it hopes to go all out with signature gathering in the month of June.

International

Lebanese Parliament Approves Medical Marijuana, Hemp Production as Economy Struggles Amidst Coronavirus Crisis. The parliament on Tuesday approved legislation to legalize marijuana production for medicinal and industrial uses, a move recommended by economic advisers even before the coronavirus pandemic hit the struggling economy. The measure doesn't legalize recreational marijuana or hashish sales, for which the country is famous, but it does seek to create a new legal marijuana industry.

Baltimore & Philadelphia to End Drug Arrests Due to COVID-19, SAMSHA Eases Opioid Treatment Rules, More... (3/23/20)

Baltimore and Philadelphia stop drug arrests in a bid to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, SAMSHA eases opioid maintenance treatment rules for the same reason, and more.

The coronavirus pandemic is having an impact on drug policy issues. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Connecticut Poll Has Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization. A new poll from the Hartford Courant and Sacred Heart University has 63.4% of state residents in favor of ending marijuana prohibition. The poll comes as lawmakers push to advance a legalization bill backed by Gov. Ned Lamont (D). The poll found that 34.4% "strongly support" legalization, while 29.9% "somewhat support" it.

Iowa Poll Has First Time Majority Support for Marijuana Legalization. A new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll has 53% support for marijuana legalization, the first time the Iowa Poll has registered majority support for the move. As recently as 2013, only 29% supported legalization.

New York Governor Says Marijuana Legalization Still on the Agenda. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Monday that marijuana legalization remained a priority despite the coronavirus crisis. Asked about his legislative priorities during a briefing on the crisis, Cuomo said "I want to do legalizing marijuana," adding that he also wants to achieve a controversial bail reform measure through the budget.

Medical Marijuana

Alabama Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill. The state Senate last week approved a medical marijuana bill, Senate Bill 165. The measure would allow people with a doctor's recommendation to use medical marijuana for 15 conditions - including cancer, anxiety and chronic pain. It also would let them purchase cannabis products at one of 34 licensed dispensaries. It now goes to the House.

Hemp

Idaho House Kills Hemp Legalization Bill. Lawmakers in the House State Affairs Committee voted 8-7 to kill Senate Bill 1345, which would have legalized industrial hemp production in the state. Although the bill had passed the Senate, it ran into opposition from anti-cannabis activists and law enforcement, who warned that it could lead to a "hemp-marijuana culture" in the state.

Drug Policy

CDC Reports 4% Decline in Opioid, Heroin Overdose Deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that overall overdose death rates nationwide dropped 4.1% from 2017 to 2018. Deaths from heroin use dropped by 4%, while prescription opioid deaths dropped by 13.5%. "Decreases in overdose deaths involving prescription opioids and heroin reflect the effectiveness of public health efforts to protect Americans and their families," Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the CDC, said in a press release. "While we continue work to improve those outcomes, we are also addressing the increase in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids. We must bring this epidemic to an end," Redfield said. Synthetic opioid deaths were actually up 10%.

Baltimore to End Most Drug Prosecutions Amid Coronavirus Outbreak. In a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby (D) is moving to dismiss pending charges against most people accused of drug offenses. According to her guidance to staff, things like drug possession, attempted drug distribution, prostitution, traffic offenses and public urination are among the offenses that shouldn't land people being bars at this point. "This policy is in place for now as an attempt to save lives," Mosby said. "We will assess the policy at a later date and time when this global pandemic is over."

Philadelphia Police Halt Drug Arrests During Coronavirus Outbreak. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw last week ordered the department to begin delaying arrests for low-level offenses, including drug offenses. Crimes including theft, burglary, prostitution, stolen automobiles, vandalism, and certain economic crimes will no longer automatically result in detention. Instead, officers will temporarily detain suspects to identify them, then release them with an arrest warrant issued at some later date.

Drug Treatment

SAMHSA Eases Opioid Treatment Rules in Response to Coronavirus. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has announced policy changes easing the rules for home treatment of opioid use disorder as a response to the coronavirus crisis. The agency issued a directive allowing some patients in opioid treatment programs to take home a 28-day supply of medications such as methadone and buprenorphine. For less stable patients, SAMSHA is authorizing a 14-day take-home supply.

International

Paraguay Issues First Medical Marijuana Licenses. Late last month, the government issued its first medical marijuana licenses. Twelve pharmaceutical companies received licenses to import seeds for the domestic cultivation and sale of medical marijuana, which will be provided free to eligible patients.

Chronicle AM: Colombia Coca Moves, VT Legal Marijuana Sales Bill Advances, More... (2/25/20)

A Vermont bill to tax and regulate marijuana sales heads for a House floor vote, a potential Ohio marijuana legalization initiative campaign emerges, Israel's embattled prime minister says his government is open to marijuana legalization, and more.

A Colombian peasant working the coca fields. (dea.gov)
Marijuana Policy

Minnesota Poll Has Slim Majority for Marijuana Legalization. A new poll from Minnesota Public Radio and the Minneapolis Star Tribune has support for marijuana legalization at 51%, with 37% opposed. The poll comes after House Democrats last month revealed plans for a marijuana legalization bill. That bill faces tough prospects in the Republican-led Senate, though.

Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative Campaign Emerges. Some state medical marijuana growers are among a new coalition working on putting a marijuana legalization initiative before the voters in November. The proposed constitutional amendment would allow people 21 and over to buy, possess, and consume up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants. Existing medical marijuana businesses would get the first shot at the market, with state regulators deciding later on whether to issue additional licenses. Not all of the medical marijuana sector is behind the move, though.

Vermont Marijuana Sales Legalization Bill Heads for House Floor Vote. A bill to legalize and tax marijuana sales, Senate Bill 54, is now set for a House floor vote after winning the approval of the House Appropriations Committee on a 6-5 vote. The House floor vote should come later this week. The Senate passed the bill last year, but because of changes in the House, differences will have to be settled through a conference committee.

Sentencing Policy

Colorado Bill to Reverse Drug Defelonization Gets Hearing Thursday. The House Judiciary Committee will hear a bill Thursday that seeks to undo a law passed last year that changed drug possession charges from felonies to misdemeanors. House Bill 20-150 seeks to undo the sentencing reform before it takes effect next month.

International

Colombia Ends Crop Substitution Monitoring Program with UN. The Colombian government has ended its cooperation with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in monitoring coca crop substitution, a program the government of President Ivan Duque said it wanted to end. But ending the program would put the government out of compliance with its 2016 peace deal with leftist FARC guerrillas, so the government backed away from that. But refusing to monitor the program would block the UNODC from evaluating the effectiveness of planned forced coca eradication, recently announced by Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo and supported by the Trump administration. Previous UNODC reports have found that only a tiny 0.4% of voluntary eradicated crops had been replanted, while the number for forcibly eradicated crops was 80%, making the program quite ineffective.

Colombia Launches Military Push Against FARC Dissidents in National Parks. Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said Monday the military will step up an offensive against FARC dissidents who have again taken up arms and are overseeing the clearing of thousands of acres of land in national parks for coca cultivation. Trujillo claimed the FARC dissidents were forcing peasants to clear the land and "commit a massacre against nature."

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Says His Government is Exploring Marijuana Legalization. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday his government is exploring legalizing recreational marijuana and is looking at Canada as a model. He said Justice Minister Amir Ohana "has begun work on the issue, and he will head a committee including professionals and Oren Leibovich, chairman of the [pro-legalization] Green Leaf Party, that will investigate importing the Canadian model for regulation of a legal market in Israel." Netanyahu, who is struggling to maintain power, has gone through two indecisive elections since last April and faces a third next month.

Chronicle AM: KY House Passes MedMJ Bill, DEA Announces New Anti-Meth Operation, More... (2/21/20)

A new poll shows Florida voters strongly support marijuana legalization, the DEA announces Operation Crystal Shield, the drug czar announces this year's version of a border strategy, and more.

The DEA announces a new operation targeting meth "transport hubs." (DEA)
Marijuana Policy

Florida Poll Has Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization. A new poll from the University of North Florida Public Opinion Lab and First Coast News has support for marijuana legalization in the Sunshine State at 64%. The poll asked whether respondents would support allowing up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana to be legally purchased, possessed, transported, displayed and used. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Democrats supported legalization, and even a majority (52%) of Republicans did, too.

Medical Marijuana

Kentucky House Approves Medical Marijuana. The House voted 65-30 Thursday to approve HB 136, which would legalize medical marijuana in the state, but not in smokable form. The bill must pass the state senate and be signed by Gov. Andy Beshear (D) before it becomes law.

Methamphetamine

DEA Announces Launch of Operation Crystal Shield, Will Target Meth Transport Hubs. DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon announced Thursday that the DEA will direct enforcement resources to methamphetamine “transportation hubs” — areas where methamphetamine is often trafficked in bulk and then distributed across the country. While continuing to focus on stopping drugs being smuggled across the border, DEA’s Operation Crystal will target eight major methamphetamine transportation hubs: Atlanta, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, and St. Loius. Together, these DEA Field Divisions accounted for more than 75% of methamphetamine seized in the U.S. in 2019.

Drug Policy

White House Releases National Drug Interdiction Plan, Border Strategies. White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Jim Carroll on Thursday released the National Interdiction Command and Control Plan (NICCP), which outlines the Trump Administration’s interdiction strategy to reduce the availability of illicit drugs in the United States. The plan includes both a southwestern border strategy and a northern border strategy. "Almost all of the drugs killing thousands of Americans originate from outside the United States. The Plan demonstrates how close coordination across Federal, State, territorial, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies is crucial to stopping these deadly drugs from coming into our country and making their way into our communities," ONDCP Director Jim Carroll said.

Chronicle AM: OK Bills Would Legalize Needle Exchanges, HI Defelonization Bill Advances, More... (2/18/20)

Rhode Island sees marijuana expungement and drug possession expungement bills filed, a Vermont poll shows strong support for legalizing and regulating marijuana sales as the House takes up the issue, a Hawaii drug defelonization bill has been filed, and more.

Oklahoma legislators are pondering a pair of needle exchange bills this year. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Rhode Island Marijuana Offense Expungement Bill Filed. A bill aiming to remove barriers for people previously convicted of marijuana offenses have been filed in the legislature. Rep. Anastasia Williams (D) has filed HB 7142 to allow people "previously convicted of marijuana possession, which would now constitute a decriminalized offense, to have their records for those convictions automatically expunged regardless of their criminal history." The House Judiciary Committee last week ordered the bill held for further study.

Vermont Poll Shows Very Strong Support for Legal, Regulated Marijuana Sales.  A new poll conducted by Public Policy Polling and commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project found that an overwhelming 76% of Vermont residents support allowing adults 21 and over to purchase cannabis from regulated, tax-paying small businesses. These results are significant as they come days before the Vermont House is expected to vote on SB 54, a bill that would legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis sales in the state. The bill passed the Senate nearly a year ago.

Washington House Passes Bill to Address Racial Inequities in Marijuana Licensing. The House on Sunday approved HB 2870, which aims to address racial inequity within the legal marijuana industry by allowing applicants of a new social equity program to be issued previously forfeited, canceled and revoked retail licenses. That new program would consider the applicant's race and gender, history of marijuana convictions, and plans to employ people of color, as well as the impact the war on drugs had on their neighborhood. There are currently 13 licenses not being used. The bill would also establish a marijuana social equity task force to recommend whether more licenses should be issued. The bill is now in the Senate and must be passed out of committee by February 28.

Hemp

Idaho Hemp Bill Filed. Along with Mississippi and South Dakota, Idaho is one of only three states that have not legalized hemp, but that could change after a pair of Republican state representatives filed a bill that would legalize it. A similar bill has already been filed in the Senate.

Drug Policy

Hawaii Drug Defelonization Bill Advances. A bill that would make it a misdemeanor instead of a felony to be caught with less than two grams of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 2793 still needs to be approved in the Senate Public Safety Committee before heading to a Senate floor vote.

Rhode Island Drug Possession Expungement Bill Filed. Rep. Jason Knight (D) has filed HB 7091, which makes peopleconvicted of felony simple possession of a controlled substance eligible for expungement five years after completion of their sentence. The act also repeals the requirement that those seeking expungement pay a fee to the court. The House Judiciary Committee last week ordered the bill held for further study.

Harm Reduction

Oklahoma Bill Would Legalize Needle Exchanges. A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is proposing legalizing needle exchanges in a bid to reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C. SB 1346 from Sen. Carri Hicks (D-Oklahoma City) would would allow governmental or nongovernmental entities to operate needle exchange programs. It would also remove needles from the state's drug paraphernalia laws. The bill must pass through the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee before heading for a floor vote. In the House, Rep. Carol Bush (R-Tulsa) has filed HB 3028, which would allow state agencies, county health departments, private businesses, nonprofit entities and churches to operate needle exchange programs so long as the programs aren’t paid for with state funding. That bill passed the House Appropriations Committee last Thursday.

Chronicle AM: DC Psychedelic Initiative Advances, VT Legal Pot Sales Bill Moves Again, More... (2/5/20)

Vermont's House is moving on a legal marijuana sales bill approved last year by the Senate, Rhode Island legislators yield in a fight with the governor over medical marijuana, and more.

'Shroom decriminalization could be coming to the nation's capital. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Indiana GOP Senator Drops Bid to Force Marijuana Prosecutions. Sen. Mike Young (R) has dropped a bill that would have allowed the state attorney general to appoint special prosecutors to take over criminal cases that local prosecutors decide not to pursue. The bill was filed in response to the Indianapolis prosecutor's new policy of not pressing charges for small-time marijuana cases. Young let the measure die after the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council argued the proposal wrongly usurped the discretion that county prosecutors must have about how to use their staff and budgets on which cases to pursue.

Kentucky Poll Finds Strong Support for Medical Marijuana, Near Majority for Marijuana Legalization.A poll conducted by two nonprofit groups, the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health, has support for marijuana legalization at 49% and support for medical marijuana at 90%. That's up 12 points for the latter and 23 points for the former over 2012.

Vermont Committee OKs Bill to Legalize Marijuana Sales and Limit THC Potency. The House Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday to advance a bill to legalize and tax marijuana sales. SB 54 passed out of the Government Operations Committee a day earlier. It now heads for the House Appropriations Committee before going to a House floor vote. It was approved by the Senate last year, and that vote is still in effect.

Medical Marijuana

Montana Posts Medical Marijuana Rules. The state Department of Health and Human Services has posted rules that make changes to the state's medical marijuana system, including a new fee structure and a license structure based on the provider's growing space. The rules are designed to implement a new medical marijuana law the legislature approved last year. The rules are open for public comment until the end of the month.

Rhode Island Legislators End Bid to Regulate Medical Marijuana Outlets. Lawmakers voted Tuesday in unanimous votes on identical bills in both houses to remove the "legislative veto" language over medical marijuana and hemp regulations that was included in the state budget. They have backed down from a fight with Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) over who will control licensing of six new medical marijuana dispensaries.

Psychedelics

Measure to Decriminalize Psychedelics Advances in Washington, DC. A proposed ballot initiative that would decriminalize a wide range of psychedelics has been given preliminary approval by the District's Board of Elections. Now, the board must approve a short title and summary statement, then the official language with be published in the DC register, after which a ten-day challenge period will take place, and after that, the board will meet again to give final approval to the language. Then, Decriminalize Nature DC will have 180 days to come up with 25,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Chronicle AM: MD Marijuana Poll, USAID Bolivia Mission, Atlanta PD Disbands Dope Squad, More... (1/8/20)

The Atlanta Police are shutting down their dope squad to concentrate on violent crime, the Florida legislature and state attorney general try to block a marijuana legalization initiative, and more.

downtown Atlanta (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Florida Legislature and Attorney General Seek to Block Marijuana Legalization Initiative. Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) and the House and Senate have asked the state Supreme Court to reject a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana. They filed a brief with the court Monday arguing that the initiative should be invalidated because it doesn't fully inform voters that marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Because of federal pot prohibition, the initiative would not "permit" marijuana legalization and thus deceives the voters, the motion argued.

Maryland Poll Has Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization. A new Gonzales Maryland poll released Tuesday has support for marijuana legalization at nearly 57%, with 38% opposed and 5% undecided. Democrats (65.5%) and independents (59%) both support it, but only 39% of Republicans do.

Foreign Policy

Trump Sending Aid Mission to Bolivia After Evo's Ouster. In the wake of the ouster of former Bolivian President Evo Morales after disputed elections late last year and his replacement with a temporary right-wing government, the Trump administration will send an assessment team to La Paz this week to discuss the possible resumption of foreign aid. Morales expelled USAID from the country in 2013, accusing it of political interference. His replacement, Interim President Jeanine Anez, seeks improved relations with the US and a tougher line on coca farmers. Morales is a former coca grower union leader. The White House also announced Monday it was lifting a longtime ban on foreign aid imposed on Bolivia for failing to cooperate in US anti-drug efforts. Morales threw the DEA out of the country in 2008.

Law Enforcement

Atlanta Police Disband Narcotics Unit, Will Focus on Violent Crime Instead. The Atlanta Police Department will disband its narcotics unit and reassign its officers to other units in a move to emphasize fighting violent crime. The department isn't ignoring drugs, it said, but is "de-centralizing its Narcotics Unit in recognition that the violence that surrounds this trade should be the focus of the entire Department, not just one team."

Drug War Issues

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