The Speakeasy Blog

New Jersey Assembly Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

A decriminalization bill has passed the New Jersey Assembly, but faces an uphill battle to overcome a veto threat from Gov. Christie. Chronicle story here.

NYPD Sued Over Stop and Frisk Marijuana Arrests

NYPD refuses to stop charging people with misdemeanor marijuana possession after stopping and frisking them and forcing them to empty their pockets so they can be charged with "public possession," so now the Legal Aid Society is suing to make them knock it off. Chronicle story here.

Danish Parliament Okays Drug Consumption Rooms

Supervised injection sites are coming to Denmark, and so are broader "drug consumption rooms" where heroin and cocaine can be smoked or snorted. A new law takes effect July 1. Chronicle story here.

Making Sure Drugs Kill: Commission Blames Drug War for Spreading AIDS [FEATURE]

When it comes to slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS, the imperatives of the drug war are a hindrance, not a help, a new report from the Global Commission on Drugs finds. There is a better way, the group says. Chronicle feature story here.

If the DEA Can't Tell Us the Difference Between Marijuana and Heroin, Who Can?

If you haven't yet seen DEA boss Michele Leonhart's frickin ridiculous congressional testimony last Thursday (or even if you have), please click over to Huffington Post where you'll find me ranting about it. 99% of the time when a drug warrior says something silly it doesn't become a big media story, but this one made the cut and for good reason. Check it out, then send the link to somebody cool.

Decriminalization Advances in Chicago

Marijuana decriminalization is one city council vote away from being approved in Chicago. Chronicle story here.

Uruguayan Government May Sell Marijuana in Proposed Legalization System

The left-leaning Uruguayan government says it will introduce a bill that would give it a monopoly on legal marijuana sales. Chronicle story here.

New Hampshire Governor Vetoes Medical Marijuana Bill

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch has vetoed a medical marijuana bill -- again. Now, it's up to the legislature to see if it can muster the votes to override the veto. Chronicle story here.

Supreme Court Grant Lesser Sentences in "Pipeline" Crack Cocaine Cases

The Supreme Court has held that people "in the pipeline" -- convicted but not yet sentenced when Fair Sentencing Act reforms took effect -- on federal crack cocaine charges are entitled to be sentenced under the lesser penalties created by the act. Thousands could get sentence cuts. Chronicle story here.

It's Nail-Biting Time for the Oregon Marijuana Initiatives [FEATURE]

Two Oregon marijuana legalization initiatives are in a mad scramble to make the ballot after being hit with unprecedented high invalidation rates for signatures already handed in. And they only have two weeks to go. Chronicle feature story here.

Medical Marijuana Update

It's mainly news from California this week, with DEA and LAPD raids leading the way, but also some snippets from Colorado and Montana. Chronicle story here.

This Week in History

Events and quotes of note from this week's drug policy events of years past, in Drug War Chronicle, online here.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Just another run of the mill week of drug war law enforcement corruption, except having a state trooper involved in a major pot grow is fairly unusual. Chronicle story here.

Washington Marijuana Legalization Initiative Ahead in New Poll

A new poll has the Washington state pot legalization initiative leading with 50% support, but that doesn't leave a lot of room for a margin of comfort. Chronicle story here.

NY GOP Kills Marijuana Decriminalization Reform

A bill that would have ended the NYPD's abuse of New York's marijuana decriminalization law has been stymied by Senate Republicans. Chronicle story here.

Needle Exchange Funding Returns in Senate Appropriations Bill

The Senate has included federal funding for needle exchanges in its Health & Human Services FY 2013 appropriations bill. The House is expected to approve a bill without it, setting up a fight in conference committee down the road. Chronicle story here.

Japan to Ban New Synthetic Drugs

Japan is moving to designate some synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic stimulants as "narcotics," effectively banning them. Chronicle story here.

Did You Know? Impairment Potential for Different Kinds of Drugs, on DrugWarFacts.org

DrugWarFacts.org, a publication of Common Sense for Drug Policy, is an in-depth compilation of key facts, stats and quotes on the full range of drug policy issues, excerpted from expert publications on the subjects. The Chronicle is running a series of info items from DrugWarFacts.org over the next several weeks, and we encourage you to check it out.

US/Mexico Drug War "Caravan of Peace" Gearing Up [FEATURE]

A Caravan of Peace calling for an end to failed prohibitionist drug policies in the US and Mexico will leave San Diego in August and arrive in Washington, DC, in September. It's hoping to educate some people along the way and have a lasting impact. Chronicle feature story here.

How to Score Political Points by Stopping Marijuana Arrests

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/marijuanaplants.jpg
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel shows how you can please almost every political constituency by not arresting people for marijuana possession.

In giving his blessing to the ticketing proposal, the mayor availed himself of one response to Chicago’s rising crime rate and a police force that has shrunk due to budget cuts — even if it falls far short of providing a far-reaching solution.

Emanuel also no doubt acted knowing there was little political downside to the move. It appeared to appeal immediately to a broad range of people, which certainly factored into the decision of a politician who pays close attention to polling data. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Cue applause:

…those who welcomed the mayor’s announcement as a common-sense approach included blacks and Latinos concerned that pot arrests involve them disproportionately; white liberals who long have disdained the “war on drugs” approach; and fiscal conservatives looking at the costs of processing pot cases that usually end up being dismissed anyway.

The idea of arresting people for pot is unpopular with almost everybody these days, and we're starting to see prominent politicians piling on as well, from Rahm Emanuel to the Rhode Island legislature to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

And so we've happened once again upon an excellent opportunity to test the conventional wisdom that fixing marijuana laws will invite a brutal backlash from opportunistic political opponents. As Paul Waldman puts it:

At the moment, there remains a strong incentive to support the status quo, lest you be targeted in your next race as some kind of hippie-lover. 

If this is true, then we've got two state governors, a billionaire mayor and an entire state legislature at risk of being stigmatized viciously for their hippie sympathies. But I can't hear anything over the uproarious applause.  

Really, when it comes to navigating the politics of marijuana reform, the trick is just to do it. Ignore the people who say it will hurt you politically because it won't at all. Ignore the people who say it sends the wrong message to children because children don't even know what decriminalization means. Ignore any and every stupid thing anybody says in defense of the infinitely idiotic idea that we should be forcibly ripping pot out of people's pockets as a matter of public policy.

The first thing that will happen after you endorse marijuana reform is that you'll get positive press coverage and supportive feedback from constituents. The second thing that will happen is you'll save money and resources while reducing racist drug war harassment and other random injustices. And finally, after all that, when you run for re-election, the whole issue will never even come up. Your opponent will never say you love hippies or call you a pothead or offer you Doritos during a debate. Why? Because pointing out that you advocated marijuana reform would make voters more likely to support you, not less.

Rhode Island Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession

Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) signed marijuana decriminalization into law Tuesday. It goes into effect April 1, 2013. Chronicle story here.

Chicago Mayor Says Decriminalize Marijuana

Chicago looks set to pass a marijuana decriminalization ordinance later this month after Mayor Rahm Emanuel endorsed the effort. Chronicle story here.

Second Medical Marijuana Patient Denied Transplant at LA Hospital

For the second time in a year, Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles has denied a life-saving organ transplant to a patient solely because of his or her medical marijuana use. Chronicle story here.

Medical Marijuana Update

After a brief hiatus, the DEA wrecking ball was back at work in California this week. Also, an important court victory in Colorado, a couple of court losses in Oregon, and Vermont is accepting dispensary applications. And there's a whole bunch more, too. Chronicle story here.

Obama and Eric Holder Are Still Lying About the Medical Marijuana Raids

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On Thursday, Eric Holder lied to Congress about DOJ's escalating attacks against medical marijuana:

Mr. Holder said federal officials are not going after those who are staying within the confines of their states' medical marijuana laws, but said some have "come up with ways in which they are taking advantage of these state laws."

"We limit our enforcement efforts to those individuals, organizations that are acting out of conformity with state law," Mr. Holder told a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing. [Washington Times]

That statement is simply false, and flagrantly so. It's been widely reported in the press that federal prosecutors have threatened to arrest state officials merely for administering their own medical marijuana laws. One cannot claim that regulators performing their official duties are "acting out of conformity with state law". They are the state. You can't threaten them with arrest and then subsequently claim that enforcement is only directed at those who violate local laws.

Moreover, the feds have raided hundreds of dispensaries without making any effort at all to determine whether state laws are being violated. Most of the time, they're just confiscating money and medicine without even charging anyone. They keep saying the people they raid were breaking local laws, but they aren't proving that to be the case. When have they ever demonstrated that any of these businesses were violating state laws?

This whole just-enforcing-state-laws excuse is the same nonsense we were hearing from the President a month ago, and the Obama Administration's ability to comfortably repeat this crap owes much to the media's total failure to follow up on it.

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