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California Assembly Passes Medical Marijuana Regulation Bill [FEATURE]

A bill that would bring sorely lacking statewide regulation to California's medical marijuana industry passed the Assembly Thursday and now heads to the Senate. Chronicle story here.

Connecticut Becomes 17th Medical Marijuana State

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy has signed a medical marijuana bill passed by the legislature last month. Chronicle story here.

Poll Finds California Not Quite There on Marijuana Legalization

A new poll show support for marijuana legalization below 50% in California and suggests some demographic groups that need some attention if it is to receive majority support. Chronicle story here.

Why Do Democrats Defend the Drug War?

The rank hypocrisy of Obama's position on pot has been amplified rather dramatically by last week's revelation that he literally smoked more than his share of it back in high school. It's an important conversation to have, but I think this analysis by Paul Waldman in The American Prospect lands a little off the mark.

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. The incentives on the other side, on the other hand, are almost nil. When was the last time somebody lost a race for being too tough on drugs? The half of Americans who favor marijuana legalization are not an organized voting bloc that gets together to punish its opponents at the polls.

This is almost the opposite of what I've been saying lately, given that in just the past month, two different well-connected democratic candidates have collapsed under the weight of their unpopular drug war posturing. First, Oregon voters roundly rejected Dwight Holton in an attorney general race that focused heavily on his opposition to medical marijuana. Then, just yesterday in Texas, U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes lost the congressional seat he's held since 1996 in a primary challenge from outspoken drug policy reformer Beto O'Rourke.

Really, the whole notion that candidates who support reform will be labeled as "hippie-lovers," is nothing more than a fictitious cliché without a single good example to justify its utterance. Instead, we're witnessing the emergence of the exact opposite, a new dynamic in democratic races wherein a history of defending the drug war is a political liability that can be exploited to powerful effect by candidates who side with the majority of voters in favoring reform.

That's why it's so frustrating to see observers like Waldman, who supports reforming drug policy, nevertheless endeavor to uphold the notion that political realities require our leaders to do the wrong thing. If Obama were to read that analysis and find it convincing, Waldman would have succeeded in helping the President rationalize his refusal to support reform. We're hurting our cause when we say stuff like this, and worse yet, the idea itself isn't even true.

The truth is that a majority of voters actually do want the President to stop waging war on marijuana. It isn't in any politician's political interest to ignore public opinion while defending bad public policy. The smart play is to steer into the changing political current, just as Obama did with gay marriage, and the result is that public opinion itself begins to change that much faster. This is what's known as leadership, and when it comes to reforming our horrible drug laws, our politicians have everything to gain by speaking up and speaking out.

Medical Marijuana Update

It's been a pretty quiet week on the medical marijuana front. Heck, it looks like even the DEA took a break -- no raids to report. Chronicle story here.

US Senate Passes Synthetic Drug Ban, Without Mandatory Minimums [FEATURE]

The Senate has passed a bill banning new synthetic drugs. It's already passed the House, and the president is expected to sign it into law shortly. Chronicle story here.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Don't give joints to snitches you're having an affair with -- that's the lesson one California cop learned last week. There are more crooked cops for us this week, too. Chronicle story here.

Marijuana Legalization Advocate Wins Texas Congressional Primary

A former El Paso city council member who wants to legalize marijuana has knocked off drug warrior Rep. Silvestre Reyes in the Texas Democratic Party primary. Chronicle story here.

Rhode Island Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Awaits Final Votes

Marijuana decriminalization is just a pair of floor votes away from passage in the Rhode Island General Assembly after companion bills were approved by respective judiciary committees Tuesday. Chronicle story here.

Indonesia Cuts Schapelle Corby's 20-Year Marijuana Sentence

After seven years in an Indonesian prison over nine pounds of marijuana, there are signs that Schapelle Corby could be free by this fall. Chronicle story here.

Tennessee Governor Signs Welfare Drug Testing Bill

If you want welfare benefits in Tennessee, you will have to submit to drug screening that could include a drug test under a bill just signed into law. Chronicle story here.

New Biography Says Obama Smoked Pot -- A Lot

Barry Obama and his buddies in the Choom Gang spent their high school and undergraduate years in a haze of pot smoke, a new biography reveals. Drug reformers are chiding him now for his current positions on the issue. Chronicle story here.

What If Police Say They Smell Marijuana?

One of the most common questions we get at Flex Your Rights is how to handle a situation in which police claim to smell marijuana. This can happen whether or not you actually have marijuana and police actually smell it, so it's a situation everyone should be prepared for. 

My latest YouTube video takes a look at this tricky question.

Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking Being Challenged in Courts, Senate [FEATURE]

The police can -- and do -- track your cell phone without a warrant, and they are increasingly resorting to it in the wake of the January Supreme Court decision barring warrantless GPS tracking. Chronicle feature story by Clarence Walker online here.

Anti-Marijuana Fanatic Insults Cancer Patient in Mean-Spirited Letter

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Last week, New York Times published one of the most powerful editorials about medical marijuana that I've ever seen. It was a moving personal appeal from Gustin L. Reichbach, a Justice of the NY State Supreme Court, who began treatment with marijuana after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

It's a story so moving you would have to be insane not to feel compassion for Justice Reichbach and patients like him. Unfortunately, long-time drug war defender David G. Evans is insane. In a calmly-worded, yet viciously dismissive letter to the editor, Evans suggests that the judge might be lying about his cancer treatment.

Anecdotal reports may…be inaccurate because of the emotional expectations of the person using marijuana and the placebo effect. In some cases, there may be deliberate exaggeration for ideological reasons.

To even suggest such a thing is offensive beyond words. We're talking about a man who is fighting for his life, a man who dedicated that life to upholding the law, and who turned to marijuana only after being handed a death sentence. From what twisted perspective would one even arrive at the idea that such a person was speaking dishonestly?

Even leaving aside what we already know about marijuana's medical benefits, what kind of monster would question a dying man's account of how he finds comfort? Evans's sickening insinuations are an exhibit in the inhumanity required to judge those who only seek relief from their suffering. Worse, he even attempts to disguise his coldness and cynicism as a form of genuine concern:

It is true compassion to make sure that medicines are safe and effective and that the claims about them are true.

It's an incredible thing to say, premised entirely on the absurd notion that David Evans is entitled to an opinion about another man's cancer treatment. As often as we've seen critics of marijuana's medical use endeavor to embarrass themselves, I can scarcely recall an episode so disgraceful, so pure and vile in its arrogance.

It's awful to think that Justice Reichbach and other patients like him might read the cruel words of people like David Evans. But let's not miss the true meaning behind Evans's senseless message. If you look back at what he wrote, it reveals a great deal about the desperation of anti-drug ideologues like Evans as they angle for attention in a debate that's increasingly been decided already in the hearts and minds of most Americans.

Faced with a powerful story from a credible and sympathetic voice, Evans saw no option other than to call him a liar. He can't even accept the basic fact that sick people find relief from medical marijuana, because even that simple and obvious truth would, by itself, overwhelm every idiotic thing he's ever said on the subject. As hurtful as his words may be, Evans's horrendous example is exactly the reason we're winning this debate.

Medical Marijuana Update

An medical marijuana initiative campaign is getting underway in North Dakota, people are going to federal prison in Montana, and the battles continue in California. 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.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Philadelphia pays for police misbehavior, more cops get caught pilfering the evidence, one gets caught helping a heroin dealer, and another goes down hard for helping drug traffickers. Chronicle story here.

Random Idiot Solves the Drug Problem

As calls for legalizing marijuana and ending the drug war become increasingly commonplace in the press, so too do the inevitable shocked responses from frightened individuals who aren't always up to speed on the subject.

At their best, these people sound like they just found out about drugs yesterday.

Perhaps we should consider educating our children about the harms of all drugs to discourage their use.

Maybe the answer lies in discouraging consumption as a means of putting the narco-trafficking organizations out of business thereby reducing the mayhem in Mexico, Central and South America, the U.S. and Canada. 

Maybe instead of whining like babies for candy, drug users, and those sympathetic to them, should consider healthier forms of recreation. []

Okaaay…and if that doesn't work, maybe we should ask police officers to look in people's bags and take their drugs away from them. People who refuse to cooperate could perhaps be sent to special buildings and put on "timeout" to think about what they've done.

Seriously though, what kind of numbskull just walks up and starts suggesting the same stupid crap we've been doing for decades? A few too many I'm afraid, and this idiotic obsession with silver-bullet prevention strategies never quite dies despite the incalculable sums we've pissed away on counterproductive anti-drug propaganda.

It may sound supremely stupid to someone like me, but there remain many among us who still can't bring themselves to envision a post-prohibition world because they insist it's easier to just ask everyone to stop getting stoned. If anyone would like to demonstrate this to me, for example by standing outside a head-shop and convincing customers not to go inside, I'd be willing to tag along and make sure nobody punches you in the face.

Marijuana Legalization Hits 56% Support in Rasmussen Poll

A new Rasmussen poll has national support for marijuana legalization and regulation at 56%, up significantly from a poll just two months ago. It's in line with most other recent national polls. Chronicle story here.

Penn Jillette Slams Obama's Marijuana Hypocrisy

Here's one hell of an indignant rant against the drug war. No disagreement here.

New Poll: 56% of Voters Say Legalize Marijuana

Everywhere you look, the public is turning further against the war on marijuana and towards reform. The latest Rasmussen poll is another big indication of where we're headed: 

A solid majority of voters nationwide favor legalizing and regulating marijuana similar to the way alcohol and tobacco cigarettes are currently regulated. Most also don’t believe it should be a crime for people to smoke marijuana in the privacy of their own homes.

A new national telephone survey of Likely Voters shows that 56% favor legalizing and regulating marijuana in a similar manner to the way alcohol and tobacco cigarettes are regulated.

A slim majority like this was enough to convince the President that he could safely support gay marriage, but I don't recommend holding your breath waiting for Obama's pot position to "evolve" before November, or after.

Nevertheless, it's a sign of the times, and only a fool would dismiss its significance. Individual legalization measures inevitably suffer from quibbling over the specifics, but we're on a trajectory towards a point at which we'll win consistently. Wait for it. 

DEA Facing Fallout from Deadly Honduras Raid

US backing for and involvement in Honduras' war against drug trafficking is under increasing scrutiny after a DEA-involved raid that left four innocent people dead. Chronicle story here.

DEA Now Ensnared in Colombia Prostitute Scandal

The Secret Service Colombia prostitution scandal has now ensnared at least two DEA agents in Cartagena. An investigation is proceeding. Chronicle story here.

74% of Americans Oppose Obama's War on Medical Marijuana

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The latest polling data on medical marijuana is striking and ought to shock some sense into the Obama Administration. Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks has great analysis.

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