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Chronicle AM: First Look at Ohio Legalization Initiative, HSBC Gets Off Probation, More... (12/12/17)

The folks behind Ohio's 2015 "monopoly" marijuana legalization are back with details on their proposed "free market" 2018 initiative, Denver gets its first marijuana social club application, the Justice Department ends its deferred prosecution agreement with HSBC bank over drug cartel money laundering, and more.

Marijuana Policy

First Look at Proposed Ohio Legalization Initiative. The two men behind Ohio's failed 2015 marijuana legalization "monopoly" initiative held a press conference Monday outlining their proposed 2018 initiative. Unlike the 2015 initiative, next year's version would be a "free market" approach, there would be a local option to ban pot businesses, public smoking of marijuana would not be allowed, businesses would have to stay 500 from schools and churches, and individuals would have the right to grow their own (although landlords could forbid tenants from doing so). Organizers said they plan to submit their initiative to state officials next month.

Denver Gets First Marijuana Social Club Application. A business that wants to allow on-site vaping and consumption of marijuana edibles has become the first to apply for a marijuana social club license. Denver residents voted to allow such businesses when they approved Initiative 300 last year. The Coffee Joint next faces a public hearing, but has already won the backing of its local neighborhood association.

Law Enforcement

Justice Department Closes File on HSBC Drug Money Laundering. The Department of Justice will end its deferred prosecution agreement with HSBC, Europe's largest bank, after five years, marking the end of its punishment of the bank for laundering hundreds of millions of dollars in Mexican drug cartel funds. DOJ hit HSBC with a $1.9 billion fine and imposed the five-year deal in 2012, demanding that HSBC strengthen its sanctions and anti-money laundering programs, which it has now apparently done. No one has faced criminal charges in the case.

International

Canada Federal Government, Provinces Reach Agreement on Marijuana Taxes. Canada's federal government and the provinces have agreed in principle on a two-year tax sharing agreement that would give provinces 75% of the eventual revenues. The federal Liberals have proposed a 10% excise tax on marijuana products and had originally proposed splitting the money 50-50, but have now retreated in the face of loudly-voiced provincial concerns that they would bear most of the burden of legalization-related costs.

Chronicle AM: Sessions Meets With Anti-Marijuana Activists, MA Considers Cannabis Clubs, More... (12/8/17)

The attorney general hunkers down with marijuana foes, the federal ban on going after medical marijuana where it's legal gets a reprieve, Hawaii cops back away from their plan to seize patients' guns, and more.

Trying to fight multiple drug wars is keeping Jeff Sessions a busy man these days. (senate.gov)
Marijuana Policy

Sessions Meets With Anti-Marijuana Activists. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions met Friday with marijuana legalization foes to discuss marijuana and drug policy. Sessions declared that "this is not a healthy substance" and that "the public is not properly educated on some of the issues related to marijuana. At the meeting were Project SAM head Kevin Sabet, former drug czar's office staffer Dr. Bertha Madras, Drug Free Schools Coalition head David Evans, former NIDA head Robert DuPont, and, just for old times' sake, Reagan era Attorney General Ed Meese.

Massachusetts Lawmakers Consider Cannabis Clubs. A Cannabis Advisory Board subcommittee is calling for the creation of businesses that would allow the purchase and smoking of marijuana. The move would help out of state tourists, as well as residents who don't want to smoke pot at home, supporters said.

Medical Marijuana

Federal Medical Marijuana Protection Gets Two-Week Reprieve. The passage of a stop-gap spending bill Thursday means the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment ban on spending federal funds to go after medical marijuana in states where it is legal remains in force for at least another two weeks. That's good as far as it goes, but it doesn't go nearly far enough, said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) in a statement: "While we are pleased that these critical protections will continue, two weeks is not enough certainty for the millions of Americans who rely on medical marijuana for treatment and the businesses who serve them," Blumenauer said. "As Congress works out a long-term funding bill, it must also include these protections. And ultimately, Congress must act to put an end to the cycle of uncertainty and permanently protect state medical marijuana programs -- and adult use -- from federal interference."

Honolulu Police Chief Admits Department Erred in Trying to Take Guns from Patients. Chief Susan Ballard acknowledged to the Honolulu Police Commission Wednesday that the department's abortive move to make medical marijuana patients turn in their firearms "was incorrect." She said the department will return two guns to people who turned them in voluntarily, but she also said the department will continue to deny new gun permits to cardholders.

Nevada High Court OKs State's Medical-Marijuana Registry. The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Thursday that the state's medical marijuana registry does not violate constitutional provisions of due process, equal protection, and the right against self-incrimination. "We conclude Nevada's medical marijuana registry does not impinge upon a fundamental right," said the opinion written by Justice Ron Parraguirre. "We further conclude the registry is rationally related to the legitimate state interest of protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public."

Foreign Policy

US, Colombia Vow to Battle Record Surge in Coca Production. At a meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, on Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his Colombian counterpart, chief prosecutor Nestor Martinez, vowed to redouble efforts to suppress coca planting and the cocaine trade. "We're gonna make progress," Sessions vowed. Colombia is seeing coca cultivation grow dramatically in the wake of a peace treaty between the government and leftist rebels of the FARC.

Looking Back: The Biggest Domestic Drug Policy Stories of the Past 20 Years [FEATURE]

As Drug War Chronicle marks the publication of its 1,000th issue (with yours truly having authored 863 of them going back to 2000), we reflect on what has changed and what hasn't in the past couple of decades. This piece recounts our domestic drug policy evolution in the US; a companion piece looks at the international picture.

A lot has happened. We've broken the back of marijuana prohibition, even if we haven't killed it dead yet; we've seen medical marijuana gain near universal public acceptance, we've seen harm reduction begin to take hold, we've fought long and hard battles for sentencing reform -- and even won some of them.

But it hasn't all been good. Since the Chronicle began life as The Week Online With DRCNet back in 1997, more than 30 million people have been arrested for drugs, with all the deleterious consequences a drug bust can bring, and despite all the advances, the drug war keeps on rolling. There's been serious progress made, but there's plenty of work left to do. 

Here are the biggest big picture drug stories and trends of the past 20 years:

1. Medical Marijuana

It was November, 1996, when California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, five years after San Francisco became the first city in the country to pass a medical marijuana measure, thanks in large part to the efforts of activists who mobilized to make its use possible for AIDS patients. Two years later, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington came on board, and three years after that, Hawaii became the first state to allow it though the legislative process. Now, 29 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico allow for the use of medical marijuana, and public support for medical marijuana reaches stratospheric levels in polls.

But the battle isn't over. The federal government still refuses to officially recognize medical marijuana, potentially endangering the progress made so far, especially under the current administration, efforts to reschedule marijuana to reflect its medical uses remain thwarted, some of the more recent states to legalize medical marijuana have become perversely more restrictive, and in some of the more conservative states, lawmakers attempt to appease demands for medical marijuana legalization by passing extremely limited CBD-only laws.

2. Marijuana Legalization: In the War on Weed, Weed is Winning

Twenty years ago, pot wasn't legal anywhere, and Gallup had public support for legalization at a measly 25%. A lot has changed since then. It took repeated tries, but beginning in 2012, states started voting to free the weed, with Colorado and Washington leading the way, Alaska and DC coming on board in 2014, and California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada joining the ranks last year. Now, about a fifth of the country has legalized weed, with more states lining up to do so next year, including most likely contenders Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, and Vermont.

Now, Gallup has support for legalization at 64% nationwide, with even a slight majority (51%) of Republicans on board. The only demographic group still opposed to pot legalization is seniors, and they will be leaving the scene soon enough. Again, the battle is by no means over. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and congressional efforts to change that have gone nowhere so far. But it seems like marijuana has won the cultural war, and the rest is just cleaning up what's left of the pot prohibition mess.

3. Marijuana, Inc.: The Rise of an Industry

State-legal marijuana is already a $10 billion dollar a year industry, and that's before California goes on line next month. It's gone from outlaws and hippie farmers in the redwoods to sharp-eyed business hustlers, circling venture capitalists, would-be monopolists, and assorted hangers on, from accountants, lawyers, and publicists to security and systems mavens, market analysts, and the ever-expanding industry press.

These people all have direct pecuniary interests in legal marijuana, and, thanks to profits from the golden weed, the means to protect them. Marijuana money is starting to flow into political campaigns and marijuana business interests organize to make sure they will continue to be able to profit from pot.

Having a legal industry with the wherewithal to throw its weight around a bit is generally -- but not entirely -- a good thing. To the degree that the marijuana industry is able to act like a normal industry, it will act like a normal industry, and that means sometimes the interests of industry sectors may diverge from the interests of marijuana consumers. The industry or some parts of it may complain, for instance, of the regulatory burden of contaminant testing, while consumers have an interest in knowing the pot they smoke isn't poisoned.

And getting rich off weed is a long way from the justice-based demand that people not be harassed, arrested, and imprisoned for using it. Cannabis as capitalist commodity loses some of that outlaw cachet, some ineffable sense of hipster cool. But, hey, you're not going to jail for it anymore (at least in those legal states).

4. The Power of the People: The Key Role of the Initiative Process

The initiative and referendum process, which lets activists bypass state legislatures and put issues to a direct popular vote, has been criticized as anti-democratic because it allows special interests to use an apathetic public to advance their interests, as both car insurers and tobacco companies have attempted in California. It also gets criticized for writing laws without legislative input.

But like any political tool, it can be used for good or ill, and when it comes to drug reform, it has been absolutely critical. When legislatures refuse to lead -- or even follow -- as has been the case with many aspects of drug policy, the initiative process becomes the only effective recourse for making the political change we want. It was through the initiative process that California and other early states approved medical marijuana; it was five years later that Hawaii became the first state where the legislature acted. Similarly with recreational marijuana legalization, every state that has legalized it so far has done it through the initiative process; in no state has it yet made its way through the legislature, although we're hoping that will change next year.

And it's not just marijuana. The initiative process has also been used successfully to pass sentencing reforms in California, and now activists are opening the next frontier, with initiatives being bruited in California and Oregon that would legalize psychedelic mushrooms.

The bad news: Only 24 states have the initiative process. The good news: The ones that do lead the way, setting an example for the others.

Drug prohibition can't be separated from the larger struggle for racial and social justice. (Creative Commons)
5. The Glaring Centrality of Race

It took Michelle Alexander's 2010 publication of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness to put a fine point on it, but the centrality of race in the prosecution of the war on drugs has been painfully evident since at least the crack hysteria of the 1980s, if not going back even further to the Nixonian law-and-order demagoguery of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

We've heard the numbers often enough: Blacks make up about 13% of the population and about 13% of drug users, but 29% of all drug arrests and 35% of those doing state prison time for drugs. And this racial disparity in drug law enforcement doesn't seem to be going away.

Neither is the horrendous impact racially-biased drug law enforcement has on communities of color. Each father or mother behind bars leaves a family exploded and usually impoverished, and each heavy-handed police action leaves a bitter aftertaste.

The drug war conveyor belt, feeding an endless number of black men and women into the half-life of prison, is clearly a key part of a system of racially oppressive policing that has led to eruptions from Ferguson to Baltimore. If we are going to begin to try to fix race relations in this country, the war on drugs is one of the key battlefronts. Thanks in part to Alexander's bestseller, civil rights organizations from the traditional to newer movements like Black Lives Matter have devoted increasing focus to criminal justice, including drug policy reform.

6. Harm Reduction Takes Hold

We don't think teenagers should be having sex, but we know they're going to, anyway, so we make condoms available to them so they won't get pregnant or STDs. That's harm reduction. So is providing clean needles to injection drug users to avoid the spread of disease, making opioid overdose drugs like naloxone widely available so a dosing error doesn't turn fatal, passing 911 Good Samaritan laws to encourage and OD victims' friends to call for help instead of run away, and providing a clean, well-lit place where drug users can shoot or smoke or snort their drugs under medical supervision and with access to social service referrals.

Two decades ago, the only harm reduction work going on was a handful of pioneering needle exchanges, thanks to folks like Dave Purchase at the North American Syringe Exchange Network (founded in 1988), and early activists faced harassment and persecution from local authorities. But it was the creation of the Harm Reduction Coalition in 1993 that really began to put the movement on the map.

In this century, harm reduction practices have gained ground steadily. Now, 33 states and DC allow needle exchange programs to operate, 40 states and DC have some form of 911 Good Samaritan laws, and every state in the county has now modified its laws to allow greater access to naloxone.

The next frontier for American drug war harm reduction is safe injection sites, and on the far horizon, opiate-assisted maintenance. There is not yet a single officially sanctioned operating safe injection in the country, but we are coming close in cities such as Seattle and San Francisco. And let's not forget drug decriminalization as a form of harm reduction. It should be the first step, but that's not the world we live in -- yet.

7. Sentencing Fever Breaks

Beginning in the Reagan years and continuing for decades, the number of prisoners in America rose sharply and steadily, driven in large part by the war on drugs. The phenomenon gained America infamy as the world's biggest jailer, whether in raw numbers or per capita.

But by early in the century, the fever had broken. After gradually slowing rates of increases for several years, the number of state and federal prisoners peaked around 2007 and 2008 at just over 1.6 million. At the end of 2015, the last year for which data is available, the number of prisoners was 1.527 million, down 2% from the previous year. And even the federal prison system, which had continued to increase in size, saw a 14% decline in population that year.

But most drug war prisoners are state prisoners, and that's where sentencing reform have really begun to make a difference. States from California to Minnesota to Texas, among others, enacted a variety of measures to cut the prison population, in some cases because of more enlightened attitudes, but in other cases because it just cost too damned much money for fiscal conservatives.

Current US Attorney General Jeff Sessions would like very much to reverse this trend and is in a position to do some damage, for instance, by instructing federal prosecutors to pursue tough sentences and mandatory minimums in drug cases. But he is hampered by federal sentencing reforms passed in the Obama era. Sessions may be able to bump up the number of people behind bars only slightly; the greater danger is that his policies serve as an inspiration for similarly inclined conservatives in the states to try to roll back reforms there.

8. The Rise (and Fall) of the Opioids

In 1996, Purdue Pharma introduced Oxycontin to the market. The powerful new pain reliever was pitched to doctors as not highly addictive by a high pressure company sales force and became a tremendous market success, generating billions for the Sackler family, the owners of the company. Opioid prescriptions became more common.

For many patients, that was a good thing. Purdue Pharma's marketing push coincided with a push by chronic pain advocates -- patients, doctors and others -- to ease prescribing restrictions that had kept many patients in feasibly treatable pain. And which in many cases still do: A 2011 report by the Institute of Medicine found that while "opioid prescriptions for chronic noncancer pain [in the US] have increased sharply . . . [tlwenty-nine percent of primary care physicians and 16 percent of pain specialists report they prescribe opioids less often than they think appropriate because of concerns about regulatory repercussions." As the report noted, having more opioid prescriptions doesn't necessarily mean that "patients who really need opioids [are] able to get them."

While it's popular to blame doctors and Big Pharma for getting a bunch of pain patients addicted to opioids, that explanation is a bit too facile. Many of the people strung out today were never patients, but instead obtained their pain pills on the black market. Through a perverse system of incentives, people on Medicaid could obtain the pills by prescription for next to nothing, then resell them for $40 or $60 apiece to people who wanted them. Some pain management practices were on the cutting edge of relieving pain for patients who needed the help. But others were little more than shady pill mills, popping up in places like Ohio, Kentucky, and Florida -- places that would become the epicenter of an opioid epidemic within a few years.

When the inevitable crackdowns on pain pill prescribing came, legitimate prescribers of course got caught in the crossfire sometimes, especially those who served the poor or the patients who in the worst chronic pain. Their being targeted, or others reining in their prescribing practices, left many patients in the lurch again. And the closure of pill mills left addicted people in the lurch. But there was plenty of heroin to make up for the missing pills the addicted used to take. Mexican farmers have been happy to grow opium poppies for the American market for decades, and Mexican drug trafficking organizations know how to get it to market.

The whole thing has been worsened by the arrival of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid dozens of times stronger than pure heroin, which seems to be coming mostly from rogue Chinese pharmaceutical labs (although the Mexicans appear to be getting in on the act now, too).

And now we have a drug overdose crisis like the country has never seen before, with around 60,000 people estimated to die from overdoses this year, most of them from opioids (by themselves or in combination with alcohol and/or other drugs). The crisis is inspiring both admirable harm reduction efforts and an execrable turn to harsher punishments, while making things harder again for many pain patients. While many argue that the gentle side of the response to this epidemic is because the victims are mainly white, I would suggest that argument pays short shrift to all the years of hard work advocates and activists of all ethnicities have put in to creating more enlightened drug policies.

9. Policing for Profit: The Never Ending Fight to Rein in Asset Forfeiture

Twenty years ago, pressure was mounting in Washington over abuses of the federal civil asset forfeiture program, just as it is now. Back then, passage of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA) of 2000 marked an important early victory in the fight to rein in what has tartly described as "policing for profit." It was shepherded though the house by then Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Hyde, an Illinois Republican.

How times have changed. Now, with federal agents seizing billions of dollars each year though civil forfeiture proceedings and scandalous abuse after scandalous abuse pumping up the pressure for federal reform, the Republican attorney general is calling for more asset forfeiture. And Jeff Sessions isn't just calling for it; he has undone late Obama administration reforms aimed at reining in one of the sleaziest aspects of federal forfeiture, the Equitable Sharing program, although he is having problems getting Congress to go along.

In the years since CAFRA, a number of states have passed similar laws restricting civil asset forfeiture and directing that seized funds go into the general fund or other designated funds, such as education, but state and local police have been able to evade those laws via Equitable Sharing. Under that program, instead of seizing money under state law, they instead turn it over to the federal government, which then returns 80% of it to the law enforcement agency -- not the general fund and not the schools.

This current setup, with its perverse incentives for police to evade state laws and pursue cash over crime, makes asset forfeiture reform a continuing battlefield at both the state and the federal levels. A number of reform bills are alive in the Congress, and year by year, more and more states pass laws limiting civil asset forfeiture or, even better, eliminating it and requiring a criminal conviction before forfeiture can proceed. Fourteen states have now done that, with the most recent being Connecticut, New Mexico and Nebraska. That leaves 36 to go.

10. Despite Everything, the Drug War Grinds On

We have seen tremendous progress in drug policy in the past 20 years, from the advent of the age of legal marijuana to the breaking of sentencing fever to the spread of harm reduction and the kinder, gentler treatment of the current wave of opioid users, but still, the drug war grinds on.

Pot may be legal in eight states, but that means it isn't in 42 others, and more than 600,000 people got arrested for it last year -- down from a peak of nearly 800,000 in 2007, but still up by 75,000 or 12% over 2015.

It's the same story with overall drug arrests: While total drug arrest numbers peaked at just under 1.9 million a year in 2006 and 2007 -- just ahead of the peak in prison population -- and had been trending downward ever since, they bumped up again last year to 1.57 million, a 5.6% increase over 2015.

There are more options for treatment or diversion out of jail or prison, but people are still getting arrested. Sentencing reforms mean some people won't do as much time as they did in the past, but people are still getting arrested. And the drug war industrial complex, with all its institutional inertia and self-interest, rolls on. If we want to actually end the drug war, we're going to have to stop arresting people for drugs. That would be a real paradigm shift.

Medical Marijuana Update

The US surgeon general has something to say about medical marijuana, Maryland sees its first medical marijuana sales, and more.

National

Last Friday, the surgeon general said marijuana should be treated like other drugs. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said that marijuana should be treated and studied like other pain relief drugs, but that he was opposed to recreational legalization. "Under medical marijuana, I believe it should be like any other drug," he said. "We need to let the FDA vet it, study it, vet it. The FDA has actually approved cannabidiol oil and some derivatives of marijuana, Marijuana is not one substance. It's actually over 100 different substances, some of which benefit, some of which are harmful."

Arkansas

Last Friday, state regulators set the timeline for licenses. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission announced that medical marijuana cultivation licenses would be issued in about three months, and dispensary licenses would be issued three months after that. The date for announcing cultivation licenses is February 27; a firm date for dispensary licenses isn't set yet. The commission anticipates medical marijuana on dispensary shelves by the middle of next year.

Maryland

Last Friday, medical marijuana sales began. The first legal medical marijuana sale in the state took place last Friday, after years of delays. A handful of dispensaries have received shipments of medical marijuana, while others said they expected to come online soon. The state's first legal pot crop was grown this fall.

Michigan

On Tuesday, regulators released medical marijuana business regulations. The state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has released emergency rules governing medical marijuana facilities with just two weeks to go before the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation begins taking applications. "The emergency administrative rules are designed to preserve patient protections and provide them with access to safe medical marihuana," said Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation Director Andrew Brisbo. "These rules also allow growers, processors, secure transporters, provisioning centers, and safety compliance facilities to operate under clear requirements."

Montana

Last Thursday, patients and providers criticized proposed new rules. In a hearing at the Department of Public Health and Human Services, patients and providers complained that proposed regulations would place significant cost and time burdens on them. Among provisions criticized were high licensing fees and requirements for extensive product-safety testing.

Ohio

Last Wednesday, the state licensed another dozen large medical marijuana grow ops. State regulators licensed a final 12 medical marijuana cultivators. They licensed another dozen cultivators earlier this year. Each of the large growers can grow up to 25,000 square feet. They now have nine months to get up and running, with sales set to begin in September.

Last Thursday, a licensing loser sued the state. One day after the state announced its choices for a second batch of commercial cultivation licenses for medical marijuana, one of the losers in the process has filed a lawsuit challenging the scoring process for applications. The state law allowing medical marijuana sets a September 8, 2018 deadline for sales to begin, the timetable is already tight, and any further delays could put that date in doubt.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]

Chronicle AM: MD Sees First MedMJ Sale, PA Pays for False Drugged Driving Arrest, More... (12/4/17)

Lots of medical marijuana news today, plus Pennsylvania has to pay out for a bogus drugged driving arrest that saw a man jailed for five months, and more.

Medical marijuana sales started last Friday in Maryland. (Creative Commons)
US Surgeon General Says Medical Marijuana Should Be Treated Like Other Drugs. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said last Friday that marijuana should be treated and studied like other pain relief drugs, but that he was opposed to recreational legalization. "Under medical marijuana, I believe it should be like any other drug," he said. "We need to let the FDA vet it, study it, vet it. The FDA has actually approved cannabidiol oil and some derivatives of marijuana, Marijuana is not one substance. It's actually over 100 different substances, some of which benefit, some of which are harmful."

Arkansas Regulators Set Timeline. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission announced last Friday that medical marijuana cultivation licenses would be issued in about three months, and dispensary licenses would be issued three months after that. The date for announcing cultivation licenses is February 27; a firm date for dispensary licenses isn't set yet. The commission anticipates medical marijuana on dispensary shelves by the middle of next year.

Maryland Medical Marijuana Sales Begin. The first legal medical marijuana sale in the state took place last Friday, after years of delays. A handful of dispensaries have received shipments of medical marijuana, while others said they expected to come online soon. The state's first legal pot crop was grown this fall.

Montana Medical Marijuana Providers, Patients Oppose New Regulations. At a hearing last Thursday at the Department of Public Health and Human Services, patients and providers complained that proposed regulations would place significant cost and time burdens on them. Among provisions criticized were high licensing fees and requirements for extensive product-safety testing.

Ohio Gets Sued Over Commercial Grower Application Process. One day after the state announced its choices for a second batch of commercial cultivation licenses for medical marijuana, one of the losers in the process has filed a lawsuit challenging the scoring process for applications. The state law allowing medical marijuana sets a September 8, 2018 deadline for sales to begin, the timetable is already tight, and any further delays could put that date in doubt.

Hemp

Wisconsin Governor Signs Hemp Bill. Gov. Scott Walker (R) last Thursday signed into law a bill that allows farmers in the state to grow hemp. Under the bill, hemp plants can't contain more than 0.3% THC, and no one with a drug conviction can be a hemp farmer.

Law Enforcement

Pennsylvania Pays $150,000 for Falsely Jailing Man as Suspected Drugged Driver. The State Police will pay $150,000 to a New York Hispanic man who was jailed for five months even though he passed Breathalyzer and field sobriety tests and subsequent blood testing showed no presence of alcohol or illegal drugs. Wilfredo Ramos sued for false imprisonment and false arrest. He lost his car, his job, and his apartment while sitting in the Lehigh County Jail for months even after test results came back.

International

Australia Federal Government Gives Up on Welfare Drug Testing Scheme. Federal Social Services Minister Christian Porter confirmed Monday that he was removing drug testing of welfare recipients from the government's welfare reform bill in the face of stiff opposition from experts and elected officials. Porter said he didn't want to sacrifice the entire welfare piece to controversy over the drug testing provision.

Swedish High Court Rejects Medical Necessity Defense for Growing Marijuana Plant. The Supreme Court has ruled against a man who grew marijuana to treat neuropathic pain from a motorcycle accident, as well as for anxiety and depression. The man had been acquitted of cultivation charges in August by a lower court, but an appellate court reinstated the conviction, and now the Supreme Court has echoed that decision. The court did suggest that the parliament could amend laws to allow for medical marijuana, and it went relatively lightly on the patient, fining him $616 and giving him no jail time.

Medical Marijuana Update

Honolulu Police tell medical marijuana patients to turn in their guns, Elizabeth Warren presses Trump's HHS nominee on medical marijuana and opioids, Iowa licenses its first CBD manufacturer, and more.

National

On Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren sought marijuana answers from Trump's HHS nominee. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has sent a letter to Alex Azar, President Trump's nominee to lead the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suggesting the administration study how marijuana legalization could reduce opioid addiction and overdose deaths. The letter also asks Azar to answer questions about what he would do to study marijuana as an alternative to opioids, whether he is committed to implementing evidence-based policies, and what steps he would take to "improve our knowledge of the potential therapeutic benefits of marijuana when used for medical purposes."

Florida

Last Wednesday, a lawsuit was filed over medical marijuana implementation. A Miami-Dade nursery and a man suffering from epilepsy have sued the administration of Gov. Rick Scott (R) over the slow implementation of the state's medical marijuana law. The nursery wants a judge to order the Health Department to hand out new licenses for treatment centers, while the patient said the department is blocking patients from getting access to their medicine.

Guam

Last Wednesday, medical marijuana regulations were being drafted. Hearings have been set for the legislature's Rules Committee early next month in a bid to get medical marijuana regulations in final form before Christmas. A public hearing is set for December 5, with the final draft to be marked up in committee on December 14.

Hawaii

Last Friday, Honolulu Police told medical marijuana patients to surrender their guns. The Honolulu Police Department has sent letters to medical marijuana patients in the area ordering them to "voluntarily surrender" their firearms because they use marijuana. The letters give patients 30 days to give their guns and ammo to the Honolulu Police. While federal law prohibits acknowledged marijuana users from owning firearms, this is believed to be the first instance of local law enforcement proactively seeking out patients and ordering them to surrender their weapons.

Indiana

On Monday, Ithe governor ordered stores to pull CBD products from their shelves. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) has given stores 60 days to remove CBD cannabis oil products from their shelves after state Attorney General Curtis Hill (R) delivered an opinion that such substances are illegal under state and federal law. The only exception is for people with epilepsy who are on a state registry.

Iowa

On Tuesday, the state announced its first and only license for a medical marijuana manufacturer. The Department of Public Health announced it will issue a CBD manufacturing license to MedPharm Iowa. That is the first license to grow marijuana and create CBD products in the state and the only one that will be issued.

Michigan

Last Friday, the state announced new fees for medical marijuana businesses. The state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs announced that medical marijuana businesses must pay a $6,000 one-time application fee to the state. That's in addition to any municipal fees, which could run as high as $5,000. The fee announcement comes as the state attempts to overhaul its medical marijuana regulations, with "emergency" regulations set to be issued next month.

On Monday, the Detroit city council moved to undo the will of voters on dispensaries. The city council is asking the city's legal department to challenge two voter-approved medical marijuana ordinances that ease rules on dispensaries in the city. The voters acted in November after the council passed an ordinance last March that made it more difficult for dispensaries to operate. The council approved a resolution on a 7-1 vote asking the legal department to challenge the results in court.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]

Chronicle AM: Sessions Hints at Marijuana Enforcement Changes, ND Legalization Init Filed, More... (11/29/17)

The attorney general hints at changes in federal marijuana enforcement policy, Sen. Elizabeth Warren challenges Trump's HHS nominee on medical marijuana and opioids, North Dakota activists file a legalization initiative, and more.

The attorney general is making news on both the marijuana and the opioid fronts. (senate.gov)
Marijuana Policy

Sessions Hints at Changes in Federal Marijuana Enforcement. At a press conference Wednesday on new measures to address opioid use, Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled that the Justice Department's laissez-faire approach to marijuana in states where it is legal may soon be changing. Justice is looking "very hard right now" at the Cole memo, an Obama-era guidance to federal prosecutors that told them to generally make enforcement a low priority in legalization or medical states, Sessions said. "We had meetings yesterday and talked about it at some length. It's my view that the use of marijuana is detrimental, and we should not give encouragement in any way to it, and it represents a federal violation, which is in the law and it's subject to being enforced, and our priorities will have to be focused on all the things and challenges we face," he said. "We'll be working our way through to a rational policy. But I don't want to suggest in any way that this department believes that marijuana is harmless and people should not avoid it."

Connecticut Gubernatorial Candidates Support Legalization. In the first debate of the 2018 gubernatorial campaign Tuesday night, several candidates said they supported marijuana legalization, a step current Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) has been unwilling to take. "Yes, I will sign a bill to legalize it,'' said Democrat Dan Drew. "There are an awful lot of people who use cannabis for a variety of reasons… wouldn't it be better if we control the process on the front end, if we were able to regulate it?" Another Democrat, former consumer protection commissioner Jonathan Harris also said he supports marijuana legalization. Only Republican candidate Prasad Srinivasan quailed at the prospect, saying he had concerns about public safety and public health.

North Dakota Activists File Legalization Initiative. Grand Forks resident David Own delivered a proposed petition to begin an initiative campaign to legalize marijuana to the secretary of state's office on Tuesday. The petition calls for the "full legalization" of marijuana and expungement of records for any crime that would be legalized by the measure. If approved for signature gathering, the initiative will need some 13,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.

San Francisco Approves Legal Marijuana Regs; Sales to Begin January 5. The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve regulations for recreational marijuana sales and set January 5 as the date when legal sales could begin. Supervisors voted for a 600-feet buffer between stores and schools -- much less than what some members of the Chinese immigrant community had lobbied for -- and rejected provisions that would have let neighborhoods limit the number of pot shops or ban them outright.

Medical Marijuana

Elizabeth Warren Wants Marijuana Answers From Trump Health Nominee. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has sent a letter to Alex Azar, President Trump's nominee to lead the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suggesting the administration study how marijuana legalization could reduce opioid addiction and overdose deaths. The letter also asks Azar to answer questions about what he would do to study marijuana as an alternative to opioids, whether he is committed to implementing evidence-based policies, and what steps he would take to "improve our knowledge of the potential therapeutic benefits of marijuana when used for medical purposes."

Iowa Announces First and Only License for Medical Marijuana Manufacturer. The Department of Public Health announced Tuesday it will issue a CBD manufacturing license to MedPharm Iowa. That is the first license to grow marijuana and create CBD products in the state and the only one that will be issued.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

DEA to Open First New Field Office in 20 Years to Fight Epidemic. At a press conference Wednesday addressing the opioid crisis, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the DEA will open a new field office in Louisville, its first new field office in two decades. Sessions also announced new federal grants totaling $12 million to fund anti-heroin task forces and said that all 94 US attorneys across the country would name officials to coordinate opioid enforcement operations in their areas.

(This article was prepared by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Chronicle AM: Bush AG Criticizes Sessions' War on Weed, Scary AZ Pot Poll, More... (11/22/17)

Former GOP Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has no use for Jeff Sessions' would-be war on weed, a new poll has disheartening findings for Arizona legalizers, the Detroit city council wants to undo the will of the voters on medical marijuana dispensaries, and more.

Marijuana Policy

GW Bush Attorney General Says Sessions' War on Weed is a Waste of Time. "With respect to everything else going on in the US, this is pretty low priority," Alberto Gonzales, a Republican who was attorney general under President George W. Bush, told Newsweek, referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions' desire to prosecute marijuana businesses in states where it is legal. "To prosecute an act that is otherwise lawful under state law, one could make the argument [that] as a matter of policy, we've got other priorities we ought to be spending our resources on."

Arizona Poll Has Bad News for Legalizers, But… A new statewide poll from OH Predictive Strategies has support for legalization at only 35%, with 48% opposed. The poll was an automated phone survey of 600 state residents. Those polls send calls only to people with landline phones, which could skew the results because older people are more likely to have landlines. Arizona's 2016 legalization initiative lost, but garnered a respectable 48.68% of the vote. A group called Safer Arizona is already out gathering signatures for its legalization initiative aimed at the 2018 ballot.

Medical Marijuana

Florida Lawsuit Filed Over Medical Marijuana Implementation. A Miami-Dade nursery and a man suffering from epilepsy have sued the administration of Gov. Rick Scott (R) over the slow implementation of the state's medical marijuana law. The nursery wants a judge to order the Health Department to hand out new licenses for treatment centers, while the patient said the department is blocking patients from getting access to their medicine.

Detroit City Council Wants to Undo Will of Voters on Dispensaries. The city council is asking the city's legal department to challenge two voter-approved medical marijuana ordinances that ease rules on dispensaries in the city. The voters acted in November after the council passed an ordinance last March that made it more difficult for dispensaries to operate. The council approved a resolution on a 7-1 vote asking the legal department to challenge the results in court.

International

Indian Bill to Legalize Marijuana Heads to Parliament. A private member's bill to legalize marijuana will be introduced in parliament during this year's winter session. The bill is sponsored by MP Dharamyira Gandhi, who has long supported the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana.

Update and Action Alert: Trump, Duterte, Congress, and the Philippine Drug War Killings

Dear Reformer:

Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte met for the first time, during the ASEAN Summit in Manila which Duterte hosted. As predicted, Trump did not raise human rights during their meeting, although a White House spokesperson claimed it came up "briefly" during a private discussion.

The top human rights issue Trump might have brought up with Duterte is the campaign of drug war killings that Duterte promised during his presidential campaign, and which he has followed through on since taking office in June last year. Human rights organizations and media have given estimates ranging from 7,000 to 14,000 killed already.

In a sign-on statement I organized, which has been endorsed by nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals and which we released this week in advance of the Trump-Duterte meeting, we note that the Philippine National Police (PNP) acknowledge over 3,900 people have been killed in anti-drug operations under the Duterte administration, plus nearly 2,300 more drug-related murders and thousands still "unexplained." Our statement also notes the Philippines saw a roughly 50% increase in its official homicide rate, starting immediately when Duterte took office – hard to explain in the absence of an official policy of extrajudicial killing.

The statement was covered in articles on four important Philippines news outlets, including the Inquirer, Rappler (8th and 12th most read web sites in the Philippines respectively), the Philippine Star and InterAksyon. The Interaksyon article credited our coalition with renewing global calls for a UN-led probe into the drug war killings. Leading human rights organizations in the Philippines, Filipino American groups, top NGOs like NOW and Doctors of the World, and many others supported the statement. More than 50 of the NGOs endorsing it are based in Asia, including groups from a majority of the ASEAN states.

Should Trump have met individually with Duterte, and should he have pressed Duterte on human rights when he did? World leaders need to communicate with each other, and there's room for debate as to how best a US president should juggle competing interests. Unfortunately, Trump's silence on human rights during ASEAN leaves standing some incredibly harmful statements he has made on the matter in the past:

We will never know for sure if Trump's implicit greenlighting of Duterte's mass killing campaign led to more such killings, but it's possible. Clearly the president of Indonesia, who launched his own drug war mass murder campaign as part of a reelection strategy in August, must have taken note.

If the president won't lead on human rights, or even arguably helps to make things worse, then Congress should step in. That's why we are supporting S. 1055, "The Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counternarcotics Act of 2017," bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Although not perfect, S. 1055 would impose important human rights conditions on law enforcement assistance to the Philippines, and would fund positive health programs as well as the work of Philippine human rights defenders. Among the bill's supporters are Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the iDEFEND human rights coalition in the Philippines, the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance, US Filipinos for Good Governance, and our close partners the Drug Policy Alliance.

Along with sending you this update, I also have the following three requests:

  1. If you are a US voter, please write to Congress in support of S. 1055, using the online write-to-Congress form we've set up. Please follow up on your email by calling your state's two Senators and your Representative. (But please do use the form too – this will enable us to contact you if you live in a key state or district.) The time to do this is now, because we are trying to influence the pending State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, over the next few weeks.
  2. Please help to publicize our statement and S. 1055. You can use the set of sample social posts we've prepared for Facebook and Twitter, copied below my signature. You can also go straight to our Twitter page, @stopthedrugwar, where we have already retweeted some of these as posted by others. We'll be posting more to Twitter and to our Facebook group later as well.
  3. We need your financial support for this effort, and for other work like publishing the Drug War Chronicle newsletter, a key tool for advocates and many others in the issue. Tax-deductible donations to our 501(c)(3) nonprofit, DRCNet Foundation, will support work like the Philippines statement and the newsletter. Non-deductible donations to our 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Drug Reform Coordination Network, will support our legislative work directly supporting S. 1055, and other legislative matters in the US. If you would like to designate a gift for a specific program, please leave a note in the comment box on our donation form, or with your check if donating by mail. Links to both nonprofits' donation forms can be found at http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate, and our mailing address is P.O. Box 9853, Washington, DC 20016.

Thank you for helping and for your time reading this update. As we noted in the closing paragraphs of our Philippines statement, "Support for the global system of responsibilities and rights has become uncertain… lawlessness and extrajudicial violence must not become a model for more countries. When human rights are attacked, all are called on to act… The time for action is now."

Sincerely,

David Borden, Executive Director
StoptheDrugWar.org
P.O. Box 9853 / Washington, DC 20016
http://stopthedrugwar.org
"U.S. and U.N. Drug Policy Reform"

Here are the sample social media posts:

Please help us by spreading the statement and news coverage on social media. Following are sample posts for Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter samples:

Posts highlighting S. 1055, the Philippines human rights appropriations bill in the US Senate:

Congress should press Philippines @OfficialDuterte to stop drug war killings, if @realDonaldTrump won't: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/633065/british-paper-s-banner-photo-of-trump-duterte-says-hand-in-hand-with-a-killer/story/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wibl5h2YZdM #StoptheKillings #StartTheHealing WRITE CONGRESS: https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2

@SenBobCorker @RepEdRoyce Please sponsor and move the Philippines Human Rights Accountability Act through your committees! http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1055 #StoptheKillings #StartTheHealing WRITE CONGRESS: https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2

Thank you @TLHumanRights Lantos Commission co-chairs @RepHultgren @RepMcGovern for highlighting Philippines extrajudicial drug war killings. https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-actions-philippines-drug-war-killings WRITE CONGRESS: https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2 #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/human-rights-consequences-war-drugs-philippines

@SenatorCardin @marcorubio Thank you for sponsoring Philippines Human Rights Accountability Act – civil society supports! http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1055 #StoptheKillings #StartTheHealing WRITE CONGRESS: https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2

@RepSpeier Thank you for speaking out against Philippines extrajudicial killings at @TLHumanRights – civil society supports! http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit #StopTheKillings https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/human-rights-consequences-war-drugs-philippines WRITE CONGRESS: https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2

Excerpts from the Statement:

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "We call for a process of accountability, starting with a UN-led investigation. We… call on world leaders attending [#ASEANSummit] to unequivocally call for an end to the [Philippines drug war] killings…" https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-actions-philippines-drug-war-killings @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings @UNHumanRights

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "Since the Philippines escalated its 'drug war'… over 3,900 people have been killed [by police] operations, with nearly 2,300 more drug-related murders and thousands still 'unexplained'" say police. http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "If a government is unwilling or unable to seek justice, treaties allow for intervention by the International Criminal Court…" https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings @IntlCrimCourt

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "When human rights are attacked, all are called on to act… The time for action is now." http://www.interaksyon.com/on-eve-of-asean-summit-more-than-270-groups-individuals-renew-calls-for-un-led-probe-of-drug-war-killings/ @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "We… urge the international community to fund Philippine human rights defenders at a level matching the crisis." http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings @iDefendPH https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGsJsfgvj_w @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Articles to Link:

Global coalition calls for end to Philippine drug war killings ahead of Trump's Philippines visit: http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

International coalition calls for 'decisive actions' against drug war killings in Philippines: https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-actions-philippines-drug-war-killings @jodeszgavilan @rapplerdotcom @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Ahead of ASEAN, international coalition calls for probe into drug war killings: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings @gaeacabico @PhilstarNews @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

On eve of ASEAN summit, more than 270 groups, individuals renew calls for UN-led probe of drug war killings: http://www.interaksyon.com/on-eve-of-asean-summit-more-than-270-groups-individuals-renew-calls-for-un-led-probe-of-drug-war-killings/ @interaksyon @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Press Release: Global Statement Calls for International Action on Philippine Drug War Killings https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Trump Celebrates "Great Relationship" With Philippine President Duterte at ASEAN Summit http://www.drugpolicy.org/press-release/2017/11/trump-celebrates-great-relationship-philippine-president-duterte-asean-summit @MMcFarlandSM @DrugPolicyOrg @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

@amnesty @hrw reports show government responsible for drug war killings: https://www.amnestyusa.org/reports/if-you-are-poor-you-are-killed-extrajudicial-executions-in-the-philippines-war-on-drugs/ https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/03/02/license-kill/philippine-police-killings-dutertes-war-drugs #StopTheKillings https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings @stopthedrugwar

Thank you @JustinTrudeau for pressing @OfficialDuterte on human rights, Philippines drug war: http://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/trudeau-raises-concerns-with-duterte-over-bloody-drug-war-in-the-philippines #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit @stopthedrugwar

Thank you @jacindaardern for pressing @OfficialDuterte on human rights, Philippines drug war: https://www.rappler.com/world/regions/asia-pacific/188439-jacinda-ardern-comment-drug-war-asean-2017 #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit @stopthedrugwar

Facebook sample posts:

Posts highlighting S. 1055, the Philippines human rights appropriations bill in the US Senate:

Congress should press Philippines to stop the extrajudicial drug war killings, if President Trump won't – enact S. 1055 to put human rights conditions on aid: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/633065/british-paper-s-banner-photo-of-trump-duterte-says-hand-in-hand-with-a-killer/story/ Read the NGO statement at https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/asean-philippines-sign-on-statement-november-2017.pdf. #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing (US write to Congress https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2.)

Sen. Corker, Rep. Royce, please sponsor and move the Philippines Human Rights Accountability Act through your committees! http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1055 #StoptheKillings #StartTheHealing (US write to Congress at https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2.)

Thank you Lantos Commission co-chairs Reps. Hultgren and McGovern for highlighting Philippines extrajudicial drug war killings in your July hearing. Civil society supports you: https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-actions-philippines-drug-war-killings #StopTheKilling #StartTheHealing (US write to Congress at https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2.)

Thank you Sens. Cardin and Rubio for sponsoring Philippines Human Rights Accountability Act -- civil society supports you: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing

Thank you Rep. Speier for speaking out against Philippines extrajudicial killings https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/events/hearings/human-rights-consequences-war-drugs-philippines – civil society supports you: http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing (US write to Congress at https://secure.everyaction.com/VuEJ0J0PW0uzZg1JzrB6bg2.)

Excerpts from the Statement:

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "We call for a process of accountability, starting with a UN-led investigation. We… call on world leaders attending [#ASEANSummit] to unequivocally call for an end to the [Philippines drug war] killings…" https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-actions-philippines-drug-war-killings @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "Since the Philippines escalated its 'drug war'… over 3,900 people have been killed [by police] operations, with nearly 2,300 more drug-related murders and thousands still 'unexplained'" say police. http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "If a government is unwilling or unable to seek justice, treaties allow for intervention by the International Criminal Court…" https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "When human rights are attacked, all are called on to act… The time for action is now." http://www.interaksyon.com/on-eve-of-asean-summit-more-than-270-groups-individuals-renew-calls-for-un-led-probe-of-drug-war-killings/ @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing

Nearly 300 NGOs and prominent individuals say: "We… urge the international community to fund Philippine human rights defenders at a level matching the crisis." http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings @iDefendPH #StopTheKillings

Articles to Link:

Global coalition calls for end to Philippine drug war killings ahead of Trump's Philippines visit: http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

International coalition calls for 'decisive actions' against drug war killings in Philippines: https://www.rappler.com/nation/187940-international-coalition-decisive-actions-philippines-drug-war-killings @jodeszgavilan @rapplerdotcom @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Ahead of ASEAN, international coalition calls for probe into drug war killings: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/10/1757565/ahead-asean-international-coalition-calls-probe-drug-war-killings @gaeacabico @PhilstarNews @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

On eve of ASEAN summit, more than 270 groups, individuals renew calls for UN-led probe of drug war killings: http://www.interaksyon.com/on-eve-of-asean-summit-more-than-270-groups-individuals-renew-calls-for-un-led-probe-of-drug-war-killings/ @interaksyon @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings

Press Release: Global Statement Calls for International Action on Philippine Drug War Killings https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings @stopthedrugwar #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing

Trump Celebrates "Great Relationship" With Philippine President Duterte at ASEAN Summit http://www.drugpolicy.org/press-release/2017/11/trump-celebrates-great-relationship-philippine-president-duterte-asean-summit #StopTheKillings #StartTheHealing

Other:

Amnesty International Report report shows government responsible for drug war killings: https://www.amnestyusa.org/reports/if-you-are-poor-you-are-killed-extrajudicial-executions-in-the-philippines-war-on-drugs/ #StopTheKillings Civil society calls for international action: https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings

Human Rights Watch report shows government responsible for drug war killings: https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/03/02/license-kill/philippine-police-killings-dutertes-war-drugs #StopTheKillings Civil society calls for international action: https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/nov/09/concern_over_philippine_killings

Thank you Prime Minister Trudeau for pressing Duterte on human rights in the Philippines drug war: http://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/trudeau-raises-concerns-with-duterte-over-bloody-drug-war-in-the-philippines Civil society supports you -- http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit

Thank you Prime Minister Ardern for pressing Duterte on human rights in the Philippines drug war: https://www.rappler.com/world/regions/asia-pacific/188439-jacinda-ardern-comment-drug-war-asean-2017 Civil society supports you -- http://usa.inquirer.net/8011/global-coalition-calls-end-ejks-ahead-trumps-ph-visit

Chronicle AM: NH Panel Votes Down Legalization Bill, Kratom Battle Heats Up, More... (11/15/17)

Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidates get behind legal weed, a New Hampshire House committee doesn't, Arizona gets sued over high medical marijuana permit fees, the kratom wars heat up, and more.

Kratom -- advocates call it a boon, the FDA and DEA call it a bane. (Wikimedia)
Marijuana Policy

Michigan Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Support Marijuana Legalization. Four leading Democratic contenders for the gubernatorial nomination are supporting marijuana legalization, and so is one little-known Republican candidate. "We've seen other states do it wrong. In Michigan, we've got a chance to do it right," said former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday night in a candidate forum hosted by MI Legalize. That is the group behind the legalization initiative campaign set to hand in signatures next week. Other Democratic contenders including Abdul El-Sayed and Bill Cobb are also embracing legalization. Republican front runner Attorney General Bill Schuette, who has been an ardent foe of medical marijuana, has so far avoided commenting on legalization.

New Hampshire House Committee Rejects Marijuana Legalization Bill. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted to kill House Bill 656, which would have legalized marijuana, after members expressed concerns about conflicts with federal law and the desirability of legalizing it in a state in the throes of an opioid crisis. But despite the committee vote, the bill is not necessarily dead: In recent years, the full House has repeatedly overturned the committee's recommendations and passed marijuana reform bills.

Vermont Marijuana Task Force Has Second Meeting. Gov. Phil Scott's Marijuana Advisory Commission met for the second time Wednesday, concentrating on the impact of legalization on highway safety. The commission heard a report from Department of Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Anderson. "When you have increased use of marijuana or legalization of marijuana, you're gonna see more fatalities on your roadways. I think the data does support that, and I know there are different views on that, but I would feel comfortable taking that to a jury and trying to convince them of that," said Anderson. The commission must finalize its recommendations by January 15.

Medical Marijuana

Arizona Sued Over Patient Fees. A Phoenix attorney has asked the state Court of Appeals to force health officials to cut the $150 fee patients need to get a state-issued permit to use medical marijuana. Attorney Sean Berberian said the fee is illegally high, is far more than needed to finance the administration of the medical marijuana law, and is designed to divert patients away from applying to use medical marijuana.

Kratom

FDA Issues Warning on Kratom, Advocates Reject It. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a public health advisory on kratom Tuesday, saying the herb was linked to 36 deaths and calling its use as an opioid substitute "extremely concerning." But on Wednesday, the American Kratom Association pushed back, calling on the FDA to rescind the advisory because it relied on "discredited, incomplete, and mischaracterized scientific claims." The DEA moved to emergency ban kratom a year ago, but backed down in the face of loud opposition. The FDA alert could suggest that efforts to crackdown could be coming soon.

(This article was prepared by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Drug War Issues

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