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10 Years to Life for Medical Marijuana

 

ReasonTV released this video a few weeks ago about the federal medical marijuana crackdown and the case of Aaron Sandusky, who is facing federal charges for operating a dispensary:
 

Live Video from Oakland Demo

Live video feed from the Oakland "Save Harborside" medical marijuana protest.

Obama is scheduled to arrive at the fundraiser at 4:30pm PST -- protest goes until 6:00pm PST.

Location: 
Oakland, CA
United States

Marijuana Legalization Question Takes First Place Again in Obama YouTube Forum

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

 

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

Pain Patients Lose a Leading Advocate, Siobhan Reynolds, 1961-2011

Siobhan Reynolds (left) at 2004 Congressional briefing, with Dr. Frank Fisher, Ron Libby and Maia Szalavitz (photo courtesy PRN)
My friend and colleague Siobhan Reynolds, founder of the Pain Relief Network (PRN), died in a plane crash this weekend outside Columbus, Ohio. The pilot of the plane, her partner Kp Byers, was also a pain activist, an attorney whose practice had focused since 1992 on defending medical professionals caught in the crosshairs of the drug war. Radley Balko has written an extensive tribute to Siobhan, online here. So does Jacob Sullum at Reason.

As Radley has noted and as many others will doubtless note, Siobhan's work organizing media and legal support for patients, doctors, pharmacists and nurses was a courageous one. An article in the New York Times last year by Adam Liptak shows the degree to which prosecutors and even some judges felt threatened by the scrutiny Siobhan and PRN had drawn to their handling of certain cases, and the lengths to which they were willing to abuse legal process to shut her down. Perhaps the daring of riding in a small plane is a mirror of the daring she showed in her career taking on the government.

PRN did shut down last year, the organization's financial resources and Siobhan's own resources depleted by the struggle. But Siobhan was working on forming a new patient advocacy organization, Radley noted. I hope that others will take up that torch in her name. The under-prescribing of opiates to many patients who need them, and the injustice of lengthy mandatory minimum drug sentences being leveled at doctors and others over prescribing practices that at worst are debatable, is one of the most challenging problems in the drug war to take on. There is far too little help -- medical, advocacy, or otherwise -- for the people most deeply affected. Among those people were her husband, the late Sean Greenwood.

The Pain Relief Network still has an online presence, and its home page provides Siobhan's reasons for the organization's closure and her hopes of what could happen in the future. Our own web site has an archive devoted to the pain under-treatment issue, much of the material in it about Siobhan's work.  Also, Siobhan wrote several articles this year on prohibition and the drug war's impact on the doctor-patient relationship, the articles linked to from her web site.

Last but not least, in the YouTube video posted below, "Being Unable to Help," Siobhan talks about what was impossible to do for her husband in the current medical and legal environment. Share it widely.

 

New Drug Policy Videos from HCLU

In "The State of Harm Reduction in Europe," the film crew of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union interviewed activists and professionals attending the first meeting of the European Harm Reduction Network (EuroHRN) in Marseilles, France, to provide an overview of the progress, the backward trends, and the current state of affairs of harm reduction across the European continent.

 
One of the most powerful speeches at the recent International Drug Policy Reform Conference was Marilyn Howell's recounting of how MDMA helped her daughter gain dignity and quality of life in her final days. Watch her presentation courtesy HCLU below or read more information here.
 
 
Three videos from the "Drug, Set and Setting -- Today" panel at the conference bring us speeches by Julie Holland, Gabor Maté and Carl Hart.
 
Explore HCLU's video collection through the links above or click through to their YouTube page for more footage from the conference.
Location: 

Video: Former Mexican President Says Time to Legalize Drugs

Video from October 18 Cato Institute forum featuring former President of Mexico Vicente Fox (Cato's Ian Vasquez moderating):

Hint to politicians and the media: When people with that kind of stature bring up an issue over and over, that means it's important.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Why Do We Keep Talking About Prohibition?

Reason TV, via Andrew Sullivan's The Dish:

 
P.S. We are going to be offering the DVD (and maybe Blu-Ray) of this documentary as a membership premium, starting next week. (And of course you can watch it on TV when it premieres this Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.)
 
Burns interviewed on Colbert Report Wednesday night -- check that out here.

Video: "Count the Costs of the War on Drugs," Events in Five European Capitals

Actions organized by the European Drug Policy Initiative in Sofia, Bucharest, Warsaw, Oslo and Porto -- part of the "Count the Costs of the War on Drugs" campaign, which marks the 50th anniversary of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs:

Click here for more information, including a short promo video for the campaign.

Video: Florida Welfare Drug Testing Debate

Far from saving the state money, Florida's new welfare drug testing law, promoted aggressively by Gov. Rick Scott, seems to be a budget buster. The law also seems likely to be found unconstitutional -- FoxNews's Megyn Kelly, host of the show "Kelly's Court," thinks so (as do we) -- and taking it through the courts to find that out will cost Florida taxpayers additional funds.

Unfortunately there have been a lot of these bills lately, this year and in other recent years. One more seems to be coming up in Ohio, and legislation may be coming up very soon in Congress -- we'll update here as soon as we know more.

Location: 
FL
United States

40th Anniversary Drug War Continues, SWAT Raid Music Video, More Wire

The 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon's declaration of the drug war continues. First, footage from LEAP's press conference, followed by their march from the National Press Club to the Office of National Drug Control Policy office to hand-deliver their report to drug czar Kerlikowske:



Comedian/Activist Randy Credico has made a startling discovery, with his first release from the "Nixon: The Lost Tapes" collection. In Credico's (parody) excerpt, Nixon says he was duped into calling for a drug war and says he regrets it:



We link Reason again, this time with their new music video, No Knock Raid. Don't watch it if you're about to try to get to sleep:



If you haven't already, check out my post last week about Reason's current magazine issue, "Criminal Injustice."

The Wire is back in the news too. Last weekend we noted that Attorney General Eric Holder really wants another season of the show, but David Simon says they'll only do it if he ends drug prohibition. On Thursday Holder said okay!

Unfortunately he was only joking -- and the drug war is no joking matter. Still, I interpret it as reflecting implicit respect for the anti-drug war viewpoint -- we'll take it.

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