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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.

This is What a Drug Legalization Activist Looks Like

You've likely already seen the explosive mainstream media coverage of Tuesday's superb press event by our friends at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, but I wanted to share this image that didn't make it into the papers:
Photo by Irina Alexander

As we marched from the National Press Club over to the Office of National Drug Control Policy to deliver LEAP's report to the drug czar, many people on the street paused to stare. Who were these well-dressed men and women walking past the White House with a camera crew trailing behind? If they watched the evening news or read the paper the next morning, they now know the answer.

They are police, prosecutors, and prison wardens working to end the War on Drugs and they couldn't possibly have expected their message this week to reverberate any louder than it has. They are the definition of credibility in the drug war debate, and it is literally impossible to possess an informed opinion on these issues until you've carefully considered the concerns of these professionals and contemplated the solutions they propose.

That's why it's just such a shame – and really quite revealing – that the Drug Czar didn't invite them in when they arrived at his office to present the findings of LEAP's report. I know why I wasn't let in (I've written like 900 things condemning various drug czars for an exhausting array of outrages emerging from that office and wouldn't have stepped inside even if they let me, lest I might never be seen or heard from again). But I was just there to observe.

With us on Tuesday was Norm Stamper, who served as Police Chief of Seattle immediately prior to Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske. Their professional credentials are so remarkably similar, yet one relies on his vast experience to work towards fixing fundamental flaws in our drug policy, while the other cowers in his ivory tower in Washington, D.C. as he endeavors desperately to defend decades of unmitigated waste and destruction.

We'll see who history remembers as a champion of justice.

Our image posting system doesn't seem to allow a long enough caption to identify all of the LEAP marchers pictured above. Here is the rest of the caption, courtesy Eric Sterling: From Left, Howard Wooldridge, Executive Director, Citizens Opposing Prohibition (retired detective, Bath Township, Michigan); Eric E. Sterling, President, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation (former assistant counsel, Subcommittee on Crime, U.S. House of Representatives); Norman Stamper, LEAP (former Chief of Police, Seattle, WA, author of Breaking Rank); Leigh Maddox, Special Assistant State's Attorney, Baltimore City, MD, Adjunct Professor, University of Maryland School of Law, (former Captain, Maryland State Police); Neill Franklin, Executive Director, LEAP (former Major, Maryland State Police and Baltimore City Police); Matthew Fogg, LEAP, (former Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal); Richard Van Wickler, Superintendent of Corrections, Cheshire County, Stoddard, New Hampshire; (not shown, Terry Nelson, former supervisor, U.S. Department of Homeland Security).

War on Drugs 40th Anniversary Press Conference and Lunch

Join The Wire's Sonja Sohn, the Reverend Al Sharpton (tentative) and elected officials at an unprecedented press conference to call attention to the failures of the drug war and to propose new solutions.

This week marks the 40th Anniversary of President Nixon declaring a war on drugs. A trillion dollars and millions of ruined lives later, the war on drugs has proven to be a catastrophic failure. It’s time for a new direction.

When: June 16, 2011
12:30pm Registration, Check-in, and Lunch
1:00pm Press Conference

Who: Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director, Drug Policy Alliance
Jared Polis, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Colorado's 2nd district
Rev. Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network*
Peter Shumlin, Governor of Vermont
Sonja Sohn, actress from acclaimed HBO Series "The Wire"
Maxine Waters, Member of U.S. House of Representatives from California’s 35th district

Guests should arrive at the 6th Street entrance of the Newseum. There will be a table with a Drug Policy Alliance tablecloth just inside where someone will greet you and check you in. There is an elevator nearby that will take you to the 3rd Level, where the studio is located. Someone will be just outside the elevator to help direct you to the studio space. We are using the Knight Studio that is on the C Street side of the building, not the Pennsylvania Ave side.

*Tentatively confirmed either in person or live via videoconference.

Event Location:
The Newseum, Knight Studio A, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

Event City and State:
Washington, DC

Date and Time:
Thu, 06/16/2011 - 12:30pm

Event Website:
Drug Policy Alliance Press Conference

Thu, 06/16/2011 - 12:30pm - 2:00pm
555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

Summer SSDP Camping Trip


Come join fellow activist-students from across the east coast as we enjoy a weekend of camping, friends and fun in a beautiful and friendly campground.
This year’s retreat will take place July 22 – 24, 2010.  We will be returning to Cedar Rapids Campground in Barryville, NY.  (They are excited to have us back for the third year in a row!)

Just 90 minutes from New York City and 4 hours from Boston and Washington, DC, Cedar Rapids is a beautiful, privately owned campground along the banks of the Delaware River in Lower New York State.

• Full-service bar and restaurant on site. (They sell cases of beer, or BYOB.)
• Campfires are allowed. (Wood sold on site, or bring your own.)
• Secluded riverside camping.
• Showers and real toilets available.
• Weekend fishing licenses available.

Camping registration fee per person: $55/weekend -- or -- $25/single night 
* Special early bird rate for two nights is available for $35.00 until June 20, 2011 **
** UPDATE: Early bird deadline has been extended! Rate will increase from $35.00 to $55.00 after 
Monday, June 20th 

(Optional) Rafting:  $35/person in a raft or double kayak/canoe -- or -- $40/person in a single kayak/canoe
The raft price includes a spot on an 8-person boat with a cooler on-board. They drive us up the river and we slowly cruise back to the campsite on mild class II rapids.

Rafting fee may be paid on-site the day of the trip.  CASH ONLY.

You must RSVP with your camping fee paid in full by 5:00pm EST, Wednesday July 13th to reserve your spot.

Contact Victor Pinho or Stacia Cosner with any questions.

Event Location

Cedar Rapids Campground
Barryville, NY 12719


Cedar Rapids Kayak & Canoe Outfitters at Cedar Rapids Inn is located 18 miles north of Port Jervis, New York on Route 97N.


Fri, 07/22/2011 - 12:00pm - Sun, 07/24/2011 - 12:00pm
Route 97 North
Barryville, NY 12719
United States

2011 International Drug Policy Reform Conference

The International Drug Policy Reform Conference is a biennial event that brings together people from around the world who believe that the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. It brings together over 1,000 attendees representing 30 different countries. The 2011 Reform Conference is taking place in Los Angeles, California from Wednesday, November 2 through Saturday, November 5 at The Westin Bonaventure.

Visit for further information -- registration info is available here and scholarship info (due date June 30th!) is online here. Organizations interested in being involved with the conference can find information on sponsoring, exhibiting or partnering here.

This year attendees will have the opportunity to spend three days interacting with people committed to finding alternatives to the war on drugs while participating in sessions given by leading experts from around the world. Don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of this event.

Here are what some attendees had to say about the 2009 conference:

"You leave the conference inspired and informed. Meeting this crowd of wise, energetic kindred spirits recharges your reform batteries."
--Michael Jourdan, Centre of Alcohol and Drug Research, Copenhagen, Denmark

"This is the only conference that combines X-treme intelligence, passion, and practical applications. It is the best I ever attend."
--Patt Denning, Harm Reduction Therapy Center, San Francisco, California

"A living breathing think tank of like minds, crafting out solutions that keep people's dignity and human rights intact."
--Waheedah Sahabzz-El, Community HIV / AIDS Mobilization Project, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

"This conference provided a new beginning for me, I now have a true passion for DPR."
--Susanne Widmer, Albuquerque, New Mexico

"The Reform Conference gave me the courage to return to my Canadian community and give voice to the common sense of Drug Policy Reform. The experience provided me with the evidence, language and tools to be a credible, educated leader in changing the way we approach the issue of substance use in our community."
--Patty Hajdu, Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Wed, 11/02/2011 - 6:00pm - Sat, 11/05/2011 - 5:15pm
404 South Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90071
United States

Patient Advocates Back Three Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced in Congress (Press Release)

For Immediate Release: May 25, 2011

Patient Advocates Back Three Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced Today in Congress 

Advocacy Group Unveils New Program to Build More Skilled, Responsive Grassroots Force

Washington, DC -- Three medical marijuana bills were introduced today in Congress with support from patient advocates. The most significant of the three bills is one introduced by Congressman Frank (D-MA), which reclassifies marijuana from its current status as a dangerous drug with no medical value. Another bill, introduced by Congressman Polis (D-CO), will allow banks and other financial institutions to provide services to medical marijuana businesses without being subject to "suspicious activity" reporting requirements. The third bill, introduced by Congressman Stark (D-CA), changes the federal tax code "to allow a deduction for expenses in connection with the trade or business of selling marijuana intended for patients for medical purposes pursuant to State law."

"All of these bills will have a positive effect on hundreds of thousands of Americans and only a negligible impact to the rest of the country," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group. "This kind of policy shift is a no-brainer and should garner the bipartisan support of Congress."

To shore up support for these and other local and state medical marijuana bills, ASA is launching a new advocacy program.

The introduction of Congressional legislation today comes as ASA is equipping patient advocates with new tools to lobby local, state and federal governments. ASA unveiled a new program today that establishes a "Medical Cannabis Think Tank "to provide activists the support they need to analyze pending or proposed legislation and to lobby for the best laws possible. To support the lobbying effort, ASA also unveiled its new "Online  Training Center," with more than 4 hours of educational streaming video and over 400 pages of instruction manuals and worksheets. ASA's program also includes an improved "Raid  Response Center" to better prepare for aggressive federal interference.

As part of its "Sick and Tired" campaign, ASA and others filed a writ Monday in the DC Circuit to compel the federal government to answer a 9-year-old petition to reclassify cannabis. The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) argued in the writ that the government has unreasonably delayed an answer to the petition in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. "The Drug Enforcement Administration has the opportunity right now to address the needs of patients across the country by reclassifying cannabis," continued Sherer. "However, since Congress can also reclassify cannabis, we are urging passage of the Frank bill in order to take advantage of all points of leverage."

If passed, the Frank bill would not only recognize marijuana's medical value, but also provide a medical necessity defense in federal court, a right not currently afforded to patients and caregivers who are in compliance with their local and state laws. The Frank bill would also usher forth greater research into the therapeutic properties of cannabis and create incentives for the development of new cannabis-based medication.

Advocates hope the Polis bill, if passed, will end the current ban on services for medical marijuana businesses by institutions like Wells Fargo, CitiCorp and Bank of America. The Stark bill has the potential to end dozens of audits by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) currently taking place, and settle once and for all whether the IRS can demand tax on gross or just net proceeds.

Further information:

Rescheduling bill (Frank):

Banking bill (Polis):

IRS bill (Stark):

ASA Think Tank:

ASA Online Training Center:

ASA Raid Response Center:

# # #

Tommy Chong: It's my birthday!



Hey man,

Today's my birthday!

To celebrate, I want to do something really special, and I'm going to need your help. What I want is to see marijuana legal in my lifetime.

I know what you're thinking. "Tommy, after 74 years of marijuana being illegal and 100,000s of marijuana arrests every year, how could we possibly forget your birthday?" I know, right? You can make it up to me by helping turn my dream into a reality.

If you make a $25 donation in my honor to the Marijuana Policy Project, they can start work on numerous medical marijuana ballot initiatives this year.  Namely in Arkansas, Idaho, Missouri, and North Dakota.

And if you're feeling really bad about forgetting my birthday, you could sign up to make a monthly credit card donation to support MPP’s plan to legalize medical marijuana in 27 states by 2014. It's the gift that keeps on giving!

These ballots aren't going to initiate themselves! Please help make my birthday wish come true and support the work of the Marijuana Policy Project. Thanks, man.

Tommy Chong




PS: I’m proud to announce that I’m joining MPP’s VIP advisory board. I spent nine months in federal prison because of the government’s ‘war on drugs’. We need to change marijuana laws and MPP is doing just that.


Help us meet our mission

Raised in 2011:$869,697
Goal in 2011: $2,850,000

MPP will be able to tackle all of the projects in our 2011 Plan if you help us meet this challenge.

New Jersey Attorney General Meets with Medical Marijuana Advocates (Press Release)


CONTACT: Ken Wolski at 609-394-2137 or [email protected], or Chris Goldstein at 267-702-3731

New Jersey Attorney General Meets With Medical Marijuana Advocates

[Trenton - New Jersey] Attorney General Paula Dow sat down with the Coalition for Medical Marijuana NJ (CMMNJ) on May 24th at her office in Trenton.  The AG and her staff held the meeting to hear concerns from local advocates about the compassionate use marijuana program that has now been suspended by Governor Christie.

Ken Wolski RN, the executive director of CMMNJ, was grateful for the interaction.

“Attorney General Paula Dow and First Assistant Phillip Kwon took time out their demanding schedules to listen to some very serious issues for New Jersey's medical marijuana law," said Wolski, "Qualifying patients continue to wait for this program and we hope that some of their concerns were heard. The Office of the Attorney General plays a key role in the implementation and administration of the compassionate use law.”

On April 22, 2011 Dow sent a letter to the Department of Justice in Washington DC requesting clarification about the medical marijuana law. Several US Attorneys have recently issued letters in other states with a clear description of how federal authorities will prosecute medical marijuana facilities, even if they are permitted under state law. In Washington, Montana and other states the letters were accompanied by DEA raids of local medical cannabis dispensaries.

NJ Attorney General Paula Dow stated in the meeting that she sent a follow-up letter to the US Department of Justice, addressed to US Attorney General Eric Holder, on May 23, 2011.

Paul Fishman, the US Attorney for New Jersey, has not sent any communication regarding the NJ medical marijuana law before or after Dow’s requests. A spokesperson at the US DOJ said the April 22nd letter from New Jersey had been received and was under review.

Chris Goldstein, the media coordinator at CMMNJ also attended the meeting.

“Not a single person in New Jersey has been able to register for medical cannabis, despite many promises from Governor Christie,” said Goldstein, “But I think that we had a meaningful exchange of new ideas with Attorney General Dow. The intent of The Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is to grant legal access to seriously ill residents. There are some methods that the AG's office can explore to actively protect New Jersey’s medical cannabis patients today."

New Jersey passed the first compassionate use law in the country that forces patients into a centralized system of just six Alternative Treatment Centers to access all of their state-legal cannabis. There are no provisions in the NJ law to allow patients or caregivers to cultivate cannabis on their own. The law was supposed to have been fully implemented in the summer of 2010 but has suffered numerous delays.

CMMNJ’s Ken Wolski is looking forward to meeting with the one state official who has exercised the most influence over the medical marijuana law: Governor Chris Christie.

“It is long past time for Governor Christie to actually meet with patients and advocates in our state to discuss the compassionate use law.”

United States

Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in 2012

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This alert sent from Sensible Colorado Action c(4)



2012:  An Update on Legalization

As you might have read or heard, a broad coalition of organizations that includes Sensible Colorado has submitted language for a 2012 statewide legalization initiative in Colorado. 


The yet to be finalized measure would remove penalties for private marijuana possession and limited home growing, and establish a legal and regulated marijuana market for adults 21 and older.


We went through an exceptionally exhaustive five-plus-month process to produce the filed initiative language, which we believe is incredibly strong and presents the best route to ending marijuana prohibition here in Colorado.  We coordinated with dozens of organizations, attorneys, activists, patients, marijuana business owners, and other stakeholders, both in Colorado and around the country.  We also solicited comments from the public via our organizations' lists of thousands of Colorado reform supporters, magazine ads, and events around the state. 


We are still engaged in the process of fine-tuning the initiative, so please do not hesitate to reply to this e-mail if you have any specific concerns or questions, which we will take into strong consideration and address as quickly as possible. 


As you can imagine, it is incredibly difficult if not impossible to produce initiative language on which everyone will agree entirely.  But it remains our sincere hope that supporters of reform across Colorado will feel comfortable with the final product, become part of this growing coalition, and work together toward our shared goal of ending marijuana prohibition.


Please reply to this e-mail or give us a call to participate in this process.  720 890 4247


Sensible Colorado | PO Box 18768 | Denver CO 80218

United States

Medical Marijuana Advocates Sue Federal Government Over Rescheduling Delay (Press Release)

For Immediate Release: May 23, 2011

Medical Marijuana Advocates Sue Federal Government Over Rescheduling Delay/Writ filed today in DC Circuit Court for unreasonable delay in answering 9-year-old petition

*Washington, DC* -- A Coalition of advocacy groups and patients filed suit in the DC Circuit Court today to compel the Obama administration to answer a 9-year-old petition to reclassify medical marijuana. The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) has never received an answer to its 2002 petition, despite a formal recommendation in 2006 from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the final arbiter in the rescheduling process. As recently as July 2010, the DEA issued a 54-page "Position on Marijuana," but failed to even mention the pending CRC petition. Plaintiffs in the case include the CRC, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Patients Out of Time, as well as individually named patients, one of whom is listed on the CRC petition but died in 2005.

"The federal government's strategy has been delay, delay, delay," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel of ASA and lead counsel on the writ. "It is far past time for the government to answer our rescheduling petition, but unfortunately we've been forced to go to court in order to get resolution." The writ of mandamus filed today accuses the government of unreasonable delay in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. A previous cannabis (marijuana) rescheduling petition filed in 1972 went unanswered for 22 years before being denied.

The writ argues that cannabis is not a dangerous drug and that ample evidence of its therapeutic value exists based on scientific studies in the US and around the world. "Despite numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies establishing that marijuana is effective" in treating numerous medical conditions, the government "continues to deprive seriously ill persons of this needed, and often life-saving therapy by maintaining marijuana as a Schedule I substance." The writ calls out the government for unlawfully failing to answer the petition despite an Inter-Agency Advisory issued by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006 and "almost five years after receiving a 41-page memorandum from HHS stating its scientific evaluation and recommendations."

The two largest physician groups in the country -- the American Medical Association <> and the American College of Physicians <> -- have both called on the federal government to review marijuana's status as a Schedule I substance with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. The National Cancer Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health, added cannabis to its website earlier this year as a Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) and recognized that, "/Cannabis/ has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years prior to its current status as an illegal substance."

Medical marijuana has now been decriminalized in 16 states and the District of Columbia, and has an 80% approval rating among Americans according to several polls. In a 1988 ruling on a prior rescheduling petition, the DEA's own Administrative Law Judge Francis Young recommended in favor of reclassification stating that, "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man."

A formal rejection of the CRC petition would enable the group to challenge in court the government's assertion that marijuana has no medical value. "Adhering to outdated public policy that ignores science has created a war zone for doctors and their patients who are seeking use cannabis therapeutics," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of ASA and a plaintiff in the writ. Jon Gettman, who filed the rescheduling petition on behalf of the CRC added that, "The Obama Administration's refusal to act on this petition is an irresponsible stalling tactic."

A synthetic form of THC, the main chemical ingredient in the cannabis plant, is currently classified Schedule III for its use in a prescribed pill trademarked as Marinol®. The pill goes off-patent this year and companies vying to sell generic versions are petitioning the government to also reclassify the more economical, naturally-derived THC (from the plant) to Schedule III. The rescheduling process involves federal agencies such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse, HHS, and DEA. On average, it takes 6 months from HHS review to final action, whereas it's been nearly 5 years since HHS issued its recommendation on the CRC petition, more than twice as long as any other rescheduling petition reviewed since 2002.

Further information:

Writ filed today:

ASA backgrounder on rescheduling:

CRC rescheduling petition:

2006 HHS recommendation:

2010 DEA Position on Marijuana:

# # #

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