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Treating Mexico's Drug Prohibition War Patients Costs El Paso's County-Run Hospital $4.7 Million

Location: 
El Paso, TX
United States
Since the start of Mexico's drug prohibition war, 200 people wounded in Mexico have been treated at El Paso's county-run hospital at a cost of $4.7 million, according to the latest figures from the University Medical Center of El Paso. "Local taxpayers are footing the bill for the consequences of a conflict that is occurring on foreign soil," said Jim Valenti, UMC's chief executive officer, and Dr. Jose Manuel de la Rosa, founding dean of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.
Publication/Source: 
Las Cruces Sun-News (NM)
URL: 
http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-news/ci_16971568

Inquirer Editorial: Sell Drugs Or Go Jobless (Opinion)

Location: 
Philadelphia, PA
United States
The Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial board opines that many government officials are finally admitting the prohibitionist war on drugs is a costly failure, and that the United States has spent at least $1 trillion on the war on drugs, but the streets of Kensington prove it hasn't worked.
Publication/Source: 
The Philadephia Inquirer (PA)
URL: 
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/20101214_Inquirer_Editorial__Sell_drugs_or_go_jobless.html

New Data: Pursuit of Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession Costs Vermont Over $700K Annually, Rep. Lorber Calls for Decriminalization (Press Release)

CONTACT: Rep. Jason Lorber, 802-863-9429 or [email protected]

New Data: Pursuit of Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession

Costs Vermont Over $700K Annually

Rep. Lorber Calls for Decriminalization

Burlington, VT – Dec. 9, 2010 – New data unveiled today shows that Vermont state government spends over $700,000 annually to pursue Vermonters for possession of small amounts of marijuana. 

Based on the new findings, Rep. Jason Lorber (D-Burlington) today announced plans to introduce a bill that would decriminalize the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.

“We should stop wasting $700,000 a year on a failed policy,” said Rep. Lorber. “It’s time for a smarter approach.  That means decriminalization for an ounce or less of marijuana.”

“In a time of great fiscal strain, it is critical that we focus law enforcement resources on offenses that pose the greatest threats to public safety,” said Windsor County State’s Attorney, Robert Sand. “Possession of small amounts of marijuana does not fall into this category. Converting misdemeanor marijuana crimes into civil violations is an appropriate and laudatory legislative endeavor.”

Today’s announcement follows the release of a memo written for Rep. Lorber by the non-partisan Vermont Legislative Joint Fiscal Office (JFO).  The report detailed costs totaling $716,021, broken into categories of Police ($45,257), State’s Attorneys ($10,429), Defender General ($19,768), Court Diversion ($169,500), Judiciary ($105,344), and Corrections ($365,725).  It involves 801 arrests, 76 Vermonters serving time behind bars, and 270 on field supervision.  JFO estimates that the true costs could be 20% more or less than the $716,021 figure.  The study focused on cases in which possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana was a stand-alone charge.

Strong Support for Decriminalization in Vermont and Nationally

Marijuana has been decriminalized in 13 states, including New York, Maine, and Massachusetts. A 2009 Mason-Dixon poll of registered voters in Vermont showed over 2-to-1 support for marijuana decriminalization, with 63% in support, 27% opposed, and 10% undecided

“Decriminalization is different from legalization,” Lorber was quick to point out. “I am crafting a bill that would keep it illegal to sell or use marijuana, and not change the penalty for driving under the influence. This would simply change the penalty for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana to a civil, rather than criminal offense. It would be a ticket, not jail time.”

This news follows an August 2010 panel discussion in which Rep. Lorber and then-gubernatorial candidate Peter Shumlin called for decriminalization of possession of under an ounce of marijuana.

Rep. Lorber has served in the Vermont House of Representatives since 2005.  He co-authored sweeping legislation called “Justice Reinvestment,” which reduces prison costs while improving safety by finding less costly and more effective alternatives to prison.  In 2005, he authored a 42-page report “53 Voices on Corrections in Vermont” chronicling the stresses placed on the Department of Corrections by overcrowding. 

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Location: 
VT
United States

As Medical Marijuana Proliferates, Recreational Marijuana Prices Decline

Recreational users of marijuana are seeing price cuts on the street thanks to the growing number of states that have approved the drug for medicinal use. The price of cannabis, of course, varies wildly — depending on the strain purchased, its potency and the parts of the plant. Top quality pot in New York, for example, costs nearly $442 per ounce, while low quality is just $161, according to one website that tracks costs, PriceofWeed.com. On the whole, though, prices have been dropping nationwide over the past three to four years.
Publication/Source: 
USA Today (VA)
URL: 
http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/health/medical/alternative/2010-12-08-marijuana-prices_N.htm

NM Proposing Changes in Medical Marijuana Program

Location: 
NM
United States
Medical marijuana growers in New Mexico say proposed changes to the state's program, which include new fees imposed on producers, weren't adequately considered and would destroy small-scale licensed growers.
Publication/Source: 
New England Cable News (MA)
URL: 
http://www.necn.com/12/01/10/NM-proposing-changes-in-medical-marijuan/landing_politics.html?&blockID=3&apID=4aa694e5dd3948cdbf6b6fd5bd214642

Barriers to Ex-Offender Employment Could Cost the Nation at Least $57 Billion

According to a study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research's senior economist John Schmitt, ex-offenders' barriers to employment lowers the nation's employment on average by 1.5 million to 1.7 million workers. Multiply that number by the average output that these workers would be putting into the economy, if they were employed, and the loss totals at least $57 billion, he said. This figure is growing as more of the hundreds of thousands of people put into jail during the prohibitionist war on drugs in the 1980s and 1990s are released.
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times (CA)
URL: 
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2010/11/ex-offender-and-employment.html

DEA Criminalization of 'Fake Marijuana' Repeats Mistakes of Past Prohibitions (Opinion)

Grant Smith, federal policy coordinator in the Drug Policy Alliance's office of national affairs in Washington, D.C., says we know from marijuana prohibition that law enforcement has no control over the drug market and the criminals who run it. By choosing to ban K2 outright, lawmakers are committing millions of taxpayer dollars to investigate, prosecute and incarcerate K2 users. He points out that we simply cannot afford to expand the war on drugs at a time when budgets are in the red and the United States incarcerates more people than any country in the world.
Publication/Source: 
Alternet (CA)
URL: 
http://www.alternet.org/drugs/149036/dea_criminalization_of_%27fake_marijuana%27_repeats_mistakes_of_past_prohibitions

Humboldt's Marijuana Growers Team Up to Go Legit

Location: 
Humboldt, CA
United States
America's most renowned bastion of illicit marijuana growing is threatened by cavernous, city-taxed cultivation warehouses soon to be licensed in Oakland. It is alarmed by cities from La Puente to Berkeley to Sacramento that approved taxes on dispensaries or endorsed medical marijuana cultivation, sanctioning a marijuana economy wider and more competitive than ever. Humboldt seeks to save itself by going legit -- the new Humboldt Growers Association is working for county approval to license and tax outdoor pot plantations of up to 40,000 square feet.
Publication/Source: 
The Sacramento Bee (CA)
URL: 
http://www.sacbee.com/2010/11/28/3216072/humbolds-pot-growers-team-up-to.html

Northern California Cities Bring Marijuana Growing Into the Light

Location: 
CA
United States
As numerous cities get set to levy voter-approved taxes on medical marijuana retailers, some municipalities in northern California are already moving aggressively toward creating government-sanctioned marijuana farms to help supply them. Cities hope to rake in even more tax revenue from medical marijuana cultivation, which has remained in the shadows although it has been legal in the state since 1996.
Publication/Source: 
The Washington Post (DC)
URL: 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/21/AR2010112101551.html

Growth of Ex-Offender Population in United States Is a Dramatic Drag on Economy (Press Release)

For Immediate Release:November 15, 2010
Contact: Alan Barber, (571) 306-2526

Washington, D.C.- Three decades of harsh criminal justice policies have created a large population of ex-offenders that struggle in the labor market long after they have paid their debts to society, according to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). Because prison records and felony convictions greatly lower ex-offenders' chances of finding work, the United States loses between $57 billion and $65 billion a year in lost output.

“It isn't just that we have the highest incarceration rate in the world, we have created a situation over the last 30 years where about one in eight men is an ex-offender,” said John Schmitt, a Senior Economist at CEPR and a co-author of the report.

The new report, “Ex-offenders and the Labor Market,” found that in 2008 there were between 5.4 million and 6.1 million ex-prisoners and between 12.3 million and 13.9 million ex-felons in the United States. Over 90 percent were men.

In 2008, about one in 33 working-age adults was an ex-prisoner, and about one in 15 working-age adults was an ex-felon. Among working-age men in that same year, about one in 17 was an ex-prisoner and one in eight was an ex-felon.

Because ex-offenders face substantial barriers to employment, the authors estimate that the large ex-offender population in 2008 lowered employment that year by the equivalent of 1.5 million to 1.7 million workers.

"The rise in the ex-offender population overwhelmingly reflects changes in the U.S. criminal Justice system, not changes in underlying criminal activity," says Schmitt. "We incarcerate an astonishing share of non-violent offenders, particularly for drug-related offenses. We have far better ways to handle these kinds of offenses, but so far common sense has not prevailed."

The report warns that in the absence of reforms to the criminal justice system, the share of ex-offenders in the working-age population will rise substantially in coming years, increasing the magnitude of employment and output losses estimated for 2008.

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