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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: January 25, 2020
Posted: January 25, 2020 at 2:42 pm
Americas War on Drugs is over.
Unfortunately, for our society, the drugs won.
Since its inception, America has been suffering defeats. Filling up prisons with drug offenders and giving stiff sentences, penalties, and fines havent discouraged people from using drugs. Our efforts to stop drugs from entering the country have failed. And illegal substances across the board are more potent than ever.
Though the above illustrates how the battle has been lost, the most powerful display of drugs dominance over our society is the implementation of harm-reduction methods. This ideology accepts that we have lost and utilizes different practices to make the use of narcotics less harmful.
Its Americas white flag, and as we wave it, we see things occurring in our society that would have never been considered during the early stages of the war. Safe injections areas with free needles for IV drug users, decriminalization of illicit drugs, and opioid replacement drugs are components of this effort.
There is a noticeable shift in what these new practices are trying to achieve. Things have changed from trying to prevent drug use to avoiding the consequences of drug use. As our society becomes more interested in stopping the spread of disease and preventing overdose deaths, it is ignoring the core issue: substance abuse.
After fighting a losing battle for so long, something needs to be done to mitigate the fallout of Americas failed War on Drugs.
The biggest problem I see is that harm-reduction might be seen as the only option we have.
As our society moves further away from tackling the main issue, the concessions we make may lead to more significant implications in the future. As harm-reduction becomes more popular it may make it impossible to stop substance abuse from being an accepted way of life. Im afraid thats what we are doing by making it safer and more comfortable for people to be a drug addict.
The existence of practices like this undermines the drug addiction prevention education we have been trying to get our children to utilize from a young age.
Im not against stopping the spread of disease and preventing death but arent we sending the wrong message. We have been telling people that drugs are harmful and to Just say no. It appears that we are shifting to: Just say no. But if you do say yes, we have clean needles and a place to hang out while you inject your body with poison.
It just doesnt have the same ring to it.
The War on Drugs may be over, but we need to find other ways to help those afflicted with addiction. Making drug-use less harmful doesnt help people get off drugs; it does quite the opposite.
As we look to the future, I suggest we create policies and initiatives that focus on drug education and prevention and stay away from methods that undermine it.
Things are bad, but if the evolution of drug use over the past couple of decades has shown us anything, its that things can get worse. Maybe its time we reconsidered how helpful harm-reduction really is.
Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with substance abuse for over 20 years. His website is Addicted.org.
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 2:42 pm
ASEAN Beat|Society|Southeast Asia
Can the Global Commission on Drug Policys advocacy help change Jakartas harsh drug laws?
On January 29, the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP), one of the worlds leading bodies advocating for global drug policy reform, will be co-hosting a seminar called Sustainable Development in Indonesia: What Can Be Learned From Global Best Practice in Drug Control? in Jakarta. The purpose of this forum is to open dialogue with government officials, business executives, and civil society members as to potential modes of progressing todays drug policy in Indonesia. The discussion could not be more prescient.
Formed in 2011, the GCDP has advocated for drug policies based on scientific evidence, human rights, public health, and safety, for all segments of the population. The GCDP consists of Commissioners from around the world, including both former heads of states and influential figures from the private sector, with their Secretariat based in Geneva, Switzerland. The current chair of the GCDP is Ruth Dreifuss, the former president of Switzerland (1999) and an instrumental policymaker behind remedying the Swiss drug problem at the end of the 20th century. Other members of the Commission have included Geoff Gallop (former premier of Western Australia, 2001-2006), Jos Ramos-Horta (former prime minister and president of Timor-Leste (2006-2007; 2007-2012), Csar Gaviria (former president of Colombia, 1990-1994), business magnate Richard Branson, and the late Kofi Annan, among others.
The members who are traveling with the GCDP to Jakarta will be speaking on a host of issues, all curated around implanting change to the modern drug policy in Indonesia. Currently, all narcotics are prohibited in Indonesia. The criminalization of drugs has led to compulsory rehabilitation in detention, corporal punishment, forced urine testing, and mandatory registration as means of administrative punishment for those arrested for drug-related offenses.
After beginning his first term as president in 2014, Joko Jokowi Widodo announced the resumption of executions of convicts sentenced to the death penalty, an act that had been subject to a moratorium since 2008 under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The lifting of this moratorium is extremely pertinent to the war on drugs as in Indonesia narcotic-related offenses can also lead to death row. It has happened numerous times over the years, perhaps most famously with the Bali Nine, two of whom have been executed under Jokowis administration. Since Jokowi took office, 18 drug offenders have been executed.
With the recent legalization of medical marijuana in 2019 by fellow ASEAN member Thailand, there is some hope for Indonesias drug laws to change in the not-too-distant future. Furthermore, policy changes in Malaysia highlight that Southeast Asia, a region once synonymous with draconian drug laws, has progressed. However, there are still countries in the region that show regression and use aggressive force against those involved with narcotics. The most troubling case of an intensifying war on drugs is Rodrigo Dutertes Philippines, which has caused death and destruction at unprecedented levels. Some human rights activists claim the war on drugs has seen over 27,000 civilians killed in the past few years.
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It is still uncertain what the panelists will discuss in Jakarta; however, if past reports are any indication, expect advocacy for the abolition of the death penalty, ending penalties for drug possession for personal use and cultivation of drugs for personal consumption, and implementing alternatives to punishment for low-level, nonviolent actors in the drug trade. All of these recommendations would be a change of course, if heeded by Jokowi and his current administration.
The Global Commission on Drug Policys seminar on Sustainable Development in Indonesia: What Can Be Learned From Global Best Practice in Drug Control? will take place on January 29. LBH Masyarakat and the School of Law Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia are co-sponsoring the discussion. The event is open to the public.
Will Doran conducts independent research and analysis regarding the war on drugs and drug policy reform in Southeast Asia. Currently, he is assisting with research at LBH Masyarakat in Jakarta. He is a graduate of the SOAS, University of London.
Dawsey: Detroit wants weed, but city officials still are fighting the war on drugs – Deadline Detroit
Posted: at 2:42 pm
The writer is a local freelancer, author and former reporter at The Detroit News, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer.
By Darrell Dawsey
The war on drugs has been a failure. For most of us, thats not breaking news.
Even many of the staunchest former drug warriors have long conceded that the reckless, draconian criminal justice policies that grew out of the 1980s and '90s drug epidemics have done little to stop the flow of drugs or eliminate Americans' taste for getting high.
Instead, four decades of moralistic thrashing has left the United States with little to show other than one of the world's largest incarceration rates and the exorbitant costs of a sprawling prison-industrial complex.
Recognizing this, political leaders at all levels and in both parties have begun to rethink policies that led us here. In a new age of reform, talk of locking 'em up and tossing away the key has segued into discussions about eliminating mandatory minimums, ending racial disparities in sentencing, bail reform and marijuana decriminalization/legalization.
Even Michigan got its purple ass in on the act when voters decided in 2018 to make weed legal not only for medical use, but for recreational consumption as well.
Then theres Detroit.
Whose community benefits?
Despite the statewide vote, despite the recent successful opening of a handful of recreational marijuana dispensaries in the metro area, leaders in the city continue to give a middle finger to the majority on the legalization issue.
Related: This Is Metro Detroit's First Recreational Weed Shop, Jan. 21
At no time has this disregard for voters been as starkly clear as this week, when a Detroit councilman and the citys police chief teamed up to put forward dishonest, confusing and contradictorymarijuana policy proposals.
Councilman James Tate, the man behind an expiring temporary ban on implementation of legal recreational weed sales in the city a lawmaker openly refusing to follow the law announced this week he would maintain this prohibition until at least March 31. Never mind that Tate and the council had more than a year to address the matter before legal dispensaries went online. Never mind that the city will continue to lose out on tax dollars legal dispensaries generate. Never mind that numerous enterprising and law-abiding Detroiters, eager to cash in on a multi-billion-dollar legal weed market, are left idling on the sidelines while Tate continues to stall and fake interest in a community benefits regulation that he swears hes looking into in the name of the same people hes cutting out of the game.
Think about that: In one of the blackest cities in the country, an African-American city councilman keeps black entrepreneurs out of a booming legal market and uses the thin veil of support for community benefits to do it.
(Meanwhile, as NORML attorney Matt Abel pointed out in Metro Times, Detroit remains home to 528 bars, 427 licensed liquor stores, and 585 beer and wine licenses.)
As if that wasnt bad enough, Police Chief James Craig, a man whos never been accused of passing an opportunity to posture for TV, came out of his face this week with an outlandish claim that more than half of the murders in Detroit in 2020 have been related to black-market marijuana sales.
I will be the first to concede the police should have a better handle than most of us on the causes of local crime. But in a city still awash with crack, heroin and other drugs commonly associated with violence, claims that the marijuana market has suddenly become Detroits biggest hub of bloodshed and mayhem ought to be backed with evidence.
So far, Craig has yet to produce any. (And simply pounding a podium doesnt count.)
Moreover, when Deadline Detroit reached out to our law enforcement sources, lets just say Craigs claim drew skepticism, including from some of the same officers on the streets dealing with the citys violence.
You might have people who do marijuana, said one DPD detective, but I dont think (the violence) is because of marijuana.
Asked about the chiefs claim that 60 percent of the citys 2020 killings so far have been because of the black market weed trade, the detective was even more forthright: Its ridiculous.
But this being Detroit, inconvenient truths -- especially about poor folks and people of color -- dont stop public policy shitshows.
Because of this alleged surge in weed shootings, the chief said hell soon be deploying a task force (sigh) to crack down on black-market dealers who carry guns. "We're going to be aggressive about it, while still adhering to constitutional policing," said Craig without a hint of irony.
Yes, James Craig the same chief who treats hyperbolic graffiti scrawlings as legitimate threats against cops, who patrols Facebook for social media posts that bad mouth him, who wants to turn the city into a surveillance state with shoddy facial recognition tech, who openly worries about brutal cops being overcharged by the county prosecutor after beating down people in Greektown wants you to know that, even as hes conjuring up weed-related shooting sprees to justify crackdowns on marijuana dealers, hell still be safeguarding your constitutional rights.
People have spoken and want to smoke 'em
Or we could just say fuck all that and bow to common sense and the will of the voters by getting on with the business of opening up the legal market. After all, if Detroit were allowed to actually foster a thriving legal market for weed, the underground market would not be such a draw anymore.
"This crime is not being caused by marijuana, but by the prohibition of marijuana," Abel told The Detroit News. "What we need to do is make it available through retail stores, but the City Council has been dragging their feet on that for more than a year."
Tate could still pretend to be pushing for community benefits. And Craig could still arrest all the illegal gun-toters that he wants without tossing a wet blanket on lawful marijuana users.
We all know you dont have to like a law, or a democratic expression of the peoples will, to follow and respect it.
But the last people youd expect to have to explain this to are those charged with making the laws or those who are supposed to enforce them.
Detroit Council Delays Recreational Pot Sales for 2 More Months, Jan. 21
See the article here:
Posted: at 2:42 pm
This piece originally appeared in The MIT Press Reader
I want a Goddamn strong statement on marijuana I mean one on marijuana that just tears the ass out of them. By God we are going to hit the marijuana thing, and I want to hit it right square in the puss. I want to hit it, against legalizing and all that sort of thing.
Richard Nixon, 37th president of the United States
Before the war on drugs put marijuana farmers firmly in its crosshairs, cannabis was being grown openly and with commercial success on every continent on earth, much as it had been for centuries.
This ancient and extensive history of cannabis farming has given rise to the idea that prohibitions put in place in the mid-20th century were the first of their kinda whirlwind of racial, political, and economic forces that successfully used marijuana prohibition as a pretext for suppression. By contrasting prohibition with our ancient history of cannabis farming, some historians make our modern-day drug laws appear irregular and shortsighted. In his seminal (and controversial) book on cannabis,The Emperor Wears NoClothes(referred to by many legalization advocates as the Hemp Bible), Jack Herer opens with the following line:
For thousands upon thousands of years, all over the world, whole families came together to harvest the hemp fields at the height of the flowering season, never dreaming that one day the U.S. government would be spearheading an international movement to wipe the cannabis plant off the face of the earth.
Yet, while unprecedented in scope, the United States war on drugs was not the first of its kind. The reality is that marijuana has been controversial for almost as long as humans have been farming it. Many societies throughout history have banned cannabis cultivation and use. What many of these crackdowns and prohibitions have in common is social and economic inequality, or a distrust of the unknown. When members of a minority or lower class embrace marijuana use, the ruling class moves to outlaw marijuana as a form of suppression and control. Marijuana is perceived to be a threat to the order of society, and stamping it out naturally begins with a prohibition on cultivation.
As a case in point, the ancient Chinese might have been the first cannabis farmersand, as far as we know, were the first to write about psychoactive marijuanaand yet they may also have been the first to reject it as a socially acceptable drug. The rise of Taoism around 600 BCE brought with it a cultural rejection of intoxicants. Marijuana was then viewed as antisocial, and derisively dismissed by one Taoist priest as a loony drug reserved for shamans.The sentiment persisted into the modern erato this day, marijuana struggles to disassociate itself with the stained history of opium in China.
Muslim societies have a complex relationship history with marijuana. Hashish use spread widely with the expansion of Islam in the seventh century CE, and remains popular today. Early Arabic texts referred to marijuana as the bush of understanding and the morsel of thought.Yet traditional theologians believed Mohammed prohibited marijuana use (the Koran [2: 219] prohibits intoxicants, but how that word should be interpreted is still up for debate). One prominent theologian associated marijuana with the dreaded Mongol empire, and many upper-class Muslims pushed for prohibition, for fear that marijuana use would disrupt the labor force. In the end, some societies tolerated marijuana use or turned a blind eye; others (such as Damascus in 1265) embraced prohibition.
Sufi Muslims took these tensions to the next level. The mystical Sufis believed that spiritual enlightenment could be reached by an altered state ofconsciousness, and a mind-bending drug like marijuana would seem a logical vehicle to reach that state. Sufis believed hashish was a vehicle not only to personal enlightenment but to direct communication with Allah. These beliefs did not go over well with the rest of mainstream Islam, however. To make matters worse for the Sufis, they were often lower-class laborers. That marijuana use was therefore central to a religion perceived to be a heretical challenge to religious, economic, and political order made the plant an easy target for authorities.
In 1253, Sufis were openly growing marijuana in Cairo, Egypt. The government, claiming that Sufism was a threat to society, raided their farms and destroyed all their crops. Undeterred, the Sufis made deals with farmers in the Nile River Valley to grow marijuana on their farmlands. This successful agricultural partnership lasted until 1324, when Egyptian troops raided the countryside and destroyed all the marijuana they could find. For Sufis and marijuana farmers, the situation only got worse. Martial law was imposed in 1378, and this time the authorities destroyed more than marijuana crops: entire farms and farming villages were burned to the ground. Farmers were imprisoned or executed, and hashish users had their teeth pulled.Despite this swift and vicious crackdown, the demand for hashish remained strong. The cycle of cultivation, consumption, and crackdown continued in Egypt for centuries.
Marijuana was then viewed as antisocial, and derisively dismissed by one Taoist priest as a loony drug reserved for shamans.
Islam was not the only major world religion to feel threatened by marijuana. Pope Innocent VIII issued a papal ban on cannabis in the first year of his papacy, in 1484. At the time, marijuana, along with other mind-altering plants, was being cultivated for medicinal and spiritual applications throughout Europe by pagans who were considered to be witches and sorcerers. The Christianity of Pope Innocent VIII, however, was predicated on a future fulfillment in the afterlife, and a rejection of momentary pleasures or enlightenment. The pagans growing marijuana profoundly challenged this premise by promising spiritual enrichment in the present, with a plant grown right here on earth. Pope Innocent VIII thus wasted no time in addressing this existential threat, declaring cannabis to be an unholy sacrament of the satanic Mass. The pagans who cultivated it were persecuted into imprisonment, exile, or death.
Colonial empires, with their unfailing concern for a robust military and hard-working labor force, have often viewed marijuana with suspicion. Though the Spanish were one of the first colonial empires to encourage thecultivation of hemp in the Americas, they were not as enthusiastic about marijuana. The Spanish governor of Mexico issued an order in 1550 limiting cannabis farming because the natives were beginning to use the plant for something other than rope, write Robert Clarke and Mark Merlin in their book Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany. White South Africans, descended from Dutch or British colonialists, passed a series of laws in the 19th century designed to crack down on the cultivation and use of marijuana by indentured Indian farm workers, who were viewed by whites as societal contaminants and a threat to civil order.
The Portuguese empire also struggled to control cannabis. The Portuguese wanted to foster a strong hemp-producing workforce just like those of their colonial rivals, but they considered marijuana a pernicious vice, especially when used by slaves. The Portuguese introduced marijuana prohibitions to many of their African colonies, including Zambia and Angola. Nonetheless, explorers to the region noticed marijuana being grown nearly everywhere and used by all the tribes of the interior, according to a report published by the Transnational Institute.
One reason Portugal may have been lenient on marijuana farming in Brazil is the fact that the Queen of Portugal herself was using it while stationed there during the Napoleonic wars.
When the Portuguese brought slaves to Brazil in the 16th century, the slaves brought marijuana along with them, as seeds were sewn into the clothing they wore onto the slave ships and then germinated upon arrival. Whatever strains they were using must have been well adapted to the Brazilian landscape; marijuana was soon growing from the coasts to the Amazon and everywhere in between.For the most part, marijuana cultivation was permitted during Portuguese rule. But when Brazil gained its independence in the early 19th century, Rio de Janeiros municipal cannabis prohibition started a chain reaction of prohibitions around the country aimed at curbing marijuana use among slave populations.
One reason Portugal may have been lenient on marijuana farming in Brazil is the fact that the Queen of Portugal herself was using it while stationed there during the Napoleonic wars.This wasnt the first time Napoleon Bonaparte was involved in the history of marijuana. Several years earlier, in 1798, Napoleon had launched the French campaign into Egypt and Syria, a large-scale offensive designed to cut off British trade and liberate Egypt from Ottoman rule. After the initial conquest, Napoleon attempted to maintain local support by embracing Islamic culture and scientific exchange. An unusually large percentage of French forces in Egypt (totaling around 40,000) were scientists and scholars, and were responsible for establishing libraries, laboratories, and research centers that went on to make significant contributions in a number of disciplines.
The discovery of hashish may not have been seen as a breakthrough at the time, but it had a great effect on European culture and literary thought. Prior to the French campaign in Egypt, hashish wasnt well known in Europe and certainly wasnt commonly used. The 40,000 French troops stationed in Egypt, however, quickly learned about it. Hashish was ubiquitous in Egypt at the time, bought and sold in cafs, markets, and smoking lounges. Lacking access to their customary French wines and liquors and encouraged by Napoleon to embrace Egyptian culture, many French troops took up hashish.
Unfortunately, hashish was still associated with Sufi mystics and looked down upon by the Sunni elite. After Napoleon went back to France, the general he had left in charge of Egypt, General Jacques-Franois Menou, was a noble-born French revolutionary who married into an upper-class Sunni family after taking command of Egypt. For Menou, the prospect of a hashish ban killed two birds with one stone: It would appease the Sunni elite by cracking down on Sufis, and alleviate a perceived public health problem among the French troops. Theordre du jourbanning the cultivation, sale, and consumption of cannabis, considered by some scholars to be the first drug prohibition law in the modern era, came down in 1800. It opens with the following:
Article One: The use of strong liquor, made by certain Muslims with a certain grass [herbe] called hashish, and smoking of the seed of cannabis, are prohibited throughout Egypt. Those who are accustomed to drinking this liquor and smoking this seed lose reason and fall into a violent delirium, which often leads them to commit excesses of all kinds.
Whether or not Menous order was the first modern penal law on drugs, it largely failed to work (a fact that should come as no surprise to us in the 21st century). Hashish continued to be produced, sold, and consumed widely throughout Egypt, and it came home with French troops when they left Egypt in 1801. It wasnt long before hashish was being widely used in France and the rest of western Europe.
They become ravished by ecstasy, and delivered from all worries and cares, and laugh at the least little thing.
Despite efforts by authorities in Europe to paint hashish as an unstable and dangerous substance,many of the Romantic periods most accomplished artists and writers were brought together because of cannabis. Dubbing themselvesLe Club des Hachichins(Hashish-Eaters Club), luminaries such as Thophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire, Grard de Nerval, Victor Hugo, Honor de Balzac, and Alexandre Dumas would meet in Paris to take hashish and exchange notes on their experiences.They rejected mainstream attempts to associate hashish with what was regarded as Orientalbarbarism and, through their writings, normalized marijuana use and popularized the Romantic eras bohemian creed:lart pour lart(art for arts sake).
Across the Channel, the British Empire wrestled with the conspicuous presence of cannabis in India. As a native plant to the Indian subcontinent, cannabis could be found growing in the wild by hunter-gatherers, and was likely cultivated by the earliest agrarian settlers. Psychoactive marijuana strains featured prominently in early texts of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Tantrist religions. As the Indian marijuana farming industry matured over time, the harvested product was divided into three gradients, all of which remain available today.
Bhangis the cheapest, most prevalent, and lowest-quality marijuana; it consists of crushed leaves, seeds, and/or flowers, and produces the least potent high. On the other end of the spectrum,Charasis the highest-quality and most expensive marijuana in India. It is sold as a highly potent hashish produced from plants grown in the most desirable cannabis-producing farmlands of the Hindu Kush and Himalaya mountain ranges between 4,000 to 7,000 feet. It remains one of the most revered marijuana products in the world today. Somewhere in betweenBhangandCharasisGanga. A mid-grade crop in both price and potency,Gangais cultivated from well-cared-for female plants, and consists of a mixture of resin and cannabis flower.
One of the first Europeans to write about the Indian marijuana industry was a Portuguese doctor named Garcia da Orta. He wrote ofBhangin 1563:
The Indians get no usefulness from this, unless it is in the fact that they become ravished by ecstasy, and delivered from all worries and cares, and laugh at the least little thing. After all, it is said that it was they who first found the use of it.
The commission found (as its predecessors did) that marijuana cultivation is nearly impossible to eradicate, and argued that it produces no evil results in the first place.
Some 200 years later, the British mulled over the possibility of a marijuana prohibition in India. The Indian ruling class and the British governor-general of India pushed for a total ban, fearful that marijuana would create social unrest. The British Parliament, however, had other ideas. Short on cash, the government saw the marijuana industry as an opportunity to raise some revenue. They taxed cannabis in 1790, and three years later, established a regulatory framework to issue licenses to farmers and sellers.
The tax-and-regulate scheme worked to some extent. But in a vast landscape where cannabis grows in the wild, many farmers and their crops escaped the tax. The British encouraged the regulatory system to decentralize, allowing cities and states to experiment with different taxation schemes. Theresults were mixed. The strength of the black market was frustrating enough that the British Parliament considered prohibition measures in 1838, 1871, 1877, and 1892.But ultimately the measures failed to pass, because the tax revenues that did come in couldnt be ignored.
Temperance movement advocates persisted, however, driven by the evils of opium use which they associated with cannabis. Parliament responded by commissioning the most comprehensive government study of marijuana in human history. The seven-volume 3,500-pageReport of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commissionof 1894 to 1895 called over a thousand witnesses from around the world. The findings emphatically rejected the alleged grounds for prohibition. The commission found (as its predecessors did) that marijuana cultivation is nearly impossible to eradicate, and argued that it produces no evil results in the first place:
Total prohibition of the cultivation of the hemp plant for narcotics, and of the manufacture, sale, or use of the drugs derived from it, is neither necessary nor expedient in consideration of their ascertained effects, of the prevalence of the habit of using them, of the social and religious feeling on the subject, and of the possibility of its driving the consumers to have recourse to other stimulants or narcotics which may be more deleterious.
The commission went on to recommend a tax-and-license scheme for the marijuana farming industry:
The means to be adopted for the attainment of [control and restriction] are:
This may represent the first time in history a government study has recommended a centralized marijuana farming scheme. Comprehensive as it is in other respects, however, the commissions report does not elaborate on this centralization proposal; it merely suggests that the most effective way of limiting supply is to grant licenses for cultivation in such a way as to secure supervision and registration of the produce.
Despite the commissions efforts, Parliaments endorsement of its report was lukewarm. As a result, the marijuana farming trade continued unchanged, with taxation and licensing of cultivators continuing to be hit and miss.Bhangwas informally grown nearly everywhere;Gangacrops were, for the most part, produced on government-licensed farms; andCharaswas importedfrom the Hindu Kush and Himalayas.This basic structure persisted into the global prohibition era of the 20th century. The proposal to centralize cultivation was largely forgotten after the commissions report was published. But a century later, government regulators trying to find their way through the post-prohibition era of the 21st century would come to recognize its advantages.
The history of marijuana farming tells us that when prohibitions are imposed, they almost always come from the ruling class. Marijuanas role as a spiritual, medicinal, or recreational drug of the poor working classes stokes fears among the elite that the political, religious, or economic order that has served them so well may be disrupted. There arent, therefore, many cases where marijuana was embraced by the ruling class and persecuted from below. But the story of the Bashilange tribe suggests that marijuana users can be targeted from any angle.
In the mid-19th century, the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa was a vast wilderness, and it was controlled by the Bashilange tribe. The Bashilange were ruthless fighters, eating the bodies of their victims and enslaving their prisoners. They enacted few laws, save a requirement that other tribes in the region pay tribute to their supremacy or face a certain death. While exploring these lands, however, the Governor of German East Africa observed a remarkable shift in the Bashilanges culture. The tribe had discovered marijuana, and rapidly embraced the plant as a pillar of their tribes identity.
Tribesmen of the Bashilange dubbed themselves the Sons of Cannabis, and soon passed laws to promote peace and friendship. They rejected cannibalism and were no longer permitted to carry weapons in the village. They stopped killing their rivals, and started having more sex. Marijuana was smoked regularly and at most important events, including religious ceremonies, holidays, and political alliances. Formerly known for being cold-blooded killers, the Sons of Cannabis became tranquil marijuana-growing peacemakers.
Unfortunately, their rivals did not share the Sons of Cannabiss newfound love of peace and friendship. Many tribes lost respect for their former rulers and stopped making tribute payments. With weakening support in the region, the Bashilange tribe splintered. The Sons of Cannabis, no longer the fearsome fighters of yore, were overthrown by their fellow tribesmen who yearned for a return to the tribes dominant past. The new regime reinstitutedthe tribes violent practices, and largely returned the Bashilange to its former warring nature.
Jack Herer may have been using hyperbole when he claimed that cannabis farmers throughout history could not have conceived of the 20th centurys crackdown on marijuana. The historical record illustrates that while many regions of the world have tolerated or embraced marijuana farming in the past, plenty of others have seen authorities attempt to exterminate farmers and their crops. Targeting the first step in the supply chain is a logical starting point for prohibitionists, and marijuanas role as an agent of religious, political, or economic change has long made it a threat to the established social order.
Our marijuana-farming ancestors of the past could have told us, based on experience, that when prohibitionists come after cannabis, they will do so in predictable ways. They will use rhetoric to associate the plant with violence, depravity, and other more dangerous drugs, as the European temperance movement did in France and Great Britain. They will use a militarized show of force to eradicate crops, persecute farmers, and dissuade the next generation from growing marijuana, as the Ottomans did in Egypt. They will portray marijuana users as religious extremists or dangerous minorities, as Pope Innocent VIII did in Europe, Sunni Muslims did in the Middle East, or white South Africans did in South Africa. The best-case scenario, they might say, is that the authorities will turn a blind eye to the unstoppable forces of supply and demand, much as the Portuguese did in Brazil or the British did in India.
In telling us this, our marijuana-farming ancestors might as well have been writing the playbook for the 20th-century war on drugs. The cannabis prohibition era in the United States did not invent this greatest hits collection of tactics that prohibitionists have been using for centuries; it simply brought them all together in one place, and injected them with more financial and military resources than any prohibition movement in history has ever seen.
Ryan Stoa is an associate professor of law at the Concordia University School of Law and the author of Craft Weed, from which this article is adapted.
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Posted: at 2:42 pm
New Hampshire is among the states hardest hit by the drug overdose crisis. So perhaps its no surprise that a majority of voters who plan to vote in the Democratic presidential primary support even the most controversial measures to keep people who use drugs alive and guide them to treatment rather than jail.
Take decriminalization. Pete Buttigieg has a long-standing plan to eliminate incarceration for drug possession. A spokeswoman for Joe Biden says that's the former vice president's position, as well. Andrew Yang has a similar position, for opioids, marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms the latter because his campaigns cites there may be medical benefits. Bernie Sanders would eliminate criminal charges for marijuana and for buprenorphine, a less potent opioid used to treat addiction to stronger drugs. Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar and Elisabeth Warren would all decriminalize marijuana.
WBURs poll (topline/crosstabs), conducted by the MassINC Polling Group, found 66% of likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire agree with the idea of decriminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs. Some call possession a victimless crime. Others support decriminalization because they say poor drug users and minorities are disproportionately charged with drug crimes. Many respondents say decriminalizing drugs may help shift resources from incarceration to treatment.
The so-called war on drugs is a miserable failure, said Dave Berman from Rumney, N.H. Regulation, very much like alcohol, I think that would be much more responsible.
Removing criminal penalties for drug possession is one of five questions we asked of 426 voters between Jan. 17-21 about drug proposals. These questions represent a range of strategies proposed by Democratic hopefuls. New Hampshire voters who expect to cast a ballot in that primary expressed the strongest support, 89%, for requiring that insurers cover drug treatment.
Jody Baronian from Newton, N.H., said shes watched people in her personal and professional life struggle with addiction.
When that person is in that moment of wanting to seek help and theyre not able to get it, then weve lost an incredible opportunity, she said. The number one hindrance is finding an available place and the insurance.
A spokeswoman for Biden says he supports requiring all insurers to cover drug treatment. Sanders would guarantee treatment under his Medicare for All plan. Buttigieg would require coverage of medications that curb or block opioid cravings and other treatments for addiction. Amy Klobuchar and Warren both say treatment would be widely available under their respective $100 billion substance use plans.
The poll finds widespread support as well for filing criminal charges against drug companies and executives who allegedly fueled the opioid crisis with misleading or inaccurate claims about the risks of addiction. Thousands of communities across the country have filed civil suits against Purdue Pharma and other manufacturers.
Murali Thiyagarajah, from Concord, N.H., is among the 80% of likely primary voters who support criminal charges.
Absolutely, absolutely, he said. You can just pay the fine and go scot-free . We have to step up and say that you are criminally responsible.
Gabbards opioid addiction plan focuses on prosecuting pharmaceutical firms and other ways to curb their influence. Biden, Yang, Warren, Klobuchar and Sanders would also pursue criminal charges. Buttigieg calls for holding drug manufacturers accountable for deceptive marketing and other violations, but its not clear if he would press for criminal charges.
And finally, we asked New Hampshire Democratic primary voters about specific harm reduction strategies, which are illegal in many areas. Despite that, 70% of respondents support expanding needle exchanges. And 56% approve of supervised consumption sites, where nurses or doctors monitor drug use and step in when needed to prevent an overdose. But many of these voters have reservations about both.
People shouldnt go around reusing dirty needles, Jennifer Cadmus of Troy, N.H., said about needle exchange programs. They could get an infection and die but is that kind of enabling people? So, Im a little skeptical of how well it works, but I think it should happen.
On supervised consumption, Cadmus says if people can do it safely so they dont overdose, thats great, but again, is it enabling them?
Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg and Yang are all in favor of supervised consumption sites. They also support opening more syringe exchange programs, except for Yang, who hasnt taken a position.
We reached out to each of the campaigns. If their stance on any of the questions says "did not answer," thats because we're still waiting for that information from the campaign.
Some New Hampshire voters are surprised that the ongoing problem of drug overdoses and deaths is not getting much attention this election season.
It drives me insane, said Baronian, the Newton respondent. Were skirting the things that are impacting every single family in this country.
Public health leaders echo that frustration. Michael Botticelli, director of the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center, said hes encouraged that most candidates have reasonable, evidence-based plans, but the lack of attention to this issue is discouraging.
To not address it in a major way is just a deafening silence, he said.
There are lots of theories about why. In New Hampshire, opioid overdose deaths are on the decline, so there may be less urgency. But meth and cocaine use is up, making the drug crisis more complicated. Discussing solutions in sound bites may be more difficult.
Its not a pleasant conversation, it doesnt leave people with a very good feeling, said Baronian. So who wants to include that on their campaign trail and have those difficult complex conversations.
Other New Hampshire Democrats and some Independents say issues arent the priority right now.
Weve had this president for awhile," Cadmus said, "people are mainly focusing on whether someone is more electable than him."
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After nine women and children were shot dead by cartel gunmen in the barren hills of Mexicos Sierra Madre Occidental, 100 members of their fundamentalist Mormon community fled the country for the United States.
Cousins Julin and Adrian LeBarn lost nine close relatives in the ambush, but they never considered leaving the country of their birth. Instead, they have launched a quixotic campaign for justice not just for their slain kin, but for the many thousands of people murdered or vanished amid Mexicos cartel violence.
We have to overcome our fears and do whatever we can to put a stop to this shit, Julin told the Guardian.
The two cousins nut farmers from the high plains of Chihuahua state make unlikely anti-crime activists. But they hope that they can help persuade others to rise up and pressure their public officials to put an end to the bloodletting.
It is no small ambition in a country which last year saw its highest number of homicides since records began and where mass killings fall quickly from the news cycle. Victims of the drug wars are often seen as complicit in their own deaths, and their families left to suffer in silence.
But Julin LeBarn argues that Mexico has endured enough suffering and has precious little left to lose. People have to experience enough fear, enough pain, in order for them to say: what else can they do to me? He added: Its happened to me.
In Mexico, victims relatives and anti-crime activists often end up being targeted themselves, but the LeBarn clan has stubbornly refused to keep quiet, speaking out against both organized crime and the security policies of President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador.
LeBarn recognizes that such outspokenness is only possible because of his familys binational status: their ancestors moved to Mexico in the late 1800s to avoid US polygamy laws, and almost of all of the clan retains US nationality.
Partly because of that, the massacre dominated headlines around the world and prompted the US president to call on Twitter for WAR against Mexicos cartels.
We have dual citizenship. We have the protection of the FBI and Donald Trumps tweets that scare the bejesus out of some people. Who the hell else is going to say something? he said, between sips of macchiato in a crowded Mexico City Starbucks.
They kill four women yesterday in Ciudad Jurez and tomorrow its not going to be news. [But] they killed three women and some kids from our family and its international news, he said.
But the familys relative privilege, also brings responsibility with it, he argued. Were the face and the voice of those women and everyone thats suffering in Mexico.
The LeBarn family first rose to national prominence in 2009, when they refused to pay a ransom after a 16-year-old from their community was kidnapped. The boys elder brother Benjamn LeBarn led a brief campaign to demand action by the authorities and encouraging others to resist extortion before he and his brother were murdered.
Two years later, Julin joined an anti-violence caravan led by the poet Javier Sicilia who hoped the cross-country convoy of victims would force Mexicans to face up to the devastating impact of the violence.
On Thursday, LeBarn will march again with Sicilia who has called for new peace caravans across the country which will converge on the national palace this Sunday.
The new campaign is itself a bleak indicator of the limited progress successive governments have made towards establishing rule of law. Crime statistics have continued to break new records every year: 35,588 people were murdered in 2019 and some 62,000 people have vanished since the current war on drugs was launched in 2006.
Sicilia confessed that he had never planned to organize another national protest, but told the Guardian: I just couldnt take so many more deaths, especially what happened to the LeBarns women and children murdered in such a repugnant, outrageous way.
Lpez Obrador, or Amlo, promised to end the militarized strategy of his predecessors in favor of a vaguely defined strategy of moral renovation and addressing what he considers the root causes of violence: poverty and corruption.
But so far, his promise of hugs not bullets has proved ineffectual: the massacre of the Mormons came just days after gunmen from different groups massacred 13 policemen and besieged an entire city. Meanwhile a new national security force has focused more on stopping Central American migrants than catching drug traffickers.
Caldern sends in the army
Mexicos war on drugs began in late 2006 when the president at the time, Felipe Caldern, ordered thousands of troops onto the streets in response to an explosion of horrific violence in his native state of Michoacn.
Caldern hoped to smash the drug cartels with his heavily militarized onslaught but the approach was counter-productive and exacted a catastrophic human toll. As Mexicos military went on the offensive, the body count sky-rocketed to new heights and tens of thousands were forced from their homes, disappeared or killed.
Simultaneously Caldern also began pursuing the so-calledkingpin strategyby which authorities sought to decapitate the cartels by targeting their leaders.
That policy resulted in some high-profile scalps notably Arturo Beltrn Leyva who wasgunned down by Mexican marines in 2009 but also did little to bring peace. In fact, many believe such tactics served only to pulverize the world of organized crime, creating even more violence as new, less predictable factions squabbled for their piece of the pie.
Under Calderns successor, Enrique Pea Nieto, the governments rhetoric on crime softened as Mexico sought to shed its reputation as the headquarters of some the worlds most murderous mafia groups.
But Calderns policies largely survived, with authorities targeting prominent cartel leaders such as Sinaloas Joaqun El Chapo Guzmn.
When El Chapo was arrested in early 2016, Mexicos president bragged: Mission accomplished. But the violence went on. By the time Pea Nieto left office in 2018, Mexico had suffered another record year of murders, with nearly 36,000 people slain.
"Hugs not bullets"
The leftwing populist Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador took power in December, promising a dramatic change in tactics. Lpez Obrador, or Amlo as most call him, vowed to attack the social roots of crime,offering vocational trainingto more than 2.3 million disadvantaged young people at risk of being ensnared by the cartels.
It will be virtually impossible to achieve peace without justice and [social] welfare, Amlo said, promising to slash the murder rate from an average of 89 killings per day with his hugs not bullets doctrine.
Amlo also pledged to chair daily 6am security meetings and create a 60,000 strong "National Guard". But those measures have yet to pay off, with the new security force used mostly to hunt Central American migrants.
Mexico now suffers an average of about 96 murders per day, with nearly 29,000 people killed since Amlo took office.
The president has every right to hug people who are attacking him, but he has a monopoly on the use of force and the tools of security, said LeBarn. He has absolutely no right whatsoever to ask any citizen to embrace people that are murdering his family.
He is at pains to stress that he is not an opponent of Amlo, who has twice met members of the LeBarn family since the massacre, and promised that the case will not languish in impunity.
But the familys activism and speculation that Donald Trump might push some kind of intervention against Mexican cartels has stoked a visceral reaction from the presidents most ardent supporters. Hashtags telling the LeBarns to leave Mexico have surged on social media.
Adrin LeBarn, whose daughter Rhonita Lebarn was killed in the Sierra Madre ambush, said he was long used to being labelled a vendepatria or traitor.
Im a nobody over there [in the US] and Im a nobody over here. Im a vendapetria both ways, he said, switching between Spanish and halting English.
Both LeBarns argue that any attempt to confront Mexicos security crisis needs to start at the bottom, unpicking the networks of corruption which have contaminated government at all levels.
And they are skeptical at the idea that any further US involvement could help. If the US were to send a drone to kill [senior Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael] El Mayo Zambada that wouldnt solve a thing, said Adrin.
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Cannabis reform is one of the hot topics in the upcoming 2020 elections. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is the Democratic representative for Hawaiis 2nd Congressional District and one of the partys presidential hopefuls. Since 2017, Rep. Gabbard has introduced multiple bills to remove cannabis from Schedule 1, including the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act and the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act to end federal cannabis prohibition and provide clemency to those affected by the war on drugs.
Rep. Gabbard will be speaking via Skype at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco, February 6-7.
Cannabis Now: What do you believe to be the biggest hurdlepreventing the end of federal cannabis prohibition?
Rep. Gabbard: Simply a lack of political will. In 2017, I introduced the first-ever bipartisan bill that would end the federal prohibition of marijuana by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. Unfortunately, Congressional leadership at the time blocked us from getting a hearing on this important legislation, despite having nearly 10 percent of the Members of the House as co-sponsors and growing support from the public. But times have changed.
We are seeing more bipartisan support for an end to prohibition, as well as other related marijuana bills on the floor. 61 percent of Americans support legalization, and 31 states have legalized cannabis. My Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act passed the House Judiciary Committee with a bipartisan 24-10 vote, and now awaits consideration by the full House.
Why is ending federal cannabis prohibition so important toyou?
Our archaic marijuana policies based on stigma andoutdated myths have been used to wage a failed war on drugs. The so-calledWar on Drugs has exhausted our law enforcement resources, burdened ourcriminal justice system, decimated communities, fractured families, and turnedeveryday Americans into criminals. Over-criminalization and mass incarcerationhave become the new norm. And rather than treating addiction to opioids andother drugs as a healthcare issue, we arrest and jail those who need help.
Our current criminal justice system favors the rich and powerful and punishes the poor putting people in prison for smoking marijuana, while allowing corporations like Purdue Pharma, who are responsible for the opioid-related deaths of thousands of people, to walk away scot-free with their coffers full. We have a system that is allowing Big Pharma to aggressively push these highly addictive drugs, knowing how addictive they are, we have doctors who are not being held accountable for their irresponsible treatment. By decriminalizing marijuana and helping addicts rather than jailing them, we will create a fairer, more ethical criminal justice system and cut our prison populations by 50 percent.
In Congress, I have introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would remove marijuana from the Federal Controlled Substances list and allow states the freedom to regulate marijuana without federal interference. I have also introduced The Marijuana Data Collection Act, which would study the effects of state legalized medicinal and non-medicinal marijuana programs on state revenues, public health, substance abuse and opioids, criminal justice and employment.
Ive introduced the Opioid Crisis Accountability Act, which would hold big pharma accountable for distributing and pushing these highly addictive drugs on the American people. I have also cosponsored legislation to work with communities to respond to this devastating opioid crisis by providing grants, education, outreach, prevention, and treatment services.
As President, I will work to end the present hypocritical drug policies that hurt rather than help the American people and reward the reckless greed of Big Pharma and the drug lobby. We must end the failed war on drugs and end the federal marijuana prohibition, pardon those convicted of minor possession charges and expunge past records. And we need to reform our drug laws and treat drug addiction as a healthcare issue, not a criminal justice issue.
What inspired you to lead the charge for reintroducingH.R.1588 Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019?
Our archaic and outdated marijuana laws are turningeveryday Americans into criminals. Every day, the economic and social impactsof marijuana prohibition are having devastating effects on communities acrossthe country.
Millions of Americans have fallen victim to the failed Waron Drugs, tearing families apart, disproportionately harming minoritycommunities, and overcrowding an already strained prison system. Marijuana useis a personal choice and should not be a criminal act. For many years I haveworked to end the marijuana prohibition and am proud to push this legislationforward that will begin to right the wrongs of the past and invest incommunities who have been most harmed.
We must pass the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act to ensure that marijuana consumers and state-licensed marijuana businesses are protected from undue federal interference. It will help reduce the strain on our criminal justice system, amend federal law to agree with cannabis changing cultural status, recognize the plants therapeutic benefits, and reduce contradictions and confusion between federal and state marijuana laws.
Hawaii will become the 26th state to decriminalize possession of cannabis on January 11, 2020. Whats your position on legalizing recreational use in the state?
Momentum is headed in the right direction. I think that we are only going to see more progress being made. There are some incremental cannabis reforms in the state, such as a bill that lawmakers approved last year to add opioid addiction as a medical marijuana qualifying condition, however, this was vetoed by Governor David Ige. Even in a state like Hawaii, if you look back to the governors statements about why he vetoed that bill, there are still a lot of myths and outdated information and stigma that are being used as excuses to not push forward these very impactful policy changes.
So that is one of the main reasons that is spurring my bill, the Marijuana Data Collection Act, to be able to provide this from the National Academy of Sciences as an undisputed collection of data and studies saying you cant dispute this. The purpose of this legislation is to collect and synthesize relevant data and to generate a federally recognized, neutral report regarding the impact of statewide marijuana legalization schemes. Such a report will assure that federal discussions and policies specific to this issue are based upon the best and most reliable evidence available at this time. We cant afford to wait given the devastating negative impact it is having on the people of this country.
As a retired combat veteran, what are your thoughts onveterans not having access to cannabis through the VA?
Many dont realize that even in states where cannabis has been legalized, veterans are still prohibited from accessing it through their VA medical benefits. Thats one reason why I introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act to remove marijuana from the Federal Controlled Substances list. There are so many states that show and prove in their statistics that for those who have legalized medical cannabis, or adult-use cannabis, there has been a direct correlated drop in opioid addiction and opioid-related deaths. In Hawaii, in 2018, there was overwhelming bipartisan support for a bill that was passed that would allow those who are addicted to opioids to qualify for medical cannabis in our state. The governor vetoed this bill that passed with overwhelming support. The reason that he gave was theres just no data to prove that medical cannabis will help someone who is addicted to opioids. I got so angry because I know people whose lives have been saved because they were able to get off of those opioids and they had access to medical cannabis, they found a path towards recovery and towards a new lease on life.
At the federal level, weve got todo our job to deschedule marijuana completely, but also see that samereflection in the laws that are being passed in our states. Ive introducedlegislation in Congress to support research within the VA called the MarijuanaData Collection Act that commissions the National Academy of Science, a neutralfederal agency, to collect data and information from states like Hawaii andNevada and California and Colorado and others that have passed laws to legalizecannabis in one level or another to provide an undisputed set of facts, statistics,and information that would counter the misinformation and myths that are sooften used to strike down laws that would help open up access to medicalcannabis. It is our nations responsibility to ensure that our veterans receivethe care, services, and benefits theyve earned and deserve and that includesthe ability to choose cannabis as a treatment instead of addictive opioids.
What is your position on reform for those most damaged bythe war on drugs and prohibition?
We need to provide clemency andpardon those who have been unfairly sentenced due to archaic marijuanapolicies, especially to those who have only been convicted of minor possessioncharges. As President, I will use clemency to release 25,000 people during myfirst term, and reform our criminal justice system so that no American willhave to go through years in prison and have their family torn apart for simplypossessing or smoking marijuana. I will reform mandatory minimum sentencing,the unfair cash bail system, implement sentencing reforms, improve prosecutortraining, re-classify drugs with proven medicinal benefits, and removemarijuana from the Federal Controlled Substances list.
Our archaic marijuana policies disproportionately affect communities of color, as does our entire criminal justice system. In Congress, I have introduced legislation to decriminalize marijuana. I am also a co-sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act of 2019, which reforms unjust federal marijuana laws, and empowers minority communities that have been the most impacted by this failed War on Drugs.
The Marijuana Justice Act of 2019 removes marijuana and THC from Schedule I drugs, eliminates criminal penalties for those who import, export, manufacture, distribute, or possess marijuana. It also provides grants to reinvest in those communities who have been most largely impacted by the war on drugs in particular, communities of color. These grants provide job training, health education services, covering expenses related to expungement of convictions, investing in community centers and other public services.
As President, I will grant clemencyand expunge records of those who have been unfairly sentenced by marijuanalaws, invest in and redress communities of color who have been indiscriminatelyimpacted by the War on Drugs, and treat addiction as the public health crisisthat it is, not a criminal justice issue.
To hear Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and other industry leaders share their thoughts about domestic and international cannabis industry opportunities, while networking with entrepreneurs and lawmakers from all over the world, make sure youre at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco, February 6-7.
TELL US, what do you think of Rep. Tulsi Gabbards cannabis policies?
OPINION: Workplace drug testing is ineffective and violates personal privacy – Indiana Daily Student
Posted: at 2:42 pm
A pile of pills lie on a table Jan. 23 in Willkie Quad. According to a poll from the Society for Human Resource Management, 57% of employers drug test employees. Izzy Myszak Buy Photos
Drug testing in the workplace is standard protocol for the vast majority of jobs across the nation. Currently, about 57% of employers drug test all employees, according to a poll by the Society for Human Resource Management. So it is very likely that you will be drug tested in your post-graduation job hunt .
Following the beginning of the war on drugs under the Nixon administration and Congress 1988 drug-free workplace law, employee drug testing skyrocketed, reaching nearly 80% of employers in a 1996 survey by the American Management Association substantially higher than the previous 21% in 1986.
Drug testing as an industry standard serves no purpose other than to satisfy the drug hysteria reminiscent of the 1980s. Drug testing should be used only when necessary, and no ones job should depend on it.
Although employee drug testing is in decline, it is still an issue that affects millions of Americans, especially when their livelihood depends on the accuracy of a drug test. Regular drug testing is unnecessary for employees who are not in safety-sensitive industries.
Moreover, drug testing can be unreliable and sows resentment in the workplace hierarchy by allowing managers to closely monitor or threaten workers.
About 15 million Americans currently struggle with alcohol abuse disorder,and there isnt a surge of employers attempting to breathalyze their workers. Why should your employment be contingent on whether you decide to use drugs outside of work? Drug use itself isnt the problem affecting workplace performance. Its drug addiction and abuse.
Giving employers a blank check to drug test their employees only serves as another barrier to employment for millions of Americans who use illegal drugs. The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a program directed by the U.S. government, found that 19.4% of Americans used illicit drugs at least once a year.
However, most drug users reported only using marijuana. Young people are particularly likely to use marijuana, with more than 1 in 3 adults under 25 doing so at least once a year. In Indiana, 1 in 5 college students use marijuana each month, according to a survey of 20 Indiana colleges conducted by the IU School of Public Health.
Nearly every Democratic presidential candidate supports legalizing marijuana at the federal level, an idea which would make employers testing for marijuana even less justifiable. The drug policy proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, explicitly says it would eliminate drug testing for public benefits but leaves open the question of testing by employers.
Much of the argument for why employers drug test is related to improving safety conditions and ensuring employee productivity. However, there has been no evidence supporting the claim that employee drug testing has any effect on productivity, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
As far as improving safety conditions, there has been some evidence suggesting that employee drug testing reduces drug- and alcohol-related accidents by over 50% for companies with high workers compensation incident rates. On the other hand, companies not prone to workplace accidents saw little to no effect on safety after instituting a drug-free workplace.
Moreover, a systematic review of 23 studies published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention found that the basis of evidence showing drug testing improves workplace safety is at best tenuous. Taking that into consideration, it makes no sense to drug test employees who are not in safety-sensitive industries, especially without cause.
According to the Indiana University website, IU has a substance-free-workplace policy, yet it has a reasonable respect for its employees privacy, requiring a justifiable cause for testing and an additional witness from management.
What is more egregious is that these tests almost always exclude substances like alcohol and tobacco simply because theyre legal. Some companies have even started to test their employees for legal substances, such as U-Haul which now refuses to hire smokers in 21 states - a brazen violation of personal liberty.
Rather than preliminary drug testing for employment, it would make much more sense to assess a workers on-the-job state of mind. If a worker has poor job performance, why should it matter whether their problem is due to an illegal substance or a legal one?
On top of being a waste of money for employers, drug testing without cause for industries that are not safety-sensitive is inherently anti-worker.
Employee drug testing is prevalent internationally, but in the U.S., the practice is far more widespread with few protections for workers privacy.
Conditions allowing drug testing in the workplace need to be completely overhauled to be very stringent, protecting a reasonable right to privacy of workers. In the push to expand worker unionization and worker protections, putting severe restrictions on employee drug testing is essential.
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Cannabis experts are hoping 2020 will be the year that New York finally legalizes weed – MarketWatch
Posted: at 2:42 pm
Cannabis advocates are cautiously optimistic that 2020 will be the year that New York state finally legalizes marijuana for adult recreational use, marking a milestone for the legal business.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has included legalization in his budget proposal for the new fiscal year, projecting it could generate $20 million in revenue in fiscal 2021, growing to $63 million by fiscal 2022 and $188 million by fiscal 2025.
Passage of such legislation is not a sure thing, however.
A similar effort last year fell apart when lawmakers were unable to agree on the details, specifically the correct measures to ensure that the communities that were disproportionately punished during the 40 year long U.S. war on drugs would benefit from a new legal industry.
Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a Democrat from Buffalo who is New York state Assembly Majority Leader and pro-legalization, welcomed Cuomos proposal.
However, the only legislation that I can support will include a statutory commitment of significant resources directed to communities harmed by mass incarceration resulting from the so called war on drugs, and a robust economic and social equity plan for access to the new industry, she told MarketWatch in emailed comments.
Read also: Marijuana companies are bad at forecasting, analyst says
Cuomo is taking a different approach this year with plans to create a new Office of Cannabis Management to specialize in cannabis regulation and create the framework for medical, adult-use and hemp programs.
Central to the plan are provisions to ensure social equity licensing opportunities. Sales will be restricted to adults of 21 years of age and older and quality controls will be used to ensure the safety and potency of products, including labeling, packaging, advertising and testing.
See: Shorting cannabis stocks was a billion-dollar idea in 2019
These efforts will be done in coordination with neighboring states Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Cuomo said in a statement. Further plans include the creation of a Global Cannabis and Hemp Center for Science, Research and Education with SUNY and other partners.
Experts agree that the time is ripe for New York to fully legalize the drug with public support at an all-time high. A Siena College poll released on Monday found voters in favor of legalization by a 58% to 38% margin, the highest level yet recorded by Siena.
Rob DiPisa, co-chair of the Cannabis Law Group at law firm Cole Schotz, said hes hopeful but also a bit skeptical about a deal being done. Its the same lawmakers and the same issues, he said.
Still, the states $6 billion budget deficit may persuade some skeptics of the need to create a new revenue source and taking a unified approach with other legislatures may also act as a catalyst, he said.
Read: Cannabis stocks rocked as FDA warning undermines case for CBD investments
Cannabis alone cant plug all the deficits, but it can be part of a cocktail of revenue generation, he said. And working with neighboring states makes sense to ensure the tax structures are similar and discourage cross-border buying that would sees states compete for revenue.
Coming a little late to the cannabis party 11 states and the District of Columbia have already passed laws legalizing recreational cannabis use gives New York the advantage of learning from others, said DiPisa.
They are taking some social equity measures from Illinois. So far, no state has got everything right, he said. Illinois started legal sales of cannabis on Jan. 2.
See: Drakes attempt to trademark Canadas weed warning label hits a stop sign
Then there is the thorny issue of taxation.
Cuomo is proposing three levels of taxes, starting with a 20% tax on the sale of product to a retailer. Cultivators would be taxed at the rate of $1 per dry weight gram for flower, at 25 cents per dry weight gram of cannabis trim, and at 14 cents per gram of wet cannabis. Local counties or cities with a population of 1 million or more would be entitled to another 2% sales tax.
As California companies know all too well, high taxes can have the effect of truly crippling the nascent sector as it makes it all but impossible for companies to compete with the black market, which continues to dominate in the Golden State.
A recent report by Boulder, Colorado-based BDS Analytics and San Francisco-based ArcView Market Research found that about 80% of cannabis transactions in California are black-market deals, eating into the revenue available to legal players.
A slow and complex licensing process in California has also meant fewer store openings than expected, further exacerbating the problem. Companies unable to access the market are now running out of money, and many are laying off staff, cutting costs and getting creative with fundraising.
Read now: U.S. pot retailer MedMen says its trying to use stock to pay its bills amid cannabis industrys cash crunch
Related: Cannabis companies are having a horrible summer as scandals mount and stocks slide
The situation is almost as dire in Canada, the first G-7 country to legalize weed for adult use in October of 2018. Canadian companies have also suffered from a slower-than-expected rollout of retail stores that has allowed the black market to thrive. MKM analyst Bill Kirk said the stubborn price gap between legal and illicit weed is encouraging Canadians to use the black market. The average legal price in the fourth quarter was C$10.30 ($7.83) a gram in the legal market versus C$5.74 a gram in the illicit market.
Cristina Buccola, founder of Cristina Buccola Counsel PLLC and a former general counsel at publication High Times, said taxation is key. If its too high, it shuts down the industry before it begins.
But its also important how tax revenue is spent and Buccola would prefer to see a plan to reinvest some of the money raised in services for the very communities that were devastated during the years of prohibition.
Plenty of people who have been negatively affected by prohibition might not want a license, for example, she said. But they might want to work on mental health issues, or job training. Thats the kind of community reinvestment we need to see.
Buccola agreed that addressing New Yorks enormous illicit market is a challenge, but a key factor in creating a viable industry. Its about bringing the actors from the legacy market over to the legal market and that will take time. We need to ask what services those people need to make that change.
See: Aphria stock slides on weaker-than-expected earnings, but other cannabis shares shine
Whatever happens in 2020, experts agree that New York is a major market for the industry and bringing in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania at the same time would be a big move forward.
Those are monster markets and we already have Massachusetts, said Korey Bauer, portfolio manager at the Cannabis Growth Fund from Foothill Capital Management. It would be a big step forward to descheduling at the federal level.
The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF MJ, -4.65% has fallen 40% in the last 12 months. The S&P 500 SPX, -0.90% has gained 26% in the same time frame, while the Dow Jones Industrial DJIA, -0.58% has gained 19%.
Cannabis Watch: For all of MarketWatchs coverage of cannabis companies: Click here
Posted: at 2:42 pm
By Medicine Hat News Opinion on January 25, 2020.
The conversation was about a minute-and-a-half old when he uttered the words.
Neither of us had met this man before, though Jeremy and I both knew his wife a little she had stopped at the Medicine Hat News trade show booth for a quick hello and had just introduced us to her husband.
We quickly found ourselves on the same side of a topic regarding the media, and the exchange had been quite pleasant to that point. So you can imagine our surprise when he casually tossed in the phrase, Its like those f***ing low-life refugees, as if this was just how anyone would speak.
This moment in time is a couple years old now, and the end of the story is that nothing else happened. It was so unbelievably awful and out of left field that Jeremy and I were both too stunned to speak. And heres the thing all this time later, I still dont know what to say.
How do you defend people escaping war-torn countries to someone who would clearly rather those people stay home and die? I dont think you can.
Ive spent a lot of time this week thinking about local mom Kym Porter, who has been extremely active in her advocacy for people who use drugs ever since her son died of an accidental opioid overdose. I had mentioned to her a few weeks ago that I was planning to write about addiction at some point soon, and I was going to use the need for supervised consumption sites as the foundation of my piece.
Then this week happened.
Not only did Premier Jason Kenney suggest relocation or closure of sites in a Tuesday announcement, he showed his true feelings about those battling addiction when he tweeted out one of the most vile columns ever written, authored by a man who was trying to set a record for ways you can dehumanize people in one sitting.
And so, instead of going through the usual process of collecting information for Laying it Out, I havent been able to get the story out of my head of that time a man Id just met offered up his pure hatred of refugees as if we were discussing our favourite colours. What can I possibly say to those who oppose supervised consumption to convince them of its life-saving necessity when all too many of those people would rather addicts not be saved at all?
If the premier of Alberta believes in an invasion of meth heads who are out of their bloody mind and then refers to the NDPs callousness and regressiveness in setting up drug sites, I think its fair to say hes not the only one who feels this way about addiction.
Youre welcome to wait for the results of the panel report that had strict instructions not to include harm reduction in its findings, but at this point I feel like we can surmise Kenneys plan for supervised consumption without wondering if Albertas 4,587 reversed overdoses and zero deaths matter to him. Even if the benefits of keeping everyone alive were laid out in terms of cost savings, I dont think it would outweigh the disdain for the drug users very existence.
So if we cant even come together in agreement on these peoples value as human beings, let alone how to help them not die, maybe its time we find a new approach. I might see them as victims worth saving, and you might see them as low-life criminals, but we can all agree that society has failed in dealing with the problem.
And if the argument over supervised consumption doesnt convince you of the need for systemic change, then what else do you need? Examples of this systems failures are piling up everywhere but a consumption site takes one of the harshest realities and concentrates it into one spot, focusing everyones attention all at once.
So the question is, What are we looking at?
Are we looking at societys worst, or the worst thing about society? Are we looking at people who deserve jail but not life, or the failure of a decades-long war on drugs?
Do you see a need to go full United States and start imprisoning en masse with minimum punishments that equal our current life sentences? Or do you see the result of a revolving-door jail system that has no historic evidence of reducing drug use, or crime?
Is this just people too stupid or lazy to succeed? Or is this decades of income inequality manifested into poverty at its most tragic, rock-bottom level?
No matter how you view it, supervised consumption is one of the purest examples we have of society going wrong, and our current governments plan to deal with that is to ignore the experts and promote further hatred. Even if you love everything Kenney has said or implied, all his plan will do is take a tragic but concentrated issue and sprinkle it back around the affected cities.
It is a nothing solution to a problem that is only getting worse, and the UCP leader doesnt much care for the victims of it. That might be fine when its just unsightly low-lifes that you can assume no one else cares about either, but how will you feel if the next victim lies in the bedroom down the hall?
Will the premiers expert-ignoring plan of simply scattering the users be enough for you then?
Scott Schmidt is the layout editor at the Medicine Hat News. Contact him at email@example.com. All opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the News editorial board.
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