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Category Archives: War On Drugs

Medical Marijuana Bill Aims to Fight Jeff Sessions’ Renewed War on Drugs – RollingStone.com

Posted: June 16, 2017 at 3:50 pm

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced a bill on Thursday that would allow state medical marijuana laws to supersede the current federal prohibition on weed. The bill is dubbed the CARERS Act, which stands for the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act.

"The fact is our marijuana laws in America are broken," Democratic Sen. Cory Booker said at the bill's unveiling at the Capitol. "They are savagely broken, and the jagged pieces are hurting American people."

The legislation would allow the varying laws legalizing some form of medical marijuana in 30 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam to stand. When it was introduced in 2015 it was the first ever medical marijuana bill introduced in the U.S. Senate. But times have changed since then.

For one, back then the bill only had three original sponsors: Booker, Democratic Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand and Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who has long supported medical marijuana as part if his libertarian platform. Now it has six, adding Democratic Sen. Al Franken and Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mike Lee. The other big change from 2015: Donald Trump now occupies the Oval Office.

While running for president Trump said marijuana laws should be decided at the state level, but then he tapped marijuana-hating Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general.

It just came to lightthat Sessions privately sent a letter to congressional leaders in May asking them to undo a provision in federal law that bars his Justice Department from going after legal marijuana businesses.

"I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime," Sessions penned. "The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives."

But the new bill's proponents argue Sessions' thinking is misguided, especially when it comes to people gripped with epilepsy and those who suffer from seizures who report cannabidiol, or CBD as it's commonly known, is a miracle cure thatcuts their seizures down as much as 45 percent.

"I dare him to sit down with families and listen to their stories and then pursue a policy like he's advocating for now," Booker says of Sessions' letter going after medical marijuana businesses. The CARERS Act would take CBD off the list of controlled substances, which would allow children in states where medical marijuana isn't legal to access the life changing oil.

While the bill's proponents know their proposal faces an uphill battle, they also say they believe the effort is quickly picking up steam, especially because many red states have now passed some form of legal weed. "I believe things are changing and they're changing fast," Sen. Gillibrand tellsRolling Stone. "I think we will get the support we need."

The legislation also allows the nation's veterans to access legal weed by removing the current restriction that bars doctors at Veterans Affairs hospitals from prescribing pot to their patients. But it doesn't go near the politically touchy subject of what to do with the nation's eight states and the District of Columbia that have opted to legalize weed for recreational use. But many of the bill's proponents say that effort will come later.

Correction: A previous version of this article listed one of the supporters as Steve Cohen. He is a supporter of the bill in the House, not the Senate.

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Congress is considering a bill that would expand Jeff Sessions’s power to escalate the war on drugs – Washington Post

Posted: at 3:50 pm

Congress is considering a bill that wouldexpand the federal government's ability to pursue the war on drugs, granting new power to the attorney general to set federal drug policy.

The bipartisan legislation, sponsored bypowerful committee chairs in both chambers of Congress,would allowthe attorney general to unilaterally outlaw certain unregulated chemical compounds on a temporary basis.It would create a special legal category for these drugs, the first time in nearly 50 years that the Controlled Substances Act has been expanded in this way. And it would set penalties, potentially including mandatory minimum sentences, for the manufacture and distribution of these drugs.

This bill provides federal law enforcement with new tools to ensure those peddling dangerous drugs, which can be lethal, are brought to justice, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who is sponsoring her chamber's version of the bill with Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), said in an emailed statement. It also explicitly exempts simple possession from any penalties, instead targeting those who manufacture and traffic these drugs and opioids.

The bill, introduced last week and known as theas the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act of 2017, now moves to theSenate Judiciary Committee, which Grassley chairs and where Feinstein is the top-ranking Democrat. The House bill is listed as HR 2851.

Under current law,all psychoactive substances are placed in one of five schedules designating the drugs' risk of abuse and medical potential. Schedule 1 is the most restrictive, reserved for drugs such as LSD, heroin and marijuana. Schedule 5 is the least restrictive category, which includes medications such as low-dose codeine cough syrup.

Illicit-drug manufacturers wishing to avoid these designations often make subtle changes to a drug's chemistry, creating slightly different, and hence legal, substances that producesimilar psychoactive effects in users.

Illegal drug traffickers and importers are able to circumvent the existing scheduling regime by altering a single atom or molecule of a currently controlled substance in a laboratory, thereby creating a substance that is lawful, but often highly dangerous, addictive and even deadly, Grassley and Feinstein saidin a fact sheeton the Senate bill.

The SITSA Act would create a new schedule, Schedule A, for substances that are chemically similar to already-regulated drugs. The attorney general would be able to place new compounds in Schedule A for a period of up to five years. Critics say this amounts to giving the attorney general the power to unilaterally write federal drug policy.

The bill gives the attorney general a ton of power in terms of scheduling drugs and pursuing penalties, said Michael Collins, a deputy director at the Drug Policy Alliance. This is a giant step backwards, and really it's doing the bidding of Jeff Sessions as he tries to escalate the war on drugs.

Under current policy, an attorney general may temporarily schedule a substance for up to twoyears and only after demonstrating the drug's history and current pattern of abuse; the scope, duration and significance of abuse; and what, if any, risk there is to the public health.

The new bill extends the temporary scheduling duration to five years for Schedule A substances and eliminates the requirement for analyzing the drug's abuse record and its potential risk to public health.

The bill is partially a response to a spike in overdose deaths from the powerful synthetic opiate fentanyl and chemically similar drugs in recent years. Fentanyl's uncontrolled synthetic analogues have come to represent the deadly convergence of the synthetic drug problem and the opioid epidemic, Feinstein and Grassley wrote. The billadds 13 synthetic analogues of fentanyl to Schedule A immediately.

But criticsare worried that the bill's language could be used to justify bans on all manner of substances that are not particularly lethal or dangerous. The drug known as kratom is one particular area of concern.Experts say the risks with using the drug are remarkably low, andpeople who take it say it has helped them quit using alcohol, opiates and other, much deadlier substances.

Because the drug's primarychemicals act in a fashion similar to some opioids, kratom advocates fear that the new bill would allow the Justice Department to outlaw the drug, as it triedunsuccessfullyto do last year.

Some experts say that the fentanyl epidemic is proving to be so lethal that it may be worthwhile to experiment with different legislative approaches, even if they come with drawbacks.

The fentanyls are so awful that I think it is entirely reasonable to try a fentanyl supply control strategy that has only a very modest chance of success, said JonathanCaulkins, a drug-policy expert at Carnegie-Mellon University. He added that it might be wise, however, to include automatic sunset provisions to such strategies in case they prove ineffective.

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Congress is considering a bill that would expand Jeff Sessions's power to escalate the war on drugs - Washington Post

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Watch a Tribute to the Loving Decision by the War on Drugs – The New Yorker

Posted: June 15, 2017 at 9:41 pm

Earlier this month, the Philadelphia rock-and-roll band the War on Drugs announced the follow-up to 2014s Lost in the Dream, with Holding On, a six-minute American epic shimmering with rhythm and melody and delightful shades of early Springsteen. The song is from the forthcoming album A Deeper Understanding, and, yesterday, the band dbuted its new video, starring Frankie Faison, best known for his role as Deputy Commissioner Ervin Burrell, in David Simons The Wire.

The video, directed by Brett Haley, is a plainspoken, cinematic tribute to love, interracial marriage, and small-town American values. Faison appears as a widower struggling to break a cycle of boredom in his golden years. The concept was developed by the actress Krysten Ritter, who is dating the bands front man, Adam Granduciel. I went out to get our weekend coffees and when I came back Krysten had written up a whole treatment of her own and pitched me her idea, he wrote in an e-mail. I thought it was really great from the second she delivered it. Ritter had recently finished a movie with Haley, and she and Granduciel both suggested the director at the same time. They started shooting in Brewster, New York, just ten days later.

This week marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Courts Loving v. Virginia decision, which struck down anti-miscegenation laws in America. Interracial couples are celebrating the landmark case by sharing personal stories and testimonials online. The Holding On video, already a tearjerker, is a powerful addition to those contributions.

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Medical marijuana industry in Maine prepares to fight Jeff Sessions’ nonsensical War on Drugs – Daily Kos

Posted: at 9:41 pm

The medical marijuana community in Maine is hoping that Trump will respect the 10th amendment (state's rights).

Whatever happened to the Republicans supposed enduringlove for states rights? This is a question worth asking because Jeff Sessions latest move to impede states from legal medical and recreational marijuana use demonstratesthe exact opposite. In May, he asked Congress to allow him lift the Rohrabacher-Farr amendmentin order to prosecute medical marijuana providers stating that it would inhibit (the Justice Departments) authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act. This will have a deleterious impact on a number of lawful marijuana growers and medical providers around the country. And in Maine, people are really worried.

If Congress supports the request from Sessions, thousands of medical marijuana providers and related businesses that support an estimated 50,000 medical marijuana patients in Maine could face federal criminal prosecution or other sanctions.

Waitin addition to this being federal overreach into states rights, arent Republicans supposed to be the party that supports local businesses? And the rights of patients to make their own medical decisions? Talk about hypocrisy. But none of that willstop Sessions. Hes still trying to make the case that this is about stopping illegal drug use and drug trafficking. Except it wont. Medical marijuana, in particular, has been helpful in stopping prescription drug abuse as well as helping to treat individuals with a number of chronic medical conditions. And marijuana advocates know that this is shameful and misguided.

[Catherine Lewis, chairwoman for the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine] who called Sessions and the Trump administration uneducated for associating marijuana with the opiate addiction epidemic said Sessions request wasnt a surprise, but was met with dismay and disappointment by caregivers and patients with whom she has spoken.

Its downright frightening. Without us here, there are people who will suffer, there are children who will have untreatable seizures, she said. There will be parents and grandparents who could go to jail for doing nothing more than trying to saved loves ones.

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Orange County Register: ‘War on drugs’ is costing thousands of lives – WatertownDailyTimes.com

Posted: at 9:41 pm

The following editorial appeared in the Orange County Register on June 9:

SANTA ANA, Calif. (Tribune News Service) While American foreign policy has for years fixated on the conflict in Syria and the Middle East, just across the border in Mexico and throughout Central America tens of thousands of people lost their lives last year because of the conflict between drug cartels competing to deliver illicit drugs into the United States.

According to a recent report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, whereas approximately 50,000 lives were lost in Syria last year, approximately 39,000 were killed in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, much of which is attributable to drug-war violence.

Mexicos homicide total of 23,000 for 2016 is second only to Syrias, and is only the latest development in a conflict that stretches back to 2006, when President Felipe Calderon deployed the military to combat drug cartels.

Although the exact number of people killed because of the drug war in Mexico is unlikely to ever be known, a recent report from the Congressional Research Service cited estimates from 80,000 to more than 100,000 in that country alone.

The cause of this violence is obvious, and it is a direct, predictable consequence of our failed policy of drug prohibition. In the near-half century since President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs, hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been killed in conflicts fueled by a lucrative illicit drug trade made possible by our prohibition of drugs.

This is an insight a certain New York developer possessed 27 years ago. Were losing badly the war on drugs, Donald Trump said in 1990. You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profit away from these drug czars.

While Trump may have since lost this insight, the fact remains that the war on drugs does more harm than drugs themselves.

Last year, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos used his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech to call for a rethink of the drug war, which contributed to decades of conflict in Colombia that killed hundreds of thousands.

Rather than squander more lives and resources fighting a War on Drugs that cannot be won including in our inner cities the United States must recognize the futility and harm of its drug policies.

Visit the Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at http://www.ocregister.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency. 2017 Orange County Register.

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ABS-CBN report on drug war victims wins plum Asia journalism prize – ABS-CBN News

Posted: at 9:41 pm

Regina Reyes, head of ABS-CBN Integrated News and Current Affairs receives the SOPA 2017 award for Excellence in Human Rights Reporting.

MANILA (UPDATE) - ABS-CBN News' six-part series on victims of the war on drugs in the Philippines took home the award for Excellence in Human Rights Reporting at the Society of Publishers in Asia's (SOPA) 2017 Awards for Editorial Excellence.

The ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group's War On Drugs: The Unheard Voices bested entries from Channel News Asia and humanitarian news agency IRIN.

The report, developed for the web by ABS-CBN News Digital Media's multimedia unit, tells the stories of slain drug suspects and the families they left behind. It was published on October 27, 2016 on news.abs-cbn.com.

ABS-CBN Integrated News and Current Affairs head Regina Reyes received the prize during the SOPA Awards Gala Dinner at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Thursday night.

The series also received Honorable Mention for Excellence in Investigative Reporting.

SOPA was founded in 1982 to champion freedom of the press, promote excellence in journalism and endorse best practices for all local and regional publishing platforms in the Asia Pacific region, according to the organization.

It is a not-for-profit organization based in Hong Kong and representing international, regional and local media companies across Asia.

The annual SOPA Awards for Editorial Excellence serve as the world-class benchmark for quality journalism in the region, organizers said.

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8 arrested in police raids across Merseyside in war on drugs – Liverpool Echo

Posted: at 7:48 am

Homes have been raided this morning as part of a Merseyside Police operation targeting serious organised crime.

A convoy of police vans left the force's Canning Place HQ after a morning briefing over the suspected drugs network that is the focus of today's raids.

The crackdown comes after six nights of 'disruption activity', sparked by a spate of shootings, has been carried out by the force. More than 50 people have been arrested and knives, drugs and suspected stolen bikes have been seized.

Roadside checks have stopped suspicious vehicles in Toxteth, Speke and Bootle while open land searches have also taken place as officers hunt for weapons.

Just last night a gunman, thought to have been riding a scrambler bike, f ired three shots in a Litherland street. The incident left two vehicles damaged and was the eighth shooting in 15 days on Merseyside. Other gun incidents in that period included the fatal shooting of Yusuf Sonko in Toxteth and injury shootings in Speke, Kirkby, Seaforth and Fazakerley.

We'll be bringing you the very latest updates, pictures and video on this breaking news story.

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Today’s Song: The War on Drugs Walk into Light with Holding On – Atwood Magazine (blog)

Posted: at 7:48 am

Indie rock band The War On Drugs is known for a very distinct sound. The all-enveloping, larger-than-life tracks in the bands repertoire hold a certain, unique emotion, falling somewhere between appreciation and wonder. Each long-lived guitar solo and hazy instrumental interlude fits like a puzzle piece in nearly every situation, giving the band an incredible strength when it comes to creating a memorable soundtrack. Their latest single release, Holding On, is no exception.

Perfectly cohesive with the bands previous album release, Lost In The Dream, Holding On stands for a new chapter in a very parallel world of depth and fluid musicality.

Much of the bands work can be considered musically multi-dimensional, many times feeling incredibly dense and thought-provoking. Holding On though, while comparative to any track in the bands past release, feels different in overall tone. The track screams with a new lightness, reminiscent of an upbeat summer drive rather than a reflective summer night.

A Deeper Understanding The War on Drugs

Held together by a contagious, sporadic drum beat, the track is energetic and fun. A playful keyboard and guitar add elements that make the track truly multi-dimensional, lyrical aspects falling on top of an already complete, nearly perfect combination of advanced instrumentals. The heartbroken ode tells the full story of a love built and lost, ending in the simple uplifting yet heartbreaking statement heart of hope.

Holding On captures everything there is to love about The War On Drugs. The band conquers an individualistic creativity responsible for a disconnected, yet perfectly packaged sound in every song. The elements of dreaminess hold a psychedelic element comparative to 70s rock while staying completely modern and understandable in todays rock music world. In Holding On, a less-improvised track, the band proves they can hold a unique individuality while still creating a track coherent enough to make the rock charts.

The War on Drugs Shawn Brackbill

The track can lead listeners to believe the bands upcoming album, A Deeper Understanding, to be released August 25 via Atlantic Records, will be a swift follow-up to Lost In The Dream.

The band released a single titled Thinking Of A Place just weeks before Holding On, which falls into the bands deeper, most complex side. It holds a slower tempo, encouraging in-depth internalization of emotions rather than the manifestation of something new. The two tracks, while similar in instrumental makeup, beautifully represent the multiple personalities of The War On Drugs incredible complexity. While the songs hold different audible emotions, they play well together, hyping the combinations to come on the bands unreleased collection.

cover Shawn Brackbill

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The War On Drugs share the video for ‘Holding On’ – DIY Magazine

Posted: at 7:48 am

The War On Drugs are back and are set to release their fourth full-length album A Deeper Understanding on 25th August.

Theyd already shared its lead single, Holding On, and now its got a new video, which stars Frankie Faison (best known from The Wire) alongside Adam Granduciel, and directed by Brett Haley. Adding to that star line-up is Krysten Ritter (aka Jessica Jones), who provided the concept.

Its a heart-warming clip where Frankie plays a man who returns to his town after a long absence. There, hes greeted warmly by his neighbours, who are glad to see him out and about.

In November, The War On Drugs are set to go on a tour of the UK as part of a wider run, and two shows in Glasgow and Manchester have already sold out. Tickets are on sale for their other dates though!

Watch the video for Holding On and see all of The War On Drugs upcoming UK tour dates below.

NOVEMBER

09 Glasgow, Barrowlands 10 Glasgow, Barrowlands (sold out) 12 Manchester, O2 Apollo (sold out) 13 Manchester, O2 Apollo 14 London, Alexandra Palace

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Jeff Sessions continues his obsession with a war on drugs, this time targeting medical marijuana – Daily Kos

Posted: June 14, 2017 at 4:45 am

Jeff Sessions recently asked Congress to allow him to be able to prosecute medical marijuana providers, even though there are federal protections prohibiting that exact thing.

Heres what we know about Jeff Sessions: hes absolutely hell-bent on moving forward with a war on drugsdespite a lack ofevidence that itslinked to an uptick in crime and the fact that its incredibly unpopular with the American people. Sessions is particularly obsessed with marijuana, so much so that he has now asked Congress to allow him to prosecute medical marijuana providers, even though there are federal protections to prohibit the Justice Department from doing exactly that whichhave been in place since 2014.

The protections, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment,prohibit the Justice Departmentfrom using federal funds to prevent certain states "from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana." [...]

Sessions argued that the amendment would "inhibit [the Justice Department's] authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act." He continues:I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime. The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.

Lets get really clear on what Sessions is attempting to dohere. He is justifying his rabid obsession with drugs and locking up people of color by appealing to his fellow conservatives and their senseoflaw and order. Except none of this is based in any reality. The historic drug epidemic to which he refers is actually not an epidemic of marijuana abuse but instead of opioid abuse. The opioid epidemic is disproportionately affecting white America, and there is new research to suggest that its hitting nearly all age groups in rural and urban areas. This is a massive crisis. And there is no evidence whatsoever that focusing on medical marijuana will yield any kind of success in eliminating drug use in this country. Of course, it all depends on how one defines success. If you are defining success as the reduction of drug abuse and overdosesthen no, this absolutely will not work. But if your version of success is criminalizing marijuana, which we know sends more black and brown folks to prison and for longer, harsher sentences than it does white people (regardless of the fact that both blacks and whitesuse the drug at equal rates)then this plan is a home run.

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