Tag: Drug Policy Alliance

Drug Policy Alliance: Time to Decriminalize, NYC Racial Disparities Remain

The Drug Policy Alliance, a leading advocacy group, released a report Tuesday calling for an end to criminal penalties for drug use and possession. Once considered a radical approach, the position in the DPA report has already won the endorsement of more than 30 organizations and key stakeholders. Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Latino Justice PRLDEF, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and various others have backed the report’s call for decriminalization, a policy that essentially removes the threat of arrest or criminal penalties in cases of simple possession.

The widespread support for decriminalization comes at a crucial time, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions call for ramping up the war on drugs in the face of the nation’s growing opioid epidemic.

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But despite the Trump administration’s shift toward more punative policies, Jag Davies, DPA’s communications director, said most Americans don’t realize how close to decriminalization many state policies already are.

“The US is closer to decriminalizing drugs than most people think, even in a red state like South Carolina,” he said on a conference call with reporters, noting that, in terms of public opinion, polls of presidential primary voters last year found that most support ending arrests for drug consumption and possession.

States included in the study were Maine (with 64% percent in favor of ending arrests), New Hampshire (66%), and South Carolina (59%).

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“Removing criminal penalties for drug use and possession will increase opportunities for people to get help,” said Emily Kaltenbach, the DPA’s senior director of national criminal justice strategy. “Today, people who need drug treatment or medical assistance may avoid it in order to hide their drug use.  If we decriminalize drugs, people can come out of the shadows and get the help they need.”

Extreme Racial Disparities Persist in New York Possession Arrests

The need to remove criminal penalties for cannabis consumption and possession persists in New York City, according to a second DPA report released today. It shows that arrests for marijuana possession under Mayor Bill de Blasio continue to be marked by high racial disparities.

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The report found that during the first three years of the De Blasio administration, the NYPD made more than 60,000 criminal arrests for cannabis possession. Nearly 86% of those arrests were of black or Latino individuals.

“We believe it’s time for a new approach, and that approach shouldn’t involve criminalizing New York’s most vulnerable populations.”

Alyssa Aguilera , co-executive director, Vocal NY

New York residents living in public housing constituted the single largest group of people arrested. Last year, in 2016, the NYPD housing police made 21% of the city’s 18,121 arrests for cannabis possession. Of those, 92% of arrests were of black or Latino residents.

The two groups make up about half the city’s population but account for 66% of the cannabis possession arrests. Of the city’s 76 neighborhood police precincts, black or Latino residents make up a majority in 37.

“Prohibition has played a significant role in devastating low-income communities of color through racially biased enforcement and has often come with steep collateral consequences,” said Alyssa Aguilera, co-executive director of the community activist group Vocal NY. “We believe it’s time for a new approach, and that approach shouldn’t involve criminalizing New York’s most vulnerable populations.”

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5 Reasons Why Jeff Sessions’ Drug War Reboot Will Fail

The following groups and individuals have endorsed the Drug Policy Alliance’s report, “It’s Time for the U.S. to Decriminalize Drug Use and Possession”:

  • A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing)
  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  • American Friends Service Committee Colorado
  • Broken No More
  • Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice
  • Center for Living and Learning
  • Centro Cáritas de Formación
  • Clergy for a New Drug Policy
  • Community Oriented Correctional Health Services
  • CURB Prison Spending
  • DanceSafe
  • Denver Justice Project
  • Drug Policy Australia
  • Drug Policy Forum of Hawai’i
  • Drug Truth Network
  • Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing (GRASP)
  • Harm Reduction Action Center
  • Harm Reduction Australia
  • Iglesia Evangélica Protestante de El Salvador
  • Intercambios Asociación Civil
  • International Centre for Science in Drug Policy
  • International Drug Policy Coalition
  • Junot Díaz
  • Latino Justice PRLDEF
  • Law Enforcement Action Partnership
  • Moms United to End the War on Drugs
  • National Advocates for Pregnant Women
  • New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
  • Progress Now NM
  • Protect Families First
  • Release
  • Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
  • StopTheDrugWar.org
  • Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  • Transform Drug Policy Foundation
  • Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago
  • Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
  • Women With a Vision


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

New York State Lawmakers to Renew Push for Marijuana Legalization

ALBANY, NY – Lawmakers in New York state will join with advocates next week to reintroduce a proposal to legalize marijuana in the Empire State.

On Monday, June 12, a coalition of community advocates led by the Drug Policy Alliance will join Senator Liz Krueger (D-New York) and Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo) to announce reintroduction of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA, S.3040/A.3506), which would authorize recreational use of marijuana.

The coalition will also announce the launch of the Start SMART NY campaign (SMART stands for Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade).

The bill would establish a legal market for marijuana in New York and create a system to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol for adults over the age of 21.

As it is estimated that New Yorkers spend an estimated $3 billion per year on marijuana, the potential tax revenue stream for the state is considerable.

An official study by the NYC comptroller in 2013 estimated potential tax revenue for a legal marijuana market in NYC alone would be more than $400 million, acknowledging that the actual revenue could be much higher.

The reworked Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) includes substantial racial justice and small business-friendly amendments, including:

  • Creating a micro-license structure, similar to New York’s rapidly growing craft wine and beer industry, that allows small-scale production and sale plus delivery to reduce barriers to entry for people with less access to capital and traditional avenues of financing.
  • Establishing the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, which will invest in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war through job training, economic empowerment, and youth development programming.
  • Ensuring diversity in New York’s marijuana industry by removing barriers to access like capital requirements and building inclusivity by allowing licensing to people with prior drug convictions. Only people with business-related convictions (such as fraud or tax evasion) will be explicitly barred from receiving licenses.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Copy of – How Rachael Leigh Cook’s Famous Frying Pan Ad Got Rebooted

For most ‘90s teenagers, Rachael Leigh Cook wasn’t remembered for her role as Laney Boggs in She’s All That, but rather for her dramatic, caustic performance in an anti-drug PSA where she smashed an uncooked egg with a frying pan. Sponsored by Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the 30-second spot featured Cook making a yolky mess in order to mimic heroin’s effect on the brain. It also included her smashing a set of plates, wall clock and a blender to show the havoc drugs wreak on the rest of one’s life.

Seeing the documentary ’13th’ forced the actress to reconsider her role in the war on drugs. And do something to correct it.

Now, about 20 years later, Cook has reprised her role in a similarly grey-hued PSA. Only this one has a new message.

“This, is one of the millions of Americans who uses drugs and won’t get arrested,” she says, holding up a white egg.

“However, this American,” she says, holding up a brown egg, “is several times more likely to be charged with a drug crime. Imagine it’s you.”

Instead of touting the terrors of drug use, Cook speaks about the war on drugs. She talks about an American criminal justice system in which minorities are arrested and prosecuted at a much higher rate than white offenders.

Although Cook’s new PSA was released in the flood of cannabis-related media on 4/20, it managed to outperform everything. The spot went viral on social media, and gained notice from Rolling Stone, Glamour, and other mainstream outlets. Within a week, the 90-second PSA was watched more than a million times on YouTube.

Leafly tracked down the spot’s creators, at the New York-based Green Point Creative to ask how the project came about.

Jon Mackey, Green Point managing director, said the ad wasn’t meant to be strictly about cannabis. A slew of other contemporary issues make it relevant, he said, including the opioid epidemic and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ attempts to revive the failed drug war.

Howard Bowler, Green Point’s creative director, said that “the drug war should have never happened. It’s made life worse for a lot of people. And  when you look at marijuana specifically, you can very easily argue that it has no business being scheduled at all.”

Personally Compelled

Bowler felt personally compelled to take on the racial injustice inherent in the war on drugs after “seeing mixed race family members” targeted by police, he said. Minorities are considered “easy targets” for law enforcement, Bowler added, since they often don’t have the resources to fight persecution the way members of the white community can.

The spot was intended to educate the public on the “collateral consequence” of the drug war, said Tony Newman, director of media relations for the Drug Policy Alliance, which worked with Green Point on the project.

“The War on Drugs is totally ineffective, ruins millions of peoples of lives and is totally racist when it comes to enforcement,” Newman said.

In some ways (and for some people) cannabis has become mainstream thanks to legalization and an influx of capital. But for others, the war on drugs is as vicious as ever, said Newman. It’s paradoxical for both these things to be happening simultaneously, he said.

Cook’s Participation Was Critical

brain-on-drugs-3abrain-on-drugs-2aWhile the message in Cook’s original PSA was simple—drugs will ruin your life—her new spot reflects a much more complex and nuanced narrative.

“Culturally we’ve evolved with our opinions and views of marijuana, and the way we’ve involved as a society also mirrors the way Rachael Leigh Cook has evolved,” Bowler said.

Landing Cook was key to the spot’s success. As luck would have it, she was in the right state of mind to do it. Cook called Ava DuVernay’s 13th—a criminal justice documentary that explores how the war on drugs has unfairly impacted minority communities—a “complete revelation.” The film forced her to reexamine her own involvement “with a larger movement that has gone on to harm so many,” she said in a statement.

“When my unique position brought about the opportunity to raise my voice again about this issue, I knew it was the right thing to do,” Cook said. “My hope now is to bring attention to the wildly unfair practices of drug sentencing and advocate for their reform.”

As of now, marijuana is a federal Schedule I drug, the same classification given heroin. Green Point hopes that through efforts like their own—including a scripted, fictional series on the war on drugs that’s in development—the will of the public will filter up to political leaders.

“The drug war and particularly marijuana arrests are a gateway,” said Bowler, “but they’re a gateway to prison…not a gateway to harder drugs.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

How Rachael Leigh Cook’s Famous Frying Pan Ad Got Rebooted

For most ‘90s teenagers, Rachael Leigh Cook wasn’t remembered for her role as Laney Boggs in She’s All That, but rather for her dramatic, caustic performance in an anti-drug PSA where she smashed an uncooked egg with a frying pan. Sponsored by Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the 30-second spot featured Cook making a yolky mess in order to mimic heroin’s effect on the brain. It also included her smashing a set of plates, wall clock and a blender to show the havoc drugs wreak on the rest of one’s life.

Seeing the documentary ’13th’ forced the actress to reconsider her role in the war on drugs. And do something to correct it.

Now, about 20 years later, Cook has reprised her role in a similarly grey-hued PSA. Only this one has a new message.

“This, is one of the millions of Americans who uses drugs and won’t get arrested,” she says, holding up a white egg.

“However, this American,” she says, holding up a brown egg, “is several times more likely to be charged with a drug crime. Imagine it’s you.”

Instead of touting the terrors of drug use, Cook speaks about the war on drugs. She talks about an American criminal justice system in which minorities are arrested and prosecuted at a much higher rate than white offenders.

Although Cook’s new PSA was released in the flood of cannabis-related media on 4/20, it managed to outperform everything. The spot went viral on social media, and gained notice from Rolling Stone, Glamour, and other mainstream outlets. Within a week, the 90-second PSA was watched more than a million times on YouTube.

Leafly tracked down the spot’s creators, at the New York-based Green Point Creative to ask how the project came about.

Jon Mackey, Green Point managing director, said the ad wasn’t meant to be strictly about cannabis. A slew of other contemporary issues make it relevant, he said, including the opioid epidemic and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ attempts to revive the failed drug war.

Howard Bowler, Green Point’s creative director, said that “the drug war should have never happened. It’s made life worse for a lot of people. And  when you look at marijuana specifically, you can very easily argue that it has no business being scheduled at all.”

Personally Compelled

Bowler felt personally compelled to take on the racial injustice inherent in the war on drugs after “seeing mixed race family members” targeted by police, he said. Minorities are considered “easy targets” for law enforcement, Bowler added, since they often don’t have the resources to fight persecution the way members of the white community can.

The spot was intended to educate the public on the “collateral consequence” of the drug war, said Tony Newman, director of media relations for the Drug Policy Alliance, which worked with Green Point on the project.

“The War on Drugs is totally ineffective, ruins millions of peoples of lives and is totally racist when it comes to enforcement,” Newman said.

In some ways (and for some people) cannabis has become mainstream thanks to legalization and an influx of capital. But for others, the war on drugs is as vicious as ever, said Newman. It’s paradoxical for both these things to be happening simultaneously, he said.

Cook’s Participation Was Critical

brain-on-drugs-3abrain-on-drugs-2aWhile the message in Cook’s original PSA was simple—drugs will ruin your life—her new spot reflects a much more complex and nuanced narrative.

“Culturally we’ve evolved with our opinions and views of marijuana, and the way we’ve involved as a society also mirrors the way Rachael Leigh Cook has evolved,” Bowler said.

Landing Cook was key to the spot’s success. As luck would have it, she was in the right state of mind to do it. Cook called Ava DuVernay’s 13th—a criminal justice documentary that explores how the war on drugs has unfairly impacted minority communities—a “complete revelation.” The film forced her to reexamine her own involvement “with a larger movement that has gone on to harm so many,” she said in a statement.

“When my unique position brought about the opportunity to raise my voice again about this issue, I knew it was the right thing to do,” Cook said. “My hope now is to bring attention to the wildly unfair practices of drug sentencing and advocate for their reform.”

As of now, marijuana is a federal Schedule I drug, the same classification given heroin. Green Point hopes that through efforts like their own—including a scripted, fictional series on the war on drugs that’s in development—the will of the public will filter up to political leaders.

“The drug war and particularly marijuana arrests are a gateway,” said Bowler, “but they’re a gateway to prison…not a gateway to harder drugs.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

New York: New Regulatory Changes To Expand Medical Marijuana Access

New York: New Regulatory Changes To Expand Medical Marijuana Access | NORML

ALBANY, NY — Newly enacted regulatory changes to the state’s medical cannabis program are expected to result in increased patient access. As of this week, patients suffering from chronic pain conditions are now eligible to qualify for cannabis therapy. In January, a National Academies review of over 10,000 scientific abstracts acknowledged that “conclusive” evidence exists […]

New York: New Regulatory Changes To Expand Medical Marijuana Access | The Daily Chronic


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Leading Reform Organizations Applaud Formation of Congressional Cannabis Caucus

WASHINGTON, DC — The nation’s leading cannabis and drug policy reform organizations commended Congressional members Thursday on the formation of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) formed the Congressional Cannabis Caucus to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

They represent constituents in four of the eight states that have enacted laws regulating cannabis for medical and adult use.

Twenty additional states have enacted comprehensive medical cannabis laws, and 16 additional states have enacted limited or unworkable medical cannabis laws.

In total, 44 states have adopted laws rolling back cannabis prohibition at the state level, representing 95% of the U.S. House of Representatives and 88% of the Senate.

The following is a joint statement issued on the formation of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus from the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Americans for Safe Access, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, and Clergy for a New Drug Policy:

“We commend Representatives Blumenauer, Rohrabacher, Polis, and Young for their leadership on the issue of cannabis policy. The establishment of a Cannabis Caucus will allow members from both parties, who represent diverse constituencies from around the country, to join together for the purpose of advancing sensible cannabis policy reform. It will also facilitate efforts to ease the tension between federal prohibition laws and state laws that regulate cannabis for medical and adult use.

“The formation of this caucus is a testament to how far our country has come on the issue of cannabis policy. There is a growing consensus that cannabis prohibition has failed, and it is time for a more sensible approach. A strong majority of Americans support making cannabis legal for medical and adult use, and an even stronger majority believes states should be able to establish their own cannabis policies without interference from the federal government. We look forward to working with caucus members to translate this growing public sentiment into sound public policy.”

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Donald Trump Vows ‘Ruthless’ War on Drugs and Crime

(Flickr/Oregon Department of Transportation)

In a sharp break with the Obama administration, which distanced itself from harsh anti-drug rhetoric and emphasized treatment for drug users over punishment, President Donald Trump last week reverted to tough drug war oratory and backed it up with a series of executive orders he said were “designed to restore safety in America.”

“We’re going to stop the drugs from pouring in,” Trump told law enforcement professionals of the Major Cities Chiefs Association last Wednesday. “We’re going to stop those drugs from poisoning our youth, from poisoning our people. We’re going to be ruthless in that fight. We have no choice. And we’re going to take that fight to the drug cartels and work to liberate our communities from their terrible grip of violence.”

Trump also lambasted the Obama administration for one of its signature achievements in criminal justice reform, opening the prison doors for more than 1,700 drug war prisoners who had already served sentences longer than they would have under current, revised sentencing guidelines. Obama freed “record numbers of drug traffickers, many of them kingpins,” Trump complained.

And in a sign of a return to the dark days of drug war over-sentencing, he called for harsher mandatory minimum prison sentences for “the most serious” drug offenders, as well as aggressive prosecutions of drug traffickers and cracking down on “shipping loopholes” he claimed allowed drugs to be sent to the US from other countries.

In a New Hampshire campaign speech during the campaign, Trump called for more treatment for drug users and more access to overdose reversal drugs, but there was no sign of that side of the drug policy equation in Wednesday’s speech.

Last Thursday, Trump backed up his tough talk with action as, at the Oval Office swearing in of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he rolled out three executive orders he said were “designed to restore safety in America,” but which appear to signal an increasingly authoritarian response to crime, drugs, and discontent with policing practices.

The first, which Trump said would “reduce crime and restore public safety,” orders Sessions to create a new Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Policy, which will come up with “strategies to reduce crime, including, in particular, illegal immigration, drug trafficking and violent crime,” propose legislation to implement them, and submit a report to the president within a year.

The second, regarding “transnational criminal organizations and preventing drug trafficking,” directs various federal law enforcement agencies to “increase intelligence sharing” and orders an already existing interagency working group to submit a report to Trump within four months describing progress made in combating the cartels, “along with any recommended actions for dismantling them.”

“I’m directing Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to undertake all necessary and lawful action to break the back of the criminal cartels that have spread across our nation and are destroying the blood of our youth and other people,” Trump said Thursday.

The third directs the Justice Department to use federal law to prosecute people who commit crimes against police officers, even though they already face universally severe penalties under existing state laws.

“It’s a shame what’s been happening to our great, truly great law enforcement officers,” Trump said at the signing ceremony. “That’s going to stop as of today.”

The tough talk and the executive orders provoked immediate alarm and pushback from human and civil rights advocates, drug reformers, the Mexican government, and even the law enforcement community. The apparent turn back toward a more law-and-order approach to drugs also runs against the tide of public health and public policy opinion that the war on drugs has been a failure.

In a report released last Friday, dozens of senior law enforcement officials warned Trump against a tough crackdown on crime and urged him to instead continue the Obama administration’s efforts to reform the criminal justice system.

The report was coauthored for Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration by former Dallas Police Chief David Brown, who won wide praise for his response after a gun man killed five of his officers last year.

“Decades of experience have convinced us of a sobering reality: Today’s crime policies, which too often rely only on jail and prison, are simply ineffective in preserving public safety,” the report said.

The president’s crime plan would encourage police to focus on general lawbreaking rather than violent crime, the report said. The Justice Department already spends more than $5 billion a year to support local police, much of it spent on “antiquated law enforcement tools, such as dragnet enforcement of lower-level offenses” and Trump’s plan would “repeat this mistake,” the officials wrote. “We cannot fund all crime fighting tactics.”

Drug reformers also sounded the alarm.

“This rhetoric is dangerous, disturbing, and dishonest,” said Bill Piper, senior director for national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “We have had a war on drugs. It has failed. Tough talk may look good before the cameras, but history has taught us that cracking down on drugs and building walls will not stop the supply or use of drugs. It mostly causes the death and destruction of innocent lives. Trump must tone down his outrageous rhetoric and threats, and instead reach out to leadership from both parties to enact a humane and sensible health-based approach to drug policies that both reduce overdose and our country’s mass incarceration crisis.”

Indeed, most public health experts argue that the prohibitionist approach to drugs has been a failure. They point to research such as a 2013 study in the British Medical Journal that found that despite billions spent on drug prohibition since 1990, drug prices have only decreased and purity increased, making getting high easier and more affordable than ever before.

“These findings suggest that expanding efforts at controlling the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing,” the authors conclude.

Public health analysts also point to research showing that between 1991 and 2001, even when the drug war was in full effect, the rate of illicit drug use among teens rose sharply, while their cigarette smoking rate fell off a bit and their alcohol use dropped sharply. The substances that are legal for adult use were less likely to see increases than ones that are prohibited, the analysts point out.

Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray also chimed in to note that there wouldn’t be any Mexican drug cartels without American demand for drugs and to remind Washington that it’s not just what’s being exported from Mexico that is a problem, but what’s being imported, too.

“For years, from the Mexican perspective, people say, ‘OK, the problem with drugs — that it’s creating so much violence, so many deaths of young people in Mexico — is because there’s demand for drugs in the US,”” Videgaray said. “We happen to be neighbors to the largest market for drugs. From the American perspective, it’s just the other way around,” he said, adding that both countries need to get past “the blame game.”

And if the US is serious about helping Mexico disrupt the cartels “business model,” it needs to stop the southbound traffic in cash and guns.

“We need to stop illegal weapons flowing from the U.S. into Mexico,” Videgaray said. “We always think about illegal stuff moving through the border south to north, but people forget that most guns — and we’re not talking small guns, we’re talking heavy weapons — they get to the cartels and create literally small armies out of the cartels.”

Human Rights Watch reacted to a comment from Attorney General Sessions at his swearing in ceremony that crime is a “dangerous permanent trend that places the lives of American people at risk,” by noting that crime is down dramatically by all measures over the past 20 years despite a slight increase in violent crimes between 2014 and 2015. “There is no ‘dangerous permanent trend’ in violent or non-violent crime,” it pointed out.

And Amnesty International swiftly reacted to the executive order calling for new federal penalties for crimes against police.

“Law enforcement officers face unique hardships and challenges due to the nature of their work,” said Amnesty’s Noor Mir. “Authorities are already able to vigorously prosecute crimes against law enforcement officers, and there is no history to suggest that officers are not fully protected by current laws. This order will not protect anyone, and instead it creates additional penalties that could cause people to be significantly over-prosecuted for offenses including resisting arrest.

There is a better way, said Mir, but that would require going in a radically different direction than where the Trump administration is headed.

“This order does nothing to address real and serious problems in the US criminal justice system,” he said. “Relationships between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve could instead be improved by investing in reform of the criminal justice system and better training for officers. Police already have laws protecting them, but there is no federal standard for the prosecution of officers who unlawfully kill civilians. Implementing a standard for lethal force in line with international standards will protect both police and civilians.”

The Trump administration has outlined an approach to drugs and criminal justice policy with dark Nixonian and Reaganite underpinnings, promising more, more, more heavy-handed policing, more swelling prison populations, and more — not less — distrust and suspicion between police and the communities they are supposed to serve and protect.

And, in typical Trump fashion, his brash, draconian approach to the complex social problems around crime and drugs is creating a rapid backlash. Whether the rising opposition to Trump can rein in his authoritarian impulses and regressive policy approaches to the issue remains to be seen, but a battle to stop the slide backward is brewing.


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license from StopTheDrugWar.org and was first published here.

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So We Have Attorney General Sessions. Whats Next For Marijuana?

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech hosted by Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (WikiMedia Commons/Gage Skidmore)

Despite historic opposition, members of the United States Senate voted 52 to 47 last week to approve the nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General.

While we are disappointed with this outcome, we are pleased that several members of Congress cited the senator’s opposition to marijuana policy reform as an impetus for rejecting his appointment.

We’ve previously told you why Jeff Sessions is the wrong man for the job, but today it is time to move forward, not backward.

So now what?

Well, during his testimony before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, Sen. Sessions said that it is not the responsibility of the Attorney General to pick and choose which federal laws to enforce.

“One obvious concern is the United States Congress has made the possession in every state and distribution an illegal act,” he said. “If that’s something that’s not desired any longer Congress should pass a law to change the rule. It is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce.”

He’s right. It is time we demand Congress to change the rules once and for all.

Just hours prior to Sessions’ confirmation vote, US Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with six other Republicans and six Democrats, introduced bipartisan legislation, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

HR 975 states:

‘‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.’’

Passage of this Act would halt US Attorney General Jeff Sessions or any other federal official from prosecuting individuals and businesses for violating the Controlled Substances Act in the 29 states that permit either the medical or adult use and distribution of marijuana. According to national polling, 60 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana.

Click here to send your member of Congress a message urging them to support HR 975.

With the appointment of Sen. Sessions to the position of US Attorney General, passage of this Act is necessary to ensure that medical marijuana patients and others are protected from undue federal interference.

There will be a number of bills in the coming months that will build upon the progress that the movement to legalize marijuana will support. As we always have, NORML will keep you informed and provide you the tools needed to connect with your elected officials.

Please take action today to urge your federal lawmakers to support HR 975, the ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ and when you have finished, please also take a moment to make a generous and much appreciated donation to NORML here so that we can continue to make progress in our federal and statewide efforts.

With NORML members throughout the country organizing lobby days and taking action over the coming days and weeks, the fight for cannabis freedom will continue with renewed energy.

NORML has resisted marijuana prohibition for 47 years – We’re not going to stop now; in fact, we’re just getting started. Are you in?

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Senate Votes to Confirm Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) listens to a question during confirmation hearings on Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Senate voted 52 to 47 Wednesday to confirm Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as Attorney General. Most Republicans voted for him; most Democrats voted against him.

The vote comes after two months of organized opposition as hundreds of organizations expressed concerns about Sessions’s record and racially-charged statements he has made in the past.

“Jeff Sessions and President Trump are stuck in the 1980s when it comes to drug policy, while most of the country knows by now that we need alternatives to the failed drug war,” said Bill Piper, senior director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “If the Administration tries to roll back marijuana reform or to undermine criminal justice reform they will find themselves even less popular than they are now.”

Sessions has over a very long career consistently taken hardline positions in favor of mass incarceration instead of emphasizing treatment and recovery. As Attorney General of Alabama Sessions supported legislation that would have given mandatory death sentences to repeat drug sellers, including people who sold marijuana. He has criticized former Attorney General Eric Holder’s attempts to reduce the prison population, like when Holder encouraged U.S. Attorneys to use mandatory minimums only for high-level drug traffickers.

During his confirmation hearing, Senator Sessions was somewhat coy in responding to questions from senators on whether he will respect federalism when it comes to states that have legalized marijuana for medical use, saying things like, “I won’t commit to never enforcing federal law.” He also would not commit to maintaining the “Cole memo”, DOJ guidance that essentially allows states to set their own marijuana policies as long as they adhere to certain federal standards.

The confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General is especially troubling given comments President Trump has made. Earlier Today President Trump told law enforcement officials that he is going to be “ruthless” in the war on drugs. In December Trump reportedly told Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte that he is waging the war on drugs “the right way.” Duterte’s government has engaged in extra-judicial killings in name of the drug war, more than 2,000 of their citizens have been killed.

News reports have said that the Trump Administration is working on an executive order to “fight crime”, especially in urban areas. It is not clear what the Trump plan will be, but during his presidential campaign he pledged to enact a national “stop-and-frisk” program. In January he threatened to “send in the Feds” to Chicago. He often talks about how the wall he wants to build on the Mexico border will stop the flow of drugs, but decades of evidence shows supply-side control fail.

Sessions and President Trump may personally want to escalate the failed war on drugs but they face a major obstacle – bipartisan support for drug policy reform. More than three-quarters of Americans recognize that the war on drugs has failed. Most support treatment instead of incarceration. A majority support legalizing marijuana like alcohol.

Dozens of states have reformed their marijuana laws, including many red states. In many cases marijuana reform received more votes than President Trump.  In Congress there is bipartisan support not only for letting states set their own medical marijuana policies but also for sentencing reform and asset forfeiture reform. Both major parties have embraced criminal justice reform in recent years, and there is little appetite for reversing course.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Senate Judiciary Votes to Advance ‘Drug-War Dinosaur’ Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) listens to a question during confirmation hearings on Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

WASHINGTON, DC — The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to advance the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of the United States. The vote was 11 to 9, with no Democrats supporting the nominee. The nomination will now go to the Senate floor for a full and final vote.

Jeff Sessions is a disaster for drug policy and criminal justice reform,” said Bill Piper, Senior Director for Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “He is a nightmare for medical marijuana patients, and will destroy families and communities by amplifying the mass incarceration crisis.”

Sessions’ record is deeply concerning. In recent years, 28 states have legalized marijuana for medical use, including nine states represented by members of the Judiciary Committee. An additional 16 states, including six states represented by members of the Judiciary Committee, have legalized CBD oils, a non-psychotropic component of marijuana that has shown effectiveness in managing epileptic seizures that afflict children. Additionally, people who use marijuana in Louisiana with a doctor’s recommendation are protected from arrest. Eight states have voted to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana like alcohol, including California.

Jeff Sessions has said “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” disparaging the tens of millions of Americans who have used marijuana, including the last three presidents.  He has criticized the Justice Department’s guidance respecting state marijuana laws, and even opposes marijuana for medical use. If confirmed as Attorney General Sessions could increase marijuana arrests and prosecutions, threaten state officials, and undermine the ability of local agencies to regulate marijuana. In a recent article in the Hill, former Department of Justice officials and Session allies said states that voted to legalize marijuana “may be in for a reckoning.”

Sessions was the chief opponent of 2016 bipartisan efforts to reduce sentences for drug offenses, voting against the bill in committee. Sessions has also been critical of the Obama Justice Department’s guidelines around sentencing that were designed to limit harsh sentencing and reserve mandatory minimums for major offenders. He opposes “any” reform of civil asset forfeiture, a process that allows government agencies to seize money and property without having to charge anyone with a crime.

The Drug Policy Alliance has created a digital campaign to put the brakes on Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination for Attorney General. The Drug Policy Alliance campaign includes a video launched on The Root that exposes Jeff Sessions’ appalling record on drug policy, civil and human rights, and criminal justice reform.

The Drug Policy Alliance video, created by award-winning filmmaker dream hampton, alternates between archival media footage of Jeff Sessions’ troubling racist words and actions, and DPA staff and allies talking about what Sessions would mean for drug policy and criminal justice. The video ends with a call to action asking people to call their Senators to reject Session for Attorney General.

Recently, the Drug Policy Alliance organized a teleconference for reporters to discuss Sessions’ record on civil and human rights, criminal justice reform, and drug policy. Representatives from LatinoJustice, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Council on American Islamic Relations, Cato Institute, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and the Drug Policy Alliance expressed their concerns about Sessions.

“Senators should reject Jeff Sessions on the floor,” Piper said. “He must be stopped before he causes irreparable damage to our country.”

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.