Category Archives: Drug Policy

Bikini Blast: Reagan Strain Naming?

“I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast” – Ronald Reagan

it's a headache from hell

I have yet to see the proof. But Ronnie might have a developed a great strain name.

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1600’s Chesapeake Tobacco Cultivation

The Chesapeake Bay was home to the earliest English colonies. Charter companies brought hundreds and eventually thousands of people to these new colonies. Beginning with the Jamestown settlement of 1607 and hopes for gold, poor location and disease would afflict early colonial settlers. While there was no gold to be found, the cultivation of tobacco eventually made the colony profitable.

t Tobacco Production, Virginia, 1700s Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

To cultivate tobacco, planters brought in large numbers of English workers, mostly young men who came as indentured servants. The Chesapeake region offered little economic opportunity to indentured servants who had completed their term of obligation. Even with the small amount of capital needed for tobacco cultivation, former indentured servants at best became subsistence farmers, a class ripe for such calls to rebellion as those proposed by Nathaniel Bacon.

Virginia and Maryland were characterized by large plantations and little urban development. The emphasis on indentured labor meant that relatively few women settled in the Chesapeake colonies. This fact, combined with the high mortality rate from disease—malaria, dysentery, and typhoid—slowed population growth considerably.  Because tobacco had become  the mainstay of the Virginia and Maryland economies, plantations were established by riverbanks for the good soil and to ensure ease of transportation. Wealthy planters built their own wharves on the Chesapeake to ship their crop to England, slowing town development.

As the number of new indentured laborers declined because of limited chances for advancement and reports of harsh treatment, they were replaced by African slaves. The Chesapeake colonies enforced laws that defined slavery as a lifelong and inheritable condition based on race. This made slaves profitable because planters could rely not only on their labor but that of their children as well. The slave population, which numbered about four thousand in Virginia and Maryland in 1675, grew significantly to the end of the century.

The Virginia colony made it’s fortunes through the cultivation of tobacco, setting a pattern that was followed in Maryland and the Carolinas, but eventually, fluctuations in Chesapeake tobacco prices caused a prolonged economic depression from 1660 into the early 1700s.

The Final Steps of Cannabis Prohibition

A legislatively-referred constitutional amendment:

✔ a procedure available in 48 states.

✔ no petition signatures necessary.

✔ one friendly legislative sponsor per.

✔ a bill (LRCA) putting to the ballot/electorate

✔ a single, unconvoluted, unadulterable question

✔ to gauge/pursue certain legislative policy-making.

…”Should the state of XYZ…”

✔ passage through its requisite committees

✔ passage through both chambers of state legislature. ☄

✔ passage of ‘the bill’ (question) by governors sig.

✔ referral to State SOS offices or electoral authority

✔ for transmittal to General Election ballots

….”Should the state of XYZ…” (check yes)

✔ cannabis will be the most popular vote-getter.

✔ result: a recommendation to lawmakers to “do this” ☎


***this process is NOT an ‘initiative’ ‘referendum’ etc***

(☄ some states at 2/3+ majority in ‘first year attempt)

(☎ vote directive is not necessarily binding in all cases)

*certain details and restrictions apply. particulars of the procedure vary by state.

learn more:
http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Legislatively-referred_constitutional_amendment

Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendment

Originally Posted at Free the Leaf, August 20, 2012

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Free the Leaf Isn’t a Drug Policy Org

  • Free the Leaf is Global Cannabis Freedom.This cause supports consumers, educators, growers, patients and politicians who are friends of Cannabis. This cause welcomes those who view Cannabis holistically, without the undue Stigma.
  • The goals of our effort are to connect with one another socially, through media; and to collect our numbers physically, to educate, recruit and remove cannabis prohibitions Globally and Locally.
  • Free the Leaf ASSERTS provisions in the United States Bill of Rights. Expressly the Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and EFFECTIVE Petition and especially the Right to Individual Privacy. And lends solidarity to other causes engaged in parallel Social Justice assertions.
  • This community is politically ‘Green‘ (when it must be political) but welcomes those of all politics; It is well understood that Cannabis use and activism spans the political spectrum. As such we do not let politics divide us against these principles we agree upon.
  • Free the Leaf is Jobs, Medicine and Peace by the utilization of Cannabis.Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendment

Originally posted HERE, November 22, 2011

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TESTIMONY: SB1014, An Act Concerning Penalties for Nonviolent Drug Offenses

Cannabis was decriminalized in 2011 in Connecticut on a bill which I sought sponsorship for. SB1014 passed the Assembly, and was approved by the Lieutenant Governor in a Senate tie-breaking vote.  This was the first Decrim-by-Legislature since Alaska, in the 1970s. It was a historic, albeit shitty bill.

In regards to the cannabis decriminalization bills before the Judiciary Committee.

Free the Leaf – Global Cannabis Movement SUPPORTS this legislative action and urges you to consider these points in your decision making:

Bills of this nature have passed through committee before.
This bill, as part of the Governor’s budget, is not doomed to veto.
This bill has immediate cost savings to the state.
This bill (narrowly) realizes that cannabis users are NOT criminals.

You have been given the testimony of the concurrent Medicinal Cannabis bills, and must recognize that what was recently approved, benefits very few.  Much of the self-disclosure of use for particular treatments given in testimony has not been addressed.  These individuals need–and will continue to use–this therapeutic plant for any number of ailments (as an alternative to medications laden with unwanted side effects).

Twice, by bad luck, in the State of Connecticut, these individuals are felons.

That goes, as well, for the recreational user:
Who for choosing a substance that is SAFE (*not “safer”)–as opposed to alcohol and other dangerous legal substances–is subject to the humility, probation, and/or jail time deserved of ACTUAL CRIMINALS.

Negative considerations around this issue suggest a cognitive bias founded on hearsay, inaccurate media portrayal, and outright lies.  The truth is that this plant is BENIGN, but the criminal penalty associated with it is not.

It’s the LAW that has ruined lives.

Albert Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

We suggest that has been the case…

Thank you for your time and patience,

Courteously:
the Free the Leaf Community, and founder, Daniel Malo

billseal

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POLICY: Ohio Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendment Template

A JOINT RESOLUTION

To enact Section 22 of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Ohio to remove penalties attached to the personal use of cannabis and permit the implementation of a regulated, adult market.

Be it resolved by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, three-fifths of the members elected to each house concurring herein, that there shall be submitted to the electors of the state, in the manner prescribed by law at the special election to be held on May 7, 2013, a proposal to enact Section 22 of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Ohio to read as follows:

  1. Any citizen who has under their control an amount of a cannabis-type substance, designated for personal use, shall not be subject to penalty or fine.

(A) “Cannabis-type substance” as defined in section 3719.01(O) of the Ohio Revised Code.

(B) “Penalty or fine” means any civil or criminal penalty or fine, tax, salary or wage withholding or surcharge or any named fee established by law or rule by a government established, created, or controlled agency that is used to punish or discourage the exercise of rights protected under this section.

(C) The General Assembly shall pass laws within six months of the effective date of section 22 to facilitate the operation of section.

EFFECTIVE DATE

If adopted by a majority of the electors voting on this proposal, the amendment takes immediate effect, and existing Section 22 of Article 1 of the Constitution of the State of Ohio is enacted from that effective date.

140px-Seal_of_Ohio.svg

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TESTIMONY: 2011 CT Drug Policy Bills

Good afternoon and thank you; members of the Judiciary Committee, for this audience.

My name is Daniel Malo, and on behalf of myself and the global anti-prohibitionist community,

I would like to extend my SUPPORT to the following bills:

S.B. No. 952, AAC THE SALE OR POSSESSION OF DRUGS NEAR SCHOOLS

S.B. No. 953, AAC NONVIOLENT DRUG POSSESSION OFFENSES.

S.B. No. 1014, AAC THE PENALTY FOR CERTAIN NONVIOLENT DRUG OFFENSES.

S.B. No. 1015, AAC THE PALLIATIVE USE OF MARIJUANA.

H.B. No. 6566, AAC THE COMPASSIONATE USE OF MARIJUANA.

There has long been a concerted effort to undermine and prevent the use of the cannabis plant, recreationally, medically, and industrially.  Criminalized for just a fraction of human history, the plant has proved itself versatile and valuable to our species for a host of reasons.  Greed and the self interest of companies threatened by the potential of cannabis keep it illegal.

Recreationally, cannabis is SAFE and not the “gateway drug” it is purported to be by its opponents.   Medically, cannabis treats dozens of conditions; more recently, the plant is mentioned as a having potential benefit to cancer patients, not only for treatment, but as an avenue of research in looking for a cure.  Industrially, cannabis is an economic miracle, but that is not the subject of these bills.

Sadly, its industrial capability is the reason cannabis is criminalized.  The only dangerous part of the plant is its criminality.  Any other arguments (including moral), are “Reefer Madness.”  Legalized for all and regulated, you would see savings on all aspects of the justice system, and an emerging revenue source.  Yet, for the protection of a few industries, federal and state governments, knowingly or not, would rather:

Incarcerate at taxpayer expense – Deprive all people of a medicine

Ignore the opportunity of industrialized cannabis (JOBS!)

Cannabis use should not be criminalized!

I would ask that the committee NOT SUPPORT:

S.B. No. 1098, AAR THE SALE AND POSSESSION OF SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA AND SALVIA.

While the extracts are unregulated and readily available, the salvia PLANT is safe when used appropriately and that use should be protected.  Its legality is called into question because the extracts have been used by some as an alternative to cannabis—the marketers of these extracts would tell you such.  The human body has evolved alongside salvia, and we have receptors for the chemical.  Lab made extracts are not natural, and don’t have the guarantee of accepted intake.

This is not the first time that users have shifted to a dangerous, but legal, substance because of a criminalized, safe alternative.  The crack and methamphetamine came into existence under similar means—a sad, unintended side effect of prohibition.  To get to the root of this issue, legislators should sponsor cannabis bills to make available the safe alternative, rather than continue with failed policy and their failing mandates.  Please move beyond an outmoded stigma.

Thank you, and sincerely, Daniel Malo

billseal

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Illegality of Drugs Begets Violence

US/NATO forces guarding poppies.

US/NATO forces guarding poppies.

Drug Policy Expert and former Green Party Candidate for Governor (and personal friend) Cliff Thornton, regularly harps this in my ear:  You can connect the “War on Drugs” to anything—and Tom Condon does a good job at connecting it to “place.”   In my advocacy work at the Capitol, I stress this, too.  In introducing his argument, Condon brings up the history of “a once-prominent Hartford crime figure.” Tony Volpe, who presided over illegal gambling and the crimes associated with it.  Once the mob’s business was “eviscerated” by legal gambling, the crime disappeared.  Condon posits, “Could the same thing happen with drugs?”

Yes, and for a number of reasons:  the main idea is based on the idea that the lure of a means of income (and drugs can come at a markup) attract individuals who would otherwise be forced to find legal work.  Supporting this idea is John McWhorter, an African American author, linguist, and politics, who believes that changing our drug laws would “eliminate in a generation” what he calls “the “black problem” or ‘black malaise” in America.” Idle or (currently) “criminal” individuals would migrate to other, “positive” income avenues out of necessity.

“The black male community would no longer include a massive segment of underskilled, drug-addicted ex-cons churning in and out by the thousands year after year, and thus black boys growing up in these communities would not see this life as a norm. They would grow up to get jobs, period.”

If drugs were legal, Condon surmises, “these boys would not grow up with a bone-deep sense of the police—and thus whites—as an enemy.”  Racism and violence have no place in a healthy community.  If it is not safe, people will not choose to live there, given in the example of a New Jersey developer who purchased and restored buildings on Bedford Street in the North End. At a cost of 5 million dollars, he had “all kinds of trouble renting them because of drugs and related gunplay in the area.”

Not only does the “War on Drugs” just “cripple” the city of Hartford and other American cities. It funds international terrorism of the most vicious variety in places such as Mexico, where narco-terrorism has been responsible for tens of thousands of civilian deaths, including children.  This has had such a disruptive effect on the Mexican economy that we face another planning issue in the matter of “illegal immigration.”  But alas, what these people are running from is an inevitability here, unless a radical change in drug policy is considered.  Like prohibition of alcohol, repeal reduced mob proceeds.  It can do the same with the repeal of drugs.  With time, one can envision McWhorter’s revival of culture and community, not just among African Americans, but across all Americans, once we’ve moved forward from laws that do more harm than good.  As Condon says, “the whole thing is crazy…What other crime has an organization of police officers, judges and prosecutors, such as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, working for its repeal?”

inspiration from:
http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/hc-op-condon-legalize-drugs-0109-20110109,0,4218372.column

Legalizing Drugs Would Stop The Bleeding, by Tom Condon—Hartford Courant, 9 January, 2011

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TESTIMONY: HB 6475, An Act Concerning Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Good afternoon and thank you; members of the Judiciary Committee, for this audience.  My name is Daniel Malo, and I am a University of Connecticut student, organizer and concerned citizen:

I would like to extend my support to:

HB 6475, AN ACT CONCERNING MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCES.

The movement to establish mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related offenses began in the early 1950s and gained momentum in the 1970s. During this time, however, sentencing was mainly at the discretion of individual judges who could consider facts regarding the circumstances of an offense and a defendant’s past record in their final rulings.  As the crack cocaine epidemic exploded in the mid-1980s and the rate of drug-related homicides rocketed, Congress looked to mandatory sentencing for drug-related crimes as a law enforcement weapon.

In 1986, Congress enacted the Anti-Drug Abuse Act federal which outlined mandatory drug sentences. Before the 1986 law, drug offenders received an average prison sentence of 22 months. After the law was implemented, the average sentence jumped to 66 months. Prior to the law the average federal drug sentence for African Americans was 11 percent higher than for whites. Four years later, the average federal drug sentence for African Americans was 49 percent higher.

 Between 1986 and 1996, the number of women in prison for drug law violations increased by 421 percent. This led U.S. Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Hawk-Sawyer to testify before Congress, “The reality is, some 70-some percent of our female population are low-level, nonviolent offenders. The fact that they have to come into prison is a question mark for me. I think it has been an unintended consequence of the sentencing guidelines and the mandatory minimums.”

Although Congress intended mandatory sentences to target “kingpins” and managers in drug distribution, the result has been contrary to the intent.   The law has only been beneficial to prosecutors and police, who use the threat of lengthy prison terms to persuade low-level dealers to testify against drug kingpins.  These individuals, often drug mules or street dealers, often end up serving longer sentences because they have little or no information to provide the government, creating a huge incentive for people to provide false information in order to receive a shorter sentence.

Those crowding cells are, for the most part, non-violent offenders.  Meanwhile, criminals who commit more serious crimes often spend less time in jail. More than 80 percent of the increase in the federal prison population from 1985 to 1995 is due to drug convictions. Drug offenders accounted for 44 percent of the increase in the state prison population from 1986 to 1991. Meanwhile, the number of drug violations increased nearly 50 percent in that time. Meanwhile, State and Federal governments have seen significant increases in the costs of corrections due to longer prison terms and an increasing prison population.

There is no evidence that tougher sentences deter drug crimes.

  • Mandatory sentencing does not eliminate sentencing disparities; instead it shifts decision-making authority from judges to prosecutors.
  • Judges are no longer able to consider other factors such as the offender’s role, motivation, and the likelihood of recidivism in sentencing.
  • Mandatory minimums fail to punish high-level dealers, but do succeed at sending record numbers of women and people of color to prison.
  • More appropriate sentencing options or changes in statute will prove to be less costly and/or more effective than mandatory incarceration.

I urge the committee to consider these factors, in their decision making, and ask that this be voted on positively to the Assembly, and encouraged through until it reaches the Governor’s pen.

Thank you, and sincerely, Daniel Malo

billseal

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USA: Backup for Afghan Drug Lords

RAWA: Since 2001 the opium cultivation increased over 4,400%. Under the US/NATO, Afghanistan became world largest opium producer, which produces 93% of world opium.

RAWA: Since 2001 the opium cultivation increased 4,400%. Under the US/NATO, Afghanistan became world largest opium producer, producing 93% of world opium.

In his article In Bed with Warlords, Walter Russell Mead discusses the New York Times drug trafficking allegations and CIA connections of Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of Afgani President, Hamid Karzai.  The allegations should come as no surprise, Mead says, when considering the warlords that America has to deal with in Afghanistan.  He believes that in a “country that’s been involved in chaotic civil and international conflicts for thirty years, the people who have scrambled to the top of the bloody heap are unsavory.”  Because of the power structure in Afghanistan, the United States has been forced into “cutting dirty deals with nasty people.” If not one set of corrupt Afghan officials, we’d “working with other Afghans who’ve clawed their way to the top in the same murderous scrum that gave us the Karzais.”  Mead feels that “whether we stick with the Karzais or find another clan to back, we are going to be forking out a lot of money to a lot of shady types.”  He doesn’t see any way around this; that American forces need allies in the region.  “In Afghanistan there are bad guys who, maybe, we can work with, and bad guys who, definitely, don’t want to work with us.  If we could afford to leave the crummy place alone and let it go to hell in its own way, we would have done that long ago.”

But are we forced into these deals?  Mead is resigned to the status quo; he brings up the standard litany of hawkish reasons for the presence of US troops…with almost nonchalant treatment to the subject of the opium trafficking itself.[1]  The heroin is definitely part of the problem, as Jeremy Hammond of Foreign Policy Journal reports.  Afghanistan supplies 90 percent of the world’s opium and it would be foolish to treat that fact lightly, considering the players along the money trail.  He cites a newly announced US strategy for combating the drug problem: “placing drug traffickers with ties to insurgents —and only drug lords with ties to insurgents — on a list to be eliminated.”  There is a vicious double standard in this, according to Hammond; “the vast majority of drug lords…are explicitly excluded as targets under the new strategy…to put it yet another way, the U.S. will be assisting to eliminate the competition for drug lords allied with occupying forces or the Afghan government; assistance which could theoretically help people like the Karzais “to further corner the market.”[2]

Drug dealing is also easier when you have someone else to take the punishment.  Although 97 percent of the drug trade in Afghanistan is controlled by traffickers other than the insurgents, the insurgents still get blamed. In The Poppy Trail, Reese Erlich says that the “mainstream media largely ignored…government officials…instead spreading the myth that the Taliban controlled most of the drug trade.” There have been numerous instances of drug corruption throughout the Afghan government; former Defense Minister Marshal Muhammad Qasim Fahim, Karzai’s vice presidential candidate, “shipped his heroin to Russia in a government cargo plane, which then returned stuffed with cash” while Ahmed Wali Karzai has “taken control of the heroin trade in Kandahar.” And while the US government and Afghani officials have given lip service to curbing the spread of opium, they continue to place blame mostly on the Taliban.[3]  The $70 million that the Taliban make every year from opium only accounts for two percent of estimated profits from the Afghan drug trade; the other drug lords make almost $3.4 billion.  Before 9/11, the Taliban were allies in the American war on drugs and were “actually awarded…for its effective reduction of the drug trade,” receiving “$43 million for its anti-drug efforts.”[4]

The reason that our troops are in Afghanistan should be put more succinctly to the American public.  If the true purpose of our presence in Afghanistan is to assist in a particular warlord’s monopolization of the heroin trade, then it must be announced in the interests of transparency; otherwise, it needs to be refuted outright, with evidence to support that claim.  The fact that the heroin trade has escalated since 9/11 on our watch and after our puppet was installed, cannot be denied.  American leaders must accept responsibility for their complicity in allowing the world’s prime source of heroin to grow.  They should not blindly holler “9/11,”“women’s rights,” and “democracy” as justification for lingering in Afghanistan. These buzzwords have been grossly misrepresented and are used to sell an idea of the country that isn’t grounded in reality.  The real issue at play is the control of the heroin trade and it is that truth that should be acknowledged in the media.  Mead suggests we “drop the phony outrage over the CIA hiring a suspected drug dealer in Kabul’s first family.” This is something that our intelligence service was probably most intimately aware of, and an issue worthy of mainstream attention.  Mead is correct in his observations that the Karzai/opium connection’s exposure in the media might serve to straighten out the Afghani government. He suggests that we use the press to put “all the pressure we can on the people now wretchedly misgoverning Afghanistan in order to get them to be a little less sickeningly corrupt and incompetent.”[5]   It should go further than that, with the American people asking about their own government’s motives:  Considering how we have knowingly and tacitly supported the Karzai family’s connection to the opium trade, what are our intentions, first, with the Karzais, and second, all the opium?  Why do the poppies continue to grow under a Karzai regime, when, just a decade ago, the United States was paying the Taliban millions of dollars to eradicate it?

[1] Walter Russell Mead, “In Bed with Warlords,” The Daily Beast, 28 October 2009. (accessed 19 November 2009) http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-10-28/our-dangerous-liaisons/full/

[2] Jeremy R. Hammond,Ex-ISI Chief Says Purpose of New Afghan Intelligence Agency RAMA Is ‘to destabilize Pakistan’,” Foreign Policy Journal, 12 August 2009.  (accessed 19 November 2009) http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2009/08/12/ex-isi-chief-says-purpose-of-new-afghan-intelligence-agency-rama-is-%E2%80%98to-destabilize-pakistan%E2%80%99/

[3] Reese Erlich, “On the Poppy Trail,” The Progressive, November Edition. (accessed 19 November 2009) http://www.progressive.org/erlich1109.html

[4] Hammond
[5] Mead

Image and more:

http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2008/10/15/how-deeply-is-the-u-s-involved-in-the-afghan-drug-tradeo.html#ixzz3LXFnKFhV

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