Category Archives: Testimony

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,

the Free the Leaf Community, and founder, Daniel Malo


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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:






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:


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


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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:


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


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TESTIMONY: SB 1230, An Act Concerning Traffic Stop Information

Good afternoon and thank you; members of the Judiciary Committee, for this audience.  My name is Daniel Malo, and based upon my research and activism on this issue,

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


To enhance compliance with data collection and reporting required under the Alvin W. Penn Racial Profiling Prohibition Act.

While participating in the Hartford Community Party, I had the opportunity to learn about the Alvin W. Penn Act in great detail.  Racial Profiling, being a chief concern of the North Hartford community that CP represents, I had the opportunity to work with the City of Hartford and other agencies in an effort to make the municipality compliant with the state statue.  CP, also in their effort to raise awareness of this issue, has also worked with state legislators and state agencies to address the flaws of the Statue.  As my colleagues are here to speak today on behalf of their organizations and communities, I am sure the Committee will be well informed.  While it is unfortunate that I am unable to deliver testimony in person today, I would like to submit supplemental information in the breadth of my studies, as well my observations from our efforts in the City of Hartford.

To summarize:

  • Racial Profiling DOES occur in Connecticut (evidenced in monthly news coverage)
  • Less than a third of Connecticut’s police agencies are compliant WITH THE LAW
  • Data collected since implementation has not been analyzed
  • Data collected exists in multiple formats, prohibiting ease of analysis (AAAC)


As s state, we should be beyond this.  Creation of a law ten years ago suggest that we thought we were.  This law serves no one, until a “STANDARDIZED ENCOUNTER FORM” becomes used to keep data analysis costs low (which, if ‘cost’ is claimed, forms are budgeted items).  This law certainly serves no one if those charged with keeping it, do not obey it themselves (look closely, to who it is that opposes this bill).  Please read further and contact me, if need be.

Please accountability and efficiency into the Penn Act.

Thank you, and sincerely, Daniel Malo






Shortcomings of Racial Profiling Data Collection in Connecticut

a Public Act, which would eventually bear the name of its champion, was enacted in Connecticut on the first day of January in the year 2000. Following a wave of racial profiling legislation throughout the country, the Penn Act, like the laws passed in other states, relies on the collection of data to spot trends in traffic stops. There are items of the Act that are taken for granted; the cooperation of state police agencies to be compliant with the law and the analysis of submitted data to be reported in the manner proscribed. Thus far, the majority of Connecticut police departments are non-compliant and the collected data sits on shelves, in various slips of papers bound by rubber-band, un-analyzed.  There is another serious question about the data collection itself—can offending officers be relied upon to report accurate profiling data when they fill out the form based on their perceptions?  The Penn Act is a start to correcting discriminatory police tactics, but its shortcomings need to be addressed—otherwise the law is a waste of even the half-effort put toward its enforcement—and a failure at ensuring the protected rights of  State residents.


The most troubling aspect one finds when researching the Penn Act is the unwillingness of the Connecticut police departments to comply with State Statute.  According to their 2008 Annual Report, the African-American Affairs Commission (AAAC), the agency charged with analyzing the profiling data, “barely twenty-five percent of the required law enforcement agencies…submitted reports” in that year.  You would figure that the State’s police departments—the lawkeepers of the land—would have a compliancy rating of better than 25%, especially on a highly publicized issue.   Telling is the fact that Hartford’s urban police forces are among the departments that do not submit data.  There is quickness to dismiss the fact that racial profiling even occurs at all.  According to many officers, the issue instead is “a myth,” and if discriminatory intent was perceived, then it was the lack respect towards the peace officer, or probability of criminal cause that led to the police encounter.  There are many thousands of individuals who claim otherwise, and “driving while black” continues to remain a popular phrase, due to its prevalence in daily urban life.  Departments need to work within the law.  Only then, will they receive the respect they claim they aren’t given.


Another failing of the Act is that it doesn’t designate an “official” form or format for the data collection.    According to the AAAC, the data that had been submitted was “received electronically while others were received in several paper formats.”  I have witnessed this first-hand in meetings with AAAC Executive Director Glen Cassis, who when asked about the way the data is collected, left the room and came back with bundles of scraps of papers…of different size, color, font, etc.  Some of the handwriting was impossible to make out on the forms, which dated back (at least as far as I could see) to 2002.  The cost that the AAAC cites as a hindrance in the analysis of this data comes solely from making sense of this jumbled mess.  Sifting through the piles of bundled papers made me realize the need for a uniform method of data collection—starting with the form.  “Some of them come on slips of paper, some on disc . . . some of it’s coded . . . it comes in various shapes and sizes, and it’s difficult to do any kind of comprehensive report,” says Cassis.  Why is paper even used, considering the amount invested in patrol car computers?  Is the data collection issue something that can be solved by Scantron?  Speaking of bubble forms, can’t the analysis and reporting be completed by college students, as has been suggested by former State Representative Michael Lawlor?  If the State tells an agency to get something done and they don’t provide the money, they should, at the least, supply ideas on making the process cost effective.


When discussing the Penn Act with other activists and community members, they are astonished that data is even collected in the first place.  The first question many people have asked is “who collects the data?” When told that is the officer who makes the traffic stop, their immediate concern is whether or not an officer who engages in profiling would self-report their own criminal activity.  A good point is also made that officers aren’t necessarily trained to interpret race.  Oftentimes, the ticket that is received is riddled with errors regarding the officers presumed interpretation of race (or religion in some cases, in the states that track that data)—sometimes even gender is inaccurately recorded.  An immediate question is “who is to say…” that the data the officer reports—unseen by the person being pulled over—has accurately been recorded.  This model of data collection carries many fallacies, which, like probable cause (“what is probable cause?”), leave much to interpretation.  What exactly is “officer’s presumption” and what options, if any, are available to individuals who believe they have been racially profiled?


Beyond reporting of the data, there are no ways to spot profiling, accept by anecdote, and then by lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the State Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.  Of these cases, usually only the “surest” go to trial. While they grab attention from the media, they drawn out, and in the course of the wait, a person sometimes suffers from lost employment because of a traffic incident in which they may have been profiled (ex. truck drivers).  There is no immediate recourse available to the victim in this case.  To help overcome this inequity, municipalities in other states such as Oregon and California have requested that the officer’s business card be presented at each traffic stop.  The hope would be to keep the offending officer less likely to engage in profiling, for fear of recrimination by the persons they pull over.  It seems a cheap enough addition to range of alternatives, though there are complaints about the cost of paper.  A less costly method might be to print a line on the bottom of the ticket:  “Do you believe you have been racially profiled?  Tell your story @ www.XYZ.”  The “hotline” webpage could serve as either a un- or low-funded forum simply to broadcast the issue, or as part of a state agency or non-profit organization (hopefully this time, funded).  Academia could well step in, and leave the running of the site to those studying web-design; and the handling of the legal matters to professors, advocates, and those pursuing a law degree.  Fixing the problem of racial profiling doesn’t have to be a slow or expensive process.


The issue of racial profiling first needs acknowledgement by the State’s police forces.  The reality is that racial profiling is not the myth that they have made it out to be.  Rather than dismissing the idea of it, or spinning it to be a “lack of officer respect” outlook on the part of the citizen, police agencies should own up to their role in this ordeal.  If they wish to handle the problem of profiling internally, as is the current “strategy,” those efforts must show results—to the satisfaction of the community that they serve. The police must be compliant with the law they are charged with keeping.  There must be championing on this issue, politically and in the community, to pressure this wrong to be righted.  A failed, yet expansive, racial profiling law shows poor leadership thus far in that regard. Rather than continue with the chaos of the current system, the will to accomplish the intention of the Penn Act is within reach, and needs the support of police leadership and elected officials.  Instead of taking an adversarial approach with this issue, the onus is on them to cooperate with the community and move beyond this discriminatory, archaic idea.  Simple steps, some of which are proposed in this document, are low-cost, “low-hanging” approaches that can be implemented to both curb racial profiling and provide a form of recourse to the individual affected by the practice.