Tag Archives: cannabis

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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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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Cannabis Decrim & Cost Savings

Originally posted March, 2010. 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.

decrim

There have been numerous attempts in the State of Connecticut to remove the criminal penalties attached to cannabis possession. The majority of these proposed bills are focused mostly on the legalization of medical cannabis. While the efforts of medical cannabis legalization have faced similar gains and setbacks, it is the intention of this report to focus solely on decriminalization efforts put forth by the State Legislature.  In 1995, Proposed Bill 815 was referred to the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly.  This bill sought to decrease the penalty for possession of less than one ounce of cannabis by labeling it an infraction.  Individuals found in possession of cannabis would be “guilty of a violation and be fined fifty dollars.”[1] Two years later, a more comprehensive Raised Bill 6991 would come out of the Judiciary Committee.  Among many proposed substitutions and deletions revising State drug policy, this bill sought to decrease penalties for cannabis possession. The objectives of the bill were, first, to determine “substance use, abuse and dependency in the state, client and patient demographics and crime and criminal justice efforts.”

This bill started a new effort in gathering data for the purpose of policy reform.  Prior to this bill, the issue of cannabis was largely considered a moral political battle.  Raised Bill 6991 looked at the reality of the situation, acknowledging it as a health and judicial “problem.”  The bill also examined the use of prevention, treatment, intervention and education services as alternatives to incarceration and the use of criminal justice resources to address substance use and abuse. Also in the bill was language which questioned the appropriateness, quality and cost effectiveness of substance abuse services (including incarceration) administered by the Judicial Department.[2]  In 2003, legislation was proposed which looked to reduce penalties for simple cannabis possession. Proposed Bill 356 suggested that the penalty for possession of less than four ounces be an infraction, rather than a misdemeanor offense.[3] Another proposed bill that year, 5260, would have made possession punishable by a fine of $150 for a first offense and an additional $100 for each subsequent violation. Neither bill would be raised.[4] Attempts at decriminalization would be made in 2009 and 2010 with SB 349 and SB 476, both times on estimates that “doing so could save the state more than $11 million in law enforcement costs annually because far fewer people would be sent to state Superior Court to be overseen by prosecutors and probation officials…If marijuana users were issued a ticket that could be paid by mail, they would no longer need to go to court.”[5] Again like the others before it, these bills would die in committee.

Judging the cost savings benefit of the decriminalization of cannabis in Connecticut has faced one particular challenge. Any estimates would have to rely on accurate data to determine what the costs of criminalized cannabis are.  One could first look at the number of arrests for cannabis offenses to first realize a potential cost savings.  There is a hindrance, however, in that the Judicial Branch tracks offenses by statute number—and subsections in these statutes that deal with arrests for cannabis possession also include other illegal narcotics. According to an Office of Legislative Research (OLR) report in 2006, “to distinguish cases involving a particular drug, (researchers) would have to manually sort through every case on record.”[6] Examination of 2005 statistics, behind the three particular statutes that criminalize cannabis, provide a useful estimate of the volume of arrests and convictions, as well as potentiality in cost savings:

CGS § 21a-278(b) makes it illegal for a non-drug dependent person to possess with intent to sell any narcotic substance, hallucinogenic substance, amphetamine-type substance, or one kilogram or more of marijuana  According to the Judicial Branch, there were 1,885 arrests under this statute in 2005.

CGS § 21a-279(b) makes it illegal to possess or control a dangerous hallucinogen or more than four ounces of marijuana.  According to the Judicial Branch, there were 499 arrests under this statute in 2005.

CGS § 21a-279(c) makes it illegal to possess or control “any quantity of any controlled substance other than a narcotic substance” or “a hallucinogenic substance other than marijuana,” or less than four ounces of marijuana.  According to the Judicial Branch, there were about 9,724 arrests under this statute in 2005.

Recent numbers gathered by the Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) showed that there were 9,928 marijuana arrests in Connecticut in 2007, representing 7.0% of total arrests statewide.  The OFA concluded that approximately 33% of those arrests were for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.  In their findings, OFA saw an estimated 2.3% of total law enforcement resources statewide currently allocated to crimes of cannabis possession. The agency posited a “theoretical savings to state and local law enforcement agencies…estimated to be $9.4 million, resulting from savings associated with police officers no longer having to process arrests for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.” That number is quite large, but it is a potential savings.  More likely, this will free up resources for other police actions according to OFA, which concluded that a “savings in this amount may not be realized by state and local law enforcement budgets due to the fact that resources would most likely be reallocated, rather than eliminated.”[7] Besides the potential cost savings, decriminalization would have a positive public safety impact in that it diverts resources from the enforcement of a non-violent crime to other crimes of more pressing importance.

Criminalized cannabis poses a cost burden on the courts as well.  Data given in 2009 by OFA estimates a smaller number of Judicial cases under CGS 21a‑279(c).  They approximate 3,200 prosecutions (suspiciously down from the 9,700 in the 2005 data).  With these numbers, OFA assumes “that possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana accounts for ¼ of these cases, then the annual cost to process them is estimated to be $400,000, including the salaries of 1 Public Defender, 2 State’s Attorneys, a portion of 1 Judge and support staff, expenses and fringe benefits.”  If using their 2005 statistics, the savings potentially exceeds $1,000,000.

Obviously, along with cost burdens of cannabis criminalization on enforcement agency and courts, there is a large fiscal impact on the State prison system.  The 2009 OFA data finds that there are currently 57 inmates serving a sentence where the controlling charge is CGS 21a-279(c) (possession of less than four ounces of marijuana).  At the time of the data collection, an additional 17 offenders were being held pretrial.  The OFA assumes that “possession of less than one ounce of marijuana accounts for ¼ of these individuals, and assuming an average cost of $44,895 per year per inmate (including employee fringe benefit costs) the resulting savings would be $831,000 per year.”[8] These figures average $121 per day, having risen since 2003 when estimates by the Department of Corrections and the Office of Fiscal Analysis concluded $76 and $96, respectively.[9]  These numbers will theoretically rise higher over time with inflation, further increasing costs to the State and taxpayer.

Savings could also be realized in the 1,300 probationers under supervision in the community who were convicted of possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana as their primary charge.  In particular, the estimate assumes no trials on charges of marijuana possession and no prison terms due to marijuana possession.  The estimate presented here takes as given that current rules regarding parole and probation would remain in effect under decriminalization.  Under current rules, Harvard University Professor Jeffrey Miron notes, “regarding parole and probation, a positive urine test for drugs can send a parolee or probationer to prison, regardless of the original offense…these rules might change under legalization, implying additional reductions in government expenditure.”[10]  Miron also believes that “it is plausible these rules would be relaxed under decriminalization. This would keep non-trivial numbers of parolees and probationers out of prison, with substantial savings for the government budget.[11] The OFA again assumes that “possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana accounts for ¼ of these individuals” and “the estimated, annual cost to supervise these offenders in the community is $424,000, including probation officer salaries, fringe benefits, expenses and contracted services.  Again, these are conservative estimates, and the potential savings rises greatly, depending on the data used and the interpretation thereof.

A 2009 report from the State Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) examining SB 349 and the budgetary impact of cannabis decriminalization concluded that “reclassifying these offenses as infractions would greatly increase the frequency with which fines are imposed and result in a net revenue gain to the General Fund.”  Through estimation of the number of current offenses, OFA reclassification of cannabis could yield “up to $320,000 in additional General Fund revenue each year.”  According to their report, the OFA felt that “potential savings…would continue into the future subject to inflation; the annualized revenue from fines would remain constant into the future since fine amounts are set by statute.” [12]

The true savings or revenue gain is ultimately impossible to determine at this point.  Harvard University Professor Jeffrey Miron believes that “estimated savings in criminal justice resources is likely the minimum savings that would occur under decriminalization”  He believes that “since most of the assumptions underlying this estimate err on the low side,”[13] there is a potentially large, unknown upside.  While the State might not “win the lottery” in decriminalizing cannabis, all indications point to both cost savings and increased revenue.  To best gauge the possible fiscal impact of decriminalized cannabis in Connecticut, it is helpful to look at the effects of other decriminalization efforts around the United States.

Decriminalization is hardly a new issue—During the 1970’s there was an effort in many states to decriminalize cannabis possession by imposing a civil fine rather than a criminal penalty. During that time, eleven states dropped criminal penalties. Recently, Nevada and Massachusetts decriminalized simple possession. As well, a number of municipalities have taken steps to decriminalize or “deprioritize” marijuana arrests.  Some states, such as Alaska, have “rolled back” their policies, criminalizing cannabis by referendum after a long period of legalization.  Currently, nine states have decriminalized possession of small amounts[14], and bills of similar nature are proposed in nearly every state in the country.

Professor Miron has researched the “Prop. 2” decriminalization measure in Massachusetts and his research is likely the most reliable, in terms of coverage of fiscal impact. Miron used methodology and data sets similar to that of OFA, and concluded that decriminalization of marijuana in Massachusetts would produce an annual savings in law enforcement resources of approximately $ 29. 5 million based on 2006 data.  Miron found that judges and lawyers generally estimated stand-alone arrests at 40% of marijuana possession arrests in Massachusetts. He also found, like OFA, that 33% was a reasonable estimate of the marijuana arrests that would no longer occur due to decriminalization. He also found that 5. 8% of all arrests in Massachusetts were for marijuana possession. He multiplied this by 33% to get 1.9% as the fraction of all arrests that would not occur and result in a savings of criminal justice resources under decriminalization.[15]

According to a 2010 OFA report reviewing Miron’s work, savings in criminal justice resources had three components: “a reduction in police resources because of the reduced number of arrests; a reduction in prosecutorial and judicial resources because of the reduced number of criminal applications, pre-trial hearings, and trials; and a reduction in correctional resources because of the reduced number of prisoners.” OFA notes that Miron found that only the first category was likely to be substantially affected by decriminalization due to the low numbers of people incarcerated solely for marijuana possession, which amounted to about 1.9% of the Massachusetts’ budget for police protection.  It is on that figure that Miron determined the $29.5 million figure. He concludes that this estimate may be low for several reasons, including the earlier mentioned assumption that parole and probation rules will stay the same.[16]

The City of Seattle adopted ballot initiative “I-75” in 2003. The initiative mandated that “the police department and city attorney’s office make the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of marijuana offenders the city’s lowest enforcement priority when the marijuana is intended for adult personal use.” Studied by University of Washington Professors, Beckett and Herbert, the two recently crafted a report which discusses the consequences and costs of marijuana prohibition. Their report concludes that “there were reductions in the number of referrals of marijuana-related incidents from the police department to the city attorney and also a reduction in people charged with marijuana possession by the city attorney, after I-75’s adoption.”[17]

The California decriminalization effort is discussed in a 1988 study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. Prior to the enactment of the Moscone Act in 1976, ¼ of the felony arrests in California were for marijuana, costing the state $100 million annually to process marijuana offenders. The act reduced possession of small amounts of marijuana from a felony to a new type of misdemeanor. The study’s authors, Aldrich and Mikuriya, concluded that California saved at least $ 1 billion between 1976 and 1986 as a result of this change. However, this study discusses the savings associated with “de-felonization” rather than outright decriminalization of cannabis.” [18]

Thus far, nearly every state has, at the very least, broached the subject of cannabis decriminalization in the committees of their legislatures.  Decriminalization—even legalization—are popular subjects that get mentioned both by word of mouth, and in the media. According to drug experts, cannabis is the most popular illegal drug, with nearly 42% of the population experimenting with the drug in their lifetime.  Proponents argue that decriminalization and eventual legalization are measures that have become necessary to “right the wrong” caused by prohibition.[19] In today’s budget crisis, regardless of one’s opinion of the drug itself, decriminalization of cannabis is perhaps the simplest legislation with the quickest turn around in cost savings and potential revenue.

 

[1] State of Connecticut, Proposed Bill 815, An Act Concerning Marijuana and Cannabis Type Substances (1995).

[2] State of Connecticut, Raised Bill 6991, An Act Concerning Drug Policy (1997).

[3] State of Connecticut, Proposed Bill 356, An Act Concerning the Penalty for Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana (2003).

[4] Norman-Eady, Sandra, State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Resarch. “2004-R-0264  Decriminalization of Marijuana.  February 25, 2004

[5] Keating, Christopher.  Hartford Courant “Judiciary Committee Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana.” March 31, 2009  http://blogs.courant.com/capitol_watch/2009/03/decriminalize-marijuana.html (Accessed April 23, 2010)

[6] Wolkoff, Adam, State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Research.  “2006-R-0113  Marijuana Statistics.” February 6, 2006.

[7] Murphy, Michael, Alan Calandro, Christopher Wetzel.  State of Connecticut, Office of Fiscal Analysis. “OFA-1575, Fiscal Impact of reducing the penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana.” March 23, 2009.

[8] Murphy, Michael, Alan Calandro, Christopher Wetzel.  State of Connecticut, Office of Fiscal Analysis. “OFA-1575, Fiscal Impact of reducing the penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana.” March 23, 2009.

[9] Wolkoff, Adam, State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Research.  “2006-R-0113  Marijuana Statistics.” February 6, 2006.

[10] Miron, Jeffrey.  Harvard University. “The Budgetary Implications of Prohibition.”(December, 2008)

[11] Miron, Jeffrey.  Harvard University. “The Effect of Marijuana Decriminalization on the Budgets of Massachusetts Governments” (October, 2008).  http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/miron/files/decrim_update_2007.pdf  (Accessed April 23, 2010)

[12] Murphy, Michael, Alan Calandro, Christopher Wetzel.  State of Connecticut, Office of Fiscal Analysis. “OFA-1575, Fiscal Impact of reducing the penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana.” March 23, 2009.

[13] Miron, Jeffrey.  Harvard University. “The Effect of Marijuana Decriminalization on the Budgets of Massachusetts Governments” (October, 2008).

[14] Norman-Eady, Sandra, State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Resarch. “94-R-1089  Legalization of Illicit Drugs”  December 22, 1994.

 

[15] Norman-Eady, Sandra, State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Resarch. “94-R-1089  Legalization of Illicit Drugs”  December 22, 1994.

[16] Soncia Coleman, State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Research. “Criminal Justice Cost Savings Associated with Marijuana Decriminalization.” February 17, 2010.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[18] Norman-Eady, Sandra, State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Resarch. “94-R-1089  Legalization of Illicit Drugs”  December 22, 1994. http://www.cga.ct.gov/2010/rpt/2010-R-0052.htm (Accessed April 22, 2010)

[19] Norman-Eady, Sandra, State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Resarch. “94-R-1089  Legalization of Illicit Drugs”  December 22, 1994.

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Make It From Hemp

135473_171923442849360_118217471553291_335283_6340021_o

The Cannabis issue is entirely about the potential of hemp–as the cornerstone of the American economy.  Hemp can substitute any material, and it’s overall utility has yet to be fully realized.Marijuana is a therapeutic alternative to both alcohol and tobacco, and that should be recognized.  Cannabis is Jobs, Medicine, and Peace.

And this is currently criminalized.  Better Living Through Cannabis…

End the “War on Drugs”…Everything from Hemp!

Free the Leaf!

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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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