Tag Archives: public hearing

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

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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

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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

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