President Trump last week signaled a dramatic turnaround in administration marijuana policy, telling Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner that the Justice Department would not go after state-legal marijuana in Colorado and that he would support moves to address the contradiction between legal marijuana states and federal pot prohibition.
Who better to poke fun at than the cluelessly anti-marijuana Sessions—the man who claims “good people” don’t smoke pot, that marijuana is a gateway drug, and who once said he liked the local Ku Klux Klan boys until he found out they smoked weed?
The measure is actually a mixed bag, a product of lengthy discussions among senators seeking a compromise that could actually pass the Senate. While it has a number of progressive sentencing reform provisions, mainly aimed at non-violent drug offenders, it also includes new mandatory minimum sentences for some crimes, including some drug offenses.
The Trump administration released its proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget Monday, and it looks like a return to last century’s failed law-and-order drug war policies. While paying lip service to the nation’s opioid crisis, the administration shows its priorities by asking for more money for Trump’s quixotic border wall than to actually address opioids.
The omens are not good. In a pair of speeches this week, the president and his attorney general made some very menacing comments about drug policy. While their last-century drug warrior rhetoric has not, for the most part, translated into regressive, repressive drug policy prescriptions—yet—it’s probably not safe to assume that will continue to be the case.
With his announcement that he is freeing federal prosecutors to go after marijuana operations in states where it is legal, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has excited strong bipartisan opposition, splitting the Republicans, providing a potential opening for Democrats in the 2018 elections, and energizing supporters of just ending marijuana prohibition once and for all.
It’s long been a given that racial disparities plague the nation’s criminal justice system. That’s still true—black people are incarcerated at a rate five times higher than that of white people—but the disparities are decreasing, and there are a number of interesting reasons behind the trend.
Despite spreading marijuana legalization and a growing desire for new directions in drug policy, the war on drugs continues unabated. According to the FBI’s latest Uniform Crime Report, released Monday, overall drug arrests actually increased last year to 1.57 million, a jump of 5.63 percent over 2015. The increase includes marijuana arrests, which jumped by more than 75,000 last year compared to 2015, an increase of 12 percent.
Voters in Maine narrowly approved marijuana legalization last November, and since then, the state legislature has been busily trying to come up with rules and regulations for the legal weed market. Now, they are envisioning something of a rarity: allowing customers to buy their weed at drive-up windows.
As of noon Saturday, the possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in New Hampshire. Now, people in New England who are caught with a joint or two will not be subject to arrest. Two New England states—Maine and Massachusetts—have legalized marijuana, and all the others have now decriminalized it. Decriminalization came when, after years of effort, the legislature passed House Bill 640 in June, and Republican Gov. John Sununu signed it into law the following month.
The Trump Justice Department under prohibitionist Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reviving some of the drug war’s worst sentencing practices—mandatory minimum sentences, charging low-level defendants with the harshest statutes. But that doesn’t mean the states have to follow suit. As has been the case with climate change, environmental protection, trade, and the protection of undocumented residents, California is charting its own progressive path in the face of the reactionaries in Washington.
The Cannabis World Congress and Business Exposition had selected the white-haired provocatuer to address the two pot business conferences after Stone came out for pot legalization early this summer. But Stone’s pro-legalization stance wasn’t enough to protect him from charges of racism, misogyny and being too close to Trump, who rode his own racist dog whistles to the White House.
President Trump sure loves his border wall. It was a staple of his campaign rhetoric, and despite Mexico’s firm insistence that there is no way Mexico is ever going to pay for it, Trump’s desire for the wall is unabated. Now, he’s threatening to shut down the government unless he can persuade Congress to make American taxpayers pay for it.
Marijuana is already a multibillion-dollar-a-year business in California, and with recreational sales to adults coming online next year, it’s about to get even bigger. Now, the legal pot industry is beginning to throw its weight around in state office-level politics, and it’s doing it the old-fashioned way: with a checkbook.
Last month, the Drug Policy Alliance released a report noting that marijuana arrests under New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio continue to be marked by shocking racial disparities, much as they were under his predecessors, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. Stung by the criticism, de Blasio is fighting back…
Led by Ethan Nadelmann since its formation 17 years ago, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has been the most influential drug reform organization in the country, with a hand in advancing the causes not only of medical marijuana and marijuana legalization, but of drug law reform more broadly, in all its manifestations and intersectionality.
Asset forfeiture is a practice in which police seize cash and property. It has come under sustained criticism in recent years, with critics arguing that it amounts to policing for profit, and state legislatures around the country have moved to rein it in. But Attorney General Sessions is headed in the opposite direction.
The state of South Dakota is practicing a form of drug war excess tantamount to torture or sexual assault, according to a pair of federal lawsuits filed by the ACLU on June 28. One suit charges that law enforcement and medical personnel subject drug suspects to forcible catheterization if they refuse to submit to a drug test.
With marijuana possession being legal, police in legal states can no longer assume criminal activity merely because of the presence of pot, which would have given them probable cause to conduct a search. And that means fewer interactions between drivers and police, reducing the prospect of dangerous—or even deadly—clashes.
Drugs, mainly opioids, are killing Americans at a record rate. The number of drug overdose deaths in the country quadrupled between 1999 and 2010—and compared to the numbers we’re seeing now, those were the good old days. Some 30,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2010. According to a new estimate from the New York Times, double that number died last year.
This is not your father’s marijuana industry. In a couple of decades we’ve gone from a completely black market in marijuana to a legal market valued at $4 billion a year—and projected to increase rapidly—and from tie-dyed Northern California pot farmers hiding from helicopters to people in suits and ties with dollar signs in their eyes.
In the euphoric aftermath of marijuana legalization victories in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada last November, the marijuana blogosphere was alive with predictions about which states would be next to free the weed.
President Trump will name Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino (R) to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP—the drug czar’s office), CBS News reported Tuesday. Marino’s legacy of legislative achievements around drug policy, however, raise serious questions about whether he is the right choice.
Sessions’ uninformed claim is likely to increase jitters in the country’s nascent legal marijuana industry as it confronts an attorney general whose rhetoric so far has strongly suggested he would like to crack down on legal weed—although he has yet to take any concrete steps to do so.
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 Trump this 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.”