Want To Reduce Illegal Immigration? End The Drug War.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Several GOP presidential hopefuls have over the last few weeks offered wildly extreme and generally unrealistic proposals for deterring illegal immigration — largely spurred by Donald Trump’s grandiose plan to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, then let a few of the “good ones” back in, all while building a giant, possibly self-branded border wall. Other ideas Republican primary candidates have pondered lately include eliminating birthright citizenship, which is guaranteed by the 14th amendment to the Constitution, because some argue that it acts as a magnet for undocumented immigrants.

While these ideas might energize the GOP’s conservative base, they wouldn’t do much to deter illegal immigration, for one simple reason: All of these propositions rest on the false assumption that most undocumented immigrants are crossing into the U.S. primarily to look for a better life and a higher-paying job.

Anyone who speaks to undocumented immigrants regularly knows that they invariably view the dangerous and expensive trip into the U.S. as a last resort, usually because something went horribly wrong at home — not because of dreams of having a child who is a U.S. citizen.


Some Illinois Health Systems Say No To Medical Marijuana

ILLINOIS:  Patients must have a doctor’s signature to buy medical marijuana in Illinois, but some health systems are forbidding doctors from putting pen to paper because the drug is still illegal at the federal level.

Others are cautiously allowing doctors to participate in the pilot program, even conducting training sessions to make sure doctors know their legal responsibilities as gatekeepers.

Illinois is among 23 states that permit marijuana for medical use, but the program has been slow to start since the law was enacted two years ago. Seven cultivation centers have been green-lighted to start growing cannabis; sales will begin later this year.

Legal Marijuana Snuffing Out Eradication Program

OHIO:  The multi-million dollar federal marijuana eradication program may be on its last legs as more states legalize the drug and results of the program decline.

Since 2010, funding for the program has been relatively stable, yet states receiving the money have reported 35 percent fewer arrests and 58 percent fewer marijuana plants seized. In Ohio, where voters will decide on marijuana legalization in November, those decreases are even larger — 86 percent fewer arrests and 75 percent fewer plants.

In June, the U.S. House approved a California congressman’s proposal to slash the Drug Enforcement Agency’s $18 million state marijuana eradication budget in half. While 183 members of Congress voted against the budget legislation where the proposal appeared, no one spoke against it in session.

Bernie Sanders Announces Bill To Abolish Private Prisons, Hints At Marijuana Policy Platform

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Bernie Sanders isn’t done talking about criminal justice reform — in fact, he’s merely getting started. The presidential contender continues to rise in the polls and sensible Drug War reforms will only increase his standing with the Democratic base.

Appearing at a campaign rally in Nevada on Tuesday, the Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate talked at length about the unfairly punitive policies that plague the American justice system and disproportionately affect people of color in the United States. Speaking to the crowd of 4,500 supporters gathered outside the University of Nevada, Sen. Sanders went beyond his previous speeches on the issue, announcing that, come September, he will be introducing federal legislation which would abolish for-profit private prisons.

“When Congress reconvenes in September,” Sanders said, “I will be introducing legislation, which takes corporations out of profiteering from running jails.”

Tackling the problem of for-profit prisons is a bold move for a federal legislator, as the prison industry is a hugely profitable part of the U.S. economy. The top two private prison companies in the country, Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group, have a combined annual revenue of over $3 billion, much of which is spent lobbying elected officials to protect their bottom line. While some states, such as New York and Illinois, have enacted laws to ban the privatization of prisons, for-profit prisons have tragically remained a staple of the American criminal justice system, in large part due to the country’s skyrocketing incarceration rates made possible by the War on Drugs.


Marijuana Law Creates Confusion But Finds Growing Acceptance In District

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  About 30 party guests wearing suits and summer dresses mingled in the candlelit back yard of a small, private home in the Forest Hills neighborhood in Northwest Washington and snacked on hors d’oeuvres to the sound of jazz. Instead of cocktails, they sipped gourmet coffee and tea infused with marijuana.

In the kitchen, servers poured hot and iced drinks for the tasting party. They were showcasing products from House of Jane, a California-based company that sells cannabis-infused beverages. Jane’s Brew C-Cups were on display in the living room, stacked on a table alongside similarly branded coasters.

“What Jane’s Brew is trying to do is alleviate, remove the stigma for cannabis,” said Jill Amen, the company’s co-founder, who was allowing the guests to sample her products for free. “It can be done in a professional way — just like a cocktail party, a very social event. Because it is a social event.”

This is the new world of marijuana in the nation’s capital, where residents have been able to legally possess, privately consume and grow limited amounts of pot since February.

Federal Cannabis Bills In Political Purgatory

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  While there has been a great deal of anticipation over the past several months in regards to whether the CARERS Act would pass in 2015, some of the latest reports reveal that this legislation, which seeks to legalize medical cannabis at the federal level, has not managed to attract enough bipartisan support to catapult its agenda into the forefront of nationwide reform.

Although a number of Democrats have stepped up in support of the CARERS Act, most recently Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the bill simply has not managed to pick up enough Republican supporters to advance it into the next phase of the legislative process.

Unfortunately, this means the proposal is unlikely to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee until, at the very least, after the August recess. Yet, recent comments made by Chairman Charles Grassley indicating that he wants to “talk to other Republican members” before giving the bill any attention, suggests that it is most likely resting in a limp state of committee limbo, perhaps, indefinitely.

Early last week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, one of the primary sponsors of the CARERS Act, told Roll Call that it has been difficult to secure a third co-sponsor for the bill, and that none of the Republicans they have met with have agreed to come aboard.

State Lawmakers To Congress: Butt Out Of Our Marijuana Laws

WASHIGNTON:  State lawmakers are calling on the federal government to change its drug laws to let states experiment with marijuana and hemp policy.

The National Conference of State Legislatures, the de facto bipartisan group of lawmakers, passed a resolution at its annual meeting Thursday calling on the federal government to amend the Controlled Substances Act to authorize state marijuana laws and on the administration to keep its nose out of state pot policies.

“State lawmakers just sent a message to Congress that could not be any clearer,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, which has been instrumental in the movement to legalize the drug for recreational use. “It’s time to end the federal prohibition of marijuana and let the states decide what policies work best for them.”

Resolutions passed at the meeting will guide the group’s federal advocacy in the year ahead. In order to be approved, the resolution had to earn majority support from three-fourths of the states in attendance at Thursday’s meeting in Seattle.

Member Of Kettle Falls Five Sentenced To 16 Months In Jail For Marijuana Operation

WASHINGTON:  A federal judge rejected the medical marijuana defense of a member of the so-called “Kettle Falls Five” growing family and sentenced Jason Lee Zucker on Friday to 16 months in prison.

“There is no such thing as medical marijuana,” U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice said. “There is no such thing in federal law.”

Zucker is the first to be sentenced in the case. He pleaded guilty the day before trial began in March and testified for the federal government against Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, Rolland Gregg and Michelle Gregg, saying he twice brought more than 70 plants from his home in Seattle to the Harvey property in rural Stevens County in 2011 and 2012. Assistant U.S. Attorney Caitlin Baunsgard said Friday Zucker’s testimony was “integral” to obtaining convictions against his co-defendants and urged the lighter sentence. He could have been sent to federal prison for five years.

10 Reasons Why Federal Medical Marijuana Prohibition Is about To Go Up In Smoke

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  When I first opened the D.C. office for Americans for Safe Access (ASA) in 2006, to bring representation of medical marijuana patients to our nation’s capitol, I was told by many it was not worth the effort.  A quick skim of the political landscape back then showed we would be facing a steep slope. Sure, twelve states had passed medical marijuana laws and  80% of Americans supported medical cannabis access, but the federal government refused to admit that medical cannabis patients existed.  The talking points from federal agencies were always “there is no such thing as medical marijuana,” and most members of Congress were paralyzed by fears of backlash or were dug into to refer madness.

Flash forward 9 years…(and $500,000, 000 dollars of anti-medical cannabis federal enforcement later) and for the first time, we have comprehensive medical marijuana legislation in both the U.S. House and Senate. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act (CARERS) Act of 2015 is the most comprehensive piece of federal medical marijuana legislation ever introduced in the U.S. Congress. The bipartisan act is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and, in the House of Representatives, by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK).

This important bill would remedy the state-federal conflict over medical marijuana law, with far-reaching impacts, including:

  • Allowing state programs to continue without federal interference
  • Moving marijuana out of the Schedule I list
  • Removing CBD from the scheduling
  • Creating access to banking services for legal marijuana businesses
  • Ending the DEA-Imposed NIDA monopoly that blocks research
  • Allowing Veterans Affairs doctors to write recommendations in states that have a medical marijuana program.

These Native American Tribes Legalized Weed, But That Didn’t Stop Them From Getting Raided By The Feds

CALIFORNIA:  In the foggy early morning hours of Wednesday, July 8, special agents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Drug Enforcement Administration and state and local law enforcement descended on the Pit River Tribe’s XL Ranch and the Alturas Indian Rancheria in northeastern California, seizing 12,000 marijuana plants and 100 pounds of processed pot from the two large-scale growing facilities.

The Alturas Indian Rancheria and the XL Ranch are located on opposite sides of the town of Alturas, California. The tribes that operate them, Alturas and Pit River, are separate federally recognized tribes, but are descended from the same 11 bands of Achumawi- and Atsugewi-speaking peoples that called the region home long before the arrival of white settlers.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has not yet filed any charges against the tribes or individuals related to the raid. The office declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

Pit River tribal leaders have declared the raid a violation of their sovereign rights. “We are very disappointed with the decision of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, as the lead federal agency, to descend on sovereign land with an army of nearly fifty law enforcement officers,” Pit River Tribal Chairman Mickey Gemmill Jr. said in a press release. “That the BIA would take such a disrespectful approach to an Indian tribe on its own land is a serious assault to the Tribe’s right to self-governance.”