DOJ outlines Marijuana enforcement priorities
If Alaska legalizes marijuana, the Department of Justice now has a few rules the state will need to follow and enforce. In a Thursday memo, Deputy Attorney General James Cole outlined eight enforcement priorities that aim to keep pot from being grown on federal property, sold on the black market or used by kids.
The announcement — which came as a result of Colorado and Washington passing ballot initiatives legalizing pot — is not surprising to Tim Hinterberger. Hinterberger is a professor of developmental biology at the University of Alaska Anchorage and is sponsoring, along with Bill Parker and Mary Reff, an initiative that would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana sales.
“It simply reinforces what we’ve been saying for some time,” Hinterberger said. “The mood in the country has been shifting.”
The mood in Alaska, however, has been quite relaxed for nearly 40 years. The Ravin v. State ruling of 1975 determined that Alaskans who used and possessed marijuana in the privacy of their own home were protected by the state constitution. Still, Alaska’s courts have recognized that possession is illegal under federal law.
A study in 2009 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that Alaska had some of the highest usage rates in the nation. The report said that about 33 percent of people aged 18-25 had used pot in the previous year; that dropped to about 10 percent for those 26-years-old and older. About 15 percent of kids aged 12-17 had also used pot in the last year, the report said. The percentages drop significantly when looking at how many people had used pot in the last month.
There’s no knowing if legalization would increase pot use among kids, Hinterberger said, but that legalization would practically eliminate the black market.
“Certainly it will change the whole landscape if you can go down to the local smoke store, show your ID and take some (marijuana) home,” Hinterberger said. “Drug dealers don’t ask anyone, even kids, for identification.”
Read more: http://juneauempire.com
Death sentence given to grandmother in Bali for drug smuggling
Many activists are pleading for Indonesia to forego the execution of a grandmother for drug smuggling, even as other nations impose punishments for the manufacture, distribution and use of drugs considered illicit and others legal.
In the present case of the British grandmother, Lindsay Sandiford, 57, sentenced to death for smuggling cocaine valued at $2.5 million into Bali, a resort island that is part of Indonesia, appeals had been made against the harsh sentence, but were rejected by a three-judge panel.
Sandiford had alleged she was forced to smuggle the drugs after a threat by a gang that her children would be hurt if she refused. News outlets covering the trial, pleadings and sentencing, report the prosecutors as initially seeking a sentence for Sandiford of 15 years in prison as opposed to the death by firing squad that was issued by a lower court, then upheld by Bali’s High Court ruling.
In the United States, where there has been on ongoing war on drugs since the Reagan administration’s dictum of “Just say no,” marijuana has become controversial in terms of its legality and the treatment of its distribution as a crime in some areas of the country and legal in other areas. Some of the distributors of medical marijuana, for example, have been raided and taken to court, as two were on Thursday, August 29, in Washington County, Oregon. A brief interaction with one of them at the courthouse brought the news from Sarah Bennett, who manages a medical marijuana distribution facility, that the Federal government has stepped aside from targeting distribution of marijuana in those states where medical marijuana has been legalized. She said, “It is a good thing that this has happened, as it allows people who need the medication to be helped. Please read the information, as it details how this may help resolve some of the conflicts.” A previous article had outlined the fact that harsh measures had been taken against growers and distributors in those states where the drug had been legalized.
Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com
Drug War Film Screening In Missouri Makes News
On Monday, we hosted a screening of the Reason Foundation’s new documentary America’s Longest War in Joplin. After the film, local cannabis law reform activist (and former Show-Me Cannabis Regulation board member) Kelly Maddy facilitated a Q&A session between the audience, film co-producer and Reason Foundation President David Nott, Trish and Daryl Betrand of Springfield, and myself.
The event drew over 60 attendees, including several members of the Alliance of Southwest Missouri, which considers cannabis to be “a concern and threat to the safety and well being of families” in the area. Before the meeting, the Alliance sent out a press release describing what they see as the harms of cannabis, and during the Q&A those members in attendance asked a number of pointed questions of the panelists.
Although I’m sure my perspective on the issue still differs from theirs, I am very pleased that they took the time to consider our point of view and attend the event. I firmly believe that the truth is on our side, so I welcome any opportunity to discuss it with those individuals who disagree or are undecided.
The Joplin Globe also took notice of the event by publishing three full articles on the subject. First, they published my editorial on the failure of the drug war in the Sunday edition. On Monday, they gave some advance coverage of the film and our efforts in Missouri. Finally, the day after the event, they ran a front page story right above an article on recently announced Senate hearings on the federal response to cannabis legalization at the state level.
Read more: http://www.theweedblog.com
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