Portugals Overwhelming Success with Drug Decriminalization
In 2001 the country of Portugal decriminalized the possession and use of drugs, meaning there is not a legal market for selling drugs, but that law enforcement officials stopped wasting time on arresting drug users.
It’s basically a half way step toward legalization, since the government still doesn’t have regulatory control over the drug market. Drug dealers stay in business, they are just no longer selling to criminals.
When Portugal adopted this position toward drugs 11 years ago, all kinds of doomsday experts came out of the woodwork to say what a disaster it was going to be. As many of you know, it was the opposite of a disaster, with drug addiction rates plummeting and Portugal having one of the lowest rates of drug use in the European Union.
This is because people don’t base their drug use decisions on laws, but on personal preference. If the U.S. Congress, The President and all the states agreed tomorrow to make drugs decriminalized, how many of you would run out and try some crack or heroin? Are you not hitting a crack pipe right now because it’s illegal, or because you don’t want to smoke crack?
White House: No marijuana for PTSD
Marijuana Kills Again
A mother in Washington State is searching for answers; answers to why her 22 year-old son is dead after turning himself in for a probation violation stemming from the possession of a small amount of marijuana.
Rose Saffioti says her son suffered from extreme allergies – which the police were aware of since they had a note from his doctor detailing his needs.
“I feel I owe it to Michael to learn what went wrong,” she says. “It was only going to be a couple of days.”
Rose has hired a lawyer and is hoping that other inmates saw what happened and might shed light on what led to her son’s death on July 3rd.
Michael Saffioti worried his entire, short life about his allergies. One day in jail and he is dead. All because he was caught with a small amount of marijuana about a year ago. He then missed a court date, leading to his turning himself into the authorities.
Imagine a world where people who have a small amount of marijuana are treated like the human beings they are. They don’t have to fear what might happen to them in jail because it’s silly to put people in jail for having plant matter on their person.
Pro-Medical Marijuana Judge in NY Dies of Cancer
Brooklyn judge Gustin Reichbach passed away this weekend due to stage 3 pancreatic cancer. A couple months ago he wrote an op-ed piece in The New York Times expressing his support for medical marijuana, which he used illegally to alleviate his suffering.
"My survival has demanded an enormous price, including months of chemotherapy, radiation hell and brutal surgery... Inhaled marijuana is the only medicine that gives me some relief from nausea, stimulates my appetite, and makes it easier to fall asleep," Reichback wrote. “Given my position as a sitting judge still hearing cases, well-meaning friends question the wisdom of my coming out on this issue. But I recognize that fellow cancer sufferers may be unable, for a host of reasons, to give voice to our plight. It is another heartbreaking aporia in the world of cancer that the one drug that gives relief without deleterious side effects remains classified as a narcotic with no medicinal value.
“Because criminalizing an effective medical technique affects the fair administration of justice, I feel obliged to speak out as both a judge and a cancer patient suffering with a fatal disease. I implore the governor and the Legislature of New York, always considered a leader among states, to join the forward and humane thinking of 16 other states and pass the medical marijuana bill this year. Medical science has not yet found a cure, but it is barbaric to deny us access to one substance that has proved to ameliorate our suffering.”
Under federal and NY state law, Judge Reichbach was a criminal. But what is criminal about sick people choosing what they ingest in their body? Fortunately he was never disciplined for his marijuana use, but that’s a right that belongs to every adult. Cannabis users aren’t hurting anyone, and neither was Judge Reichbach.
Oakland protests U.S. attorney's crackdown on large medical marijuana dispensary
Americans for Safe Access File Brief in Federal Court in Support of Charlie Lynch
The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed an amicus 'friend of the court' brief in federal court on Monday on behalf of former medical marijuana dispensary operator Charles C. Lynch, who gained notoriety in the cannabis community due to his battles with the federal government; his trial in 2008 and sentencing in 2009 for violating federal marijuana laws.
"We feel strongly that the federal government is abusing its prosecutorial discretion on medical marijuana cases like Lynch's," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who filed the brief in support of Lynch. "These types of prosecutions against medical marijuana providers continue unabated under the Obama Administration based on more than 70 such indictments since the president took office," Elford continued. "We must stem the tide of federal prosecutions and instead defer to state courts to deliberate violations of state law."
Even though the Obama Administration wanted a 5-year sentence for Lynch, federal District Judge George H. Wu considered Obama's declarations of tolerance toward medical marijuana and in 2009 sentenced Lynch to a year and a day.
Since 2009 the federal stance toward medical marijuana has got much worse, to the point where hundreds of dispensaries have been closed in California alone. The Obama Administration says it is only targeting medical marijuana operators not complying with state law, but there are several instances that contradict that, including the recent raid at El Camino Wellness in Sacramento, CA.
"Attorney General Holder and President Obama must be held accountable for their aggressive over-reaction in medical marijuana states," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "They're either ill-advised about what the Justice Department and other other federal agencies are doing in medical marijuana states, or they're lying to American public."
What the American public does about it remains to be seen.
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