Category Archives: Prohibition

prohibition

Obama’s Nominee to Lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division Supports the Decriminalization of Marijuana

Vanita Gupta

According to the Washington Post, President Obama plans to nominate top lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union, Vanita Gupta, to head to the civil rights division of the Department of Justice.

Gupta is a longtime civil rights lawyer and deputy legal director of the ACLU, as well as the director of the Union’s Center for Justice.

She stated in a New York Times op-ed about ending mass incarceration:

“Those who seek a fairer criminal justice system, unclouded by racial bias, must at a minimum demand that the government eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, which tie judges’ hands; rescind three-strikes laws, which often make no distinction between, say, armed assault and auto theft; amend “truth in sentencing” statutes, which prohibit early release for good behavior; and recalibrate drug policies, starting with decriminalization of marijuana possession and investment in substance-abuse prevention and treatment.”

According to administration officials, Gupta will be appointed acting head of the civil rights division Wednesday by Attorney General Eric Holder.

H/T Tom Angell

South Portland and Lewiston Referenda Highlight Conflicting Views on the Dangers of Alcohol Versus Marijuana

Bangor Daily News reported that South Portland and Lewiston, Maine voters, on November 4, will decide whether to make marijuana legal for the use and possession of up to an ounce for citizens 21 years of age and older.

David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said he believes South Portland will pass the ordinance.

“Prohibition has been a failure,” he said. “It’s done nothing to stop the flow of marijuana into the communities.” He added that “58 percent of Americans are ready to move forward with a more sensible marijuana policy,” citing a 2013 Gallup poll. “It’s illogical to punish adults for a substance that’s less harmful than alcohol,” Boyer also stated.

Edward Googins

South Portland Police Chief, Edward Googins, on the other hand, vehemently opposes the ordinance.

“This issue for me as a police chief is that the initiative is not a good thing for our community or anywhere else,” Googins said. According to the chief, marijuana is more dangerous because it “continues to create and perpetuate other problems in society.” “Claims that marijuana is safer than alcohol are so bogus it’s not even funny,” he also stated.

The fact that Chief Googins believes that alcohol is safer than marijuana demonstrates just how misguided the opposition really is. In reality, studies show alcohol to be more toxic, more addictive, and more harmful to the body. The use of alcohol is also more likely to result in violence and injures than marijuana. Overall, the negative impact on the consumer, as well as on the community at large, is more significant when it comes to alcohol consumption; all the more reason to give responsible adults the option to legally use the safer substance.

D.C. Council Approves Sealing Court Records for Nonviolent Marijuana Offenses

According to the Washington Post, residents of the nation’s capital who have been convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses could apply to have those criminal records sealed under a bill granted initial approval by the D.C. City Council yesterday.

David Grosso

D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced the record-sealing bill. He believes it is a matter of fairness to give prior offenders some ability to rid their records of nonviolent offenses now that marijuana possession has been decriminalized in the District and both voters and City Council are considering making marijuana legal for adults.

“People who have had these issues in the past, it never leaves them,” Grosso said. “They have to check the box [indicating a prior conviction]. They can’t get a job. They can’t get public housing. They can’t get financial aid for college.”

Under the terms of the bill, D.C. residents could file a motion to seal their records in the D.C. Superior Court. The motion should be granted unless prosecutors demonstrate that the offense in question remains a crime. If the motion is granted, prosecutors and courts would have to remove public records related to the resident’s arrest, charge, trial, or conviction.

The measure passed 12 to 0 and is up for a second vote set for later this month. According to Grosso and data compiled by the Drug Policy Alliance, it is among the broadest efforts to allow marijuana records to be sealed within the country.

College Students Join Campaign to Make Marijuana Legal in Lewiston, ME

The Portland Press Herald reported that advocates of making marijuana legal kicked off a campaign yesterday in support of upcoming votes on the issue in Lewiston and South Portland.

The advocates, led by the Marijuana Policy Project, held a rally at Kennedy Park for those in favor of Lewiston’s Question 2, which would make the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older.

“Every day more and more people support making marijuana legal,” said David Boyer, Maine political director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “They see it makes more sense to have marijuana regulated instead of keeping it legal.”

Boyer also said the campaign in Lewiston is hoping to mobilize young voters, especially Bates College students, to the cause.

“Younger folks see that marijuana prohibition hasn’t worked. It’s done nothing to stop the flow of marijuana into our communities. They see the effects of marijuana and alcohol firsthand and they realize that marijuana is safer than alcohol,” Boyer stated.

Scott Thistle/Sun Journal

Alexandra Gwillim, a Bates College freshman, joined Boyer at the campaign yesterday.

[S]he said she supports the campaign because, “I think the prohibition of marijuana perpetuates the binge-drinking culture of college. Legalizing marijuana is a good way to end that.”

The campaign intends to increase its presence in Lewiston during the next month as part of an ongoing effort to educate voters about the advantages of ending marijuana prohibition.

Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia Next to Decide Marijuana Ballot Measures

According to a New York Times editorial, this November, voters in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia will decide whether to make recreational marijuana legal and regulated — effectively disregarding the misguided federal ban on a substance that is far less dangerous than alcohol.

Alaska’s Ballot Measure 2 would make the use and purchase of marijuana legal for those 21 and older, create a marijuana control board and tax the drug at $50 per ounce wholesale. It is already legal for Alaskans to possess small amounts of marijuana in their homes, and surveys indicate that 18 percent of Alaskans smoke marijuana. Ballot Measure 2 would mean that Alaskans could buy it from a store instead of resorting to the black market.

This is not the first time the newspaper of record has supported sensible marijuana policy reform, and it is indicative of increasing national support for ending marijuana prohibition.