State Department’s Top Drug Warrior, William Brownfield, Says Federal Government Must Tolerate Making Marijuana Legal

According to Reason, William Brownfield, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, called for flexibility in interpreting anti-drug treaties.

“How could I, a representative of the government of the United States of America, be intolerant of a government that permits any experimentation with legalization of marijuana if two of the 50 states of the United States of America have chosen to walk down that road?”

When asked about the federal government’s position on the regulation and taxation of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, Brownfield described a clearly prescribed policy:

William Brownfield

“The deputy attorney general’s words were that the federal government will not intervene in the application of the laws of Washington and Colorado on marijuana legalization, but will monitor and hold them responsible for performance in eight specifically designated areas…. We have a national interest to ensure that this does not cause undue harm….”

“The United States of America reserves the right and can at any time it chooses enforce the law against marijuana and cannabis cultivation, production, sale, purchase, and consumption in Washington state and Colorado. The deputy attorney general in a public document has asserted that for now we will not do that unless it crosses the line in eight specifically identified categories in those two states.”

Although there is a long way for the federal government to go in terms of completely eliminating its prohibitionist attitude, those associated have been compelled by the political circumstances in the U.S. to accept that there is value to alternative policies. This is a good sign for countries that have been pressured by the U.S. to mimic and help enforce American prohibition.

Marijuana Ordinance Debate Scheduled in South Portland, Maine

The Current reported that a debate on the ordinance to make marijuana legal in South Portland will be held next week on Wednesday, October 22, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the South Portland High School, 637 Highland Avenue.

The South Portland School Department and Social Studies Department have arranged the event to give concerned residents the opportunity to educate themselves on the issues surrounding the referendum in South Portland prior to Election Day on November 4. If the referendum passes, it will allow residents to use and possess up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as allow the possession of paraphernalia.

Those participating in the debate include David Boyer, the Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, who will be arguing in favor of the passing of the ordinance, South Portland Police Chief, Edward Googins, who will be arguing against the passing of the ordinance, and Susan Sharon, of Maine Public Radio, who will be moderating the debate.

Please support the South Portland referendum by attending the debate and encourage friends, relatives, and neighbors to do the same!

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.

Arizona Republican Rep. Ethan Orr Suggests Making Marijuana Legal to Aid State Budget

According to the Tucson Weekly, Arizona Rep. Ethan Orr is looking at Colorado’s recent marijuana venture and the taxes, licenses, and fees that have brought the state more than $7 million so far.

As reported by the Arizona Republic, the Arizona revenue projections released last Tuesday to the legislature’s Finance Advisory Committee predict that the state will end this budget year with a $520 million deficit and possibly up to a $1 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year of 2016.

Ethan Orr

“Given the massive budget shortfall we’re facing, we need to look at revenue and I think this is a logical place we need to look,” Orr said. “I think it’s time to have an intelligent conversation about it (legalization).”

Orr also said that lawmakers should consider his proposal before supporters in the effort to make marijuana legal take their measure before voters in 2016.

Mason Tvert, director of communications at the Marijuana Policy Project, commends Rep. Orr for demonstrating leadership on the issue.

“While we are not yet familiar with the details of Rep. Orr’s bill, we would likely support any well-written proposal to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol,” Tvert stated.

Marijuana Policy Project