On Thursday, the editorial board of The New York Times tackled the issue of NFL players being punished for marijuana use, as highlighted by MPP’s billboards around MetLife Stadium this week:
In the lead-up to the Super Bowl, in which it so happens both teams hail from states that recently legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, pressure is mounting on the league to reconsider its ban. A group called the Marijuana Policy Project has even bought space on five billboards in New Jersey, where the game will take place on Sunday, asking why the league disallows a substance that, the group says, is less harmful than alcohol.
It’s a fair question. Marijuana isn’t a performance-enhancing drug, for starters, and more than 20 states have legalized it for medical purposes. The league would merely be catching up to contemporary practice by creating a medical exception.
As public opinion and state laws move away from strict prohibition, it’s reasonable for the NFL to do the same and let its players deal with their injuries as they — and their private doctors — see fit.
Ray Kelly, who has spent the last 12 years as New York City’s police commissioner, has been a topic of discussion recently for the upcoming vacancy for the Secretary of Homeland Security. In a recent interview, Obama said of Mr. Kelly, “[He might be very happy where he is, but if he’s not I’d want to know about it.” He went on to add that Kelly would be “very well qualified” for the job.
Kelly spent 12 years instituting unreasonable and racially insensitive systems of arrest and harassment via his unpopular “Stop and Frisk” measures. The program searched more black men in 2011 than actually lived in New York City, as reported by the New York Civil Liberties Union. Despite NYC marijuana decriminalization, Ray Kelly instituted policies that were used to deceive citizens into accidentally “violating” more serious statutes than a civil matter like private marijuana possession.
The New York Times opinion page discusses the pros and cons of Kelly’s potential nomination, taking note of his tenure being marked by much controversy. The Drug Policy Alliance found that under Kelly’s leadership, 1,000,000 hours of police work were dedicated to making 440,000 marijuana possession arrests in 11 years in New York City.
If you agree with us that Ray Kelly’s job performance would be as damaging at the federal level as it clearly has been at the municipal level, then please sign this petition to stop his nomination before if can be considered further.
The elderly represent the largest medical marijuana consumer group. However, more and more senior citizens are turning to marijuana for recreational purposes — and it’s not just the aging baby boomers that left the substance behind in college. Some retirees are trying marijuana for the first time.
In 2011, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 6.3% of adults between the ages of 50 and 59 used marijuana, more than double the percentage that reported it 10 years ago.
HuffPost Live streamed “Grandparents & Ganja,” a discussion about marijuana’s unexpected clientele. Speakers included: MPP’s communications director, Mason Tvert; Mason’s grandmother, Helen Shuller; Keith Stroup, the founder of NORML; and former Washington State Senator George Rohrbacher. Continue reading
Today’s New York Times includes a feature story about California medical marijuana provider Matthew Davies, who federal prosecutors are pressuring to accept a five-year mandatory minimum as a plea agreement. Federal authorities indicted Matthew last year on charges of marijuana cultivation, calling him “one of the most significant commercial marijuana traffickers to be prosecuted in this district.” By all accounts, the two dispensaries Matthew owned were in total compliance with state law and were models of professionalism and service.
He brought graduate-level business skills to a world decidedly operating in the shadows. He hired accountants, compliance lawyers, managers, a staff of 75 and a payroll firm. He paid California sales tax and filed for state and local business permits.
“This is not a case of an illicit drug ring under the guise of medical marijuana,” [his attorney] wrote. “Here, marijuana was provided to qualified adult patients with a medical recommendation from a licensed physician. Records were kept, proceeds were tracked, payroll and sales taxes were duly paid.”
Does this sound like a dangerous criminal who we should spend federal resources to arrest, prosecute, and possibly jail? Medical marijuana providers who followed state law, like Matthew, weren’t supposed to be the targets of federal attack and provide an excellent example for others in the industry. Nevertheless, he is facing a significant amount of time in jail regardless of whether he takes the plea, which will surely take a serious toll on him and his family.
“To be looking at 15 years of our life, you couldn’t pay me enough to give that up,” Mr. Davies said at the dining room table in his two-story home along the San Joaquin River Delta, referring to the amount of time he could potentially serve in prison.
Matthew and his family are not taking this lying down. Matthew’s wife Molly published this open letter to President Obama today in the Huffington Post. You can find out more about Matthew’s case and how you can help at http://www.keepmattfree.org/.
Every day there are more and more stories in mainstream media outlets about Prop 19 and the growing national movement to end marijuana prohibition. That alone is a promising development. But what’s even more telling has been the way the tone of the coverage is starting to shift from asking, “Should marijuana be legal?” to, “Is marijuana going to be legal? And if so, when, where, and how?”
Check out just three examples from today:
Wall Street Journal: “Democrats Look to Cultivate Pot Vote in 2012”
Democratic strategists are studying a California marijuana-legalization initiative to see if similar ballot measures could energize young, liberal voters in swing states for the 2012 presidential election.
NPR: “Has the US Reached a Tipping Point on Pot?”
California’s Proposition 19, if approved by voters, will legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana legal for the first time in the United States. Many other states have relaxed their marijuana laws. Is this the tipping point when marijuana follows alcohol and gambling from criminal offense to harmless pastime — and source of new tax revenue?
New York Times: “Will California Show the Way on Marijuana?”
Like it or not, the tens of millions of people in California serve as a laboratory for new legislation, and their state sets a legal example that the rest of the states might follow. So, even if you do not live in California, pay attention to Proposition 19: maybe someday marijuana may come to a store near you.
In July, I wrote about the growing belief among political strategists that candidates can benefit from supporting marijuana reform. Just last week, the Oregon Democratic Party endorsed Measure 74, the ballot question that would add state-licensed dispensaries to that state’s medical marijuana law.