Over the weekend, the Democratic National Committee's Platform Drafting Committee established a party platform calling for states' rights to decide their own marijuana laws, allowing for greater research on the medical properties of cannabis, and protecting the rights of legally established marijuana businesses:
“We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research to be done on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African-Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites despite similar usage rates.”
An earlier proposed measure called for the total removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, but that measure did not make it to the draft that was unanimously approved by the drafting committee.
Click here for more information on the DNC's new marijuana plank.
In what is surely a sign that serious change is on the horizon for marijuana policy across the nation, the magazine for the National Conference of State Legislatures featured a long cover story about reform efforts in their latest issue.
Given that lawmakers have traditionally lagged far behind public opinion on this topic, this is a pretty big step toward educating them about the need or alternatives to marijuana prohibition.
So far this year, more than 20 states have introduced marijuana reform legislation of some sort, and we will likely see more in the coming weeks.
A day after Whitney Houston’s unexpected death, singer Tony Bennett, music icon and winner of 17 Grammy Awards, paid tribute to the award-winning star at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party. He took this opportunity not only to honor her life and accomplishments and sing a song in her memory, but also to advocate for the legalization of drugs.
(Photo Credit: AP)
In spite of the fact that there is speculation that Houston’s death was drug-related, given her history with drug use (including marijuana), Bennett bravely spoke up about what so many already know: the war on drugs is a failure and is more harmful to society than the drugs themselves. For marijuana offenses alone, there were over 850,000 arrests in 2010, and 88% of those were for simple possession.
Watch this video of Tony Bennett speaking up for change. He gets it, and he had the courage to say so.
(Author's Edit: Original video was taken down by YouTube user. New video links to CNN's coverage, with Tony Bennett's comments, as well as a panel discussion including Arianna Huffington, who echoed Bennett's sentiments that the war on drugs has failed.)
MPP is excited to be cosponsoring the 2011 Seattle Hempfest on Friday, August 19, through Sunday, August 21, and we're looking for volunteers to help us out!
We need people to help us staff our table, as well as people to sign Hempfest attendees up for our free e-mail alerts. Everyone who volunteers will receive a free MPP t-shirt and get to meet lots of great supporters, all while enjoying the world's largest marijuana-policy-related event. As an added bonus, the person who collects the most email sign-ups on each day will receive a special gift from MPP!
This is the 20th anniversary of Seattle Hempfest, and promises to be one of the most memorable to date. All across the country, people are reconsidering their marijuana laws, and the wind is finally at our backs. This year’s festival is a great opportunity to celebrate the progress we’ve made as a movement, and to build the relationships and tools necessary for continued victory.
Would you please volunteer a few hours of your time on Friday, August 19, through Sunday, August 21, to help us spread the word about the important work MPP is doing to reform marijuana laws across the country?
If you would like to help, please e-mail me here with the following information:
• Your name
• Your phone (home and/or cell)
• Days you're willing to volunteer (Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday)
• Time slots you are available (scheduling to follow based on availability)
For more information on Hempfest, visit http://www.hempfest.org/.
Thank you for your interest, and we hope to see you there!
In the aftermath of the recently release video showing a family terrorized and their pets shot by a SWAT team in Columbia, Missouri, that city's police chief is now saying he supports efforts to change marijuana laws so officers will no longer need to spend time and resources enforcing them.
During a press conference yesterday, Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton went out of his way to state his support for ending marijuana prohibition.
"I applaud your efforts," he told a reporter who asked about campaigns to change marijuana laws. "If we could get out of the business [of going after marijuana offenders], I think there would be a lot of police officers that would be happy to do that."
After reviewing the results of a four-month internal investigation, the chief announced that his officers acted appropriately during the February SWAT raid that resulted in the death of a dog and endangered a young child.
Columbia police are currently updating their policies to hopefully prevent further incidents, but the decision to use extreme force in executing a warrant for marijuana possession has been widely criticized as being contrary to city law. Columbia passed a law in 2004 making marijuana violations the lowest law enforcement priority. Unfortunately, as the chief points out, state laws can still interfere with officers' abilities to go after real criminals.
Chief Burton also acknowledged that violence surrounding marijuana is often associated with the illegal market created by prohibition, and not the drug itself. "Crimes do occur because of marijuana," he said. "And you may make the argument that it's because it's not legal, and you may be right."
And if there was any lingering doubt about the sincerity of his remarks, the chief even gave a big thumbs up to the cameras.
Well, a big thumbs up to you too, chief. Hopefully, you won't have to worry about enforcing irrational marijuana laws for much longer.