The American Bear


Grant Program May Incentivize More Weed Arrests Among Blacks - COLORLINES


Black Americans were nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested on charges of marijuana posession in 2010, even though the two groups smoke weed at similar rates, according to new federal data. The American Civil Liberties Union cites the Edward Bryne Justice Assistantship Grant Program as one possible reason for the disparity. The program incentivizes increasing drug arrest numbers by tying the statistics to funding. Law enforcement then concentrates on low-income neighborhoods to keep those numbers up.

More at the Atlantic Wire:

The argument resonantes with criticism of the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” program, which overwhelmingly targets young, black or latino men in the city (and, indeed, demonstrates a racial disparity in arrests for marijuana possession). But as the ACLU and the Times show, the problem of racial bias in arrests for possessing a drug that is, after all, gaining acceptance across the U.S., is a national one. the ACLU found a bias in “virtually every county in the country,” they told the Times, regardless of the proportional population of minorities in that county.

Back in 2010 the NAACP called the racial discrepency in weed arrests a “civil rights issue.” One year later, to mark the 20th anniversary of the U.S. War on Drugs, author Michelle Alexander told a crowd of 1,000 at Harlem’s Riverside Church back in 2011, “The enemy in this war has been racially defined. The drug war, not by accident, has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color.”

To see just how that war has played out in communities of color, check out our infographic [at the link].

(Source: afrometaphysics)

ACLU report confirms PoC make up most of marijuana arrests | The Raw Story


And in other news water is very wet and fire is still extremely hot.

Statistics like this are the reason why I would like to see marijuana legalized. I don’t give a shit about the white hipsters who wanna smoke a blunt with their friends while listening to Bob Marley and retwisting their “dreads.” I don’t give a shit about the white college students who get pissed and cry to mommy and daddy when they get a ticket for possession.

What I do care about are the PoC who are stopped, searched, and abused by police who think they have drugs on them. I care about the parents ripped from their families to serve mandatory sentences in prison because of a three strikes law. I care about the fact that in Iowa, Black people are eight times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana-related charge than white people.

If your “legalize it” campaign revolves around making sure white people can get high whenever and wherever they want, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your actions.

(Source: womanistgamergirl, via randomactsofchaos)

Dems call for federal commission on marijuana


Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) on Thursday introduced a bill to create a National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy, which would examine the conflicts created by state laws that allow marijuana use and the federal prohibition on marijuana.

“Regardless of your views on marijuana, it’s important that we understand the impact of current federal policy and address the conflict with those state laws that allow for medicinal or personal use of marijuana,” Cohen said.

“This conflict is only going to continue to grow over the next few years, and we must provide certainty to the millions of individuals and businesses that remain caught in a web of incompatible laws,” he said. “A national commission would provide us with the information we need to create sensible policy going forward.”

The new commission would study how federal laws should be reconciled with state laws, the cost of the federal prohibition on marijuana, and how the federal government should place marijuana in the schedule of the Controlled Substances Act.

It would also examine the health impacts of marijuana, and racial disparities and other consequences related to marijuana possession.

Cohen noted that a national commission on marijuana use was set up in 1971, and it released a report in 1973 that called for the decriminalization of the drug.

“In the four decades since the Shafer Commission, however, the federal government has only expanded its War on Drugs and continued to prohibit the use marijuana,” a statement from Cohen’s office said.

Cohen’s bill is cosponsored by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Jim Moran (D-Va.), and Jared Polis (D-Colo.).


The New Inquiry Magazine, Vol. 15, “Weed”
From the Editor’s Note: 
There’s a zero percent chance that America is going to have any chat about weed without some giggles. Laughter isn’t just an effect of the drug; it’s the only rational response to a president who belonged to the smoking club “Choom Gang” and says he truly believes we should still imprison people for getting high. Here in New York, Michael Bloomberg jokes to the cameras about inhaling and enjoying it even as he uses prohibition to justify a street war against the city’s black and brown youth. So long as gay marriage corners the market on liberal self-righteousness, policy makers can still get away with laughing off pot. But if the president was right and weed helps you see through hypocrisy, bullshit, and cheap moralism, America is going to have to be as stoned as hell for this national conversation.
Read more


The New Inquiry Magazine, Vol. 15, “Weed”

From the Editor’s Note: 

There’s a zero percent chance that America is going to have any chat about weed without some giggles. Laughter isn’t just an effect of the drug; it’s the only rational response to a president who belonged to the smoking club “Choom Gang” and says he truly believes we should still imprison people for getting high. Here in New York, Michael Bloomberg jokes to the cameras about inhaling and enjoying it even as he uses prohibition to justify a street war against the city’s black and brown youth. So long as gay marriage corners the market on liberal self-righteousness, policy makers can still get away with laughing off pot. But if the president was right and weed helps you see through hypocrisy, bullshit, and cheap moralism, America is going to have to be as stoned as hell for this national conversation.

Read more

NYPD Spent One Million Hours, 440,000 Arrests on 'Marijuana Crusade'


According to a shocking new report released Tuesday by the Drug Policy Alliance, in just over a decade the NYPD has used approximately 1,000,000 hours of police officer time to make 440,000 arrests for low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession, in what critics are calling “a frontline civil rights issue facing urban communities of color in the 21st century.”

The report titled One Million Police Hours and authored by Dr. Harry Levine, Professor of Sociology at Queens College, estimates that those detained in New York City for marijuana possession between 2002 and 2012 have spent roughly 5,000,000 hours in police custody.

The NYPD should be spending their time building communities, not tearing them down, said gabriel sayegh, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

“For years, New Yorkers from across the state have organized and marched and rallied, demanding an end to these outrageous arrests. And now we learn that the police have squandered one million hours to make racially biased, costly, and unlawful marijuana possession arrests. This is scandalous,” sayegh stated.

As DPA states today, these arrests disproportionately affect black communities: “Even though young whites use marijuana at higher rates, over 85% of the people arrested and jailed for marijuana possession are black and Latino.”

sayegh continued:

I’m sure we can all think of more effective things for the police to spend their time on — imagine if NYPD committed one million hours to working with communities to stop gun violence or to pursue unsolved serious crimes. We stand with the Caucus and other leaders in Albany – both Democrats and Republicans – in demanding reform. The hour of change is upon us, and reform is long, long overdue.

Additionally, roughly 70% of those arrested for marijuana are younger than 30 years old, and over 50% are under 21 years old.

“These young people receive a permanent criminal arrest record which can be easily found on the internet by employers, banks, schools, landlords, and others,” DPA continued.

“We cannot afford to continue arresting tens of thousands of youth every year for low-level marijuana possession,” said Alfredo Carrasquillo, civil rights organizer with VOCAL-NY. “We can’t afford it in terms of the negative effect it has on the future prospects of our youth and we can’t afford in terms of police hours. It’s shocking that the same mayor who has been taking money away from youth programs and cutting other social services, is wasting tens of millions of dollars locking youth up through the NYPD’s marijuana arrests crusade. We need legislative action to fix this madness.”

“This report shows that people arrested for marijuana possession spend an average of 12-18 hours, just in police custody, and the vast majority of those arrested are young Black and Latino men from seven to ten neighborhoods in NYC,” said Chino Hardin, Field Coordinator and Trainer with the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions. “This is not just a crisis, but a frontline civil rights issue facing urban communities of color in the 21st century. We are calling on Governor Cuomo to do the right thing, and exercise the moral and political will to address this injustice.”

The report arrives as New York State legislatures consider a drug reform law proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana in public.

New York City has made more marijuana possession arrests in recent years under Mayor Michael Bloomberg than under mayors Koch, Dinkins and Giuliani combined.

(via randomactsofchaos)

Putting aside the coincidence, the case reaffirms the lunacy of our marijuana policies that take away resources from more serious criminal matters. Here officers raid a home of a sick person and take away a drug that she says relieves her pain. Here is my view: if someone is dying from Lou Gehrig’s Disease, I am not horrified by her using pot to relieve her pain. Call me crazy but that appears to be the overwhelming view of most citizens. Yet, our politicians continue to feed a mass drug enforcement complex that arrests citizens and seizes property. While this case did not involve a greater seizure of property, many of these units are now the source of revenue streams associated with drug forfeiture. Jonathan Turley, Florida Police Raid Home of Sick Woman Hours After She Is Featured In Medical Marijuana Story (h/t)

With the stroke of pen, Gov. John Hickenlooper made it official Monday: Pot is now legal in the state of Colorado, according to the state constitution. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, signed the proclamation that officially places Amendment 64 into the constitution. And he announced the creation of a task force to attempt to work out the many legal and logistical details that must accompany the amendment, which makes the use, possession and limited home-growing of marijuana legal for anyone 21 and older.

Hickenlooper signs proclamation making marijuana legalization official | The Denver Post

And yet, Obama Administration Pledges To Ignore State Legalization of Pot And Crackdown On Users and Distributors | Jonathan Turley

Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.

A statement by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper about the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana. The law would allow individuals to carry up to an ounce of pot and/or grow up to six plants.

Emily Bazelon, Slate. Don’t Touch Their Stash!

FJP: Call this part PSA to our Colorado friends and part example of a great explainer on how state rights and the Justice Department play on this issue.

Via Slate:

This is not a tale of the federal government following the lead of the states. It’s a tale of the Justice Department asserting its authority against the state’s voters and state sovereignty. The federal government has this authority because of the 2005 Supreme Court decision that essentially ended the march of federalism—the legal doctrine that the court’s conservatives previously invoked to limit Congress’s powers to make laws that affect commerce among the states. You may vaguely remember this one from the huge fight over Obamacare. In the 2005 case, Gonzales v. Raich, Angel Raich was a sick woman in California who said medical marijuana was the only way she could combat excruciating, life-threatening pain. She argued that in light of the state’s 1996 legalization of medical marijuana, the Justice Department couldn’t enforce the Controlled Substances Act against her—in other words, the feds couldn’t take away her pot. Raich lost 6-3, with conservative Justice Antonin Scalia joining the liberal-centrist wing of the court. When it came to a choice between a federal crackdown on pot smokers and a state-led push to leave them alone, Scalia lost his appetite for dismissing Congress and federal prosecutors in favor of the states.

Read on.

Bonus: The New York Times with a six minute “Op-Doc Video” about Chris Williams, a Montana man who faces a mandatory 80-year minimum sentence for growing pot. He did so after Montana legalized medical marijuana. As the Times op ed notes: “[A] coherent system of justice must explain why one defendant is punished more harshly than the next. It must explain why a farmer who grows marijuana in compliance with state law should be punished much more harshly than some pedophiles and killers. If we cannot explain this disparity, we should fight to change it.”

(via futurejournalismproject)

(via pieceinthepuzzlehumanity-deacti)

L.A. repeals its ban on pot stores |

After struggling for years to regulate storefront pot shops, the Los Angeles City Council retreated Tuesday, voting to repeal the carefully crafted ban on medical marijuana dispensaries it approved a few months ago.

The move shows the political savvy of the increasingly organized and well-funded network of marijuana activists who sought to place a referendum overturning the ban on the March ballot, when the mayor and eight council seats will be up for grabs.

It also leaves Los Angeles, once again, without any law regulating an estimated 1,000 pot shops, which some describe as magnets for crime and others call a source of relief for those who are desperately ill.

The council’s 11-2 vote came after an impassioned plea from Councilman Bill Rosendahl, a medical marijuana patient who is fighting a rare form of cancer. Looking gaunt and speaking in a faint voice, Rosendahl asked his colleagues how sick patients like him would be able to acquire the drug if the ban remained in place. [++]

The West goes to Pot | Charles Davis

… The crazy thing is not that a few people are getting pot prescriptions for what some perceive to be mild afflictions - the same thing happened with “medical” liquor during alcohol prohibition; the problem was the prohibition - but that any grown, mature human adult needs a special piece of paper from a state-licensed medical professional to purchase and possess a plant that at worst leads to jam bands.

This fall, voters in three states - Washington, Oregon and Colorado - will have the chance to go further than California ever has by legalising the use marijuana for all persons over 21. They have the political establishment against them - nine former heads of the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have called on Attorney General Eric Holder to campaign against legalisation, just as he did when it was put up for a vote in California in 2010 - but they also enjoy greater numbers than ever: A majority of non-elected Americans now believe that drug prohibition has been a costly exercise in futility and that cannabis should just go ahead and be legal already.

When it comes to progressive change, history shows that the public always leads and, when they’re done getting in the way, the politicians eventually follow. But before our leaders can be led, they’re liable to double down on disaster, as President Obama has by further militarising the war on drugs, a war responsible for ruining lives from Honduras to Hollywood. Someday, though, as demographics shift - as old people die off, frankly - we’ll look back and wonder not at the absurdity of “medical” marijuana, but at the insanity of raiding homes and putting human beings in tiny, terrible rape cages over something that grows in the ground and makes people happy.

75 Years of Racial Control: Happy Birthday Marijuana Prohibition


Money quote:

As we approach the 75th anniversary of marijuana prohibition in the United States on October 1, it is important to remember why marijuana was deemed illicit in the first place, and why we as Americans must open our eyes to the insidious strategy behind 75 years of failed policy and ruined lives. Marijuana laws were designed not to control marijuana, but to control the Mexican immigrants who had brought this native plant with them to the U.S. Fears over loss of jobs and of the Mexicans themselves led cities to look for ways to keep a close eye on the newcomers. In 1914, El Paso Texas became the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to ban the sale and possession of marijuana. This ban gave police the right to search, detain and question Mexican immigrants without reason, except the suspicion that they were in possession of marijuana. Folklore started to erupt about the effect that marijuana had on those who used it. As Harry Anslinger stated, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

Isn’t drug prohibition fun?

(via pieceinthepuzzlehumanity-deacti)

Government-sponsored study destroys DEA’s classification of marijuana


A government-sponsored study published recently in The Open Neurology Journal concludes that marijuana provides much-needed relief to some chronic pain sufferers and that more clinical trials are desperately needed, utterly destroying the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) classification of the drug as having no medical uses.

While numerous prior studies have shown marijuana’s usefulness for a host of medical conditions, none have ever gone directly at the DEA’s placement of marijuana atop the schedule of controlled substances. This study, sponsored by the State of California and conducted at the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, does precisely that, driving a stake into the heart of America’s continued war on marijuana users by calling the Schedule I placement simply “not accurate” and “not tenable.”

Reacting to the study, Paul Armentano, director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), told Raw Story that the study clearly proves U.S. drug policy “is neither based upon nor guided by science.”

(via queerencia-deactivated20130103)

Your Daily “War on Drugs”


Michael Braun, the former chief of operations for the D.E.A., told me a story about the construction of a high-tech fence along a stretch of border in Arizona. “They erect this fence,” he said, “only to go out there a few days later and discover that these guys have a catapult, and they’re flinging hundred-pound bales of marijuana over to the other side.” He paused and looked at me for a second. “A catapult,” he repeated. “We’ve got the best fence money can buy, and they counter us with a 2,500-year-old technology.”

From “Cocaine Incorporated” by Patrick Radden Keefe [NYT Magazine]

(via genericlatino)

A Judge’s Plea for Medical Marijuana | NYT

Gustin L. Reichbach is a justice of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.

THREE and a half years ago, on my 62nd birthday, doctors discovered a mass on my pancreas. It turned out to be Stage 3 pancreatic cancer. I was told I would be dead in four to six months. Today I am in that rare coterie of people who have survived this long with the disease. But I did not foresee that after having dedicated myself for 40 years to a life of the law, including more than two decades as a New York State judge, my quest for ameliorative and palliative care would lead me to marijuana.

My survival has demanded an enormous price, including months of chemotherapy, radiation hell and brutal surgery. For about a year, my cancer disappeared, only to return. About a month ago, I started a new and even more debilitating course of treatment. Every other week, after receiving an IV booster of chemotherapy drugs that takes three hours, I wear a pump that slowly injects more of the drugs over the next 48 hours.

Nausea and pain are constant companions. One struggles to eat enough to stave off the dramatic weight loss that is part of this disease. Eating, one of the great pleasures of life, has now become a daily battle, with each forkful a small victory. Every drug prescribed to treat one problem leads to one or two more drugs to offset its side effects. Pain medication leads to loss of appetite and constipation. Anti-nausea medication raises glucose levels, a serious problem for me with my pancreas so compromised. Sleep, which might bring respite from the miseries of the day, becomes increasingly elusive.

Inhaled marijuana is the only medicine that gives me some relief from nausea, stimulates my appetite, and makes it easier to fall asleep. The oral synthetic substitute, Marinol, prescribed by my doctors, was useless. Rather than watch the agony of my suffering, friends have chosen, at some personal risk, to provide the substance. I find a few puffs of marijuana before dinner gives me ammunition in the battle to eat. A few more puffs at bedtime permits desperately needed sleep.

This is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue. Being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, I am receiving the absolute gold standard of medical care. But doctors cannot be expected to do what the law prohibits, even when they know it is in the best interests of their patients. When palliative care is understood as a fundamental human and medical right, marijuana for medical use should be beyond controversy.

Read the rest

We give prison sentences for smoking marijuana, but not for billion-dollar fraud


About half of our world-leading prison population is in jail for non-violent drug offenses. Americans have also been arrested for handing out free food in a park. Mothers in Ohio and Connecticut were jailed for enrolling their kids in out-of-district schools. As of 2003 in California there were 344 individuals serving sentences of 25 years or more for shoplifting as a third offense, in many cases after two non-violent offenses.

How does the market deal with this steady tide of petty crime? It strives for more. The new trend of private prisons is dependent on maintaining a sizable prison population to guarantee profits, with no incentive for rehabilitation.

As the number of inmates has surged, the people who devastated countless American lives “get out of jail free.” The savings and loan fraud cost the nation between $300 billion and $500 billion, about 100 times more than the total cost of burglaries in 2010. The financial system bailout has already cost the country $3 trillion. Goldman Sachs packaged bad debt, sold it under a different name, persuaded ratings services to label it AAA, and then bet against their own financial creation by selling it short. Other firms accused of fraud and insider trading were Morgan Stanley, Bear Stearns, Bank of America, Countrywide Financial, and Wells Fargo. The New York Times reported in 2008 that the Justice Department had postponed the bribery or fraud prosecutions of over 50 corporations, choosing instead to enter into agreements involving fines and ‘monitoring’ periods.

(from Five Facts that put America to shame)

(Source: anticapitalist)