drugs

U.S.: President Obama Grants Clemency To 58 People In Federal Prison For Drugs

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Drug Policy Alliance: The President is Acting; Congress Must Step Up Too

President Barack Obama on Thursday commuted the sentences of 58 people incarcerated in federal prison for drug offenses. This follows the commutation of 61 individuals on March 30, 2016, 95 people in December of 2015, 45 people in July, 22 people in March 2015, and 8 people in December of 2014.

All of those who received commutations on Thursday were serving time in prison for nonviolent drug offenses, and many were victims of the disparity in sentencing between crack and cocaine.

Five of the individuals whose sentences were commuted on Thursday were imprisoned at least in part due to at least one marijuana charge.

President Obama has been under significant public pressure from advocacy groups and family members of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses who are serving long, mandatory minimum sentences.

"The President is using his constitutional power, but he can only do so much," said Michael Collins, deputy director at Drug Policy Alliance's office of national affairs. "There is legislation in the Senate that would reduce mandatory minimums and have a greater impact on the prison population, and Leader McConnell needs to bring the bill up for a vote."

Maine: Voters Oppose Punitive Drug Policies, Support Decriminalization

PoliceDrugArrest[BangorDailyNews]

Findings Come as Legislature Considers Bills Increasing Penalties for Drug Possession

Results Similar to Poll in New Hampshire Which Also Fund Majority Support for Drug Decriminalization

A substantial majority of Maine voters support decriminalizing drug possession, according to a survey conducted over the weekend by Public Policy Polling (PPP) for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Sixty-four percent of voters in Maine think people caught with a small amount of illegal drugs for personal use should be evaluated for drug issues, offered treatment but not be arrested or face any jail time. Seventy-one percent say substantially reducing incarceration is somewhat or very important to them.

The poll results come as the legislature considers legislation backed by the Attorney General that could roll back groundbreaking reforms passed last session that reduced drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. The proposed legislation (LD 1554) would make possession of 30 milligrams (often less than one single pill) or more of prescription opioids and any amount of certain other drugs into felony offenses, continuing the criminalization of drug users and wasting scarce resources on incarceration instead of treatment and prevention.

Global: Religious Leaders Urge UN To Stand By Call For Decriminalization of Drugs

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The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc. (SDPC) is urging the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to stand by their call for decriminalization of drug use and possession in the United States and around the world.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) appeared set to call on governments to end the criminalization of drug use and possession, according to DPA Honorary Board Member Richard Branson -- but in a dramatic turn of events withdrew its briefing paper under pressure from at least one country, according to the BBC.

“Locking up people for non-violent drug use is inhumane, immoral and ineffective, said Dr. Iva Carruthers, general secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference. “At the center of SDPC’s thrust is our belief that there needs to be greater emphasis on policies that focus on Harm Reduction over criminalization.”

SDPC, an interdenominational network of African American congregations, clergy and lay leaders is actively engaged in organizing multifaith activities for the upcoming 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on global drug policy.

In a recent meeting with a multifaith group of leaders in early October, SDPC outlined a working paper to be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session in April, 2016. That paper argues for a shift in the ideology and practice in the United States concerning drug use and possession.

New York: City Council Holds Hearing On Synthetic Cannabinoids

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Amid Disappointing Conversations around Criminalization, Advocates Push for a Comprehensive Public Health Strategy to Deal with Synthetic Drugs

The New York City Council Committee on Public Safety on Monday held hearings about the growing concern surrounding synthetic cannabinoids. The hearings were held jointly with the Committees on Health and the Committee on Mental Health; Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services; and the Committee on Consumer Affairs

Recently, there have been several media reports of public drug use involving synthetic cannabinoids, such as spice and K2. Synthetic cannabinoids are a class of cannabinoid chemicals typically sprayed over plant matter and packaged with names like “K2,” “Spice” and “Green Giant.”

These are only the latest “legal highs” to come on the market that simulate the effects of prohibited drugs like marijuana, ecstasy (MDMA), opioids, cocaine and methamphetamine. In the past, as these kind of substances have been banned, manufacturers have simply invented new variations of the same substances to skirt the bans as well as for legitimate scientific purposes.

While synthetic cannabinoids are used by a wide range of people, media accounts have focused on their use by people who are homeless and/or criminal justice involved. The substances usually do not show up in drug tests that are sometimes required for people to access shelters or social services that require abstinence from illicit drugs, like marijuana.

U.S.: Getting High In Senior Year - Is Marijuana Associated With Other Drugs?

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The study reveals “boredom,” “experimentation,” and “insight” are reasons for use related to increased and decreased risk of use of other drugs.

Marijuana is the most prevalent drug in the U.S. Approximately 70 percent of the 2.8 million individuals who initiated use of illicit drugs in 2013 reported that marijuana was their first drug.

Despite extensive research examining potential links between marijuana use and other drug use, the literature is currently lacking data regarding which illicit marijuana users are most likely to engage in use of other illicit drugs.

A new study, published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse by researchers affiliated with New York University's Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR), examines how reasons for illicit marijuana use relates to the use of other drugs individually, rather than grouping them into a single “illicit drug” group.

“Aside from marijuana, a wide range of illicit drugs are prevalent, each having different use patterns, and different effects and dangers associated with use,” said Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH, a CDUHR affiliated researcher and an assistant professor of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYULMC). “Our research helped to identify subtypes of illicit marijuana users who use other drugs, as this may be able to inform prevention efforts.”

U.S.: Anti-Marijuana 'Experts' Are Paid By Big Pharma Painkiller Drug Companies

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Opponents of the marijuana law reform, alarmed by the rising tide of cannabis-sane legislation sweeping the United States, have turned to a group of paid academic "experts" to bolster their regressive arguments against relaxing the pot laws.

These so-called experts who are paid to offer anti-marijuana opinions in the press may represent a conflict of interest in the cannabis debate, reports Lee Fang at Vice.

Many of the "researchers" who have publicly opposed marijuana legalization are also on the payrolls of Big Pharma companies with products that could be easily (and much more safely) replaced by marijuana. Even worse, when these sold-out "scientists" have been quoted in the popular media, their financial ties to the drug industry haven't been revealed.

Dr. Herbert Kleber of Columbia University is an example. He has impressive academic credentials, and has been extensively quoted in both the popular press and in scholarly publications warning against marijuana use. Dr. Kleber claims pot may cause huge addiction and public health issues.

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