white house

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U.S.: Visit By Mexican President Sparks National Week Of Protests Demanding End To Drug War

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As President Barack Obama meets with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Tuesday, January 6, thousands of Latinos in Washington D.C. and other major American cities will protest to demand an end to the deadly “Plan Mexico” – a billion-dollar program to aid Mexico’s corrupt and notoriously violent security forces, ostensibly in the name of fighting the War On Drugs.

The main protest of the day will take place in Lafayette Square in front of the White House (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500) starting at 10 AM.

In September 2014, 43 students were disappeared from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. It was quickly discovered that, at the behest of the regional governor, the students had been kidnapped by local police and then handed over to a drug cartel.

Survivor testimonies and a UC Berkeley investigation confirm that members of the Federal Police and 27th Army Battalion stationed very near the scene of the crime were present and had knowledge of the attacks before, during and after. The scandal set off an unprecedented crisis of legitimacy for Peña Nieto’s administration – and all levels of government in Mexico – as scores of mass graves and evidence of other such gross human rights violations surfaced during the course of the search for the 43 kidnapped students.

Since the students’ kidnapping, Peña Nieto has done little to ameliorate the crisis, and his administration has in fact lied and tried to cover up this hugely emblematic case.

U.S.: 25th Anniversary of President Bush's Infamous Speech Escalating War On Drugs

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Bush Held Up Bag of Crack Said to be Bought in Front of White House, Turned Out Drug Seller Was Set Up for the Speech

Bush’s Crack Speech Defined America’s Punitive Drug War Approach of 1980s & 90s

25 Years Later Voters and Elected Officials in Both Parties Rolling Back Punitive Drug Policies

On September 5, 1989, President George H.W. Bush gave a speech from the Oval Office that defined a generation. Declaring an escalation of the War On Drugs, Bush held up a bag of crack cocaine that he said undercover agents bought in the park across the street from the White House.

It later turned out that federal agents lured someone to the park to sell crack just so the President could say it was bought from in front of the White House (the crack seller did not even know where the White House was and had to ask for directions).

U.S.: Share of Arrests For Marijuana Possession Tripled Since 1991

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With thousands of incarcerated nonviolent drug offenders symbolizing the futility of the "War On Drugs," even some of the most ardent supporters of the punitive approach are starting to view the issue of marijuana use through a public health perspective, rather than from a criminal justice point of view.

That shift is evident at the infamous White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the dreaded ONDCP, which for decades has been the command center of the federal War On Drugs, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. The ONDCP now uses words like "balance" as key components of federal drug control strategy.

"Drug addiction is not a moral failing but rather a disease of the brain that can be prevented and treated," the ONDCP website reads. "Drug policy is a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue."

But unfortunately, law enforcement agencies haven't gotten the message. While the number of arrests for all offenses has declined nationwide since 1991, the share of those arrests related to simple cannabis possession has more than tripled over the same period.

D.C.: Marijuana Decriminalization Takes Effect In Nation's Capital

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A marijuana decriminalization law passed by the D.C. Council took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday in Washington, D.C. The new law, like others around the United States, eases penalties for minor cannabis possession.

Unless someone is found to possess more than an ounce of marijuana in D.C., they will now simply be written a $25 ticket and the officer will confiscate the pot, reports Melanie Eversley at USA Today. Police can no longer detain someone simply because they smell marijuana, and they can no longer demand identification from anyone carrying under an ounce.

Civil violation notices that police already handed out for littering have been changed to also include possession of marijuana, and they now list the $25 fine for pot. Possession of less than an ounce of cannabis will cost less than the fine for throwing a roach on the ground -- that would get you fined $75 for littering.

"As of midnight Wednesday night, no member can make or approve an arrest for marijuana possession without having first taken this training," Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump told the the Washington Times.

U.S.: White House Opposes GOP Amendment Undermining DC Marijuana Law Reform

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In a Statement of Administration Policy on Monday, the White House expressed strong opposition to a Republican amendment by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Maryland) that is directed at blocking implementation of a recent law the District of Columbia passed replacing jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use with a small fine.

The statement calls marijuana reform a “states’ rights” issue, a groundbreaking policy position for the White House to take, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). The D.C. Council also on Monday passed a resolution condemning congressional interference.

“It is great to see the White House accepting that a majority of Americans want marijuana law reform and defending the right of D.C. and states to set their own marijuana policy,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs at the DPA. “The tide has clearly shifted against the failed war on drugs and it’s only a matter of time before federal law is changed."

The White House Statement of Administration Policy reads: “Similarly, the Administration strongly opposes the language in the bill preventing the District from using its own local funds to carry out locally- passed marijuana policies, which again undermines the principles of States' rights and of District home rule. Furthermore, the language poses legal challenges to the Metropolitan Police Department's enforcement of all marijuana laws currently in force in the District.”

U.S.: White House Releases 2014 Drug Control Strategy: Kinder, Gentler Drug War?

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Strategy Addresses Important Health Issues, Such as Rising Overdose Deaths, HIV/AIDS, and Stigma, But Support for Drug Courts and Criminalization Belies Claims to Treat Substance Misuse as a Health Issue

Drug Policy Alliance: Stop Arresting People for Simple Drug Possession

Marijuana Policy Project: Administration 'Tone Deaf When It Comes To Marijuana Policy'

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (more commonly known as the Drug Czar’s office; ONDCP) on Wednesday released its 2014 National Drug Control Strategy. The strategy has shifted some from previous years in that it more clearly focuses on reducing the harms associated with substance misuse, such as overdose and the transmission of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases, while also reducing the harms associated with punitive drug policies, such as reducing the use of mandatory minimum sentencing.

The plan demonstrates the Obama Administration's position that adults should continue to be punished for using marijuana, despite the President's acknowledgement earlier this year that it is a safer substance than alcohol, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. In an interview published in January by the New Yorker, Obama said marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer."

U.S. Atty. Gen. Holder Urges Reduced Sentences For Nonviolent Drug Offenses

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Follows on Footsteps of White House’s Recent Call For Clemency Candidates

The U.S. Department of Justice has thrown its support behind an initiative from the federal Sentencing Commission that would reduce sentences for potentially thousands of nonviolent drug offenders who are currently in federal prison.

Last month, the U.S. Sentencing Commission approved a proposal that will reduce sentences for future drug offenders. Attorney General Eric Holder has now announced his backing for a separate proposal by the Commission that would apply retroactivity to these recently reduced sentences.

The proposal could affect between 20,000 and 50,000 nonviolent offenders currently in jail, and save taxpayers an estimated $2.4 billion.

“As a former, first-time, nonviolent drug offender I applaud Attorney General Eric Holder for supporting the retroactive proposal being considered by the U.S. Sentencing Commission," said Anthony Papa of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), who served 12 years under New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws. Papa was given clemency by Gov. Pataki in 1997.

"Many prisoners that would become eligible have paid their debt to society and deserve a second chance to be reunited with their families and become productive tax-paying citizens," Papa said. "This move would help correct sentencing laws that have broken our criminal justice system and led to the mass incarceration of many low-level nonviolent drug offenders.”

U.S.: Obama Plans Clemency For 'Hundreds, Perhaps Thousands' Sentenced for Drug Law Violations

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Follows on Footsteps of White House’s Recent Call For Clemency Candidates

Drug Policy Alliance: Positive Step, But Comprehensive Sentencing Reform Is Needed to Prevent More Mass Injustice

A White House official has told Yahoo News that President Obama is prepared to use his pardon power to grant clemency to “hundreds, perhaps thousands” of people who have been jailed for nonviolent drug crimes.

The report said that the administration is making moves that will help it handle the increase in petitions that Mr. Obama is planning to sign off on before he leaves office. Last Tuesday, White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler said Obama has directed the Justice Department to improve its clemency recommendation process and recruit more applications from convicts.

The White House’s new moves would follow in the footsteps of a January announcement that the Obama administration would taking the unprecedented step of encouraging defense lawyers to suggest inmates whom the president might let out of prison early, as part of its effort to curtail severe penalties in low-level drug cases.

U.S.: Oregon Congressman Blasts Drug Official For Marijuana Cluelessness

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Oregon Congressman on Tuesday blasted the deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy after failing to get a straight answer to his question about the supposed dangers of marijuana.

When Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), a friend to the cannabis community for more than 40 years, asked chief deputy drug czar Michael Botticelli for the number of fatal cannabis overdoses for the past five years, Botticelli replied, "To my knowledge, I don't know if there have been instances of specific overdose-related deaths."

Rep. Blumenauer continued pressing Botticelli in the House Oversight Committee hearing, asking him whether marijuana is more dangerous and addictive than cocaine or methamphetamine, reports Travis Gettys at The Raw Story.

"I don't think that anyone would dispute the fact that there's relative toxicity related to those drugs," Botticelli said in a classical political non-answer. Understandably, Rep. Blumenauer -- who voted to make Oregon the first state to decriminalize marijuana, back in 1973, when he was a state representative in Salem -- wasn't satisfied.

U.S.: Atty. Gen. Holder Says US Will Allow Legal Marijuana Money In Banks

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Policy Changes Will Protect Public Safety, Honor the Will of the Voters, and Help Small Businesses

Drug Policy Alliance: White House Appears to be Working in Good Faith with Colorado and Washington’s efforts to Regulate Marijuana in a Responsible Way

While speaking on Thursday at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama Administration will soon announce policy guidance that would make it easier for banks to deal with state-legalized marijuana businesses.

Twenty states and Washington D.C., have legalized marijuana for medical use; two of those states (Colorado and Washington) recently legalized marijuana like alcohol.

Many banks have been afraid to open checking or savings accounts for legalized marijuana businesses out of fear of breaking federal law. As a result, these businesses are forced to deal with large amounts of cash, creating public safety risks for employees, bystanders, and police officers.

"You don’t want just huge amounts of cash in these places. They want to be able to use the banking system," Attorney General Eric Holder said. "There’s a public safety component to this. Huge amounts of cash—substantial amounts of cash just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited is something that would worry me, just from a law enforcement perspective."

MPP Challenges Drug Czar To Explain Marijuana/Alcohol Contradiction

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Organization Challenges Drug Czar to Explain the Self-Contradiction He Included In An Invitation to TODAY’s First-Ever White House Drug Policy Reform Conference

The Marijuana Policy Project is challenging U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske to explain the self-contradicting statement he included in an invitation to the first-ever White House Drug Policy Reform Conference, which will be held Monday from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. It can be viewed online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/live.

The email invitation distributed Friday by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) included a graphic with the following quote from Kerlikowske: “Drug policy reform should be rooted in NEUROSCIENCE—NOT POLITICAL SCIENCE.”

“Every objective study on marijuana has concluded that it poses far less harm to the brain than alcohol,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and coauthor of the book Marijuana Is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink? “The ONDCP has long championed laws that steer adults toward using alcohol and away from making the safer choice to use marijuana. If the drug czar is truly committed to prioritizing neuroscience over political science, he should support efforts to make marijuana a legal alternative to alcohol for adults.”

Global: Guatemalan President Calls for Global Drug Policy Reform in UN Speech

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President Pérez Molina Praises Voters of Colorado and Washington for Legalizing Marijuana and President Obama for Allowing Them to Proceed

Commends President Mujica of Uruguay for Marijuana Legalization Proposal; Says That U.N. Should Allow Countries to “Experiment with New Models”

Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina on Thursday spoke out forcefully against the failures of drug prohibition and urged countries to experiment with new drug control models while speaking at the United Nations General Assembly.

Pérez Molina praised the voters of Colorado and Washington for legalizing marijuana, President Obama for allowing the laws to proceed, and President José Mujica of Uruguay for his marijuana legalization proposal.

Colorado and Washington became the first U.S. states –- and the first political jurisdictions in the world -– to legalize the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adults last November. Uruguay is likely to join them soon; the country’s House passed a marijuana legalization bill in July and its Senate is expected to follow suit in October.

Last month, the White House announced that the federal government will not interfere with state marijuana laws, as long as a number of stipulations are adhered to, such as preventing distribution to minors.

U.S.: Attorney General Holder Expands Major Reform of Mandatory Minimum Drug Laws

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Holder Orders Prosecutors to Remove Any Reference to Quantities Of Illicit Drugs that Trigger Mandatory Minimums And To Apply Provision to Pending Cases

Bipartisan Support Grows In Congress for Overhauling U.S. Drug Laws

Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama Administration are continuing to push for reforms of draconian drug sentencing policies that have resulted in the U.S. federal prison population skyrocketing over the past three decades. The White House announced that they will curtail federal mandatory minimum drug laws by ordering prosecutors to remove any references to specific amounts of illegal drugs that trigger mandatory minimum sentences.

Holder also ordered prosecutors to refile charges against defendants in pending cases and to apply the new policy to defendants who are already in the system but have not yet been sentenced.

“I must say I’m impressed at the speed and specificity with which Mr. Holder has followed up on last month’s comments,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “This looks like a major good faith effort to reform federal drug sentencing laws as much as possible given the constraints of federal law and judicial prerogative over sentencing.”

U.S.: DEA Phone Call Surveillance Database Bigger Than NSA's

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Did Anybody Ever Really Believe They'd Only Spy On Terrorists?

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The United States federal government has access to a massive database containing 25 years of AT&T phone call data, as part of a secret program in which telephone company employees work beside federal and local law enforcement agents to track the phone calls of "suspected drug dealers."

The revelations completely confirm the biggest fears of civil libertarians and drug policy reformers in the United States: that the government uses large-scale surveillance programs for drug law enforcement, rather than for national security (which, of course, was the original excuse for the wholesale, warrantless spying on American citizens).

As first reported by Scott Shane and Colin Moynihan of The New York Times, the operation, known as the Hemisphere Project, has been ongoing for at least six years. It has access to every single call coming through any AT&T switchboard since 1987, reports Richard Esposito at NBC News.

The vast database grows by billions of calls every day, and is even larger than the controversial database maintained by the National Security Administration (NSA), which only goes back five years.

Michigan: Marijuana Advocate Rolling His Wheelchair To The White House

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Michigan man has announced he's rolling his wheelchair to the White House to talk with lawmakers about legalizing cannabis.

Curtis Kyle left his home in Taylor, Mich., on Friday, reports Brian Larsen at WWJ.

"I'm rolling my wheelchair to Washington, D.C., from my home in Taylor," Kyle said. "I'm hoping to get to the White House by the Fourth of July."

"I'm doing this for every marijuana activist and smoker and user across the whole United States," Kyle said, reports WLNS. "I feel that we need to come back together and take our country back."

Kyle has cerebral palsy and has used a wheelchair for his entire life. He hopes to cover about 40 miles a day.

"Most of them are back roads," he said. "I do have an escort by me."

Curtis on Tuesday morning was in Macedonia, Ohio, according to a Facebook post on the United Marijuana Smokers of Michigan page, where the battery charger for the spare batteries in his wheelchair had stopped working, temporarily stalling the journey until Sears replaced the charger for free, since it has a lifetime replacement warranty.

U.S.: Drug Czar Claims Marijuana Is Drug Most Often Linked To Crime

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sure, he's required by law to oppose marijuana legalization. And of course, being put in such an untenable and nonsensical position requires one to lie one's ass off on a regular basis. But still didn't make it sound one whit less ridiculous when Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske on Thursday claimed that marijuana is the drug most often linked to crime in the United States.

Kerlikowske, director of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), dismissed calls for cannabis legalization as a "bumper-sticker approach" that should be avoided, reports Rob Hotakainen at the McClatchy Washington Bureau. He claimed a study by his office -- which, again, is required by law to oppose pot legalization -- showed a "strong link" between marijuana use and crime.

Eighty percent of the adult males arrested in Sacramento, California last year tested positive for at least one illegal drug, Kerlikowske said. Marijuana was the most commonly detected drug, found in 54 percent of those arrested.

There were reportedly similar results in New York, Denver, Atlanta and Chicago. The study included examinations of 1,736 urine samples and 1,938 interviews with men who were arrested.

U.S.: Obama Continues To Fund Punishment Over Treatment In Drug Budget

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Despite the rhetoric from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) about a "21st Century Drug Policy" and their use of the hashtag #DrugPolicyReform on Twitter, President Barack Obama's budget continues to emphasize punishment and interdiction (supply reduction) programs over treatment and prevention (demand reduction) programs, to the tune of 58 percent to 42 percent.

It's a classic case of throwing good money after bad, of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Forty-two years after President Richard Nixon declared a "War On Drugs," the chief casualties are civil liberties and individual privacy rights, with drugs being more easily available than when the "War" (which is really on people, not on drugs) was declared.

The portion of federal drug control spending going to domestic law enforcement in the fiscal year 2014 budget increases slightly from 2012's 38.5 percent ($9.4 billion) and 2013's 38.1 percent ($9.3 billion) to 2014's 37.7 percent ($9.5 billion), an overall increase of 1.3 percent in two years.

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