Uruguay Government To Legalize And Sell Marijuana

A Government Finally Embraces Reality

The local media in Uruguay, citing unnamed lawmakers, is reporting a plan to legalize and sell marijuana to registered users to combat crime, and cut off the flow of money to dangerous cartels. Hmm, seems like I’ve heard this idea before. Oh yeah, it’s what we have all been saying for years. It’s what several latin American countries have been wanting to do, but can’t because of staunch opposition from Obama. Well, it looks like the U.S. is no longer calling the shots in the western hemisphere.

The president of Uruguay has not yet confirmed the report, but did tell the The Associated Press in an email to expect a announcement soon addressing “the marijuana issue.” The program would be based on the notion that getting people off drugs is about rehabilitation, not punishment. In order to buy marijuana users must first register with the government. Any user who goes past the monthly limit of government joints will be required to undergo drug rehabilitation, but will not face prosecution. All income from the program will be used to treat hardcore addicts. Wow! Is that reason I smell in the air?

We need to send Obama to Uruguay asap for leadership training. Apparently, the idea is to reduce crime by reducing the flow of money to dangerous drug dealers, as well as by giving cannabis users an alternative source of ganja so they are not drawn into using more dangerous drugs.

“This measure should be accompanied by efforts to get young people off drugs,” said ruling party Sen. Monica Xavier.

Well, you heard it here folks: the tide is turning fast against the U.S. Drug War. Nations will no longer be bullied by Obama into accepting drug violence within their borders. The time is now to rise up against prohibition and demand legalization. Our brothers and sisters in Latin America have our backs. Let’s do this!


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Cop Takes Home Seized Marijuana And Claims His Dog Ate It

By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town

“The dog ate it.” Really? Really?? A police department in Washington state is under fire after an officer took home seized marijuana, only to report his dog ate the weed.

The Soap Lake Police Department, in eastern Washington, has been accused of numerous other instances of mishandling evidence as well, reports Aaron Luna at KXLY4. An outside investigation by the neighboring Moses Lake Police Department and two other agencies found that the Soap Lake cops didn’t get required training on handling evidence.

Evidence was improperly tagged and placed in insecure areas, according to the investigation. In one case, a rape kit was found in a refrigerator next to the police chief’s lunch.

Police evidence in Soap Lake is supposed to go into a locker in the day room and then into a safe, but the investigation found that this doesn’t always happen.
Acting on complaints from citizens and other sources, Grant County Prosecutor D. Angus Lee (how’s that — a D.A. with the initials D.A.?) initiated in investigation into the Soap Lake Police Department and generated a 44-page(!) report.

The report shows a broken system for logging criminal evidence. Some of the policy violations were bad enough that criminal charges may be filed.

“I will say that we have received a request from Moses Police to consider that report for potential criminal charges and it’s under that review right now,” D.A. Lee said. “The biggest problem is the effect it’s going to have on current cases and cases going forward.”

Lee said the report “probably” won’t affect previous cases, but that his office will “investigate” that possibility.
Soap Lake Mayor Raymond Gravelle, rather than admitting his officers were just incompetent slackers, claimed that the city’s police chief “didn’t have the money” to pay his officers to train, turning their boneheaded fuck-up into yet another call for funds.

“There’s only $600 annually for training,” Mayor Gravelle claimed. “There’s only $1,000 for maintenance [and] repairs.”

But that’s no excuse, according to D.A. Lee.

“Honestly, budget (and) police agency size has nothing to do with it,” Lee said. “It’s just mismanagement, plain and simple, and it is a big deal.”

“Ultimately the council voted unanimously in favor of rebuilding Soap Lake’s police department,” Mayor Gravelle said. “So that’s my mission now.”

The former police chief and one other officer have resigned.

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Why Non-Marijuana Consumers Should Support Ending Cannabis Prohibition

Just Because You Don’t Smoke Cannabis Doesn’t Mean You Shouldn’t Support Legalization

Every once in awhile I will be talking to a non-marijuana consumer, and they will tell me that the only reason they don’t support marijuana legalization is because they don’t smoke it. A common phrase I hear them say is, ‘Why would I care about something that doesn’t affect me?’ The fact of the matter is, marijuana prohibition affects us all to some extent, whether we consume cannabis or not.

More than 27% or Americans come from a minority background according to the Census Bureau. Considering the fact that there are now more minority babies in the United States than there are white babies, that number is obviously going to continue to grow. According to our friends at Encyclopedia Britannica, one of ‘Anslinger’s main weapons was inciting fear of Mexicans.’ Think that things have changed? Marijuana has been, and continues to be, one of law enforcement’s favorite ways to harass minorities.

Take for instance the city of Atlanta, GA. Last year, 93 percent of all marijuana possession arrests in the city of Atlanta were African-Americans, and 7 percent were white. The city’s population is 54 percent African-American and 38 percent white. If you are a non-marijuana consuming minority, and you don’t think that marijuana prohibition affects you, please research this issue more. I guarantee you will see that reform is way, way overdue.

Marijuana prohibition is also a human rights issue. Anyone who doesn’t think so should look at the terrifying pictures of headless bodies coming out of border towns in Mexico. A person might not consume marijuana, but I think we can all agree that no one should suffer the way people are in Northern Mexico. This suffering is due in large part to marijuana prohibition. As NPR previously stated, “As Mexico’s biggest agricultural export, marijuana generates billions of dollars in revenues each year for the brutal narcotics cartels. By some estimates, it is the most profitable product for the Mexican drug gangs.”

Ending marijuana prohibition in the United States would drastically cut back on what is possibly the greatest source of revenue for ruthless drug cartels. Right now people are dying at alarming rates in Mexican border towns because the gangs are trying to control the lucrative marijuana market. If America legalized marijuana, that market would dry up, and cartels would take a huge hit.

Another point that non-marijuana consumers need to consider is the economy. I think marijuana consumers and non-marijuana consumers alike can agree that resources are scarce these days. A lot of resources go into supporting the failed policy of marijuana prohibition. Shouldn’t those resources be directed to somewhere else? Perhaps to fight violent crime, or to fund schools, or just about anything anyone can think of besides prohibiting a harmless substance. I don’t want any resources wasted, on marijuana prohibition or anything else. America needs to be smart with it’s dollars. I have yet to find a non-marijuana consumer that disagrees with that last point.

Of course, not only would marijuana legalization save dollars on the outgoing end, legalization would usher in a ‘Green Era’ in American business that has never been seen before, and would generate enormous sums of money. All non-marijuana consumers can agree that we need more jobs in America. All non-marijuana consumers can agree that we need more tax funding for vital services such as schools and firefighters in America. It should be a logical conclusion then that we should legalize marijuana, which would do both of those things, almost overnight. Name one other industry on the planet that can say that truthfully.

Finally, non-marijuana consumers need to support marijuana legalization because even though they don’t consume marijuana themselves, chances are they know someone that does. Statistically speaking, it could be someone living in their own home. My good friend Adam J. Smith that writes for this blog always points out to me that if someone’s son or daughter gets caught consuming marijuana, that should be an issue left up to the parents, not the police. Non-marijuana consumers never think about marijuana prohibition in those terms. Should anyone’s son or daughter go to jail because they got caught possessing a personal amount of marijuana? I’m not a parent, but I can’t imagine any parent thinking that’s OK.

Marijuana consumers are everywhere. We are friends with non-marijuana consumers, we are related to non-marijuana consumers, we work with non-marijuana consumers, and in some cases, we are even married to non-marijuana consumers. Non-marijuana consumers that don’t support legalization likely haven’t heard from someone they know or love that they consume marijuana, and that there is nothing to fear. Have a conversation with a non-marijuana consumer today and explain to them why they should support marijuana legalization. After all, you don’t have to consume marijuana to realize that marijuana prohibition has failed!

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Report: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Not Linked to Neighborhood Crime

Study of California dispensaries finds no increased crime levels

By Jason Koebler
June 6, 2012

It’s long been the argument of law enforcement and anti-medical marijuana advocates that the government-sanctioned pot dispensaries cause an uptick in crime, especially burglary and muggings. The only problem is that argument isn’t necessarily true, according to a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

On its face, the argument makes sense—medical marijuana dispensaries feature large caches of high quality drugs, and its customers overwhelmingly walk in with a huge wad of cash and walk out with a desirable product. But the study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that neighborhoods with medical marijuana dispensaries in Sacramento were no more likely to have crime than other neighborhoods.

[Your Friendly Neighborhood Pot-Growing Store]

The study’s authors say their research may debunk a 2009 report by the California Police Chiefs Association that said marijuana dispensaries “have been tied to organized criminal gangs, foster large [marijuana growth] operations, and are often multi-million-dollar profit centers.”

“Because they are repositories of valuable marijuana crops and large amounts of cash, several operators of dispensaries have been attacked and murdered by armed robbers both at their storefronts and homes, and such places have been regularly burglarized,” the report continues. “Drug dealing, sales to minors, loitering, heavy vehicle and foot traffic in retail areas, increased noise, and robberies of customers just outside dispensaries are also common ancillary by-products of their operations.”

Arguments such as those are common by opponents of medical marijuana legalization, which will soon be available in as many as 17 states and the District of Columbia.

[Americans Supporting Ending Federal Crackdowns on Medical Marijuana]

“There’s law enforcement and city officials debating whether these dispensaries were attracting undesirables, and there’s the other side, the dispensary owners, saying maybe these concerns were unfounded,” says co-author Nancy Kepple, a doctoral student at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. “But neither side had any evidence that supported either claim.”

The UCLA study looked at crime rates in 95 areas of Sacramento in 2009, before the city enacted regulations on where dispensaries could be located and had fewer restrictions on what security measures dispensary operators had to meet.

“Whatever security measures were done, the owners chose to do it for themselves [in 2009]. We specifically selected this time because it was based on a free-market situation,” says Kepple.

Although the researchers aren’t sure why there was no uptick in crime around dispensaries, they suspect that security guards and cameras have an impact on keeping criminals out. Or, as Kepple wrote in the report, it could be that marijuana dispensaries just don’t increase crime any “more than any other facility in a commercially-zoned area.”

[Why the Oregon Attorney General Race Has National Implications for Marijuana Laws]

Several high-profile murders in San Francisco and Hollywood dispensaries and burglaries in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Colorado Springs have made dispensary-based crime national news, but those cases aren’t representative of a larger trend, Kepple and her co-author, Bridget Freisthler, say.

“Because of the type of business dispensaries are, any crime there has been well-publicized, bringing more attention to the issue,” Freisthler says. “Neighborhood residents get up in arms and it takes a life of its own.” She says pot dispensaries appear to be no more likely to be victimized by burglars than liquor stores or other commercial spots.

Still, the authors realize there are potential holes in their study. They say they need to study crime rates in other cities and need to study crime trends over time to determine whether dispensaries have long-term impacts on neighborhood crime.

“This is really just the start, and [our findings] seem contrary to what the public debate has been saying,” Kepple says. “We wanted to start thinking about the debate from a scientific standpoint.”

Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at jkoebler@usnews.com.

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo seeks to cut marijuana penalty

By Michael Muskal

June 4, 2012, 2:53 p.m.

New York will join more than a dozen states in decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana displayed in public if the state Legislature approves a proposal made Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

At an Albany news conference, Cuomo, a Democrat, called for changing the state law to make possession of 25 grams of marijuana — whether in public or private – punishable by a fine. Currently having at least 25 grams on public view is a misdemeanor, though having the same amount in private is just a violation.

Civil libertarians have long criticized the difference in approaches, which they contend discriminates against minorities and the young. A person could have a small amount of marijuana in his or her pocket and be charged with no more than a violation. But if ordered by a police officer to empty that pocket, the marijuana would be on public display and the suspect could face a misdemeanor charge.

According to state statistics, more than half of the 53,000 people arrested last year were younger than 25, and 82% were black or Latino. Less than 10% were ever convicted of a crime, Cuomo stated.

Moreover, 94% of the arrests took place in New York City, where a stop-and-frisk policy has become a sore point in relations between police and the minority communities.

“Today’s announcement is about creating fairness and consistency in our laws since there is a blatant inconsistency in the way we deal with small amounts of marijuana possession,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This is an issue that disproportionately affects young people — they wind up with a permanent stain on their record for something that would otherwise be a violation. The charge makes it more difficult for them to find a job. Together, we are making New York fairer and safer, and ensuring that every New Yorker has access to justice system that doesn’t discriminate based on age or color.”

Cuomo’s proposal would not change the status of smoking marijuana in public; that would remain a misdemeanor.

If the measure were approved, New York would be following in the footsteps of such states as California and Connecticut, which have taken similar action. New York in 1977 made the penalty for privately possessing 25 grams or less of pot a violation that carries a maximum fine of $100 for first-time offenders. An ounce is about 28 grams.

New York City officials backed Cuomo’s proposed changes, saying in a statement that they follow police practices instituted last year.

In a statement, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg noted:

“Last year, Police Commissioner [Raymond] Kelly issued a policy order directing officers to issue violations, rather than misdemeanors, for small amounts of marijuana that come into open view during a search. The governor’s proposal today is consistent with the commissioner’s directive, and strikes the right balance by ensuring that the NYPD will continue to have the tools it needs to maintain public safety – including making arrests for selling or smoking marijuana.”

For his part, Kelly stated: “The proposed legislation takes a balanced approach and comports with the spirit of the NYPD operations order issued on the subject last year. Further, the department’s ongoing quality of life enforcement is supported by preserving the penalties for smoking marijuana in public.”

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Why do Democrats Defend the Drug War?

by Scott Morgan

The rank hypocrisy of Obama’s position on pot has been amplified rather dramatically by last week’s revelation that he literally smoked more than his share of it back in high school. It’s an important conversation to have, but I think this analysis by Paul Waldman in The American Prospect lands a little off the mark.

At the moment, there remains a strong incentive to support the status quo, lest you be targeted in your next race as some kind of hippie-lover. The incentives on the other side, on the other hand, are almost nil. When was the last time somebody lost a race for being too tough on drugs? The half of Americans who favor marijuana legalization are not an organized voting bloc that gets together to punish its opponents at the polls.

This is almost the opposite of what I’ve been saying lately, given that in just the past month, two different well-connected democratic candidates have collapsed under the weight of their unpopular drug war posturing. First, Oregon voters roundly rejected Dwight Holton in an attorney general race that focused heavily on his opposition to medical marijuana. Then, just yesterday in Texas, U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes lost the congressional seat he’s held since 1996 in a primary challenge from outspoken drug policy reformer Beto O’Rourke.

Really, the whole notion that candidates who support reform will be labeled as “hippie-lovers,” is nothing more than a fictitious cliché without a single good example to justify its utterance. Instead, we’re witnessing the emergence of the exact opposite, a new dynamic in democratic races wherein a history of defending the drug war is a political liability that can be exploited to powerful effect by candidates who side with the majority of voters in favoring reform.

That’s why it’s so frustrating to see observers like Waldman, who supports reforming drug policy, nevertheless endeavor to uphold the notion that political realities require our leaders to do the wrong thing. If Obama were to read that analysis and find it convincing, Waldman would have succeeded in helping the President rationalize his refusal to support reform. We’re hurting our cause when we say stuff like this, and worse yet, the idea itself isn’t even true.

The truth is that a majority of voters actually do want the President to stop waging war on marijuana. It isn’t in any politician’s political interest to ignore public opinion while defending bad public policy. The smart play is to steer into the changing political current, just as Obama did with gay marriage, and the result is that public opinion itself begins to change that much faster. This is what’s known as leadership, and when it comes to reforming our horrible drug laws, our politicians have everything to gain by speaking up and speaking out.



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Beto O’Rourke, Marijuana Legalization Supporter, Beats Rep. Silvestre Reyes

A Texas congressional candidate who favors marijuana legalization beat eight-term incumbent El Paso Rep. Silvestre Reyes Tuesday in the Democratic primary for the congressional district closest to Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez.

In unofficial results, Beto O’Rourke scored 23,248 votes for 50.5 percent of the vote, clearing the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff. Reyes tallied 44.4 percent. The 2012 Democratic primary boasted more than 10,000 additional voters over 2010, sending turnout up from 9.8 percent to 14.2 percent.

“Can you all just confirm for me that this is really happening?” O’Rourke asked a crowd at his victory party after the results came in, according to the El Paso Times. “I want to thank all of you for making this possible.”

Reyes was less exuberant in defeat, slamming “my opponent who deliberately ran a nasty, dirty campaign.”

The race received national attention because of O’Rourke’s position in support of marijuana legalization. In his second term as an El Paso city representative, O’Rourke pushed for a resolution calling for a re-examination of the drug war, which has killed tens of thousands in neighboring Mexico over the past decade. He also co-authored a book on the same subject.

The drug war is “a failure,” O’Rourke told HuffPost in April, adding that marijuana is “the cornerstone of the cartel economy” and thus fuels the violence in El Paso’s sister city.

Reyes, a Vietnam veteran and former border patrol officer, responded with a TV ad charging that O’Rourke was encouraging drug use among children.

This is the second high-profile Democratic primary this month where the candidates squared off over marijuana prohibition. On May 15, Ellen Rosenblum won the Oregon attorney general’s office on a pledge to make enforcing marijuana laws a low priority.

In the final weeks of the Texas race, O’Rourke had somewhat downplayed his views on legalization. He said that it was a low priority for El Paso voters and not something he would pursue in Congress.

“He’s backed off a lot on the talking points about the need to legalize marijuana or the impact it has on this border community,” said Richard Pineda, associate director of Sam Donaldson Center at University of Texas El Paso. “I think that it’s unlikely he’s going to be a champion for that issue.”

Local political observers dismissed the idea that pot policy had much to do with voters’ ballot box decisions.

“Other, bigger issues have come into play,” said Gregory Rocha, an associate professor of political science at the University of Texas-El Paso. Foremost among them, he said, was a perception that Reyes had become an entrenched, corrupt incumbent. The congressman was hit hard by allegations that he had steered $600,000 in campaign funds to himself and his family members via consulting jobs.

Those charges were pushed by the Campaign for Primary Accountability, an anti-incumbent super PAC that targeted Reyes with what it said were $245,000 in independent expenditures. Much of that money was spent on negative television ads.

“They’ve done the dirty work,” said Rocha. “Just like what we’ve seen in the Republican campaign: the super PACs did the dirty work for Mitt Romney.”

After O’Rourke won, the super PAC, which Reyes had criticized for accepting money from wealthy GOP donors who include Joe Ricketts, released a statement: “Rep. Reyes had all the benefits of incumbency. Beltway lobbyists showered money on their long-time friend while Washington party leaders with marquee names tried to lend him their stature.

“The voters exercised their franchise and chose Beto O’Rourke,” the statement continued.

Reyes, in the final days of the race, became increasingly negative in response. His campaign aired an ad highlighting O’Rourke’s arrest for driving while intoxicated in the 1990s, and he made several statements claiming his opponent was a closet Republican.

Reyes “did try to put forth a pretty nasty ad of his own,” said Rocha. But voters weren’t buying it: “It was pretty bombastic. Pretty much on O’Rourke’s character, with not much link to public policy.”

-Huffington Post

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