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Drug Prohibition: Still Stupid


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On 3/23/2021 at 6:19 AM, Shambolic Tom said:

Marijuana News in 3 States Shows Stark Differences As Prohibition Crumbles

New Mexico would be only the second state to have legislators legalize it. Mostly we have seen ballot initiatives to go around recalcitrant legislatures and get it done. I hope they succeed.

Oops, third, not second.

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If the bill is approved, New Mexico will be the 16th state to allow recreational use and the third (along with Vermont and Illinois) to do so through the legislature rather than through a ballot initiative.*

And they didn't quite make it, since NY was third.

But New Mexico is about to be the fourth one.
 

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Yesterday, on the same day that New York became the 16th state to legalize recreational marijuana, legislators in Santa Fe approved a bill that will add New Mexico to that list. The Cannabis Regulation Act passed the state House by a vote of 22–15 and the state Senate by a vote of 38–32 during a special session convened by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is expected to sign the bill soon.

New Mexico is the fourth state, in addition to New York, Illinois, and Vermont, to legalize marijuana through the legislature. Thirteen other states have approved legalization by ballot initiative, although South Dakota's measure is tied up in the courts.

...

 

The NM bill is better than the NY one because it allows home cultivation. If you wish to risk having the feds seize your home, that is.

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There are a lot of conflicting studies right now on the ratio of CBD to THC and it is likely that studies will find that different concentrations of different ingredients are going to be more or less

Naxolone and moral hazard Some new research suggests that making Naxolone available to heroin addicts doesn't save lives because it just encourages the addicts to engage in more risky behavior.

Beware of butterflies! How a Blue Butterfly Stamp Brought Down One of the Dark Web's Biggest Marijuana Vendors Whatever else Mr. Farber may be, he's productive and successful. If you

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19 hours ago, Mike in Seattle said:

Stste by state is all well & good,

, but ,

, needs to be done at the fed level.

Both must happen to effect meaningful change.

And there is a bit of good news.

Top Senate Democrats: We’ll Legalize Marijuana

Biden remains opposed to legalization, but even a rusty weather vane can swing in a strong enough gust.

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Schumer: Senate will act on marijuana legalization with or without Biden

He's a bit cagey at the end of the interview about exactly what legislative changes will be introduced and when but at least he's more of a lubricated weather vane than Biden.

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Schumer: In 2018, I was the first member of the Democratic leadership to come out in support of ending the federal prohibition. I'm sure you ask, “Well what changed?” Well, my thinking evolved. When a few of the early states — Oregon and Colorado — wanted to legalize, all the opponents talked about the parade of horribles: Crime would go up. Drug use would go up. Everything bad would happen.

The legalization of states worked out remarkably well. They were a great success. The parade of horribles never came about, and people got more freedom. And people in those states seem very happy.

I think the American people started speaking with a clear message — more than two to one — that they want the law changed. When a state like South Dakota votes by referendum to legalize, you know something is out there.

 

Glad to see him develop the courage of the voters' convictions at long last.

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Taxes in Oregon going up.

An Economist Warns That Oregon Could Soon Tax Its Weed Shops Out of Business - Willamette Week (wweek.com)

By the end of the month, Congress could increase the federal corporate income tax rate from 21% to 28%. And the Oregon Legislature could refer to voters a proposal to allow cities and counties to increase the local tax on cannabis products up from 3% to 10%, in addition to the state's 17% cannabis tax.

The effect on Moss Crossing? Its tax burden would increase from 61% to 75%. That's not a typo: 75 cents of every dollar Fikstad makes selling weed would go to the taxman.

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17 minutes ago, Mike in Seattle said:

75 cents of every dollar Fikstad makes selling weed would go to the taxman.

Do you think that'll usher the cartel weed back into favor?

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17 hours ago, justsomeguy! said:

Do you think that'll usher the cartel weed back into favor?

Yes, and commercial growing operations on public land. When tax rates are high enough, people go around them to the black market. Happens when "sin taxes" on things like alcohol and tobacco get high enough too.

17 hours ago, Mike in Seattle said:

 

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...But there's one factor that makes weed shops a more tempting target than convenience stores, liquor stores and other retailers that have stayed open during COVID: They deal almost exclusively in cash.

...

But federally, pot remains a Schedule I narcotic—illegal. That means dispensaries can't open bank accounts, because the banks would risk federal prosecution for holding the money from a criminal enterprise.

 

That prohibits cannabis shops from getting bank loans, filing for bankruptcy, storing money in a bank account, and accepting credit and debit card transactions.

 

"The lack of cannabis banking has created a public safety crisis. And that public safety crisis can be addressed very easily and very quickly at the federal level," says Beau Whitney, a Portland economist and business consultant for the cannabis industry.

...

 

Uh huh. I think the banks don't just risk prosecution. They also risk asset forfeiture. They're understandably uninterested in becoming targets of either one.

Just because something could be done quickly and easily doesn't mean it is likely to be done.

 

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California Inches Toward Decriminalizing Psychedelics
 

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The effort to decriminalize psychedelic drugs in California gained momentum Tuesday after a key state Senate committee voted in favor of allowing adults to freely use and possess magic mushrooms and LSD.

Mirrored after similar criminal justice reform measures recently approved in Oregon and various U.S. cities, Senate Bill 519 would decriminalize several drugs currently listed as Schedule I controlled substances by the federal government — including psilocybin, LSD, ketamine, DMT, MDMA, ibogaine and mescaline. In addition to decriminalizing psychedelics or hallucinogens for people over 21, the bill calls for the expungement of old criminal records, penalties for furnishing drugs to minors and a new working group to further study the safety and efficacy of psychedelic use in the Golden State.

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I don't even know what a couple of those are.

"I used to be with it, but then they changed what "it" was. Now, what I'm with isn't "it" any more and what is "it" seems weird and scary to me. It'll happen to you!" --Grandpa Simpson

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2 hours ago, Excoded Tom said:

Just because something could be done quickly and easily doesn't mean it is likely to be done.

, seems like a simple question for a general ballot

? weed  legit ?   Y   N

 

 

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2 hours ago, Excoded Tom said:

California Inches Toward Decriminalizing Psychedelics
 

I don't even know what a couple of those are.

"I used to be with it, but then they changed what "it" was. Now, what I'm with isn't "it" any more and what is "it" seems weird and scary to me. It'll happen to you!" --Grandpa Simpson

Some of those have been shown to be very effective at treating some of our most intractable mental health challenges, things like depression, PTSD and alcohol and opioid addiction. They are very often more effective than traditional treatments and seem to do a better job at helping folks resolve the underlying issues rather than treat just treat the symptoms.

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20 hours ago, justsomeguy! said:

Do you think that'll usher the cartel weed back into favor?

Cartels cant grow good weed..............

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3 minutes ago, dacapo said:

Cartels cant grow good weed..............

Not quite as vetted (and potent) as the pharma stuff in the US, but there'll be a price point where certain consumers opt out, I think.

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On 12/2/2019 at 6:51 AM, Excoded Tom said:

Update on the SAFE Banking Act
 

What a load of Crapo. The Senate isn't busy with impeachment at all.

The SAFE Banking Act will be voted on in the House of Representatives today.

It passed last time.

The Senate version doesn't have to wade through a bunch of Crapo this time around.

So that's nice, but it still has only 5 TeamR cosponsors.

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Beside the chief sponsors, here’s who’s signed on to this latest version so far: Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Ed Markey (D-MA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Angus King (I-ME), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Rand Paul (R-KY), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY).

It lost a TeamD cosponsor since last time around because she became VP.

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delta-8 THC shows the need for more regulation.
 

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A novel cannabis drug is popping up in cities across the U.S., eliciting concern from members of the cannabis and hemp industries, state legislators, and a chemist who reviews cannabis drugs for safety. While the newly popular compound of delta-8-THC is not expressly prohibited by the Controlled Substances Act, people I spoke to are concerned that it is being produced unsafely and not receiving the same scrutiny that regulators apply to legal marijuana. 

...

"Everyone anticipated that big grocery and pharmacy retailers would line their shelves once hemp and CBD were legal," Jim Higdon, owner and founder of Cornbread Hemp in Kentucky, tells Reason. But selling to national grocery and pharmacy retailers hinged on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifying hemp-derived CBD, short for cannabidiol, as a nutritional supplement. Instead, the FDA explicitly declared that CBD could not be sold as a nutritional supplement. 

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That's when some enterprising chemist found that CBD isolate could be synthesized into delta-8-THC, a cousin of delta-9-THC. While delta-9, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, is prohibited by the Farm Bill and the Controlled Substances Act, neither piece of legislation mentions delta-8. Though it's not inherently dangerous, says Christopher Hudalla, the founder and chief science officer of ProVerde Laboratories, which provides testing services to state-legal cannabis businesses in Massachusetts and Maine, Hudalla has yet to test a delta-8-THC product that contains only delta-8. 

When he first saw products containing delta-8-THC in 2018, Hudalla says, "I thought, 'This is cool, this is novel.' But then I was like, 'What do we know about this?'"

...

The products Hudalla tested contained delta-8-THC, but also other THC isomers as well as chemical byproducts. "These byproducts are not found in nature. Chemists are using very, very strong reagents—strong acids, strong bases. If you don't know what you're doing, it's very possible to pass along some of those reagents to your customer."

Hudalla looked at numerous samples, finding not only chemical byproducts unfit for consumption but also chemical isolates he couldn't identify. He says that when pharmaceutical companies produce a drug and can't get rid of all the chemical byproducts, they are required to prove that the byproducts are safe. The delta-8 producers he's spoken with, many of whom are using unsophisticated labs, do not have the resources or the know-how to conduct those studies.  

Hudalla couldn't tell his clients that their delta-8-THC products were pure, so he wrote lab reports for them declaring that the products were not fit for human consumption. The decision has cost him business, and many producers have simply shopped for a lab that will write them a purity report they like. But he stands by the decision, citing lessons learned from the wave of lung injuries caused in recent years by THC vape pens sold on the black market. "I don't want to be responsible for someone hurting someone else, and I don't want a certificate of safety with my name on it found in a DEA bust," Hudalla says. 

Steenstra is equally concerned that some members of the hemp industry have turned to producing delta-8-THC. "These products are being produced who knows where, under who knows what conditions," Steenstra says. "There's been no research into whether delta-8-THC products are safe." 

Like Higdon, Steenstra is frustrated that the FDA refuses to roll up its sleeves and do the work of regulating hemp and CBD products as nutritional supplements. "These products are not being regulated by the FDA, but they should be," Steenstra says. "There are lots of good companies making good products, but they're doing it voluntarily. Which means there's a lot of poor-quality stuff out there as well." The thinking among hemp advocates is that smart regulations would give the hemp industry a path toward commercial viability, stabilize prices, and discourage the diversion of CBD isolate toward grey and black market delta-8-THC products.  

...

 

None of which would have happened if the FDA had allowed (and regulated) CBD as a nutritional supplment instead.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Excoded Tom said:

delta-8 THC shows the need for more regulation.
 

None of which would have happened if the FDA had allowed (and regulated) CBD as a nutritional supplment instead.

 

 

From the reading I have done, it seems the CSA would still make this illegal. The Farm Bill provides a narrow exemption for CBD extracted from Hemp and specifically mentions delta-9 THC, nothing in it would make synthetic THC legal, and the delta-8 THC is still a synthetic even if it is synthesized from hemp. 

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On 4/21/2021 at 3:13 PM, LenP said:

From the reading I have done, it seems the CSA would still make this illegal. The Farm Bill provides a narrow exemption for CBD extracted from Hemp and specifically mentions delta-9 THC, nothing in it would make synthetic THC legal, and the delta-8 THC is still a synthetic even if it is synthesized from hemp. 

Actually, it seems the DEA made it illegal.

Is it Legal?

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The status of Delta-8 THC under federal law is not clear, due to a conflict between the law and a Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) regulation. Under the federal 2018 Farm Bill, all hemp-derived cannabinoids, including all Delta-8 THC derived from hemp, fall within the definition of “hemp,” which is no longer a controlled substance federally, and can be legally produced and sold, subject to a complex set of federal regulations. However, in Fall 2020 the DEA issued an “Interim Final Rule” which stated that “[all] synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain schedule 1 controlled substances.” The Biden Administration has indicated that it will permit the Final Rule to go into effect later this month.

But that's also a question that might seldom come up absent prohibition. From the article posted Wednesday:

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Fox also says that prohibition in general, not just the FDA's refusal to regulate hemp, is driving the delta-8-THC trend. "Keeping delta-9-THC—which is naturally present in cannabis at usable levels and has a long history of research and longitudinal data showing its relative safety—either illegal or so heavily regulated that it becomes prohibitively expensive for consumers creates an unnecessary demand for alternative inebriating cannabinoids. We are seeing that even though there is some limited demand for delta-8 in states with regulated cannabis markets, the vast majority of interest is in prohibition states."

So people are mostly interested if they can't legally get delta-9.

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In other THC news,

Arbitrary THC Limits Could Wipe Out Much of the Cannabis Industry
 

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Many politicians, by contrast, view stronger marijuana as ipso facto worse. Unimpressed by the minimization of respiratory hazards, they focus on contentious claims about the psychological impact of potent pot: It is more addictive, they say, or more likely to trigger psychotic reactions. They therefore want to legally restrict the potency of cannabis products sold by state-licensed retailers, which they claim will protect public health and safety.

To some extent, the recent concern about THC levels rehashes warnings we have heard repeatedly since the 1980s. Drug warriors faced the challenge of persuading baby boomers who had smoked pot in high school or college with no ill effects that similar experimentation by their own offspring was cause for serious alarm. Among other things, they claimed there was no comparison between modern marijuana and the pot of the 1960s and '70s because average potency had increased dramatically thanks to the ingenuity of black-market growers.

Many of those claims were exaggerated. Prohibitionists presented misleading comparisons between nonrepresentative samples and implied that everybody in the old days was essentially smoking ditchweed, which made you wonder what the appeal was. Furthermore, higher-potency cannabis preparations have been available for centuries in the form of hashish, which has a THC content as high as 60 percent.

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Legislators who support such limits think potent pot appeals to many consumers, which is why they want to ban it. But if they are right, their proposals will invite a resurgence of the black market that legalization aims to displace. "Consumer demand for these products is not going to go away," observes Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, "and re-criminalizing them will only push this consumer base to seek out similar products in the unregulated illicit market."

Since 1985, Armentano notes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed medical use of dronabinol (a.k.a. Marinol), "a pill containing 100 percent THC." In 1999, the FDA moved dronabinol from Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act to Schedule III "because of its remarkable safety profile." While alcohol is commonly sold in lethal quantities, Armentano says, cannabis, "regardless of potency or quantity, cannot cause death by lethal overdose."

...

If states generally do not see the need to cap the potency of distilled spirits, it is hard to figure why cannabis, a far less hazardous product, requires such a safeguard. ...

 

It's obviously not required, as 100% THC has a long record and a "remarkable safety profile."

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1 hour ago, Excoded Tom said:

Actually, it seems the DEA made it illegal.

Is it Legal?

But that's also a question that might seldom come up absent prohibition. From the article posted Wednesday:

So people are mostly interested if they can't legally get delta-9.

I believe the distinction is whether it is a distillate or synthetic. From what I understand, it is difficult to see it as anything other than a synthetic even if it is synthesized from hemp, it is still a synthetic. 

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On 11/8/2016 at 8:50 PM, Excoded Tom said:

We have a brand new constitutional amendment in FL. I voted for it. It wasn't as good as the version I collected signatures for, but is progress.

 

Thank$ for all the $peech, Morgan and Morgan. Now please shut up.

Uh oh. It turns out that the ballot initiative we passed in 2016 had an "affirmatively misleading" ballot summary.

Because it made Florida Man believe we were changing federal law.
 

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The Florida Supreme Court today nixed a proposed 20dogballs marijuana legalization initiative, saying the ballot summary "misleads voters into believing that the recreational use of marijuana in Florida will be free of any repercussions, criminal or otherwise." That highly implausible reading is based on the assumption that Florida voters would believe they had the power to change federal law by approving a state ballot initiative.

The ballot summary for the Florida Marijuana Legalization and Medical Marijuana Treatment Center Sales Initiative says it "permits adults 21 years or older to possess, use, purchase, display, and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and marijuana accessories for personal use for any reason." Not so, the court says in a 5–2 advisory opinion, since such conduct would still be prohibited by federal law. In reality, the initiative only eliminates civil and criminal penalties under state law.

"A constitutional amendment cannot unequivocally 'permit' or authorize conduct that is criminalized under federal law," the majority says. "And a ballot summary suggesting otherwise is affirmatively misleading."

...

The ballot summary for the medical marijuana initiative that Florida voters approved in 2016 said it "allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician." According to the logic of today's opinion, that language was "affirmatively misleading" because it failed to note that the federal government does not allow marijuana use for any purpose.

...

 

 

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On 11/10/2020 at 5:59 AM, Excoded Tom said:

Montana ballot initiative already facing a legal challenge

https://www.marijuanamoment.net/montana-marijuana-opponents-file-new-lawsuit-to-overturn-legalization-vote/

It's nice that Skees was smart enough to abandon his planned bill.

As for the lawsuit, it sounds to me like the initiative does appropriate money and direct spending and if the state constitution forbids it, initiative drafters were foolish to try it and might well lose.

 

 

The lawsuit over the last issue is still ongoing, but meanwhile the Montana legislature decided to act.

https://reason.com/2021/04/24/montana-lawmakers-salvage-weed-bill-in-the-nick-of-time/
 

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...

It's been a long road to legalization in Big Sky Country. After activists ran a triumphant signature gathering campaign for Initiative 190 in the midst of the pandemic-related lockdowns, voters passed the measure by solid margins last November. Yet the state's Republican majority decided to repeal the bill and replace it with their own legislation. Three such bills were introduced, and HB 701, which was endorsed by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte and drafted with input from consulting firm Deloitte, won out. Yet the version of HB 701 that passed the House was rife with preposterous nanny-state restrictions: It banned outdoor grows and all forms of advertising. It also prohibited pot shops, including the 200-plus medical dispensaries already in operation, from using branded packaging to distinguish themselves in a crowded marketplace.

Most alarming was a provision that requires counties to opt in to the industry—states typically permit counties to opt out—and allowed county leaders to decide which businesses merited an arbitrary "certificate of good standing," thus qualifying for a license. That included current medical dispensaries, whose owners and employees could have found the rug pulled out from under them.

...

This week, the Senate Select Committee on Marijuana Laws rectified many of the most glaring issues found in HB 701. They killed the "certificate of good standing" measure, compromised on the opt-in policy, moderately loosened packaging laws, grandfathered in outdoor grows, created a special expungement court for past marijuana offenses and rewrote language to ensure that each of the state's eight Indigenous tribes would qualify for an automatic license. Yet other restrictions, including the advertising ban and controversial limitations on how quickly a new business can scale up, remain in place.

...

 

The House and/or Governor still might undo some of this, but it's progress.

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Panicdemic Weed Sales
 

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The passage of a $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package last month appears to have coincided with a serious outbreak of the munchies.

NuggMD, an online portal that helps people obtain state-level medical marijuana permits, reports a sharp increase in the number of people who sought appointments in March compared to February. The likely reason: those $1,400 federal stimulus payments that many Americans received in late March as part of the COVID-19 relief bill that really wasn't a COVID-19 relief bill.


...

Suddenly having a bunch of "free" government money in bank accounts certainly helped. After the first round of stimulus checks were distributed in April 2020, recreational weed sales increased by 17 percent in California, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington, according to Marijuana Business Daily, an industry publication. Some dispensaries in Colorado reported seeing week-over-week sales doubling around the same time.

Still, the correlation between the federal stimulus payments and Americans' spending on marijuana—and liquor, for that matter—raise some interesting questions for policy makers grappling with the effectiveness of the federal government's pandemic response. Is this proof that direct stimulus payments weren't really necessary, or that they should have been limited to a smaller group of recipients who were truly needy? Yes. But does it show that the best form of stimulus is the kind that's not directed by government policy but driven by millions of individual decisions? Probably also yes.

Regardless, it's a little amusing to remember that Congress still regards marijuana as an illegal substance, even after a year when it helped more Americans afford to buy more legal weed than ever before.

 

It's pretty funny that Congress is funding a market they also prohibit.

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Should Dying Cancer Patients Suffer From Undertreated Pain Because of 'Concerns Regarding Addiction'?

The cruel side of the stupid drug war.
 

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Two recent studies show how the attempt to curtail drug abuse by discouraging and restricting opioid prescriptions has hurt bona fide patients by depriving them of the medication they need to ease their pain. The harm inflicted on these innocent bystanders, which would not be morally justified even if the opioid crackdown did what it was supposed to do, is all the more appalling because limiting legal access to these drugs seems to have accelerated the upward trend in opioid-related deaths by driving nonmedical users toward black-market substitutes.

...

In this context, it is especially striking that Furuno and his colleagues cite "patient and caregiver concerns regarding addiction" as one obstacle to adequate pain treatment. The risk of addiction is exaggerated and overemphasized even when physicians are treating chronic pain in patients who may have years or decades to live. When patients on the verge of death are suffering severe pain that could be relieved by opioids, "concerns regarding addiction" seem like a cruel joke.

...

 

Cruel, yes. Joke? No.

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When the stupid drug war meets the stupid war on guns, both halves of the Duopoly have reasons to do nothing.
 

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Nearly 50 million Americans use marijuana each year, according to the latest federal survey data, and the actual number may be more like 70 million once underreporting is taken into account. Under federal law, all of those people are forbidden to purchase or possess firearms, even if they live in states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use.

A bill recently introduced by Rep. Don Young (R–Alaska) and cosponsored by two other Republicans would restore the Second Amendment rights of cannabis consumers by creating an exception for state-legal marijuana use.

...

Cannabis consumers who own guns are committing a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. They are guilty of another felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, if they lie about their marijuana use while buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer.

The GRAM Act specifies that "the term 'unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance' shall not include a person by reason of unlawful use or addiction to marihuana." It is limited to conduct permitted by state or tribal law, so it does not apply to recreational users in most states or to medical users in the minority of states that do not recognize cannabis as a medicine.

...

In theory, as Young suggests, the bill should be attractive both to Democrats who support marijuana legalization and to Republicans who support federalism and the Second Amendment. In practice, however, the gun angle may turn off Democrats, while the pot angle may repel Republicans. Since the GRAM Act is a good test of legislators' commitment to defending the Constitution, its prospects do not seem bright.

 

I agree with that last paragraph and doubt this bill will go anywhere.

I'm not so sure that's a bad thing, though. If passed, this bill would negate one reason to end the stupid war on weed at the federal level.

 

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Though he was the second-worst in the TeamD primary field behind Bloomberg, candidate Biden was at least better than President Biden is on the war on weed.
 

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...President Joe Biden, who during his campaign said "anyone who has a [marijuana] record should be let out of jail" and promised to "broadly use his clemency power for certain non-violent and drug crimes," is suddenly reticent

...

His promises created a reasonable expectation that he would show mercy for marijuana offenders who continue to languish in federal prison, such as Ismael Lira and Pedro Moreno, who are serving life sentences for distributing cannabis from Mexico.

As Corvain Cooper, one of the marijuana lifers freed by Trump, told Nelson, "No one should be serving a long prison sentence over marijuana when states and big corporations are making billions of dollars off of this plant." Yet when Nelson asked Psaki about clemency, she irrelevantly noted Biden's support for moving marijuana from Schedule I of the CSA to Schedule II.

Nelson tried again the next day, noting that Biden bears personal responsibility for the lengthy sentences imposed on people for peaceful activities that are now legal in most states, including at least 17 that already or soon will allow recreational sales. "Will President Biden honor his commitment to release everyone imprisoned for marijuana?" he asked.

Psaki did not deny that Biden had made that promise. But she brought up "rescheduling" again and claimed she did not know the answer because it depends on arcane legal knowledge.

"What you're asking me is a legal question," Psaki said. "I'd point you to the Department of Justice."

The "legal question" is not complicated. Biden's commitment to "broadly use his clemency power" has nothing to do with rescheduling marijuana, and he could begin delivering on it today if he were so inclined. Psaki's obfuscation suggests it is not a high priority.

 

Undoing at least some of the damage caused by the mandatory minimum sentences he helped pass would be nice and would be well within the clemency powers he said he would use. Oh well, elect a drug warrior and get drug warrior results.

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Ecstatic about MDMA Clinical Trial
 

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MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is substantially more effective than psychotherapy alone, according to a study reported today in Nature Medicine. The results of the Phase 3 clinical trial, which are consistent with earlier research, mean that MDMA, which was banned in 1985, is on track to be approved as a prescription drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as soon as 2023.

"These data indicate that, compared with manualized therapy with inactive placebo, MDMA-assisted therapy is highly efficacious in individuals with severe PTSD, and treatment is safe and well-tolerated, even in those with comorbidities," say University of California, San Francisco, neuroscientist Jennifer Mitchell and her co-authors. "We conclude that MDMA-assisted therapy represents a potential breakthrough treatment that merits expedited clinical evaluation."

The FDA officially recognized MDMA as a "breakthrough therapy" in 2017, meaning it "may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints." That designation signaled that the FDA would expedite development and approval of MDMA.

...

 

6 years from belatedly realizing it's useful to prescription approval?

Can't the DEA take some kind of emergency action on "Ecstasy?"

Oh, wait, they did. 1985 article about it.
 

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The Drug Enforcement Administration has decided to temporarily ban use of the controversial drug MDMA starting July 1, a federal source said Thursday.

The drug, known on the street as Ecstasy, has been a source of dispute between health professionals, who contend that MDMA is increasingly being used as a recreational drug, and a small group of psychiatrists, who claim that it is a useful therapeutic tool.

John Lawn, acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, signed an emergency order Tuesday to list MDMA as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, the most restricted classification designed for drugs with a high abuse potential, such as heroin and LSD, said a DEA source who requested anonymity. The DEA will announce the ban at a news conference today, the source said.

...

 

There are few things more enduring than a "temporary" prohibition.

 

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7 minutes ago, Excoded Tom said:

Can't the DEA take some kind of emergency action on "Ecstasy?"

I am glad that I got to experience MDMA before I died.  Amazing.

Any old cunt without heart problems should get their grand kids to get them some.

It's the empathy drug, something America needs a lot more of.

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On 5/11/2021 at 5:32 AM, Randorm said:

I am glad that I got to experience MDMA before I died.  Amazing.

Any old cunt without heart problems should get their grand kids to get them some.

It's the empathy drug, something America needs a lot more of.

I never tried it but had a college roommate who did a bunch of times. He was one of the people the Puritans in my above post were worried about using it recreationally back in the 80's. He died a few years ago.

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6 hours ago, Excoded Tom said:

I never tried it but had a college roommate who did a bunch of times. He was one of the people the Puritans in my above post were worried about using it recreationally back in the 80's. He died a few years ago.

After using hallucinogens MDMA is pretty tame as long as the dose is correct.  I recall waiting to get ripped after taking some and seemingly nothing happened.  Absolutely nothing visual, nothing like other drugs but I had this killer time listening to bands, went into the moshpit and some great chats with complete strangers at the music festival. 

If those experiences had not happened, my life would have been much the poorer.

Anyway, to paraphrase Hunter, I would not recommend drugs or alcohol to anyone, but it worked for me.

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Search Warrants on Leashes
 

Quote

 

...

As a drug detection dog, Karma kept his nose down and treated every suspect the same. Public records show that from the time he arrived in Republic in January 2018 until his handler took a leave of absence to campaign for public office in 2020, Karma gave an "alert" indicating the presence of drugs 100 percent of the time during roadside sniffs outside vehicles.

Whether drivers actually possessed illegal narcotics made no difference. The government gained access to every vehicle that Karma ever sniffed. He essentially created automatic probable cause for searches and seizures, undercutting constitutional guarantees of due process.

Similar patterns abound nationwide, suggesting that Karma's career was not unusual. Lex, a drug detection dog in Illinois, alerted for narcotics 93 percent of the time during roadside sniffs, but was wrong in more than 40 percent of cases. Sella, a drug detection dog in Florida, gave false alerts 53 percent of the time. Bono, a drug detection dog in Virginia, incorrectly indicated the presence of drugs 74 percent of the time.

...

 

Dogs know what their human wants. Anyone who doesn't know this has just never had a dog.

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She Was Sentenced to 21 Years in Prison for Handing Drugs to a Friend Who Overdosed. A Federal Court Wasn't Having It.
 

Quote

 

On May 9, 2014, Emma Semler, then a teenager, shot up heroin with her friend, Jenny Werstler, in a West Philadelphia KFC bathroom. The former made it out alive. The latter did not.

A little over five years later to the day, Semler was sentenced to more than two decades behind bars for distribution of heroin resulting in death after she physically handed Werstler the baggie that would lead to her overdose. The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years. Semler received 21 years' imprisonment, along with six years' supervised release and a $2,500 fine.

A federal court reversed that this week, vacating Semler's conviction and sentence.

The distribution charge and its mandatory punishment are both rooted in the war on drugs and meant to zero in on dealers. But Semler found herself caught up in its dragnet because she passed the heroin to Werstler, who had asked for it—an absurdly literal reading of the law, and a reminder of the far-reaching implications of well-meaning attempts to crack down on drug use.

"Turning to a plain reading of the statute, we are not persuaded by the government's sweeping interpretation," wrote Circuit Judge Jane Richards Roth of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. "The government would have us believe that if two drug addicts jointly and simultaneously purchase methamphetamine and return home to smoke it together, a 'distribution' has occurred each time the addicts pass the pipe back and forth to each other. Such an interpretation diverts punishment from traffickers to addicts, who contribute to the drug trade only as end users and who already suffer disproportionally from its dangerous effects."

...

The case is nauseating, and no serious person could argue that the Semler sisters displayed anything approaching human decency when they fled KFC and left Werstler there to die. But perhaps it's the tough-on-crime, drug-warrior statutes—like the one Emma Semler was convicted under—that discourage such people from calling for help when those situations go miserably awry.

That wasn't lost on Richards Roth, who was nominated to the bench by former President Ronald Reagan. "Indeed, the threat of harsh penalties in any joint-use situation could jeopardize addicts' safety even more by deterring them from using together specifically so that one can intervene if another overdoses," she said. "Moreover, given the prevalence of shared drug use, a too-broad construction of 'transfer' risks arbitrary enforcement."

Whether or not she intended it to be, the above excerpt is broadly applicable to drug enforcement—and the ways in which it backfires—writ large.

...

 

The part I bolded above would be pretty funny if it didn't result in a harsher sentence than third degree murder in the same state. But it did, so it's not. Glad the judge corrected it.

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Cannacomedy out of Colorado

Quote

From 4:20 p.m. on April 1 through 4:20 p.m. on April 20, Colorado—the first U.S. state to implement recreational marijuana legalization for adults—auctioned the use of 14 cannabis-themed license plate numbers, including "BONG," "STASH," and "TEGRIDY," the last of which is a reference to the fictional cannabis farm featured in a 2018 episode of South Park. The priciest plate was "ISIT420," which sold for $6,630.

 

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The 9th Circuit Considers Whether the DEA's Classification of Marijuana Violates Federalism and the Separation of Powers
 

Quote

 

Nearly five years after the Obama administration promised to end the federal government's longstanding, anomalous monopoly on marijuana for medical research, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has tentatively approved applications by several independent suppliers. But the DEA still maintains that the plant belongs in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), a category supposedly reserved for especially dangerous drugs with no accepted medical use.

At the center of both disputes is the Arizona-based Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI), one of the organizations that has received preliminary DEA approval to grow marijuana. Today SRI President Suzanne Sisley, a physician who has studied marijuana's usefulness as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to reject the DEA's rationale for keeping marijuana in Schedule I. Sisley says the agency is wrong to ignore 36 states' recognition of marijuana's medical utility. She also argues that the CSA's obeisance to international anti-drug treaties is "an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority" that "violates core separation of powers principles."

...

At a time when pot prohibition is steadily crumbling across the country and Congress is considering bills that would entirely remove marijuana from the CSA's schedules, this argument about the plant's proper classification might seem like irrelevant quibbling. But as Sisley notes, the regulatory requirements for Schedule I drugs, along with the marijuana monopoly the DEA is finally beginning to address, make it harder for researchers like her to investigate the drug's potential.

President Joe Biden says he agrees. During his campaign, he promised to facilitate medical research by reclassifying marijuana. His press secretary recently reaffirmed that the president favors "rescheduling cannabis as a Schedule II drug so researchers can study its positive and negative impacts." Since that decision is entirely within the power of the executive branch, the Biden administration can deliver on his promise without seeking new legislation from Congress. Instead it is defending marijuana's Schedule I status in federal court.

Even if the DEA does ultimately move marijuana to Schedule II, that will not resolve the untenable conflict between state and federal law, even regarding medical use. Although Biden said he would "support the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes," that would require FDA approval, which in turn would require an applicant with the resources to meet the agency's requirements. All of that would not matter much if Congress simply repealed the federal ban on marijuana, a step that Biden has steadfastly resisted.

...

 

Not sure what to hope for here. Courts shouldn't, and likely can't, end cannabis prohibition. Congress and the executive branch can and should, but likely won't.

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John Erlichmann:

“You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

https://harpers.org/archive/2016/04/legalize-it-all/

Hi Tom!

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6 hours ago, Olsonist said:

Hi Tom!

Hi from 2016, Olsonist.

  

On 3/24/2016 at 7:25 AM, Excoded Tom said:

Erlichman Says Nixon's Drug War Targeted Political Enemies

 

Quote
“You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

 

 

Of course, Nixon didn't invent lying and dividing people just to get more power for government. He was following in Anslinger's footsteps...

 

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15 hours ago, d'ranger said:

https://www.npr.org/2021/06/17/1006495476/after-50-years-of-the-war-on-drugs-what-good-is-it-doing-for-us

Criminalizing drugs and socializing guns hasn't really worked too well.

Good article. I think gun prohibition works about as well as our other prohibition experiments, but that's not really the topic here, is it?

As for this part:
 

Quote

 

But he also expressed deep rage and sorrow over the scars left by the nation's 50-year-long War on Drugs. "What good is it doing for us?" Hinton asked.

As the United States' harsh approach to drug use and addiction hits the half-century milestone, this question is being asked by a growing number of lawmakers, public health experts and community leaders.

 

I was in elementary school when libertarians first started asking that question, and we have been ever since. What takes some people a year or two takes others 5 decades.

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Connecticut Legislature Passes Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana
 

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The Connecticut Senate voted 16–11 today to legalize recreational marijuana, making the Constitution State the fifth this year to drop its war on weed.

Starting on July 1, Connecticut residents 21 and over will be allowed to purchase or possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana, and to possess up to five ounces in their private residence, with a regulatory framework scheduled to be in place sometime in 2022. The bill will allow home growers to cultivate up to three mature plants and three immature plants. It also includes provisions to allow those in cities hit hardest by the drug war to apply for expedited licenses to sell marijuana.

The bill's criminal justice provisions include automatically expunging criminal convictions for possession of less than four ounces of marijuana and banning police from searching vehicles solely because of the odor of the drug.

In a press release issued shortly after the bill's passage, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said he looks forward to signing it into law.

...

 

Sounds like a good start.

Meanwhile, California is being California
 

Quote

 

California's nascent legal recreational marijuana industry is so heavily taxed and regulated that the black market still dominates. It's so burdensome to try to get conventional permission to grow and sell marijuana the "legal" way that thousands of dispensaries operate without proper licenses. Government officials have been attempting to crack down on the problem and force them to close their doors.

On Monday California lawmakers attempted to address this problem in a very California way: Assembly members authorized a $100 million subsidy to help potential marijuana vendors get properly licensed.

As the Los Angeles Times explains, the subsidy isn't going to the dispensaries or growers themselves—not that it should. The $100 million is instead going to local government agencies and cities so they can "hire experts and staff to assist businesses in completing the environmental studies and transitioning the licenses."

...

 

Those of us who are familiar with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 understand that heavy taxation operates as defacto prohibition and so won't displace the black market.

 

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Clarence Thomas Blasts the 'Contradictory and Unstable' Federal Marijuana Ban

 

He rejected the reasoning of the Raich decision at the time and now points out that the federal government has abandoned the "comprehensive" prohibition upheld in Raich.
 

Quote

 

...

Sixteen years later, Thomas is back with another blast at the federal government's marijuana ban. What is more, Thomas now says that the federal government's own actions may have negated Raich's legal rationale. "Once comprehensive, the Federal Government's current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana," Thomas writes. "This contradictory and unstable state of affairs strains basic principles of federalism and conceals traps for the unwary."

Thomas' statement came in response to the Supreme Court declining to hear arguments in the case of Standing Akimbo v. United States. Standing Akimbo is a medical marijuana dispensary in Denver that operates legally under Colorado law. Yet, as Thomas points out, the company is still acting illegally under federal law, which means, among other things, that the company is at odds with the Internal Revenue Service over whether or not "their intrastate marijuana operations will be treated like any other enterprise that is legal under state law."

Thomas also describes other problems that similar enterprises still face thanks to the federal marijuana ban remaining on the books, even if the ban itself is rarely enforced:

Many marijuana-related businesses operate entirely in cash because federal law prohibits certain financial institutions from knowingly accepting deposits from or providing other bank services to businesses that violate federal law….Cash-based operations are understandably enticing to burglars and robbers. But, if marijuana-related businesses, in recognition of this, hire armed guards for protection, the owners and the guards might run afoul of a federal law that imposes harsh penalties for using a firearm in furtherance of a 'drug trafficking crime.'…A marijuana user similarly can find himself a federal felon if he just possesses a firearm.

"Suffice it to say," Thomas concludes, "the Federal Government's current approach to marijuana bears little resemblance to the watertight nationwide prohibition that a closely divided Court found necessary to justify the Government's blanket prohibition in Raich." In other words, if the feds are no longer regulating the marijuana market the way they said they were when Raich was decided, then the Raich decision may no longer be good law. "A prohibition on intrastate use or cultivation of marijuana," Thomas observes, "may no longer be necessary or proper to support the Federal Government's piecemeal approach."

 

 

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Reefer Madness at the Olympics

If Sha'Carri Richardson Can Get High and Still Outrun Everybody, She Should Be Allowed To Do It
 

Quote

 

Sha'Carri Richardson ran 100 meters faster than any other woman at the U.S. Olympic trials, but she won't be able to compete in the event at the Olympic Games in Tokyo after testing positive for marijuana.

There are so, so many things wrong with this. The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which officially announced Richardson's month-long suspension on Friday, should be ashamed for how they've handled the situation. More importantly, they should change their policies to ensure more athletes aren't subjected to an unnecessary punishment for using a substance that is obviously not going to provide a competitive edge.

And while the situation seems fairly absurd on its face, it actually gets worse the deeper you go.

 

 

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Losing Patience With Legislators, Mexico's Supreme Court Orders Permits Allowing Consumers To Grow and Possess Marijuana
 

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The Mexican Supreme Court first ruled that marijuana prohibition was unconstitutional in 2015. That decision became binding nationwide three years later, when the court gave the Mexican Congress 90 days to pass a legalization bill. Legislators missed that deadline and several others, and last week the court lost patience, ordering the federal government to issue permits that will allow cannabis consumers to possess and grow marijuana at home.

...

 

Waiting for drug warriors to lose interest in prohibition does require a LOT of patience.

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  • 4 weeks later...

How Drug Warriors Made the 'Opioid Epidemic' Deadlier
 

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According to the lawsuits that four drug companies agreed to settle last week, the "opioid epidemic" was caused by overprescription of pain medication, which suggests that curtailing the supply of analgesics such as hydrocodone and oxycodone is the key to reducing opioid-related deaths. But that assumption has proven disastrously wrong, revealing how prohibition makes drug use deadlier.

Per capita opioid prescriptions in the United States, which began rising in 2006, fell steadily after 2012, reflecting the impact of government efforts to restrict and discourage medical use of these drugs. Yet in 2019, when the dispensing rate was lower than it had been since 2005, the U.S. saw more opioid-related deaths than ever before.

Last year, according to preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that record was broken once again: Opioid-related deaths jumped by 40 percent. As opioid prescriptions fell, the upward trend in fatalities (which typically involve more than one drug) not only continued but accelerated.

That perverse effect was entirely predictable. The crackdown on pain pills drove nonmedical users toward black-market substitutes, replacing legally manufactured, reliably dosed products with drugs of unknown provenance and composition.

While that was happening, illicit fentanyl became increasingly common as a heroin booster or replacement, making potency even more variable and unpredictable. In 2020, according to the CDC's projections, "synthetic opioids other than methadone," the category that includes fentanyl and its analogs, were involved in 83 percent of opioid-related deaths, up from 14 percent in 2010.

Nowadays fentanyl is showing up in black-market pills sold as hydrocodone or oxycodone and even in stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Its proliferation is a response to the very supply control measures that were supposed to reduce drug-related deaths.

...

 

Here's the thing, Puritans: people are going to use mind altering substances for fun. It's not a great idea, but it's a popular one and laws won't change it.

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  • 4 weeks later...

  

15 hours ago, Olsonist said:

image.png.e9446a947bef01dc9577e6de2ab0bcc8.png

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

Tom will be along shortly to say that this is a small price to pay for freedom, corporate person freedom that is.

Actually, I'll point out again that the dramatic increase coincides with the opioid crackdown that led to  fentanyl's popularity.

The assumption that prohibition could make this better instead of worse is the basis for saying that this graph of drug war carnage has anything to do with freedom. It's a failure of prohibition, captured in a graph bar.

But since your Dear Leader is a career drug warrior, I expect you to continue to buy into stupid drug war ideas, at least until he's gone.

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White House Offers Clemency for Drug Offenders on Home Confinement, but Advocates Say Plan Will Still Send Thousands Back to Prison
 

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President Joe Biden's White House has started sending out clemency applications to thousands of federal drug offenders currently on home confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Politico reported on Monday, but criminal justice advocates say the plan would still send thousands of offenders back to prison after they started putting their lives together again.

...

On Wednesday, 29 criminal justice groups, including the Justice Action Network, Right on Crime, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, sent a letter to the White House urging Biden to extend clemency to the entire class of offenders released under the CARES Act, saying they have all demonstrated they should not be in prison. According to criminal justice groups, less than 1 percent of those released have violated the terms of their home confinement.

"We thank President Biden for beginning to consider the use of clemency to help people on CARES Act home confinement, but he must go further than his current plans and not needlessly exclude people from being granted clemency," Udi Ofer, deputy national political director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a press release Thursday. "President Biden committed to the ACLU that he would reduce the federal prison population once elected, yet the federal prison population today is larger than it was one year ago. It's time for the president to fully meet his commitments and do so through the power of clemency. Forcing people who are already home with their families to go back to prison would be cruel and would make no one safer."

...

 

Clemency is a piecemeal approach. We should just stop locking up non-violent drug users in the first place.

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Pennsylvania's Liquor Control Board Succeeds Again
 

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Liquor stores in Pennsylvania will begin rationing limited supplies of dozens of varieties of booze this weekend—leaving not only consumers but also bars and restaurants hung out to dry.

...

In Pennsylvania, leaving the state to buy booze is a time-honored tradition—there's a massive Total Wine within spitting distance of the Pennsylvania-Delaware border in the Philadelphia suburbs. That's because the PLCB has never been particularly good at serving customers. Indeed, the governor who created the agency in the wake of Prohibition once claimed its mission was to make it "as inconvenient and expensive as possible" to buy liquor. Mission accomplished, I guess?

...

 

So much winning.

 

 

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DEA Still Insists Marijuana Has No 'Accepted Medical Use'
 

Quote

 

...

At the center of both disputes is the Arizona-based Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI), one of the organizations that received preliminary DEA approval to grow marijuana. SRI President Suzanne Sisley, a psychiatrist who has studied marijuana's usefulness as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to reject the DEA's rationale for keeping marijuana in Schedule I. Sisley says the agency is wrong to ignore state recognition of marijuana's medical utility.

...

"Based on the statutory text, structure, history, purpose—and the original understanding of the statute—'currently accepted medical use' means 'legitimate' or 'lawful medical purpose,'" says the petition for review in Sisley v. DEA. "This is the only interpretation that captures the cooperative federalism vision of the CSA and respects state sovereignty." In determining whether medical use of marijuana is legitimate, Sisley says, the drug's legal treatment by 36 states surely should count for something.

"Can DEA deny that marijuana has a 'currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States' when more than two-thirds of the States have enacted legislation greenlighting marijuana's use as medicine?" Sisley's opening 9th Circuit brief asks. "The unambiguous text of [the statute], canons of construction, the CSA's history and purpose, and common sense all converge on a single, resounding answer: 'No.'"

 

Accepted or not, relieving the symptoms of my dad's bone cancer was a medical use. I don't regret my participation in that crime one bit.

 

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House passes EQUAL Act to undo part of Biden's drug warrior legacy
 

Quote

 

...

By a wide bipartisan vote of 361-66, the House passed the Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law (EQUAL) Act, H.R. 1693. The legislation would reduce the penalties for federal crack cocaine offenses to the same level as those for powder cocaine offenses, and it would make those changes retroactive, meaning federal crack offenders currently serving prison sentences will be eligible to have their sentences reduced.

Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), where it faces a less certain future. The White House endorsed the legislation in June, and if it passes Congress, the law would close the book on one of the most regrettable pieces of President Joe Biden's legacy.

In 1986, then-Sen. Biden (D–Del.) co-sponsored the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, one of the most disastrous laws passed in the 1980s by lawmakers posturing as tough-on-crime. The law created a 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenders, the former of whom were predominantly black. The result was that someone possessing five grams of crack cocaine would receive the same five-year mandatory minimum sentence as someone with 500 grams of powder cocaine, despite there being little to no pharmacological difference between the two substances. 

...

The EQUAL Act, introduced by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–N.Y.), benefited from broad bipartisan support in the House. Conservative Rep. Louie Gohmert (R–Tex.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a letter supporting the legislation that the federal sentencing disparity was "unfair and unnecessary for public safety."

"I never saw a need for a cocaine sentencing disparity in Texas, and I see no need for a cocaine sentencing disparity federally," said Gohmert, a former Texas state judge.

However, the legislation faces a much tougher road in the Senate. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the Sioux City Journal last week that there's not as much Republican support in the Senate for eliminating the sentencing disparity. He doubts that he and Sen. Dick Durbin (D–Ill.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, can muster the 60 votes needed to get the Equal Act to the Senate floor.

...

"Does that mean that there's not some possibility for compromise? I would be open to that, but I'm going to have to get enough Republicans to go along to make sure we don't scuttle the other good provisions we have," Grassley told the newspaper.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R–Ark.), of the staunchest defenders of mandatory minimum sentencing in Congress, wrote an op-ed in National Review last week suggesting that the proper solution to the crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity, if it must be changed, is to raise the sentences of powder cocaine offenses to match those of crack.

...

 

Surprising that Grassley expressed openness to compromise. I guess some old dinosaurs can learn new tricks.

 

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Marijuana Arrests Plunged Last Year

So that's good news. There's always a rest of the story, though...
 

Quote

 

When you take a longer view, the 2020 U.S. total looks like a reversion to the arrest numbers recorded in the early 1990s, before a surge in pot busts that continued for a decade and a half. Marijuana arrests rose threefold from 1991 until their peak in 2007, while the U.S. population grew by 19 percent. Last year's arrest total is still about 22 percent higher than the number recorded in 1991.

marijuana-arrests-chart-sh.png

...

 

So we're back to Nixon/Carter/Reagan-era arrest levels, with only a few hundred thousand people busted for possession last year. That's progress, but there are still a few hundred thousand/year to go...

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  • 3 weeks later...

California Seizes 1.2 Million Dangerously Untaxed Marijuana Plants
 

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Marijuana prohibition has officially ended in California, but you might be forgiven for thinking otherwise given the continued crackdown on grow operations across the state. On Monday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the seizure of 1.2 million illegally cultivated marijuana plants and 180,000 pounds of processed marijuana as part of the state's Cocksuckers After My Pot (CAMP) program.

The CAMP program dates back to the "just say no" days of the 1980s.

 

And hasn't changed much.

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Kristi Noem: still stupid
 

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A bipartisan pack of South Dakota lawmakers this week voted to advance a marijuana legalization bill that they hope will satisfy citizens who already voted for it. But the lawmakers also have to deal with a veto threat from a resistant Republican Gov. Kristi Noem.

...

 

 

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Last night, I slipped and nearly fell on the boat ramp in a way that would have probably gone viral if videotaped.

I'm not sure exactly what happened myself. I stepped on some round reeds and they acted like greased rollers and my foot went right out from under me. Next thing I knew, I was still standing, but had somehow stubbed my toe on the other foot really badly.

I guess I had started picking up that foot and when the other one went flying I came down with all my weight on the top of my big toe. Wearing Crocs n socks, of course. Not sure how I remained standing. It hurt like hell.

Hobbled back to the golf cart and went home. It was already swelling and a bit purple.

I had a nearly full prescription of hydrocodon (?) or something from when I broke my hip on the same boat ramp in 2017. Took half of one, had dinner, felt OK, went to bed. Woke around midnight in a lot of pain. Took another half. Pain still keeping me awake, so at 2 am I took a whole one. That did the trick and I got some sleep.

A little while ago, I stood up and there was a CLICK and sharp pain in that toe. Now it still hurts but feels a lot better. Looks like I still have a couple dozen 2017 pills to put back in the cabinet.

I know effectiveness decreases over time, but they obviously still work. Also obvious to me: when half of one failed and it took a whole one, nothing on the shelf at any store would have resulted in me getting some sleep last night. Well, booze I guess, but I'm not a big fan.

There should be something else.

Until then, back in the cabinet this bottle goes...

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Federal taxes on alcoholic beverages are about $13.50 per gallon. Each state has its own rate.

For example: (Feel free to verify this information. I could not find an author to cite but I think it's not too far off. )

 

Alcohol Tax by State

An alcohol excise tax is usually a tax on a fixed quantity of alcohol.

Producers, importers, wholesalers, and sometimes retailers pay alcohol taxes; however, the costs of these taxes are passed down to consumers through increased prices.

The excise taxes paid by producers, importers, wholesalers, and retailers increase the amounts used to calculate sales tax; therefore, consumers then pay sale tax on the excise taxes.

The federal government collects approximately $1 billion per month from excise alcohol taxes on spirits, beer, and wine. Taxes on spirits are significantly higher than beer and wine at $13.50 per gallon, while beer is taxed at $18 per barrel and wine is $1.07-$3.40 per gallon. This is because spirits have higher alcohol content than the other categories.

In Wyoming and New Hampshire, all wine and spirits must be bought at government monopoly stores. Both states gain enough revenue directly from alcohol sales through government-run stores and have set prices low enough to be comparable to buying spirits without taxes.

Washington has the highest spirits tax in the United States at $33.22 per gallon. This is over $10 more than the second-highest tax in the state of Oregon at $21.95. Following these two states is Virginia with $19.89, Alabama with $19.11, and Utah with $15.92.

The ten states with the highest alcohol tax per gallon of spirits are:

  1. Washington ($33.22)
  2. Oregon ($21.95)
  3. Virginia ($19.89)
  4. Alabama ($19.11)
  5. Utah ($15.92)
  6. North Carolina ($14.58)
  7. Kansas ($13.03)
  8. Alaska ($12.80)
  9. Maryland ($11.96)
  10. Michigan ($11.95)
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21 hours ago, saxdog said:

Federal taxes on alcoholic beverages are about $13.50 per gallon. Each state has its own rate.

For example: (Feel free to verify this information. I could not find an author to cite but I think it's not too far off. )

 

Alcohol Tax by State

An alcohol excise tax is usually a tax on a fixed quantity of alcohol.

Producers, importers, wholesalers, and sometimes retailers pay alcohol taxes; however, the costs of these taxes are passed down to consumers through increased prices.

The excise taxes paid by producers, importers, wholesalers, and retailers increase the amounts used to calculate sales tax; therefore, consumers then pay sale tax on the excise taxes.

The federal government collects approximately $1 billion per month from excise alcohol taxes on spirits, beer, and wine. Taxes on spirits are significantly higher than beer and wine at $13.50 per gallon, while beer is taxed at $18 per barrel and wine is $1.07-$3.40 per gallon. This is because spirits have higher alcohol content than the other categories.

In Wyoming and New Hampshire, all wine and spirits must be bought at government monopoly stores. Both states gain enough revenue directly from alcohol sales through government-run stores and have set prices low enough to be comparable to buying spirits without taxes.

Washington has the highest spirits tax in the United States at $33.22 per gallon. This is over $10 more than the second-highest tax in the state of Oregon at $21.95. Following these two states is Virginia with $19.89, Alabama with $19.11, and Utah with $15.92.

The ten states with the highest alcohol tax per gallon of spirits are:

  1. Washington ($33.22)
  2. Oregon ($21.95)
  3. Virginia ($19.89)
  4. Alabama ($19.11)
  5. Utah ($15.92)
  6. North Carolina ($14.58)
  7. Kansas ($13.03)
  8. Alaska ($12.80)
  9. Maryland ($11.96)
  10. Michigan ($11.95)

North Carolina doesn't really TAX liquor, the only place you can buy it is a state-owned store. The tax is the entire profit on the bottle.

- DSK

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1 hour ago, Mike in Seattle said:

Partisan much ?

Two highest tax rates are bright blue

Yes, I am pointing out the extreme hypocrisy of the anti-tax red state narrative. If that makes me a partisan in your view, so be it.

Last time I checked blue states politicians did not declare all taxes are a blow to freedom and an assault on all that is holy.

If you want to talk about the relative value of how governmental entities spend tax revenue there a lots of ways tax revenue is spent I loathe.

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If you happen to see a police van stuffed with a half a ton of marijuana, just look away and act like that's normal.

No, staring at it is not a reason to detain and search you, but determining that can take years.
 

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During a 2017 trip to Montana, Hoang Vinh Pham was heating up a bowl of noodles at a Conoco station on Interstate 94 when he looked out the window and saw something unusual: a police van stuffed with half a ton of marijuana. Around the same time, Richard Smith, a Montana Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI) agent who was helping two state troopers transport the marijuana to evidence storage in Billings, entered the gas station to use the restroom and buy some water. Smith thought Pham looked at the van for a suspiciously long period of time, which made Smith wonder if Pham might be involved in criminal activity.

That hunch eventually led to a search that discovered 19 pounds of marijuana in the trunk of Pham's car, an arrest for possession with intent to distribute, and a 15-year prison sentence. But according to the Montana Supreme Court, which unanimously overturned Pham's 2019 conviction last week, Smith's hunch was not enough to justify detaining and grilling Pham, which required "particularized suspicion" based on "objective data and articulable facts from which [an officer] can make certain reasonable inferences."

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Smith needed something more than Pham's apparent interest in the police van full of pot to justify his investigation. Smith acknowledged that "DCI was aware of several arrests of Vietnamese people for drug trafficking traveling between Washington and Minnesota along I-94," although he denied that Pham's ethnicity had anything to do with his suspicions. "Based on this scant information," the court said, "we see no objective data or resulting suspicion justifying Agent Smith's seizure of Pham." Since "no objective data supports Agent Smith's assessment that Pham was suspicious," it concluded, "his seizure of Pham was accordingly unconstitutional."

Because Pham's detention was illegal, so was the search that turned up the evidence that was used to convict him.

...

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Evil drug companies created a public nuisance through false advertising, leading to the opiod crisis.

Well, that's the narrative anyway.

Too bad bullshitters don't do well in courtrooms.
 

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The details are indeed damning, but not in the way you might expect. Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter J. Wilson's scathing rejection of the case against four drug manufacturers highlights some of the misconceptions underlying the false narrative that blames pain treatment for a surge in opioid-related deaths that is better understood as a predictable result of the war on drugs.

...

 

 

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Three Cops in Three States Caught Planting Drugs on Innocent People have not been Charged
 

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Raleigh Police Detective Omar Abdullah was terminated last week, one month after a lawsuit against him was settled for $2 million. The former “Employee of the Year” had spent more than a year on paid administrative leave where he continued to collect his $69,673 salary, according to the News & Observer.

At this time, there is no indication he will even be charged with a crime.

Then there is New York City police officer Kyle Erickson, another award-winning cop whose body camera caught him planting weed in a car he had pulled over for having a broken tail light in March 2018 after using force on the passenger who did not believe they had the right to search his jacket.

Erickson justified the use of force by claiming he had smelled weed.

Erickson, who comes from a family of cops, is also accused of planting drugs in another incident that took place a month earlier in which his body camera was inexplicably turned off for four minutes which just happened to be when he claimed to find a lit joint on the floorboard of a car his partner had just searched and found nothing, according to a lawsuit which you can read here.

At this time, Erickson has not been disciplined or charged for planting the weed.

And finally there’s Adam Schneider in Indiana who is already facing a litany of charges related to secretly recording women undressing in his home to having a sexual relationship with a confidential informant.

The women undressing were in his home trying out clothes that his wife would sell. Indiana State Police came across the videos on his phone while investigating him for having sex with the female confidential informant. His wife has filed for divorce.

But at this time, the 40-year-old New Albany police officer has not yet been charged for planting drugs on an innocent man that kept him behind bars for almost two weeks before charges against him were dismissed.

However, the man, Shane Clarke, filed a tort claim notice last month which is the pre-cursor to a lawsuit, accusing Schneider of planting methamphetamine on him that actually belonged to the confidential informant with whom he was having sex, according to WDRB.

...

 

It never ends.

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40 minutes ago, Seriatim Tom said:

At very least, he should be charged with possession.

"Then there is New York City police officer Kyle Erickson, another award-winning cop whose body camera caught him planting weed in a car he had pulled over for having a broken tail light in March 2018 after using force on the passenger who did not believe they had the right to search his jacket. "

So he HAD weed on his person.  He was IN possession.

Should be an easy case?

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On 11/6/2021 at 7:01 AM, BeSafe said:

So he HAD weed on his person.  He was IN possession.

Should be an easy case?

You'd think, right?

And that's not the only case he should be facing. He probably had a gun and having both gun and weed is a federal crime.

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Cops Thought Sand From Her Stress Ball Was Cocaine. She Spent Nearly 6 Months in Jail.

Bungling drug warriors screwed up an unreliable field test and imprisoned an innocent person. Par for the drug war course, more or less.

Weirdly, the cops didn't get qualified impunity on this one.
 

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Officer Henry "huffed and puffed" as he conducted multiple field tests on the powder, none of which changed color. Henry testified that he performed two field tests by simultaneously breaking the three glass ampules inside the test kit and shaking it. Both tests resulted in the liquid turning a "bluish-purple," which Henry and Restrepo interpreted as a "faint positive."

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The 11th Circuit's opinion notes that the three glass ampules inside a Nark II test kit are supposed to be broken sequentially, not simultaneously, and that doing the latter would not result in a "meaningful finding." It also notes that only a "pink over blue" color change is considered a presumptive positive result.

Unsurprisingly, the results in Goldring's case didn't hold up under further testing. The Georgia Bureau of Investigations concluded on November 17, 2015, that the powder in Goldring's stress ball wasn't cocaine. However, the state didn't dismiss the charges against Goldring until March 21, 2016, during which time she remained incarcerated.

The 11th Circuit, affirming a lower court ruling, held that Henry and Restrepo are not entitled to qualified immunity from Goldring's lawsuit because there is a genuine factual dispute over whether Goldring was jaywalking and whether the field tests returned positive results.

But the lawsuit, like many of the court battles over these tests, sidesteps the fundamental issue, which is that police officers are over-relying on and misinterpreting these field tests to create probable cause to arrest people and jail them for months.


 

And, apparently, whether the officers were qualified to use the field test at all.

But bungling drug warrior cops are not as bad as bungling drug warrior prosecutors IMO.

Arrested in October. State lab confirms cops bungled in November. Charges dropped in March?

I'd like to see the prosecutor spend a day in jail for each day between the lab result and the dropped charge.

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Sailboat Smuggling Record

 

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Portuguese and Spanish authorities have seized 5.2 tonnes of cocaine from a sailboat on the high seas and arrested three suspects, in Portugal's largest drug bust in 15 years and a world-record haul from a sailboat, police said on Monday.

With the cocaine bales piled up behind him at a naval base across the river Tagus from Lisbon, Luis Neves, director of Portugal's criminal investigation police, said the haul represented the largest amount of cocaine ever seized from a sailboat globally.

...

"We are always expecting (more drug trafficking) and this is the message we want to send organisations: we are waiting for you," Neves said. "Those who have to fall will fall because this amount of drugs is an immense fortune and a huge blow for criminal groups."

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Most of the drug war news out of Portugal these days is good because they've mostly quit fighting it.

I hate to burst Mr. Neves' bubble, but that boat, cargo, and crew have already been replaced and they're expected and minor losses to smugglers. Even a global sailboat record won't change the market a bit.

 

 

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On 10/21/2021 at 8:07 AM, Seriatim Tom said:

She's a lot like prohibition itself.

Still stupid, but successful
 

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The South Dakota Supreme Court disagreed with Klinger's conclusion that the original plaintiffs in the November 20 lawsuit challenging Amendment A—Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and Col. Rick Miller, superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol—had standing to sue. But the court said Noem, who "ratified the commencement of this lawsuit" via an executive order she issued on January 8, did have standing as governor. Noem's blessing therefore was crucial to the lawsuit's success.

...

 

 

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New York City Is Funding America's First Official Safe Injection Site for Drug Users
 

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New York City will not be running the consumption centers. Instead, the two nonprofits who currently run the needle injection programs have joined up to form an organization named OnPoint NYC, which will also run the safe consumption sites. These nonprofits receive city funding.

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Safe consumption sites (also called safe injection sites) have been operating in Canada and Australia for years. While New York City will be the first U.S. city to offer these services, San Francisco, Seattle, and Philadelphia also have plans in the works. All of these cities have seen increasing rates of public use of injected drugs such as heroin, as well as high rates of overdoses and overdose deaths. New York City reported more than 2,000 drug overdose deaths in 2020. The United States as a whole has also seen a record number of overdose deaths—more than 93,000 for 2020.

Given such numbers, safe consumption sites are a necessary and long-overdue harm reduction measure, properly focused on keeping drug users alive rather than on waging a punitive and failed drug war. The American Medical Association supports the use of safe consumption sites, noting earlier this year that not a single overdose death has been reported in the 120 safe consumption sites operating elsewhere in the world. That is precisely because health professionals at those sites are prepared to respond to emergencies.

Unfortunately, U.S. drug laws have made it difficult to open similar sites here. Section 856 of the federal Controlled Substances Act makes it a felony to knowingly allow a space to be used for the purpose of consuming drugs. This law was crafted in 1986 to shut down so-called "crack houses," but when Philadelphia allowed nonprofit Safehouse to open a safe consumption site in that city in 2019, U.S. Attorney William McSwain of the Eastern District of Philadelphia invoked federal law to stop the site from opening. Judge Gerald Austin McHugh of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania initially took Safehouse's side and said the text of Section 856 did not forbid city-approved, medically monitored consumption sites. But that ruling was reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, which held that federal law did prohibit sites like the one operated by Safehouse. In October, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case. The Safehouse site has not opened.

So while New York City is now funding safe injection sites (incoming mayor Eric Adams is on the record supporting them) there's still the question of what the federal government might do in response. The New York Times reports that while the Biden administration has taken a position in support of harm reduction methods to prevent drug deaths, it has not endorsed safe injection sites. New York City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi told the Times that the city has had "productive conversations" with the Biden administration and believes the federal government won't attempt to interfere.

 

I haven't read it but suspect that the 3rd Circuit actually got the legally correct result, if not the right one in my view. The law itself is pretty short and clear.

 

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Judge Orders Massachusetts Prisons To Stop Using 'Highly Unreliable' Drug Field Tests To Punish Inmates
 

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In July, several Massachusetts inmates and attorneys, represented by Justice Catalyst Law and the law firm BraunHagey & Borden, filed a class action lawsuit alleging that the state Department of Corrections (DOC) uses NARK II test kits to detect synthetic cannabinoids even though those tests have an error rate so high that they're akin to "witchcraft, phrenology or simply picking a number out of a hat."

On Tuesday, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Brian Davis issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the DOC from punishing inmates based solely on the results of unverified NARK II field tests. Davis found that the tests were "highly unreliable" and "only marginally better than a coin-flip." He ruled that the DOC's practice of placing inmates in solitary confinement and restricting access to their lawyers before those field tests were verified by outside labs "constitutes an arbitrary and unlawful interference with Plaintiffs' right to counsel, as well as their right to due process."

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Good for that judge, but it does bring up a couple of issues.

Why are drug warriors buying a test that's "only marginally better than a coin flip" in the first place?

Resorting to such a test in a prison means that we're losing the drug war even in prisons, leading me to conclude that "winning" it will require that we be less free than our prisoners.

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Just now, Movable Ballast said:

No, but what you are proposing is the same thing just a longer agony for the junkie... 

You need to do some reading. Addicts with a proper supply of clean drugs can have perfectly normal lives. It's not the junk that does them in, it's the ridiculous cycle of having to get drugs by any means possible that is a danger to themselves and others.

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