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Sen. Hatch Adds Marijuana Grow Amendment to Immigration Bill

May 24th

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), old-time drug warrior

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), old-time drug warrior

WASHINGTON, DC — Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has introduced an amendment to the pending federal immigration bill that would create harsher penalties for anyone growing marijuana on public federal lands.

The amendment has already won the approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hatch announced in Tuesday statement. The committee is expected to vote on the overall bill later this week.

Under Hatch’s amendment, people caught growing marijuana on federal lands would face aggravated penalties. They would also have to serve their sentences consecutive to, not concurrent with, any other sentences.

“In my home state of Utah, the Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement have seized more than 110,000 marijuana plants this past year,” Hatch said. “These sites are typically far from the eyes of law enforcement, where growers can take the time needed to grow potent marijuana.”

The amendment is only one of several Hatch has introduced to the immigration bill. He. . . . . READ MORE

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OAS Releases Historic Report on Drug Policy Alternatives

May 18th

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BOGOTA, COLUMBIA – The Organization of American States (OAS) Friday released a ground-breaking report on hemispheric drug control that includes not only an assessment of the current state of affairs, but also looks at a number of alternate scenarios for future directions in drug policy, including explicit analysis of possible regulation and legalization regimes.

The report comes even as the US military is expanding its drug war in Latin America.The military is deploying assets to Central and South America, and US military assistance in Latin America has quadrupled in the last decade — even as the region faces no external and diminishing internal threats.

The report, The Drug Problem in the Americas, was commissioned at last year’s Cartagena Summit of the Americas, where a number of Latin American leaders led by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos criticized existing drug policies and called for a discussion of alternatives. On Friday, OAS head Jose Miguel Insulza hand-delivered the report to Santos in Bogota.

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Tennessee Congressman Chastises AG Eric Holder on Marijuana Prohibition

May 17th

WASHINGTON, DC — Tennessee Representative Steve Cohen took an opportunity Wednesday to grill Attorney General Eric Holder about the ongoing prosecutions of marijuana offenses in the United States, even in states that have liberalized marijuana laws.

During the Wednesday House oversight committee hearing focusing on the recent AP phone log scandal, Rep. Cohen (D-Tennessee)  tore into AG Holder, calling marijuana prohibition an “injustice for 40 years” and demanding to know why the Department of Justice is continuing to put people in jail for marijuana:

One of the greatest threats to liberty has been the government taking people’s liberty for things that people are in favor of. The Pew Research Group shows that 52 percent of people do not think marijuana should be illegal. And yet there are people in jail, and your Justice Department is continuing to put people in jail, for sale, and use, on occasion, of marijuana. That’s something the American public has finally caught up with. It was a cultural lag. And it’s been an injustice for 40 years in this country to take people’s liberty for something that was similar to alcohol. You have continued what is allowing the Mexican cartels power, and the power to make money, ruin Mexico, hurt our country by having a Prohibition in the late 20th and 21st century. We saw it didn’t work in this country . . . . . READ MORE

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Congressmen to Help Launch DPA’s Drug War Exit Strategy Guide

May 16th

WASHINGTON, DC – The Drug Policy Alliance will formally release An Exit Strategy for the Failed War on Drugs, the group’s first-ever federal legislative guide, Thursday in Washington.

This comprehensive report contains 75 broad and incremental recommendations for legislative reforms related to civil rights, deficit reduction, law enforcement, foreign policy, sentencing and re-entry, effective drug treatment, public health, and drug prevention education.

The guide will be released at a forum on the Hill cosponsored by Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), both of whom fought for major drug policy reform at the local level before running for Congress and winning.

“The United States has approximately five percent of the world’s population but twenty-five percent of its prison population, largely resulting from failed policy decisions connected to the war on drugs,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York). “The over-criminalization phenomenon has cost us in lost human capital and economic productivity. I look forward to thoroughly reviewing DPA’s recommendations and working closely together to improve the fairness and humanity of the criminal justice system.”

As a New York Assemblyman, Jeffries was a leader in opposing New York City’s racially discriminatory marijuana arr. . . . . READ MORE

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Stopping the IRS War on Medical Marijuana Providers

May 16th

closed marijuana dispensary

Dispensaries providing marijuana to doctor-approved patients operate in a number of states, but they are under assault by the federal government. SWAT-style raids by the DEA and finger-wagging press conferences by grim-faced federal prosecutors may garner greater attention, but the assault on medical marijuana providers extends to other branches of the government as well, and moves by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to eliminate dispensaries’ ability to take standard business deduction are another very painful arrow in the federal quiver.

The IRS employs Section 280E, a 1982 addition to the tax code that was a response to a drug dealer’s successful effort to claim his yacht, weapons purchases, and even illicit bribes as business expenses. Under 280E, individuals involved in the illicit sale of controlled substances — including marijuana, even medical marijuana in states where it is legal — cannot claim standard business expenses on their federal taxes.

“The 280E provision which requires certain businesses to pay taxes on their gross income, as opposed to their net income, is aimed at shutting down illicit drug operations, not sta. . . . . READ MORE

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New York Senator Files Bill to Prevent Future Marijuana Dispensaries

May 14th

NY-MMJ

ALBANY, NY — As states continue to work towards reforming marijuana laws, one New York lawmaker has introduced a bill that would prohibit the sale, cultivation, or giving away marijuana for any reason — including the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries that may be authorized by any future law.

New York State Senator Greg Ball

New York State Senator Greg Ball

Introduced by Senator Greg Ball (R-District 40), Senate Bill 4930, also known as the “Illegal Narcotics Dispensary Ban,”  aims to prevent any future medical or recreational marijuana dispensaries that may become authorized from current pending, or future, legislation.

“No person shall sell, dispense, give away, provide or cultivate any quantity of marihuana, regardless of the purpose of such sale, dispensing, provision or cultivation, nor shall any person operate a dispensary of marijuana. . . . . READ MORE

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