Drug Policy

What Michelle Alexander calls the “roundup” of youth of color rests very heavily on arrests for low-level nonviolent drug possession. Although whites use drugs at roughly the same levels, the people who are picked up and sent to jail for drug use are overwhelmingly people of color, African Americans in particular. To stop the roundup we need to reform the drug laws and also bar racist law enforcement that selectively targets some communities and not others.

California Police Groups Fighting Death Penalty Repeal, Marijuana Legalization

California law enforcement organizations are giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight efforts to repeal the death penalty and legalize marijuana. While five of the 17 measures on the state’s November ballot concern crime and punishment, contributions from police groups are focused on three initiative battles, the analysis found. Law enforcement groups have provided nearly $2 million of the $3.6 million given to the campaign for Proposition 66, a measure aimed at reducing delays in … [Read more...]

Time to Legalize, Regulate Marijuana in California

Six years ago California voters were asked to make recreational marijuana legal under state law and they declined to do so. But the close decision — 46% voted “yes” on Proposition 19 — suggested that the battle was not yet over. At that time, The Times opposed Proposition 19 not because legalization was necessarily a bad idea, but because it was a poorly drafted mess that would have created a regulatory nightmare. In the years since, a lot has changed. Four states, starting with Colorado and … [Read more...]

What Happens If Marijuana Is Legalized?

When we speak of legalizing marijuana we are really speaking of the Great Cannabis Debate. Come November, Californians will vote on Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which could bring safety and security for both cannabis consumers and farmers, and the sales taxes accrued could provide much-needed revenue to our state. Let’s look at a short list of possible unforeseen ramifications. Local mom-and-pop cannabis growers fear that if we legalize the cultivation and distribution of … [Read more...]

It’s Not Legal Yet

Nearly 500,000 Marijuana Arrests in California in the Last Decade A report released recently by the Drug Policy Alliance finds that there were nearly half a million marijuana felony and misdemeanor arrests in California between 2006 and 2015. Thousands of Californians are arrested annually for marijuana misdemeanors and felonies. These arrests are not equal. Black and Latino Californians are arrested for marijuana offenses at disproportionately high rates. In addition, youth under 18 years of … [Read more...]

DEA Keeps Head in the Sand; Refuses to Reschedule Marijuana

This week, the DEA announced that it was not rescheduling marijuana. Earlier this year it was reported that the DEA was considering rescheduling marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, a move that would have shown the federal government believes marijuana has an “accepted medical use.” This would have been a very symbolic move – something that marijuana law reform supporters have pursued for many years. Unfortunately the scandal-ridden DEA is keeping its head in the sand for now. However, … [Read more...]

Gavin Newsom Explains Why Lawmakers Shouldn’t Be Neutral on Marijuana Legalization

Gavin Newsom is a little tired of being the only state official in California to fully endorse legalizing recreational marijuana. Speaking with The Huffington Post at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, the lieutenant governor said it’s time for others to take a stand on the issue, which will appear on California’s ballot this fall. “What we’re doing to criminalize the drug is not working,” he said. “And the drug is ubiquitous. Every young person would say it’s easier to get … [Read more...]

Where Did California’s Savings from Reducing Drug Penalties Go

Nearly 20 ex-convicts who had been drug addicts, gangbangers and prostitutes strained their eyes in an attempt to grasp the colorful, intricate diagram scribbled on the whiteboard. On a Sunday afternoon in Oakland, the group gathered with community organizers to discuss mass incarceration in a small, fluorescent-lit office tucked in a strip mall. Brandon Sturdivant, an advocate with the faith-based network Oakland Community Organizations, pointed at the board that described the impacts of … [Read more...]

Racial Disparities Continue Under California’s Marijuana Enforcement

Hakeem Brown is unique. In the state of California, where black owned cannabis businesses are rare, Hakeem Brown owned and managed a licensed medical cannabis dispensary in Vallejo from 2009-2012, when it was shut down as part of a multi dispensary raid. The raid was deemed unlawful and the city was required to return the money seized during the police action. Brown used this money to open up a new garden to grow for patients in Napa. This garden was raided and Brown was arrested for possession … [Read more...]

The War on Drugs Isn’t Even Working in Prison

Twice a week, a line of prisoners forms outside the communal bathroom in the education building here at the California State Prison in Los Angeles County. One latex-gloved guard sits at a small desk outside the toilet area, checking identification cards against a computer printout. After confirming you’re on the list, he takes a small piece of cloth, rubs it on one of your hands, and then slips it into a small baggie with your name on it. Another gloved guard looms, holding a small, clear, … [Read more...]

How Not to Address a Drug Crisis

Today, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 serves as an object lesson in how not to write drug legislation. The bill was the congressional response to a new drug on the scene (crack cocaine), a rising crime rate and the cocaine overdose of University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias on June 20, 1986. 1986 also happened to be an election year. Ronald Reagan ran (successfully) for his second term in a campaign that, although largely focused on economic issues, also exacerbated the national … [Read more...]