Beyond Marijuana: Gearing Up For the Battle to Decriminalize All Drugs

The momentum to legalize marijuana has snowballed over the last few years and has quickly moved from the fringes of U.S. politics to the mainstream. In just three years, the number of Americans who support it has jumped from 41 percent to 52 percent. Colorado and Washington State made history last year when they became the first two states -- and the first two political jurisdictions anywhere in the world -- to legally regulate the production and distribution of marijuana, and many states are … [Read more...]

Overdose Prevention Bill Stalled in California Assembly

Recently, California’s Assembly Appropriations committee chairman Mike Gatto chose to hold Assemblymember Richard Bloom’s overdose prevention funding bill, AB 831, in committee, effectively killing it for this year. Procedurally the bill remains in committee and could be moved forward in a year. AB 831 sought a modest appropriation of $500,000 to fund a grants program for new and existing overdose prevention programs throughout the state. Accidental drug overdose is the leading cause of … [Read more...]

LA Voters Opt to Regulate Medical Marijuana

This past Tuesday, the citizens of Los Angeles voted to regulate medical marijuana by voting to pass Proposition D, one of three medical marijuana regulation measures on the ballot. The Proposition received 62.57% of the vote. Proposition D caps the number of collectives at those who opened prior to 2007, about 130, raises the gross receipts tax from $50 to $60 per $1000 of gross receipts, and establishes the distances they must keep from schools, parks, one another and residential … [Read more...]

California Supreme Court Upholds Local Medical Marijuana Bans

Last week, the California Supreme Court held that localities may entirely ban medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within their jurisdictions in a closely watched case, City of Riverside vs. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center.   The result of the Court’s ruling is that tens of thousands of legitimate medical marijuana patients in California will be without safe and legal access to medical marijuana.  To date more than 200 localities have banned dispensaries … [Read more...]

Bill Reducing Drug Possession Penalty Passes California Senate

Last Thursday, the California Senate approved SB649, which will give prosecutorial and judicial discretion to charge possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use as a felony or a misdemeanor as the case warrants, by a 23-14 margin. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would help reduce prison and jail overcrowding in California and potentially even provide savings to the financially-strapped courts because felony charges require setting a preliminary hearing, … [Read more...]

Drug Czar’s Marijuana Rhetoric Still Rings of “Reefer Madness”

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (more commonly known as the Drug Czar’s office; ONDCP) released its 2013 National Drug Control Strategy last week. The strategy has shifted a little from previous national drug strategies, and is being called a “21st Century Approach.”  The Drug Czar’s rhetoric has evolved over the last couple of years – reflecting the fact that three-quarters of Americans consider the drug war a failure – emphasizing the need to treat drug misuse as a … [Read more...]

Superstar-Studded Coalition to President Obama: Let’s Tackle Mass Incarceration and Drug Policy Reform Together

A coalition of over 175 artists, actors, athletes, elected officials and advocates, brought together by hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons and Dr. Boyce Watkins, presented an open letter to President Obama, urging him to double down on his efforts to change the United States’ criminal justice policy from that of a punitive, suppression-based model to one that favors evidence-based prevention and rehabilitation. According to Department of Justice data, the U.S. leads the world in the incarceration … [Read more...]

Parent Activists and Overdose Prevention Groups Cheer Groundbreaking State Legislation

California Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) introduced an overdose prevention bill that many are hailing as the first of its kind in the state. The bill, AB 831, asks the legislature to take action to address California’s growing accidental drug overdose problem by establishing a funding source for overdose prevention programs, as well as convene a state task force of overdose prevention experts and other public health officials to study the issue and create a series of comprehensive … [Read more...]

Synthetic Marijuana: Wisdom of Insecurity

I think it’s safe to say most people were horrified upon hearing about Emily Baer’s close encounter with death after smoking synthetic cannabis.  Some state governments, such as New Jersey's, have recently adopted a ban on synthetic marijuana.  Despite first impression, this is the approach to drug policy we need to distance ourselves from.  Prohibition was sold on the pretense it could make society “safer.”  Let’s be clear, these dangerous new substances exist only because of prohibition, the … [Read more...]

California Votes to Reform Draconian “Three Strikes” Mandatory Minimum Law

After nearly 20 years and over $20 billion spent, California voters have voted overwhelmingly to reform our state's draconian "three strikes" law. The statewide ballot measure, Proposition 36, delivered a two-to-one mandate (68.6%-31.4%) to close a controversial loophole in the law so that life sentences can only be imposed when the new felony conviction is "serious or violent." Three strikes laws, often known as habitual offender laws, grew out of the "tough on crime" era of the 1980s and … [Read more...]